Wealth, Prosperity, and Giving, Part 1

Wealth, Prosperity, and Giving, Part 1


Dear friends, I’ve been reflecting lately on the blessings of my life. This week I’ll post a 5-part series on my reflections of wealth and prosperity under the scrutiny of I Timothy 6:17-19 and 2 Corinthians 9.

I Timothy 6:17-19 

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 

What does wealth and success do to a man’s soul?  

Success and wealth can be a sinister influence when it comes to the soul of one not grounded with biblical values and ethical absolutes. Once success and wealth arrive, the soul tends to slow down the yearning to learn and grow. Values and absolutes become minimized in the mind of those who have reached a certain level of wealth and success. Why? Because, well, they don’t need to focus on values and absolutes. They’ve attained a certain level of momentum, and wealth just comes toward them. Almost without trying. 

It’s the flywheel principle. The initial steps of the journey, of one seeking success and wealth, is like pushing a heavy, metal flywheel up a hill. It’s extremely difficult, and progress is virtually invisible. After many years, the ground levels out. Progress becomes evident. The effort is still very necessary but becomes a little easier. Further on, the hill crests, and the downhill journey begins. The momentum and progress shifts from difficult to easy, and results become almost effortless.

This is why Paul warned: Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches. 

 

The Stages of Wealth 

Self-made men and women go through stages on their way to affluence. I classify them as, 

  1. The Striving Stage 
  2. The Acceleration Stage 
  3. The Momentum Stage 

Diligence to learn, grow and establish a strong moral foundation are assigned to the striving stage. In this early stage, the soul knows that in order to journey from obscurity to prominence, one must apply themselves, heart and soul, in extraordinary ways. 

First, they intuitively know that maintaining a certain level of integrity is necessary to gain trust. Trust attracts wealth as others tend to give, work with, help, buy from — those they trust. As a means to the end, aspiring self-made men/women apply ethics in order to achieve their means; to be rich. 

Integrity to aggressive achievers is a means to gain. In I Timothy 6.3-5, Paul warns those who seek personal advantage and financial gain by acting like they are morally good. He says, watch out for those who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

The humble follower of Christ, in contrast, is described in the next verse, I Timothy 6:6,7. But godliness with contentment is great gain; for we brought nothing into this world and we cannot take anything out of the world.

The watchwords of the striving heart – those pursuing success and wealth – are diligence, commitment, earnestness, rigor and intent-ness. But the key question is, what is at the heart of their diligence? They are indeed striving for advancement…but toward what end? 

If the solid foundation of biblical values and ethical absolutes is not set during this early striving stage, then the heart of diligence that drives the energy toward success is set upon the shifting sand of shallow ends.

 

Don’t Dive into a Shallow Pool 

The shallowest of ends is the pursuit of success and wealth as the end itself. Listen carefully, success and wealth are not a noble end. When success and wealth are pursued for the sole purpose of being rich and well-known and well regarded, then the familiar saying is never so true: this isn’t going to END well. 

Those who have attained success and wealth, know what I’m saying is true. Those who are in the early pursuit of success, may find my statements easy to ignore. But you can be sure, I know what I’m talking about. Success and wealth trigger the flesh to relax and enjoy. Beware. Be very aware of your soul as you pursue success. 

 

Good Gain. Bad Gain.

Do you seek gain? (Paul uses the word ‘gain’ to describe attaining advancement, resources and wealth). Be sure to seek gain in the right place. Paul teaches the right perspective when he says, but godliness with contentment is a means of gain, 6.6.  

Godliness + Contentment = Gain. 

Next time we’ll see that a humble servant of God can be rich. Being rich is not condemned. It’s an issue of the heart. A house of wealth must be built on the solid foundation of godliness with contentment. Any other end goal will not END WELL.

 

Father, You are the God of everything. You possess all things and all things belong to You. You give and You take away according to Your purposes. Remind us that all that we have and all that we strive for is always Your and Yours completely. If You grant us gain, may we be faithful stewards of it all; to enjoy as a blessing from and to give as a blessing to others. But all cases, may You give us contentment in YOU! Amen. 


