The Story of Jesus

I love old hymns. I remember singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings. Wednesday evenings. Yeah. It was a lot of church. But I learned the stories of Jesus at church. and at home. I’m not sorry about that.

One of the old hymns that has been rolling around in my head for the past week talks about the stories of Jesus.

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell how He’s gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.

The words of this hymn written by Fanny Crosby ring true. They’re taken straight from Scripture. They tell the story of Jesus. His life. His ministry. His suffering. His death. His resurrection. They are the message of God’s plan for all mankind.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11


I read the Bible. I know the Bible stories. I have heard them since childhood. Oh. How I cherish those stories. But to know them and to live them is two different things. I find that I still struggle with using my words instead of God’s words. I find that I still want my way when it’s the easier way. I find that to truly live God’s way is a tough road to walk. But I know the tough road is much more fulfilling. It’s leading to eternal life even when the walk is hard. Even when mistakes are made. and unkind words are said. The story of Jesus is one of forgiveness and mercy and grace and kindness. His love is never ending. That’s what I need.

Oh. I may never perform a miracle. I may never fast in a desert. I may never be nailed to a cross. I may never be raised from the dead. But I do plan to see Jesus someday. I plan to meet him face to face. I plan to go to heaven when I have finished the race. I plan to walk on streets of gold. I will stand face to face with God to give an account of my life.

So this story of Jesus rings true to me. I trust that every word is true. I believe it for my life. This story never grows old.

The Best of Me

We were asked to fast. Fast. As in give up food for 24 hours. What kind of request is that? Why would I give up food? Why? Here’s the thing. I love food. I. LOVE. FOOD. It’s my thing. I’m always planning my next meal. Even as a child, I hated to be hungry. I always wanted to eat when I wanted to eat. I still do. Some people eat to live. I live to eat.

And now. We’re being asked to give up food for 24 hours. I just don’t know if I can do that. Honestly. I don’t want to. Oh. I’ve done it before. And I didn’t like it. But everything isn’t always about me. So maybe I should shift my focus.

I think of the reason we’re being asked to fast. Instead of eating, it’s the turning to God and his word. To dig deeper in the well of God’s love. To recognize the sacrifice of a beloved Son whose sole purpose in life was to save my soul. To prepare our hearts to receive communion representing the broken body and spilled blood of our Savior. What am I willing to sacrifice?


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16


When Solomon built the temple, he used the best wood and gold that money could buy. He didn’t skimp on anything. That temple was elaborate and ornate. He built that temple to last for many years. It was the house of God. The place where God lived.

When Solomon became king, he was a humble man. God told him that he could have whatever he wanted. Do you know what he chose? Wisdom. He asked God to make him a wise man. So God did just that. Solomon wanted to have God’s heart. So God honored his request.

But then. Life got in the way. Solomon married women who didn’t believe in this one true God. They served lesser gods. They worshiped idols. They offered sacrifices to fake gods. They pulled Solomon’s eyes off of the God of the universe. Solomon stumbled. His priorities shifted. He fell out of step with God. He lost his way. He quit offering his best to God.

I see myself in Solomon. Oh. I’ve never built a temple. I’ve never been the wisest person. But I do ask God for wisdom. I do seek God. I start off with great intentions. But life gets in the way. There are times I find myself looking away to lesser gods. To momentary pleasures that take my eyes off my Lord and Savior. I look to other things for comfort. For fulfillment. For happiness. But those things leaves me wanting more.

I must ask myself. Where is my best effort going? Is it going to God or to myself? If I’ve given myself to live for God, then he is living in me. Am I giving my best self for him? Right now we’re celebrating our Savior risen from the dead. And I can’t even give him my best. Why do I reserve the best part of me for things that don’t matter? 

Jesus gave his best for me. Why can’t I do the same for him? I know I’m not worthy. But he paid the ultimate price. For me. Can’t I offer the best of myself? Can’t I offer my simple sacrifice? Can’t I spare a day’s worth of food?

It’s in the breaking of the bread. The drink from the cup. In remembrance. We do this. We offer our humble, simple best. It’s all we have. Mixed with the brokenness of our humanity.

Perhaps my hunger. My empty stomach is just the turning point. Maybe in the surrender of the fast, I find that I do turn to this God who gave his only Son for me. My focus must shift to higher things. To unworldly things. To the one who died on that cross for me. He gave his life. Can’t I give up food for one day?

Come As You Are

Shepherds first learned the news.  An angel appeared to them in the dark of night.   They were frightened.  The angel said not to be afraid.  But it’s not every night that an angel appears in the sky.  He said he had good news.  What kind of good news do angels share with shepherds?  The Savior of the world has been born.  Go to Bethlehem and find a baby lying in a manger.  You will recognize him.  They searched until they found the stable. They saw the babe lying in that dirty manger.  He’s the one they searched for.

