“God’s Christmas Gift”

Jesus is the Greatest Gift

Advent Series #5 Luke & Revelation  

Many echo the sentiment that they would believe if only they could see. They want facts before their faith. Yet Jesus said to Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” [John 20:29] Thus, with those thoughts in mind, the Apostle John and Dr. Luke reveal God’s inspired word “so that you may know for certain” that which was spoken by the prophets is true and fulfilled just as God said.  We recall from Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it.” [Rev 1:3]

God’s words are true and will be fulfilled just as He said it regardless of our belief. But so that we may believe with certainty that He who is true and faithful and His “promises are “Yes” in him;….[ 2Co 1:20] He has chosen to give us an account of His plan that we may say with Thomas: “My Lord and my God.” [Jn 20:29]

And what is it that we are to believe? “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” [John 20:31] May we all know this truth this Christmas season; Jesus Christ is our greatest gift.   

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“Are you enrolled in God’s Ph.D. program?”

Which course are you on

Advent Series #3 No matter what year you are, know this fact: God has chosen you from eternity past to be His instrument. He chose you in eternity past and aims to not only change your pathway but also to enroll you in the “Ph.D. –Proclaiming Heaven Degree” program.” Your courses are titled: 

Selected by the Father Eph 1:4-6                                         

Saved by the Son Eph 1:7-11

Sealed by the Spirit Eph 1:12-14

You must participate in all three courses to become His workman and tell the world about His saving grace.  Just as all programs begin at the beginning, so too, God has enrolled you in His program. Your teachers are the Word/Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so you may know Him and be known by Him.  Along the way, you may encounter the works of the devil to test your faith. It is then that you can be assured that the Son walks with you and talks with you just as He has done for centuries for others. He reveals that you are His chosen instrument to carry His Name to the farthest reaches of the earth with the gospel message.

The Advent season reminds us of Christ, your tutor until you walk across that stage and receive your diploma. Don’t give up! You have just begun!  Which course are you enrolled in today?

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The Gospel Message

Jesus is the Light

Advent Series #2: 1John 1-2

The Apostle John authored five books in the NT. John, along with his brother James fished the Sea of Galilee as part of the family business. Yet, when Christ said, “follow me,” he left it all behind. He never looked back but became the disciple whom Jesus loved and was the only one not martyred for his faith.

John began his first book with the words: “in the beginning,” and his full purpose was to proclaim the truth about Christ and His life as well as challenge us to follow Him fully. John’s message was that Jesus was the Word with God, life eternal, and He is light.

As the angels rejoiced, so should we because Jesus was and is faithful and righteous, forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He is our advocate with the Father. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. 

Have you met Him? Without him, Advent has no meaning.  Come to him and know of him that you may have eternal life. 

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“The Gift of Compassion.”

Show compassion to another today

Advent Series #2 1John 3 to 5 Compassion is the trait of sharing and caring for others in their time of need. The Apostle John lived his last years in Ephesus, but his heart is seen for the prisoners he ate, slept, and worked with on the Isle of Patmos. He never mentions that time other than in Revelation, but we can see his heart in this letter.

First, he recalls some have lost loved ones to death, and he mourns with them. He reminds them that if they were believers, they have entered eternity coming face to face with Christ. Don Wyrtzen wrote a hymn that shares this sentiment:

“But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand and finding it God’s! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!”

The Apostle John wants us to keep the gospel message alive, and we do it as we “love other Christians.” After years of brutality as a prisoner himself, John could have been bitter. Instead, he comes alongside us to ask: how can you say that the love of God resides in you if you lack compassion for those in need? 

It may be Advent, but the message is the same all year round: Christ is the gift God has given to us, and we are to share that gift with others.  

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Let’s Celebrate Advent!

Advent

Advent Season #1

When the month of March arrives, we say it came in like a lamb and will go out like a lion or the reverse. This year, due to the pandemic, we might use that same phrase. How will 2020 leave, and how will 2021 arrive? For me, I am ready for a new month and then a new year! In the meantime, as December arrives, I want to ask, are you and I ready to receive the Christ child? Or are we putting him on a shelf?

Many are facing a bleak Christmas and New Year because of illness or loss of a livelihood. Paul is a good example for us because he continued to boast of his relationship with God, even in hard circumstances. Not even a thorn in the flesh, which he asked the Lord to remove, could dampen his spirit. He said I am content with weakness, insults, trouble, and persecution. Also, Paul told the Corinthians, “I boast about you even in my suffering.”  Can we say the same? 

Advent is a perfect time to stop and reflect on God’s goodness in the midst of a hard time and give God praise. I have put together some Advent devotionals and will share them here each day to help you. It is hoped that with each day, you will join me in giving God praise!

See you soon as we celebrate Advent together!

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Lonely Best Friend—Try This?

