For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3: 16


After a long journey, the band of travelers from the east arrive in the land of David; they go to Herod, for as the religious ruler of the country they thought that they could get specific directions to the location of the baby king that they had come to honor. But Herod was interested in personal gain, in power, and not in the souls of men; so, they went away from him, and they stayed away from his evil intent. These men were the philosophers and the spiritual counselors to their home country. They studied the stars and they predicted the future. They were the elite thinkers of their culture. Here they were in a foreign land, and they were very far from home; yet, the sense of adventure and the excitement of encountering the fulfillment of their prophetic studies had to be intoxicatingly powerful.


We, too, have all been on a long journey through life. We have all encountered various challenges and trials and roadblocks along the way. Yet, I have found that the presence of Christ remains constant throughout all. His glory shines even brighter than that star that the magi followed. Christ never stops calling to all people just as He has never stopped calling to me. Christ cares deeply about what I do and how I am living; still, these actions and thoughts of mine have never made any difference to Him in regards to His desire to lead me to truth, to integrity, to righteousness, and to love. Since I have known Jesus on the profoundly personal basis that He desires for all, the journey to God’s presence is a very short one, for His Spirit is a part of who I now am. Still, that journey can seem like the longest and the most challenging expedition that I could imagine; yet, that perception is my problem. God is here with me always; it is my heart that tries to shut him out. I am the one that tries to run and hide from Him and His truth.


For people who haven’t come to the decision to enter into a relationship with Jesus, the journey to Him is also, in fact, very short, for it is accomplished in the heart, not with the feet, and He is there waiting to enter into it with everyone. There are no special words and no magic spells required. God does love everyone, and Christ wants to complete that love by infusing every one’s heart with it. So, like the Magi, we come to the presence of Christ bringing gifts to honor the king, He wants us to bring Him a gift also. God wants us to give him the gift of our lives. He wants us to present our willingness to let him have control of our thoughts and our actions, and He asks for us to give Him our openness and willingness to live for Him. In turn, God gives us everything. He gives us His hope, grace, comfort, freedom, honesty, compassion, serenity, understanding, companionship, majesty, and joy. God gives us all of this and so much more, and all of this is ours always and forever.


So, I ask myself, where am I on this journey today? What is it that I am holding onto out of fear or stubbornness or some other personal motive; what does God want me to lay at His feet as my gift of self? As I fall down before the King in worship, I challenge myself to accept Christ’s gifts to me, to live like they are my reality, and like the Magi did, I am to go into my own world to tell of this gracious love that fills my heart and that gives me my true purpose in life.



God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4: 24


Sometimes we think of worship as something that takes place at specific times and in specified places. It is something that we do on our day of gathering and it happens in church. Yet, that is not even remotely how God intends for us to view this aspect of our relationship with Him. Worship is an expression of the way that we view its object, in this case God, and it is a means of taking the beliefs and the feelings that we have regarding God and making them known. God commands us to worship Him, but His heart desires that these commands would be fulfilled by us out of a sincere desire and even from a need to let out what is contained within us. The Lord wants for us to respond to His love, grace, mercy, and the rest of His character and nature by entering into this thing that we refer to as worship.


The character and the nature of God are much too large, great, and all-encompassing to be confined to a specific time or to be considered as a part of what happens in a designated place. God is not an object that we can place on a shelf, pedestal, or the wall and come to when we decide that we should engage in religious practices. His nature as spirit makes God impossible to contain or to curtail in this manner. The Lord is present and is sovereign ruler everywhere on this earth and in the universe. There is no place where He is not present and there is nothing over which He does not have final authority. This means that we can bring all that is before us in life to Him and that we can trust God with our most precious and deepest aspects of our minds, hearts, and souls. God rules over all with the sort of Creator’s love that seeks after the healing for all that is broken and for the redemption of all that is lost.


So, worship is something that takes place everywhere and in all of the circumstances where God is present, which means that for a follower of God, worship in its true form is a part of the totality of life. As we breath, so, also, we can worship the Lord who gave us each of those breaths. The realization of God’s total sovereignty and also of the absolute totality of His presence is the foundation for entering into God’s truth. There is only one author of truth in the universe, and the Lord is also the sole place to go to test the veracity of what we hear, how we are thinking, and the conclusions that we are forming about the conduct of life. Thus, seeking after truth is a form of worship, and doing this in submission to God’s Word and His Spirit is an expression of that worshipful heart. The Lord values truth as much as He does love, and He is blessed when we worship Him with lives that are dedicated to love, grace, mercy, justice, and truth.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and plea for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12: 10


We like it when things are easy, when everything is going well and everyone around us is happy and content. Yet, that is really not the reality that most people get to deal with. Life is not smooth, and the path that we travel through it is frequently interrupted by detours that are caused by broken dreams and failed aspirations. Although we would like to point to the condition of the world as thee cause for our troubles or hold up others as the problem, if truth is to be told, each of us needs to take ownership of our own contribution to the way that things are today and for the place that we occupy in our world. We have all sinned, and each person has done things, thought thoughts, and carries attitudes that diminish the quality of life in the space that we inhabit. There is no one alive who does not need the grace that God has to give to us, and none of us are too far gone to receive the mercy that comes our way through Christ.


