“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is a hymn that centers around expectation. What comes to mind when you think of the word “expectation?” Perhaps the fantastic time you’re planning to have on your long-anticipated summer vacation to Hawaii. Maybe you think of how fulfilling and easy your new marriage is going to be. Perhaps it speaks to the incredible (or horrible) time you’re going to have with your friends, family, or maybe even enemies this Christmas! Expectations are nothing more than measured hopes. Our expectations define what we believe will be the outcome of any given situation or circumstance. Our expectations can frequently lead us to disappointment because we seldom factor in that we live in a sinful world where good things can come apart at the seams within the blink of an eye.
PREFACE: I recently had the blessing of writing six devotional pieces that briefly share the history, content, and meaning of some of our favorite Christmas carols. Between now and Christmas I will be releasing two per week. I trust that these short writings will enrich the weeks leading up to Christmas as you take moments to place Christ at the center of your Christmas. It’s my hope, that through reading these devotions, you will come to see these familiar Christmas carols in a fresh, new light.
Joy to the World: The King has come. The King is coming.
Our state is hurting. From north to south, its deep wounds are gushing blood of fire and bullets. It desperately needs the healing touch of God; it needs a new heart. From where can such a healing touch come? Through whom will Jesus bring His restoring gospel? There is only one entity on earth that can be the delivery vehicle for such a thing–The Church of Jesus Christ.
I believe the more we as Christians become committed to fulfilling our mandate and mission to preach the gospel and make disciples, the less we will have to turn to the government to curb the evil actions brought forth from the human heart. Change people’s hearts, and you will need less gun control. Change people’s hearts, and abortion clinics will shut down due to lack of business. Change people’s hearts, and their identity in Christ will speak louder than their raging sexual confusion. Change people’s hearts, and our schools will become safer places for our children’s hearts and minds. Change people’s hearts, and the ”least of these” will be compassionately served. Sometimes I wonder if we as Christians in America hide behind political curtains because if we were exposed and naked, having to stand on our own, we would have to face how weak, apathetic, selfish, and powerless we’ve become. It’s easier to blame a political party than it is to pick up the torch of Christ and offer oneself as a living sacrifice to carry that torch courageously into the darkness.
Church, please don’t misunderstand me; as long as there is wickedness in the world, we will need government; and until Christ returns, there will always be wickedness in the world. Government is an institution that has been established by God to punish evil and praise good (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). As citizens of heaven and temporary citizens of this nation, we should do all we can to ensure that the government we elect is an ethical, moral, and upright one. As best we can in this broken system, we should vote our biblical worldview, run for political offices, and be active, godly citizens. In the process of doing these things, we must be careful not to redirect our trust from God to government or forfeit our true spiritual identity and call! It is the church, not the government that is called to be, ”The pillar and ground of the truth.” Let’s arise, take up our crosses, and live radical faith-filled lives. We, as Christ’s ambassadors, have a divinely granted opportunity here and now to change our communities one life at a time.
I offer this post very thoughtfully, graciously, and without any judgment. I’ve heard a lot of talk about #CalExit and leaving the state of California due to our progressive political atmosphere, liberal state leadership, and flailing moral climate. I understand the inner turmoil. These things break my heart as well, but I don’t believe they are good, biblical reasons to leave. The only reason you or I should ever move to one place and leave another is if God calls us to do so for His Kingdom purposes. Let us not forget the words of Paul to the Philippians. He writes, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” Those examples of faith in Hebrews 11, “Acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” We are told that Abraham, “Lived in the land of promise as in a foreign land… For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” This sinful world, in its fallen state, cannot and should not ever feel like our permanent home. The best city, our eternal home, is yet to come. Until then, we as followers of Christ have to resolve to be a beacon of His hope and truth wherever He calls us.
If, after diligently seeking His face, God calls you to leave California, by all means, go by faith. If not, don’t allow your desire for worldly comfort and security to dictate your actions. Rather, become a missionary and stay. There is much need for the “salt and light” to continue its work in this state.
Like the pilgrims of old, there might come a day when we have to legitimately flee in order to protect our lives so that we can continue to carry the gospel to the world. Paul the apostle had to do this on several occasions as well. I think it’s safe to say we aren’t at that point yet. So, before you pack up and move to the state of Utopia or the garden of Eden, remember that the world is merely your temporary address, not your permanent home. Go or stay based not on your personal or political preferences, but on the leading of the Holy Spirit for the glory of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. #CalShine
The Bible conveys an interesting principle for believers. Our lives are to be full of decisions and actions that are carried out, “In Jesus name.” What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to Jesus, just about everything. When I do something in Jesus name, I’m declaring that I’m reflecting His character, communicating His heart, and expressing His will. To the Colossians, Paul the Apostle writes, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Notice it’s not just big things we do, but all things. Jesus even told us that sharing a cup of water in His name with someone who’s thirsty goes down in heaven’s record books.
What does this have to do with voting? I believe that if Jesus cares about water, he cares about your vote. As a Christian, when you vote with the name of Jesus attached to it, the policies you’re voting for or against do matter. I could wax philosophical right here, but instead, I’ll get right down to the practical. I’m going to give you a few reasons why I believe the Bible calls the American Christian to actively and prayerfully participate in the process of choosing their leaders and laws.
Charisma and confidence can often be the masks under which a lie masquerades as the truth. The sincerity of a communicator cannot establish truth, for truth is rooted, not in a person’s passion, but in unchanging absolutes. We are often drawn to believe an idea based on the confidence and conviction of the person conveying it, but we must remember that while charisma can beautify the truth, It can never define it. Let us always attempt to bring our ideas, convictions, and passions under the authority of God’s Word before we are drawn away by the loudest and most convincing human voices.
Jhn 17:17 NKJV – 17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
As a society, we have minimized the horrific nature of sexual perversion and its long-lasting, damaging effects. Our culture sells sex at every mall and billboard; on every big screen and small screen alike. We romanticize evil and inundate vulnerable young minds with false sexual identities, harmful sexual practices, and sexually charged media, then stand aghast when sexual perversion, misconduct, and abuse mark our society.
The Bible is clear that God takes sex seriously, and He takes sexual crimes which defraud our fellow human beings even more seriously (see scripture below). Knowing this, its time to take our battle against the enemy in this arena seriously. Parents, guard the gates of your children’s hearts and appropriately instruct them with God’s word. Men and women, keep your heart with all diligence. Keep your eyes pure, which are the gateway into your mind and soul. Keep your body and its lusts under control by walking in the Spirit. Sexual sin is not just against God and others, but it is also a grievous offense against one’s self. God save us from this perverse generation!
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.