Given December 8, 2014
If the question were asked, “What is Christmas?”, there would be numerous answers given depending on who was answering. Children might give an answer about toys, Christians might say something about Jesus, retailers may respond with sales figures, and atheists would say it’s just another holiday. Recently, a different thought came to me; that Christmas is a solution to a problem; the final solution. Let’s look at that.
God created the Heavens and the earth and at the end of the week, He observed His handiwork, “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). But then Satan came in and messed things up. Eve and Adam allowed evil into God’s perfect world and it began going downhill from there. God’s perfect world and plan was compromised. It got so bad that God had to do something; He came up with another solution. He would destroy the whole world with a great flood and start over. However, God knew a man who remained favorable to Him in the midst of the evil and God was going to use him to start over again in a cleansed world. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). So Noah and his family were saved on the ark along with many animals. But one of his sons, Ham, was a bad boy and here we go again with sin being brought back into the world, we needed another solution.
So we fast-forward about 2000 years and God and His Son are looking over their creation which was riddled again with evil. Imagine this conversation… “Son, those people really need help, they just cannot make it on their own.” “I’ve given them laws to follow but they keep breaking them, they need something different, something better.” “So Jesus, here’s my solution, my final solution.” I’m going to send you to earth as a baby, to a young woman and man I’ve picked out and you will grow up among those people.” You will live a perfect life, showing them and teaching them how to live on earth and ultimately, how to come live with us in Heaven.” “But here’s the hard part Son, many won’t accept You, they won’t believe You and, in the end, they’ll kill you.” “But by going through all that, those who DO believe and accept You will get to come be with us forever.” “Are you willing to do that for them Son?” And Jesus replies, “Of course Father, I know it will be very hard as a man but not my will but yours be done.”
So, what is Christmas? It’s the occasion on which we celebrate the birth of that perfect baby from Heaven who brought with him… the final solution. Evil will be destroyed again someday but those of us who believe and accept the Baby Jesus will be saved. Are you a part of God’s – Final Solution?
Given December 6, 2014
I heard a story of a wealthy man whose son wanted a new car for his college graduation. On graduation day, the father gave his son a brightly wrapped package and when it was opened, the boy saw it was a bible. The son was mad because he didn’t get what he wanted in his package and stormed out never to speak to his father again. Years later the father died and when the son again saw the box on a shelf, he got the bible out and a key dropped from the pages. You know what was parked in the garage, covered with dust. What he wanted was in the box all the time but was strangely packaged. (See: http://inspire-others.com/graduation-gift)
God does that to us sometimes. We may be going through a hard time and have asked God for something only to get a package not wrapped like we wanted. We prayed for what we want, how we want it and when we want it. But it doesn’t seem to be in our package. Think of Joseph. God promised him a “gift” but in his package he found being in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown in prison, and forgotten by two friends in prison. But he kept the faith and he finally got the promised gift; second in command in Egypt and saving the country and his family from starvation.
And what about Job? His “gift” came with him losing his health, wealth, and his children. He endured the blame and bad advice from his friends and his wife but did not turn on God. “Though He slay me, yet shall I serve Him.” (Job 13:15). God allowed all this bad packaging to happen to his servant Job but, in the end and because of his faith, his gift was revealed. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (42:10). All except for his children because he would see them again in Heaven.
So, if you’ve received a gift package from God that is not what you asked for, thank Him and look deeper. “…how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Keep your faith and trust in God through your trial, become stronger, and come out a winner!
Given November 28, 2014
Thinking about worship…we say we worship God but how do we do that? To get a better idea of how we worship God, let’s think of how we worship people in our lives. How do we worship our spouse, our family, those we love? We do loving things for them, right? We go out of our way to make them happy. We do things we know they will like; things that will be pleasing to them. We say things to them that will make them feel good. Mot of the time, bowing down to them or singing a song to them just won’t do it. Especially if, when we sing, we’re only repeating lyrics from memory or reading them from somewhere. Now, how did you say you worship God?
The next time you’re alone with God, think about how you worship Him. The next time you’re singing praise & worship songs at church, think about who you’re singing to and make it a personal experience, one on one. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24). The attitude we’re in when we worship makes a difference. “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.” (Romans 12:1). Heart, soul, mind and strength…will this make a difference in your worship? (See Mark 12:30).
