Monday, December 26, 2011

Aftermath of Christmas

WOW!!!! We had an amazing Chirstmas this year! We spent a lot of time with good family. There was more food than I could eat, but I tried anyway. There were presents galore, and the laughter and squeals of happy children was a constant reverberation everywhere we went. This truly was a wonderful holiday. But the question that I have is, what's next? One thing that I have noticed throughout the years, is that the day after Christmas mainly consists of children trying to play with all of their gifts. They even are adament that they bring their toys and gifts with them everywhere they go. And they seem to forget about all of the other things that they had before Christmas. This brought me to an interesting thought. What happened after Christ's birth?

Matthew 2:1-12

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’” Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way."

Christ was worshiped. Wise men from the east knew who this child was. I believe that they got their information from the prophet Daniel. While in captivity under the Babylonians, he rose to be a high ranking official as an interpreter of dreams. He probably told the magi hundreds of years before what to look for. The gifts brought were represenative of Christ's life, death, and Royalty. They recognized who He was and traveled a long way to worship.

Luke 2:20

"The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them."

So what should we be doing now? We should rejoice in His coming. We should offer praise and honor to Him for coming. Because His coming meant that we would have a way to obtain forgiveness for our sins, and gain eternal life in heaven with Him. We should also spread the Gospel. We know that He came. We know that He died. We should be sharing this wonderful gift with all that we come into contact with.

Now, I am not one for making new years resolutions. But, being it is directly after Christmas. I feel that I need to do just as the wise men and shephards did this new year. I am going to strive harder to give glory and praise to God for all that He has done and will do for me, and share this wonderful gift that has been given to me.

Thanks for reading, and God bless you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Manger to the Cross

Last night our church put on our traditional Christmas play. We based our play on the book, "The Three Trees." In this story we see three trees all with a different wish. One wants to be turned into a beautiful box to carry the most valuable treasures in the world. The second one wants to be made into a mighty sailing vessel to carry kings across the seas. The third wants to be left on the mountain and point to God, so when people see him, they will be reminded of God. As the story goes, one is cut down and turned into a manger. He is overcome with disappointment, until one night when baby Jesus is placed inside of it. He knew that he was holding the greatest treasure ever known. The second tree is turned into a small fishing boat. Just as disappointed as the first one was until it found out that Jesus was on board and calmed the seas. He knew that he was carrying the King of Kings. The third tree was pieced together and had to endure a jeering crowd. Then they nailed a man to him. He felt ugly and ashamed. However, He knew after that day that every time that someone looked at him, they would remember the sacrifice on the cross.

My part was interesting. I got to play the part of a disciple in one scene and a Roman soldier in another scene. I know you are probably saying that would be kind of hard. But is was interesting working out the logistics of it. But the part I enjoyed the most was being the Roman soldier. I have talked with several people who said they could not play that part. And I understand that. But it meant a lot to me to put Christ on the cross. It really brought it home to me that it is because of my sin that He had to die on that cross. It was a good reminder to me of what His sacrifice was to me. A chance for eternal life.

Now some people have asked me why we did the whole story? Well, is that not the message of Christmas? It is not just about celebrating His birth. But, the fulfillment of a promise to us as told in the Old Testament. He had to be born before He could die, or the resurrection would mean nothing. He had to become a man, just like me and you.

John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He came to pay a debt that He did not owe, and that we could never pay. He did this so we could have eternal life with Him. That is the true meaning of Christmas. We can see this in our favorite Christmas Carols. If you look at "Away in a Manger", "Joy to the World", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and so on, you will see that they all start with verses about His birth. Then they talk about His life, and ultimately Him as King and Savior of this world. So this year, as we remember His birth, let us also celebrate His life, death, and resurrection as well.

Thanks for reading, God Bless, and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


One of the things about Christmas the most is some of the family traditions that we have. These are special times and activities centered around this time of year that, for me, adds a bit of excitement to our celebration. For example, I love going Christmas caroling every year with my church. We visit rest homes and the homes of some of the elderly that cannot get out much and sing our favorite Christmas tunes. I also enjoy visiting with all of our relatives for gifts, fellowship, and of course THE FOOD!!!!!!!!!! But, probably my favorite tradition is the private Christmas morning with my little family. My wife and I tell our children the true Christmas story, and the real reason for gifts to our children, and then open presents. We want to instill in them the importance of Christ's birth, more so than the commercialism that is going on around us. It seems that society does not understand the true meaning of Christmas, or argue that we should not celebrate it, because it is not really Christ's birthday.

