Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Why and What of the Message: The Gospel elicits Worship and stirs people to Obedience or Rebellion

Scripture: Matthew 2:2-3
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Insights: Today’s verses cover two aspects of the magi’s message.  The first one deals with why the magi came seeking the Lord Jesus in the first place.  The answer to that why is worship.  They told Herod they had seen the star in the east and had come to worship this Child.  Herod’s response leads us into the second aspect of the magi’s message for today.  It answers the question of what.  In other words, what is the response people have to the gospel?  They are either obedient or rebellious.  Herod is an example of a rebellious heart.  We know this because the verse states he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.  Why was Herod troubled?  The answer was because he thought his reign was coming to an end because of this Child.  As a result, he was going to do everything he could to hang on to his reign and rule; therefore, he made it very difficult on the people of Jerusalem as he was stressing over his own situation.  Beloved, these truths also affect us today.  In every situation and circumstance of life we have the same choice in regards to God’s grace.  We can either choose surrender which takes on the form of obedience or we can choose to be stiff-necked which takes on the form of rebellion.  When we rightly choose obedience to the Father and His will, it will inevitably lead to worship of Him.  These magi saw His star and immediately began to obey Him as they traveled a great journey to worship the Christ Child.  It is my prayer that as we approach 2014 that we will live our lives like these magi.  We will daily strive to walk in obedience to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I pray we will be compelled to worship and adore Him because of His great love for us.  Make the decision now, in regards to next year, to walk in obedience to Jesus.  It will be the best decision you make.

  1. How would you describe your worship before the Lord?
  2. Is your life characterized as one of obedience or rebellion?

Prayer: Father, transform my heart to obediently worship and serve You.  As this year of 2013 closes, I truly want You to be my one desire in 2014.  Mold me daily as I worship You into the image of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Who of the Message: The Gospel is for Everyone

Scripture: Matthew 2:1
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,

Insights: Have you ever wondered why the magi are in the Christmas story?  I think today’s verse gives us some of the reason for them being in the story.  The significance I believe is found in three little words, “from the east.”  These magi were not Israelites.  They were gentiles who had, by God’s grace, learned about the birth of the Messiah and came to worship Him.  The very fact that they are gentiles speaks volumes to us today in regards to the heart of God.  Last week we saw the angels announced the birth first to shepherds.  The significance being Jesus came to die for the poor and the wealthy.  Today we see gentiles, which mean Jesus came to die for every people group around the world.  Let me run a tangent for a moment.  One of the things a preacher does when asking the Lord if a church he is considering is the right one is to find ministry matches.  In other words, do the passions he has line up with the passions of the church.  Mission involvement is very near and dear to Kristy and me; therefore, when we learned about the Ecuadorian and Argentinian missions in which FBCBG participate, we knew we had a ministry match.  Obviously, there were many other factors to take into consideration, but this one point was very large in giving us confirmation to the will of the Lord.  I mention this to challenge you this coming year.  We have five more trips scheduled to Ecuador.  I would encourage you to seek the Lord as to when you ought to go on this trip.  We as Believers are called to our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria, and to the utter most parts of the world.  This commission is a simultaneous commission.  In other words, you do not what until you have reached all of Jerusalem before you move on to Judea.  You actively reach out to all four locations at the same time.  The way we accomplish this objective is through short term mission trips.  Here is one of those subtle secretes about mission trips: when you go, you come back more evangelistically charged to reach your Jerusalem.  I don’t understand how this works, but it does.  Beloved, let us have the same heart beat the Lord does for the gentiles of this world and actively participate in missions.  May the Lord be brought glory through our obedience.

  1. Are you missions minded?
  2. Is there anything holding you back from engaging the world for Jesus?

Prayer: Father, increase my love for the world.  You created all people and desire a love relationship with each and every one of them.  Help my heart to grow and become more engaged in mission opportunities which lie in front of me.  Amen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Proper Response of Proclamation

Scripture: Luke 2:15-18
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

 Insights: Today’s verses show us two dynamics of the shepherd’s obedience.  The first part is the time frame in which the shepherds respond.  They stated, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem.”  Just as yesterday I remarked you will never convince me the angels did not sing their praises to God, I would say the same kind of thing in regards to the shepherds.  I do not think that a single shepherd said, “Hey guys, it’s okay, I will stay around and watch the sheep.  You guys go on into Bethlehem and see this baby the angels just told us about.”  I believe every one of them headed off to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus.  They risked their livelihood to see the wonder of God.  The second part of their obedience deals with what they did after they saw the baby Jesus.  Notice that the verses state, “And all who heard.”  Remember earlier in the week we discussed how there was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary.  When she had the baby, it is more than likely that it was only the two of them present.  Yet, after the shepherds see the Christ child, they go out and proclaim the good news the angels spoke to them and all heard and wondered about the things the shepherds said.  In other words, proclamation was reverberated all across the area.  Beloved, the shepherd’s response is exactly what our response ought to be.  We need to immediately obey whatever the Lord tells us to do and we must also be about the proclamation of the gospel.  This kind of response is what pleases the Lord.  Let me encourage you to be faithful and obedient right now today.

