December 30, 2021 will go down as a historically tragic day here in our beloved Colorado. On top of the numerous shootings that have taken place in 2021, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County (specifically in the Superior area) have lost almost 600 homes due to fire. It is believed that the fire started due to downed power lines from high wind gusts, which exacerbated the situation even more (combined with the dry weather we’ve have thus far).
We are grateful to see how many are ready to help those who are displaced. Churches and other places are helping house those needing evacuation.
This local Denver TV station website shows ways to help: for evacuees, ways to donate, ways to house displaced animals, among other avenues.
Please pray for all who are affected. Even in the midst of this tragedy, may we do all we can to show the love of Christ. “In as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me” (Jesus Christ, from Matthew 25:31-46).
Yes, it’s that time of year. Resolutions. The years 2020 and 2021 had their share of difficulties. In order for us as Christians to navigate what promises to be another difficult year, we need to have our spiritual affairs in order so we can approach whatever comes in a way that honors God and exalts Christ.
So, here you go!
- Read your Bible daily. That’s right–daily! Find you a Bible reading plan that gets you in the Scriptures every day. The Five Day Bible Reading puts you in the Scriptures every weekday with a weekend margin to catch up.
- Confess and repent of sin daily. God calls us to walk in holiness, and to do so means taking sin seriously.
- Come to church weekly. COVID accelerated church-attending habits of some. Church attendance is decreasing in the United States because Christians/church members are not attending as frequently. For the sake of our personal walk, our churches, and our nation, this must change. There is a reason why the Spirit commands us to attend worship with our brothers and sisters. Here’s another article on the subject.
- Encourage someone weekly. Through notes, phone calls, coffee, or some other way–find someone and encourage them. I recently preached on “Being a Ferocious Encourager” should you like to go more in-depth.
- Find a small group. Studying the Bible by yourself is good–but studying the Bible with others is better. Most of our churches have small groups that are either Sunday School models (which we embrace gladly) or home models. As long as those models are geared about Scripture and biblical fellowship, dive in!
- Share your faith with someone in your sphere of influence weekly. As recipients of the Good News, we must dispense this Good News. Here’s one way to share it.
- Read some good biographies. I forget who I heard this from, but they noted that biographies of great Christian leaders serve pastors and Christians better than straight leadership books with their theories. These leaders lived their lives for us to not only emulate but to serve as cautionary tales.
- Exercise regularly. We must take care of our “temples” (see 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
- Find someone to disciple and to disciple you. We are to “go and make disciples.” We are to develop relationships that strengthen our walk as disciples and where we can strengthen others. This little article can help clarify.
Since I’ve started writing daily devotionals over the last 1/3 of the year, the readership has gone up. Here are the most read articles for 2021.
- Spurgeon’s View of Bible Translations: Clearly, Spurgeon preferred the King James Version of the Scriptures, given he preached in 19th-century London for 38 years. Yet, what was his view toward other translations?
- Why Are Preachers So Exhausted? When I first started in pastoral ministry, I was surprised at how fatigued I was after preaching a Sunday morning service. Turns out I was not alone. Why are so many preachers so exhausted after preaching?
- The Blessings and Benefits of a Blizzard: Many lament blizzards and all that comes with it–but are there blessings to be found?
- The Three People You Need Most in Your Life: The Scriptures help us have the proper relationships in our lives.
- How Pentecost Reversed the Tower of Babel: The Scriptures stand as one historical-redemptive narrative. Pentecost (the coming of the Spirit as told in Acts 2) reversed the problems that arose at the Tower of Babel.
- What Makes a Christian Unstable? James 1:2-8 shows us!
- Have People Written You Off? God’s Not Finished Writing Your Story
- Moving Away or Moving On–What to Do Next When Leave a Church You Loved? Leaving your church is not simply a geographical movement to another church. The ripple effects reach far and wide.
