Monday, December 29, 2014

One Thing Our Hearts Can't Afford to Forget in 2015


Approximately two hundred fifty babies are born every minute.

Every minute two hundred fifty people are given life.

And given a name.

From the beginning, names have been a significant part of our society.

Adam’s first task was to name the animals. He also named his wife, Eve.

And when an angel appeared to Zacharias and to Mary and to Joseph, each of them was spoken to by name by a particular angel, named Gabriel.

How did Gabriel know their names?

Because Gabriel “stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19).

He knew their names because the Lord Himself knew their names.

A very tiny fraction of the 7.2 billion people who live on this earth know your name and mine.

But one of the most important identifying factors of who we are is known by the One who made all things, gives life to 250 babies every minute, and called us individually to Himself.

He knows our name.




People will come and go in our lives this year.
Unexpected heartaches and joys will all be part of the minutes that will make up another year.

One thing our hearts can’t afford to forget in 2015?

                He knows our name.


“Thus says the LORD . . . I have called you by your name;
You are mine.”  Isaiah 43:1


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Fear Not: For Unto You is Born This Day . . . a Savior



We’re here.

But isn’t this pointless?

Keeping watch over this flock by night.

These sheep will be sacrificed for sin.

Sins will be covered.

But never taken away.

We’ll be here night after night.

Watching this flock.

And the flock that will replace this one.

And the next flock.

And the next.

Sacrifices never sufficient for sin.

Our God is holy.

Our sins need a better sacrifice than this.

Suddenly an angel and glory appear!

The glory of the Lord shines around us!

We tremble to be in this Presence.

But the angel says, “Fear not.”

“Fear not.

For unto you is born this day . . . a Savior.”

We will run to see Him.

This Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

The Final Sacrifice.

This is tidings of great joy!

As the multitude of angels said,

“Peace on earth.”

Joy and peace made possible in one sacrifice.

Sufficient to take away sin.

A Lamb replaces this flock.






Jesus came  . . .

“To heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives.” (Luke 4:18)


But more importantly.

He came to be the Savior of the world.

This “Greatest news the world has ever heard” was announced to shepherds.

Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He was the perfect Sacrifice who came to take away all fear.

He has saved us from sin.

We have nothing to fear.


The message of Christmas is . . .

Fear not.

Do not be afraid.

For unto you is born this day . . . a Savior.



MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Click here to listen to The Fear Nots of Christmas

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Fear Not: For With God Nothing Will Be Impossible



My heart is breaking.

Could this really be?

Three months pregnant?

And Mary never said a word.

I will have to put her away.

But I will do it privately.

No one needs to know.

For her sake.

“Joseph, son of David, fear not.”

I hear the words in a dream.

But they’re very real.

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”

But. . . ?

“For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

This is impossible.

Could it be true?

Mary’s cousin conceived in her old age.

Couldn’t a miracle such as this occur?

A virgin with child?

It has to be true!

The angel tells me to name this son “Jesus.”

He will save His people from their sins.

My wife—still pure—will  be His mother!

Truly.

With God nothing will be impossible.




Joseph believed the angel when he said Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit.

He believed this impossible thing was possible and submitted to God’s ways being higher than his.

God moves in mysterious ways.

By submitting to His ways, we too can watch Him do the impossible.


The message of Christmas is . . .

Fear not.

Do not be afraid.

For with God nothing will be impossible.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Fear Not: For You Have Found Favor with God



One year.

For one year, we wait.

Will Joseph remain faithful?

Will I?

It would be so easy to fall.

If only I could know God is pleased with me.

Who is this?

He walks into the room.

“Rejoice, highly favored one.

The Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among women.”

How could he say this to me?

Highly favored?

“Fear not, Mary.”

And he says it again . . .

“For you have found favor with God.”

God’s favor poured out on me?

This angel tells me I will have a son.

Not by Joseph.

Or any other man.

He will be the Son of God.

This impossible thing will happen.

I will give birth to the Messiah.

Because He poured out His grace.

On me.

Even me.





Every person who has ever received grace falls under one category: We’re all sinners in need of grace.

Mary knew she was like everybody else.

A sinner.

In need of God’s favor.

But an angel was sent to tell her that she had found favor with God.

He had chosen to pour out His grace, even on her.

In Christ, you and I are also “highly favored.”

The ones who fall into the category of every person who needs grace.

We’re sinners who have found grace in the eyes of the Lord.


The message of Christmas is . . .

FEAR NOT.

Do not be afraid.

For you have found favor with God.


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Fear Not: For Your Prayer is Heard



No wonder this is called “The Holy Place.”

I'm breathless.

Hushed.

I’ve only heard of the beauty and sacredness of this place.

I don’t deserve to be here.

A priest. But I quake to be this close to His Majesty.

I’ve prayed to Him.

For many years, I’ve prayed.

He is holy. Good. Just.

But has He heard my prayers?

Elisabeth is barren.

We wanted a family.

We prayed.

And stopped praying.

Did He even hear?

Suddenly, a brightness next to the altar!

No one warned me of this.

An angel?

“Fear not, Zacharias.

For your prayer is heard.”

He tells me my wife will bear a son, even in her old age.

The Messiah is coming.

And our son will point the way to Him.

We prayed.

He heard.

Years later, He gave something better than what we asked.





Zacharias and Elisabeth’s prayers had been heard.  
Their first prayer for a son.
And every prayer after that.

And when they stopped praying, their prayers weren’t forgotten.

Instead, God gave them something they never prayed for. Their son would be the promised forerunner. He would point the way to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

For years, God didn’t answer their prayer, because He had a purpose far deeper and more meaningful than the particular thing they were praying for.

God always has a bigger picture in mind than our prayers.

He hears every one.

We can trust the exact way He's choosing to answer.


The message of Christmas is . . .

FEAR NOT.

Do not be afraid.

For your prayer is heard.


Click here to listen to The Fear Nots of Christmas.