Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Malachi 3: 8 "Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?'
"In tithes and offerings."

Before the three kings left their palaces, they did a most important thing that secured their successful journey. They loaded up their camels with a very valuable offering to present to the King of Kings. Their offering was not an afterthought, but forethought. Their gold, frankincense and myrrh were chosen as an offering to the King of King's by each of three lesser kings.

This is the eve of 2012. Where do you want to be financially, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, physically, etc, a year from now. It will be by God's grace we have any movement at all in any aspect of our life. This is why the refusal of giving tithes and offerings is considered to be robbing God, for it is God who brought you into a better place. Look ahead to 2012, and join the three kings on their journey to Bethlehem and bring tithes and offerings with you.

Lord, thank you for what the New Year holds. Guide us as we choose to thank you with tithes and offerings for your sufficient grace.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Belonging

Malachi 2: 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

The scriptures don't say whether or not the three kings were married and if they brought their wives with them on the long journey from Persia to Bethlehem. I am guessing that they didn't bring their wives, and would certainly have had opportunities along the way to give their bodies to another woman. Opportunity does not equal permission.

Opportunities abound to give one's body and spirit to other's especially for one's in the financial position of the three kings'. As we continue our journey to Bethlehem, let us make a fresh commitment to stay focused on the mission and to keep ourselves only for the Lord and our spouse.

Lord, we have already given our bodies and spirit as an entire human being over to you and have reserved ourselves only for you and our spouse. We re-commit ourselves to this vow and make a fresh offering up unto you. Take away any desire that is unpleasing to you. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Advocate

Proverbs 31: 8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute

No doubt the three kings witnessed social injustice as they journeyed from Persia to Bethlehem. As strangers on a journey they would have been limited on what they could do about any injustice they saw.

We who have lived in the same area for a long time may no longer see injustice in our community. It sometimes takes fresh eyes coming into our communities to see what we have failed to see for a long time. Will you be open to looking around for social injustices and use what power has been delegated to you by God and those in authority to do something about it?

Lord as we journey through life, help us not be blind and unconcerned for those who cannot or won't speak up for themselves. Empower us to be like you, the Great Advocate. In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Names not numbers

Ps. 147: 4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Last night I held my phone up to the sky and with an application, discovered a particular star was T5065. It made me wonder, what God calls that particular star. There are stars we don't even know exist, and God "calls them each by name". On the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, the three kings were guided by a star. This time of year with the shorter days (at least on our spot on the planet), try to go outside and imagine the greatness of God who "determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name".

Lord, help us get away from the artificial world we have made and re-engage with the creation you have made. Remind us of you mind, your will, your memory, you ability to recall thoughts, and your kindness to give us names not numbers. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thought Seeds

Zechariah 8: 12 For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.

On the long journey from Persia to Bethlehem, there surely would have been moments when the three kings would have gotten on each other's nerves and some level of negative tension would have arisen. It is the day after Christmas and it is possible to get on one another's nerves today. It is also possible to be a vessel of peace and prosperity in all our interactions.

At any moment of our lives the enemy of all that is good is attempting to plant seeds of discord, discontent, disharmony, deceit and anything to hinder our harmonious relationships with one another. Also, at all moments, the Lord Himself is planting seeds of peace and prosperity to bless our relationships. On this day in our journey, let us give no place to the devil and his thought seeds. On this day, let our hearts be a fertile ground for the Lord's seeds of peace and prosperity.

Lord, we repent of giving place to the thought seeds of Satan. They will not grow, but die. I choose to forgive and to grow the thought seeds of peace and prosperity in all my relationships. In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blessed and Merry Christmas

Following in the steps of the three kings will help us avoid the post-Christmas let down. Prolonging this exciting season until January 6 will help capture all the essences this blessed time of year holds. Holding onto the unique feeling of Christmas morning until after the New Year as we continue our own personal journey to Bethlehem will balance out the high's and lift up the lows of this season. If you cannot make it out to the "assembling" with others in worship, I pray you can find a few minutes to break away from family long enough to bow silently in His presence and give thanks for all He is and all He has already provided through His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and His soon and sudden return.

