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December 6, 2016

Ps. 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
 And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 
God is a giver. That’s His nature, He is the source and sustainer of all things. When we think of the Christmas story inevitably our thoughts turn to the wise men and their gifts. The funny thing about that story is that the greater gift was right in front of everybody. God’s gift, the gift of His only begotten Son is infinitely greater than any gift that any human could afford. The wise men recognized this (why else would they leave everything and travel hundreds of miles on camels?) Their offerings of gold, incense, and myrrh flowed out of God’s giving to them. Our giving is just a response to the giving of our Father. 

If He wouldn’t withhold His Son from us, there is no good thing He will not give us. Trust Him today, I mean really trust Him. You will never be disappointed Here are some thoughts from Louie Giglio on today’s scripture verse. 
“Often we feel like everybody else is getting ahead, getting what they want, or worse, getting what we want! But God’s gifts for you will come at just the right time. If you’re truly waiting on God, you won’t miss anything. When you walk with God, you always arrive on time. God is the giver of life and breath. And with these God gives to every creature what they need. A tiny sparrow does not fall from the sky without Him noticing. And He clothes the hillside with an array of beauty and vibrant color. You are His beloved—His son or daughter by faith in Christ. Trust your perfect Father’s heart. He will give you exactly what you need, and as you seek Him, He will even give you the “desires of your heart”.
That desires of your heart thing can be quite tricky. You start off thinking you “desire” certain things. Once you really begin to delight in the Lord Himself your desires begin to change. You came into this Christian thing thinking you wanted one thing, as the Lord became your priority in life you stopped wanting the things that were once huge parts of your life and you began wanting other things. Actually you began wanting one thing. Like the wise men in Bethlehem everything changed when you found yourself in His presence; like them, you are still going home you are just returning another way. 

“God’s great bounty poured out on all Mankind”

December 5, 2016


“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:10–14

There is one thing certain that on Dec. 25th all the nation will shutter its doors, families will be gathered together to celebrate the birth of Christ. (Whether they know it or not) Young and old, races of all kinds and cultures celebrate in some form the meaning of the Christ child. The Gospel reaches out to all! I love this quote from Lange Commentary. 

“No longer within the secret shrine, but out in the open field, the symbol of the Divine Presence glowed through the darkness; for that birth hallowed common life, and brought the glory of God into familiar intercourse with its secularities and smallnesses. The appearance to these humble men as they ‘sat simply chatting in a rustic row ‘symbolized the destination of the Gospel for all ranks and classes.” 

The Gospel comes across the differences and brings the peace from another kingdom. The angels put on quite a production to get their point across to the common shepherd. Spurgeon spoke of this; “And notice how well they told the story, and surely you will love them! Not with the stammering tongue of one who tells a tale in which he has no interest; nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the passions of others, when he feels no emotion himself; but with joy and gladness, such as angels can only know. They sang the story out, for they could not stop to tell it in heavy prose. I think they sang it with gladness in their eyes; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves.” Spurgeon

WONDER by Parris Bailey
Something beautiful, surprised by the unexpected

The Wise Men were caught by the shine

It’s brilliance told a story that changed their course

Shepherds marveled something so unfamiliar 

Heaven splendor meeting earth obscurity 

Angels singing celebration- ASTONISHED! 
Innkeeper unprepared, sleepy town unawakened 

As the Lamb lay still in a manger,

Wonder shines on faces all around, 

Amazement at the Father’s plan-REDEMPTION!
Great God to be infant babe, God in a mother’s womb

The founder of the world rocked in a cradle

Almighty Jehovah became weak

Swayer of the world swathed in infant bands

He that ruled the stars to suck nipple

The Earth at Christ’s nativity-WONDERED
I pray you too will be captivated by the simple message Christ’s peace, Christ’s love and His joy.


December 4, 2016

Luke 2:10-12 – And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 

This season is called the season of joy; from the Christmas carol ‘Joy to the World’ all the the way to the ‘HO, HO, HO’ of Santa Claus joy, is an internal part of our Christmas celebration. What is the underlying source of the joy of Christmas? Like everything else, we have to go back to the beginning to find out. “In the beginning God…”, that says it all. In the beginning there was only God. John says it like this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Jesus has existed with the Father from eternity. These two are not emotionless spirits, floating in some primordial soup; far from it. They are the very definition of love and joy, totally complete and satisfied within themselves. And yes they are filled with unthinkable, unspeakable joy. Here is how John Piper explains it.

