Saturday, December 30, 2017

That Elite Group At The Very Top

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 1 Peter 1:2

The tap on the shoulder, an invitation given grudgingly. "You are invited," the member says, "to that elite group at the very top of your profession, that thin air on the mountain's peak that few achieve. It is a very great honor, one that no one in her or his right mind would ever refuse." The world has several of these exclusive clubs typically marked by a few who get to vote on allowing new members to join. "Only the best of the best," they say, "are allowed in with us!" Then, a strange man came among us, choosing not the best of the best, but the worst of the worst.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children.” Matthew 11:19

A friend of sinners, eh? Good, because when He chose me that is the description that fit me like a custom glove tailored to my hand with careful measurements taken with the utmost attention to detail. Jesus invited me to join His group, and from what I could see His group at the time of their invitation could hardly be called the elite of anything. Excellent! I fit right in with y'all! It is almost like Jesus went out to chose the worst in order to make us the best. How? And why do we not look like the best to our crooked and worldly eyes... oh, maybe that is the reason.

Yes, this world has many elite groups and standards that we did not meet. You and I may not be judged by the world to be the best of the rest at a profession, education, hobby, physical beauty, athletic prowess, or couch potato endurance and channel surfing, but for some reason He chose us. The one requirement for membership in His group we had to meet was His law, and not one of us could do it, so He set out to bring us into His group by Himself. Talk about an elite group, no one met His standard! Yet, all who believe in our Lord Jesus are brought into this special group who are given eternal life. Wow, that is some prize for a bunch of initiates who are undeserving and unworthy! How does He do it? Better question: Why does He do it?

It must be love that gives us His grace. It seems strange to us, but the one requirement we can meet in Christ is to be loved by Him, and He loves us everlastingly!

Happy Old Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Word of God

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:13

His name IS called The Word of God, not was or will be but is! In Revelation 19, John sees something awesome. Not a baby in a manger this time but The Word of God ready to judge and make war. His eyes like a flame of fire and out of His mouth came a sharp sword. This is not a harmless baby swaddled up and laying in a manger of the town stable. This is The Word of God as He will return to claim for His own the earth that belongs to Him. This is the unstoppable Word of God going forth to do battle on His white horse. This is our Savior!

As the problems of the world weigh heavily upon us, we must turn our eyes to this word picture of The Word of God. Many things we deal with every day can bring us down, for we are quite weak - easy prey for the powers and principalities of this present darkness. John caught up to the heavens saw a power far beyond anything this world hosts; he saw the One in His glory ready to come to our salvation for all time. John was privileged to see The Word of God, and soon you and I will also for the world becomes gloriously dark. The Light that shines in the darkness comes quickly!

Get ready to behold the brightness of His coming!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Discovery of Sin

And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave..." Genesis 18:20

Recently it seems that our mass media has discovered sin once more. Targets are selected, triggers pulled, and the outcry becomes great as, lo and behold, we have a popular sin to grind on the millstone of public outrage. What surprises is the thought that it might be new. There was an outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah thousands of years ago; says so right in God's word. The sins likely involved sex just as today's reports of sin contain the sexual immorality that Paul urged us to avoid. It may seem to some that sexual sin was discovered just in time for the last elections, but alas, no, sin is almost as old as man and woman.

In this world when you point at a male and say, "man", you might as well point and say, "guilty of sexual sin." What we have on Sodom and Gomorrah is our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. There are many men we can point to and add, "Forgiven!" in place of sin. This does not excuse the sin or the consequences, and it does not mean that we are not sorry for that sexual sin, but it does remove it from God as far as the east is from the west. Something to think about before we join in the finger pointing the world so enjoys.

Yes, well might we say that not only were we born into sin but we also grew up and took to it like a fish to water when it comes to sexual temptations. However, believing in Jesus opens the door to the great physician who heals, cleanses, and removes the infection of sin from us. Deeply guilty we are in this world, but His blood paid for that sin and His grace removes the stain from all who believe in Him! Truly the wold will not understand this and will want more blood, but let us support our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer and fellowship. In Christ the ugliest sinner becomes the most beautiful of saints. Praise and honor to God our King!


