Unhindered Access to God’s Presence

This morning I read several Psalms, and as I read them I was struck with the beauty, the power, and the safety that He offers us from our distress.

The verse that I highlighted was Psalm 27:4, which says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

So much around us vies for our attention.  Much of it is greatly distressing.  The Corona Virus has the attention of all of us today.  There are a whole host of worrisome questions you could be thinking regarding our current situation.

Today, on Sunday, I am reminded how the Corona Virus has changed how we connect in community with one another.  Because of this our church is worshiping together online.  Like me, you miss the physical gathering of our church to bring worship to our God.  As I read Psalm 27:4 and meditated upon the idea of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever my desire to dwell in the church building of my church with my church family grew. In this moment, the Spirit of God reminded me that as much as I desire to worship with you in the house of the Lord at 4777 Alben Barkley Drive, I ought to desire more to worship with you in the house of the Lord in Heaven.  While the Lord turns our attention to Him to gaze upon His beauty in the gathering of the local church on earth, how much more will we gaze upon His beauty in Heaven! Though it may be remotely, through technology, we still have the ability to worship our Lord together on this Lords day.  What we do not have the capability to do at the moment is worship the Lord together in His presence in Heaven.

So, gather with your church online today.  But, may we also find our selves today longing for the greater gathering of the church in the eternal presence of God in Heaven.

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2019 Advent Reading #24: Victory

12/24/19

Scripture:

Genesis 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-20

Highlighted Verse:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10 & 13, ESV

Devotion:

Jesus faced the same temptation that Adam did. Jesus, the new Adam, defeated sin and Satan’s attempts to deceive and distract Him. Therefore, we know that the only way for us to live with sin defeated, and to have help when distracted, is to stand firm in Christ. You see, there is one aspect of the Christmas story that is almost never talked about. War. The Christmas story is apart of a greater story, a war story. Jesus came as a warrior to battle Satan. He won that battle! Praise the Lord for His victory because we could never gain the victory in our own strength. We could never do it on our own. Adam battled with Satan and lost but, Jesus battled with Satan and won! When we face spiritual battles, temptations, are confronted with false teaching, and are given opportunities to be distracted we can win to. But only through the power of Jesus Christ.

Think about the hope that you have through Jesus Christ. Commit to look to Jesus next time you are in the heat of a spiritual battle.

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2019 Advent Reading #23: Singing at Christmas

12/23/19

Scripture:

Psalm 95; Ephesians 5:18-19;  Colossians 3:16

Highlighted Verse:

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95:1

Devotion:

God commands us to sing.  Now, why would singing be so important that God would command us to do it?  The act of singing helps us focus our hearts.  When we sing we can focus our hearts on what makes us happy, sad, and mad.  We can focus our hearts on what is truly important to us and what we treasure.  If singing is important enough for God to command us to do it (Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16), why wouldn’t we sing at Christmas?

Think about what your favorite Christmas songs are and sing them throughout the day today.  Sing them with your family and friends.  

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2019 Advent Reading #22: Guarantee

12/22/19

Scripture:

Romans 8:18-39

Highlighted Verse:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Devotion:

Today’s advent reading provides us a special guarantee. A guarantee is a pledge or promise to do something for someone. Guarantees are special pledges or promises. They are seen as unbreakable. They are a sure thing. Gods guarantee above brings us much comfort. God, who shows His grace to us by sending Jesus to be born at Christmas also showed His grace to us when Jesus died on the cross. The promise of Romans 8:32 reveals that God continues to show us His grace. Because Jesus died on the cross how will He not also continue to graciously provide what we need? The Christmas story serves as a guarantee that God will continue to give us everything that we need. Since God gave us Jesus, we can be sure that He will give us everything else that we need so that we can be shaped to be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do.

Bring your needs to the Lord this morning in prayer.

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2019 Advent Reading #21: Self-Righteousness

12/21/19

Scripture:

Luke 18:9-14; Philippians 3:1-11

Highlighted Verse:

and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3, ESV

Devotion:

Self-righteousness plagues us all.  Self-righteousness is the tendency to think that we are better than we actually are.  When we sink in to self-righteousness we begin to excuse the wrong things that we do, we believe that we do not need any help, and we believe that we are superior to others.  It is our sin that separates us from God. But our sinful attitude of self-righteousness blinds us from our need for Him.  In the Christmas story our arrogant attitude of self-righteousness is confronted.  Jesus’ worth far surpasses anything that we have (Phil. 3:8). Jesus came, in His surpassing worth, in order that we might count all things as rubbish in order to gain Christ.  Praise the Lord that He knew we were needy and that we could not help ourselves.  Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus this year and allow Jesus to meet our needs.  Glory in Jesus Christ this Christmas.  Ask Him to do a miraculous work in you this Christmas –  that you would put no confidence in your flesh.

