Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Right Word

 

[Photo of an open Bible with words superimposed]


“For the word of the Lord is right and true…”
—Psalm 33:4a

Have you ever engaged in a passionate conversation only to stop dead in your verbal tracks when you couldn’t find exactly the right word? If you've never experienced this phenomenon, just wait. I assure you that as you get older you will try to explain something and you won't be able to find the … err … right word.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can relax a bit. You see, when it comes to something as important as the pathway laid out before us in our lives, we have an inside track.

God has graciously given us His Word—both the Living Word, His one and only Son, and His written Word, the Bible. And, God's Word is… Well, let me share what the Psalmist has written in Psalm 33:4-5:

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Not only is God's Word right and true, don't you just really appreciate the fact that He is faithful in all He does? I know I do.

But, I also realize that God loves righteousness and justice. Sadly, apart from some pretty serious help from the Holy Spirit, I am not able to become righteous on my own. As long as I am on this earth, I will always remain a sinner—yes, a sinner saved by God's grace—but still a sinner.

Thankfully, we believers can rely on God's Word. Bathed in God's love, we can experience His unfailing, absolute, all-encompassing truth.

So, we don’t have to falter, pause, and search for the right “word” when it comes to our walk of faith. God’s Word is always right and true.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Declaring Our Love

 

[Photo of rocks with words superimposed]


“I love you, Lord, my strength.”
—Psalm 18:1

Do you remember the first time you summoned the courage to tell the person you were dating that you loved him or her? Did you blurt it out and then freeze, wondering what the object of your love would say?

Maybe you were the recipient of such a declaration of love and it caught you off guard. You were shocked. Your brain went into overdrive trying to find an appropriate response.

Let me ask you a question. How did you feel the first time the Holy Spirit revealed to you that God truly loves you? How did you respond?

I grew up always knowing that God loved me. Raised in an Evangelical Christian home, I literally cannot remember a time when I did not know that God loves me.

In contrast, I do remember the first time—it was October of 1956—when I recognized that I needed God's love. I suddenly knew I was a sinner who needed a Savior. And, God loved me enough to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin.

I was at once frightened to death and enormously relieved. I needed God’s love and He did truly love me.

You see God has made the first move toward each of us. He has told us He loves us first. He waits patiently to see how we will respond.

Here’s how the Psalmist responded. King David declares his love for God in Psalm 18:1-2:

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

God loves us. He waits for our response. How will we receive His love this day? That’s the question for the beginning of this new day.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Taking a Chance on Love

 

[Photo of Calvary with words superimposed]


“But God demonstrates his own love
for us in this: While we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.”
—Romans 5:8

Did you every take a chance on love? What I mean by that question: Did you ever realize that loving someone involved a certain amount of risk?

What if he or she does not love me back? What if after a while of displaying my love toward another person that person decides to reject me and have little or nothing further to do with me? Or, what if I invest a great deal into building a relationship with someone I love and then find out that they really don’t care very much about me after all? These kinds of questions sit just below the surface of many relationships.

I confess to you that am a bit astonished at the number of people I have known who, after nearly 25 or 30 years of marriage, suddenly get a divorce. I am always shocked and surprised. I can’t help wondering: “What in the world went wrong? After all that time, all that commitment, all that shared experience, to just break apart?” I simply have a hard time processing it.

But, of course, people end their relationships for a variety of reasons. We can never really understand until we’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, so to speak. I am not inclined to judge what happens with the relationships in someone else’s life. After all, I certainly have enough failure with relationships in my own life.

For example, in my own 68 years of life, I have had a great deal of trouble maintaining certain individual relationships—starting from those days when I was a relatively small boy right up to the present time. Usually the relationship seems to stop rather suddenly. I am left with a great puzzlement. What did I do wrong? Did I say something wrong? Did I do something wrong?

I often wish I could simply ask, “Why have you stopped being my friend?” But, of course, in my extreme shyness, I never really have the courage to ask such a question. Truthfully, I suspect I have, indeed, done something wrong, or said something wrong. But, I’m never quite sure what I have done to cause the other person to walk away from the relationship.

