Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“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.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

Washing feet

The most disgusting, vile chore in Jesus’ day was washing feet. Regular run-of-the-mill Jews would never stoop so low. It would be insulting to even ask someone to wash their feet.

Washing feet was always assigned to the lowest, most bottom-of-the-barrel servant in the house. The one who cleaned up everyone else’s mess. In Jesus’ day Gentile slaves could be made to do footwashing in a Jewish household, but not a Jewish slave. Slaves were looked down upon in the ancient world but Peter could not stand the thought of his teacher doing the work of a slave.

Jesus came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

If this wasn’t bad enough, Peter was probably livid when Jesus stooped down and began washing Judas’s feet. Judas hadn’t sinned yet, but Satan had already prompted him to betray Jesus to the Roman soldiers.

AS this scene played out, Jesus took off his garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down and washed Judas’s feet. He later leaned in and kissed Jesus on his cheek, and betrayed his Master. Then the soldiers grabbed him up and hauled him off to be crucified.

Though Judas ultimately showed remorse later, his motive seemed to simply be greed. He received 30 pieces of silver for agreeing to betraying Jesus. His name ultimately became a symbol for traitors and turncoats throughout history.

Judas and all the disciples missed the magnitude and meaning of Jesus’s message that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I think a lot of modern day people do too.

Jesus was demonstrating God’s love, sacrifice and humility when he allowed Judas to betray his Master into the enemy’s hands.

In his Gospel John writes in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

That’s exactly what Jesus was doing in the Garden that night, showing his disciples and Judas and you and me what sacrificial love looks like.

Now the question for all of us is

Would you wash Judas’s feet? Think about all that goes into your answer.

Just a second

My good friend Scott told me he and God had a very interesting conversation the other night during his quiet time. He said it was so good he wanted to share it with me. Here goes:

Scott: God can I ask you a question? What’s a million dollars like, God?

God: Well, Scott a million dollars is like a dollar and a dollar is like a million dollars.

Scott: Okay, God, What’s a million years like?

God: Scott, a million years is like a second and a second is like a million years.

Scott: Well, then, God could you give me a million dollar?

God: Sure, Scott, just a second.

Going to heaven; living like hell

I used to live like that.

I was saved. I made a decision to accept Jesus as my Savior in High School. But He wasn’t my Lord. And I didn’t find out the difference until I was in my 50’s.

Being saved, to me, gave me false comfort that no matter what happened here on earth, no matter what i did, I was going to heaven and, at that time, that’s all that mattered to me.

Being saved didn’t keep me from doing anything I wanted (much of which was sinful disobedience to God). I went to church, prayed, sang in the choir, even taught teenagers in Sunday School–on Sunday. But Monday through Saturday belonged to me and my worldly pleasures.

I was going to heaven but living like someone going to hell.

abundant life 2

However, once I experienced the true love, grace and mercy of Christ, I discovered the abundant life He offers, I could tell folks I knew what Romans 12:2 was about. That’s the life I’m living today. Jesus is my Savior AND my LORD!

Unfortunately, lots of folks today say they’re saved and going to heaven, but they’re living like hell. I go to church with some of them. All I know to do is love them with the same authentic love Christ showed me. Then I can pray they’ll see enough difference in us to want the same abundant life I enjoy now.

7 words that may relieve your stress

We don’t need to explain stress. It’s everywhere. At home, at work, at school, the grocery store, the airport, the soccer field. You can’t pick a stress-free place in our culture today.

And we don’t lack for remedies or stress relievers. They’re everywhere. In every shape and form–pills, potions, books, drinks, salves, you name it, there’s a stress reliever for it.

I ran across a 7-word phrase some psychologist claims is a sure-fire stress reliever and antidote for anxiety. He suggests that when you get really stressed out or really anxious hanging out there all alone at the end of your rope, utter the phrase, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” This head doctor claims that if you think about the worst thing, it will cause you to think of stuff you’ve gone through that wasn’t so bad and you’ll start thinking more positive things and that exercise will help you alleviate your stress.

I don’t know about this guy’s remedy but I do know the perfect way of all ways to reduce or eliminate stress:

Repeat after me–“Jesus Jesus Jesus”

Just saying his name will call him to come along side you. And you will begin to feel Him calm your spirit right away. . .or

. . .just open your bible to any page and begin reading. God will lead you to a verse or several verses you can read and meditate on. And you’ll feel your stress begin to flow out of you. Guaranteed!

Sweet Tea and Jesus

(Editor’s note) I wrote Sweet Tea and Jesus several years ago. It remains one of my readers’ most liked posts.

Folks who live outside the Deep South don’t understand Sweet Tea. If you go to most restaurants or truck stops north of the Tennessee line and ask if they have Sweet Tea, they’ll say, “Sure, sugar’s on the table.” (That means, “No.  We don’t have sweet tea. Sugar’s on the table.”)

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When you make real Sweet Tea, first dump two cups of sugar into a pitcher. Bring a half gallon of water to a boil. When it boils put in three family-sized tea bags. Leave it alone for five or six minutes. Remove the tea bags and bring the tea to a boil. Pour the tea into the pitcher and stir it until the sugar melts. Fill the pitcher half way with ice and stir until the ice melts. Then fill the pitcher with cold water. Stir until blended.

