May 27, 28, 2017

Paul was an optimist

When it comes to pessimism versus optimism, the Bible doesn’t leave us many options. If we believe in God we can’t help but be optimistic – because, regardless of what may happen today, we know ultimately everything will work for our good and God’s glory. Even as he sat in a Roman jail, he could see the benefits of his imprisonment. He had no promised release date to look forward to, the prison conditions were less than ideal, yet he remained positive about the future.

Read his words in Philippians 1

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.

14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

These aren’t the words of a doomed man. Paul expected the best for tomorrow because he believed in a God who is good, who is powerful, who is merciful, and who is love.

Pessimism might come quite naturally to you, but the excuse, “It’s just my nature” doesn’t work anymore than we can excuse away lust, laziness, or greed. The bottom line is that pessimism is a sin. It reveals a lack of faith; anything from faith is sin.

Optimism is a choice.

I don’t believe it comes naturally to anyone. Those who maintain a perpetually positive outlook on life have learned to make that choice. If Paul could be optimistic under Roman arrest, then we shouldn’t let obstacles or an economic crisis ruin our day.

We can make the same choice he made; we can choose to expect the best for tomorrow, in spite of what is happening today, because we know God is good.

 

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May 26, 2017

Luke 2:25-26
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Notice the following details in this passage.

Literally the text reads, “In the Spirit he came into the temple.”
This “in the Spirit” is the exact same phrase which occurs in Revelation (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). There it indicates John’s soul was for the moment liberated from the bonds of time and space. He was in a state of ecstasy, as it were, alone with God.

Here in Luke the meaning is slightly different. Simeon is thoroughly conscious of his surroundings. His soul is flooded with thoughts of thanksgiving and praise. Moreover, he is conscious of being guided by the Spirit. The Spirit has so directed at the precise moment when Joseph and Mary were walking into the temple, carrying the baby Jesus, Simeon also walked in.

He blessed God.”
When the Holy Spirit made clear to him this very child was the Messiah, Simeon’s heart was filled with gratitude to such an extent that he poured out his thanksgiving. He thanked God for what this child meant to him personally and for what He meant to the world of both Gentile and Jew.

The word now is not the weak transitional “now.”
It is definitely an adverb of time. What Simeon means is he is now ready to die, since God is releasing him in peace, as He had promised to do. Simeon is holding in his arms and seeing with his own eyes not just a little baby but “salvation.” This is the One through whom God will save His people.

Do we sometimes question God’s timing?

God’s timing was perfect for Jesus’ arrival.

God’s timing was perfect for Simeon’s arrival.

What do you think of God’s timing in your life?

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

May 25, 2017

Luke 2:27-32
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord (2:22), Simeon also went into the temple courts, having been moved by the Spirit to be there on this day. God planned this meeting in keeping with his promise to Simeon (2:26).

Mary and Joseph came to the temple to do what the Law required. This obedience to the Old Testament law is cited several times in Luke. It points out Jesus’ as one who obeyed the law, even from birth, because his parents did exactly as they were commanded.

At the temple, Mary and Joseph met an old man who took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God. The Spirit led Simeon to recognize this baby as the “consolation of Israel – the Lord’s Messiah” (2:25-26).

Simeon praised God because He had done what He promised. In other words, Simeon was now ready to die in peace because he had seen God’s salvation.

To see Jesus is to see salvation.

Jesus Christ is the fullest manifestation of God’s “glory” anyone has ever seen.

Luke, writing to Gentiles, pointed out from the very beginning God’s plan was to offer salvation to Gentiles as well as to Jews. The mission to the Gentiles is a key theme in Luke and Acts.

Many thought the Christ had come to save only His own people. Luke made sure his Greek audience understood Jesus had come to save all who believe, Gentiles as well as Jews.

Jesus the Light
Simeon referred to Jesus as “a light for revelation.” Few images capture Jesus’ mission as well. Light makes stillness come alive; light settles fear; light reveals mystery; light aids relationships.

Jesus is God in the flesh, eternal light breaking into a spiritually dark world.

Jesus is our light. He is not a distant sun, remote and driven by physics’ laws.

Jesus is the light of our life, our courage, our enabler.

Start each day by turning on the light. Plan a moment of meditation on God’s Word, a prayer of dedication to live for God all day.

May 24, 2017

Luke 2:19
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Surely the shepherds told Mary and Joseph what the angels had said in order to explain why they were intruding on the couple with their baby. When they left they spread the story, and those who heard it were “astonished.”