Sometimes over the years, I have been told that I am too intense, or too full of expectations, or too needy, or too inquisitive, or a host of other undesirable qualities. I guess all of those accusations probably hold some degree of truth. And, ultimately, I have had to settle in my mind that I will not ever be someone who has a large number of real friends. Rather, I will have a few deep friendships—and that just has to be all right. And, it is.

Maybe some of you reading this have experiences similar to my own. Or, maybe you are someone whom everyone seems to like to be around, someone who brings joy into other people’s lives. And, you find that other people actively seek out spending time with you because, well, you’re just fun to be with.

However, I suspect that there are far more people who feel like I do. With a very few exceptions, we just can’t seem to build those lasting relationships with the people we admire and love.

Now, imagine how God must feel. (Yes, I do understand we really cannot know exactly how God feels about such things. After all, He is God and we most definitely are not.) But, just try to think about how He must feel after everything He has done for us to have us generally, at one time or another, turn our backs on Him and try to push His love away.

Remember, He sent His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the horrific cross of Calvary. Jesus took our place. We were the ones who had sinned. We were born into this world inheriting the sin of Adam through our parents. Then, before long, we began sinning ourselves—asserting our own selfish wills. We absolutely deserved to die for our sins.

And yet, before the foundation of the earth, God chose us to belong to Himself. He sent Jesus to die in our place and rise from the dead to seal our life in heaven for all eternity.

But God didn’t stop there. God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within the depth of our being—to comfort us, help us, guide us, protect us, enable us, and to love us.

The Apostle Paul described it this way in Romans 5:1-11:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Particularly notice verse 8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God took a chance on us. He took a chance on love. Of course, because He’s God, He knew the final outcome. So, you could argue He didn’t take much of a chance. But, when measured from our human standpoint, our see-through-a-glass-dimly point of view, God really did take a chance on love in loving us. And, sadly, we don’t hold up our end of the bargain very well, do we?

In our relationship with God through His Son, and in our relationship with each other, we more often than not fail to be the kind of "lovers" we should be. Even so, God keeps taking a chance on love toward us, hoping that we will mature and grow in grace and in the knowledge of His Son. All the while, the Holy Spirit keeps working to perfect God’s love within us.

My question for each of us this morning: If God is so willing to take a chance on love toward us, are we willing to take a chance on love toward each other?

A very popular big band song introduced in 1940 as part of the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky—“Taking a Chance on Love” with lyrics by John La Touche and Ted Fetter and with music by Vernon Duke—has an interesting take on the idea that love involves a certain amount of risk. Here are the lyrics:

Here I go again
I hear those trumpets blow again
All aglow again
Taking a chance on love

Here I slide again
About to take that ride again
Starry eyed again
Taking a chance on love

I thought that cards were a frame-up
I never would try
But Now I’m taking the game up
And the ace of hearts is high

Things are mending now
I see a rainbow blending now
We’ll have a happy ending now
Taking a chance on love

(Instrumental Bridge)

Here I slip again
About to take that tip again
Got my grip again
Taking a chance on love

Now I prove again
That I can make life move again
In the grove again
Taking a chance on love

I walk around with a horseshoe
In clover I lie
And brother rabbit of course you
Better kiss your foot good-bye

On the ball again
I’m riding for a fall again
I’m gonna give my all again
Taking a chance on love

Let me be so bold as to suggest that you and I take a chance on love today. Okay?

Let’s take a chance on really loving God, and really loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, and really loving everyone God brings across our pathway this day.

Here’s an appropriate musical reminder that I hope you will enjoy:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sing in the Morning

 

[Graphic of a musical background with words superimposed]


“But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love”
—Psalm 59:16a

How do you begin your day? Psychologists insist that the first five or ten minutes after we wake up and get out of bed can set the tone for the rest of our day.

