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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Clean Slate


Most of us set goals or resolutions for ourselves for the new year. Starting off with a "clean slate" is the best way to obey God's Word. God offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ and "cleanses us from all unrighteousness".  Accept His forgiveness and consider applying the teaching and wisdom from the following verses.



Luke 5:30-32 - But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

John 8:1-11 - But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

1 Corinthians 6:11 - And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 - But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Always apply the Word to your new year's resolutions. Amen?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's Work

In the Scripture today we see the boy Jesus at the Temple. It is a story most parents can relate to. The Mom and Dad were separated and each one thought Jesus was with the other! They found him days later in the Temple! They were rightly upset, but His answer astounded them.
 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, t
hey were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. - Luke 2:41-52
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Wow! They didn’t see that coming; did they? I think people would be surprised by that answer from us as well, but aren’t we to be constantly about God’s work?

I want to encourage you to think like that this coming year. Ask the question every day, “What does God want me to do today?” It’s good to be at work when God is your boss! Amen?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Plans

Soon we will be starting a new year! With it brings new beginnings and opportunities. It can be a fresh slate for our lives in some respects. For some of us it means doing new things for God. For others maybe it means returning to God’s ways. Let’s look at Matthew 2:19-23 today, and see Jesus’ family returning home, back to Israel and God’s people.

    19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
   21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to theland of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Today spend some time looking back. Feel good about Godly accomplishments from last year. Thank and praise God for His provision and direction. We must also look at areas where we were not obedient. Praise and thank God for His forgiveness!

Spend time in prayer listening for His direction and will for your life. He has a special plan and purpose for all of us. Let’s make this year a great one for God. Amen?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Plan and Will

The most famous two verses in Jeremiah are found in Chapter 29.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13
Chapter 29 contains two letters to the captives in Babylon:
1. The first letter recommends them to be patient and composed. (1-19)
2. In the second, judgments are denounced against the false prophets who deceived them. (20-32)
We do find Restoration and Hope in Jeremiah 29:10-14
God’s Word - 10 This is what the LORD says: 
Completion of exile (consequence of sin) - “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, 
God’s promise - I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 
God’s plan - 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, 
God has our future in mind - “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
Our response to God’s goodness - 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Cause and Effect - 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 
Godly outcome -  14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Always accept all God has for you and apply it to your life. Amen?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Escape

Another part of the "Christmas Story" happened one to two years after Jesus' birth. Joseph was given direction by angel in a dream. 

    When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
   So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” - Matthew 2:13-18

Life is full of pain, but sometimes it can be avoided. Obedience to God’s law, and willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit can save us a lot of anguish. So, as we get ready for another year let’s decide to do it God’s way and not our way. See what happens. It will change your life. Amen?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Bread

  Bethlehem is a Hebrew word that literally means, “house of bread.” And I think this is significant in 3 ways.

1) Christ was born in Bethlehem, "the house of bread", to identify with the common man. Jesus was not born in the house of royalty, nor the house of riches, nor the house of celebrity.
Bread is one of life’s most common things. God wanted His Son available to all. His birth was announced to shepherds, the common man, but not to King Herod. His cradle was a manger, an animal’s feeding trough in a lowly stable. You don’t have to be rich to know Him. You don’t have to be well-known or popular to know Him. Just be you.

2) Christ was born in Bethlehem to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Jesus said, " I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
Bread is a good comparison to our Lord because He satisfies, gratifies and strengthens us spiritually just as bread does physically. Christ is all the soul of man needs for spiritual satisfaction. That fact that Jesus was born in "The House of Bread" gives us confidence that God does indeed want to choose us to be His children, no matter how insignificant we may seem to ourselves or to the world around us.

3) Christ was born in Bethlehem to show us that each of us must choose him as Savior for ourselves. If one person eats a meal, it doesn’t satisfy any other person’s hunger.
The Bible says that "we are all partakers of that one bread." (1 Cor. 1:17) That "one bread" is Christ. He is the only bread that offers life and the decision to receive Him is an individual one. He invites each of us to partake of His presence today, and everyday. Amen?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

The real and true story of Christmas is found in Luke.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galileeto Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Celebrate Christ in all you do this day. Amen?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

One Life

This has been around for a long time. I don’t know who wrote it, but it always makes me think about Jesus’ impact on the world. Enjoy!