The shepherds themselves were dirty.  Out in the fields for days on end.  No place to clean up.  No chance to bathe.  No time to throw on fresh clothes.  Dirt and worse was caked under their fingernails.  Dried sweat coated their bodies.  Those shepherds.  They had no time to trim their hair or oil their beards.  They were smelly.  Sure.  They smelled like sheep.  

They came as they were.  Unruly.  Loud.  Dirty.  Outcasts.   Able to lead sheep, but unable to lead men.  

These shepherds were the first to see the Savior.  That newborn babe.  Fresh from the womb.  Lying in a manger.  So they went out and spread the news.  They told others what they had seen and who they had met.  They were unlikely messengers sharing the greatest message the world has heard.

That encounter with the babe wasn’t a random occurrence.  It was ordained by God Almighty.  He had that moment planned since the beginning of time.  Those shepherds honored and worshiped the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  


For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  John 3:17


I’m like those shepherds.  When I came to Jesus, I was coated with sin.  I had disobedience caked under my nails. My skin had greed written all over it. My heart hid selfish pride.  I didn’t have a chance to clean up before meeting the babe in the manger.  But my uncleanness made the cleansing more meaningful.  All these years later.  I still find uncleanness wedged in places I thought had been cleaned.   I still need a daily washing in the love and forgiveness of this King.  I still need to keep the stain of wrongdoings  and bad attitudes washed in the blood.

Why wouldn’t God choose the smelly?  The unbathed?  The social outcasts?  This baby was born for them.  He later died on that cross for them.  He said everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  

Here’s the good news. That babe lying in the manger is in the cleaning business.  Oh.  He begins the cleanup immediately once he’s invited in.  The sins that have coated your heart with darkness are completely washed away.  It’s a power wash.  Your heart is instantly painted pure white.  No stains.  But other cleaning can take longer.  Bad habits may take years to overcome.  Branches of greed and roots of bitterness must be pruned and uprooted.  The cleanup actually takes a lifetime.  

Angels Rejoice

I heard the news.  Two people recently made a life-changing decision.  That decision.  To follow Christ.  To turn their back on their sins.  To turn their back on themselves.  To turn their back on their old thoughts.  Desires.  Ambitions.  To place their faith, hope and trust in the God who created them.

They humbled themselves and bowed to the only God of the universe.  They bowed to their will.  Their ways.  They have turned themselves over to the one true God.  They have submitted their lives to God.

Their slate of sin has been erased.  Wiped clean.  Any wrong they have done has been removed as far from God as the sea is from the heavens.  Those sins have been forgotten by God.  Oh.  He’s that good.  Salvation is that good.

I imagine the peace these two people now feel.  The burden of sin they carried has been crushed by the weight of the cross that Jesus carried.  The charred blackness of their hearts has been made white as snow.  The weight on their shoulders has been removed.

Once they walked away from their sins, they walked through an open door straight to a new best friend.  God Almighty.  Now they have the opportunity to build a strong, close relationship with their Maker.  They are now learning how much God is on their side.  The one they once shunned is now the center of their life.  I pray they will continue to build that relationship with him.  He is fighting for them.  He is working for them.  He loves them.

They will learn that they still have free will.  Oh.  They can choose to sin.  There will be times of temptation.  Every day when they wake up, they will have to choose.  Will they follow God?  Will they follow their own will?  I pray that as the sun rises each day, they choose God.


There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.  Luke 15:8


There have been many prayers sent up to heaven for these souls.  There have been tears.  Pleas to God.  Please save our loved one.  Oh.  God was willing.  He’s always willing and waiting.  The decision is in the hearts of each of us.  Will we give our lives to God or will we selfishly hold on to our will and our ways?  We each have a choice.

This news fills me with joy.  It reminds me that God is still bigger and better than all our worries and problems.  It tells me that God is still working in the hearts of men and women.  Teenagers and children.  God is not dead.  God is not done.  He is holding out on sending his son, Jesus, back to earth.  Just for this reason.  He wants all of us to be saved.  He wants everyone who is ever born to join him in heaven.  But we can only do that if we repent of our sins.  If we turn our lives over to him and let him guide us.

Some may think God is not relevant today.  Some may believe God is dead.  Or that he never existed.  Some people think that being good is good enough.  The fact that two more people have made the decision to follow God tells me God is very much alive.  God is still waiting for those who are not yet his followers.  God is still working in the hearts of those who need him.  God is a very patient God.  God is still in the saving business.

Angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner on earth makes the decision to become a Christian.  Heaven throws a party to celebrate new believers.  Has there been a heavenly party for you?  If no, it’s not too late.