John the Baptist…

John the Baptist the servant of God

Mark 1; Luke 3; Matthew 3 The Traits of a True Servant of God

The prophets Isaiah and Malachi prophesied that God would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing to his people in due season. John the Baptist was that blessing that came in the form of the true servant, humble and announcing that the kingdom of God/Heaven was now before the people and the nation. He challenged the status quo, challenged the hearts to repent of what Malachi called the false righteousness of works, and challenged the religious establishment. He knew he was not the Messiah and proclaimed as such to the religious leaders when asked. He pricked the hearts and many yielded to the message of the gospel. He obeyed the Law and yet challenged men to listen to the heart of God.

The mark of a faithful and true servant is that they do not take center stage, usurping the main speaker. John was that chosen one who offered to do the work of the ministry serving expecting nothing in return but God’s blessing. Jesus summarized his work and life: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Matt 11:11] “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” [Matt 11:15]

Is this how we serve?


Jesus is Immanuel

Matt 1 and Luke 2:1-38 The 400 yrs. of silence have ended, and God’s plan is revealed through the gospel writers of Matthew, the Jewish publican, and Luke, the Gentile physician. Also, that we might know and believe, Paul the Pharisee turned Believer, wrote: Gal 4:4 “But when the appropriate time/the appointed time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” Both Matthew and Luke record the events surrounding our Savior’s birth, but long ago in eternity past, God’s plan was set in motion. He sent forth his Son born of a virgin to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” [Is 7:14]

John the Baptist prepared the way by preaching a message of repentance and noted that Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. [John 1:35] Jesus is that perfect Lamb. John, the Apostle, records what that message was and is: 1Jo 4:10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Do you know Him?

The Hallmark Movie of the Past

God is never far away

Esther 1 to 5 In every Hallmark movie, there is a knight in shining armor who swoops in to rescue a damsel in distress. God is Esther’s knight and He is ours as well. Since time began our arch-enemy, “Haman,” has sought to destroy the line of Christ. He tried it first in the Garden, then through the murder of Abel to the selling of Joseph to the “Hamanites” of Egypt, to the Samaritan’s ruse to destroy the work of the temple as we just learned in Zechariah and Haggai and in 2Chron 36. As Peter said, he roams about seeking whom he can devour. [1Peter 5:8] Now, in the story of Esther, we have Haman the Agagite seeking to destroy the line of the Messiah through an edict he has written and sealed with the signet ring of the king.

Satan hates God’s people, and he will go to any lengths to destroy them. But, God is the providential author, the knight in shining armor, of all that seems impossible. He is the author and finisher of our faith and His plans for our lives. He is the Savior who comes in at just the right time to end Satan’s plans in ways we could not imagine. Stay tuned tomorrow to see how that happens.

There may be a Haman in your life right now, and you don’t see how God will upend his evil plans. Will you fast (and pray) for His deliverance just as Esther proposed?

“God Has a Plan and It includes You

God has a plan

Numbers 1-2 It has been two full years and still, the people are no closer to the Promised Land than the last experience of the Passover night or their exodus from Egypt. Yet, God’s plan is to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. As part of that plan, He has Moses begin numbering the men twenty years and older to be His servants in peacetime and in war. What we lack in comprehension, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in our understanding. God wants us to know that He is a God of details. He knows when a sparrow falls; He knows each hair on your head. God has a plan, and your name was on it from eternity past.

God knew that Moses needed others to serve, and God devised a plan for His people. From every tribe, men were to be ready to serve in whatever capacity God had planned. That was then, and it is the same today. God cares for you, and He has chosen you for His kingdom’s work. He calls you His servant. A servant serves others even when inconvenient, whether he or she dislikes the duty.  The circumstances are unimportant. God is looking at our heart’s attitude towards His work.

 In eternity past, He chose you and me for His work, and God did all of that so men who are in spiritual darkness will hear the good news. He uses people like you and me. Amazingly God wants to be glorified through us. Stop and think about that today and praise God for His lovingkindness that He chose you for His work. It is called evangelism.