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2019 Advent Reading #20: Christian Schizophrenia at Christmas

12/20/19

Scripture:

James 1:22-24

Highlighted Verse:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Devotion:

Our reading today reveals that followers of Jesus can often live in a state of Christian Schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia involves a breakdown of the relationship between emotion/feeling and behavior.  Christian Schizophrenia happens when we hear and know the Word of God yet we walk away without applying it to our life.  We often live in this state of Christian Schizophrenia at Christmas.  How do we do this?  We  celebrate the birth of Jesus without connecting the knowledge of who Jesus is and His incarnation with their daily lives.  One example of this is how we can easily sing the words of Christmas carols without applying them to our life.  The root cause of this is our ability to easily convince ourselves that we do not need the rescue that Jesus was born to bring.  In doing this we minimize our sin.

How do you minimize your sin?

Celebrating Christmas includes confessing our sin and our need for forgiveness.  Take a few minutes to do that now.  

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2019 Advent Reading #19: Unfailing Hope

12/19/19

Scripture:

Romans 5:1-5

Highlighted Verse:

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Devotion:

What are your hopes? What are you hoping will happen? This time of year you might be hoping for a specific gift on Christmas. Maybe you are hoping for a white Christmas. Maybe you’re hoping that time with family during the holidays is less stressful than it was last year. Because we are made in the image of God we are wired to hope. We are always hoping in, or for, something. Most of the time the things, or people, that we put our hope in will fail us. The Christmas story is a story of hope that does not fail us. Jesus came to give hopeless people hope that would never fail. Because of Jesus we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Rejoice in the hope you have in God today. Submit all of your hopes to Him in prayer.

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2019 Advent Reading #18: A Destination Driven by Humility

12/18/19

Scripture:

1 Peter 1:3-5; Philippians 2:5-11

Highlighted Verse:

Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3, ESV

Devotion:

During this Christmas season you may have a destination to drive to. At this destination there may be a family gathering, a party with co-workers, or the place of another Christmas activity. Today’s advent reading reminds us that at Christmas Jesus’ destination was earth. Three words describe the vehicle that got Him here – “He humbled Himself.” Philippians 2:5-11 reveals to us that Jesus did not grasp, or hold on to, the rights that come with being God. Instead, He humbled Himself and took the form of a servant. He served to the point of death on a cross. Therefore, without Christ’s destination of earth at Christmas we could never have a destination of Heaven for eternity.

How can you have the mindset of Christ today?

Praise God and worship Him for choosing earth as His destination at Christmas.

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2019 Advent Reading #17: Humble Yourself

12/17/19

Scripture:

James 4:1-10

Highlighted Verse:

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10

Devotion:

You and I are prone to be selfish.  Sin causes us to live our life for ourselves, not for the Lord and for others.  Our selfishness causes divisions, quarrels, and fights. Selfishness is born out of pride, and God opposes the proud.  It is to the humble that He gives His grace.  Therefore, James urges us to submit to, and draw near to, the Lord.  The Christmas story reveals to us that when we imitate Jesus, we will humble ourselves.

What areas of your life do you think you are selfish?  Choose to submit to the Lord and to imitate Jesus in humbling yourself.  

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2019 Advent Reading #16: Suffering

12/16/19

Scripture:

Luke 24:24-25, 45-49; Isaiah 53:2-5

Highlighted Verse:

Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47

Devotion:

Jesus did not come to be served, but to be served (Mark 10:45). Jesus came to suffer so that through repentance we might gain forgiveness of our sins. Because God became flesh and dwelt among us we celebrate at Christmas. The Christmas story reminds us that Jesus came to suffer. He came to suffer and die. But, He rose from the grave! He brings forgiveness of sins to all who would repent of their sins. He gives the right to become children of God to all who would accept and believe in Him (John 1:12). Because Jesus became our suffering, we have much reason to celebrate at Christmas. But in our celebration activities of eating good food, time off of work, giving and receiving presents, and spending time with family let us remember why Jesus came.

Re-read the highlighted verse above and reflect on why Jesus came at Christmas. Who can you share this Good News with during the Christmas season?

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