“The joy that Jesus came to bring is from outside this world. It is the very joy that Jesus himself has in God the Father—which he has had from all eternity and will have forever. There is no greater joy than the joy that God has in God, because God is the greatest object of joy, and God has the greatest powers to enjoy. Jesus said, “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”. His joy was the very joy of God. He promises to put that in us. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He pours out the love of God in our hearts, and with it the joy of God in God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy . . .”. This is “great joy.” And it cannot be taken away. It is indestructible.”
The joy that the angels announced was the very joy of heaven. This joy was wrapped in swaddling clothes and had come to overcome the depression that dominated mankind. As a result, joy is available to whosoever will. It is the very joy of heaven wrapped up in Christ. No wonder the world can’t say “Merry Christmas”. 


December 3, 2016

Psa. 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God;
 I will be exalted among the nations,

 I will be exalted in the earth! 
Psa. 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us;

 The God of Jacob is our refuge.
That’s one of the things that stands out about growing up. “How many more days until Christmas? Why can’t we open one of the gifts now?” Then there were those endless trips to Grandma’s house, “Are we almost there? How many more hours will it be?” Waiting, children just don’t want to wait, they want it now. Sounds a little too familiar. Nobody wants to wait. Presents before Christmas, sex before marriage, IRS money before the check actually comes, buying everything before you can afford it. Yeah, no one likes to wait for anything. That’s one of the things that begins to change as we grow in the Lord. Waiting becomes part of the blessing itself. Waiting is where we are strengthened, waiting is where we receive guidance, waiting is where we meet God. We are in that waiting for Christmas mode right now, actually this is the best part of the season. This is where we too can meet God. Here are some words from Louie Giglio on waiting on the Lord. 

“Quiet moments are rare and it can be difficult to find stillness, but take a few minutes today to quietly and deeply consider the Lord. Try not to read or study or be distracted—just be still and meditate on the person of Jesus and all He has done for you. Think about His birth, His infancy, and the dawn of light rising over a dark and weary world. Think about His death and sacrifice, and the gift of life He extends to you. Meditate on His resurrection, His power over the darkness and the grave. Drink in His presence and in the stillness seek His face. And think about His coming, the day you will see Him face to face.”
My mother in law lives up on a mountain near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. You can walk from her house up the mountain road and be totally engulfed in the silence of God’s creation. There are sounds there for sure; the wind in the pine trees and the singing of the birds, but these are the beautiful sounds of silence. Look for a quiet place today and just be still. Maybe the sound of silence will help you hear the sweet voice of the Lord. 


December 2, 2016

John 1:16 For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. 

God’s infinite nature is being demonstrated all around us. One look out into the sky and His endless nature is on full display. The magnitude of the universe is beyond comprehension to the greatest minds among us. Then you can examine His daily, lavish provision for His creatures. How much krill do the whales eat, or how many shrimp do the fish consume daily, or the insects for the birds, or food for the seven billion humans ? Then there is this issue of endless grace for sinners. David sang that the Lord is good and His mercy is everlasting. Ceaseless grace, grace upon grace; that is what we receive from Christ. Here is how Spurgeon calls it. 
“His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to his elect because he wills it, to his redeemed because of his covenant, to the called because of his promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal. Grace in all its forms he freely renders to his people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, he generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and he always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, The Lord will give grace.” 
God’s infinite nature is shown at its brightest in His abundance of grace being poured upon this fallen race of humans. We are born again by His grace, sustained daily by His grace, inspired by His grace, and finally we are kept in the worst of times by His unlimited grace. It is new every morning and never grows stale. Regardless of what you are facing today, His grace is more than enough.  


December 1, 2016

Heb.13:5 ¶ Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.

