1 Looking Unto Jesus
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
What are you looking for this Christmas? Are you looking for a special present under the tree? Are you looking forward to spending time with your family and friends? Are you looking for those perfect gifts for your loved ones? What are you looking for this Christmas? The writer of Hebrews reminds us to look unto Jesus. Christ truly was the author of Christmas and also the "finisher of our faith" as our verse tells us. It's good to look forward to this special time of the year. But don't get so wrapped up in wrapping presents that you forget the greatest gift of all. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Let's look at some of the greatest treasures and pleasures that God gives us, that we won't find under a Christmas tree. Let's find those golden nuggets of our faith that God gives to His children and have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!
2 Looking For Help
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
This week I had the honor and privilege to attend the graduation of the 121st North Carolina State Highway Patrol Academy. Those young men have spent the past 29 weeks in vigorous training. The days were long and the nights were short. This Psalm was read as the motto chosen by this group of men. It was a blessing to my soul that they realized they could call on the Lord for help. At his graduation party, my son thanked everyone for the prayers of all who had faithfully prayed for him these seven months. He also asked that we continue to pray for him as he begins his new career. People have asked me how I feel about this dangerous job. I believe that the safest place on earth is in the center of God's will. Look to God for the help and strength you need day by day.
3 Looking For Hope
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13
Hope. That is a good Christmas word. I see Christmas cards and decorations with these words from I Corinthians 13: faith, hope, and love. As Christians, we have a blessed hope and assurance in the promises of God. Those who have not trusted in the Lord as their Savior have no hope, as we see in (I Thessalonians 4:13) "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." Sometimes it seems as though the whole world is against us, but don't lose hope. Let God give you hope. "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)
4 Looking For Ways To Be A Witness
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15
I like the old Christmas song, "Go Tell It On The Mountain". Maybe you learned it as a child... "Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born." Jesus wants us to go and tell. We had a business meeting this morning at work and afterward we were all treated to lunch at a nice restaurant. I was seated on the side, at the center of the large table. The waitress brought my food and I bowed my head in silence. I quietly thanked God for my food and asked Him to let me be a witness to those at the table. I was surprised as my supervisor asked me to ask the blessing on the food. In all the business luncheons I had ever been to, I think this was the first time someone had been asked to pray out loud, and I was the one who was asked. I don't think that it was just coincidence. I believe that God was answering my silent prayer that I could be a witness to my co-workers. Christmas is the perfect time of year to be a witness for our Lord and Savior. Look for ways to go and tell. Send Christmas cards with the gospel message. Sing praises to the Lord as you do your shopping. Pray that God will show you ways to be a witness for Him, and don't be surprised when He answers those prayers.
5 Looking For Comfort
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:18
The talk show hosts on the radio keep talking about the sights, sounds, and even the smells of Christmas. All the stores are filled with things to heighten our senses to the excitement of Christmas with the lights, decorations and Christmas music that fills the air. I have noticed the smell of evergreen trees and cinnamon which bring back loving memories. While in one store this week, another smell brought back bittersweet memories of long ago. There was a display of "Old Spice" aftershave lotion and someone had apparently opened one of the bottles and I noticed the smell immediately. When I was a little girl my Dad would tell my sisters and me that all he wanted for Christmas was a bottle of "Old Spice" aftershave. Some years we bought the aftershave, and some years we were able to find gift packages of "Old Spice". It was a tradition that we enjoyed and we included the bottles with his presents as we got older. The aroma in the store smelled like Dad. I was reminded of all the Christmas' past and his funeral on that cold rainy day a few years ago. God brings me comfort. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him... For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (I Thessalonians 4:14-18) Maybe you have loved ones that you can't be with this Christmas. Turn to God for comfort. He can help you through your sorrow. Help comfort one another and pray for those not only separated by death, but also those separated by distances.
6 Searching For Wisdom
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." James 1:5-6
We go to school to gain knowledge. But knowledge does not make us wise. I have seen people who are really smart in book-learning, but they don't seem to have any common sense. They have knowledge, but they don't have wisdom. There are also many wise old men and women who did not get a chance to finish school, but they are a valuable resource of wisdom. When I became a mother I continually prayed for wisdom so that I could bring my children up in the right paths. We see how priceless wisdom is in the Bible story of King Solomon. God let him choose what he wanted, and he chose wisdom to lead the people. His choice alone showed that he was wise enough to seek wisdom from God. Our verse above from the book of James tells us simply, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God..." Are you searching for wisdom? Ask God.
