Monthly Archives: December 2016

December 24 – Treasure The Gift

2 Timothy

Twice in chapter one, Paul says something to Timothy that got my attention this Christmas Eve morning. First, in verse 6 he tells the young preacher to “Kindle afresh the gift of God.”  Then in verse 14 Timothy is told to “Guard… The treasure which has been intrusted to you.”

Are your presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for the family gathering when those things, bought with those special people in mind, will be revealed? I finished wrapping my gifts yesterday and I’m looking forward to going to church tonight, then going to my sister’s house where we will open those treasures and enjoy watching the grandkids’ excitement.

What if you’d spent everything you have on a gift for the one you love? Wouldn’t you hope they’d at least appreciate it? You’d probably want them to love it, cherish it, protect it, show it off. You’d want them to use it correctly and carefully. You wouldn’t buy it expecting them to discard or abuse it, or set it aside and neglect it. Would you? I mean it cost you everything.

This weekend we are celebrating the most precious gift you’ve ever been given. And yes, it cost Jesus everything to buy it for you. He bought it wanting you to receive it with joy, to treasure the gift of forgiveness that cost Him His own blood.

Paul tells Timothy in chapter two to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”, to be a good soldier, a fit athlete, a hard working farmer. In speaking to Timothy he tells us not to be ashamed, to be diligent, avoid worldly and empty chatter. I hope you read this letter to Timothy. It contains the owners manual for the gift God gave you through His Son.

We’ll celebrate the birth of the Savior this weekend. But we are celebrating not just a birth. We’re celebrating a life, and a death. We are celebrating the free gift of salvation this Baby was born to purchase for us. My prayer is that we will guard this gift, treasure this gift, use it and share it just like God intends for us to do.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

December 23 – Faith Is A Glorious Reality

Hebrews 11-13

Faith. Being sure of the things we hope for. It’s believing in things unseen.

We all exhibit faith every day. I’ve heard it compared to breathing. Oxygen is unseen, yet when we inhale we are confident our lungs will fill with air. Some say it’s like trusting the chair you’re about to sit on is strong enought to hold you, or expecting the light to go on when you flip a switch.

I guess there is a measure of faith in those examples. But faith in God goes deeper.

Hebrews tells us that faith in God can prompt a man like Noah to build a big boat and believe it’s going to rain when it had never rained before. It can make a man like Abraham to pack up his family and move to a foreign land, or Moses to stand up to a king and lead thousands of people through a desert. It can allow a woman dying of cancer to demonstrate joy and peace.

We who know Jesus have put our faith in the God of the Universe. And, really, we’re putting our faith in a sure thing. Hebrews 13:8 tells us Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Putting our faith in God might not make sense to unbelievers. And sometimes it can be scary even to believers. But faith in God can be the most natural and glorious reality there is.

Dear God, I believe. Help my unbelief. I have faith in you for my salvation, for Your care of me, for my future, for my today. Help me to keep my eyes on You, to truly trust You for every detail of my life, because You can be trusted.

December 22 – Where God Is

Hebrews 7-10

The Holy of Holies was a mystery to Old Testament Jews. Most of the priests hadn’t even dared to enter the place where the Ark of God resided. One priest, once a year, entered with fear and trembling, did his duty, and got out of there. It was much more a forbidden place than your parents’ closet where your wrapped Christmas presents were hidden. And what was in the Holy Place was more wonderful than any present you ever peeked into.

God was there!

The writer of Hebrews tells us that when Jesus died, His blood gave us access into the Holy Place. We have the privilege of going to God without waiting for the right day of the year, or through some priest. Jesus opened the door to the place where God is and gave us the invitation to come!

I don’t think I can grasp the significance of that act. I take my walk with God for granted way too often. So I’m thankful for these chapters in Hebrews today which remind me what a very big deal it is that Jesus died once for all, and provided the way for me to live in the Holy Place, where God is, right in my heart!

Dearest Jesus, “Thank you” just doesn’t seem to express enough what is in my heart right now. There is so much connected with your death on the cross. Forgiveness of sin, victory over death and Satan, no longer a slave to sin, eternal life, and the very amazing privilege of having a relationship with you right now in 2016. You, the Creator God, Eternal, Holy Holy Holy, invite me to come to you. And I do. I love you, Lord.

December 21 – He Had To

Hebrews 1-6

I read another Christmas passage, and never realized it was a Christmas passage before. The author of Hebrews in chapters 1-3, tells us why we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument, “If God were a loving God He wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” And that is a true statement. The reality is, God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell. In fact, there is no reason for anyone to go to hell.