  1. Who have you recently told about the saving work of Jesus?
  2. What is holding you back from being a bold witness for our Lord Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I pray You bend me to Your will and grant me boldness and courage to proclaim the truth of the gospel to a dying world.  Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Praise Song

Scripture: Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Insights: The verses today state the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  I don’t believe they just “said” these words.  I believe when the multitude of the heavenly hosts began praising God it was the choir of the ages singing praises to the Lord.  The term, by the way, regarding these angels literally means army.  It would be better stated a multitude of the heavenly armies of the Lord began praising God and singing.  This choir held nothing back.  They sang unapologetically and I also believe they sang loudly!  Beloved, here is the point behind this scene of worship: they sang to God.  We as His children ought to have a song in our hearts for Him.  A lot of us walk around as if we were baptized in lemon juice and haven’t cracked a smile in decades.  I contend that if one is truly in a love relationship with the Lord Jesus, then worship is going to be the outflow of obedience.  Our faces and lives will reflect the grace and joy bestowed on us.  I would encourage you this day to spend a conscientious effort praising God.  Look for ways and opportunities to praise Him.  I promise you it will affect the way you go through the day.  Let the Lord be your central thought and let Him bless you this day.

  1. What is the song in your heart you are singing?
  2. Does your life reflect an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God or frustration and resentment?

Prayer: Father, You and You alone are worthy of praise.  May I never attempt to steal Your glory and Lord, when I do, quickly bring me to my knees so I might repent and have my heart restored to Your great grace.  You are worthy of praise, my King.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Powerful Salutation

Merry Christmas!!!

Scripture: Luke 2:10-12
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Insights: Today’s verses give us the powerful salutation of the angel to the shepherds.  It truly is a powerful greeting and announcement.  As usual the angel had to assure the shepherds they had no reason to fear him or his message.  The very next part of the reception was “I bring you good news.”  The gospel of Jesus Christ IS good news.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth to live among us, to die for our sins and finally to have victory over sin and death by His resurrection.  This message is known as the gospel and has the power of life and death; life to those who receive the gift of salvation found in Jesus or death to those who reject such a gracious offering for them.  The second part of the angel’s message was what occurs to those who receive the gospel.  They receive joy which is unspeakable in so many ways.  If you are born again, then you know exactly about what I am writing.  If you are not born again, then you just do not understand because you do not have the joy of Jesus in your life.  The final part of the salutation I wish you to take to heart is the intended recipient of this joy and good news.  The joy and good news is for ALL people.  God desires all to enter into His rest. He understands most will not receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  He does, however, still offer such a gift of grace to the perishing.  Beloved, just like the angel, we are supposed to be messengers of grace to the lost and dying of this world.  Let us be as valiant and bold as this angel.  May we point all men to the love of Jesus Christ, their Savior.  It is my prayer that on this Christmas day you have taken opportunity to reflect on His work in your life.  I pray, if opportunity presented itself, you shared the gospel.  I pray the Lord was honored by your conduct and attitude this day of remembrance of our Savior’s birth.

  1. On this Christmas day is your heart filled with joy?
  2. Have you received the gift of salvation the Christ child bought for you?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the true gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ, Your Son.  May my heart be filled with joy this day as I encounter You and Your grace.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Profound Shift

Scripture: Luke 2:7
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

Insights: Today’s verse gives us another one of those amazing truths regarding God’s character.  We go through this world and face all kinds of obstacles and situations.  While we are going through these opportunities it might feel as if God is absent or possibly uncaring.  Then, often times, when it seems as if things could not possibly get any worse, God shows up suddenly and unexpectedly and astonishes us with His power, provision and grace.  Think about Joseph for a moment.  He spent years in slavery and prison and on a given day, when he was about his normal routines in the prison, he is called before the Pharaoh to interpret his dream.  He goes from last place to the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.  Think also for a moment about Mary and Martha when their brother was sick.  They sent word to Jesus (God if you will) and asked Him to heal their brother whom Jesus loves.  Instead of rushing to their need Jesus heads the other direction as if He does not really care about their pain and suffering.  Unbeknownst to Mary and Martha, Jesus shows up after Lazarus has been dead for four days.  He unexpectedly caught them unaware of what God was going to do in the middle of their lives…in the middle of their pain and suffering.  Beloved, God still works like this today.  He suddenly showed up to the world when He sent His angel to proclaim to the shepherds about Jesus.  His glory resonated throughout the hillside and it radically affected those shepherds.  No matter what you are facing, whether the mundane routine of life or a tragic event, God wants to intervene and make His power and glory known in your life.  I pray you will humble yourself before this mighty God we serve and be completely swept off your feet as He displays His great power and glory in your life.