What work are you doing today that will glorify Him?

Jesus’ Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus sacrifice

Exodus 33 to 35 Prayer is the believer’s entrance into the Most Holy Place of God. The Tabernacle building held the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, which held the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest passed through the Veil to the Most Holy Place only once a year – the Day of Atonement. The cry of Jesus, ‘it is finished’ tore that Veil from top to bottom so that all may enter. “He entered once for all into the Most Holy Place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption.” [Heb 9:12] The prayers of God’s people are now heard, not through an intermediary, but all are welcome into the most sacred place.

In this most sacred place, we are confronted with the character of God: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” [Ex 34:5-7] In our time of praise to the Most Holy Father, we are comforted and reminded that we are, as He said, “a stiff-necked people” in need of His sovereign grace.  

Spend time in prayer today thanking Him for the sacrifice of Jesus so that we may enter His presence, as a people who have been rescued from the coming wrath. [1Thess 1:10]

John Baptizes the Messiah

Messiah is baptized

John 1 How often do we not “recognize” the Messiah? And so it was that God, after 400 yrs. of silence, sent John the Baptist to reveal Him. John testified: “This is the One!”

The news reverberated around Israel, so the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites in their flowing robes from Jerusalem to find this man they had heard about. They joined the many that walked miles through the desert to find this man everyone was talking about.

“Grumble, grumble, complain! Why are we out in this god-forsaken desert? Why doesn’t he come to the Temple?”  On top of that, when they found him, John was dressed in his camel-skin garment, eating locusts and honey, and baptizing others in the River Jordan! This is the man with the answers? With eyes rolling, they stood on the riverbank and peppered him with questions: Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet? Why are you baptizing? John answered no to each question.

Are you at the place of the questioners? Like the religious leaders you too may not have recognized the Messiah yet, but if you are willing to allow God’s Spirit to speak, He will reveal Him to you. Then if you receive Him, you too will become a child of God.

It is just that simple! Recognize Him. Receive Him. He will reside in you!

“A Graveyard and a Tomb’s Story”

He is risen

Luke 24 It is good to rehearse Luke 24 and the Resurrection story to remind us that Jesus has power over life and death and especially in this COVID scene when so many have perished. In the first century, the deceased’s names were marked only by a stone. On the morning of the first day, the women returning to anoint the body of Jesus were astounded to find the tomb disturbed and the seal broken. What would you think? Instead of a deceased body, two angelic figures asked them why they had come to the graveyard. Why are you sad? He is not here; he has risen just as he said.

Jesus was not, as Paul reminded the Athenians, a deity like gold or silver, an image made by human skill or imagination [Acts 17], but He, the very God of the very God, has risen from the dead.

The women and the two Emmaus walkers were asked; have you forgotten His words? Like them, we are slow of heart to believe. We have forgotten because we have not studied the OT scriptures which speak of Him, but when we open His Word, the Holy Spirit speaks, and our hearts burn within us.

The women and the two Emmaus walkers excitedly returned to tell the good news—HE HAS RISEN JUST AS HE SAID! How does this truth affect your heart?

“Anointed for Service”

Isaiah 61 Have you ever said: What does God want me to do? Messiah didn’t have that problem. He knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. We may be centuries apart, but the Israelites to whom Isaiah was writing and speaking had the same questions you have.

Listen as Isaiah allows Messiah to speak. “I have been anointed for the service of the Lord.” Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote:  “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1 Jo 2:20] Peter wrote:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Pet 2:9]

Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. He would encourage the poor, help the brokenhearted, and free those imprisoned by sin. God gave him spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.

Has God shown you someone that needs a refreshing word from the Lord? It might be a parent who has a child that has made a wrong choice, or someone has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely—or just perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.

Remember, God has called each of us to fulfill the Great Commission.