First of all, we have to understand God is holy. He cannot NOT be holy. So when He created us with the ability to choose Him, He knew there was another side to that coin. We could also choose to reject Him. So before He created anything, He came up with a plan to save us. He created us to fellowship with Him. So He had to provide a way for us to fellowship with Him after we sin, because holiness and sin cannot exist together.

Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people ( Heb 2:17)

We are human. Humans sin. So a human had to pay the penalty for sin. (You don’t send a dog to jail to pay for a crime a person commits.)

Every transgression and disobedience receives a just penalty (the wages of sin is death) How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus) See Hebrews 2:2&3 and Romans 6:23.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because there was no other way for God to fellowship with us sinners. Jesus HAD to be born so that He could die and be that substitute for each of us.

I pray none of us will neglect so great a salvation!

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I’m glad you were born.

 

December 20 – Action!

I Peter

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ( 1:3)

Peter’s first letter is full of action verbs. This Christian life is to be lived, played out in what we do rather than sitting comfortably in a pew once a week.

I was born into the Zehner family. I didn’t do anything to become a Zehner. And nothing I did made me more or less a Zehner. But there were some things I did, some choices I made, to get me to the Zehner woman I am today.

I learned. To walk and talk, to add and subtract, to do the dishes and dust, to care about others. Oh I had help along the way. Parents and teachers and friends helped to mold me as I yielded myself to their instruction. But even that had nothing to do with the fact that I am a Zehner. It does have a bearing on the kind of Zehner I am.

I was born into the family of God. I didn’t do anything to earn that privilege. I simply asked God to forgive me, and accepted His gift of grace that HE bought for me. But there are some choices I made to get me to the Christian woman I am today.

Let’s look at some of the action words Peter used to describe our walk:

prepare your minds, be holy, conduct yourselves in fear, fervently love, put aside malice, long for the word, grow, taste, come, believe, abstain, submit, honor. Be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, humble. Bless, suffer, rejoice, glorify God.

In my walk with the Lord I have chosen to read His Word every day, to pray, to worship with other believers, to use the gifts He gave me in service to Him and others. I choose to live a lifestyle that honors Him. I choose to resist the devil by staying close to my Savior.

I don’t do these things to become a Christian. I do them because I am a Christian.

Dear ones, people all over the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus, whether they want to believe it or not. It’s Christmas. It’s a great time of year to put our faith into action. I pray that you will read 1 Peter today and let God speak to your heart about what you could be DOING to demonstrate Jesus in your life. Many hearts are ready to hear about what the birth of this Baby really means.

Let’s show them by our own actions that what we have in Jesus is so much better than what they have without Him.

 

December 19 – Enemies

Titus

One thing that I’ve come to realize during this year in God’s Word is that non-believers are enemies of God. That is a hard pill to swallow because I have loved ones who fit that description. I know some really nice, good people who fit that description as well, for the fact that they refuse to accept God’s grace. I don’t want anyone I love to be considered His enemy when God looks at them.

But here’s how God treats His enemies while they still draw a breath: He died for them. He holds their forgiveness in His hands. He woos them, or strikes them, or blesses them, all the while giving them every opportunity to accept Him. It isn’t until they leave this life that He gives up on them.

Here’s what spoke to me today: Sometimes I think we Christians are too hard on God’s enemies. Some Christians feel pious hatred toward homosexuals, or child molesters, atheists, women who’ve had abortions, Muslims. We have a measure of godly indignation and condemn them to hell because that’s what they deserve.

But Paul tells Timothy to “malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” (3:2) But surely he didn’t mean those awful sinners, did he?

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  (3:3-7)

Have you ever heard, “There but for the grace of God go I”? That’s what Paul wants us to adopt as our attitude toward those who don’t know God. It’s only God’s grace that renders you forgiven, clean, a friend of God. And it’s only God’s grace that will do the same for the vilest offend who truly believes, or for that nice little old lady down the street who has not yet surrendered her life to the Lord.

Christian, let’s determine to reveal God’s love to His enemies. But let’s not forget that their sin is making them an enemy of God.He is not willing that any should die without Him. We shouldn’t be, either.

 

December 18 – It’s In There

I Timothy

I guess I’ve never realized how much Paul’s letter to Timothy is anything but “politically correct.” In fact, it’s not all that modern church correct, either.

I pray you will read this book today and ask God to speak to you about homosexuality, about eternal security, about local church leaders, about helping the needy, about “knowledge”, about judgment, and about Jesus. He might speak to your heart about drinking wine, your attitude toward money, or godliness.

It’s all in these six chapters. And I pray that as you read the words God inspired Paul to write you will be challenged to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance,and gentleness, and to “fight the good fight of faith.” (6:11-12)

Grace be with you.