Zechariah is describing a time when his entire nation would be overcome by the need for repentance and a desire to return to being focused upon worshiping the Lord. I fear that this sort of national transformation is highly unlikely short of Christ’s return, and even then, it will not be the existing nations that turn in full to Christ, but rather, He will replace all that is here with His singular restored holy and just kingdom. In the interim, each of us continues to dwell in this land, and we are asked by Christ to push on in our journey of faith, hope, and trust. This is where the same grace and mercy that the prophet describes are so vitally important to us, for I believe that without God’s grace and His mercy it is essentially impossible to continue to live out our days with faith as the foundation for each step that we take, with hope as the reason for going forth, and with trust in Christ as the source of strength for the journey.


For me, this all starts with repentance. When I consider all that God has done in order to draw near to me, a person who has too often pushed Him away or attempted to keep the Lord at a safe distance from the most personal and closely held aspects of my life, my knees collapse and my heart fills with tears of remorse as I seek Christ’s forgiveness. Yet, this is something that I already possess, and as I recognize my need for grace, I also see that it has been poured out over me as an anointing with the holy oil of forgiveness. It is here, where my sinful life meets Christ’s cross of redemption, that my penitent’s tears are wiped away and are replaced by a strength and an understanding of purpose that are provided to me by Christ, Himself. The hope that I have for the land where I live and for the world where we reside is found in the power of Christ as He leads His people to live righteously and to engage directly with the various issues and concerns of our day while pouring out upon others the same grace that we have received and  by approaching everyone and each situation with open hands that are filled with mercy and with love. This is how we can take Christ into the center of the Jerusalem in which we dwell.




You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 2: 1, 2


Have you ever followed the wrong directions and gone somewhere that you shouldn’t have? Maybe you were putting something together and decided to skip all of those directions at the beginning of the page that were obviously intended for people who possessed lesser mechanical skills than you. Or there was just going to be that one time that you would do that thing, eat that item, or indulge that thought; however, this was the certain thing, that especially addictive item or the thought that keeps leading you into a downward spiral of sinful and unproductive thinking. Life is filled with choices, and one of the most important ones determines who we listen to and where we go to access wisdom and truth that will frame the way we live.


Paul is helping us recognize the fact that once we know Christ we need to make the decision to allow Him to truly and completely be Lord of our lives. For, as people, we have spent our entire lives learning how to live in a world that is filled with images, thoughts, and direction that seems to work but that often tends to lead us continually away from the true righteousness of God. Christ wants to take us in a new direction; yet, I find that new directions can be uncomfortable, and it requires discipline and hard work on my part to stick with following them. Still, the rewards for those efforts are so great that there is nothing in this life to compare with them.


Christ has given us a new map, a complete set of directions, and a way to overcome the destructive habits that have caused us and others harm. His Spirit wants take the lead as we navigate through this day, and His Word has real answers to all of the questions that will arise during our travels. Even knowing all of this does not guarantee that the journey will be smooth and without side trips and interruptions. So, when the old maps and worldly influences start to take charge of my thinking, I need to stop and reflect on the peace, joy, and clarity of thought that Christ has given to me; then, from the perspective of truth and with the clarity of thought that Christ provides, I can thank God for the way that He totally loves me and allow His Spirit to lead me on from there.




And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

Zechariah 2: 11


There are many things that divide and that separate people in our world. Some of these differences are superficial and others come from deep within. Sometimes it is rather easy to get beyond the separation makers and to let go of the things that tend to hold us apart, but at other times, this takes real and sincere effort to accomplish. We all can identify some of the differences that exist between ourselves and other people that we have encountered, and most of us can tell stories of greater or lesser success in bridging these gaps. One of the most commonly used means of defining people and of grouping us into collections of seemingly similarly oriented individuals is nationality. The nation of our origin tends to give each of us cultural identity, language, appearance, and even in many cases religion. Nationality is one of the most commonly used means that we have for differentiating and for separating people.


It is something that the Lord seems to be very interested in, too. God cares about the diversity that exists in our world. He also gave us the various forms of civil governance and societal organization that have come to be known as the numerous nations that have existed in our world throughout history and that are with us today. The rich variety of languages, races, cultures, and other aspects of identity that are with us in our world are gifts that God has granted to us. Each of us knows our world in ways that are determined by who we are and by where we have come from. Although these differences can and do become barriers to our understanding and to our communication, they do not need to be so, for all people can know commonality and be in communion in Christ. When we are aligned in our relationships with Christ, the things that otherwise can be divisive can also be transformed into real blessings and so become sources for great joy.