For You

For You


Luke 2:11 

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…

This is one of the most wonderous verses in the Bible. Let’s take it slow and soak in it. Fix your eyes for a few moments on each word in this brief announcement above. Every word is the Word of God and every word is important. 

Recall, the angel is speaking to a small band of lowly shepherds watching over their flocks. 

For today…born for you 

There’s a timeless truth of this announcement that took place in time and space; on a particular day, at a particular time, to a group of actual people upon this earth. It happened on the actual day that the shepherds heard the announcement. Today! For you! The ESV version says, for unto you is born…. 

 

I did it all for you! 

Let me get this straight; God humbled Himself by being born in a human body, living in the confines of a fleshly shell, suffered and died an unspeakable and horrific death — for a few unbathed, unshaven, calloused hand, bad-breathed, crusty shepherds living in the fields? 

For you means Jesus was born for their purpose, for their benefit, to transform their lives? To give them peace, joy, mercy and grace? To live and abide within their hearts?  

Do you mean to tell me that today, God came to earth in absolute humility after being silent for over 400 years to become intimate friends (John 15:15) with these shepherds; simple men of simple mean? God sent His angel from heaven to make this announcement to them? Really? Really? Really? 

 

Does He realize? 

  • Do you think the angel making the announcement to these shepherds realizes that one of the shepherds spent his full paycheck on cheap wine and goat meat last Friday night, got drunk, got in a fight, and his wife kicked him out of the bed? Jesus came for him???? 
  • Does the angel realize that the other shepherd cursed at God last night? He has a new-born baby who is sick to the point of near-death, but he had to go back to the fields so he could make the money to pay for the doctor?  
  • Does the angel realize that the other shepherd has stooped to stealing because he has a son who is being bullied and beat up at the synagogue by the older boys because he’s poor and has ragged clothes? 
  • Does the angel realize they have issues! Does the angel realize they don’t have anything of any means to give back to their Savior? Does the angel realize they don’t have any influence to spread the word about the birth of the Messiah? Jesus was born for these guys? 

Okay, Okay, so I’m speculating some. I’m adding color way beyond the text. Forgive me. But the point remains the same. The angel spoke to the shepherds and he said, JESUS WAS BORN FOR YOU! I may be speculating, but I guarantee that since the shepherds are real people, they were dealing with stuff. They had issues; they had troubles; they struggled with sin!  

Jesus came in spite of…no… Jesus came because of their issues; their issues caused by their sin and caused by the sin in the world that surrounds them. 

 

That was then; this is now! 

Now that we have some context and color around the text, what does the text mean to you? What does the announcement of the angel mean to you? I believe it’s timeless and actually, pretty simple. But let me put it in bold print to make sure there’s no ambiguity.  

But first, consider the announcement as directed toward you? You can’t say it isn’t directed toward you because you have issues? You can’t say it doesn’t apply to you because you feel deserted? Because you feel undeserved? Because you have totally blown it? Because you are stuck in sin? You can’t say — ‘this doesn’t apply to me, I have too many issues. 

No, you can’t claim this message is not for you because you don’t deserve it. But that’s the whole point. YOU DON’T DESERVE IT! Just like the shepherds didn’t deserve it. Jesus came because you don’t deserve it. Let go and accept it. Here it is: 

TODAY, BORN FOR YOU IS THE SAVIOR, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD! 

 

Father, today you have given us a gift of eternal value that we don’t deserve. You have given us Your Son to be our Savior, our Messiah and our Lord. We once were lost and now, today, You found us and called us and we receive Your Son as our Savior! With unending gratitude, we embrace by faith the Friend of sinners, the Keeper of our souls, the Savior of our lives! Amen!


The Fields Are Alive…

The Fields Are Alive


Luke 2:8-20

In the same region (near Bethlehem) there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

The angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, (1:19) is back to earth on another mission. He seems to have no desire to appear before crowds to wow them and scare them with the message of God’s return; he doesn’t care about appearing before the religious elite and highly influential scribes and Pharisees. His recent visits instead have been with an obscure priest and a teenage girl in Nazareth. 

