Crooked Sticks

“Straight licks with crooked sticks” is a bygone country saying for getting effective results from imperfect instruments.  Matthew prefaces his account of the birth of Jesus with a list of those in the Messianic ancestral line.  It is filled with “crooked sticks.”  Even the two biblical VIPs, Abraham and David, were seriously flawed and sinful, despite their critical roles in paving the way for Messiah’s coming.  They certainly did not deserve their place in God’s plan.  Crooked sticks, indeed.  But if God would invite those in Matthew’s genealogical list into His story with their flaws and foibles, sins and stains, there is a place for us as well.  We are all crooked sticks.  But if we place ourselves in God’s hand, He can use us to hit “straight licks” in the accomplishment of His plans and purposes.  No matter your personal flaws and past failures, God invites you to join Him in His unfolding story of redemptive grace.  Embrace that grace today and rejoice that Jesus entered into time and space that first Christmas, crooked sticks and all.


Read more...

It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown never got an invitation to a party.  He was always on the outside looking in.  And Lucy regularly reminded him of his outsider status.  All of us feel like Charlie Brown at times—unaccepted and excluded, with voices within and without affirming those feelings.  The message of Christmas is one we all need to hear, for it invites us to the party—Jesus’ party.  When the angel said it was good news for everyone, it meant all were invited.  In fact, lowly shepherds, their society’s least and last, got the first invitation to meet the Savior.  Know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not left out.  This holiday season come to the party and accept the invitation from Jesus to celebrate God’s Christmas grace with Him.  Yes, it’s Christmas Charlie Brown and you are invited!


Read more...

The Savior Has Come!

The angelic proclamation that night long ago ended the wait of God’s people. Their Deliverer had come. He was the promised Messiah. And He would be more than a man. He would be “the Lord.” But Jesus would not become an earthly ruler at His first advent. He would become a sacrifice. He would not deliver from human oppression, but sin’s bondage. The message of the angel resounds through the centuries to us today. We need a Savior to forgive us and free us from sin. We need the Lord of all to come and rule with peace and purpose in our lives. Do what the shepherds did and seek the Savior. Do what angels did and praise God for His gracious favor. The Savior has come! He has come for you.


Read more...

Altar of Gratitude

Psalm 118 is bracketed in its first and final verses with a call to thanksgiving.  Read the chapter and it becomes evident the Psalmist had traveled a recent path of struggle waiting for God to intervene on his behalf (118:5-13).  Now, he was giving thanks to God in worship for His faithfulness.  But in the process, he had learned that such days of waiting and wondering are ordained by God and to be met with rejoicing and thanksgiving, not just after, but in the midst of them (118:24).  Today, as you wait, bring God your worship with a sacrifice of thanksgiving (118:19-20, 27).  Gratitude will transform your waiting into a beautiful season of preparing to experience the best that God longs to give you.


Read more...

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

It was the Old Testament prophets who fueled the Messianic hope and expectations over the centuries of early Jewish history. God leaked out details of the impending coming of Messiah through their inspired messages. Some, but not all, of God’s people believed, dreamed, and waited with unwavering anticipation. And Messiah, the Deliverer, came just as promised in the person of Jesus. For us who follow Jesus today, our celebration of Christmas should be filled with great expectations as well. We do not merely remember a historical event but also anticipate the ongoing hope and promises it brings. The Advent of Jesus into this fallen world also left an expectation of His second coming to inaugurate His eternal kingdom. We can live in the full expectation of all that means in the earthly present and for our eternal future. Christ’s “Christmas” Advent declares there is far more to anticipate. Because of Him you can live life today with great expectations for time and eternity.


Read more...

GOD WITH US

It was the message of the prophet Isaiah that dynamically declared the divine character of the promised Messiah. The names by which He was identified (9:6) describe the very essence of God Himself. The reality of this “child born” and “son given” is that He would be God in human flesh. Nothing less would do for a Savior and Deliverer, not only for God’s people, but for the entire human race. Messiah would truly be God with us. Today, He wants to be God with you. Yes, Jesus wants to live in personal relationship with you so that the Heavenly Father can be known and experienced in your life. May your Christmas season be marked by a fresh expectation of how Jesus, as God with us and in us, can transform your life.


Read more...