Apparently, King David learned this through personal experience. He speaks to God these words found in Psalm 59:16:

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

David had learned that beginning his day with a song of praise would set him on the right path for the rest of the day.

“But, I can't sing,” you may say.

Certainly you can sing! Do you know why people sing while taking a shower? First of all, showers have great acoustics. Secondly, there’s no human audience.

God wants to hear your song of praise. He doesn’t care if someone told you that you sound awful when you sing. Your melody of praise to Him is always a delight to His ears.

God listens to us through ears of love. We are His dear children. We are the ones who, before the foundation of the earth, He has chosen to belong to Himself.

So, start your day with a song of praise. Follow the admonition contained in the words translated from a German hymn by Edward Caswell:

When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work or prayer,
To Jesus I repair.
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Start your day with joy: sing in the morning!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 25, 2015

“Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!”

 

[Photo of a Christmas ornament with words superimposed]


“In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
—John 1:1

Of the four gospel writers, the Apostle John offers the most penetrating view of Jesus.

Matthew writes to the Jewish mindset and portrays Jesus as King. Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus is like a richly textured oil painting, full of light and shadow.

Mark writes to the Roman mindset and portrays Jesus as a servant. Mark’s portrayal of Jesus is like candid photographs that provide snippet views of the events in Jesus earthly life.

Luke writes to the Greek mindset and portrays Jesus as a man. Luke’s portrayal of Jesus is like a motion picture that smoothly dissolves from scene to scene and captures all the intensity of the action.

These first three gospels are what Bible students call the synoptic gospels—the story gospels. They tend to weave a loose timeline of the events in Jesus earthly life.

Then there’s John. John writes to all humankind and portrays Jesus as God’s Son, or the Son of God. John’s portrayal of Jesus is like an X-ray examination of all the internal thoughts and motives of Jesus. Thus, the mystery of this gospel.

John writes about the birth of Jesus—the Incarnation—in a most unique way. Here's John 1:1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John
(that is, John the Baptist). He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John reveals many important truths in this passage. Among them is the startling revelation that not all humans are children of God. Yes, all humans bear the image of God—the Imago Dei—and all humans hold access to the common grace of God.

But, only to all those who “receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

This day, this Christmas Day, we who believe have reason to celebrate. We also have an enormous responsibility to partner with the Holy Spirit in sharing God’s love and the good news of His salvation through His one and only Son.

We want everyone whom God has chosen to belong to Him to hear of the great gift He has given them. Yes, it is a great mystery that has come alive in our hearts and minds.

But with all the host of heaven we can gloriously sing: "“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!”

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Total Accuracy

 

[Drawing of the shepherds rejoicing]


“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God…”
—Luke 2:20a

There seems to be fewer and fewer sources we can fully trust. In our digital age, the internet can become a cacophony of inaccurate and deceptive information. It has proven itself to be a repository of outright lies and significant distortions.

God is the only One we can trust for reliable truth. He is the only One who speaks with total accuracy.

The shepherds discovered this after they saw the Christ child, as recorded in Luke 2:19-20:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The shepherds discovered one of the most critically important truths regarding a relationship with God: things are always exactly as He says they will be.

As we go out into this Christmas Eve Day, let us remember that when God says something will happen it will happen in exactly the way He describes. God is one we can trust for total accuracy.

When God promises something, He will always prove faithful. Let us rejoice in that truth this day.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let’s Go and See

 

[Drawing of shepherds going to Bethlehem]


“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has
happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
—Luke 2:15b

When someone is told about a spectacular event, the natural reaction is a desire to go and view this occurrence first hand. Notice how the shepherds respond to the angel’s announcement recorded in Luke 2:12-18:

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to our inner person and reveals to us the gift of love God has given us in His Son, our natural reaction is to open our minds, hearts, and lives to God’s redeeming power.

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord, let us remember once again that overwhelming desire we felt when we first realized what God had done in giving us new life in Christ.