Lord, thank you that our journey to your presence is both already completed and not yet completely entered into. Help us keep pressing on and forward into all the adventures that lay before us. And… Happy Birthday, we give ourselves to you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

The day after a zero day for the three kings would have begun early. After a day of rest, the human being rises early and is well into their day as the sun rises. The kings had passed the halfway mark and would feel the excitement building that they were over halfway to the place the star was leading them.

Culturally, Christmas Eve is a day many of us gear up for all year long. It is a day that is integrated with so many streams of thought, emotions, materials, foods, friends, family, faith, duties, work, play, hobbies, entertainment, and countless random ideas and pursuits. The freedom to explore all of what it means to be human was made possible by the coming of the Kingdom of God, in the person of Jesus Christ. Without guilt, enjoy all the blessings of the Kingdom of God, and quietly and loudly, alone and in groups, in word and deeds, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Allow the excitement of this day, propel you forward into 2012 and into all the possibilities that the rule and reign of Jesus Christ offers.

Lord, there are so many things going on that it is hard to fully express the thoughts and thankfulness we feel. Accept our praise and thanks and we give you all the honor and glory for all that exists and for all that will come into existence as we follow you into this day. In Jesus name, amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Zero day

Zechariah 4: 6 Then he said to me, "It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies".

The three kings on their journey to Bethlehem probably had a few days like I am feeling this morning. I am feeling like doing nothing productive, and just chilling out. Even AT through hikers has zero days, as I am sure the three kings did. I cannot remember my parental units ever encouraging myself or my two brothers to ever take a day, or a half a day and just do nothing and let your mind, emotions, body and being just chill out. My heavenly Father not only encourages a day of rest, but included it in the TEN COMMMANDMENTS. They were VERY important. It is possible your day of rest doesn't always cycle on the day of worship that your community of worship has set aside as the day to rest from your human forces and human strength.

Why is a moment or two of doing nothing so important? Zechariah captured some of it. We put too much stock in our human force and strength to get things accomplished. Every now and then, we need to rest from our efforts and put our full trust in the Lord, without guilt.

Lord, help us recapture the Sabbath rest. Help us enter into your rest, especially on the days when we don't wake with energy or will to do anything productive. On those days, help us focus our energies on loving you and trusting you to get things done in our lives. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Medi Port Removed

By now, the three kings would have figured out there were things they brought on the journey of following the star they really didn't want or need anymore. They would have to face the fact that what they thought they needed they really didn't need and therefore a choice had to be made. Do I keep carrying this thing I don't need? I recently read of a strategy employed by through hikers of the AT. They are carried fifty or more miles into the AT, and hike back to the front so they can figure out what they don't really want or need and get rid of it. They then are carried back to their put in spot, and carry on the hike without the stuff they didn't want or need.

Yesterday, after a few months of thinking and getting multiple inputs from my oncologist and nurses, I had my medi port removed. It had served me well and protected my arm veins from the toxicity of the chemotherapy. Its purpose had been completed, and now it had to be removed. It was a hassle and it hurts and I almost passed out during the process. If you choose to de-clutter your life it will be initially a hassle, it will hurt and you may almost pass out in the process. Eventually, you will be glad you let it or them go. I also have less than 10% on my laptops hard drive. Deleting old, duplicate, and uploading pictures to online storage is time consuming, and is also a hassle.

Question? What spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, or material stuff are you carrying that you don't want or need anymore?

Lord, help us continue our journey without regrets as we let go of stuff and get rid of stuff and relationships we don't want or need for our journey to Bethlehem. Help us lighten up as we enter the second half of our journey. In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid Life Crisis

Zechariah 1: 3 "Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.'"

We are at the half way point in the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, and it is a good time to reflect. Half time at a game, the middle of one's life span, the turnaround at a loop ultra marathon, are all times to reflect and give up, do something stupid, or press ahead, and do something wise. Something about passing over and beyond the half way point provides a burst of energy to 'get 'er done', or some other version of finishing the race. We all know people who make changes that are less than positive after times of reflection on how their life is going. Many families have been hurt when one member decides to leave their families and make another one. As we reflect on our lives, (and in every life there is pain and disappointment), let us turn towards God and receive his mercy, grace, forgiveness and strength to make our second half better than our first.

