Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Christmas "YOU"

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

A wish for a Very Merry Christmas to YOU.

At the end of this Advent season, it's important to hear those words YOU.
You have journeyed through Advent with me.
You have read because something in your soul wanted more from the Christmas season than the traditional holiday fare.
You have a heart that beats with a desire to know Christ, and to be known by Him.

It is to YOU that this day comes...born to US, YOU, in the city of David is a Savior, Christ the Lord.
Who were these original "YOU" people.
Shepherds...
Commoners...
Every day workers...
Night Shift workers...
Seemingly nobodies.

Sometimes that's what each of us feels like.
We're nobodies in a mass of a few billion people.
Are we known?  Do we matter?

It is to YOU that this day comes with a Savior.
We are not insignificant nobodies.
We matter to God and he proved it by sending his Son into the world for us.

Merry …

O Holy Night

It’s Christmas Eve today and with it, Advent is nearly over.  I feel a sense of satisfaction in my soul, but also a sadness that the season comes to a close and waits again for another 11 months to begin anew.  I love the Advent season…I love what it does to me…I love what it does in me.
Luke 2:1-7  1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

I’ve been s…

Re-Gifts That Must Be Shared

Luke 2:8-20 
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  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.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15  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."
16  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, an…

Simple Folk, Simple Faith

I love the story of the Shepherds in Luke 2...

Luke 2:8-20 
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  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.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15  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."
16  So t…

The Journey of Eternity

Luke 2:4-7
4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7  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.


Think about this, the plans of God are timeless, therefore eternal.  We live in time.  We order our lives around time.
Today, four years ago, my wife and I were surprised by the birth of three Grandchildren, all on this same day - Dec. 18.
Twins came to our Lindsay & Pete in England - Raewyn and Theo.
Our Chris and Sarah surprise us with a middle of the night phone call that Leo was born.
It was not a surprise that the three were coming, it was a surprise that all three came on the same day.

Time..…

The House of Bread

Luke 2:1-4 1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  

Most of us know the famous poem:  "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house."
This passage is the before Christmas time.  It's interesting how Luke makes things so clear in terms of history and geography.  
Names:  Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, Joseph, David
Geography:  Syria, Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem...

On the night before Christmas there was quiet movements of people towards the place God was going to choose to enter the world of humanity as a child.

Bethlehem - the House of Bread!  That's what the name means, "the house of bread&…

A Cosmic Christmas

Most of what we read concerning the Christmas story is recorded in Old Testament Prophecy and New Testament's Matthew and Luke.  Beyond that there's little references to the birth of Jesus in scripture - Except, the narrative in Revelation.

This is a view of the first Advent written from the viewpoint of the heavenlies, and it isn't soft and sweet with angelic chorus', etc...it's full of imagery that is tense like a suspense thriller.  This is a reading of the Christmas story you may have never read before...but it's worth our reading because it reminds us that God sending His Son into the world was not just a sweet thing to do, but was a declaration of war on Satan's domain.

Revelation 12:1-17 
1  And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
2  She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
3  And another sign appeared in heaven…

Surprised By Hope

I am a Gentile...I am that because simply put, I'm not a Jewish person.  The story of Advent comes about through God's covenant with Israel, which is the story of the Old Testament.  God's purpose for Israel was for His people to be a Kingdom of Priests - people who demonstrated the purposes of God to the nations - to the Gentiles.
That did not happen.
Israel became a nation, but not one that reached out to the nations.  Why?  There are far too many reasons to be written here.  But, the important thing to realize is that God had purposed the nation to be priests to the Gentile world.
That helps us understand the first Advent.  Jesus was born to grow up in a Jewish family, to call alongside of himself Jewish people, and be arrested and tried by Jewish rulers.  Turned over to a Gentile ruler, Jesus is crucified, dies, and is buried...but resurrected and exalted to God's right hand.
The Church begins Jewish, but soon discovers God's purposes haven't changed - to …

The first Advent came with Messy Problems

Matthew 1:18-21 
18  This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
"  

This year for our Advent teachings at New Life (where I serve as Pastor), I wanted to look at Advent differently than I had before.  I was struck by the "under-side" of Advent as I came to call it.  I've looked at Advent over the years from various angles and loved…

The Gift of the Overflowing Heart

2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 

2 Corinthians 8:5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 

I read my daughter's facebook account and both smiled and felt someone saddened.  She went into a store to purchase something and found the clerk rude, impatient, and unwilling to help...as she said, "Uugghhh".  She left and made her own inner statement - not going back...and then re-thought and realized that one clerk, one day, one unknown "why", is not enough to make her quit on a place.  Good for her.  I wrote her back to say, I remember when my wife Linda worked at a bank - now some 20 years ago - and she told me one year how she hated it when Christmas came.  The two to three weeks leading up to Christmas was filled with grumpy, impatient, and angry for having to take money out of a bank account to pay for presents that they didn't want to buy for people they did…

Waiting in Joy by Faith

Luke 1:26-38  26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and th…

God's Kiss

Philippians 2:5-75  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.