You are in our heart

2Cor 7 to 9  Our world is awash in the pandemic, leaving us without that face to face time with our closest companions. The government tells us to wear masks and quarantine; use zoom or email, but that special face to face time is limited or non-existent. So loneliness sets in and especially so for our elderly who are widows or widowers. Paul’s best friends were Titus and Timothy, and when he was separated from these two, Paul felt the loneliness our elderly and singles are facing today. Perhaps you can relate. Reading between the lines we see that Paul began by encouraging others with overflowing joy, even in the midst of separation. He notes that he is troubled, but God is his encourager and even more so when Titus arrived to cheer him on.  Who is your cheerleader?

In separation we can turn on the TV, go to our email accounts, but it is the power of the Word that encourages the downhearted. Titus’ arrival with news of the Corinthians who had repented brought great joy to him. So it is that just a visit from others to us brings us great joy and lightens the heart.  

 But what if you can’t meet face to face? Do as the phone company said, “Reach out and touch someone” with a phone call, and then take today to read through this chapter underlining his words of encouragement.

What is your cure for loneliness?  

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Heroes of the Faith

who is your hero

2Cor 5 Some long for riches and fame, which pass away as a cloud moves across the sky. Some long for a richer and more fulfilled life. Some like Paul, Polycarp, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer longed to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. All three faced martyrdom, and their lives speak to us from the grave of the truths found in God’s Word.  Each had a life journey, and each found peace when the day came for their entrance into glory. What makes heroes of the faith?

Like Paul they chose to “walk by faith, not by sight..” [2Cor 5:7] making it “our ambition to please Christ.” [2Cor 5:9 author phrasing] All of these men saw and followed the example of the risen Christ. The author of Hebrews says, “the world was not worthy of them.” [Heb 11:38]They, along with the Hall of the faithful of Hebrews 11, are our spiritual heroes.

Polycarp, when faced with imminent death, replied Christ, “has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” Being led to the gallows, Bonhoeffer’s last words were, “This is the end–for me, [but] the beginning of life.”

Our purpose now as then is to be an ambassador for Christ who became “sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” [2Cor 5:21]

Are we prepared as they were?

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“The God of All Comfort”

God is the God of all comfort

2Cor 1 Teddy Bears are given to foster children and those facing surgery as a way of comforting them when the future is an unknown. God has given us others to comfort us as we face times of difficulty. Paul noted that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Do you trust that He can comfort you in all of your troubles? Do you see your troubles as God’s open door for you to minister to others? Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to know that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” [2Cor 1:5]

 Are you confident and able to trust that God is involved in your circumstances? Paul’s testimony was that he was steadfast and immovable in whatever circumstance he found himself in because his hope was set on God alone.

Lastly, Paul reminded the Corinthians to pray without ceasing so that many people may give thanks to God. John Bunyan wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

What adversity are you facing today, and how may we pray for you in this time?  

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Love and Puzzles

Love is a gift

1Cor 13 Puzzles are challenging and time-consuming and there is nothing more frustrating than working on one only to note that one piece is missing. Our lives are like a puzzle and if we are missing the key piece of love we are like a cymbal that is off-key.

The word Paul uses is “AGAPE” and it means love without changing, self-giving without expecting something in return, even if rejected. It has little to do with emotion but much to do with self-denial for the sake of another. It is love in action and it is love that is virtuous.

Want to know what true love is; look at Christ. Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, and Jesus was not nor will ever be envious. Jesus was humble; he was the epitome of humility (Phil 2). Love is what the world needs so they may see Christ.

Paul ends this chapter with these words: And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love for it never falls short. It never fails. You may have many gifts but without that great gift of the Holy Spirit’s Fruit, (Gal 5:22) you are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Today mirror Christ to the world! Ask Jesus to give you that quality so that you exhibit Him!

Is your puzzle missing the piece shaped as love?

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Living Righteously in an Unrighteous World

The BIBLE that's the book for me

1Cor 10 “God’s Instructional Manual.”

There is a children’s song that goes like this:

The B-I-B-L-E. yes that’s the book for me, the B-I-B-L-E

Days come and days go, and in those times, we are faced with decisions that are rewarded in blessings or consequences. We would be wise to learn from the past. If we don’t heed what is written for our instruction, we will repeat the same mistakes. To help each one of us, here are three principles which we should heed and be true to:

  1. God is faithful. He will not let us be tempted or tried beyond what we can bear. But, we must seek his way to escape out of that temptation. The Israelites faced a test and failed because they had a way of escape but failed to seek God and His plan.
  2. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable, nor do all things edify. Ask: Will what I eat or drink glorify God? If not, walk away from it.
  3. Temptations will come, not if they come, they will certainly come. Do not put the Lord to the test. Rather, when tempted, listen to the Holy Spirit who has been given to convict and instruct us.

May we be wise and discerning as we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit’s counsel. Start with the B-I-B-L-E. That’s God’s instructional manual!

The B-I-B-L-E, yeah that’s the book for me
I stand alone on the word of God
The B-I-B-L-E

Here’s the link to that children’s song https://tinyurl.com/y3g47gqg

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