Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.I have been able to read the bible through for the third time these past three years. I actually finished reading Malachi yesterday but thought I would close out the year with this verse.It is important that we who fear the Lord should talk with each other and keep each encouraged. We can not walk the Christian life alone there are to many battles to fight. I am so grateful to many believers that have encouraged me and kept me going in the spiritual warfare that I am in. The Lord has made a record of those comments and I think these are also part of the book of remembrance of those who fear the Lord and esteem His name. I pray you would continue to fear the Lord and to esteem His name during this coming year. Pray for me that I would do the same and grow in my fear of God and that I would be more diligent to esteem His name.There is much I would like to see the Lord do in Estonia this coming year. As I think of these things I know that only God could do them. I just am not capable in doing these mighty deeds or acts. I pray that I would be before God in the Word and Prayer and that I would believe God to do these mighty deeds and acts for His glory. I just feel confident that Malachi 3:16 has something to do with this being possible.
Zechariah 6:8-10 "Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying "Thus has the Lord of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another'.."But they refused to obey!God is still speaking to us today about these basic truths that we must obey. So how am I doing at these things? Am I listening to the Lord and His Word or do I just read over these things and do not stop to consider my life as I should? Do I in the process refuse to obey and continue on in my busy Christian life full of meetings and things I enjoy; or do I take time to help those who are outside my realm of Christian activity.I have missed three days of writing out my devotions. I have read but did not get much and I just did not feel very well. I pushed to read but my mind seemed to be locked into a blank screen. If you have prayed for me, thanks. I am encouraged that today I woke up with a fresh eagerness to hear God speak. Pray that what I have shared would not be just words but I would take seriously what God has said to me.There are just two more days in this year; today and tomorrow. Pray that each of us and especially me that I would be grateful to God who has done so many wonderful things this year. I want to remember very clearly all that God has done and not what I have done. I want to clearly make a difference in these two.Second, I want to begin to pray and believe God to do some mighty things in this coming year for His glory. Things I could not possibly do but He will do so He would be glorified. I want to fit into God's plan for my life in the year 2007. For one, I want to be more a man of prayer than I was this year. I need to determine what God would have me to do to see this become a reality. Pray with me in this endeavor. God bless You richly today!
Luke 3:23-37 The genealogy of Jesus from His supposed father Joseph all the way back to Adam. God made the first Adam from nothing as well as his wife Eve. The second Adam was created by God by the Holy Spirit and Mary and He was named Jesus. The first Adam was given a freedom of choice and he sinned. The second Adam had a sinless soul and He did not sin. Only Jesus could die for our sin because He was sinless. He was a pure sacrifice who willingly died in order to save mankind from his sinful nature.Now the ministry of Jesus begins. He is thirty years old and is aware of what He has come into the world to do. He begin with a test and satan is there to be the tester just as he was in the garden some centuries before. This time he fails and waits for another day to try again.Often we are tested when we seek to serve God. There are many tests that we go through in our desire to be used of God. They are all for our benefit but we sometimes do not realize it at the time. I think my tests are to help me realize how dependent I am upon the Lord. I can not depend on my own strength because I am so powerless but His strength is more than I need.What tests lie ahead of me in 2007? Will I try to fight these in my own strength or will I humbly admit my powerlessness and fight these with God's strength. Phil 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who give me strength." Lord, help me to rely on Your strength and not my own.