Something real scientific happens when you make Sweet Tea. When the sugar dissolves in the tea, you no longer have sugar and tea, you have Sweet Tea. It is a different mixture. Two separate ingredients mix together to form a new substance. It’s no longer sugar, and no longer tea. It’s Sweet Tea. The sugar won’t settle on the bottom of the pitcher, because it’s not sugar any more. The liquid will always be Sweet Tea to the last sweet drop in the pitcher.

The Bible teaches us that’s the same thing that happens when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and invite Him into our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man (water) be in Christ, (sugar) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Sweet Tea).

As born again believers we are now spiritually in Christ, and will be forever. God has already guaranteed our position in Christ for eternity.  Ephesians 2:5-6 proclaims, “even when we were dead in our transgressions (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

As a new creation in Christ, He wants to live His life in us, through us and as us to bring glory to God. As part of our true identity we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We’re new creations.

The next time you drink a big glass of Sweet Tea, think about being a new creation with Christ living in you and you in Christ. And for all you Yankees, I hope y’all get to visit us down here one day and savor a tall cool glass of this delicious nectar us Southern folks call Sweet Tea. Y’all will just love it.


My all-time favorite meal growing up was my mom’s leftover hash from her pot roast.

She made pot roast on many Sundays. Our family would feast on her roast after church. Then I would cut up what was left (some meat, potatos, carrots and onions) add a little gravy and white bread (for sopping up the gravy ) and I’d have this hash delicacy for several meals.

Some folks think they can grab hold of God’s grace or mercy any time they need some. But God is the One who gives His grace any way He wants, any time He wants, to whomever He wants.

And at the end of the day grace is spent. There’s no mercy left to dispence.

There are no grace or mercy leftovers

The Isrealites learned that lesson in the desert when God sent the manna from heaven.

Moses told them to gather just enough for their daily provision. If they tried to store some for the next day the manna would be rotton from maggots. Exodus 16:20

God only supplies us with the grace and mercy we need for the day we’re living in. Both his grace and mercy are intermitable but only for today.

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses [a]indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

How big is your but?

“The Holy But”¹. Stone writes that the Holy But originated in the Garden of Gasthemene,

“Going a little farther, he (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, ΒUT as You will.’ ” (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus was suffering and grieving about what He was about to do. His circumstances led Him to the cross to die a painful, bloody, lonely death. In spite of the horrible agony He suffered, Jesus lived behind the Holy But. “Yet not my will BUT Yours be done.” Jesus put His life in the hands of His Heavenly Father. He focused on His Father, not His circumstances. Jesus chose God’s will over His own.

Stone says we all live behind our buts.

For example,

  • “I like our pastor, but he’s too long-winded.”
  • “I’d volunteer in the nursery, but Sunday’s my only day off.”
  • “Our atheist neighbors are facing a crisis, but I’m afraid to talk to him about Jesus.”
  • “We’d like to tithe, but we barely make enough to pay the bills.”

Do we know some Christians with big buts like these?

  • “I know Jesus loves me, but you don’t know what I’ve done.”
  • “The Bible says Jesus freed me from sin, but I still sin.”
  • “I believe in Jesus, but church people are hypocrites.”
  • “I know I need to forgive my dad for abandoning us, but I just can’t.”
  • “I know I need to pray more, but I just don’t have the time.”
  • “The Bible tells me God accepts me completely, but I don’t feel accepted.”
  • “God’s grace may work for some people, but not for me.”

The Apostle Paul lived after his but as well. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Paul says,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 48-9

Paul faced dreadful, seemingly hopeless circumstances, but he chose to live behind his buts and above beyone his circumstances.

Later in that chapter, Paul writes,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Vs 16-18

Paul put the trouble in front of his buts and put God, or God’s perspective, after the but. He was still afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But, his perspective and his focus was on God and what God could do.

God’s word teaches us we are totally loved, totally accepted, children of the eternal God? Let’s start putting our circumstances before our “buts” and our faith (and God’s truth about us) behind them.

If we know who we are in Christ, isn’t it time we get off our big but?

1The Rest of the Gospel, Dan Stone, One Press, Dallas, Texas

Our Afflictions

I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction
. Isaiah 48:10

Raise your hand if you like afflictions

Nobody. Right? Well guess what? Afflictions are good for us. So are trials and tribulations and struggles. Before you click off my blog and tell me I’m crazy. . .

. . . God can use everything that happens to us, and everything we experience, for our good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

How many things? For whose good?

God doesn’t allow anything in our lives to go for naught. God uses afflictions, however painful, however much we suffer in the midst of them for our good.

Here’s how young David regarded his own afflictions in Psalm 119.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.” Again in verses

It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

God used afflictions in David’s life to teach David God’s laws and precepts and His word.

It’s never pleasant to walk through affliction or suffering in our lives. Some trials are so painful we think they’ll never end.

But we know this for sure because the bible tells us so. Whatever we go through, no matter how devastating it might be, God is right there with us every step of the way. He will never let us be consumed, or destroyed and in the storm, or when the storm is passed, God will teach us more about His ways and about himself.

Losing it all

What do you do, where do you go, how do you find solace and comfort when you lose something or someone you really love?

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