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Good News Of Each Other

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8

Christmas is often a time that we share good news of each other, usually in the form of a letter enclosed in a Christmas card. Like Paul and his friends in Thessalonica, we may not be able to see each other in person due to circumstances beyond our control, but we earnestly look forward to that good news. But this was not news of babies born or weddings attended, this was news of faith and love - and the desire to see each other. Paul was so caught up in the love of his fellow believers that he said, "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord." Paul was joined in the Spirit to his saints in a far place.

Indeed we laugh at the world and its six degrees of separation. For in Christ all who believe are joined together by His Holy Spirit and connected by our relationship with God, a bond which cannot be broken and is immediate and personal.

In Christ together forever,

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

His First Duty

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21

The marvelous events of the birth of Christ were over and His first duty began, and may I say, "Ouch!" The requirements of the Law of Moses had to be met and our Lord Jesus was not exempted. What? Nope, no exemptions for the King of kings and Lord of lords.

In our suffering, we sometimes hear that temptation to think that Jesus somehow, somewhere got a pass on some amount of suffering. We know better, but that small whisper comes anyway. From the His birth in Bethlehem in a stable to the ritual circumcision and on to His crucifixion and death, we read and know He suffered greatly. Yet, there is still that temptation that hits like a dart from the bush.

Of course the Enemy would love to have God's children writhing in the clutches of doubt and those darts are difficult to fight because the flesh which we bear likes to believe such awful things. When we suffer a little, it is easy to believe that not only does our Lord not understand but that our brothers and sisters in Christ do not suffer as we do. We could hardly have two greater wrong thoughts in one sentence! Jesus knows our suffering because He suffered much greater sufferings and He is here with us even now. Our siblings in Christ also suffer because they share the same Savior and the same Enemy.

A brother or sister in Christ may hide the pain better than others, but we who believe in Him will endure some suffering in this world. Praise God we are all counted worthy to share our small amount of His suffering.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Goodwill Toward Men

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
​​And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:13-14

No one has come up to me and introduced himself as a member of the heavenly host. This is hardly surprising given that most of the time the heavenly realm and host is not visible to fallen men on this earth. However, the shepherds, still abiding in the fields and perhaps frozen in shock, saw a multitude of the heavenly host. I don't think any shepherd had any trouble remembering this event in his later years of this life.

What was the angel and a multitude of the heavenly host up to on this night in the fields of Judea where sheeps and shepherds abode? They were praising God of course. Given that the Christ had just been born over the hill in Bethlehem, I wonder if that punctuation should be more like: "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth. Peace! Goodwill toward men!"

Before you castigate me for arguing with God's Holy Word, the invention of English punctuation came along much later and it is not always obvious to the manuscript scholars and translators where it should go.

I hope you enjoyed your peach yesterday, as I wished you one. For those of you who shouted peace at me in all caps, I rejoiced with you as, until this morning, I was unaware of the sabotage my typing fingers had perpetrated upon me. H and E are not even typed on the same hand, how did that happen? I suppose I may never know. I like to wear a hat around that states, "Christians ain't perfect, but Jesus is." I stand by that statement. I can testify to it in typing and speaking, just watch me long enough!

REJOICE! in the peace and peaches of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Something So Unusual

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

A sign to you, the angel said. That was all the shepherds had to go on was a town, a baby in swaddling clothes, and a manger. We have the modern temptation to look upon the 1st century as a sort of barbarian-infested madness wherein people somehow lived without cell phones and iPods. "How could those dirty shepherds find the Christ Child among the dozens of babies born in animal feeding troughs that night?" the modern reader is tempted to ask, and with no GPS to guide them to the stables at that.

A sign is something so unusual that it cannot be missed. I'm not completely sure what a swaddle is or even how to do it, but I'm thinking that swaddling clothes was not so unusual. However, placing a newborn in a manger was so unusual that the shepherds had only to go to the stables. Of course the people in Mary and Joseph's time didn't place something so precious in animal feeding bunkers unless there was no other choice. Surely most babies born in that time received the same tender, loving care that we lavish on our newborns even now. That there was no room for them in the inn was known to Luke because Mary remembered it years later as another unusual thing. Of course young mothers were not sent out to the stables to have their babies then just as they wouldn't be now. Something so unusual happened and the shepherds were directed to it with that very sign.

A seemingly simple sign to the shepherds from an unusual source brought them to a wonder: the Son of God born in a lowly place; a Savior to save the fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

Peach on Earth as we begin the Christmas weekend!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

And Behold!