Luke 1:26-28 26  In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
28  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!


Yesterday I taught out of Matthew 1 and tried to put a human face to the Christmas story.  Scripture tells us the story of Christ's first Advent from the perspective of both the human and the divine.  My problem is that for so many years all I did was focus on the divine aspect - which is fine and important to do.  Yet, God comes to humans and there is in this a human response.

Over and over in the Christmas…

God of the Possible

It's one of my favorite Advent passages to "muse" on.  I have read this passage for years and each time I'm captivated in my imagination, thoughts and faith as I read the Angel Gabriel's visit to an aged priest named Zechariah.

Luke 1:5-20 5  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
7  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8  Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
9  according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10  And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
11  And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on…

Giving and Receiving

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 

Tis the season for gift giving.  We give and receive from all sorts of places.  A week ago a letter arrive in the post which contained two artful and scribbled drawings from two four year old grandchildren.  Along with the two we received in California from our two grandchildren there, the four have made their way to the refrigerator - the art gallery of all homes.

These gifts won't replace a Picasso or a Renoir, but they will stay proudly displayed because they came from little hearts as gifts of love.

Advent reminds us that it is in the little things that gifts are given.

I read recently of some lavish gifts that are for sale to be given...thousands of dollars, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I won't judge the person who would give gifts like that because I wouldn't know their…

Christmas Gifts - What Jesus Wants

I remember as a child growing up in Fox Lake, Wis.,  the highlight of each Autumn was the arrival of the J.C. Penney's Christmas catalog.   Now, in deference to Sears, they also had a great catalog.
 Still it was the Penney's catalog that provided hours and hours of dreaming, wishing, pointing things out to parents, arguing with my brother why this gun and holster was better than the one on the other side of the page!

In the Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story", Ralphie dreams of a Red Ryder BB gun.  Ralphie's problem was every boys problem - how to convince your parents that the dream gift will be good...i.e., "you'll shoot your eyes out" - which I actually remember hearing from my Mom.  I know my sisters looked through the catalogs too; but it was the hours of work that my brother and I poured over each page in order to prioritize a  list of "I want this..."  What appeared as a need on page 45 got bumped to last place by page 355.  It wa…

Advent, Day 3, What Does Jesus Say About The Christmas Story?

There are all sorts of ways to approach the Christmas story.  It is a story set in scripture with a cast of Characters that allows each to share its own perspective.
There is the story from Zechariah
And, a similar account from his wife Elizabeth
There is Mary and her story, and
Joseph has his perspective.
There is the story from the shepherds on the hillside,
And the story written by the Innkeeper.
There is the story from the Magi as they saw the star, and
Even a story from the vile King Herod.
There is the story from the aged Simeon and Anna,
And the story from Jesus' cousin, John - called the Baptist.

Stories are written from the perspective of the writer.  They are sometimes written with first-hand knowledge, and sometimes they are written from afar, after interviewing and reading others.  Luke says, as he begins his gospel, that he wrote...

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 
2  just as those who from …

Advent - the second day - The Vulnerable God

Philippians 2:1-8 1  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
2  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Advent means "Coming", "Arrival", and it has to do with the anticipation that God is going to "show up"... he's going t…

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Psalm 116:12-19 12  What shall I render to the LORDfor all his benefits to me?
13  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
14  I will pay my vows to the LORDin the presence of all his people.
15  Precious in the sight of the LORDis the death of his saints.
16  O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.You have loosed my bonds.
17  I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18  I will pay my vows to the LORDin the presence of all his people,
19  in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.Praise the LORD!

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons.
It's a celebration of Family.
It's a celebration without much commercialism - ok, except Food - lots of food!
It's a celebration of a Grace Act - to be Thankful.

Yet the Psalmist reminds us that it is at times a "sacrifice".

One of the young couples in our church this last weekend lost her father to a h…