Today is Christmas and Lou is fixing Christmas dinner for just us this Christmas. We just arrived from the US less than two weeks ago and we still having a difficult time adjusting our clocks to Estonia time. We went to go to church on Sun but when we pulled out of our parking space the car died in the middle of the road and the next hour and a half was spent getting it running and out of the middle of the road. That was our Christmas eve event. We spend the rest of the evening getting ready for our little Christmas time together. We got our few presents opened and had a wonderful time talking and remembering our times with our family and friends from times past.I woke up this morning thinking about how Christmas carols have ministered to me over the years. Even before I became a Christian I loved the songs of Christmas and sang them with vigor and knew most of them by heart. When I became a Christian I was amazed at how many Christians did not know the Christmas carols by heart. I often wondered why this was true. Maybe they were so busy with Christmas that they never took the time to think much about the words and maybe even the message that was in those words.I was thinking this morning again what carols were my favorite. I guess I would begin with "O come all you faithful" another would be "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and we always ended with "Joy to the World". What are your favorites? Do you know them from memory? Really these are more than just Christmas songs. They are about the beginning of the earthly appearance of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ of God. I will close with the first and last verses of "O Come all You Faithful""O Come all you faithful joyful and triumphant, come you oh come you to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him born the King of angels. O come, let us adore Him, O come and let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.""Yea, Lord, we greet You, Born this happy morning. Jesus, to You be all glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O come, let us adore Him......."I do wish you all a very blessed Christmas filled not with gifts only but something much more precious. You would come and adore the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all ages past and all ages to come. That you would allow Him to be the King of your life from this day on. I am so grateful that I made this commitment to God 52 years ago. I pray that this coming year it would be more obvious to others around me that Jesus Christ is truly the King of my life.
Luke 2:9-11 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall 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 great news the godly world had been waiting for happened in obscure Bethlehem and given to lowly shepherds watching sheep. But this was God's plan and fit the situation that existed in the world at that time. God is interested in everyone and He knows the best way to get the news out to a needy world. It began with the angels to the shepherds, later John began to proclaim who Jesus was and then Jesus began His earthly ministry.So God continues to use ordinary people like me to tell others the good news that Jesus has come to be our Savior. I must not forget that this was God's plan and it is still important for me to follow what He began.I may not be an evangelist but neither were the shepherds. I do have the responsibility to tell others what Jesus came to earth to do. He came to be my Savior and He wants me to tell others of this good news. I so easily get so busy that I fail in this important assignment. Lord, help me to order my life in such a way that I am constantly telling others why Jesus came into my world.
Luke 2:4-7 And 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. And it came about that while they were there, the days were complete for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.The parents, Joseph was given that responsibility, and Mary, did not get special treatment from God. They had to follow the rules of existing officials and God lead them in the midst of these rules even though it required a great sacrifice for them. God gave them safety and strength for this very difficult time but it required faith and courage on their part.In the midst of living life things very seldom are easy and require a lot of work and sacrifice. God does not make things easier for me as a believer but He does give me the courage and strength to go through these difficult times. He is with me and gives me wisdom and meets my needs.So I must be alert to how God is leading me and trust Him to lead me through obstacles and not necessarily remove the obstacles. He could do that as well but with Mary and Joseph He lead them through the difficulties. The issue is always faith. Heb 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." I will never grow out of needing to trust God. That is an absolute need for me until I go to be with Him. Lord, help me to grasp this truth more firmly.
Luke 1:76-77 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins..."John was given a very important task by God and we know he accomplished that task. He lived a short life much the same as Jesus; even shorter. What did John really accomplish as the one telling of the coming of Jesus. Much of that is hidden in scripture but we do know that he gave his life in proclaiming this truth.So this miracle young man, John, came to tell the world that Jesus was coming and he gave his life in proclaiming this message. It seems a waste from a human perspective but not from God's point of view. It was a life focused on doing the will of God and being willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish it. If more Christians were willing to pay such a price there would be more in the Kingdom of God than there are. Oh, Lord, to have the focus of John and to give my life completely for Your purposes. This is also what Paul said in Acts 20:24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." I committed myself to do as Paul some 40 years ago. Lord, help me to stay focused on this commitment the rest of the cruise.