  1. In what ways is the Lord God catching you unaware of His majestic glory?
  2. Are you grateful for God’s sudden activity in your life?

Prayer: Father, You constantly amaze and wow me with Your agenda and plans.  You continually catch me unaware of Your activity in this world.  Lord, let me cry out to You now and ask for Your continual sudden activity in my life.  Continue, I beg to catch me in awe of Your grace and glory.  Amen.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Places of Promise

Scripture: Luke 2:1-6
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

Insights: This week’s sermon passage breaks down into three different segments.  The first segment I will cover in its entirety today.  It deals with places.  In other words, the first few verses deal with the prophetic place of Bethlehem.  The next couple of verses deal with the paltry place of the stable.  The final verse deals with the picturesque place of the field country in which the shepherds were watching their flocks.  The Father moved the kings of this world to bring about His plan of allowing Jesus to be born in Bethlehem.  Caesar Augustus held a census every fourteen years in order to receive the proper taxes to run the empire.  Because this census required everyone to return to their home city, Joseph had to return to Bethlehem.  He took Mary along with him and because of her pregnancy they moved more slowly than others heading to Bethlehem.  As a result, when they finally arrived, there was no room available in any normal lodging facility.  A kindly inn keeper, however, had pity on them and allowed them to stay in the stables where at least it was dry and warm.  It was not the best place to have a baby, especially the Son of God.  Yet, that was God’s plan and purpose to bring about His perfect agenda of saving the world.  The final scene introduces us to the shepherds and their introduction helps us understand that Jesus came to this world for everyone.  He came to die for the emperor of Rome and the lowly shepherd in the fields.  Jesus came for all. Beloved, the Lord has you in a specific place right now in order to reveal Himself to you just as He did in the ancient world to all involved in the birth of the Savior.  Your job is to seek the Lord while He may be found and grow in your relationship with Him.

  1. In what kind of place are you presently encountering the Lord?
  2. Are you grateful the Lord has come to save all of mankind?

Prayer: Father, thank You that You have a perfect plan that incorporates all of humanity.  Thank You for Your gracious act of reaching out to the lowliest of people and using the “rulers” of this world to bring Your plan to pass.  Amen.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Favor was Noticed, Again

Scripture: Luke 1:66
All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, "What then will this child turn out to be?" For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

Insights: Today we conclude were we started earlier this week.  God’s favor was noticed.  Again, look at what the people, lost people mind you, were doing.  They were talking about what the Lord was doing in the life of Zacharias, Elizabeth and John the Baptist.  Another thing they were doing was thinking and contemplating what the Lord was getting ready to do.  So, not only were they talking like those who gossip around the water cooler at work, but they were also pondering what all of these miraculous events my mean.  The actual words in the verse were, “kept them in mind.”  The last part of this verse that is important to keep in mind (an intentional play on words) is God’s favor.  As I indicated Monday, God’s favor is absolutely vital and key if we are going to do anything of lasting value for the kingdom.  Everything we do must first originate in the heart of God and we must respond to His guiding hand and work.  These people who heard and saw God’s work in Zacharias’ family knew that “the hand of the Lord was certainly with [John the Baptist].”  Beloved, I told you Monday, we need to be about the business of crying out for the Lord to bring His favor down on our lives.  We need to strive to walk in an abiding relationship with Him and let His favor flow out from our lives.  The reason God’s favor is dispensed on us is so that lost people will be drawn by God’s grace and come to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Be open and mindful of what the Lord is doing in your life and take advantage of those God ordained moments when you have the opportunity to witness to a lost world.  They desperately need a Savior and you have been commissioned to tell them about His great love.  Receive the Lord’s favor with humility and never begin to think it is you doing the work, but always be mindful that it is God doing the work in and through you.  Humble yourself before the Lord and point all people to Him.  Let your praise to Him be heard and seen by all those around you!

  1. Is the hand of the Lord on you?
  2. Are lost people talking about what the Lord is doing in your life?

Prayer: Father, I do not always feel Your favor on me.  I sin and turn my back on You so often.  Forgive me and bless me with Your strength and grace.  Turn my weakness into a tool for Your glory as You dispense Your favor on me.  Let Your great name be praised as You enable me, by Your Spirit, to obey Your commands.  Amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fear was Experienced

Scripture: Luke 1:64-65
And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.