Then, as people cross our pathway, let us urge them, in the most winsome way possible to go and see Jesus. Let us share the mercy, grace, and love of God through Christ our King.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Unlikely Recipients

 

[Drawing of the angels greeting the shepherds]


“And there were shepherds living out in the fields
nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”
—Luke 2:8

When something spectacular happens in your life, who is the first person with whom you share your good news? Your spouse? Your parents? Your best friend?

Or, do you stop strangers walking along the street and enthusiastically tell them the wonderful thing God has done in your life.

The most significant event in all of human history was the incarnation—the birth of Jesus. The one and only Son of God comes to earth in human form.

To whom does God choose to announce this miracle of miracles? Dr. Luke records this in Luke 2:8-11:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

But, why make this most spectacular announcement to a bunch of shepherds? It seems as if they were unlikely recipients of this wonderful news. Could it be because the greatest of all shepherds had just been born?

Did God choose these lowly, ordinary folk to hear such a glorious announcement because God does not show partiality? Did God want the first ones to come and see God incarnate to be the very ones He came to save?

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember that He came to seek and to save those who were lost. That includes lowly shepherds, foreign kings, and you and me, as well.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Have You Any Room for Jesus?

 

[Painting of Joseph and Mary trying to find a place at an inn]


“She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.”
—Luke 2:7

God shaped the inherent humility of the incarnation of His one and only Son by having Him born in the most stark possible place.

Here’s what Dr. Luke records in Luke 2:6-7:

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

There was no room for the Son of God to be born in a proper setting. Thirty-three years later the Jewish religious leaders would find no room for Jesus in their institutionalized religion.

The question stands for men, women, boys, and girls today: “Do you have room for Jesus in your heart and life?”

The gospel songwriter D. W. Whittle wrote this challenging song:

Have you any room for Jesus,
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, will you let Him in?

Refrain:
Room for Jesus, King of glory!
Hasten now, His word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

Room for pleasure, room for business,
But for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In the heart for which He died?

Refrain:
Room for Jesus, King of glory!
Hasten now, His word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

Have you any room for Jesus,
As in grace He calls again?
O, today is time accepted,
You will never call in vain.

Refrain:
Room for Jesus, King of glory!
Hasten now, His word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

Room and time now give to Jesus,
Soon will pass God’s day of grace;
Soon your heart left cold and silent,
And the Savior’s pleading cease.

Refrain:
Room for Jesus, King of glory!
Hasten now, His word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

 

Evie Tornquist sings an appropriate reminder of what Joseph and Mary experienced:

[Graphic of a play music arrow]


 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 18, 2015

An Inconvenient Journey

 

[Drawing of Joseph and Mary on a donkey]


“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in
Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David,
because he belonged to the house and line of David.”
—Luke 2:4

The prophets have said that God’s Son, the Messiah (or in Greek, “the Christ”) would be born in Bethlehem. But, the mother lives in Nazareth, a significant distance in the opposite direction.

How will God move her from where she is to where she needs to be?

That happens in our lives, too. God needs us free from our current circumstances so He can use us in some new venture. How does He accomplish His purpose?

Dr. Luke records the lengths God will go to do what He wants to do. It may not be convenient. It may cause heartache and distress. But, God will do whatever He chooses to do.

Notice these words recorded in Luke 2:1-5:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

When God wants to accomplish His perfect plan, He does whatever He wants to move us to where He needs us to be. Sometimes this disruption to our normal routine is painful.

In the end, God accomplishes His perfect plan. As hard as it may be for us to trust Him, ultimately that's what we need to do.

Let us move out into this day remembering that God is always faithful. Even when we do not see or understand His plan for us, we can rest in the fullness of His grace.

God may have placed us on an inconvenient journey in order to accomplish His purpose. He will work in and through us to His glory. We must learn to trust Him.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Because of God’s Tender Mercy

 

[Graphic of a sign]


“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High…”
—Luke 1:76

The gift of God’s Son, Jesus, to occupy human flesh and become fully man while remaining fully God, was an act of God’s tender mercy.