Luke 1:65-66 And fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. And 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.Nine months have gone by and John was born and it is time to give him a name. At this ceremony Zacharias declares his name by writing it out and then he is able to speak and everyone is amazed and troubled. So this word goes through out the hill country of Judea. Now everyone is watching to see what this son of Zacharias, John, will be. It will be about 30yrs before anyone will truly know.Life is filled with a lot of waiting and what should we do as we wait? Use the time to do what we know we should do based on what we know today. There is much I need to do in knowing God and obeying God based on what God has already shown me. I want to use my life profitably for His glory as I see God unfold His plan for the years before me.Lord, help me to use my time wisely as I wait to see what God has for me in the future. Lord help me to finish up my time in Estonia with wisdom and work which would reflect favorably on the ministry of disciplemaking. Lord, will the work You have allowed me to do continue to bear fruit in the years after I have gone. I think much of what I have done must be bathed in prayer as I finish out my time in Estonia. This has been Your work Lord and I am grateful for the privilege of serving You here. Bless the people we have given our lives to serve and to teach Your Word. Use them in a great way far beyond what I would ever imagine for Your glory.
Luke 1:51- 53 "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty handed."He has done mighty deeds and He has scattered the proud. God delights to do mighty deeds for those who honor Him and seek to serve Him. Those who are proud in their hearts and oppose what God is seeking to accomplish in the world will find God opposing them. They will not succeed.God has brought down those with power who are not honoring God and put in their place the humble. Those who glory in their power will find it soon gone but the humble will be exalted to give God glory.God has given good things to the hungry or needed but has sent the rich away empty handed. God delights in blessing the needy and filling their life with good things that money or power can not provide but the rich will lose all they have and will have nothing of true value. The God of Christmas is a wonderful God and He is the same God who rules the whole year long. There is so much to learn from God as I see Him work in this first Christmas and what has been happening in the world since.Where am I in following the ways of God this Christmas? Am I seeking to glorify and honor the Lord or am I selfish and proud in all I have done? Do I understand the great value in being humble before others and God? Am I grateful for all the good things He has given me and my family? I must fight the attitude of the world and seek to have a godly spirit and attitude in all I do. Lord, I am grateful for all You have shown me in Your making the first Christmas possible. May Your ways become my ways the years You still have for me.
Luke 1:46-48And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed."This is the response that Mary began to give after Elizabeth responded to her first greetings. It reveals Mary's attitude toward the Lord and her humility for the privilege to be used of the Lord in being the vessel to bring forth the Savior of the world. Oh, that everyone, and that includes me, would be as humble when the Lord might use us in the lives of others to help them to see the Lord or to grow in a closer relationship to Him.Mary's focus was on the Lord and not on herself. She exalts the Lord, she rejoiced in God her Savior, and she acknowledges her humble state as His bond slave. Yet she is aware that people would for generations to come see what a blessing she had been given from God to have this privilege. Could I handle such an honor and not be puffed up with pride? What lesser things do I do and find false pride in them? Oh, to truly give God the glory for everything He might do through me.O Lord help me to have the spirit and attitude of Mary in my relationship with You and with the world that is observing me. I do want to exalt You for all You are doing in my life and through my life. You are the Almighty and it is You who is doing great and mighty things in the world in which I live. Thank You for the privilege of being Your bond servant and yet Your child to see Your Kingdom established forever and for all peoples who would put their trust and faith in Your Son, Jesus the Christ of God.
Luke 1:35-37 "And 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 offspring will 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."I must be careful to not expect to see a miracle in everything. There are many ordinary things that happen even in miracles. There were many difficulties that Mary experienced in her being part of a miracle. Her family did not believe her and neither did her husband, Joseph, at first. She had to stand alone and believe God to work in her behalf. He did! She was submissive to her parents and sought their permission to go and see Elizabeth. She was submissive to the authority that God had placed over her.O Lord help me to be righteous and godly in the everyday issues of life. Help me to manage my schedule wisely and not do more than I ought. Help me to do my tasks well and trust You to work out those things that are beyond my ability. Lord help me to be more in Your Word and Prayer. Lord give me strength for the ordinary tasks of life.
Luke 1:24-25"And 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."God was not hindered by Zacharias unbelief but went ahead and gave them a son who was the messenger going before Jesus preparing the people for the beginning His ministry. God's purposes can not be thwarted even by our unbelief. I believe that even Zacharias believed after Gabriel took away his voice for not believing him when he first spoke of his good news.God gave Elizabeth and Zacharias a baby in their old age! God does the impossible to remind us that He is the God of the impossible. When my plans are God's plans nothing is impossible. Is it the rewards of a righteous life?O Lord, what a privilege to be a part of Your marvelous plan in the earth. Even in my unbelief You know that I truly want to believe and to obey You. Thank You for reminding me that You are the God of the impossible and my responsibility is to believe You and to live a righteous life before You and the world in which I live. Thank You for Your great mercy and grace; so much greater than all my sin.