Lord, help us not do something stupid with our lives as we reflect on where we are in life. We give our disappointments to you, and we fully return to you in every way and in everything. With your grace we will make the right choices as we enter the second half of our journey to Bethlehem. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Looking backwards and forwards

Zephaniah 14 "That terrible day of the LORD is near.
Swiftly it comes—

We are to simultaneously look back and remember the first coming, the Incarnation, and look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The second coming will be sudden and unexpected and is described as being similar to an unexpected nocturnal burglar. For those who are prepared for a night time burglary, a visit by a thief in the night will not be a "terrible day". A person can be fully prepared for the second coming, by fully embracing one's relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.

By now, on the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, the three kings would have needed to be re-supplied. Their food and water they prepared in Persia would have to be replenished.

Today is a good day to pause, and take note of your spiritual life and re-supply and replenish yourself with all a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ offers.

Lord, if we are not fully ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ, awaken us to our need so we can pause our life, repent of our condition, and renew our relationship with you. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Go Outside

Hab. 3:19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

Indoor exercise machines and the controlled environments of gyms are great for winter time exercise. It is also a great stimulation to get outside and exercise in nature and feel the earth beneath your feet, the cold air fill your lungs, the sounds of hawks fill your ears, the scent of leaves fill your nose, and the sights that leafless trees affords you. The three wise men didn't embark on a 1000 mile journey without a lifetime of mental and physical preparation.

How is the Lord making you as surefooted as the deer?

Lord, help me to cooperate with your plan of making me surefooted as the deer. Lead me and I will follow you into the path's that lead to mobility, endurance and health.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Occupy Bethlehem!

As we journey to occupy Bethlehem, the real question is not so much, "What are we going to occupy?" but more, "Will we allow Christ to occupy our hearts?"

Lord, help us be concerned and moved to action for justice and peace, and even more concerned and moved to action to enter into a relationship with God, through Christ Jesus. May every human being receive the message that God so loved them that Jesus was given and can be received as Lord and savior.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nahum?

Nahum 1:2 "The LORD is a jealous God"

On our journey's through life is to include a daily focus on loving God that lingers all through the day.

Lord, we love you, adore you, give ourselves to you, and may our love for you linger all through the day and into the night, forever and ever, amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lighten up

the Lord has told you what is good,

and this is what he requires of you:

to do what is right, to love mercy,

and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)

The same prophet who predicted that Bethlehem would be the birth place of the Messiah also provides a short list of basic requirements. The longer one follows Jesus the less requirements are needed.

In long runs or long, through hikes of the AT, less baggage is the ideal. The less stuff you bring is better. I am reading a story of a through hiker who got rid of her cook stove early in her hike of the AT. One of the harder things to do as one progresses in building up endurance for long runs or hikes is to get rid of stuff that you thought you might need but really don't need.

I am sure that by now the three kings would have gotten rid of some of the stuff they didn't need.

What excess "requirements" do you need to let go of so that you can go the full distance and occupy Bethlehem?

Lord, help us lighten up so we can go the full distance and occupy the place and person of Jesus.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Smart Phone Aps

Mt. 2: 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.(NIV)

On Monday night I was privileged to sit beside Pastor Mark Lehmann, of Cornerstone Assembly of God in Bowie, Maryland. If you have ever wondered what preachers talk about when they sit together, let me assure you it is a very wide and diverse series of topics. Just one, was comparing smart phone applications. Pastor Mark shared one that enabled you to raise your smart phone to any place and it would display and give you the names of the stars, constellations, and even satellites that were in the area. I quickly downloaded it, and had fun playing with it. Living with so much light pollution, it is hard to fully enjoy a star filled sky, but this was not the case for the three kings who travelled from Persia to Bethlehem to see the birth of the King of all Kings. They didn't have this smart phone app., to point at the star and be told what it was or what its purpose was, or what sign it was signaling. The star of Bethlehem was set apart, unique and had one purpose. That purpose was to signal the birth of the King of the Universe. Once the three Kings found what the star was signaling, their worship was pointed to the King of Kings. At least once this December, go outside at night, away from the city, and just look up and be awed at the mystery of stars.