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Luke 2:9

It wasn't a dark and stormy night as Snoopy would write. The storm, if we can call it that, may have taken place when the parental guardians of God's Holy One found that the birth of the Christ child would take place in a smelly animal shelter; thus imparting to any affirmative response to, "Were you born in a barn?" an honor we are not worthy to receive. For the shepherds, who were simply abiding in the fields that night, it was quite likely a very normal night with the usual comforts and discomforts that sleeping with a bunch of sheep might bring.

And behold...

The expression is about as strong as Luke gets in his report of those things done in Judea at about the time the calendar changed from B.C. to A.D. Like the visitor Zacharias had by the incense altar, we get the impression that the angel was not there, then he was there. It was a surprising and fear-inducing appearance; an uncanny occurrence in an unexpected place. The admonition to learn to expect the unexpected is put to shame as the unexpected intrudes on the usual in a marvelous way, and says, "Do not be afraid!"

The Lord gets the attention of those He wants to impart a message to in a rather memorable way. Sometimes a good startle, it seems, is the way to break through the usual we are caught up in and make us to understand that something rather remarkable has happened in the world. The shepherds knew it, and in this age from their account, so do we.

Have a wonderful Christmas with the One we call Wonderful!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Just Regular Working Folks

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8

Around these parts, the title for today might be 'winter is coming' but that one seems overused nowadays. This year, it would seem that winter will begin exactly on time after a quite mild autumn for us. Back around the year in which Jesus our Lord was born, some people were doing what most of us will do today: going to work that is. Whether we are retired from one long-term job and just going out to the shop behind the house to work on something, going to a business owned and operated, or employed by another, we will do just what a bunch of shepherds did back in the day. We don't know for sure what season it was, but those folks may have sensed a coming change in the weather too. What they didn't sense was an outburst of angels.

We look at the heavens and ask the weather prognosticators what will happen today and tomorrow. Those shepherds probably looked at the heavens and admired God's handiwork in the stars. Neither of us typically look toward Heaven to see if angels have anything to announce. That night, the shepherds would have been a bit less frightened out of their wits had they done so! We too look forward to a particular night when an announcement will come from Heaven and our Lord Jesus will return for us. The shepherds and us are just regular working folks, but we may be well advised to pay more attention toward God's Heaven as on just any regular working day or evening, we too might find ourselves bathed in the light of God's glory as an important announcement is made.

Grace is here and Christmas is coming once more!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Enjoy The Wait

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:30-31

One week until Christmas Day! As a child the waiting can be tremendously difficult. We are in a similar period in our waiting for Jesus to return. We long to see the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and yet we must wait. So, might as well enjoy the wait!

Enjoy the wait? When in this life has waiting ever been enjoyable? Fallen and broken humans that we are, we don't do waiting very well. Whether it is the anxious waiting for something we dread or the childlike near certainty that the big celebration day will never come, we don't do waiting very well and to enjoy the wait seems an impossible task. However, when Paul calls us to rejoice in all things, that is his command to us - enjoy the wait.

Just like salvation, what is impossible for us is possible with God. Looking around at the world, we cannot fathom how anyone could possibly enjoy this period of waiting for our Lord to return. As always, we look in the wrong direction when we do that. Look to God and learn from Him how to endure and enjoy the wait for His Son's glorious return.

One week to Christmas, aagh! I can't take the waiting! What if it were only five days until the Rapture of His bride, the Church? Could we stand the waiting then?

Have a Merry Christmas this week,

Friday, December 15, 2017

Peace, A Gift of God

But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Psalm 37:11

Easily might one of us lament that we cannot buy up land and properties as some do, but in the great sermon Jesus gave and in the psalm our Lord gave us the key to inheriting more land than we may know what to do with. Perhaps you also labor under the blessing of not having enough loot to buy up the earth. No problemo! Seek meekness instead.

We have not yet known an abundance of peace. Although no one may be assaulting your residence at this moment, we have read and heard about those wars and rumors of war all of our lives. And then there is the war for your soul and mind. We do not know an abundance of peace in this world. Yet, we also know that God's promises and gifts are true, as He is the Truth.

Therefore, we have not yet inherited the earth through our meekness under the Father, and we have not yet known an abundance of peace as we are still under the tribulation of this world. But, God has promised that we shall and Jesus has given us His peace.

