The Gift of Gifts

Taken from The Valley of Vision, Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Pages 28-29. Banner of Truth Publishers.

O Source of all Good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible, 
his infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above, 
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on 
wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart 
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery, 
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost, 
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemers's face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.

In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.


Glory, Peace, and Favor Come Through Jesus the Savior

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors! –Luke 2:14 (CSB)

“Glory to God in the highest”. When we give glory to God we are not giving Him something that He lacks but rather we are confessing of the wondrous glory He alone forever possesses. Here the angels are giving glory to God by proclaiming the news of Jesus birth. The eternal and omnipotent Son of God who, “When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” –Galatians 4:4-5 (CSB) May we glorify Him with thankful hearts.

IMG_2152 2

All of this in order that “peace on earth” might be found. Not the universal peace that our world so desperately desires, but peace with God that can be found through faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 5:1 (CSB)  Earlier in Zechariah’s prophecy he put it like this, “Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” –Luke 1:78-79 (CSB) That peace can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ. The peace that comes from the salvation that God gives through His Son, the “Prince of Peace”. This gift of peace came only through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Throughout this entire process we can find favor with our Savior. He favors us with underserved favor. God favors those who have found grace through Jesus Christ. Oh that we might not take this for granted. To obtain this favor is to have become someone in whom the Lord delights and whom He blesses.

“For the one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord,” –Proverbs 8:35 (CSB) 


Olivia, Me, and PTSD

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.               –1 Corinthians 1:3 (CSB)

IMG_2668Some of you may know Olivia my 11 month old Beagle/Swiss Mountain dog. I got Olivia last March after not having a dog for two years. I have had many dogs throughout my life and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.

When I originally picked Olivia up it was just to have another family pet and close companion. I just like to have a dog around to keep me company. I am not a big fan of being alone. The problem with that is I am also not a big fan of being around to many people. You see the real problem is I have a great fear of being completely by myself or being overly crowded. It is a fear of being abandoned and of being suffocated.

This fear comes from having PTSD. It comes from events that have occurred in my life in general and from my time spent in the military. I am not going to try and explain everything that is involved but will let you know that when PTSD kicks in it can be debilitating for me and causes great anxiety. Anxiety to the point that in recent months when it is getting hard for me I have headaches and dizzy spells that cause me to fall down and not be able to walk. Back in 2008 I had a series of mini strokes so when the dizzy spells started it gave me great concern.

An interesting thing with all this though is I noticed that Olivia can sense when this anxiety is occurring. One of the things she will do is lean up against me or sit on my feet when she senses I am getting uptight. This helps me realize the situation and find ways to change the situation that is causing my distress. Because of this Olivia is now in training to be my service dog. I adopted her for a pet but God already knew she would have a greater purpose.

Admitting I have PTSD has been a difficult thing. Why? Because as a typical man I didn’t want to admit my weakness. I have always tried to push through and tell myself and others I will be alright and I don’t need help.

Even tougher than admitting I have PTSD is coming to grips with the fact I can’t fix it on my own. I need help. Doctors, family, Olivia, and most of all God and my Savior Jesus Christ. You see I know that my God will not let me down. I don’t understand why I have to go through this but I do understand that He is sovereign and in total control. It is up to me to lean on His strength and allow Him to use me and my PTSD for His glory. That is where I will ultimately find my peace.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7 (CSB)

Are We Denying Christ or Acknowledging Him During this Advent Season

During this Advent season we are presented with many opportunities to acknowledge Christ and share the meaning and reason we are in such a celebratory mood. Often times these opportunities fly by and we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of what everyone else is doing. Jesus becomes the last thing we are thinking about as we are concerned about buying the right gifts, hosting the best party, or serving the grandest meal.

“And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. –Luke 12:8-9 (CSB)

Denying Jesus during this season isn’t something we purposely do. Or is it? How about when we hope our co-workers or friends won’t discover we are a Christian. Or the amazing way we can make ourselves blend into society and accept the culture’s non-Christian values during our very Christian season of Christmas. The one I most often see myself and others perform with excellence is to just be silent about my relationship with Jesus Christ and go with the flow of Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the ever popular Grinch. Denying Christ during this season is dangerous and we put ourselves in a very delicate position by doing so as Christians. Especially when we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world.