I have been teaching the book of Hebrews in Bethesda for the last several months. The theme of the book of Hebrews is the supernatural life available to us behind the veil. In the last chapter we have today’s verse about contentment. Paul spoke about being content whether he had plenty or if he suffered lack. Obviously, Paul’s view of contentment was far different from what we ordinarily see. The reason is what the book of Hebrews is all about, our contentment comes from this supernatural life we have in Christ. Our contentment doesn’t come from our possessions or our accomplishments, our contentment comes from Christ alone. That’s why this message of fullness or the deeper spiritual life is so practical. Rather than compartmentalizing our life with the spiritual and the natural we see that the whole thing is spiritual. Our ultimate contentment can come from nothing more or nothing other than the Lord. Stepping into intimacy with God is the way to total satisfaction. Here is how Andrew Murray describes it. 
“Yes, when God is the portion of the soul, it may well be content with what it has of earth. It is the consciousness of the favor and nearness of God that makes the soul rise above all that the world can offer. To lead the truly Christian life, the life of faith amid daily duties and daily care, we need the presence of God as our better and abiding possession. Our earthly and our heavenly life are more closely linked than we know. Too much of interest in or attachment to earthly things inevitably weakens our hold on God. True fellowship with God at once brings us into the right relation to earthly things. Let our faith study and feed on the promise: Himself hath said, I will in no wise leave thee, nor in any wise forsake thee. The faith that clings to its fulfillment will overcome the world.”
So where have you been focusing your attention to secure contentment in life? Is it financial security that you long for or a new title at work or a better house or a long vacation? Those things are all good but are just not what produces peace and contentment in our soul. Christ is more than enough and He is calling us near.  


November 30, 2016

Heb. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

It seems that most people believe in the greatness of God in the past. Of course God did wonderful things in the Bible days or even in past special seasons of revival. Many also believe that the future, when Christ returns, will be unspeakable. The problem is always that blasted today. That’s exactly what the Lord claims to be, I am. He is not the great I was or the great I will be He is simply I am; the never changing One. Was He ever the Savior? He is that today? Was He ever a miracle worker? Miracles still flow out from Him. Has He ever been a teacher, a protector, a leader, or the Helper? What He was, He always is; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on today’s verse. 
“All that He was yesterday, He is today. All that He was yesterday, in the past of the great eternity, as the object of the Father’s delight, and the bearer and dispenser of the Father’s life and love, He is today. All that He was yesterday, in His life upon earth, with His meek and gentle and sympathizing heart, He is today. All that He has been on His throne, in sending down His Spirit, in working mighty things in and on behalf of His Church, in revealing Himself in joy unspeakable to trusting souls, in meeting and blessing you who read this, He is today. All that He is, He can be to you today. And the only reason that you ever had to look back to a yesterday that was better than today, was that you did not know, or that you failed to trust, this Jesus, who was waiting to make each today a new revelation and a larger experience of the grace of yesterday.”
This is exactly what Christ dealt with standing outside of Lazarus’ tomb, “Lord, if you had only been here four days ago!” What was the Lord’s reply? “I am the resurrection and the life.” Mary’s come back, “I know we will be raised in the last day”. For Mary, like most of us, miracles are in the past or in the future. What did Jesus say? “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

In a moment, Lazarus was hopping around in grave clothes. Yep, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

Chipmunk Christmas

November 29, 2016

Is. 40:31 – but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

My brother Eddie went to heaven last Tuesday, he was only 58 years old; life is short, eternity is real. He was a Christian, a husband, and a father. Today’s scripture was one of his favorites. For many people waiting is a waste of precious time, not for a Christian. God works for us and in us while we wait. 

Of course I have been thinking about my brother this week, he really loved Christmas. As a child he was so excited about his gifts each year, as an adult he loved the giving part of Christmas. I remember Eddie as a child and I can’t help but think of that Chipmunk Christmas song. I guess it kinda sums up how we all felt growing up. 

Christmas, Christmas time is near

Time for toys and time for cheer

We’ve been good, but we can’t last

Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want a plane that loops the loop

Me, I want a hula hoop

We can hardly stand the wait

Please Christmas, don’t be late.
But like Paul says, “when I became a man I put away childish things”. We are still in the waiting business, still waiting on Christmas but for far different reasons. Now we are waiting for that special day of celebration, the day that remembers when the eternal Word became flesh. As we wait, we are reflecting on the goodness of the Lord, we are also reflecting on the Blessed Hope, the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is how Charles Wesley expressed it in the 1700’s. 