- The One Thing That Kept Beethoven Alive: Beethoven came to a crisis of such magnitude that he considered taking his life. Here is what kept him alive–to the benefit of all who would come after.
- Why I Love Sunday Mornings: A medium-sized list that covers some of the reasons.
During our Christmas Eve service, I mentioned that so many hard things were happening to our people this week. This week has brought about even more harrowing issues that will tinge future holidays for themselves and family.
My former dean from seminary reminded us of these precious words from Edmund Sears, writer of It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. This stanza applies so well.
“And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!”
If you plan on reading through the Bible in 2022, I recommend the Five Day Bible Reading Plan. It goes through the Bible in a semi-chronological manner, giving you a good flow of biblical history.
I plan on using the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible–Large Print to go through the reading plan. Capturing the insights God gives in the same Bible you’re reading helps not only you but those who may read them later on (like your children or grandchildren).
Last, I did a video about the pros and cons of Bible Reading plans that will be helpful for you to consider:
What are your favorite Bible Reading plans?
Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the meaning of the lyrics found in the all the Christmas carols heard on the radio and in countless stores this time of year? On this episode of White Horse Inn, the hosts will do just that as they consider songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and more traditional carols like “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night.” Finally, they’ll explore the rich theology expressed in the world’s first Christmas carol recorded in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke (originally aired 12/18/16).
Good morning! These wisemen were overjoyed at seeing the Child, their King. These men travelled anywhere from 800-900 miles from Persia (modern-day Iran). Daniel (yes, that Daniel the prophet) served as a seer for the Babylonian/Persian government during Israel’s exile. In Daniel 9:24-27, these wise men (Magi) knew of the prophecies and the timeline by which the Savior would come. This star (Matthew 2:2) led them to Bethlehem and they were overjoyed that God kept His promises.
The gifts they gave mattered as well.
Gold: A gift for a king.
Frankincense: This is obviously an incense, the burning of which represents prayer. It is used by priests, and indicates the priestly nature of the Messiah.
Myrrh: A fragrant perfume, used in embalming bodies. The inclusion of this gift can be seen as prophetic of the death of the Messiah.
The three gifts together also underline the Messiah’s offices as prophet (the Giver of God’s words), priest (our intercessor for prayer and confession of sin), and king (our Ruler and Messiah).
All these Wise Men had were 500 year old prophecies and a star by which to travel. We live on this side of the cross and resurrection and have God’s full revelation compiled in Scripture. Do we seek Him with the same ferocity as those Wise Men?
To listen to the audio, go here.
We are called as God’s people to show no partiality, but sometimes we cannot help ourselves. I’m not excusing this when this happens–I’m just stating a reality of our sinful natures. Sadly, we look at people (their clothes, their language, their perceived finances, etc.) and make assumptions about their value and, even more, their usefulness.
We see this here in our lengthy passage for the morning. Some of you know the story, some of you don’t. But I will say this: if you never knew the story and someone told you that one of two people would distrust God’s Word and plan and those two people consisted of a priest of many decades whose job it was to lead the people in the Word and prayer and example and served in a pristine capital city; and the other was a teenage girl with little experience of the world who lived in a backwater town that someone famous asked, “Can anything good come out of here?”–it would be natural for us to say, “Well, the teenager in the rural town would disbelieve. How could someone who preached, prayed, and led for so long and so well disbelieve?”
As you can imagine, God is showing us something here. Both this priest (who goes by the name of Zechariah) and this teenager (Mary) were both needy and both were going to play a critical role in redemptive history. From the very beginning, God launched a plan to, as he said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “Save his people from their sin.” Now was the time that it would all come to fruition. Both a priest and peasant, a skeptic and a servant, would play this pivotal role.
But God would use them both. One to prepare the Way for their long-awaited Messiah–and the other to bring in the Messiah. They responded to God’s plan very differently, but they ultimately responded well. How will we when God shows up?
For more information about this ministry, go to http://www.arbc.net.