Insights: Once again God intervenes in the world and displays His awesome power and might in the world.  For at least nine months Zacharias was mute and after he wrote the name John his tongue was loosed.  He was now able to speak and the very first thing he does is praise the Lord God for His activity and grace.  God is still in this kind of work today.  He still desires to amaze and astonish His children as well as His creation.  Now notice with me how the lost world responded to God’s miraculous involvement in human affairs.  They were gripped with fear and they could not stop talking about all that God had done in the life of Zacharias and Elizabeth.  What a wonderful way for the glory of God to be spread—lost people telling of the works of God.  Beloved, I have been sharing this over the past three weeks, and I state it again today.  When God’s favor is on your life, people are going to notice and they are going to be talking about God and His work.  They are not going to be talking about you, but the Lord.  This truth is a humbling display of God’s glory.  I would encourage you to cry out to the Lord and ask Him to allow His favor to be on your life.  Then, as He prompts your heart, respond in obedience.  The Lord pricked Zacharias and he praised the Lord and people were astounded at his ability to speak after nine months of silence.  All I can truly say in response to God’s work in this part of the Messiah’s history is – WOW!!!  God is truly good all the time and all the time God is good.  Beloved, praise the Lord for His active involvement in your life today.

  1. Is the work of God in your life so awe inspiring that it is causing the lost around you to experience fear of God’s power?
  2. Are you crying out to the Lord for Him to use you in such a mighty way as to generate this awe of His glory?

Prayer: Father, use me in such a fashion that the lost world recognizes Your favor on my life and brings You glory.  Lord, let me continue to live in awe of Your amazing power and might.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fault-finders were Present

Scripture: Luke 1:61-63
And they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name." And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished.

Insights: Today’s verses point us to one of those truths about life.  If we are God’s children and if we have heard a word from Him, then there will always be those who find fault with what we are doing.  The sad part is that often times these fault-finders are very much alive and well in the church.  In Elizabeth’s life it played out like this: “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name,” but in our modern day life, it goes like this: “We have never done it that way before.”  It is a sad commentary on our lives to put God in a box and declare to the world, “This _____________ (fill in the blank) is the only way God works.”  How many times did He have the nation of Israel march around a city for seven days and on the seventh day march seven times and then shout?  How many times did He make an axe head float?  How many different ways did Jesus heal the blind?  God is a God of infinite creativity.  Just look at His creation.  We are all unique and so is His animal kingdom.  The reason these fault-finders are present is because Satan is attempting to thwart the will and ways of God.  Our adversary is attempting to discourage us and prevent us from walking boldly with our Lord.  Beloved, we must arise to the challenge.  We must put on our spiritual armor and valiantly fight against the enemy and his evil schemes to stop us.  We must with faith oppose the fault-finders and point them to the love, power and grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let us be victorious in HIM!!!

  1. What work has God called you to that you are receiving opposition?
  2. Have these fault-finders caught you by surprise and hindered you from obeying the Lord?

Prayer: Father, as difficult as it is to say, “Thank You for the fault-finders.”  I do not always handle their opposition well, but when I know I have heard a clear word from You, then it helps give confirmation that I am walking with You.  Grant me the courage to remain strong in the midst of opposition.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Faithfulness was Displayed

Scripture: Luke 1:59-60
And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, "No indeed; but he shall be called John."

Insights: Elizabeth’s friends and family were getting ready to name the child after his father.  The custom and tradition of the name would have been right in the keeping with such activity of the people.  The pressure on Elizabeth to conform to societal norms would have been incredibly great.  We often overlook this part of the history surrounding the birth of John the Baptist.  She, however, arose to the challenge and answered the people around her, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”  What a moment of faithful obedience to the Lord.  Remember, she did not see the vision of the angel as Zacharias did.  She is, by faith, believing her husband and the miraculous deeds of God in her pregnancy.  Because of this faith she is bold in her proclamation of God’s command in her life.  The child shall be called John.  Beloved, each and every day we are challenged in the same way.  The Lord continually commands we walk in obedience to His will and His ways.  Because of the spiritual war going on around us, His ways and will are more often than not in contradiction to what our society declares to be normal and acceptable.  I admonish you, children of the King, to humbly walk in obedience with Jesus.  Let His Spirit fill you full.  As you walk in this kind of faithful obedience, He will be brought glory.  Make certain you point people to the reason for your faithful activity.  Let your light shine as Elizabeth let hers.  To God be the glory.

  1. What is the Lord asking you to do that is hard and possibly goes against conventional wisdom and customs?
  2. Will you choose faithfulness or disobedience to the commands of the Father?