7 Looking For The Perfect Gift
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I like Christmas shopping. I like to look for that special gift for each person on my list. I really enjoy giving things to people that bring them joy. On the very first Christmas, God gave the perfect gift. He gave His Son to pay for my sins. I was lost in sin. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) God gave me the gift of salvation and I accepted it. You may search high and low to find the right gift for that special person in your life, but that person must accept the gift. Have you received the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord? That is the perfect Christmas gift!
8 Looking For Forgiveness
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
When I think of all the times I have failed God it gives me great sorrow. As I remember the many times that I have brought heartache and sadness to the ones I love most, it breaks my heart. How can I rise above the sinking sands of guilt? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Don't let the burdens of your past sins weigh down your soul. Confess your sins to God and trust in Him for forgiveness. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) You can find forgiveness at the foot of the cross. Once you find forgiveness with God, then find it in your heart to forgive others, as Jesus teaches us in prayer. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will alto forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:12-15)
9 Looking To See Jesus
“And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully." Luke 19:2-6
Preacher Jeff Woods used this in his sermon to show what Zacchaeus discovered when he looked to see Jesus. You can repeat these words and find them real in your life, just as Zacchaeus found out these truths about Jesus. First of all, Zacchaeus found that Jesus sees me. Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus and soon found out that Jesus could see him. Next, he found that Jesus knew who he was. Jesus called him by name. He also knows who we are. Then Zacchaeus found that Jesus loved him and wanted him. Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully. Have you received Jesus into your heart and home?
10 Looking For A City
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham was a stranger and pilgrim in this world, because he looked for a city, "whose builder and maker is God." In the same way, we are sojourners and pilgrims in this world. Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3) I am looking for that city. I read about it in the 21st chapter of Revelation. I want to see the streets of gold and gates of pearl, but most of all I want to see Jesus, the foundation of my faith and Savior of my soul.
11 Don't Look Back
"And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:59-62
We have been talking about "Looking For Christmas" especially, "Looking Unto Jesus". I still enjoy the excitement of Christmas in the air. I find joy in the cooking, and decorating, but especially the giving. When I find a special present for someone, I look forward to watching them open it. It is often fun to look forward. Sometimes we look back. In our verses above we see that Christ does not want us to look back. After we have been saved, Satan may try to remind us of our terrible past. Don't look back. Those sins are under the blood. Also, when we have decided to follow Jesus, we should not look back with regrets to the lifestyle we are leaving behind. Lot's wife looked back, (against the Lord's command), on all she was leaving in Sodom and she turned into a pillar of salt. The only way for a man to plow a straight row, is to look straight ahead. That is what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and follow Him. Keep looking ahead. Don't look back.
12 Stop Looking For Excuses
“And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee... And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Exodus 4:1 & 10
We saw yesterday that God wants us to keep our eyes focused on following Him now instead of spending our time dwelling in the past. Today we also see that God really does not want to hear our excuses as to why we are not serving Him. God called Moses out of the burning bush and Moses had excuses. He said that the children of Israel would not believe that he had talked with God, so God told him His name. He also said they wouldn't believe him, so God performed miracles with his rod. He said that his speech was slow and he had a hard time talking. "And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exodus 4:11-12) Moses still asked God to send someone else and verse 14 tells us that God was angry with Moses. God agreed to let Aaron, his brother, go with him and be his spokesman. How many times has the Lord asked us to do something for Him and we have used excuses to tell God why we couldn't do it? Do you think God is angry with us for failing to follow His will? I think that it is time we stop looking for excuses as to why we can't serve God, and start following the path the Lord is leading us in. Many times people say they can't find God's will for their life. Maybe it is because we have not been following the way He has been leading. Let's stop looking for excuses and start looking for ways to serve the Lord.
13 Looking For A Church
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
Are you looking for a church? We have been going to the same church for 20 years and I thank God for leading us there. I can remember when we were looking for a church and it was very discouraging. We didn't "feel at home" in many of the churches we visited. If we had not been raised in church we probably would have just quit going. But we knew that God works through the church and we kept looking until we found a home church where we could worship. Today I want to encourage those who may be looking for a church. Pray that God will lead you to just the right place. Don't give up and quit going. Paul reminds us that Christ "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" and that He works through us. He established the church some two thousand years ago and He has continued to be glorified "throughout the ages". Go to church and worship Him. If you are in central North Carolina, let me invite you to visit us at Pine Grove Baptist Church near the intersection of Highway 85 and Highway 62.