You see, we deserved eternal death because we inherited a sin nature from Adam and then added layer upon layer of our own sins. But in His mercy, grace, and love, God provided the perfect substitutionary sacrifice in the person of His one and only Son.

This gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus was an act of tender mercy.

In his prophetic prayer, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, explains the role God’s mercy plays in this salvation equation, as recorded in Luke 1:76-79:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

The pathway of peace with God was provided by God’s tender mercy. In response, let us more and more become people who display God-breathed tender mercy.

Let us intentionally reach out to those God brings across our pathway with mercy, grace, and love. Let us remember that apart from God's tender mercy, we would remain condemned and unforgiven for our sins.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Horn of Salvation

 

[Photo of ram's horn with words superimposed]


“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel”
—Luke 1:68

If you live in the country or in a small town you may seldom hear the blaring of a horn. But, if you live in a major city, you hear the cacophony of horns all the time.

In ancient times, the sounding of the ram’s horn signaled a call to get ready for battle. It also served to warn a portion of an army that had become surrounded by the enemy that reinforcements had arrived.

When God sent His one and only Son to earth, the maximum reinforcements came with Him. No longer was mankind battling sin alone. Jesus would once and for all seal our salvation on the cross.

Notice what the father of John the Baptist prays when he learns about God’s plan, as recorded in Luke 1:67-69, 74-75:

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

By the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within the hearts and minds of all who believe, God enables us to serve Him and share with others His great love.

Let us go forth onto this day as instruments of God’s mercy, grace, and love. Let us allow the horn of God's salvation open up the path of obedience before us.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Profound Obedience

 

[Drawing of the angel talking to Joseph]


“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…”
—Matthew 1:20

Doing exactly what God tells us to do takes courage, determination, and willful strength. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit enables us to walk this pathway of obedience.

A prime, but often little noted, example of the best kind of profound obedience is reported to us in Matthew 1:20-21:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

This was startling news to be sure. Yet somehow, Joseph trusted this word from God and in profound obedience did exactly what God told him to do. I sometimes wonder if we give Joseph too little credit.

After all, Joseph raised Jesus in his carpenter shop to be a skilled worker. There is no evidence to suggest that Joseph ever treated Jesus in any way other than as a dearly loved son.

Joseph was a man of obedience. He sets a good and godly example for all of us who live as “Christ’s-ones.”

Let us live in such obedience today. Let us bend our frail, misguided human wills to God’s perfect will. In profound obedience, let us serve God today and love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Respond with Praise

 

[Drawing of flowers with words superimposed]


“My soul glorifies the Lord…”
—Luke 1:46

Nothing makes me smile more than the squeal of delight from a child opening a present. There is something about that unabashed joy that can’t be duplicated.

Dr. Luke records that intense kind of joy expressed from the heart of a mother-to-be in Luke 1:46-50:

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”

When God intersects with our lives each day and reveals Himself, our hearts should well up with praise. The very fact of His unquenchable love for us and the reality of His powerful Presence in our lives surely give us reason enough to praise Him.

As we look carefully to see His hand at work in our lives, let’s be prepared to respond with praise this day and every day.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 11, 2015

It’s Impossible!

 

[Photo of sunshine through the clouds]


“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
—Luke 1:28

“You see, Dean, I’m a Christian, but there are certain things in the Bible that I just don’t believe. The virgin birth, for example. I just don't believe it. It's impossible!”

My dear friend, for whom I hold deep respect, continues to doubt. He doesn't understand that, without the virgin birth, Jesus cannot be “fully God and fully man.” It’s a foundational truth of Christianity.

Of course, I’m talking about the event Dr. Luke records in Luke 1:26-35:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

What more can I say? Either you believe what the Bible describes or you don't. But understand this: without the truth of what Dr.Luke records, Jesus cannot be “God the Son.”

So, the entirety of Christianity rests on the truth of these few words.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Such Treachery!