Lord, move us, awaken us, alert us to love you, others and life as we simultaneously remember your first coming, and prepare for your second. In Jesus name, amen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Take

Mark 11: 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.(NIV)

The original written language of the scriptures defines the word received as "to take" and "to get hold of". (Strong's Concordance G2983). I, personally like being around babies and toddlers and this I have learned. Once a toddler has a piece of candy or a toy, that they have taken a hold of, it is a real fight to get it away from them. They learn early how to grasp the item they have taken a hold of, and run with one fist and arm clenched and held close to their body.

One, very good reason to have at least ten minutes a day with God is "to take" and "to get hold of", God's will, plan, purpose, promises, direction, wisdom, etc. for your life. This human life is good, but it also can also try to take away a portion of God's wonderful, abundant, blessed plan from your life. Today is my quarterly check up with my oncologist. The positive condition I am now experiencing was at one time only by faith. Now it is sight. Now it is feel, taste, touch and hearing. As we journey to Bethlehem, we will encounter doubt, unbelief, insecurity, failures, slip ups, mistakes, and the limitations of being human. It is also possible, "to take" and "to get hold of" a promise from God, and not let go of it no matter how long the journey. There will be a day when faith has become sight.

What is a promise from God that you need/want "to take" and "to get hold of"?

Lord, help us to take and get a hold of, and not let go of any your promises. In Jesus name.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don Webb

Revelations 12: 11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony ;( NIV)

My good friend Don Webb through hiked the Appalachian Trail this year. An even greater feat was overcoming cancer (Lymphoma), a few years ago, and was a source of encouragement to me and others who also faced and overcame this deadly disease. I sat beside Don last night at the Potomac District Christmas Party and he is full of amazing stories from his hike on the AT. He has also kept his bald head look, while I have chosen to let mine grow out with the plan of donating it. Our friendships influence us and also allows for our own individuality to come forth. I also sat beside Mark Lehman and Wayne Brimmer. (The men decided to sit one side of the table and talk, so our wives could do the same.) Sitting with these overcoming men, influenced me for good and I left the party encouraged in the Lord and in life.

The three wise men must have had a similar chemistry among themselves. Each one contributed to the friendship and brought their own uniqueness to the journey they chose to make. Be encouraged to give and receive in the context of friendships. A simple choice of who to sit with, fellowship with, hang out with, or journey for a thousand miles with can prove very instrumental in forming and shaping our lives.

Lord, help us be strong in the Lord and be strengthened in the Lord through our relationships.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Headlamps and Tail lamps

Amos 5:8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
…the Lord is his name.

With the shorter days of winter it is inevitable that one's exercise routine will either begin in the dark or end in the dark. I have learned the hard way to always carry a headlamp and a tail lamp. I have added the tail lamp, after being run over by a bicyclist on a downhill stretch of the W.&O.D. near Difficult Run. One of my favorite most memorable runs was at night during a light snow, through Clark's Crossing and the trails that parallel the W.&O.D. With a headlamp one can get out in the dark and enjoy the One who made the stars, and be awed into humility at the greatness of our God. The three wise men followed a star to find the birth place our Lord and Savior so they must have traveled at night. Exercising at night opens up a whole new world and could provide the awakening to a depth and majesty of God that may have been lost with so much time in manmade structures and systems.

Lord, help us press through our fear of the dark and enjoy the heavenlies. Help us face and overcome every fear that hinders us from your wonderful plan for our lives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who doesn’t lack something?

Everyone lacks something they want or need. This hunger for more will never be completely satisfied. There is a God way to have one's needs and wants met, and it is found throughout the bible. There is also an accurate description of why one's needs and wants are not being met. The following passage specifically deals with wisdom, but you can also fill in your own blank of what you are wanting and needing.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (NIV)

Everyone lacks something they want or need and this passage says it is because of "doubt". If we are honest we can admit that with every prayer request, some have at least a little doubt attached to them. That little bit of doubt is all it takes to continue to lack what you want and need.