Prayer: Father, thank You for speaking to me and revealing Your will.  Grant me the boldness and power to walk obediently with You.  I do not always understand Your ways or Your plans, but I pray You grant me grace to believe You and faithfully obey You.  Amen.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Favor was Noticed

Scripture: Luke 1:57-58
Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.

Insights: Notice with me that Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives had heard about the Lord’s great mercy which had been displayed on her.  The Lord’s favor has been a theme over the past three weeks and it is portrayed again in this week’s history of the Christmas event.  One of the things I have mentioned about favor is that when the Lord’s favor is truly on you, people outside of the church (those lost without a Savior), often times begin talking about the Lord’s activity in your life.  Now, when I say those outside of the Lord’s family are talking about His activity within His family, I am in no way suggesting that we do not have to evangelize and tell other people about God’s work in our lives.  What I am saying, however, is in conjunction with our faithful activity of proclamation; the lost world will recognize God’s direct activity in our lives.  When they see His involvement in our affairs, they begin talking about His work.  The reason they talk is because they are amazed and in awe of what God is doing.  It is part of His work in drawing them to a saving relationship with Jesus.  Beloved, this makes me wonder what the Lord is doing in our lives that is so amazing and awe inspiring that people are taking notice of God’s activity.  God has not stopped working in this world.  He is still drawing people to Himself.  He is still a miracle working God.  We must be mindful of what God is doing and point others to His activity.  We must continually ask Him to let His favor fall on our lives.  When His favor is on us we will bear much fruit, but without His favor we can do nothing (John 15:5).  Let us surrender ourselves completely to His will and His ways and bring glory to Him.

  1. Are you experiencing the favor of the Lord in your life?
  2. Have you been crying out to Him and asking Him to grant you His favor?

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your grace and favor in my life.  May You continually increase Your favor on me daily.  As Your love is displayed on and in me, may I point others to You and Your glory.  Amen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

God Still Performs Miracles

Scripture: Luke 1:35-38
The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Insights: If you are facing a crisis, an issue, or even an obstacle, then you are a candidate for a miracle.  We still worship and serve a miracle working God.  Just as He performed a miracle in Mary’s life and conceived Jesus within her, so He is able to perform a miracle in your life.  I also want you to notice that age is not a factor in God’s activity.  The next verse reminds us that Elizabeth is already six months pregnant.  God opened her barren womb and allowed her the joy of giving birth to John the Baptist.  Often times, however, when God offers us a miracle, there is a catch.  In other words, sometimes God states, “If you will do _________(fill in the blank), then I will do __________ (fill in the blank).”  Even though the angel did not speak an if/then clause, the implication is there.  The final verse reveals to us Mary’s response to the angel.  She calls herself a bondslave of the Lord.  She further goes on to say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  Mary chose obedience and that is the same option we have if we are God’s children.  Beloved, I do not know what you are presently facing, but I do know the One who is able to work miraculously in your life.  I know He is a loving Father who deeply cares about you more than you could ever imagine.  He desires to intervene in your life and draw you into an abiding love relationship with His Triune community.  Choose this day to obediently surrender to the Lord’s will and watch in amazement as He “wows” you.  May He be brought glory as He works in your life.

  1. What miracle has God performed for you lately?
  2. Have you responded in obedience to Him as a result of His activity in your life?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You still work, care and love me.  Help me to obediently answer,”Yes,” to any request You have of me.  You involvement in my life is overwhelming and help me never take it for granted.  Amen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

God Sees the Heart

Scripture: Luke 1:34
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

Insights: Notice Mary’s question is not that much different from Zacharias question found in verse eighteen.  Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."  In the New American Standard Bible the words for certain were italicized.  The reason was because the translators added those.  In this case, the King James Version is a more literal word-for-word translation.  It reads, “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”  The English Standard Version states, “And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  Here is my point: Zacharias asked a how question and then gave his reasoning behind his doubt with a statement about his age.  Mary asked a how question and then gave her reasoning about her virginity.  Why was Zacharias punished and Mary commended when they both asked a how question?  The answer is because God SEES the HEART.  Zacharias asked with a heart of doubt and did not actually believe God was capable of making this birth of his son come to pass. Mary, however, asked with a heart of faith and she actually did believe God was capable.  Mary just wanted to know how it was going to happen because she believed it was going to come to pass.  Beloved, the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the truth of our heart.  I want you to notice one more thing as well.  Mary did question God.  It is alright to ask the Lord questions.  You can ask Him the why and how questions you face in this world.  He is a very large God and He can handle it.  What is important in those questions is the sincerity of the heart.  God knows the truth behind the question as He examines you.  Ask all the questions you need to, but do it from the vantage point of faith.

  1. When you have questions for the Lord are they from faith or doubt?
  2. Are you aware the Lord sees the motive and intent of the heart?

