Father God,
I remember at Christmas how
the shepherds hurried from the manger
glorifying and praising You;
revealing Jesus birth to the world.
The wise men revealed Jesus
through their gifts of three.
During this season of Epiphany
may you reveal yourself to me,
through Jesus,
each and everyday
and beyond.
May I see Christ in others.
May I see you in all of creation.
May your light shine through my life.
And as I read your holy Word,
may your promises fly off the page
and into my heart;
revealing over and over again
the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Oh God,
I need constant remembers of your
Continue to reveal Jesus to me.
In Jesus name I pray,

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Such a time

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” [Esther 4:14]

Haman has unleashed an evil plot to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, but Mordecai finds out the plan. Upon his discovery he tells Queen Esther (a Jew herself) but she is unwilling to go and tell the king. You see, there is a law on the books that states: if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. (Esther 4:11) And at this point Esther had not been called in to see the king for 30 days. So Esther fears for her life. But Mordecai reminds Esther not to be so foolish to think that she will escape this judgement, besides, who knows whether she has been brought to a time such as this.

Long story short, Mordecai finally gets through and Esther agrees to help. She secures an audience with the king and Haman’s plot is revealed; where he is eventually hanged on the very gallows that he was going to hang Mordecai (the man who earlier saved the king’s life). God DID bring Esther to a time such as this and therefore millions of lives were saved.

Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life? Have you ever wondered why you were in a certain place at a certain time? Have you ever wondered why you were called to suffer in a certain way? Well, maybe you were called to a certain place and time for such a time to bring glory to God. Maybe, just maybe, God had His reasons and was using you to do something special and amazing.

Esther’s story is pretty incredible and maybe God won’t call you to save millions of lives, but he might call you to save one. I believe in the depths of my heart that God calls us to moments to share the Gospel and with a particular person, in order to bring that person to faith. But how many times do we miss those moments or not trust God to be faithful. I also believe that God calls us to suffer in order that we may witness to others. What a powerful way to witness when you do so through suffering; a time when many people would curse God or turn away from God. What an opportunity to proclaim God’s love and faithfulness and the hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ.  Maybe you have been called to such a time.

So instead of wondering why God is doing what He is doing or wondering why here, why now; just witness. Make the most of the opportunity and situation to bring glory to God. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that through his death and resurrection you can have forgiveness of sins and thus eternal life. Live your faith and show your trust in God because who knows, someone might hear the Gospel for the first time and be saved.

And thus God using such a time for His glory.

May God open your eyes to see opportunities and may you have the faith to accept God’s call.

Praise be to God, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Don’t wait to be asked

After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” [Acts 13:15]

After reading from the Law and the Prophets, the ruler of the synagogue urges Paul to share words of encouragement with all those gathered. No doubt they had heard of Paul and his ministry, now they want to hear for themselves. And so Paul goes on to talk about Jesus, who was crucified and raised from the dead. Paul shares that through this man (Jesus) there is forgiveness of sins and freedom from that which the Law of Moses could not free you.

Upon hearing Paul’s words of encouragement and the Good News they begged him to stay and say these things again the next day. And why wouldn’t they? When you hear Good News you just can’t get enough of it.

Christian, do you really know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you believe that your sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus? Do you cling to the hope of the resurrection? I mean, do you really? Does this excite you and give you encouragement? Then don’t wait for people to find you and ask you to share words of encouragement, because chances are they won’t. If the Good News is really Good News then share words of encouragement without being asked.

And sometimes you don’t need to start out saying words. Sometimes your life is enough to get people’s attention. But don’t let that be enough for you. Don’t simply do things for others but also say words. Paul writes in Romans that faith comes through hearing (not seeing alone). Faith comes through words (not actions alone). Faith comes through YOU speaking words so therefore, do so without being asked.

But what am I saying, if Jesus is the Word of Life; I mean really the Word of Life for you, then you are probably already doing what I have said. If Jesus is not the Word of Life for you then I pray that the Holy Spirit infects your hearts with hope and leads you to faith in Jesus as your Savior.

And once you have said these words of encouragement, say them again and again because if people are anything like me, you just can’t get enough of the good stuff.