Mary had a lot to think about as she gazed into the face of her tiny child. Gabriel had told her the little boy would reign forever; the shepherds reported the angel’s words; He is the Savior, Christ the Lord. As Mary held this tiny baby she must have wondered at all God was doing, and who her son would grow up to become.

Mary was treasuring, carefully storing away, all these things; such things as the following:
* What an angel had told Joseph,
* What Gabriel had told her,
* What her experience had been in Bethlehem,
* What the shepherds told her about the angels.

“She was putting them all together in her heart.”

Aside from the nativity narrative Scripture tells us little about Mary’s development in faith.

Nevertheless, such passages as John 2:5 and Acts 1:14 show that she became a worshiper of the One to whom, with respect to His human nature, she had given birth. Her prayerful “putting together” of the things she had experienced, seen, and heard, was blessed by God and in the course of time produced the result He had determined from eternity. I am sure, on Mary’s part there were missteps along the way, but the end was victory.

What have you treasured up in your heart for future reference?

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

May 22, 2017

Luke 2:19
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Surely the shepherds told Mary and Joseph what the angels had said in order to explain why they were intruding on the couple with their baby. When they left they spread the story, and those who heard it were “astonished.”

Mary had a lot to think about as she gazed into the face of her tiny child. Gabriel had told her the little boy would reign forever; the shepherds reported the angel’s words; He is the Savior, Christ the Lord. As Mary held this tiny baby she must have wondered at all God was doing, and who her son would grow up to become.

Mary was treasuring, carefully storing away, all these things; such things as the following:
* What an angel had told Joseph,
* What Gabriel had told her,
* What her experience had been in Bethlehem,
* What the shepherds told her about the angels.

“She was putting them all together in her heart.”

Aside from the nativity narrative Scripture tells us little about Mary’s development in faith.

Nevertheless, such passages as John 2:5 and Acts 1:14 show that she became a worshiper of the One to whom, with respect to His human nature, she had given birth. Her prayerful “putting together” of the things she had experienced, seen, and heard, was blessed by God and in the course of time produced the result He had determined from eternity. I am sure, on Mary’s part there were missteps along the way, but the end was victory.

What have you treasured up in your heart for future reference?

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

 

 

May 23, 2017

Digging with Doc

May 24, 2017

Good Morning,

Luke 2:27-32
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord (2:22), Simeon also went into the temple courts, having been moved by the Spirit to be there on this day. God planned this meeting in keeping with his promise to Simeon (2:26).

Mary and Joseph came to the temple to do what the Law required. This obedience to the Old Testament law is cited several times in Luke. It points out Jesus’ as one who obeyed the law, even from birth, because his parents did exactly as they were commanded.

At the temple, Mary and Joseph met an old man who took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God. The Spirit led Simeon to recognize this baby as the “consolation of Israel – the Lord’s Messiah” (2:25-26).

Simeon praised God because He had done what He promised. In other words, Simeon was now ready to die in peace because he had seen God’s salvation.

To see Jesus is to see salvation.

Jesus Christ is the fullest manifestation of God’s “glory” anyone has ever seen.

Luke, writing to Gentiles, pointed out from the very beginning God’s plan was to offer salvation to Gentiles as well as to Jews. The mission to the Gentiles is a key theme in Luke and Acts.

Many thought the Christ had come to save only His own people. Luke made sure his Greek audience understood Jesus had come to save all who believe, Gentiles as well as Jews.

Jesus the Light
Simeon referred to Jesus as “a light for revelation.” Few images capture Jesus’ mission as well. Light makes stillness come alive; light settles fear; light reveals mystery; light aids relationships.

Jesus is God in the flesh, eternal light breaking into a spiritually dark world.

Jesus is our light. He is not a distant sun, remote and driven by physics’ laws.

Jesus is the light of our life, our courage, our enabler.

Start each day by turning on the light. Plan a moment of meditation on God’s Word, a prayer of dedication to live for God all day.

 

May 20, 21, 2017

Daily Hungers, Daily Bread and Daily Satisfaction

Matthew 6:11
“Give us this day our daily bread.”

I will never forget a message preached many years ago by my friend Rev. Bill Rogers where he said “The problem with life is that it is so daily!” He went on to humorously remind us that our experience in this world is repetitive and often tedious, but God’s provision fits our daily pace and God’s daily presence is enough to keep us encouraged and inspired one day at a time. He ended by saying “The opportunity of life is daily.”

As much as we may enjoy looking at our life as a long journey we must carefully plan and execute; life still comes to us one day at a time. One day at a time is the true rhythm of our lives and the right pace of living. We must adapt to this rhythm and pace.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

People who seek guarantees for their well-planned lives will find that living well daily is the only well-planned life. We must define what living well really is and repeat that daily. That is the plan.