Prayer: Father, You know me better than I know myself.  You know my every anxious thought and know the truth of my heart.  Increase my faith Lord and allow me to respond in obediently as Mary did.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

God's Messiah and His Kingdom are Announced

Scripture: Luke 1:31-33
"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Insights: Today’s verses give us the actual announcement of the Messiah and His kingdom. Jesus Christ came to usher in a kingdom that would have no end.  He is the King of that kingdom and we all have the opportunity to have our citizenship in that kingdom.  All we have to do is receive the free gift found in Jesus’ work on the cross and in His resurrection.  In other words, Jesus was born for the express purpose of dying.  He came to announce His kingdom and tell the world that we can join this kingdom if we will but receive His gift of love.  Once we have received this gift of salvation we are then commissioned to be ambassadors for our new home and tell this world about Jesus’ love and sacrifice.  Beloved, Jesus’ kingdom has no end.  We will either spend eternity there with Him or in the Lake of Fire separated from Him.  In fact, every person ever born is going to fall into one of these two places.  It is my prayer that you will enter into Jesus’ kingdom by receiving Him as your Lord and Savior.  It is also my prayer that you will arise and boldly tell others of His great love for them.  Ask the Lord to change your heart and to see the world as He does and to respond to this world as He does as well.  If we live our lives like this, we will bring Him glory and many will come to know Him as Savior and Lord.  Serve Him well this day!

  1. Have you come to know the Messiah personally in your life?
  2. If you have, are you intentionally out there announcing to the world of His second coming and their need for Him now?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the salvation I do have in Jesus. Grow me in Your love and let me be a bold witness of Your love to a world desperate for a Savior.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

God's Favor CANNOT Be Over Stated

Scripture: Luke 1:28-30
And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

Insights: Last week we learned about the favor of the Lord which was on Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Today, we see the same favor is being dispensed on Mary.  John 15:5 tells us “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  In other words, without the favor of the Lord on your life you are going to be able to accomplish NOTHING!  Yet if His abiding presence is in your life and His favor is being bestowed on you, then you will bear much fruit for His kingdom.  We must grow and understand that it is all about Him and His power.  We are just not going to be able to minister effectively in this world without Him.  Here is another thing I want you to understand about the favor of the Lord.  When His favor is on you, Satan, our adversary, is not happy.  He will do everything he can to prevent you from obediently serving the Lord.  I mention this to make you aware of the spiritual dynamics regarding warfare in the spiritual realm.  Let’s make it a little more personal for First Baptist Church Bowling Green.  The Lord has been working tremendously over the past several months.  Hearts are beginning to soften and lives are beginning to change.  Situations are beginning to happen in some of our lives to take our focus off of the Lord Jesus and onto the circumstances surrounding us.  We now have the choice to run to Jesus or run from Jesus.  He is extending His favor and wants us to run to Him so that we know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering (Phil. 3:10).  Beloved, it is my prayer that no matter what this world and our enemy throws at us that we will remain faithful to our first love, Jesus Christ.  That we will draw near to Him and let the body of Christ help bear our burdens in love (Gal. 6:2).  Pray for the Lord’s favor to fall on us as the body of Christ and do not be caught unaware when the fiery darts of the enemy come closing in on us.

  1. Are you facing any opposition from the adversary as God is opening opportunity of ministry in your life?
  2. What specific areas of ministry engagement has the Lord placed on you lately?

Prayer: Father, please let Your favor fall on me.  Increase my ministry environment and help me to become sensitive to Your Holy Spirit’s promptings in my life as I serve You to expand Your kingdom by Your grace and power.  Amen.

Monday, December 9, 2013

God is Sovereign

Scripture: Luke 1:26-27
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Insights: I want us to focus on the first word of today’s verses, “Now.”  This one word declares the sovereign nature of our Lord and God.  For four hundred years it had appeared to the Jewish people that God had been silent, but NOW in His sovereign timing and purposes, He spoke again to the world.  In this world we have trouble and problems.  We experience pain and suffering.  We want the Lord to intervene in our situations in our ways and in our time table.  The problem with this kind of mentality is God is not a Genie in the bottle.  He does not act on our whims and fancies.  He sees and knows what the entire picture looks like and what must come to pass to bring about His glory.  Paul writing to the church of Galatia stated, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (6:7-9).”  As we are traversing through this world we must not grow wearying in our service and obedience to the Lord.  The key phrase in Paul’s admonishing was “in due time.”  In other words, in God’s due time He will work and move in whatever fashion He deems necessary for Him to receive the appropriate glory and praise.  Our job in understanding God’s sovereign activity is found in the last phrase of these three verses, “if we do not grow weary.”  Beloved, I know it is hard in this world.  I know we face some very painful circumstances.  I know we often times want to throw our hands up in the air and quit.  In spite of all those emotions and feelings, I want to encourage you to not grow weary.  I encourage you to not give in and quit, but rather to trust in the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Remain faithful, Beloved!