The Roman world wasn't any better when our Lord was born, but the angels gave God's message of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. So, do we believe what we see all around us or what God has promised? Of course we know from Hebrews 11:1 that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. That means the elders lived in faith just as we can now. It is still about faith. God's promises will be fulfilled in His time. David chose faith when he wrote our verse for today as he too did not enjoy an abundance of peace in his lifetime. Then Paul had an answer for us as well since we through Christ live at peace with God. His gift of peace is already at work within; let us rejoice in the coming fulfillment!

Grace and peace to you in this Christmas season!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Joy It Is

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

In this age it is easy to write about the darkness of sin, for it is often reported to us and is indeed all around us. And we too are tempted toward it daily by the old nature of our flesh and the desire of the enemy to see us fall. The Lord gave me joy today as the subject when I was tempted toward writing about darkness.

When it comes to darkness and tribulation in this life there is no lack of material to write about. When it comes to rejoicing and joy, then it becomes a real struggle to find some good news to report. Good news... something about that seems to ring a bell deep in my Christian discipleship, if only I could put a name to it.

Of course in this Christmas season we have many reminders of the good news named Jesus and Immanuel. From the very first moments of His birth, good news came to us. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people," said the angel to the shepherds abiding in the darkness of the Judean fields. The shepherds up to that moment may have struggled to find good news to pass along just as we do in this day. After they had visited a certain manger in Bethlehem though, they had some glad tidings to report, some good news for all to hear. They had a testimony of Jesus the Christ, and that is all the good news we need.

A light has shined in the darkness, have a merry and joyful Christmas in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Royal Line

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. Luke 2:4

The story in fantasy land starts with a hidden king, queen, prince, princess, etc. There is a prophecy that a child from the royal line of the great ancient ruler who lived in a time when everything in the kingdom was right and just and altogether peachy will return to set everything right. In our fantasy story Joseph should stand up and be that king, but he didn't. Joseph had to work for a living and the company he worked for kept telling him in the middle of the night to get up and move his family. Is it Mary then? Was Israel due for a queen? Nope, she raised several children but did not rule the land or boot out the Romans.

Ah, it's the firstborn son! Of course, we should have known in our fantasy story that the background must be set up first. A humble beginning, a family that is somehow repressed or disadvantaged from partaking in their royal position (and the imagined benefits thereof), and of course the danger from the forces of the world's evil government. Now we're getting somewhere! The wise guys will of course know this king and the evil usurping ruler will attempt to do something really dirty and underhanded to murder our hero king before he can grow up to be our conquering savior. All set now!

And then the child grew up and died as a many a criminal did under the occupying evil power from a foreign land at the strong urging of the oppressed people? What happened here? Our fantasy story of right and good rising up to win the day went way off track. Evil was not defeated, no king took his throne in the capital city, and the hero of the story lay cold in the tomb.

You will easily recognize that we came in the middle of that story and have not reached the end yet. Jesus did not take up the throne of Jerusalem in the 1st century because the world was not ready for Him to be king. Quite a few priests, rulers, and others thought this story ended one Passover Sabbath back in the day as Jesus lay in the tomb outside Jerusalem, but we know better. Isaiah passed along to us many prophecies about the first appearing of our Lord, but he also wrote down many more that have not yet come to pass. Jesus himself promised to return and bring us with Him to our eternal home, and that has not yet happened. The triumphant end to this story where the King of kings comes to vanquish evil and reign in righteousness is still to come for us. Because of all the stories of that good and true king returning from a humble birth after many hidden generations, this one is no fantasy. The darkness is deep in our time, but the light still shines from Bethlehem and our King is coming soon!

Have a Merry Christmas on this day!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Walking In Darkness

​The people who walked in darkness
​​Have seen a great light;
​​Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
​​Upon them a light has shined. Isaiah 9:2

Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ so much? No one but God even knows the exact date of our Lord's birthday, yet we have this big celebration leading up to December the 25th. Certainly the season of giving lends itself to commercialization, but much of that is simply people struggling to survive another year and wanting to give their loved ones valuable gifts as well. The commercials may get tiresome, but let us not deny another the benefits of a season when gift giving opens up the tight wallets just a bit. But, other holidays open up the bank vaults to spending too, so that cannot be the only reason to celebrate Christ's birth.