There’s a Pattern Here

Now, he is going out to the fields, away from the population of the towns and villages, to the sheep and shepherds. We see a pattern from Gabriel: when he leaves the presence of God in heaven to visit the earth, he hangs out with lowly people of humble means. This is a pattern that the new-born child will follow in the future: He left the presence of the Father in heaven to visit the earth where he hangs out with lowly people of humble means.

My Pattern Has Changed

Many years ago, in my 20’s, I saw myself as aspiring to be the pastor of a mega-church. I had big plans for myself. My approach was opposite of Gabriel’s. I wanted big audiences. God had other plans; most importantly, to humble me through various twists and turns in my life. God is pretty good at whatever He sets out to do, and I can attest, He’s pretty good at humbling a snot-faced, spiritually proud, young pastor.

That was then. Now, many years later, one of the great joys of my life is to speak at the noon devotions at the men’s unit of the Star of Hope. The Star of Hope is a Christ-centered community supporting Houston’s homeless men, women, and children. I marvel at how I feel when I speak to these men of lowly means. It’s exhilarating and truly an honor. Why did it take so long in my life to realize how special a ministry to the homeless really is? Why didn’t I follow the pattern of Gabriel and Jesus earlier in my life?

Out in the Fields

Shepherding had once been a noble occupation in the early times of Israel, during the time of the Patriarchs. Jacob’s sons were shepherds. But when Jacob and his tribe relocated to Egypt, they were isolated because Egyptians had a low regard for shepherds, Genesis 46:34. From that time forward, the status of a shepherd devolved through the centuries. At the time of Jesus’ birth, shepherds hung on the lower rung of social status. 

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 well pleased, Luke 2:13, 14.

In 1991, AC/DC, The Black Crowes and Metalica held a concert that supposedly reached nearly 1.6 million listeners. 

In complete contrast, Gabriel and his band of angels show up in an isolated field and set up on the stage for a concert of the ages. After a light-check and sound-check, the angelic band performs the greatest concert of all-time. Instead of a massive audience of hundreds of thousands and instead of a royal concert performed for the king and queen; the angels unleashed a performance of the ages to — herds of sheep and a few shepherds.

The Fields Were Alive with Music

The Great Shepherd of our souls sent His angel to announce His coming to some sheep and a few shepherds. Isn’t it ironic?

This reminds me that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. The apostle Paul continued by saying to the new Christians in Corinth, Brothers, consider the time of your calling; not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (We resemble this statement). But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast in His presence. I Corinthians 1:25-29, Berean Study Bible.

 

Father, we thank You that Your ways are always perfect and all-wise. We are grateful you chose us even though we are not noble or rich. We have no room to boast because we had nothing and came from nothing; nevertheless, YOU GAVE US EVERYTHING! We praise You and honor You this day with grateful hearts and humble spirits. Amen!


Road Trip

Road Trip


Luke 2:1-14 

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. 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. Luke 2:1-7 

This is one of those passages whereby when I read and reflect on it but I’m not really sure what to write about it. What can I say about the birth of Jesus that hasn’t already been said?  

Let’s Take a Tangent

Sometimes when I approach a scripture passage on my daily journey with God, I say to myself, ‘this is a good passage; or this is interesting; or this is important – but I don’t necessarily have a flood of words that come to mind to write down.’ When this happens to me, like this morning, I just start writing, (like I’m doing now). My hope is that a fresh insight will come into my brain as I began to write. I pray and ask for God’s wisdom to shine on me.  

Lord, when I search Your Word, give me wisdom and insight. And may I do it with pure motives and out of love for You. 

With this in mind, let’s reflect for a moment on David’s words in Psalms 143:

I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Your face from me, or I will become like those who go down to the pit, (David is quite dramatic),  

(Here’s the important part for me this morning), Let me hear Your loving-kindness in the morning: For I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for I lift up my soul. Psalms 143.6-8 

Time to Refocus 

OK, I’ve been avoiding the text long enough. Back to Luke 2.

