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Showing posts from December 21, 2014

Enemies

What is the best thing you could do to your enemies? Well, you might say you don't want to do anything good toward them. You might say the best way to deal with your enemies is to give them back exactly what they are giving you. However, that would not be beneficial to the true "end game." As the Psalmist lifts his prayer to God to guard his mouth, he also requests that his heart be not drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds. Further he prays for an accountability partner to rebuke him if he is going in the way of evil. Then, he says it, something so heavenly that it seems unattainable. "My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers;" (Psalm 141:5b) He is praying against the deeds, the actions of a wicked person; praying that they will do less or no damage to their intended prey. This may seem odd but even Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, "You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Lov…

Postlude - Christmas Series 2014 #9

The tree stands bare as the presents that so long lingered below it are now distributed and opened. Surprise has turned to empty boxes and torn wrapping paper. New clothes, toys, and gifts of all kinds are scattered around the house.   So, what do we do after the main event? Reflect for one more moment as you read portions from the poem, One Solitary Life, by Dr James Allan Francis, to understand the significance of Christ, and then move forward and keep sharing that life with others. "He never wrote a book, He never held an office, He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred milesfrom the place where he was born
He did none of the thingsusually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself, He was only thirty-three Nineteen centuries [Twenty now] have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies tha…

A Body to Live - Christmas Series 2014 #8

Eyes were focused on the birth of Christ for it brings hope of a different future. His coming and dying was the crossroads of life; the focal point of human existence. Christ comes into the world and so begins his journey toward the cross. He was not born to live but born to die. His life can be divided into three distinct emphases. First, he was an obedient son, doing what his parents told him to do (fulfilling the Law, even commandment five, "honor your father and your mother." Exodus 20:12) We hear about these years only briefly in his infancy and at age twelve. It is summed up by Luke, "he went down to Nazareth with them [parents] and was obedient to them. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:51,52) He was an example in those years. Second, he entered his ministry years after being baptized by John the Baptizer. At that time he appeared from Galilee to the Jerusalem area, speaking, healing, challenging and feeding the p…

A Body Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #7B

What circumstances surrounded your conception and birth? Maybe you don't know but you were specially made in a unique moment. Your DNA began to bark out orders to your body including the color of your hair and eyes, facial features, height and weight, and many more. For nine months you developed until it was best for you to exit your sublime environment and encounter the world. The Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, illustrative of the Shekinah glory coming over the Ark of the Covenant inside the Temple, and the power of God overshadows her child. The God of creation creates a person, unique, perfect and complete in the womb of Mary without the aid of a man. This was promised by the angel in Luke 1:35 "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." But there would be another who would want to destroy this process. It is spoken of in Revelation 12:4b when John said, "The dragon [devil, Satan, ancient serpent] stood in front of th…

A Body Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #7A

Why was it necessary to have Christmas, or why did Jesus Christ have to come to earth? Seems like if he was a regular person, with a regular birth, like you and I, he would have no control over coming into the world, either who were his parents or what would be the place of his birth. But Jesus was not regular, he was God and man tied up in a bundle of joy and he made the decision to come to earth. He did not become God after he was man, he was God in eternity past and at the conception of his humanity, and in his death, resurrection and ascension he was God and even now is God. There is no time when he was not God. So we see these words, spoken as Jesus, the Son of God, was about to step into our world from heaven and become the baby born of Mary, "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O G…

A Family Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #6

What makes your heritage special? Are there great events that color your family's life? For most of us the answer would be, "No." Most of the over seven billion on the earth live out their lives with much regularity and not much speciality. Joseph and Mary were not popular stars in Nazareth, but just two young people living out their lives in an unassuming way. Mary was just a teenager when an angel came to her with this strong statement, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Her response was that, "she was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be." (Luke 1:28-29) That is an understatement. There had been over 500 years since an angel had appeared to anyone, and then within a short time, Zechariah and Mary both speak with an angel. Mary was aware of the prophecies that the Messiah would be born of a Jewish woman, and for a girl growing up, this would be a wonderful experience to carry th…

A Nation Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #4

The nation of Israel had been a world leader through King David and King Solomon. But the generation after Solomon became divided about whom they should follow and split the Kingdom of Israel into North and South. In the years to come, both kingdoms were destroyed and the best of the people taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. The Medes/Persians Empire allowed Israel to return to their homeland, explained in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The returning captives rebuilt their capital, Jerusalem, and the Temple and began again to offer sacrifices. They instigated the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the people, even though, as a nation, they were subjugated under world empires. The people of Israel went about their lives as Jews, most not aware that God's plan was being unfolded right before them. The one act they were not able to do was to sentence individuals to death. The Romans were required for this and they used the cross as their implement of death. So, Jesus would be …

A World Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #3

Was the world ready for Jesus in the first century? Why did he come then? These are very good questions leading us to investigate the world at the time of his birth. There is perfect planning in the coming of Christ to the first century. Paul in writing to the Galatian church said, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:4)  He also wrote these words to the Roman church saying, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6) The four world governments played key roles in preparing the world for Christ. Babylon gathered many nations under one kingdom. Then, it was overcome by the Medes/Persians Empire adding more nations to this massive conglomerate and releasing the Jews to go back to Israel. The Grecians then conquered them and added a twist to it. They sent philosophers, w…

A God Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #2

It's always fun to catch someone off guard and surprise them. You yell, "Surprise!" and see them catch up to the trick right before your eyes. Maybe it's for their birthday or anniversary, or maybe it's an unexpected guest at Christmas time. Do you think God was surprised when Adam took a bite out of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Was He caught off guard by the possible destruction of His plan by man? Did He have to quickly revise to a new plan? NO, not…at…all. For if the will of man could trump the plan of God by just one action then God is truly weak. The truth is that God's plan was not ruffled one little bit by Adam and Eve's action in the Garden of Eden because His plan to save the world was created in eternity past. Peter spoke of this when he said, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as  silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, …

Chance or Plan - Christmas Series 2014 #1

Vibrant series like Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Star Trek, Matrix, The Hobbit, Spiderman, Batman, and Ironman draw us into wonderful stories with twists and turns we could not predict. We learn about the characters.  We slowly identify the plot lines. We enjoy the key sequences. Today's Word is going to tell you a story, not of Middle Earth or out at the edges of space, but at a pinpoint moment in human history. Join me as we journey into the lives of those surrounding the birth of Jesus. Starting tomorrow 12/18 in Today's Word. Read each day as we surround the birth of the earthly life of Jesus. What people, plots and purposes will be present? As a prelude let's consider that this story is true. Predictive prophecy, concerning Christ and other events and people make up 27% of the Bible's verses. 737 separate matters are predicted in a total of 1,817 predictions. 60 major Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus. …

Friends Prepared - Christmas Series 2014 #5

Have you ever felt like your path crossed with someone else just at the right time? Well, such was the case all around Joseph and Mary and their son, Jesus. "Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot….to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense." (Luke 1:8) While there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and promised that Elizabeth, his wife, would bear a son, and that he was to name him John. This John would become John the Baptizer who would be the cousin of Jesus. Six months later, Mary was also visited by an angel and was promised a son by virgin birth. She travels to Elizabeth's home to share this news and when she enters the room Elizabeth's baby jumps in her womb. (Luke 1:41) Three months later, John the Baptizer is born and goes on to become "a voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord," (Luke 3:4) Jesus was born of Mary six months later in Beth…