  1. What in your life has caused you to grow impatient with the Lord and His sovereignty?
  2. What are the ways in which you can develop and grow in your trust of the Lord and His timing?

Prayer: Father, I am often times a very impatient person.  Forgive me for attempting to solve my problems before going to You first and trusting You for the best plan.  Give me your peace and increase my faith as I surrender to Your Sovereign authority and will.  Amen.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pray for the Favor of the Lord to be on You

Scripture: Luke 1:24-25
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men."

Insights: If there was one subject I have been learning about this year, it is the subject with which my last point Sunday dealt.  I am growing in the knowledge of the grace and admonition of the Lord in regards to His favor, presence and power.  Elizabeth rightly declared that what had happened to her was a result of God’s favor upon her.  Zacharias and she were absolutely one hundred percent incapable of conceiving a child apart from the miraculous work of the Lord.  I am convinced they tried to have children for years (see today’s verses).  Then, at the perfect time in history, God graced them with His favor and they were able to conceive and have a son who would bring them great joy.  Jesus in His final night of teaching before His arrest and crucifixion said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).”  It is my opinion the church of America, holistically, not unanimously, has tried for decades now to “bear much fruit” in their own power and strength.  We have preached the power of Jesus, but without actually believing He was going to work.  As a result, we attempted to do on our own what only He could do.  As this downward spiral has continued we are now, years later, recognizing the failure of our self-aggrandizement.  If the Lord’s favor is not on us, we are incapable of doing anything for His kingdom and glory.  We must get on our knees and begin crying out to the Lord to forgive us of our self-sufficiency and beg Him for His favor.  Beloved, if we are going to truly see revival fall down on us it will only occur when we have humbled ourselves enough to recognize our sinful reliance in our systems and plans.  We must fervently and passionately pray for God’s favor of blessing to reign down on us as His people and we must obey Him without reservation or doubt.  Cry out to the Lord this moment for His favor to be on your conversations and actions!
  1. Are you experiencing the favor of the Lord?
  2. Are you praying for the favor of the Lord to be on you?

Prayer: Father, I can do absolutely nothing to bring You glory without Your favor on my life.  Forgive me for the times I attempted to serve You in my own power.  Grant me, I pray, Your favor and may my life bring glory to Your name as a result.  Amen.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Do Not Doubt the Proclamations of God & When God Works, Others will Notice

Scripture: Luke 1:18-23
Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time." The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.

Insights: The fifth and sixth points this past Sunday were very short in explanation.  The fifth point was do not doubt the proclamations of God.  There are consequences to our disobedience and refusal to believe God and His plans.  Now, I am not even going to presume I know what those consequences are in my or your life, but for Zacharias, it was his silence for at least nine months.  I also will not presume that it is always easy to trust God and His plan.  We face all kinds of difficult things in this world (loss of loved ones, diseases, relationship difficulties, addictions, etc.) and sometimes it is very hard to trust the Lord.  I promise you, however, if you will, then your life will be better for it in the end.  When you do trust and have an encounter with the Lord, the sixth point comes into play, which is when God works, others will notice.  The Lord does not always cause the painful events or challenges to occur in our lives, but He will use those events to bring Himself glory.  As we obediently follow after God’s plans, others will notice how our lives are lived out differently from the rest of the world.  They will recognize our peace and comfort in the midst of the situation and they will start asking questions.  They will wonder what you have that they do not and if you are mindful of what is going on around you, it will open up doors for your to share Jesus with them.

  1. Have you recently doubted the power and plan of God?
  2. In what ways are others noticing God’s activity in your life?

Prayer: Father, I know Your plans are perfect, but I do not always understand them.  Increase my faith to hold on tight to Your love and Your will.  As I trust, let my life point to You and allow others to notice Your activity in my life.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Forerunners Mission: Reconciliation