14 Look To Your Maker
“At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 17:7
The word was given in the Old Testament in Isaiah 45:23. "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." It was repeated again in the New Testament in Romans 14:11. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." Also in Revelation 5:13 we read, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Some people on this earth talk really big and lift themselves up above all their peers, but you can be sure that one day they will look up to their Maker. I hate to hear people curse God, but one frightful day they will have respect to our Holy God. Have you looked to your Maker? In times of trouble, He can help you. In times of need, He can supply. In times of sorrow, He can give comfort. In the darkest nights He can be the Light. This Christmas as you look on the baby in the manger, don't forget to also look up to your Maker.
15 Looking For Buried Treasure
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God... For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:16-21 & 34
As I read through the different chapters of the Bible I try to keep my mind open to verses and thoughts that will go along with the theme I am currently using. I was reading in Luke this morning and these verses made me think of people who are constantly "looking for buried treasure", in the sense that they are always looking for "get-rich quick" schemes. That mentality feeds the lottery and gambling industries. Several places in the Bible we read of the importance of laying up treasures in heaven, and not building storehouses of treasures down here on earth. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) It is just as true today as it was when our Lord spoke these words to His followers. In our verses from Luke this rich man did nothing wrong in how he gained his riches. His fault was that he wanted to hoard all his riches. God has blessed us richly and Christmas is a wonderful time to share God's blessings on others. This Christmas find someone, or a family, that you can give to without expecting gifts in return. If you can give and make a difference in the lives of others, you will come through the Christmas season with a greater feeling of love for God and others instead of that "let-down" feeling that many often have after the holidays.
16 The Lord Is Looking For Laborers
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." Luke 10:1-2
We have been talking about some of the many things we may be looking for, but in these two verses we see that the Lord is also looking. He is looking for laborers; Christian men and women, boys and girls, who will go and work in His fields. Will you be a worker for the Lord? We should all be telling others the good news that Jesus saves! Jesus also said, "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." (John 4:35-36)
17 Looking For A Sign
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
We come and go by signs. Street signs tell us where to turn and which road to take. Small children quickly learn to recognize "Stop" signs. We know how to dress by the signs in the weather. Sometimes we can pick-up on emotional situations by signs that may or may not be intentional. There are Bible stories about people who looked for signs. Gideon and his fleece readily comes to mind, as does the story of Abraham's servant meeting Rebecca as a wife for Isaac. Signs are important. Here in the prophetic book of Isaiah we see a sign of the coming of the Lord. Many Old Testament believers looked for the coming Messiah. We see this fulfilled in Matthew 1:20-23. "But while he thought on these things behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Don't look for signs in the tarot cards, tea leaves, or even your palm. Look into God's Word and trust in Him for direction in your life.
18 Looking For Direction
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
As I was going to work this morning I had just enough time to stop at a store and pick up something. I had two places in mind, but I only had time for one stop since they were in opposite directions. I prayed that God would show me which direction He wanted me to go in, and He used something right in front of me to lead me. I was able to pick up the things I wanted and also found something I have been looking for for the past two weeks. I think that sometimes we don't feel God's leading in our lives because we don't ask Him for direction. If you want God to lead you into the future, let Him lead you day by day. I am not saying that it is always easy to find God's will for our lives. But I believe the Word and the Word says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Don't just leave the big decisions to the Lord. Start praying about all the small decisions you have to make day by day and the months and years will follow.
19 The Wise Men Looked For A King
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
We talked about looking for signs and looking for direction. The Wise Men were looking for both. They were looking for a King, and they followed His star. Have you ever wondered why there was not a big crowd of people following the star? It had to be very bright and very special for the Wise Men to follow it for such a long journey. Our scriptures do not tell us of anyone else following the star. Herod was certainly surprised, and troubled, when the Wise Men arrived. His court had apparently not noticed the star or they would have known where Baby Jesus was. I believe that the star was given as a sign, and as direction for the Wise Men because they were looking for the coming Messiah. Look back several hundred years to the land of the east. "And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." (Daniel 1:19-20) Daniel and his friends were taken into Babylon into captivity, and that event in Jewish history is mentioned in Matthew 1:17. "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations." The Wise Men of the east had been looking for the coming King for fourteen generations. They saw His star because they were looking for Him. Christ is coming back. Are you looking for Him? "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9-28)
20 Isaiah Looked For The Prince of Peace
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7
What are you looking for in the Christ Child? Isaiah said, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...upon the throne of David..." and the angel proclaimed in Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The angels sang their praises to The Prince of Peace, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14) As you look at the babe in a manger this Christmas, look at the true identity of this small child. He is "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace". He can fill all these needs in your life if you will accept Him as your Lord and Savior. He has given the gift of eternal life for all who believe. Won't you accept it today?