This brings up a good question. Was Christ born on December 25th? Probably not. The Bible does not give an exact day. It was more likely that He was born in the spring or summer. Luke chapter 2 tells us that the shepherds were out watching their sheep in the fields overnight. I do not believe they would practice this in the winter time. Many people believe that we should not celebrate His birth on December 25th because of that. This brings to mind 2 passages in the Bible.

Romans 14:4-6
"Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God."

Colossians 2:16-17
"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."

I am of a mind to celebrate the birth of Christ this time of year. And the reason we do is based on a tradition began by the early church. But what is the problem with it? Nothing. The scripture above says not to judge someone on a day they see as a holy day, or to celebrate a festival. That is between him and God, and it matters so little in the scheme of things. We should spend more time spreading the news of Christ rather than arguing over whether to recognize December 25th or not. I believe having a day set aside, whether it be by tradition or whatever else, makes it easier for me to focus on being thankful for His birth. Because His birth was the fulfillment of a promise. And that promise is that we have a sacrifice great enough to cover our sins so that we can be forgiven and become sons of God.

Galatians 3:26
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

Thanks for reading, God Bless you all, and Merry Christmas!

I would like to give you an opportunity to share some of your favorite family traditions around this time of year. Please comment below to share. If you do not have a Google ID or anything of that nature, you can post under anonymous and type in your name at the end of your comment. Thanks, and I look forward to reading!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Defending Christ's Birthday

Going in fashion with my last few posts, I am going to stay in the Christmas spirit of things. This time of year has always been, and always will be my favorite time of year. Mainly because we set aside time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Now there are those who try to argue that we should not do this. They say that Christ really was not born this time of year, or that He is really not the Messiah. So I am going to devote this page to give some proof that He fulfilled all of what the Old Testament said about how the Messiah would be born. Now many Christians can tell you that He fulfilled those prophecies, but cannot tell exactly which verses in the old testament contain them. So here are a few that I have found, and the scripture in the new testament where they are fulfilled.

Prophecy Concerning Jesus' Birth
1)Virgin Birth

Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

In this verse the prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah will be born of a virgin, and His name shall be called Immanuel which means "God with us." We see the prophecy fulfilled around 700 years later, when Mary, who was a virgin, gave birth to Jesus.

Matthew 1:18 - "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit."

Matthew 1:25 - "but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus."

2)Messiah born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2 - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Micah prophesied around the same time as Isaiah. In this prophecy he named a specific city to which the Messiah would be born. This rules out anyone saying that the Messiah would come from a region or country. The prophecy was fulfilled later in Bethlehem when Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:4-7 - "Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

Matthew 2:1-2 - "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

3)The Messiah would be from the Tribe of Judah

Genesis 49:10 - "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples."

In this set of verses, Jacob is blessing his 12 sons. Here we see a blessing with a promise to Judah. The promise was that many of his descendents would be rulers, including a supreme one that all people would become obedient to. The bible teaches us that the Christ's Kingdom has no end, and that everyone would recognize Him as Lord.

Psalm 45:6 - "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom."

Romans 14:11-12 - "For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God."

Now Jesus was born around 2000 years after the death of Jacob. However, Jesus' lineage is traced back to Judah in Luke 3:23-34 and Matthew 1:1-16. I will not write these out because of their length but feel free to look it up and check to make sure that I am telling the truth.

4)The Messiah would be a descendant of King David
Jeremiah 23:5 - "Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land."

Now Jeremiah lived in the 600-500BC range. He affirmed in this prophecy that Jesus would be a descendant of King David. We can trace this lineage through Luke 3:23-35 and Matthew 1:1-16. Just as we did tracing Him back to Judah. You can find King David's name in that list of family members.