So in the words of TobyMac from his hit song Speak Life:

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak Life

Speak life and praise God always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Missed opportunity?

I can’t help but think that there was a missed opportunity yesterday.

Millions of people across this vast globe watched the Michael Jackson memorial service on TV and a few select people were able to be there in person.  I for one did not watch, but saw and heard a number of sound bites no matter the station I was watching (even ESPN had a couple sound bites).  Now…I don’t want to generalize this memorial service but I can’t help but think that it was probably no different than any other celebrity’s memorial service.

What was the missed opportunity?

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his (Jesus) blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Imagine if that verse were read at the memorial service (or one like it).  Imagine if the Gospel were preached in all it’s purity.  Imagine if people across the globe got a chance to hear celebrities witness to their faith (if there is indeed faith there to be witnessed to).  Like I said…I wasn’t there, didn’t watch and I don’t know the people in attendance.  But the sound bites I heard never once mentioned Jesus, God, faith or anything of the sort.  Missed opportunity.

With memorial services like this the tendency is to focus on the person who has died.  There are stories told to highlight what a great person they were.  There are facts shared that illustrate what a difference the person made in the lives of others.  There are tears shed and emotions laid out for all to see.  No doubt that Michael Jackson had an influence on many people, loved many people and helped many people.  No doubt that he will be missed and mourned for a long time.  But as with any person on this vast planet…Michael Jackson was a sinner.

Don’t get me wrong…he was no worse than anyone else, but he was a sinner.  I am a sinner.  You are a sinner.  But despite those facts Ephesians 1:7 is true for you and me and Michael Jackson.  I wish this was shared with the millions of people that were watching…and mourning.  Missed opportunity.

Funerals are an excellent opportunity to preach the Gospel to people that normally would not put themselves in a situation to hear the Gospel preached (i.e. they don’t come to worship unless it is Easter, Christmas or a funeral).  We can’t miss these opportunities.  People are searching for answers and reassurance.  What a missed opportunity to share with people that because of what Jesus has done and through faith we will all be together again.

Death doesn’t have to be good bye, but rather see you later.

The memorial service yesterday was an opportunity that was missed and will never come again.  Take advantage of situations in your life to preach the Gospel, share the Good News of forgiveness and proclaim the gift of life we have from God through Jesus Christ.

Let’s not miss opportunities.


God’s grace revisited

As I mentioned on Monday, I am working through the book of Acts this month, following the First Lesson for each Sunday.  Last week I preached on Acts 8 – Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.  This Sunday the text is from Acts 10 – Peter and Cornelius.  Both texts deal with the grace of God coming in “usual” circumstances and coming to people that the new church did not expect.

In Acts 10, Cornelius is a Roman centurion who was considered a “God-fearer”.  He did total subscribe to the Jewish faith but was still seeking for God.  Cornelius was generous to the poor and was an example to his family.  It seems that he was on the verge of something but just couldn’t put his finger on it.  Cornelius needed a witness and Peter was it.  So Peter and Cornelius have “visits” from the Spirit and the two eventually meet.  While Peter was proclaiming the Gospel to Cornelius and his family, the Spirit came upon Cornelius’ group and they began speaking in tongues.  Peter and all who were with him were amazed that the Holy Spirit was poured upon Gentiles…of all people.  This was a significant turning point in Acts where the new church realized that Gentiles were also included in the mission of Christ.

After Peter witnesses this amazing event he asks a similar question the Ethiopian Eunuch asked in Acts 8, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?” Or rephrased, “Can anyone keep these people from receiving the grace of God?” Obviously the answer is NO since the Spirit came upon those Gentiles and there wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop it.  The grace of God is for ALL people.

Who around us do we consider “Gentiles”?

Who in our communities do we consider “outside” the church?

Is there anyone we know (or group of people) that we consider unworthy of attention?

Who’s not worth the effort?

In Acts 8 and Acts 10 we see that the mission of Christ does not stop at the “boundaries” of the church building or at the group of people who call themselves the church.  The grace of God extends across boundaries and shatters our expectations.  In Acts 1:8 Jesus says “…and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”

Who are the “Corneliuses” out there that need a witness?

Who is the Spirit leading you to?

Listen and pay attention.  Someone out there needs a witness.