 

[Drawing of the Magi appearing before Herod]


“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out
from them the exact time the star had appeared.”
—Matthew 2:7

The Bible contains love stories, battle tales, mysteries, drama, and even treachery. Notice these words from Matthew 2:7-8:

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

We know of course that Herod lied. He did not want to worship this baby who came as an already-crowned King. No! Herod wanted to kill Jesus.

Such treachery makes my blood run cold. Why, I haven’t ever experienced such treachery except—well, except within the church. That’s right, within the church.

The most singularly harmful experiences in my life have all been at the hands of godless pastors, godless elders, and other godless church leaders who decided to try destroy me—without legitimate reason or just cause.

I’m grateful and humbled to be able to say that in each case, God chose to protect me from the most damaging effects of their sinful attacks. Oh, I felt wounded, but certainly not destroyed.

There’s something about diligently striving to serve God for virtually one’s entire life that opens one up to such attacks. But, God will always protect His own.

I have long ago forgiven what was done to me. And, I have guarded myself to make certain what happened to me won’t happen to others under my watch.

Today, and every day, let’s determine to steer clear of any so-called “leaders” who bring a harmful and destructive spirit into our churches.

Let us constantly follow the instruction from Psalm 139:24:

“…and see if there be any wicked way in me.”

Then, let us praise God that He protects us from treachery, just as He sent His Son to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod’s bloody sword.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

“Wise Men Still Seek Him”

 

[Photo of wise men and camels on the horizon]


“…Magi from the east came to Jerusalem…”
—Matthew 2:1b

A very popular Christian bumper sticker boldly declares the title of this blog post. In this post-modern, post-Christian culture, some women are offended that they have been left out.

In the Greek language of the New Testament, The word “men” often means “mankind”—that is “male men” and “female men.” We should not let our own cultural sensitivities cloud the underlying message.

Wise ones still seek Jesus. As the Apostle Matthew records in Matthew 2:1-2:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Yes, wise men and wise women, wise girls and wise boys, do still seek the Great King Jesus. If you have a longing in your heart to “love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly,” God has placed that desire in your heart.

Let us rejoice this day that in God’s mercy, grace, and love—before the foundation of the earth—God chose us to belong to Himself.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

In the Fullness of Time

 

[Drawing of the nativity]


“But when the set time had fully come…”
—Galatians 4:4a

Have you ever waited for exactly the right moment to do or say something? Maybe you wanted to tell someone that you loved them very much, but you felt you needed to wait until the time was right.

Maybe certain things needed to happen before you could take your planned course of action. You knew exactly what you intended to do. Still, you needed confirmation that the right moment to act had arrived.

From before the foundation of the earth, God knew He would send His one and only Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of everyone God had chosen to belong to Himself. But, God also knew the time had to be exactly right before He sent His Son to save us.

The Apostle Paul explains this in Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Let us celebrate God's faithfulness this day, knowing that when the time is right—in the fullness of time—He always does exactly what He intends to do.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, December 7, 2015

The God of the Impossible

 

[Photo of a cross with words superimposed]


“…the Lord himself will give you a sign…”
—Isaiah 7:14a

Many, many times Scripture records impossible situations in which God acts to the benefit of His people.

Here’s one example from Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

A seemingly impossible prediction to be sure. And yet, that is exactly what happened.

Our God is the God of the Impossible. No matter what you may need in your life today—not want, but truly need—God will loving supply. If it seems impossible, then He's the One who can make it happen.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Then, Jesus Came

 

[Photo of a sunrise with words superimposed]


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet”
—Deuteronomy 18:15

The love of God for those He has chosen plays out so clearly across the span of history. Notice this account described in Deuteronomy 18:15-18:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”

The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.”

So, from this time forward for hundreds of years God did exactly as the people asked. Because they were afraid to face God's awesome power directly, He spoke to them through His prophets that He provided.

But this did not last. Because, in a miracle of God's mercy, grace, and love, God sent His one and only Son to earth in the form of a human baby -- fully God and fully man. The birth of Jesus changed everything!