“Honey…sweetheart…sweet Mary, we have to get up and get going. I didn’t sleep at all last night. He has been very active these last couple of days. I feel like I’m going to burst.” Mary’s eyes grow moist as Joseph replies with pain in his eyes; “Perhaps you should stay. How can the Romans punish us under these circumstances? The journey is nearly 70 miles. We can’t be expected to put the baby’s life at risk – and yours as well.” 

“Sweet Joseph, we have already decided. I must go to Bethlehem. We have discussed the words of the prophet Micah, remember? I am determined to go.” 

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you (Bethlehem) One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel…Therefore, He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has born a child…And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. Micah 5:2-4.

Mary continues as resolve overcomes her pain; “The Romans believe this census is for their purposes; to deepen their grip on our people. But we know it is from God. The angel was very clear to me; my son is the Son of the Most High! The prophet declared that the chosen One will be the ruler in Israel and He will be born in Bethlehem. We must go.” 

Joseph could see Mary’s eyes turn from fearful pain to resolve. Then she says, “We must go…but by the way, were you able to borrow that donkey so I don’t have to walk?”

When Charlie Brown screams out in frustration, ‘Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about,” Linus steps up and recites Luke 2. 

Father, we are humbled by the humble circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. His visit to earth was to serve, in humility and meekness. This most powerful One chose to suppress His power (except in a few chosen circumstances) and royalty in order to serve. May we serve as well, loosening ourselves of the grip of pride and aspirations of comfort above all else, may we serve. Amen!


Here Comes the Sun!

Here Comes the Sun!


At the birth of John the Baptist, the father Zacharias bursts into prophetic praise:

And you child, (speaking of John) will be called the prophet of The Most High; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise (Jesus) from on high will visit us; To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:76-79.

The Bible begins and ends with light.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep…Then God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good… Genesis 1:2-4a.

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, and the bright and morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. Revelation 22:16, 17.

Genesis 1 introduces light. God provides a physical preview in stunning brilliance of THE LIGHT to come; the light that will bring illumination to the human soul. Revelation ends with a calling to come to The LIGHT. There is a calling upon our lives to come to the bright and morning star; the most brilliant light in the sky.

The morning is upon us and the light of day is here; the Sunshine has overcome the night. 

There are times when I am overwhelmed with the darkness of this world. Such as:

  • The curse of false religions that lead millions of millions into the darkness of eternity 
  • The wretched evil of child pornography and exploitation; human slaves and trafficking; the slaughter of the innocent from warlords and dictators. 
  • The nearly 1 million US abortions performed per year. 
  • The filth of Hollywood and the corruption in DC.

Darkness dominates where there is no light. But darkness is temporary. We should certainly care about the darkness in our world, but not be overwhelmed. Isaiah proclaims that darkness should not disarm you with despair. Darkness is not long here.

The Light is here for us now to shine in our hearts. And also, in the future. He is coming soon to illuminate the entire world.

First, let’s marvel that the Light in our hearts is here; He is among us; ask Him to shine in your own heart: 

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. Malachi 4.2

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:2

Regarding the coming illumination for the entire world, consider carefully the words of Isaiah: 

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60.1-13.

 

Back to Luke 1

In the context of these Old Testament prophecies, the birth of John the Baptist stirs the people’s interest. The new-born’s previously mute father, Zacharias, is now loudly and passionately speaking of what is to come. His son John, will prepare the way for the coming of the Most High; the Light of the world. Zacharias says:

the Sunrise (Jesus) from on high will visit us; To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:76-79. 

Dear Father, I have been thinking much lately about how You dwell within us. You dwell 24/7 within our being. You never leave, never sleep, never relax. You are always living within us and all of Your radiant attributes are within us as well. Today we pray that Your light will shine in us and through us. Our hearts were once dark. You hovered over our void and dark hearts and You said, Let there be light, and there was Light. We are humbled; we are thankful; we are forever grateful. Amen!