As we remember the first coming of Christ, and prepare for the second coming of Christ, let us "believe and not doubt".

Lord, we lack (___________________). I want (__________________) and need (_____________________). I ask you for this, in Jesus name. I believe, and I do not and will not doubt, because you give generously without finding fault. I receive what I want and need, in Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Praise the Lord

Psalms 103: 2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases

Let this thought be your thought. Let this word become your word. When thoughts, feelings, and even symptoms of diseases come into your being, you will act on what you believe to be true. You will give voice to what you believe for good or not so good. Give voice to the Word instead of the voice of past sins that still condemn. Give voice to the Word instead of the voice of a past disease that wants to re-establish itself.

Combining stretching, and any form of physical exercise with scripture memorization and meditation for at least ten minutes will have a profound and long lasting effect.

Lord, we praise you. Help us remember your benefits. Thank you for the reminder that you have already forgiven every sin, and healed all my diseases. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Iran to Bethlehem

It is approximately 1000 miles that the three Persian Kings travelled to see the birth of the Son of God. The hardest steps were within the first few days. Starting anything new that involves a life change is the most difficult at the beginning. Offering your entire self to God for a minimum of ten minutes a day, and every day is a life change and the hardest time is right now. Those who fish know that the hardest fish is the first fish in the boat. Whatever context you are familiar with; please accept that it requires much more effort to start a positive spiritual discipline. Combine ten minutes of any physical exercise, with listening to scripture, praying, watching a pastor on TV. and/or singing praises and you will be doing what you didn't think you could ever do. Elevate scripture above your own thoughts, feelings, health, job, dysfunctions, etc., and allow God's Word to transform your entire being. Like the three kings, one day, there won't be a 1000 miles to Bethlehem, but 900, then 800, … There were some days the three kings travelled much farther than others, but it was the consistent moving forward every day, that brought them to where they were called to be.

I am asking for 100% of us, to love ourselves enough to grow in our experiential relationship with God. December is the time to remember the first coming of Christ and prepare for the Second Coming.

Romans 12: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Lord, help us elevate Your Word over our thoughts, feelings, health, job, relationships, emotions and everything and everyone. Help us to allow Your Word to transform us into your wonderful plan for us. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ten to Twenty minutes can change your life

2 Peter 3:11 asks this question. "What kind of people ought you to be?"

The question reveals our solutions to our life challenges. We can do something about ourselves and our circumstances. If we would take away our excuses of why we are not the kind of person we ought to be, we could become the kind of person we ought to be. Think about your own life issues that frustrate you, trouble you, worry you, cause fear, create lust, cause depression, and stir up anger or any of the countless issues of what it means to be human.

December is the best time to make positive life changes because it is the season of Advent, the time of remembering the first coming and preparing for the second coming of Christ. We all lose the sense of urgency to make life changes over a long and prospered life. Narrowing the time frame in which we have to be ready for something, provides us the energy and will to do something about our life situations.

This is a minimum daily recommendation for life changes during December. Every day engage in at least 10 minutes of physical exercise in a setting where you can give yourself to the Lord. Walking, stretching, doing stairs, pushups, sit-ups, running, biking, or anything that you can commit to doing for ten minutes every day. The key is consistently incorporating some level of strengthening your relationship with God at the same time. On some days, increase the time as opportunity presents itself. Every day elevate God's Word over your feelings, attitudes, health, finances, relationships, job situation, and any and everything about your life. Elevate scriptures by reading a few verses, and then think on them during the day, and replace your thoughts and words with God's thoughts and words. You can find resources that have scriptures set to songs, or with the option of listening if you are really pressed for time. This ten to twenty minutes of every day, will help you become the kind of person you ought to be.


 

Lord, I die to a life of making excuses of why I am not the person I ought to be. As I remember your first coming, and prepare for your second coming, I receive your empowered grace to think your thoughts, say your words and do your will. In Jesus name, amen.