He was born in an obscure village,
Earthly riches were not important to Him
He did not travel extensively, only once did
He crossed the boundary of the country in which He lived,
In infancy He startled a King, in childhood He amazed Jewish leaders,
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.
He then became an itinerant preacher.
He never held office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn’t go to college.
He had no credentials but himself.
He healed multitudes without medicine,
He made no charge for His service,
He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the volumes that have been written about Him,
He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined,
He never founded a College, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students,
He never practiced psychiatry, and yet has healed more broken hearts than all the Doctors far and near,
He was only thirty-three when the public turned against him.
The devil tried to destroy Him, but the grave could not hold Him.
His Name stands highest of the heavenly glory, acknowledged by angels and feared by devils
Nineteen centuries have come and gone,
And today he is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments that ever sat,
And all the kings that ever reigned
 have not affected the life of man on this earth
As much as that one solitary life.

May all of you have Merry and Spirit filled Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve's Eve

Tonight we are having a Christmas service at my church. I am really looking forward to it. It may seem at an odd time, but I believe anytime is appropriate to acknowledge, worship, and focus on Jesus. Don't you?

We had an early addition to my family (a granddaughter) last week. She came 18 days early but is already a blessing to all of us. She is my son's first child, and there are a lot of questions and nerves. We know that God will see them through them all.

Just like He did over 2000 years ago to another couple with lots of questions and nervousness - Mary and Joseph. On the original Christmas Eve's Eve they were travelling far from their home, very pregnant, and much "not knowing" - where they would stay, what the future held, bringing up the Son of God! 

God saw them through it all and we now have Jesus to celebrate at Christmas and all year long. Today let's praise God for always being there for us when we need direction, love, and hope.

Share God's Christmas story with someone today. Amen?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

God at Work

What difference would it have made if Jesus had been born at another time? News bulletins are for world events, and our Lord’s birth was in obscurity. The first people to hear were shepherds. There were senators in Rome, princes in Jerusalem, and philosophers in Athens. But there were shepherds living out in the fields, and to them the wonderful news was given. It was indicative of how God works even today. Notice three features from Luke 2:8-20:

1.     An Unexpected Surprise (v. 8). They were minding their own business, (or their own sheep) just another day in their lives, another night in their shepherding. Probably the most exciting thing that happened was a visit from a marauding wolf, which is why they kept watch. Suddenly an angel appeared, and a bright light, the glory of the Lord, filled the sky. The creation story in Genesis begins in a similar way, with God speaking in the darkness. Throughout history, God brings light into human darkness. The prophets looked forward to the day when the people walking in darkness would see a great light. But for these shepherds it was an unexpected surprise. God still breaks into human history in unexpected ways to bring light into our darkness. He comes to those not expecting or even seeking Him. He comes to those going about the ordinary business (and busyness) of living. Shepherds were not highly esteemed in those days. The very nature of their work precluded regular observance at temple and synagogue. Their honesty was not rated highly (they weren’t allowed to stand as witnesses in court). God still surprises people like that today (1 Cor. 1:27–29). Some of you can look back to last Christmas and you are surprised to find yourselves here today. Who would have dreamt that God would meet you and bring you into His family? Others here are perhaps still in the dark, going about your business with little thought of angels and glory and God. He longs to break into your life. This Christmas could be a great surprise for you as you understand for the first time what it all means.

2.     An Unusual Sign (v. 12). Bethlehem may have been a “little town,” but finding the right baby wasn’t easy, so the shepherds were given an identifying sign—not just a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, for most babies would be in that state. The identifying sign would be a baby lying in a manger. This baby was in an animal feeding-trough, His first bed. The New Testament word “sign” means not just an identifying mark, but something that has in itself significance. So what is the “significance” of the manger? It indicates the depths to which the Son was willing to stoop in love (2 Cor. 8:9). It marks the beginning of the life of one who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It marked the kind of lifestyle He would adopt in His earthly ministry (Luke 9:58). He was born a Savior in a manger, and He died a Savior on a cross. The manger also meant the shepherds could visit Him freely. Spurgeon says: “We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger.”

3.     An Unbelievable Story (vv. 17–18). These shepherds were the first Christian missionaries. They had seen the Christ, and they told everyone what had happened to them. The good news about Jesus is something to be shared, and the best people to share it are ordinary folk who have had a personal experience with Him. You may not know everything, but if God has unexpectedly broken into your life, you have something to share. We have someone to share—a baby in the manager, a man on the Cross, a returning King!

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray;cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel.