In My Own Eyes, Part 2

In My Own Eyes, Part 2


I’m taking a break again from Luke for part 2 of In My Own Eyes. Click here to read In My Own Eyes, part 1.  

Proverbs 3:5-7 

There is no manner of life in the world more sweet or more delicious than continual conversation with God. They alone can understand it who practice it and savor it. I do not advise you, however, to practice it for this motive. The desire for spiritual consolation must not be our purpose in carrying on this practice. Instead, let us do it out of love for God and because it is His will. 

Oh! If we only knew how much we need the grace and help of God, we would never lose sight of Him, not even for a moment. Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God. 

I’m Mad 

I have been going to bed mad lately. Mad at myself.

I have a renewed commitment lately to practice the presence of God. As I lay my head down on the pillow each evening, I turn my attention to my aspirations of dwelling within God (rather than living in my own mind). As I think back on my day, I’m immediately struck with how little I have consciously realized His presence throughout the day.

You shall not act like this (follow after idols and images) toward the Lord your God. But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your God will choose from your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. Deuteronomy 12.4,5

Yes, my renewed commitment is bearing some fruit and I am more aware of God’s presence daily. But at this point in my life, being a Christian for so many years, I feel I should be closer and more intimate with Him.

Some might say I’m too hard on myself. Well, I suppose it’s all relative. But in my heart, I know that:

  • I’m not loving God as I should in the simple and practical way of talking to Him and listening; praising Him and thanking Him; adoring Him and expressing love.
  • I’m not seeking His wisdom and guidance; I’m not asking for His advice and help; I’m not applying His teachings and precepts from His Word continually…as I should.
  • I’m doing the best I can as a husband, as a father, as a friend: I’m doing my best as an employee, as a writer, as a boss; I’m doing mybest…I’m exerting a lot of energy doing MY best. Instead, my purpose should be to release myself to HIS best for me and through me and in me.

To do our best in life is the natural way in which we go about daily life. But doing our best is living within ourselves and living as it seems best to us at the moment. A better way is to whisper to God throughout the day and seek His guidance, His Wisdom and His power. This is quite different than doing ‘my best.’

Here’s a simple prescription for walking with God:

  1. Input God’s Word into your mind in the morning
  2. Think often of God throughout the day.
  3. Reflect and review your day in the evening (but don’t beat yourself up as badly as I do :).
  4. Start slow and build up.

It’s about You, not me!

Ok, I’m done beating myself up. I’ve confessed my shortcomings and spiritual weaknesses. Perhaps I have convicted you of your shortcomings in this area as well. Now, join me in thanksgiving and supplication:

Lord, You saved my soul but You have left me with this selfish and sinful flesh nature. I’m not saying it’s Your fault that I’m not as spiritual as I should be, but I am saying, ‘I need Your help. I can’t do it myself.’ Do a work within me that I can never do myself of my own efforts. May you kindly grant Your grace that I might increase in my love for You; my thoughts of You and my affections toward You. 

  • To seek the Lord in worship and submission.  
  • To seek His favor and guidance.  
  • To trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.  
  • To not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3.5-7 

Thank You, Father, for Your kind and gentle care for me. Whether I am conscious of You or not, You never forget me, never leave me, I am always on Your mind. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Amen.


Silence Broken

Silence Broken


Luke 1:57-66 

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.

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 answer and said, ‘No indeed; but he shall be called John.’ 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 astonished. 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.

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.

Everyone is Talking About It!

The last prophecy of the Old Testament predicted the coming of Elijah as a forerunner of the Christ. As we consider the birth of John and the passage before us, God has been silent for over 400 years. Now, the stories being spread about the birth of John are stirring up a lot of excitement.

Fear came on all those living around them, and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.

Perhaps, some of the murmurs were something like; could this be what the prophet Malachi spoke? Could this be a sign of the coming of the Lord? Is the Great Day of the Lord near?