I hope this has been a helpful way to actually see the prophecy recorded, and where it was fulfilled. Now I am sure there are many other prophecies about this, but I just picked out the main ones that drive it home for me.

Thanks for reading, God Bless you all this week, and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Peace at Christmas

I really, really love this time of year. I love the special get-togethers, parties, caroling, and Christmas plays. I enjoy seeing the laughter and joy in children. But most of all, I enjoy the celebration of the birth of my Savior. I enjoy the time to reflect on what His birth meant for my salvation. And I do receive a certain peace this time of year, realizing that God is always in control. He set His perfect plan in motion, so that I might be saved. That is the best part of Christmas to me.

But this brings me to the point of peace. I think of how much peace that I have this time of year, and I see the exact opposite in the world. They are not at peace. They spend so much time stressing and fighting over gifts. About how to decorate their houses. Many of them do not even know the true meaning of this time of year. They have no peace. This makes me think of the verses about peace given to the shepherds by the angels. Doesn't it say peace on earth and goodwill to men?

Luke 2:8-14
"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.""

WOW! The last verse says peace among men with whom He is pleased. A lot of people tend to leave that part out of their greetings and advertizements. They do not want to offend anyone. But the verse makes a lot of sense when you read the whole thing. The reason that there are so many people around us this time of year with no peace, is because they do not have Jesus. There is nothing we can do on this earth that would please God. No amount of works, morality, or religious practice means anything to Him unless one has received His Son. That is what the verse means. Peace is given to those that would one day accept His Son as their Savior. That is the peace of Christmas. Like I said in my post about Black Friday, we need to get out there and share what this time of year is really about, so that peace in which we have through Christ Jesus may be spread.

Thanks for reading, God Bless You all, and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Encounter

I recently had an opportunity to read a book entitled "The Encounter" by Stephen Arterburn. This is a story of dealing with anger, abandonment, and ultimately forgiveness. It was an easy read (I read it in one day), and the way the plot developed kept it interesting.

The book begins with the main character making a trip to his hometown in Alaska. He is on a search for his biological mother who abandoned him at age four. He has had numerous problems with his anger that have made the news and tabloids many times, being that he is the owner of a Fortune 500 company. He was involved in many bad relationships and had the tendency to become violent with his employees. He even came to the point of attempting suicide. After that incident, one of his friend's invited him to church, where he met the pastor. The pastor counseled him to help him with his issues, and suggested that he find his true mother and make peace with her. While on his search, he begins to unveil much about his birth mother. There was a lot of evidence gathered that his mother really did love him, and did not want to be apart from him. The manner in which he meets his true mother is not as he expected, and the outcome tragic. Yet in the end, he does forgive and make peace with his mother, and makes plans to spend time with her to get to know her better.

My Thoughts on the Book:
I really enjoyed the message of this book on forgiveness. It teaches us that we should forgive those who do us wrong. The main character was so angry that he did not want to forgive her, but eventually learned the value of grace and forgiveness. It reminds me a lot of a set of verses in Luke.

Luke 6:27-36
"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

It is easy to forgive and treat kindly the people we know and love. But it is so much harder to do that than to someone who has hurt us. Even the lost understand the meaning of how to treat someone who loves you. But we as Christians, are set apart for the Gospel. We are in the world, but we have been called out by the one that is greater than the world, which is Christ Jesus. This means that we are going to be different, and this is one of the ways that we stand out. And it provides us with a great witness of the love of God.

The only thing about this book that I did not like, is that there is no indication of the main character getting saved anywhere. It does say that he went to a church, and that he learned to sing his mothers favorite hymn, yet no profession of salvation. I personally think that would have been a better ending.

About the author:
Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio program heard on over 180 radio stations nationwide. Steve is also the founder of the Women of Faith conferences attended by over 3,000,000 women. As a best-selling author, Steve has written over 60 books, including the best selling Every Man’s series and his most recent book, "Reframe Your Life." He has been nominated for numerous writing awards and won three Gold Medallion awards for writing excellence. Steve has degrees from Baylor University and The University of North Texas as well as having obtained two honorary doctorate degrees.

This book was provided me free from the publisher by blog book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.