February 10, 2014

Many of us are familiar with the TV commercial that shows an elderly lady exclaiming, “If it weren’t for (product “x”), I wouldn’t be here today!” Like that lady, every person has a set of circumstances and a unique story; we can fill in the blank with nearly anything or anyone. We hear expressions like:

“If it weren’t for…

…my upbringing… my work ethic…my mom…my dad…my position in the company…my education…sheer luck…my abilities…my commitment…my 4th grade teacher…my best friend…

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

That may be true in the physical realm; but let’s look deeper, into spiritual issues. Eternal things are what really matter, anyway. Let’s fill in the blank with truths that Christ followers live by. We can declare that:

“If it weren’t for…

…Christ’s death that reconciled me with God… (Colossians 1:21,22)

…Jesus, who was made sin so that I can become righteous like Him…(2nd Corinthians 5:21)

…Jesus, who died for me when I was undeserving…(Romans 5:8)

…Jesus, the only Mediator I have before a just and holy God…(1st Timothy 2:5,6)

…Jesus, who gives me access to grace…(Romans 5:1,2)

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

Now let’s take all those truths, distill them down and fill in the blank with one name: JESUS. It reads like this: “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Praise God for Jesus! Thank Him – if you haven’t yet – for being the center of your life. Love Him, serve Him, and get to know Him more. Then one day, as we present ourselves before our Holy Father God by no merit of our own, we will fall on our knees before him, confessing once again, “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today!”



December 19, 2013

Wrapping up our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus with the letter “S”, we’ll look at Jesus, our SAVIOR.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior…” (Luke 2:11)

Sometimes the extraordinary becomes ordinary the spectacular becomes mundane and the exceptional becomes common, simply because we become so familiar with it. Maybe – just maybe – we get so used to hearing that familiar declaration of the angel to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem so many centuries ago that it just becomes another Christmas cliché: “For unto us is born to you this day a Savior…”

To refresh our memories and give us a renewed appreciation for Jesus, our Savior, let’s see what that really means.

Jesus, our Savior, was sent by God the Father “as the Savior of the world.” (1st John 4:14). Sent on a mission, Jesus fulfilled it on the cross.

Jesus, our Savior, saves “His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). No one else can save us from our sins!

Jesus, our Savior, gives “repentance and forgiveness of sins”. (Acts 5:31) No one else can give us the grace to repent; no one else can forgive our sins.

Jesus, our Savior, “has abolished death…has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”. (2nd Timothy 1:9,10) We don’t fear death because in Him we have life and light!

This Christmas season, let’s not allow years – or decades – of familiarity stifle our amazement and extinguish our wonder as we reflect on Jesus, our Savior. If we are alive, if we are forgiven, and if we live in the light, it’s only because of JESUS, OUR SAVIOR! Let’s celebrate Him!


December 17, 2013

In our Christmas acronym with the names of Jesus, (see post dated December 1), we come to “A”, and we will be encouraged today by looking at Jesus, the AMEN.

We find Jesus identified as the AMEN in Revelation 3:14: “…these things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness…”. According to Larry Richards in his book “Every Name of God in the Bible”, in his commentary of this particular verse he explains that, “Amen” is “the transliteration of a Hebrew word that refers to something being firm, reliable, or true.” That describes Jesus, the Amen. Firm. Reliable. True.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people in the Old Testament, and He is the foundation that makes all of God’s promises sure. The Apostle Paul declared that “…all the promises of God in Him (in Jesus) are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God…” Note that Paul mentions “to the glory of God”.

As we hear or sing “glory to God in the highest” this Christmas season, let’s remember God’s promises to us again, and thank Him for the firm, reliable and true foundation that they are standing on: Jesus, the AMEN…Glory to God!


December 15, 2013

“M” is the letter of our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus (see December 1 post) that we’re looking at today, and MASTER is the name. In the dictionary the word “Master” has a long list of definitions.

Doing a little digging in the Gospels, I found that on several occasions Jesus was called “Master.” One occasion in particular caught my eye: Luke’s account of the ten lepers who, from far off, “lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ ” (Luke 17:13)

We can’t be certain which of the many definitions of “Master” they had in mind as they cried out to Jesus; but we are sure that they knew He was merciful. We imagine that they wanted to be healed, but Luke doesn’t mention that they begged Him for healing; they cried out for mercy. And the mercy that the Master showed them changed their lives forever.

Let’s expand our “M” to “M and M”: Merciful Master. Like the 10 lepers, let’s cry out to the Merciful Master for mercy, whatever our situation may be. He will show mercy, and our lives will be changed because of it.

Jesus is the Merciful Master, and we can rejoice in that truth this Christmas season!


December 13, 2013

We’ve come to “T” in our Christmas acronym (see the December 1 post) of the names of Jesus, so our focus will be on Jesus, the TRUTH.

In the gospel of John we find multiple references that relate Jesus and truth. We read that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Remember “Immanuel”, God with us?) and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus Himself assured His followers “I am the TRUTH…no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). That is absolute. Absolutely not accepted by everyone, but absolutely true, nonetheless.

Allow me to quote a paragraph regarding Jesus, the Truth, from one of my favorite books, “Every Name of God in the Bible”, by Larry Richards (This book is a tremendous, highly recommended study tool):”As the Truth, Jesus is the One in whom all reality finds its focus. Only in Him will all the illusions of humankind be stripped away. In Him alone will we be able to know and live the life God intends for us.”

