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Some Thoughts on Christmas

Every Christmas Eve our church has a gathering in which different people volunteer songs, skits, readings and other things to share with the church family. At the end of the evening we gather in a large circle around the auditorium and sing ‘Silent Night. A great time of fellowship and rejoicing in the birth of Jesus. Below is my contribution to our gathering. I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas!

Ever since I was a kid I have had a lot of questions; even about Christmas. Yesterday in the morning service we all sang a couple of songs asking questions;

What Child Is This?

Mary Did You Know?

So I am pretty sure I am not the only one with questions.

Angels seem to get a whole lot of attention at this time of the year.
Two Sundays ago we sang Angels We Have Heard on High; It seems like Gloria gets an awful lot of time in this song. Gloria, Gloria, Gloria but nothing about Suzy, Tom, and for that matter Vernon? Is it just the way the music is written … that it wouldn’t sound right?

Ever since I was a kid I have watched the movie; “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s an almost annual tradition. I really enjoy it but; where in the Bible does it ever talk about men dying and becoming angels? Even if it were true, why would a loving and gracious God who gave us eternal life through faith and faith alone; require works before we could “earn our wings”? To this day when I hear a small bell ring I still start thinking about angels, and their wings and Harold Franks.

While we are on the subject of angels and Harold Franks; those of you that have been around Community Baptist for years will remember Harold Franks; I miss him, know he is with the Lord in Heaven and I will see him again. I know Harold isn’t an angel and he is not trying to earn his wings….but what I don’t know is how many angels are called Harold and why are we harking to hear them sing?

On a different note or should I say song; Why is there no L? I can understand the First no L but 2000 years later? This is America…I know we are on the edge of the Fiscal Cliff…. but has our Wheel of Fortune turned so far that we can’t chip in and buy an “L”?

And what about the 3 Kings; you know ….We three kings of Orient are…No where in the Bible does it say that there were 3 kings, yes there were three gifts but any research into historical documents will show that there was undoubtedly a large group of “wise men” from the East and that many servants and others were with them. And they didn’t come to the stable….it was later at least a year or so. Look what the Bible really says about them to get some of those questions answered.

And the gifts they brought….most of us can remember those…. Probably because of the songs we have sung over and over. It might be my age but I can’t remember many of the gifts I have received over the years. I can remember events with grandparents, parents and children. I remember the things we did together much more than any gifts received or given.

If you don’t have much to give to someone this year….give them something they will remember more….your time spent with them. That is really what Christmas is all about anyway. God sent Jesus Christ, as God/Man, as a baby in the manger. He grew into an adult who would die on the cross for all of man kind’s sins Through-out the Gospels it tells of how Jesus took time to stop and share with individuals the Good News.

I still have questions about Christmas and life but I hope you have made time in your life to start that personal relationship with the One who we honor tonight. If not I encourage you to keep asking questions until you find your way to that place where a baby was born in a manger to set all men free!

God’s Promises Are Eternal

Good Morning Regular Joes and Janes;

I must start out with an apology for not getting a devotional post up yesterday.

English: This is a map of first century Iudaea...

English: This is a map of first century Iudaea Province that I created using Illustrator CS2. I traced this image for the general geographic features. I then manually input data from maps found in a couple of sources. Robert W. Funk and the Jesus Seminar. The Acts of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco: 1998. p. xxiv. Michael Grant. Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels. Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1977. p. 65-67. John P. Meier. A Marginal Jew. Doubleday: 1991. p. 1:434. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I have a few thoughts on Romans chapter 11.  Israel is almost constantly in the news these days.  A lot of younger people don’t realize that the nation of Israel did not exist from 70 a.d until 1948.   It is the only nation to cease to exist and then be reborn.  It is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and also a signal on Gods time line.  Paul speaks to Christians, warning them not to be conceited regarding Gods treatment of Israel.

Romans 11: 25-29

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,

29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Christians both then and now can sometimes feel that we are better than the Jews.  That “the Jews crucified the Messiah and God has abandoned them forever.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Yes, the Jews did play a major part in Christ’s crucifixion, but Jesus Christ went there as a planned event to die for all of our sins.  The “hardening in part” has an ending time.  That ending time is when the “full number of the Gentiles has come in”.  When exactly does that happen?  I can not tell you but here are a few things to consider:

In 1948 Israel became a nation after almost 2000 years.

In 1967 Israel took possession of Jerusalem after the 6 day war

While there are no hard numbers available, it is clear that in the past 20 years the number of Jews in Israel who have become Christians has risen dramatically.

The orthodox Jews are actively preparing to rebuild the Temple and have completed all of the temple artifacts, and blueprints for the temple.

Jews, including lost tribes, are returning to Israel in ever greater numbers

God is clearly beginning to work in the spiritual lives of the Jewish people!  Many other prophecies from both the Old and New Testament are being fulfilled and the stage is being set for Christs physical return to earth!  As Paul alludes to in verse 28, the Jews considered the Christians to be enemies.  Even that is changing today as Christians and Jews have an ever more open dialogue.

