Thursday, December 31, 2015

See You Later

"Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."  
Acts 1:11, NIV
Several years ago, my husband and I moved our adult daughter with Down syndrome into a lovely new group home, twenty minutes from our door. Although it was hard to let her go, we knew she needed to adapt to the world without us, and we wanted to be around to help her with the transition.

Our daughter has adjusted well to her new home. She now has five new “sisters” to interact with, has gained a sense of independence, and is given numerous opportunities to participate in community activities, all while maintaining her long-time position in a sheltered work environment.

Jesus’s disciples walked with him for three-and-a-half years. They had dreams of serving alongside him in an earthly kingdom. Although Jesus tried to prepare them for his departure, they couldn’t imagine life on this earth without him. Then, in a moment, everything changed. He ascended into the heavens and was hidden from their sight. The disciples were left in a stupor, and their despondency would have spiraled into despair except for the words of two men dressed in white: “He will come back in the same way you have seen him go.”

Because of Jesus’s great love for his disciples, he laid the groundwork for his departure. Not only were they assured that they would see their Friend, Teacher, and Savior again, Jesus gave them specific instructions as to what they were to do in the meantime. They were to be his witnesses through the power of his Holy Spirit.

Our daughter is a young woman of few words—not because she can’t speak, but because she chooses not to. Conversing with her is difficult, especially over the telephone. When I tell her good-bye at the end of our very one-sided conversations, she’s silent. After I prod her several times to tell me “good-bye,” she finally voices a soft-spoken “see you later.”

The New Year may be uncertain, but the return of Christ is not. God was not silent about our future. He promises in his Word that Jesus will return. We don’t know the day or the hour or even the year, but we are not to idly sit by until he comes. In the interim, he continues to empower believers to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Christ’s final words to us were not “good-bye” but “see you later.” So, don’t just stand there—do something.

Now it's your turn. What is one way you plan to share the Gospel in 2016?

I always welcome your comments.

Happy New Year 2016!
See you later,

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Few Good Men

 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened
and what the angel had said to them about this child.
—Luke 2:17, NIV

I only had one line, but I executed it well. Standing as tall as a preschooler could stand, I looked out across the crowd of adoring parents and friends packed into the small chapel. This was my moment—my opportunity to shine—to share in the proclamation of the news of the birth of the baby Jesus.
“While shepherds washed their sheets by night….”
Not exactly the message I was expected to convey, but a message I spoke with delight and with words that certainly brought joy to the faces of everyone who heard them.

This morning as I was reading the Christmas story in Luke, I was reminded that God first entrusted the good news of his son’s birth to men in the lowliest of professions—shepherds—men who camped out in fields and tended dirty sheep. Men looked upon as the most despised of all mankind.
We can only speculate as to why God chose to entrust this earth-shaking news to a few lowly men on a hillside in Judea. If I’d written the script, I’m sure I would’ve chosen a much more flamboyant conclave of men who could prove themselves worthy of bearing such life-altering news.
But God got it right. And thankfully, so did the shepherds. Over two-thousand years later, we’re still talking about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As I read the story of Jesus’s birth in Luke 2:8-20, I found there were lessons to be learned from this unsuspecting band of uneducated men.
·         They were nearby.

o   The shepherds held the lowliest of all positions, but they were positioned to hear a revelation that would awaken a nation.

§  We should position ourselves to hear the words of our Heavenly Father—words that will awaken our hearts and impact our lives and subsequently the lives of others.
·         They kept watch.

o   The shepherds faithfully carried out their duty to protect the sheep that were in their care. They were alert and prepared to handle whatever took place on their watch.

§  We should live in expectation as we faithfully prepare and carry out the tasks that God has assigned to us.
·         They hurried off and saw him.

o   “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see.” Though terrified, the shepherds were moved to action. They sought confirmation and desired to witness the Truth for themselves.

§  In spite of our fears, we should move without hesitation to confirm the truth. Doing it afraid, if necessary. We shouldn’t settle for second-hand information but should witness the truth for ourselves.
·         They spread the word.

o   The shepherds were the first evangelists. Shepherds were considered untrustworthy and so despised that their testimony wasn’t even allowed in court. But miraculously on this night, when they shared the Truth without reservation, all that heard it were amazed.

§  We should understand that we are all valuable to God and have a story to tell. We are responsible to share the truth about God without reservation. God, alone, is responsible for how others receive it. Trust him.
·         They returned glorifying and praising God.

o   Elated, the shepherds returned to the fields with a new sense of purpose and worth, and the realization that God is who he says he is.

§  We must realize that it’s not our position in life, but the position of our hearts before God that that will make a lasting impact in a world that needs a Savior.
“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”
—1 Corinthian 1:27, NLT

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Joseph: A Good Man

“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did
not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind
to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…”
Matthew 1:19-20, NIV

Joseph was a good man with good intentions, but . . . 

Although Joseph's plan for Mary was a good plan, it was the wrong plan. Although his choice to not publicly disgrace her was honorable, it was not correct. Only after God intervened in Joseph's thoughts was he able to know God's will for his family and walk it out.

The quote, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," is true. Good intentions often lead to hellish situations in our lives. A good plan can be a wrong choice.

How often does our logic lead us down the wrong path? How many times do we miss God’s will because we choose to do what seems right?

Let's exchange our goodly intentions for Godly intentions. 

God's Word tells us we acquire the mind of Christ through the revelation of his Holy Spirit, and our salvation and strength comes through resting in him. Spending time in God's Word ushers us in to his presence. In his presence, we'll hear a voice behind us saying, "This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:18).

Do you have in mind to walk in God's way? Choose rest first.

Now it's your turn. What is one way you choose rest in this busy season?

I always welcome your comments.