Luke 1:18-20 "And Zacharias said to the angel "How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And 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 shall be fulfilled in their proper time."Zacharias was in the Holy place where few men were allowed to go and it was dangerous because if you went there with sin in your life you would die. God does not allow sin to be in His presence. To see someone in the Holy place would have to be an angel or someone from God that had a special purpose in being there. Zacharias was afraid and fearful and he should be but he somehow did not let that translate into respect and belief. Yet, would I have done any better or would I have responded in belief. I think of the phrase "to whom much is given much is required". Zacharias had been given much in his training and his experience as a priest of God. He should have grown much in his faith and confidence in God but he may have let the routine of the task to weaken his sensitivity toward God.Lord, help me in my walk with You that I would always be alert to respond to You in faith and confidence in what You say to me. Lord, I must take the time to reflect on what You are doing in my life and be alert to believe what You are saying or doing. Lord, help me today to believe that You will use our Christmas party today in all our lives to draw us closer to YOU.
Luke 1:8-17 This is the beginning of the Christmas story. Zacharias is told by an angel that his wife would bear a son and that he would be a forerunner of Jesus who would soon be born. He was to name him John and he would prepare the people for the message that Jesus would bring to the world. Many would be filled with joy at the birth of John and his ministry he would bring.This is not a new idea but something that had been revealed many centuries before through the prophets of God. Now the Messiah is being announced to the world with the coming of John the forerunner of the Messiah. There is so much to learn from the ways of God as we watch this wonderful story unfold. I pray at this Christmas season I would learn new things and be refreshed with the old truths concerning the ways of God in sending His Son to be the Savior of the world in which I live.This messenger, to be named John, was born to righteous parents who were seeking to serve God and to honor Him with their lives. They had been deprived of having children to this point but they were being saved for the delivery of a special boy who would be the forerunner of the Messiah. God does use holy and righteous people to bring Him honor and glory. Not religious people but people who truly live out what they believe about God.This occasion came at a time when no one was suspecting this to come. It was a total surprise to Zacharias and Elisabeth and to the whole world. God does that often so we must be prepared for such a time. I must live life in such a way that at any moment God might require something of me. Lord, what a privilege to be ready to be used by You for Your work in the world in which I live. I know I must live each day of my life for You in such a way that You would be honored. I may be young or old when You might choose to use me but that is Your choice. I must be ready and faithful and live a life of obedience to Your Word. Or, Lord, continue to teach me Your ways and give be strength to obey. Lord, make this Christmas season a very special one to me and those who I love so deeply; my family and friends and those who are like brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and especially our grandsons and granddaughters.
Job 42:1-3 Then Job answered the Lord, and said, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. "Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."Finally Job and God are communicating. Job now understands that God has a purpose in all that has been going on. I feel like this many times and it is wonderful when I come to see and understand what God is doing in my life. It is me that needs to understand and it is God who lovingly teaches me through His Word and His Spirit so that I can understand in some measure.What should I learn from these closing words of Job. First, that God can do anything He pleases and that no purpose of His can be thwarted. Second to be careful not to not speak of things I do not understand, I must continue to wait on God to give me understanding that I need before I speak.Lord, You are the Almighty and I am Your child by faith. There is so much I do not know nor understand. I must seek You more everyday and rely on You to guide me and direct me in all I do. Thank You for this book about Job and Your purposes in his life. Lord, guide in the time that Melanie, Lou and I have this week and in our closing days in the US. Lord, guide me to the place You want us to stay these remaining seven days.