As promised in both Psalms 14:7 and Isaiah 59:20-21, “the Deliverer will come out of Zion (Jerusalem) and turn away the ungodliness of Jacob”  God’s promises are everlasting.  God’s covenants with His chosen people, the Jews, while partially set on the back burner, are going to be kept and fulfilled.  Pray for the Jewish people, that God will move in their hearts.  Pray that we will be a witness to them whether they are in Israel or our neighborhood.  Pray for the Gentile people that their “number” would be filled,  (referring to verse 25).

These are exciting times that we are living in!

Regular Joe

Father; Earthly and Heavenly

Good Friday Morning Joes and Janes;

This is a 48 hour alert notice: Sunday is Father’s Day!  If you are reading this blog today you have a father.  He may or may not be where you can reach him, but if you can let him know how important he is to your existence.  I am pretty sure that your father had problems as did mine.  But then again I haven’t been a perfect father either.

My father is in a nursing home in Iowa.  Suffering  with Parkinson’s Disease, he often does not understand where he is or what is going on.  He is living in a different reality much of the time and I live too far away to be there.

The older I get the more appreciation I have for my father.  I think at times I had unrealistic expectations of him looking back on it.  We have a challenge from Jesus in Matthew 5:48; “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Obviously no human can accomplish this task, but rather it should be our goal.  It only takes a short review of ourselves to realize that we are not up to the task of perfection.  This should bring about the question of “how can we be acceptable to a perfect Heavenly Father?”

What is our Heavenly Father like?  What are his standards for his sons, (and daughters)?  Matthew 6:14 says: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Forgiving others who do wrong to us is important both as a testimony to them as well as to our own well- being.  God wants to forgive us of our wrongs, sins, so that he can have a close personal relationship with Him.

Our Heavenly Father wants to provide for our every need.  Matthew 6:26 says; “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  He sees each of us as very valuable.  Human kind is not equal to animals but above or more important than them.  If God provides for the birds then he will provide for his children.

Our Heavenly Father has given each of us the opportunity to have everlasting life, eternity beyond time and space in fellowship with Him.  He provided that way through Jesus Christ dying for our sins on the cross.  Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

My earthly father does not hold a candle to my Heavenly Father.  That is one thing we both have in common.  Another thing that I appreciate about my dad is that he has a personal relationship with the Lord.  Though many miles separate us now, I know that we will have eternity to be together in the future.

I hope you will spend some time with your dad this Sunday if you are able to.  Have a great weekend!

Regular Joe

God Provides

Good Monday Morning:

Either the weatherman was wrong again or I am in a dream still.  It is supposed to be sunny and warm today and tomorrow but looks totally overcast and 46 degrees.  I hope the weather where you are at is more to your liking.  I have a quote from Winston Churchill I thought you would enjoy.

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. Deutsch: Winston Churchill, 1940 bis 1945 sowie 1951 bis 1955 Premier des Vereinigten Königreichs und Literaturnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all the others.”

Winston Churchill was a man who God provided to lead Great Britain  in a very dark hour of her history.

As the writer of Psalm 65 knew God is the Great Provider – The one who all praise is due.

Psalm 65

For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.

1 Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.

2 O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.

4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.

He created us, knew us before we were formed in the womb.  When we were in rebellion to him, living in sin, he provided his Son Christ Jesus as a payment for our transgressions.  God provides rain and sun, fruitful land and crops.  We are so very blessed by our Creator; why am I complaining about a cloudy cool day?  Thank you God for all you have provided and continue to provide.  I am going to go to work making a joyful noise to the Lord!  Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work we go!

For those of you that haven’t heard that song by the Seven Dwarfs of Snow White in a while here’s your chance again.

Regular Joe

The Price of Living Holy

Good Morning Joes and Janes;

As I get ready to head out to the job this morning I would like to share a blog post from Roger Tharpe.  He has some great thoughts that ask if we are willing to pay the cost for what we believe.  Do we really say what we mean and mean what we say?  Do we have convictions or just preferences when it comes to what we believe as Christians?  Every day in countries around the world Christians pay dearly for accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.  They are put to death because they will not renounce their faith.  What price are we really willing to pay for living the Holy Life Christ has planned for us?

Have a great day and don’t forget that the Holy Spirit is with you always – even to the end of the age.  That means that you have him with you where ever you go today.

Regular Joe

THE PRICE OF LIVING HOLY

Posted on June 5, 2012 | 18 Comments

I find within my members a temptation to live outside the will of God and yet I also understand his way is better. I have come across the news of the Miss USA winner Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island and find her answering a transgender question to allow them to compete with originally born women, because we live in a free country and she is praised. Having learned from Carrie Prejean and her stand she knew within herself that answering this question any other way would have cost her the crown. I could use many other examples like the decay happening in the military. Talk to any officer in the military and the respect once given by the enlisted core and young airmen is less and less each year. On a positive note interracial relationships appear to be increasing and race relations a tad better, although I am sure some would argue nothing has changed. Be that as it may, my real reason for this blog post is to reveal the price of living holy. One obvious reason living holy is so difficult is because so many choose not to. They even curse and judge those who attempt to. There is the personal lust that war within each individual that drives them to particular sins. Jesus said, you must pick up your cross and follow him. This cross crucifies the flesh and does not always feel good. The fruit produced however is enjoyable to all: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, and gentleness to name a few.  The price of living holy is high because its value is also high.  Finish reading this great blog post by clicking here

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