This Christmas and always praise God for sending Jesus! Amen?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Gift


Do you want to give that "perfect" gift to someone this year? Consider what Jesus says in Luke 4:18-19 - “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”


Jesus is announcing that Messiah has come and that the Scripture has been fulfilled. Immanuel – God is with us! He wanted to make sure that the world knew who He was, and of the ministry of compassion. Jesus proclaims freedom to the poor in spirit, those imprisoned in sin, and give hope to the hopeless. He healed the sick, lame, and blind to give people a miraculous sign of His power. Jesus shows His love for everyone – regardless of our condition. His power is available to all who believe in Christ as Savior.

This Christmas may we take on His compassion for the world around us. We have many opportunities to show God’s love in a real way. Today and tomorrow may be your greatest opportunities to share with your family and friends this Good News.

Are you ready to share Christ with someone? Today can be that day. Amen?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trusting Christmas

The Bible presents Christ as the Son of God and the Son of Man. The heart of Christianity is the Person and work of Jesus Christ. No man can come to God except through Him. Here are three things that we should remember as we are sharing Christ this Christmas:

Our History Recorded It. The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was no accident. It was the fulfillment of God's divine promise.

Our Hymns Reviewed It. Hymns emphasize the views of songwriters regarding the Person and work of Christ.

Our Hope Reaffirmed It. There is no other name through which pardon comes.All must come to Jesus in order to be saved.

There is no other name in which we can trust. Amen?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Every Day


It's easy this time of year to get over extended and anxious about many things. Slow down! Take a breath - enjoy a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) and be reminded of Jesus' promise in Matthew 6.



31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


When we don't trust in God to provide we end up running around and worrying needlessly. You have what you have because of God's faithfulness not by our own devices. Trust in Him who protects, provides, and guides. We just need to be obedient.

Be wise and seek to always live life God's way. Amen?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Big Piles


I think we've all heard about being Christ's salt in the world. At Christmas time in today's culture it's hard sometimes to be "salty" for Christ. Everyone wants bigger and better. I saw a great demonstration by Francis Chan concerning this aspect of our Christian life. He took a small amount of salt in his hand and proclaimed it to be the real deal - very salty. He then showed a large pile of white salty looking material, but was not salty. Chan put the small dose of salt on the large pile.


What just happened? It appears that you now have a large pile of salt (which is good), but in realty you just diluted down the small amount of salt in the pile (which does no good). The world needs us to retain our "saltiness" for Christ. Big piles may be impressive but in the end that's all you have - a big pile of nothing!

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." - Jesus

Be salt in a world that is impressed with "big piles" - your "saltiness" can change them forever. Amen?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Attributes

Is this true that unto to us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given?

If we accept this gift of salvation then we too are reborn, and we are given to the Son. To give Him honor and glory all the days of our lives should be our

Isaiah 9:6 declares: For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The characteristics and attributes of Jesus are described here with two word titles:

Wonderful Counselor - The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord Isaiah 11:2
Mighty God - and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;  but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Isaiah 11:3-4
Everlasting Father - Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. John 14:9-10
Prince of Peace - Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14


At this time of year, let’s remember who to focus on - Jesus And to focus on - our relationship with Him. Amen?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love Is

This is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 that someone sent me recently. Please enjoy and think about it!

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china  and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of LOVE will endure.

                      -Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Resolve

 This season has already started out with so many people being sick, and the threat of the disease is very real.. We need to remember during these trying and frightening times that Jesus brought forth light into the darkness.  Almost 100 years ago we faced similar conditions, but then as now we can celebrate Jesus as the light of the world.

 This was plainly seen by thousands of people during the American influenza epidemic of 1918. During the height of that plague, churches and all public gathering places were ordered closed. Yet more than ever, it was then that people needed hope and consolation. Burdened by his inability to reach out to people in their time of need, one resourceful pastor thought of the magnificent stained glass windows that graced his church. Those windows faced a major thoroughfare and were large and commanding in design. He had numerous floodlights placed inside the church; illumination through the glass to the outside world gave passers-by the full effect of the windows story.

 There for all to see were the matchless portrayals of Jesus: Jesus the good shepherd bearing a lamb on his bosom; Jesus the searching Savior rescuing the lone lost sheep while the ninety-nine rested safely on the fold; Jesus praying in Gethsemane; Jesus on the cross; Jesus triumphant in Resurrection glory. The silent sermons of light and stained glass spoke an eloquent message.