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 


Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.


Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Christmas won’t be late, it never is; neither will the Second Coming. He will arrive right on time. Until He comes enjoy the wait. 

Little Suckler

November 28, 2016


“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot–yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root” Is.11:1
Most people that have done anything in this world came from just a “little suckler”. Meaning, most likely, they were insignificant, looked over, and not expected to do much. If you take the story of David when he was anointed by Samuel, he too was looked over and Samuel had to be nudged by God to even take notice. Christ came at a time of humiliation and obscurity for Israel and the Jewish nation. This lowly shoot will bear much fruit. Let’s look inside the miracle of the sprout in this Advent Season. The invisible root around us echoes the message of hope in the dead things. 

Spurgeon even compares our Christianity as a wee little shoot when he preaches this message; “Christianity in our own hearts—the Christ within us—is also a “tender plant.” In its springing up it is as the green blade of corn which any beast that goes by may tread upon or devour. Oftentimes, to our apprehension it has seemed that our spiritual life would soon die; it was no better than a lily with a stalk bruised, and all but snapped in two; the mower’s scythe of temptation has cut down the outgrowth of our spiritual life, but, blessed be God, He who comes down like rain upon the mown grass has restored our verdure, and maintained our vigor to this day! Tender as our religion is, it is beyond the power of Satan to destroy it; weak as we are, we have not utterly fallen, nor shall we, for the feeble shall be victorious, and the “Lame shall take the prey.” Though grace is often like the hyssop for its weakness, it is ever as the oak for endurance; man threatens to crush the church, or hopes to uproot true grace from the heart of the timid believers, but it shall not be done—the “tender plant” shall become a goodly cedar, and the weakness of God shall baffle the power of man!”

Never underestimate the power of the cross. The birth of Christ paints a beautiful picture of a tender sprout shooting up to take over the hearts of men. In the third grade at a Christmas gift exchange in school, a student gave me “The religious Christmas” book. Every year I would as a wee little stump read over the stories of Christmas with its beautiful paintings and Christmas songs. If you told me back then what I would be doing today there would be no comprehension of it in my mind. “There will grow a shoot from the root of Jesse”. God makes the ordinary-unordinary. He visits children and adults worldwide bringing hope for the hopeless. Does Christ see you sick this Advent season? He can touch the heated brow. Does lack dress your table this year? He can bring cheer. 

Where there was once a stump, Christ can bring new life! It is what he does best!


November 27, 2016

John 1:1,2 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving which signals the beginning of our sure march to Christmas. This season has been called Advent for two millennia. We are awaiting the arrival of Christmas Day. This Thanksgiving my grandson James was at our house several hours before the rest of the family arrived for our Thanksgiving meal. James was beside himself; he couldn’t wait for the arrival of all the cousins. He was so excited as he anticipated the coming ‘festivities’. That’s exactly how it is for Christians; we are actually waiting for two arrivals. We are excited about the arrival of Christmas Day. It’s not the parties or presents that stirs our hearts, it’s the hope that Christmas Day brings that fills us with expectancy. That day is the celebration that light has entered the world and the age of darkness is about to close. The second arrival is even more mysterious. Just as the faithful in Israel were awaiting the birth of the Messiah at the time of Christ’s birth, we too are waiting for Him. We know His promise is sure and He will return soon in the same way He left. The celebration of His first coming fills our hearts with anticipation of His soon return. Here are some thoughts from Billy Graham on the arrival of Christmas.  

“The word Advent means arrival, and it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. The “Advent season” usually starts four weeks before Christmas and concludes with the celebration of Christ’s birth. Some churches emphasize the Advent season more than others, but all Christians look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth during this season of the year.
Why was Jesus’ birth so important? The reason is because slightly over 2,000 years ago, God stooped down from Heaven and became a human being: Jesus Christ. As the Bible says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV).
Think of it: God became a man! He did it because He loves us—and that’s what we should celebrate as Christmas approaches. Take time between now and Christmas to reflect on this great truth.”
I pray the blessing of the Lord be upon you and your house as we enter into this season of joy. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!