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord, Malachi 4:5.

The Buzz

What’s causing all the buzz in the Judean hill country? What are the rumors being spread?

  • A priest named Zacharias came out of the temple unable to speak. His face and hand motions made it clear that something amazing happened to him.
  • Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth became pregnant in her old age. Impossible!
  • When the baby was born, the parents named him John even though there were no relatives named John. They named him John because an angel told them to. That’s crazy!
  • Eight days after the baby was born, the father was able to talk again after being mute for over nine months. The things he said about seeing and hearing from an angel are extraordinary.
  • Zacharias said that the angel prophesied that the son born will be like Elijah. He will be the forerunner of the Messiah.
  • The people said, what then will this child turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him, 1:66b.
  • Nothing has happened like this in hundreds of years! Could this be…? Could this be…? Could this be…?

The Role of John

The buzz was actually legitimate. Something amazing is happening! John was born in the spirit of the bold and uncompromising prophet Elijah! The angel Gabriel said about John; It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17a. Gabriel paraphrased the final words of Malachi from the final prophecy of the Old Testament. The talk of these words is spreading like wildfire.

John’s calling is to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, Luke 1:17b.

In terms of biblical and historical significance, John played a vital and critical role within the redemptive plan of God. In terms of our devotional consideration of John, John is an example and encouragement for us to surrender our lives to God and follow His calling upon us.

Let us learn from John the following:

  • The Spirit of God was upon him. Pray that God’s work of grace and power of the Holy Spirit would be upon you; lavished upon; poured over you.
  • John followed the calling of God upon his life. He fulfilled his ministry calling. Are you serving God according to gifts He’s given you, and upon the path He has led you towards?
  • Let your words be simple and clear such as John; repent, and turn to God.
  • Walk in humble devotion and service to Jesus. As John says, we are not worthy to untie his sandals. He must increase, and we must decrease.

Father God, forgive us for complicating our lives with so many activities and pursuits. Our minds are racing throughout the day with stresses and complications and affections of this world. May our selfish pursuits decrease within our minds and hearts as we open our whole being for You to increase. John reminds of a simple life of Spirit-filled devotion to You and humble service. Cause us to prayerfully consider what we can learn from the example of John. Amen! 


What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible Is Available NOW!

What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible Is Available NOW!


I’m sharing some exciting news! After months of prayer, my first book, What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible is available on Amazon!

I never intended to write a book about women. I would’ve considered that a little odd. So, here’s what happened. In December 2015, my pastor challenged me hard to spend time with God and in His Word EVERY DAY. I was resistant. I was telling myself I couldn’t do it because of the time constraints of my schedule. He challenged me hard and asked that we mutually text each other each morning a summary of our time in the Word. I finally agreed.

I agreed and this decision changed my life. I began a process of reading the Bible daily, reflecting and praying and then writing down what I learned. I texted him my summary of my time with God 59 out of the first 60 days. Daily time with God became a habit and now I can’t not do it.

READ, REFLECT AND WRITE.

As someone in the trenches of life beside you, I would humbly suggest that to get the most out of your Bible reading, you must be just as intentional. I began a daily process, 30 to 60 minutes a day of reading God’s Word, reflecting and praying and then writing what I learned.

Reading and reflecting for my devotions, sporadic as they were, was something I had always done. But writing was new to me and writing has made all the difference in the world. I encourage you to try it.

After three plus years of this process, I discovered I had written thousands and thousands of words about what I had learned from God’s Word. I decided that I should compile some of my writings into a book. As I looked back at my writings, it dawned on me that the most compelling biblical characters were women. I had learned a lot from some of the amazing women of the Bible. There’s a lot us men can learn from women in general. And there’s a lot that all of us, male and female, can learn from these amazing women in the Bible.

But my real hope is that these devotional lessons will inspire you to read the Bible yourself more consistently. To have daily time with the Lord.


Silence Please

Silence Please


Where’s God?