The Gospel of John puts it this way: The true light that gives light of every man was coming into the world. People who passed by the church would stop reverently, silently. They found themselves filled with new resolve and encouragement. They saw ever more clearly in that age of sickness the light of Christ glory which was coming into the world.

Joy to the world the Lord has come! Amen?

Monday, December 14, 2015

To The World

Today we light the JOY candle on our Advent Wreath. Many of us immediately think of the great song of Christmas, Joy to the World, written by English hymn writer Isaac Watts. The song was first published in 1719. We’ve enjoyed singing this song through the years, let’s look at the Word that inspired it.

Psalm 98

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. TheLord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. 3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness toIsrael; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King. 7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,  the world, and all who live in it. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; 9 let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

Jesus came 2,000 years ago, and He is coming again!


Be joyfully ready for His return. Amen?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Centerpiece

There are three things we can learn from Simeon and Anna as found in Luke 2:21-40 about how have peace and contentment.
The third thing is that we need to prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessings.

Simeon was not a particularly important man, but he was known as a righteous and a devout man. In Greek that means “taking a good hold on something”. For him, God was at the center of this his life. Similarly, God was at the center of Anna’s life. She was constantly in the Temple day and night. She was known for her fasting and prayers. She was always worshiping God.

These were not CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) type of worshipers! Simeon and Anna were the type of worshipers who would have been present every time the church doors were opened. They were involved in nearly activity open to them, because they were dedicated people who loved God with all of their hearts, their souls and their minds.

It’s intriguing that it was ONLY to them that God revealed His message of peace.
You might be a Christian, but unless you commit yourself to putting God at the center of your life you’ll not only miss out on the peace of Christmas you’ll also miss out on a lot of other blessings from God.
Put Christ at the center of all you do this Christmas. Amen?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where Is Jesus?

There are three things we can learn from Simeon and Anna as found in Luke 2:21-40 about how have peace and contentment.

The second one is that we need to look for Christ.
We had a little nativity scene at my last church that was placed right in front of where I sat. My first Christmas there I found their tradition was that the manger was empty until Christmas Eve. No one told me so I thought Jesus was missing! Seriously it’s easy- to lose Jesus at this time of year. We must look for Jesus in what we do with our families, and truly keep Him as the reason for the season.

Simeon was looking for Jesus. He’d been promised by God and the highlight of his life is when he finally sees Jesus. Simeon prays in Luke
2:29; “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

What robs many people, including Christians, of the peace that Christmas can bring is that we get caught up in looking for everything but Jesus. And thus, the manger of Christmas becomes empty for us.
Where is Jesus at in your Christmas?


Today and throughout this season may we receive God’s peace. Amen?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Important Stuff

There are three things we can learn from Simeon and Anna as found in Luke 2:21-40 about how have peace and contentment.

The first is that Money (or Stuff) isn’t important.
One of the BIG stresses of this season is gifts. Who to buy for, what to buy, the busyness, and how can I afford it - are great stressors. Simeon & Anna didn’t fall into that trap. They were looking for the Messiah and who did they pick? They picked Jesus, this baby being carried by Joseph & Mary., they were part of the ordinary crowd of people like those who came into the Temple every day. If ANYTHING distinguished them – it was the fact that they were poor. Luke 2:21-24: When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”.

In other words, according to the law, a person of means who gave birth to a child was required to bring a lamb as their sacrifice. But a poor couple brought what Joseph & Mary offered: a couple of small birds. But, this couple’s poverty didn’t phase Simeon & Anna. They weren’t distracted by appearances. The Holy Spirit directed them, and wants to direct you to Him as well.
 
Look for Christ everywhere this Christmas. He can be found. Amen?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Good Will

Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. Many people say they would love to escape Christmas altogether. Some parts of the world have gained a reputation for violence at this time of the year.  It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The angels proclaimed; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

How can we assure ourselves of that peace?

Luke introduces to us two people who meet the baby Jesus. The way that these two react to Jesus that may hold the secret. We can learn from Simeon & Anna how have peace and contentment.

 Jesus Presented in the Temple

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. -Luke 2:21-40
Always seek the living Lord. It will put a smile on God's face, and yours too. Amen?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Humble

Christmas began as a very humble event, an event that exhibited the greatest humility the world has ever seen—the God of glory being laid in a cattle trough.

Look at Luke 1:39–54;  39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Mary’s Song 
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thronesbut has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
  
May we observe Christmas with the personal humility that reflects our Savior. God gives grace to the humble.
Amen?