How about taking a minute right now and offer up some praise and worship to God who is right there, and is always there for you, Close your eyes and “see” Him smiling back at you. It will be good for Him and you.
Given in 2007
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12). Another translations says, “constant in prayer”. How can we do that?
A few years ago, I heard a teaching about “shooting prayers”; little short prayers directed at a specific issue which could be prayed at any time, any where. At that time, I had been praying for a person at church who had several medical issues and every Sunday, I’d see him and his wife pull into the church parking lot in his yellow car. That color was one of the few that stood out in the parking lot of mostly dark or light-colored vehicles. I thought, I’ve been praying for this friend daily but now I decided that I would “shoot” up a prayer everytime I saw a yellow car. And, it happened a lot! So, I was praying for my friend 10-15 times a day.
As other people came to me that needed “constant” prayer, I added them to the yellow-car prayer shot. Sometimes I would mention each of their names but as the list grew, I just prayed for, “Freddy and the crew”. God knew who they were. Sometimes it was, “Lord, heal the crew.”, other times it was, “Thank you Lord that the crew are healed.” There are a lot of yellow cars on the road.
So, I encourage you to pick something or someone you want to pray for and assign something you see to it as a reminder; a colored car, a bird, a commercial, or an email. Then shoot those prayers skyward, God hears them all.
Given September 2012
Here are some reasons all Christians should vote that I found and thought was worth sharing.
1. Voting publicly recognizes that we submit to the authority of the political system in our nation as established by God. Romans 13:1-7.
2. Voting recognizes the equality of all people and their right to speak and be heard. James 2:1.
3. Voting is one way that we can obey God’s command to seek the good of those around us and our nation as a whole. Philippians 2:3.
4. Voting shows that we care deeply about who our leaders are as we are urged to offer prayer and intercession on their behalf. 1 Timothy 2:1.
5. Voting is a simple yet significant way we can do something about politics in our nation. ‘All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing, Edmund Burke. Psalms 34:14.
6. Voting makes a difference in the same way a grain of salt makes a difference, and that is how we are to influence our society for good. Matthew 5:13.
7. Voting is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Those of us who reap the benefits of living in a democracy should play a part in upholding democracy.
8. Not voting is a form of voting, as it will influence the outcome. We need to take responsibility for our actions, as well as our lack of actions. 1 Peter 1:13.
9. Voting is part of our stewardship to use all the resources we have been given in ways that honor God; to waste a vote is to squander a gift.
10. Voting is Biblical. Jesus commands us to fulfill our responsibility to the civil authority. Matthew 22:21.
Polls say 40% of eligible voters won’t vote. “When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves“. Proverbs 28:12. It is the responsibility of every Christian to vote for leaders who promote Christian principles. Our future is up to us: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. Vote on November 4.
Given September 2013
God gave me the idea and words to this song while I was driving to Charlottesville, Va for a meeting. I used voice-to-text on my phone to record the lyrics.
Before the boy and girl were born
Trinity there, all in one,
Spoke a word, we hear them say,
“This creation will be great…one day.”
The little girl reads in school
About a princess, thinks, “That’s cool”.
Imagination makes her say,
“I’m going to be a princess…one day.”
The young man starting his career,
His future now somewhat unclear.
But plans are laid that make him say,
“I’ll be rich and famous…one day.”
The young woman now being wed
Thinks, “Where in life will I be led?”
“What role am I destined to play?”
“I’ll be a loving Mom…one day.”,
And now nearing the end of life,
Here’s the man and his wife.
Not all success along the way,
The things they thought they’d be…one day.
But one thing they succeeded in,
They love the Lord here at the end.
And now before the pearly gates
God says, “I told you they’d be great…one day.”
Given September 26, 2014
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
My recent visit to Holston Valley Medical Center for same day surgery to remove a melanoma from my upper arm presented me with several Spiritual encouragements that I want to share.
First of all, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer that came from friends and family. Prayer makes a difference! The first thing I saw as I entered the registration area was a plaque on the wall that said, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8. This is a good way to begin, I thought.