We don't know the date and we can spend at any time of the year, so why the big celebration? I think that even those who do not yet believe see the light shining in the darkness. Hope is a word which does not occur often enough in the news reports we read each day. Yet, one night in Bethlehem of Judea, a child was born with some special announcements. Shepherds saw the hosts of Heaven singing glory to God in the highest. A betrothed virgin received an angelic visitor who came with a remarkable message. An older married couple conceived late in life a messenger who would announce the coming of the Child's ministry. A man about to be married had a dream wherein an angel informed him of his betrothed's complete faithfulness to God. Wonders surrounded this birth in fulfillment of centuries old prophecy. And this birth gave us hope for a healing light that could remove from us the burden of our sin.

The Christ came and He did all that God's justice demanded to pay for the sin of all God's children. Our hope is in Him, and the celebration of His birth is our gratitude for that great gift God gave to us these many years ago. Walking through life in darkness, we have seen a great light and His name is Jesus!


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Starting The Season 0-1

As it is written: ​​“There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10

It is not a question of fairness, though we feel it unfair, but each and every one of us began this season called life with a record of 0-1. Before we even knew to play in the game or what contest we were engaged in, we had a loss on our record. And, since God in His perfect holiness cannot allow any 'teams' with a loss on their record into His eternal kingdom, we were lost before we had a chance to gain a winning record.

Of course, a quick read through the law with an honest look at our deepest thoughts would reveal not only that one loss we began life with, but many, many more besides. With a few selfless good deeds on my record, I would estimate mine at something like 45-1,075,624,212 or something like that. And that is giving myself more credit than I deserve I suspect. In other words, there is no chance at all for me to redeem my 'team' by a winning record of truly selfless good deeds in my later years. Place dear old me on the scales of justice at the end and surely I will fall below the mark.

Thank the Lord on High that it is not dependent upon my good record!

No, there is a much greater weight on the good side of that dreaded scale - the weight of a Savior who died for me on the cross quite near where He was born. Every loss my 'team' suffered in this life is paid for by the Lord Jesus. Had the Huskers and Broncos had such an overwhelming victor on the winning side of their records this year both would have been champions. Whoa, that was a real stretch of fantasy there! Actually, Paul's comparison would be more like a team that had never won a game being given the championship trophy. So it is with all of us who are saved by Jesus - we have nothing to offer Him in the way of a victory over sin and death: all of the victory comes from Christ alone!

Merry Christmas to you on this sunny weekend!

Friday, December 08, 2017

It Began With Prayer

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. Luke 1:13

Both divine command and prophecy, the angel informed the priest that he would have a son and what to name him. Which is a good thing because Bubba the Baptist doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Where did this rather startling announcement come from though?

Luke lets us know that Elizabeth and Zacharias were middle aged or greater and that they had been given no children to bless their lives. For however long he had done it, Zacharias had prayed for a child but the time had not come until later in life. So, what was it about this prayer that brought the angel running to tell Zac the good news? Perhaps just the timing of the thing? Certainly God is in charge of the timing of all things, but we might know at least one thing that Zac's prayer was not - selfish.

Say Zac went into his closet and prayed something like this:

"Lord, grant me a son that I might show those no good bumpkins at the city gate that I still got it!"

Probably not a prayer that would be rising up before God like a sweet incense. However, what if Zac got down for 40 or 50 years and prayed that his wife might be blessed with a child for her comfort? Or maybe a conversation with God of how much Elizabeth had been hurt by the talk of the other old ladies who were now grandmas and great grandmas, and how they looked down on her in so many ways? Zacharias had perhaps learned over many years to pray selflessly and generously, and those prayers are a sweet incense before God.

The birth of John, who would go before the Lord Jesus like Elijah, came about with a prayer. What prayer might you and I speak in our closet that would go before the return of our great Lord?

Have a prayerful Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2017


To declare the name of the LORD in Zion,
​​And His praise in Jerusalem,
​​When the peoples are gathered together,
​​And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.  Psalm 102:21-22

The world changes a bit right before our eyes: Jerusalem has been declared the capital of our president. Does this mean anything? Yes, many nations still recognize the word of the US president as having far-reaching consequences in the world. What might it mean for the return of our Lord? ('Cuz, that's what we really want to know, ain't it?)