At the time of the events of Luke chapter 1, the people of Judea had been without a Word from God for over 400 years. Over 400 years separated the final events and final prophecy recorded in the Old Testament from the appearance of the angel Gabriel in Luke 1. The silence of those 400 years was deafening. Though the voice of God was silent, the hand of God was actively directing the course of events during those four centuries.

At the close of the Old Testament:

  • Israel was under Persian rule, (such as we see in the book of Esther).
  • Later, Alexander the Great defeated Persia, and the Jews were now subject to the rule of the Greeks. Alexander promoted Greek living (Hellenism) which produced a current of secularizing for the Jews. Most Jews began to adopt Greek as their everyday language.
  • For a short period, the Jews were under Seleucid rule and ultimately, under Roman domination at the time of Luke chapter 1.
  • The Jews were under foreign rule for over 400 years and consequently had been dispersed from Jerusalem and scattered all over the Mediterranean basin and Mesopotamia.

So What?

Don’t you love history and context? Well, regardless, stay with me — this may not be the greatest devotional message, but the context will shed light on what is really happening at the time of the birth of John and Jesus.
You know how we current-day Christians tend to gravitate to certain Bible passages and themes more than others? It’s true for all of us, to a certain degree. Popular preachers and authors tend to speak and write about subjects that are appealing to us. As an example, Joel Olsteen doesn’t preach the “whole counsel of God” from the Bible. He tends to stay within certain themes, and we keep consuming his content because, well, it feels good. The Bible does contain much about God’s anger, wrath, and judgement. But let’s face it, we all prefer love, joy, and peace. And go ahead and throw in some abundance and healings as well.

Where’s the Messiah I was expecting?

However, we are often hard on the Jews for missing Jesus. Jesus simply didn’t fit the bill of the Messiah they wanted and were waiting for. Throughout the years of the prophets and most likely during the 400 silent years, the Jews focused their attention on a Messiah of power, greatness, and might. A Messiah who would subdue the earthly enemies of Israel and set up a Kingdom on earth where the Messiah would rule and reign and Israel would enjoy their place as in the Kingdom as God’s chosen people.
The last prophecy given by Malachi before the 400 silent years began was focused on the Messiah as King and His Kingdom rule on earth.

‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says the Lord of Hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.’ Malachi 4:1
Yikes, that’s harsh. But can’t you imagine that if you, like the Jews during the 400 silent years, had been under various foreign governments, you’d be hoping for this day that Malachi wrote about? Being one who is living under foreign rule, you might write this verse down on an index card, keep it under your pillow and read it every night.
You might also add the next couple of verses in Malachi to your index card:

But for you who fear My name, (the Jews are saying, ‘yea, that’s us. What’s it going to be like for us when the Messiah comes?’), the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall, (yes, freedom from foreign rule; we’re going to dance in the streets; preach it brother). You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,’ says the Lord of Hosts. Malachi 4:2,3.

Suffering Messiah?

Sure, the teachings of the suffering Messiah were there (Isaiah 53), but the Jews really didn’t see it. All they could see is the power and strength of the coming Messiah to conquer the Romans, set up His Kingdom on earth and elevate the nation of Israel. After centuries of foreign rule, Israel was ready for a Savior… a Savior that fit their liking.


I remember as a young, enthusiastic Christian at the age of 18, that I saw a placard that said, “‘I am meek and lowly of heart,’ Jesus.” I remember thinking, ‘I don’t like that image of Jesus.’ How short-sighted I was. Similar to the nation of Israel at the time of Jesus.

The Buzz

With this context, next time we’ll discover why the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist caused such a buzz. After all the years of silence and foreign rule, God is doing something. Is this baby born, called John, going to be the prophesied Elijah announcing the coming of the Messiah — the only Messiah that we really want… and need? THE KING!

Father, this topic reminds me that we often create You in our own image according to the God we want and we feel like we need. We have a hard time letting You be You. Lead us to love you fully as the God of all Your attributes. All Your attributes are beautiful, so help us to embrace them all by faith and full trust in You. Amen!