God has made it clear in His Word that at the end of time there will no longer be many nations on this earth as all people will come to dwell in the restored creation that is all contained within the Kingdom of God. At this time, when we are still awaiting Christ’s return, we can seek to make the relational promises of that time a part of our living reality. When we encounter people whose skin color, language, customs, and other practices are different from ours, we can seek to get to know them. We can listen to their stories of life, enter into their dreams and desires, and share the same aspects of our lives with them. In so doing, we will learn that the person who might seem to be so different from us is, in fact, very much more like us than otherwise in that we all have been created in God’s image. Nations and the barriers to relationship that they may cause in our world should not stop followers of Christ from coming together with each other so that we can serve our Lord together in His call to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the corners of our world.




Are not five sparrows sold two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Luke 12: 6


The details matter. Just ask an airplane pilot or a surgeon, and they will confirm this fact. The details of life matter to God, too. Some of these details are formed out of attitudes and from intentions; while others are defined by the way that people live out their days in pursuit of God or in attempted escape from Him. Still, without regard to what we do, where we go, or even what masters we serve, God knows it all and Christ seeks to enter into every aspect of each day of our existence with us. You see, the point that Jesus was making when He brought up sparrows was that they were truly the poor person’s sacrifice. They were so cheap as to be completely disposable; yet, to God, their Creator, each of those throw away birds was known and considered as a valuable part of this world’s beauty and balance of nature. They all had a purpose in God’s plan for this world.


So, if that was true about humble birds, how much more so does this same Creator God care about and fully comprehend each of the people that He has set out in this same world? We matter to God; so, we matter to Jesus Christ. God’s intent and desire for us is to be in close relationship with us; thus, Christ comes into our lives in order to redeem us from the separation of sin and to restore us to the glory of God that is our greatest and truest potential. We can fight against God’s intent and His desire. In fact, to various degrees most people do struggle with and against God for parts of our lives and throughout all of our days to some extent. However, these times of departure, rebellion, and disaffection with our Lord are futile. Those sparrows have more power to set their own direction and destiny than we do, for in the end, we all face the reality of our lives as our days on this earth end, and we go before Christ as the purveyor of truth and final justice.


There is no escaping this day of reckoning, and we should not be living in fear of it, either. God’s desire is that He would be greatly pleased to welcome each person on this earth home into His eternal presence. Jesus literally poured out His blood in order to buy each of us that outcome to the life that we have been given by God. This is a good day and this hour is the perfect time to consider my life in light of God’s view of those precious sparrows. Although the world may have viewed them as throw aways with no real usefulness or value, God sees the unique design and infinite depth of quality in every feather on their bodies. So, it is with each of us. God sees us as vitally important to Him, and He grants to each of us the talents, skills, and gifts that we will need in order to follow His will and to live out our days in service to our Godly calling. Our lives are filled with those details that matter so greatly to our Lord, and He will not overlook or forget anything that truly matters as we live out lives of service to Him.


In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Ephesians 1: 13


When we come to accept the salvation for our souls that Christ brings to us, there is a mark placed upon us by God. It is a bit like a trademark or a seal that signifies the place where we were made and tells the world whose hands did the making. Christianity is so much more than just a belief system. It isn’t a membership, for claiming Christ means accepting the fact that a very active and totally involved Creator God is going to work inside of you to transform what had been a flawed and fatally broken person into one who is righteously living out his or her God-image bearing nature.


The seal of the Holy Spirit is much more than just a mark signifying ownership or even craftsmanship; for it is also the mark of a promise. God made a commitment to all people that He would defeat evil in our lives and in our world, and it would happen in that order. He has given each and every person on this earth the answer to that personal victory, and we are, therefore, granted the means to gain the victory in our lives. When we accept Him, the Spirit of Christ moves into our hearts to bring the love of the Creator into residency there, He begins to change our minds into ones that grasp the truth of God’s righteousness, and He works ceaselessly to move us out of the grip of sin and into the joy of the Lord’s freedom.


Thus, God’s promise to us becomes the beginning point for living in the fullest realization of our own potential. Every person who has ever lived and who will exist on this earth has been created by the hand of God and is formed with the image of the Creator as the template for formation. Through the work of the Spirit in us, we are shaped and molded into people who are finally free to fulfill the limitless promise that God designed into us. This is all accomplished through the strength of Christ, not through any might or force of personal will, and it occurs as we surrender ourselves fully to Christ, and in so doing, we enter into this process of transformation that is God’s promise of redemption to each of His people.



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