Those of us who know Jesus live that reality, and once again this Christmas season we celebrate living in the TRUTH. We celebrate Jesus!


December 11, 2013

All in favor of a story with a good ending? “Servant” is the name of Jesus for the “S” in our Christmas acronym, (see the December 1 post) and the end of the story is VERY good! In fact, there never was, nor ever will be an ending to a story like this one.

In the prophecies of Isaiah, centuries before the birth of Christ, we find passages that are titled the “servant songs”. They foretell Christ’s mission of redemption and salvation; they promise that He would be a light to those who walk in darkness, and give freedom to all who languish in bondage. The suffering, sorrow, rejection and death of Jesus are all depicted. The story is bad, but it doesn’t end there.

The plot takes a turn in Isaiah 53:11, where it starts to get better. We read that “He (Jesus) shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” We have the opportunity to be justified – acquitted from guilt and to be declared righteous before our holy God – because Jesus came as God’s righteous Servant. Praise God!

Later, the Apostle Paul, reminding us that Christ came as a servant, describes the events of the end of the story this way: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (His Servant!) and given Him a name which is above every name, (here it comes….) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Now we know the end of the story, and it will be good! Let’s celebrate Jesus, God’s Servant, this Christmas season by bowing our knees before Him in worship, and confessing that He is Lord of our lives. That will be VERY good!


December 9, 2013

Considering the names of Jesus for our Christmas acronym (See December 1 post), at first I found it hard to decide on the “I” name of Jesus. Should we focus on “I AM”? Or should it be “IMMANUEL”? Then I discovered that if we dig deeper, they are very much related! So we’ll look at both of them.

I AM” goes back to God’s conversation with Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. After God reassured Moses of His presence, He told Moses that “I AM WHO I AM” was His name, describing Himself as “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…this is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” I AM is the one personal name of God in the Old Testament, (YAHWEH) and describing Himself in that manner, He revealed Himself as the One who is always present with His people throughout generations and millenniums.

IMMANUEL” means “God with us”, and the prophet Isaiah said that Jesus would be called Immanuel hundreds of years before His birth. (Isaiah 7:14) Are you getting the connection?

Fast forward several centuries. We find Jesus declaring Himself to be “I AM” (John 8:58), and as He left this earth, the last promise recorded in Matthew 28:20 is “I AM with you always, even to the end of the earth.” Here the relationship between I AM and IMMANUEL is obvious.

Just when we think it can’t get any better, it does! In Revelation 21, the description of the new heaven and the new earth includes the assurance that God “will dwell with them (us!) and they (we!) shall be His people. God Himself will be with them (us!) and be their (our!) God.” (verse 3)

I AM and IMMANUEL… what a reason to celebrate Jesus! He is God with us…FOREVER!


December 7, 2013

As we go through our Christmas acronym with the names of Christ, (see post from December 1) today’s letter is “R” and we are going to consider Jesus, the RESURRECTION and the life (John 11:25)

Jesus Himself spoke about the resurrection on several occasions. Here are two passages where He promises that those who believe in Him will one day be resurrected to eternal life:

John 6:40: “And this is the will of Him (God) who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the RESURRECTION and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ “

Even if I don’t get one Christmas card; if I don’t receive any Christmas presents, decorate a Christmas tree or eat even one Christmas cookie, that’s totally fine! I can celebrate without that, because I know that one day, Jesus Himself will raise me up to be with Him forever. This Christmas, I’m celebrating that Jesus is the RESURRECTION!


December 5, 2013

Using the letter “H” of our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus (see post from December 1), today we’ll look at Jesus, our HIGH PRIEST.

You might wonder, “Why do I need a High Priest, anyway? I think I can manage without one.” NO! Let’s dig a little deeper.

In the Old Testament, the High Priest had a very important ministry. Besides teaching God’s Law, he spoke to man on God’s behalf and offered sacrifices for the sins of the people. In fact, only the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of God’s people. He was the only mediator between God and man.

In the book of Hebrews, written after Christ’s time, we find Him as our “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Hebrews 2:17). He came to our sinful world, was tempted and suffered just like mankind throughout history. BUT…He was sinless, and that’s why He gave Himself up and shed His own blood as a sacrifice for our sins. He sympathizes with our weaknesses. Even now, as our High Priest, He is interceding for us before our Holy Father God, and because He represents us, we are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Yes, we all need Jesus as our High Priest. Let’s praise Him today because through Him we have confident access to our Most Holy God and His throne of grace.

What a gift! Enjoy it all year long!


December 3, 2013

We are building our Christmas acronym with the names of Christ. Although there are several of His names that start with the letter “C”, today we’ll look at only one: CHRIST.

NEWSFLASH: “Christ” is not the last name of Jesus. “Christ” is the Greek translation of “Messiah”, which literally means “The Anointed One.” In the Old Testament, Kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil, symbolizing that God had set them aside for a very special mission.

Christ Himself explained His special mission in John 10:10-18. In that passage, He declared that He came to lay down His life, and give “abundant life.” Later in Ephesians 2:4 and 5, the apostle Paul wrote: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

Yes, Christ is the Anointed One who fulfilled a very special mission: He came to give us the gift of abundant, eternal life. As you give and receive gifts this Christmas season, thank God for LIFE in Jesus, the greatest gift of all. It can’t be bought or wrapped; you won’t find it under any Christmas tree….but you can receive it in your heart!

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

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