Now mankind would have a direct contact with God through His Son. Before this mankind needed to hear from God's anointed prophet. Now, Jesus will serve forever as Prophet, Priest, and King.

Not only will Jesus die in the place of mankind on the cross, He will rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and sit down at God's right hand where He will make intercession on behalf of those humans whom God has chosen to belong to Himself.

Yes, everything was moving along the pathway of history. Then, Jesus came. And, nothing would ever be the same again.

In 1992, at the age of 83, George Beverly Shea sang a powerful gospel song at the Billy Graham Philadelphia Crusade.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Revealed by the Holy Spirit

 

[Photo of a field with words superimposed]


“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard…”
—1 Corinthians 2:9a

Do you like mysteries? I do—as long as the solution to the mystery is revealed in the end. I don’t like mysteries that leave me hanging without a nice wrapped-up ending.

I delight in reading mystery novels. I greatly enjoy police procedural television programs. Both of these appeal to my sense of justice. You see, in the end, I want the good guys to win and I want to see the bad guys punished. I don't at all like mysteries that remain unsolved.

In real life, not all mysteries become revealed. I have a mental list of several events in my life that remain a bit of a mystery because I’ve never come to fully understand what happened in the particular situation.

The Christian life and its beliefs have more than a little mystery to it. That’s why some people just can’t seem to understand and accept the truth of Christianity.

God chooses to whom He will unfold the mysteries of faith and of His mercy, grace, and love. In fact, if you are able to comprehend, and by faith believe, the basic tenets of Christianity, it’s because the Holy Spirit has revealed them to you.

Notice the explanation the Apostle Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Yes, God chooses to reveal even the deep things about Himself to those He has chosen to belong to Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, after the initial revelation, God then reveals more and more about Himself to His children over time. And, even then, much about God will always remain hidden this side of heaven.

We should greet this day with thankful hearts that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us by the Holy Spirit. This act of kindness on God’s part is yet one more assurance of how very much He loves us.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

No Greater Commandment

 

[Photo of stones with words superimposed]


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart…”
—Mark 12:30a

Over the years of blogging, I’ve written several times about the all-inclusiveness of Jesus answer recorded in Mark 12:28-31:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus points out the depth of devotion expected of His disciples in the four all-inclusive domains of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. Or, to use Jesus' quotation from Deuteronomy 6:4-5: heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Left to our own human abilities, we cannot achieve this level of obedient devotion. We must rely on the power of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit to enable us.

And, all the more so, when it comes to loving our neighbors with the same intensity and commitment that we live ourselves, we need that same enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Today, let us kneel before God and surrender our stubborn human wills to Him. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to flood all four domains of our being with God-breathed love, so that we will be able to love God and love our neighbor.

This kind of obedient surrender is truly the pathway that leads to everlasting joy.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

He’s Listening

 

[Photo of praying hands with words superimposed]


“Hear my prayer, Lord…”
—Psalm 86:5-7

Do you ever try to talk with someone and wonder if they heard a word you said?

Recently I learned about a father who spoke at some length to his daughter. He poured out his heart to her and shared some very important observations. He spoke to encourage her and also to challenge her in a most loving way.

When she didn't seem to respond, he looked at her more closely. To his surprise and chagrin, he discovered she had earbuds in her ears and had not heard a single word he had said over the sound of the music from her iPod.

The Psalmist assures us that God is not at all like that young lady. He is always attentive to His dearly loved children. He hears us whenever we speak to Him in prayer.

Notice the words in these verses from Psalm 86:6a:

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

We can begin a new day with prayer knowing that the God who loved us enough to send His one and only Son to die in our place will listen to us and answer us.

Yes, sometimes the answer is “not yet.” Sometimes the answer is “no.” Sometimes the answer is "“wait awhile, but keep asking.” Sometimes the answer is a great outpouring of His mercy, love, and grace—far more than we dared to ask.

But, God always hears and always answers. We can place our full trust in Him.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.