Jesus tells us to spend no time worrying about tomorrow. Living well and confronting the evil of each day is enough to keep us busy. When we add the pressure of trying to make every day fit into our long term plan we are easily overwhelmed.

Jesus’ words “Give us this day our daily bread” take on more and more meaning as we accept the fact that God’s rhythm and provision for us is daily. “One day at a time” lives are in rhythm with reality.

As the sun goes down each day it is Jesus saying. “OK. Rest now and we will begin again tomorrow. I will take care of everything while you rest. I will be here ready to go when you awaken.”

Daily sounds better to me all the time.

Bud McCord
Abide International

May 19, 2017

Luke 2:17-18
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

They told about the child and all that the angels had said about him. Everyone was astonished at the shepherds’ story.

They felt they needed to relate their experience: how first one angel had spoken to them, exactly what it was he had said about the child, and the sign he had given them; how the first angel had been followed by a huge group of angels, and what this heavenly host had joyfully proclaimed.

These men hid nothing. They told their story to Mary and Joseph, and to many others besides (note in verse 18: “and all who heard what the shepherds told them,” etc.).

So men were so thoroughly convinced of the truth of their story, and so sure of its importance, they were willing to risk disbelief and even ridicule.

Telling All You Know
These shepherds told everyone who would listen all they had heard and seen. Often people who try to tell all they know are politely avoided. It can be boring to listen to someone who never stops to take a breath.

But in the shepherds’ case, people listened, because:
* Shepherds were not supposed to know much, and these shepherds had startling information.
* The message was incredible. It changed listeners’ lives.
* The shepherds spoke from the heart, and their words connected to the needs of others.

When you tell about Jesus start with what you know best: your life experience.

Tell the story of God in your life.

May 18, 2017

Luke 2:15
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

“When the angels had left them.”
Immediately after this event is the critical time. What now? Will these men sit down around a campfire and discuss what just happened? Will they go back to their normal routine? What the shepherds should do had been clearly implied. Will they do it?

By the use of the imperfect tense Luke shows very explicitly these men never hesitated. What about the care of the sheep? The shepherds must have found a solution. The angel said, “You will find.” So, they must go and search. And they were eager to do so.

At this point the original contains a couple words which need special mention. One of them is a little word of two letters. Often it means indeed; in this context it is best expressed “now” or “at once,” or “without delay.”

There is also the verbal form which basically means “Let us go through (to),” “Let us go over (to).” This probably implies that these men had to cover an appreciable distance, perhaps several miles, in order to reach Bethlehem. The place was not right next door.

Nevertheless, realizing it was God Himself who, through His angels, had spoken to them, they left immediately.

What would have happened if the shepherds had decided it was too much effort to travel that far?

Have you ever “put off” responding to God?

God’s direction almost always causes us to change our plans!

May 17, 2017

Luke 2:13-14
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Surprise follows upon surprise. First one angel descended and took his position near the shepherds. Once he has made his announcement, all of a sudden an entire army of angels descends. These angels are now seen standing “with” the first angel, therefore also near the shepherds.

Not until the shepherds became somewhat used to the heavenly brilliance around them, and had received from the one angel a message of joy, did the entire host of angels descend. If the order had been reversed they probably would not have even heard the message!

God always arranges everything perfectly!

He does not arrange things our way, but His way!

John’s vision of heaven recorded in Revelation reveals there are innumerable angels in heaven: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Revelation 5:11).

One of the key responsibilities of angels is to offer continuous praise to God. The arrival of God’s Son on earth caused the armies of heaven to join in praise to God. Rarely did more than one angel appear; at this event, however, all the angels joined together, praising God. The “armies of heaven” or “heavenly host” refers to a select group of angels that serve God (1 Kings 22:19; Daniel 7:10).

The story of Jesus’ birth has inspired composers for 2,000 years. The angels’ song is an all-time favorite. Often called the “Gloria” after its first word in the Latin translation, it is the basis of many choral works, traditional Christmas carols, and ancient liturgical chants.

“Glory to God” focuses the praise on the One who set these events in motion, the One who controls all events on earth. He is “in the highest heaven” and is sending peace on earth to all He favors.

The peace referred to is the peace only the Messiah can bring; not peace after war or conflict, but peace between sinful humanity and the holy God.

The emphasis is on God; He is to be glorified, and He will bring peace.

The shepherds were terrified. Their fear turned to joy as the angels announced the Messiah’s birth.

Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior.

Praise for God and gratitude for what He has done should motivate us to spread the word.