As I was being wheeled down the hall to have radioactive fluid injected to trace possible cancer cells, I thought of that scripture on the wall back at registration and could visualize Jesus himself leading us down the hall. What a comfort! In the nuclear room where I would be for an hour for “pictures” to be made of my torso, I had a good conversation with the doctor. I mentioned the scripture on the wall and he said he was a believer then related a story. He had seen some miracles in his work but saw a bumper sticker on a car coming to work one morning which read, “Expect Miracles”. He realized he didn’t expect them but began that day. Since then, he had seen lung cancer completely disappear from a patient. Very encouraging!
All through the scanning, procedures, and pre-op activities, I prayed a lot and repeated several scriptures and praise songs I had memorized and sung. Other scriptures came to my mind as well that pertained to what was happening with me. I realized all the Bible reading, sermon listening and prayer I had done over the past several years was a part of me internally. I didn’t need the written word there, they were in my heart. It is so important to read God’s word every day so it will be in your heart and mind so you can tell the devil when he comes threatening you, “IT IS WRITTEN!” If you’re not reading your Bible every day, I encourage you to participate in the 345 Bible Reading Plan at https://www.bible.com. You need to start today. Get the app and use your device to read.
Years before, in another surgery after I had been given the shot to relax me, I prayed, “God, I need you to take over now, I’m going to lose control.” Immediately, God said, “Bill, I want to be in control all the time.” He’s right. This time, I had given Him full control long before I went under. That’s a relief.
Leave a comment if this has encouraged you. Be blessed!
Given September 20, 2014
Be a Doer
Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. (James 1:22)
There is a word here for someone today:
You won’t get the job unless you apply.
You won’t find out if you’re any good until you try out for the team.
You won’t know if your idea is worthy until you tell the boss.
You can’t be published unless you submit a manuscript.
You won’t see a harvest unless you plant the seed.
You won’t get where you want to go until you take the first step.
You won’t get to know that person until you introduce yourself.
You won’t get what you need unless you ask for it.
You can’t pass the test unless you study.
You won’t defeat your fear until you face it.
You can’t get past your mistakes until you confess them.
You can’t mend a relationship without forgiveness.
You can’t move forward while you’re looking back.
You can’t find something unless you look for it.
You can’t become a great player without enduring the pain of practice.
You won’t know what’s behind the door until you open it.
You can’t catch the fish until you cast the bait.
You can’t learn to play the instrument until you pick it up.
You can’t get in shape until you get off the couch.
You won’t know what God has in store for you until you volunteer to serve Him.
You can’t praise God while focusing on your problems.
You can’t go to Heaven without saying YES to Jesus.
You can’t really have anything until you FIRST seek God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)
Please leave a comment if any of these statements encouraged you. Be blessed!
Given July 26, 2014
I was walking through my house one morning a few years ago thinking about how Osama Bin Laden couldn’t be found our military couldn’t do anything with him. I prayed, “God you know exactly where he is, why don’t YOU just take him out?” Immediately, in my spirit, I heard, “I love him and want him to repent and be saved.” This floored me but made me realize how God sees people differently than I do. This started me putting together thoughts about how we see people versus how God sees them. Think about it; how do you see old people, young people, poor/rich people, gay people, handicapped people? How do you see people of another race, city people, country people, people in jail, lost people, church people, politicians, movie stars, athletes? Do you really see these people or are you just looking on the outside? “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
In the story of David and Goliath, how did David’s brother see him when he came to bring their lunch on the battlefield? “But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” (1 Samuel 17:28). How did King Saul see him? “You can’t go out against this Philistine and fight him. You’re only a boy.” (v. 33). How did Goliath see him? “he looked down on David with disgust. He said, “Do you think I am a dog that you come at me with a stick?“ (v. 42, 43). How did God see him? “David ran quickly to meet him. He took a stone from his bag, put it into his sling, and slung it. The stone hit the Philistine and went deep into his forehead, and Goliath fell facedown on the ground.” (v. 48-49). God sees people differently than we do.
Think about it…when you see people this week like the ones mentioned in the first paragraph, look a little closer with your Spirit and think how God might see them. And, ask yourself, “How does God see me?”