21 Looking For A Place To Lodge
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7
What a sad state for mankind. Mary and Joseph had traveled long and hard and she was ready to give birth, but no one would give them a room. She had to lay her new born Baby in a manger, a feeding trough, in a stable. No one had room for Jesus. Would things be different today? Have you made room in your heart for Jesus? John 1:11-12 tells us, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" In Revelation 3:20 we read the words of our Lord, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Don't turn Him away. Make room in your heart for the Lord.
22 Looking After The Sheep
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." Luke 2:8
In the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon Linus says, "Why do I always have to be a shepherd?" In just a few short minutes he is reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. When my daughter began handing out parts for our Christmas play at church she got the same reaction. Some of the children did not want to be shepherds. As I thought on this God reminded me of our Lord's Words to Peter after His resurrection. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord: thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17) The 23rd Psalm and John 10 give us beautiful pictures of our Lord as The Good Shepherd. We see clearly that those who are saved are His sheep. We have only a few written Words of Jesus after His resurrection, but these instructions were given to Peter three times, "Feed my lambs" and "Feed my sheep." I think that God wants us to do our part to help feed and tend to the lambs and sheep. The angels appeared to these lowly shepherds to tell them the Savior had been born. Many years ago when I was lost in sin the Holy Spirit came to me and showed me I was a lost sinner and on my way to hell. I praise the Lord that He came to the lowly those many years ago, and still comes to the meek and lowly today. We need to do our part to feed the lambs and tend the sheep. Don't feel too proud to be a shepherd, like some of the children in our Christmas play. Do all you can to help your Christian brother and sister sheep.
23 Looking For Joy
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11
"Joy" is a word we see and hear a lot at Christmas. People are looking for joy. The angels proclaimed, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." So why do so many people walk around looking so sad. The secret to inner joy is found in the next verse. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Only Jesus can give you real joy. Jesus told the disciples, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15:10-11) I like the acrostic for JOY: Jesus, Others, You. Keep your priorities in that order and you will have the "joy unspeakable and full of glory" that Peter describes in I Peter 1:8.
24 Looking To See
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:15-18
The shepherds listened to the angels and decided they would go looking to see the babe in the manger. It may sound really simple, but today we are talking about "Looking To See". In the wilderness when the children of Israel were bitten by the deadly snakes, they could be healed by looking to see the brazen snake that Moses lifted up in the camp. ("And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:14-15) Those who did not have faith enough to look died. Today we can receive salvation and eternal life if we will look to the cross where Jesus died for our sins and trust in Him to save us. Just like the blind man whom Jesus touched, our eyes are blinded by sin and we must look on the Holy Son of God to see. I also see in these verses that after the shepherds had seen the Christ Child, they went and told everyone they met. If you have never trusted in the Lord to save you, please look to Him today. If you are a Christian, then you need to be telling the good news that Jesus saves.
25 Looking For Love
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
We had our Christmas play Sunday night and it was an adaptation of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Charles Schultz. In the play Charlotte Brown looked for happiness. The shepherds looked for the Baby in a manger and the wise men looked for a king. Let me ask again, as I did at the beginning of this series, "What are you looking for this Christmas?" Many people are looking for gifts, hope, peace, success, and the list could go on. But I think that most people are looking for love. We all need to be loved. The first and most important Christmas gift was the gift of love through our Savior Jesus Christ. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:10) You learned it as a child, "... Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so." Don't forget "...that's what Christmas is all about..."
26 Looking For Something
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 1:21
What Are You Looking For?
As you look around this Christmas,
So many pretty things to see.
Are you looking for something,
As you wander aimlessly?
The shining lights remind you,
Of the Babe in Bethlehem,
And your life has been so crowded,
You have no room for Him.
He could be the answer, to what you're looking for.
Patiently He's waiting, just outside your door.
Look unto Jesus, receive His gift of love,
And you can live forever, in heaven up above.
For many years the prophets,
Looked for Christ to come.