We would do better to take advantage of the opportunity we are presented during these four weeks of Advent each year and acknowledge Jesus for who He is. Our Savior! We can do this easily and in so many ways. We just have to recognize what we are doing.

Lets start with just living Christ honoring lives. How about if we check our attitude at the door when shopping and show a little kindness to those around us. Smile and greet people with a simple Merry Christmas. We can also look for opportunities to share Jesus with others. Instead of getting ticked off because the checker is taking to long or the person in front of you is being difficult how about drumming up a conversation with person behind you and talking about what we are really celebrating right now. Jesus!

Another thing we can do is show some love and concern for the lonely and disheartened. Last week I shared this Tweet concerning this topic:

“Please remember that this season of shopping and cheer is not great for everyone. For many it is a season of torment. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness become larger than life. Pray and love on these folks as they enter your life in the days to come.”

Consider that for moment. People all around us are searching for love and care. Jesus commands us to “Love our neighbor as ourself.” Who is your neighbor? All those people around you each and every day. As Matthew West calls these people in his song “Broken Things”. The beggars, rebels, prodigals, humble, weak, misfit heroes, sinners just like me.

Carrying out the desires of our Savior Jesus Christ is the least we can do during this season of celebration. After all, if He were not born there would be no celebration at all.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors! –Luke 2:14 (CSB)

Fear of God is Faith in God

“His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him.” –Luke 1:50 (CSB)

Have you thought much about what it really means to fear God and have faith in Him? It is quite mind boggling in some ways yet very simple at its core. God through His amazing grace expects us to have fear, but that fear is meant to drive us to great faith.

Luke 1:50 uses the words, “those who fear him.” This is an Old Testament term that is equivalent to the New Testament idea of faith. Fear of God is faith in God. The meaning of fear is simply, “Reverent, humble obedience that seeks to please God.”

Think of Mary when the angel Gabriel comes to her and tells her that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. The bible says that she was greatly troubled, fearful, and scared. But what does Gabriel tell her. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” After some discussion with Gabriel about how all this will come to be Mary turns from a fear that is frightened and scared to a fear that God can use. She says to Gabriel, “I am the Lords servant. may it be done to me according to your word.” Mary’s fear has turned into a reverent, humble obedience that seeks to please God. That kind of fear builds faith in God.

In this season of advent may we be working on our faith building. May God instill in our hearts the type of fear that develops reverent, humble obedience that seeks to please Him. AMEN!!

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his faithful love
toward those who fear him. –Psalms 103:11 (CSB)

Take Delight and Be Committed

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act. –Psalms 37:4-5 (CSB)

David calls us to take delight in the Lord and to commit everything we have and do to Him. To delight means to experience great pleasure and joy in Gods presence. This happens only when we know Him well. When we have close fellowship with the Lord our heart’s desire will match God’s will and purposes for our life. So, to delight in the Lord, we must know Him better. Knowledge of God’s great love for us will give us great delight.


When we commit ourselves to the Lord we are entrusting everything, our lives, families, jobs, possessions, everything to his control and guidance. We are trusting Him and believing that He can care for us better than we can care for ourselves.

If this is the case in our lives then we will be willing to wait patiently for Him to work out what is best for us. This is where our faith truly kicks in. If we persist and joyfully pursue the God of the heavens then we will be able to fulfill the destiny He has created us for. Recognizing that He is our delight provides us with the ability to be able to fully commit to His will for our lives.

“Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.” –Psalm 37:7 CSB


Have You Thought About Jesus Today?

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” –Hebrews 1:3 (CSB)

You can not have a clearer view of God than by looking at Jesus Christ. He is eternal. He worked with the Father in creating the world. Jesus Christ is the complete expression of God in a human body.

Jesus is the visible, tangible image of the invisible God. He is the complete revelation of what God is like. To know Jesus is to know God. The search for God, for truth and reality, ends with Christ.

Don’t ever lose sight of who Jesus was: God in human flesh. And especially don’t lose sight of what He did: He died for you, because He loves you.

“The one who has seen me has seen the Father.” –John 14:9