Job 38-41 God speaks with Job and explains all that He has done and who He is. He speaks of nature and beings that He has created. There is none like God and Job is awed at all He learns. God is kind and loving but firm and as I read I am reminded of how great the God of all creation truly is. It is so easy in the midst of living and taking for granted all that God does that we forget how small and insignificant we are in comparison to Him. Only He gives us the significance that we are privileged to have.Time just seems to race on so quickly that I do not have the time to think and drink in all that I should. I feel so shallow in my relationship to the Almighty that has given me and I feel so very ungrateful to Him. I want to be grateful and know that He is the Blessed Controller of all things. He is worthy of all my praise and all that I give to Him, even my very life.Lord, thank You for the brief moments I have with You. They go by so very quickly and I have a hard time remembering the joy of these moments. I appreciate the information You gave to Job and that they have been preserved so that I may know of Your Greatness as well. Lord, guide Melanie, Lou and me as we have the next five days together. Do Your mighty work for us all for Your honor and Glory.
Job 33-37In Job 32:18 Elihu's statement describes himself well. "For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me." The next five chapters is filled with the words of Elihu. In Chapter 33 he claims to speak for God. That is a dangerous thing to assume. Later on God says that Elihu was not speaking for Him. So what is happening here?My thoughts are that a young man who is eager to get to solutions is pressing ahead and not being patient to learn from his elders. There is a whole lot that he could learn from Job if he would quit looking at the present situation and try to see things more broadly. It is interesting that in the last chapter of Job that the three elder friends of Job are rebuked but the young man was not. I think God just saw the young man as being zealous but just so uninformed that rebuking him was not necessary. He just needed time to grow and learn from others even those he rebuked in his youth. I have been rebuked many times as I have been seeking to minister to others. I have listened and evaluated and acknowledged that some of what they said could be true but much of their observations was wrong. I would try to correct their conclusions as much as I could, just like Job, but many times I would just love them in their desire to do God's will. Eventually as they matured in the Lord they would learn that they had spoken in their immaturity and come back to me and ask for my forgiveness. I readily forgave them and rejoiced in the fact that they were now mature and humbly serving the Lord and being patient with others as I had been patient with them.Lord, I am so grateful for those who were patient with me in my growing up years in Christ. I am grateful for the grace You have given me as I seek to help others in their maturing process. Of course my greatest example is that of our Lord Jesus. It is like Peter rebuking Jesus for things He had said. Can you imagine rebuking the Lord of all creation! Peter had a good heart but he was immature and had a lot to learn. Still Jesus loved him and gave him much responsibility in the building of the Kingdom of God. Lord, thank You for the book of Job and all I can learn in studying this book You have placed in Your Eternal Book.
Job 32:5-9 "And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of the three men his anger burned. So Elihu......spoke out and said, I am young in years and you are old; therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think. I thought age should speak, and increased years should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding. The abundant in years may not be wise, nor may elders understand justice."Elihu has made a true statement but his attitude in which he is going to speak is wrong. For one he is angry at his three older friends for not being able to give answers that are wise from his perspective. He is not understanding himself what God is doing in Job's life. He is not considering all that God has done in Job's life before this situation came about. He is full of words and he is ignoring all the experience and wisdom that Job has shown in the years previous. He should be seeking to learn from what Job is experiencing and not be so quick to give his solution to his problem.I have experienced many times in my walk with God younger zealous young folks telling me what I ought to do. It is a little difficult to take but I must be patient and let God teach them to respect those older and seek to be a learner more than a teacher to those much older than they. Elihu could learn so much from Job but because he is well and Job is sick he feels like he is more equipped to speak for God. I read later, God says that Elihu is not His spokesman.It is good to listen to younger believers for age does not contain all wisdom but younger folks must be careful to not ignore age and all they have learned in the years they have walked with God. We must be careful to respect each other and to seek God carefully before we do much correcting of each other. God will give me the wisdom I need if I will continue to seek Him.Lord, I do pray that I would wisely seek You and allow You to give me all the wisdom I need to live life and endure difficulties as Job did. Help me in teaching others to be patient and understanding and encourage them in their relationship with You and with those they are seeking to serve. I want to be loving and patient and yet to teach and speak truth as You would lead me. I am grateful for all You have done for me in my family and ministry.