God gave them little glimpses,
Of that special Holy One.
The shepherds looked for a Baby,
The wise men, for a King.
You may be searching for the peace,
Of which the angels sing.
He is the answer, to what you're looking for.
Patiently He's waiting, just outside your door.
Look unto Jesus, receive His gift of love,
And you will live forever, in heaven up above.
27 Looking For Salvation
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." Luke 2:25-32
These words of Simeon are very special to us. Although Simeon waited "for the consolation of Israel", he blessed God for sending salvation to "all people" and a light to the Gentiles. The Jews looked for the coming Messiah. Jesus came, not only to the children of Abraham, but to all people. I was not born into the family of the Jews, God's chosen people. I am so thankful that Jesus came to also bring light to the Gentiles. Jesus said, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." (John 12:46) You are very special. God has included you in "whosoever" and you can be saved by confessing your sins to Him and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.
28 Don't Quit Looking Unto Jesus
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.” Luke 2:41-45
Mary and Joseph lost Jesus without even realizing that He was gone. How many of us today have left Jesus behind and went on our journey without Him, unaware that He was no longer with us. I am reminded of the story from The Old Testament of Samson. He broke his vows and told Delilah of his Nazarite vow. "And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." (Judges 16:18-20) This was the sad beginning of the end of Samson. "And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." I am afraid that many of us keep going on our way, and don't know that we are no longer walking with the Lord. You can be sure that Satan will tempt you and try you if you try to go on your own and leave the Lord behind. Now, back to Luke 2. Do you remember where Mary and Joseph found Jesus? "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions." (Luke 2:45) Have you left Jesus behind? Go back to His Holy Word and the house of God and you will find Him again.
29 Looking For Rest
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Are you tired and weary? We read in II Thessalonians 3:13, "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing." After Christmas, it is easy to feel weary. We spend so much time and energy in our "well doing" that we are often left tired. I took my last vacation day of the year today. It was nice to have a day off to rest. There is more to rest than physical rest. Jesus has promised to give us rest unto your souls. When we take our burdens to the Lord in prayer He gives us a gentle peace and rest. Another year is coming to an end. You may have had pain and sorrow this past year. Go to Jesus to find comfort and rest for your soul.
30 Looking For A New You
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17
We are coming to the end of another year. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that people were worried about Y2K. Now we are entering into the year 2008. As we leave one year and begin a new one, many people will be making New Year's Resolutions. A majority of those will be based on making a new you. Whether we resolve to diet and exercise, or take better care of our bodies by changing some habits, many will be working on becoming a better person. Those are fine and good, but as Christians, we should be trying to become more like Christ. Have you thought about reading your Bible more or spending more time in prayer? After reading the words of Jesus in Mark 14:8, "She hath done what she could..." one year I resolved to do something nice for at least one person each day. That year I tried to make a difference and let others see Christ in me. Think about the old things that you want to let pass away and the new things you want to take hold on, and become a new person in Christ Jesus.
31 Looking For A New Year
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of water of life freely.” Revelation 21:5-6
When the walls begin looking dingy and dirty I like to pick out a new color and take the rollers in hand and paint. A fresh coat of paint covers all the scuffed up marks and makes the room look fresh and new. As we go to sleep this December 31st we will wake up to a fresh New Year on January 1st. We can open up our new calendars with the wide empty spaces. God has given us another day, fresh and new. What will you do with this day? What will you do with this year? A month ago we asked the question, "What are you looking for?" Did you find what you were looking for in 2007? Do you have peace and contentment in your soul? Do you know the joy unspeakable that Christ brings? Do you know the love of God that sent His only begotten Son to die for you? Trust in the Lord for salvation and begin this New Year with a new life. Say, "Good Morning" to the Lord today and everyday as He gives you a new day to live for Him. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I diret my prayer unto thee, and will look up." (Psalm 5:3)
Happy New Year
32 Looking For Great And Mighty Things
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3
Happy New Year! It is hard to believe we have come through another year. The past year brought changes for my family, as my children grow up and move on with their lives. The New Year will lead us into the more changes as we step each day into the unknown. I wanted to end our study on "What are you looking for?" and begin the New Year with a promise from our Lord and Savior. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." As you go about your day today, and each new day, call unto God. Praise Him with your waking breath. Read His precious Word. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (I Peter 2:2-3) Don't let this year pass you by. Grow in the Lord, and look for "great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."