Scripture: Luke 1:15-17
"For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Insights: The third point in my sermon this past Sunday was joy is extended to the righteous and the verses focusing on this thought were verses eleven through fourteen.  The gist of the point was that God desires to give us His joy and in a very real sense John the Baptist served as that kind of joyful gift from the Lord.  The point I wish to focus on today, however, was the fourth point which is found in today’s verses.  The world is at enmity with God and its fellow human beings.  The whole reason Jesus came to this earth was to make it possible for humanity and the Lord to be restored relationally.  John the Baptist had the same mission of reconciliation that the Lord God has called us.  Because of the work of Jesus, we are all called to be ambassadors of reconciliation to a world in desperate need for a Savior.  When humanity is properly reconciled to the Lord, it is amazing what kind of healing work the Lord can do in the family.  Because Satan knows how import fathers are to the health and future of a family, he targets them.  He does everything he can to trip them up and make them fall in their walk with the Lord.  John the Baptist was sent to help strengthen fathers and bring healing to their family relationships.  It is amazing how if we get reconciled to the Father, that then there is a possibility for the family to be reconciled and from this reconciliation the obedient actions follow naturally.  If the first one is messed up, however, then the second one is easily destroyed.  When that takes place, then disobedience is the natural end product.  Beloved, let us turn our face toward the Lord and be reconciled to Him.  Let us then watch Him miraculously work in our families and begin living lives of obedience to Him and His great name.

  1. Are you in need of being reconciled with the Lord God?
  2. Are there any people with whom you need to be reconciled?

Prayer: Father, You have called us to a ministry of reconciliation because of the desperate need humanity has for restoration and fulfillment.  May I, like John the Baptist, help people come to a saving relationship with You and help restore families.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

God Orders Events in HIS Time

Scripture: Luke 1:8-10
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.

Insights: I believe we as a people are very impatient.  Maybe better stated, I am very impatient.  I blame all of this on the microwave and Burger King.  We want it now and we want it our way.  God, however, is not going to work like that.  He is going to do it His way and in His timing.  The Old Testament ends and for 400 years it is as if God were silent.  Then, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah, God speaks in dramatic fashion by sending an angel to Zacharias to tell of the birth of his son, the forerunner to the Messiah.  Now in order for this vision to come to pass, God had to orchestrate the event at the time in which Zacharias’ division was appointed to serve.  God had to have the lots fall on Zacharias in order for him to enter the temple to burn the incense.  All of this had to happen at the right time in order to have His Son, Jesus, born at the time in which He had determined was the perfect point in history for His Son to come on the scene.  Here is the point: God’s timing is perfect and He is going to do things in the proper time.  We go through life and we face all kinds of challenges and we want and desire for God to work right now and in our way.  He, however, is not a genie in a bottle for us to command with our whims.  He is the Sovereign Lord of Creation and He knows what is best and when it is best.  We also have a mistaken understanding of good.  We go through tragedy and think it is bad, but in God’s economy it may be the very best thing that could happen to us if it draws us into a relationship with Him.  I did not say it was easy to trust God in these difficult and trying times, but it is best.  Beloved, let us have our faith increased as we trust our Father to do what is best in our lives.

  1. Do you ever feel like things are not happening when you think they ought to happen?
  2. Are you content trusting that God is working in His time and for His glory?

Prayer: Father, I am so often impatient.  Forgive me for not trusting You and believing that Your plans are perfect.  Grow me in Your grace and let my worrisome heart be transformed into one of peace and contentment in You.  Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

We Must Be Light in a Dark World

Scripture: Luke 1:5-7
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

Insights: The first line in verse five tells us that Herod was king.  You need to understand that Herod was not a good king to the Jewish people.  He was self-absorbed and cared only about his comfort, reputation, and power.  Remember, this is the same king who after hearing about the birth of Jesus killed every male child two years old and younger in the area of Bethlehem.  His oppression on the people was horrific at times.  In other words, he created a very dark world in which the people of Israel lived.  We, today, also live in a dark world.  All you have to do is watch the news or read a newspaper and you will quickly find out that there is a great deal of darkness pervading this world.  Notice, however, the type of people Zacharias and Elizabeth were in the midst of this darkness.  They both were righteous in the sight of God.  Even though Jesus had not come on the scene yet and the Holy Spirit was not permanently dwelling inside those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, it was still His working in their lives that made them righteous people.  The next part of the verse tells us the guiding principle in their lives which equipped them to live this righteous life out before the Lord God.  They walked blamelessly in all the commands and requirements of the Lord.  In modern day vernacular, they lived by the truths found in the Bible.  The Scriptures were their authority for how to live life.  As a result of this righteous and blameless lifestyle, they were shining lights in the midst of a very dark world.  Their lives were a testimony to God’s faithfulness and love.  They were a beacon of hope to a world in desperate need of a Savior, which ultimately was to be found in Jesus Christ, their second cousin.  Beloved, we need to be that very same light in the dark world we presently live.  If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then let your light, which is found in Him, shine brilliantly!

  1. What are some of the examples in this world that help you recognize its darkness?
  2. In what ways are you letting the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from your life?

Prayer: Father, the world in which I live is fallen, sinful and dark.  Yet, Your Son is in my heart and helps me shine a light of hopeful righteousness to those desperately needing a Savior.  Let me courageously point people to Jesus.  Amen.