Archive for November, 2019

“Good Tidings of Great Joy”: media page

November 27, 2019

My new Advent/Christmas devotional booklet will be handed out on December 1, 2019, at Toccoa First United Methodist Church. Devotionals will occasionally refer to media clips on this page. I hope these devotionals are a blessing to you! Enjoy!

Dec. 2: A Christmas Story: Ralphie’s mother saves him.

Dec. 5: A Charlie Brown ChristmasCharlie Brown loves the unlovable tree.

Dec. 8: It’s a Wonderful Life: George rejects a deal with the devil.

Dec. 13: It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey prays.

Dec. 14: It’s a Wonderful Life: George gives up on his dreams.

Dec. 16: “Mercies in Disguise,” Laura Story

Dec. 26: A Charlie Brown ChristmasLinus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Dec. 28: A Christmas Story: A drastic change of plans.

“God designed this very moment”: meditation on Genesis 45:7-8

November 20, 2019

And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:7-8a

Joseph has just revealed his identity to his brothers, who, years earlier, caused him great evil and suffering. But Joseph sees the bigger picture: God chose him to be Egypt’s savior, and his brothers couldn’t impede God’s plan. Indeed, they could only unwittingly help bring it about! God transformed all of Joseph’s trials into something good.

If that’s true for Joseph, how can it not be true for us? After all, if we’re in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit residing within us (1 Cor 6:19); we stand before God as perfectly righteous, with the imputed righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9); we are God’s beloved children (John 1:12-13); we are the ones on whom God’s favor rests (Luke 2:14); we are, already, “seated with God in the heavenly places” (Eph 2:6). Not to mention God’s promise to work “all things” for our good (Rom 8:28).

If God’s promises are true, he hardly has less of a good plan for our lives than he did for Joseph’s. And he’s working that plan out through everything we’re going through. Do we dare believe that we enjoy this kind of favor with God? If not, why not?

Lord, give me faith to believe that everything I’m going through at this moment is part of your good plan for my life. #esvjournalingbible #biblejournaling

Sermon 11-17-19: “Spiritual Warfare”

November 18, 2019

Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:10-20

You can listen to this sermon on my podcast in iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. Subscribe now!

Last Thursday night, with eight seconds left in the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, a Browns defensive end named Myles Garrett pulled the helmet off of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, and knocked him in the head with it. Rudolph is O.K. But Garrett is suspended indefinitely. What Garrett did was shocking, and deadly dangerous… and to say the least, he wasn’t fighting fair.

Brothers and sisters, by virtue of being disciples of Jesus Christ, we face an Enemy in Satan who’s deadly dangerous and doesn’t fight fair.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” Paul writes in verse 12, before going on to describe our Enemy. 

In a way it’s very strange for Paul to say that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” After all, his entire apostolic ministry seems to bear witness to the truth that if anyone ever “wrestled against flesh and blood,” it was Paul. If you have your Bibles—and you should—please turn with me to 2 Corinthians 11, beginning with verse 23. Paul said that he experienced

far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.

These were all things that flesh-and-blood human beings did to Paul. He goes on to say that he was in “danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city… danger from false brothers.” Look at verse 32: 

“Trust God’s Word when it says you’re loved and forgiven”: meditation on Psalm 119:1

November 11, 2019

How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! Psalm 119:1 CSB

“How happy are those”: The KJV and its successors use the word “blessed” (NLT: “joyful”) in place of “happy,” perhaps because “blessed” connotes a deeper, God-ordained kind of happiness. Still, I prefer “happy,” because it requires no nuance or qualification: I want to be happy in my life! (Don’t you?) And here’s how happiness is possible, the psalmist says.

Does this book tell the truth? Can I trust it? O Lord, I believe that it does and I can! Let me be happy like this!

But how can I, sinner that I am, be “blameless”? Am I disqualified from this promised happiness before I start? No. First, I remember imputation: that Jesus was made to “be sin” so that I could “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). I’m “blameless” because my life is found in the One who was blameless on my behalf.

Second, “blameless” does not imply “sinless.” (See Phil 3:6.) Rather, when I sin, I follow 1 John 1:9: confess and trust that God is “righteous” (or “just”) to forgive my sin. Why does John appeal to God’s justice? Because my sin has already been punished on the cross. Therefore, startling as it is to say, it would be unjust of God to punish my sin again.

My point is this: Part of being “blameless” means believing that God’s Word tells the truth when it describes God’s way of forgiving us through the cross.