This event reminds me of what Jesus said to John the Baptist of how they had to do things properly. John did not want to baptize Jesus but be baptized by Him. "But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him." (Matthew 3:15) It might seem to us that Jerusalem should be named capital after Jesus returns there, but perhaps this is another of those proper order things that are done to get us ready for the return of our Lord.

Might there be other consequences from this announcement by our governmental leader? Sure, and some may be difficult to bear as the world reacts to this news. Let us not let fear keep us from fulfilling anything that must be done prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus. Such as? Such as celebrating another annual celebration of our Lord's birth!

Have a merry Christmas in Christ our Lord!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Evil Causing Pain

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. 1 Chronicles 4:10

His mother saddled Jabez with a tough burden in life. The name Jabez means 'he will cause pain', and his mother named him that because she bore him in pain. Jabez had to live with the burden of his name until he brought it in prayer to the Lord God. And just like that, the burden was lifted from him!

We have prayed for blessings, an enlarging of territory in various ways, and that the hand of the Lord would be with us. We have even prayed at our Lord's advice that the Father keep us from the evil one. Jabez, perhaps feeling the burden of his name, prayed to be kept from doing evil so that he would not cause pain to others. This is certainly an obedience to our Lord's command that we love our neighbor as ourselves!

What a great relief Jabez must have felt to have that burden lifted away. We too can have long-held burdens lifted from our weak and quaking shoulders by the Lord our Father. Whether the pain was caused to us or we caused the pain to others, the Lord works swiftly to remove that which is crushing us to the ground. Not swiftly enough for you? One day we will see how swiftly the Lord worked in our behalf, but for now some burdens do seem long and terrible to each of us. Bear up faithfully and patiently, dear one, the Lord has not forgotten any of His suffering sheep!

A merry and grateful Christmas to you!

Monday, December 04, 2017

A Unique Event

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

A search in the New King James version of the Bible shows that 'overshadow' is found exactly one time in the word of God. The honor of this overshadowing is bestowed upon Mary, but it is the power of the Highest that does the overshadowing. What a unique event this was!

Of course this does tend to bring up a few questions. Did the Lord use one of Mary's eggs? How far along was baby Jesus created in Mary's womb? You may think of others, but what we need to know is told to us through the holy scriptures. God's Son came down to Earth in a unique way. Unique, but well-publicized - there was no secret here. Isaiah was given the advance notice about 700 years earlier of the virgin birth, Micah was given the birth location, and many other prophets were given additional news about this very special birth. Then, at the time of the event, kings or wise men from far away were notified, shepherds in the field were told, and of course the happy parents knew that this special birth was from God. So, when the power of the Highest overshadows you, be ready for a unique event!

And indeed, each of us does enjoy a unique event when we come to believe in Jesus the Christ. For it is the power of the Highest that grants a rebirth in the Spirit to those who believe in Him. As Nicodemus found out, we will not come out of the womb again, that overshadowing is unique to our Lord Jesus, but we do enjoy the fruits of the Spirit from this rebirth.

From the rebirth in Christ made possible by the unique birth of Christ, Merry Christmas to you!


Friday, December 01, 2017

A Horror Story of the Bible

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. Judges 19:1

Judah, Bethlehem, no king in Israel, a young virgin, later there is a donkey and a journey involved, but this is not the Christmas story, not by a long ways. Reading the story in Judges 19 involves delving into so much iniquity that we get a picture of what it will be like when the Comforter takes a step back and man is left on the Earth without God. Sin piles upon sin and there is death in horrible ways, destruction, disloyalty, disregard for human life and dignity, debauchery, so that it becomes hard to list all the sin in this story.

The Lord is not mentioned at all in this horrid chapter, the children of Israel are not in Jerusalem, and women are offered to the sons of Belial, and that is only part of the grotesque morass of sin in this anti-Christmas story. Those who want God out of all things should take a moment to read what it will be like here when God does as they desire. Think anyone will be empowered by God's departure? Best think again, for this horrible chapter shows exactly what will come when the spirit of restraint God has given to the world is removed and His church is taken up from this place.

God's word shows us in several places what happens when we are left to our own devices as a group and as individuals. The Christmas story, on the other hand, is what happens when God comes down to us and makes a way for us to live in Him!

Have a merry Christmas!