Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Thoughts

As a person gets up in years, Christmas seems to take on a different meaning as I set back to reminisce my dreams and aspirations of my youth. Some of my dreams are fading because of my physical ability to do them. I tend to look back at my past dreams and how they have been affected by various trials and difficulties that have happened along the way. The dreams of a large family with lots of children and grandchildren gives way to the fact that the  children have grown and become parts of other families with their own dreams.

As I ponder the dreams of my past and my family’s present, I wonder if I have given them the right instructions for reaching their dreams. Have I laid the foundation that they build on? Will they trust God as their Savior? Do they know that God as given them the gift of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? Do they know there is a place in Heaven for all of God’s children? Will they teach these values to their children and grandchildren?

In the Book of Genesis, God lays out the foundation of His dreams and aspirations. In six days, God created all the essential parts of His dream. He even made mankind in God’s own image, and it was good. He also made a special place where mankind could enjoy the beauty of his creation. God was able to go to Adam and Eve and have a great evening of fellowship. God wanted that relationship and he still wants a relationship with all his children, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

God had given Adam and Eve one important instruction: Do not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, or you will die. It was not long before that was changed. Eve was tempted and ate of the forbidden tree. In the cool of the day God was looking for Adam and eve, but they were hiding. God had to banish them from the Garden because they disobeyed Him.

It wasn’t long until Cain killed his brother Abel and people continue to disobey God. God sent a flood to wipe out the sinfulness of mankind; He confused their language; He made them walk in the wilderness for years, He made them become slaves to foreigners, He gave them a Kings because they wanted one. And so it goes throughout the Bible. But God still wanted that relationship with man.

In fact, God wanted that relationship so badly that He sent his only Son to die for the sins of man, God wanted to restore eternal life to those who love him. It is a Christmas time that we celebrate the beginning of this dream; the birth of His Son, Jesus. God’s primary reason for sending his only son was to forgive sins and restore eternal life to mankind.

However, the religious leaders were so upset with God that they did everything they could do to get Jesus out of the picture. Finally on Good Friday they made good on their threats. They nail Jesus to a cross. What they did not understand was that Jesus had become the perfect sacrifice. It was the only sacrifice that would take the past, present, and future sins of man to their eternal destination. Man could now be perfect in God’s eyes.

The second purpose for Jesus death took place Easter morning. God reached down and raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus became victorious over death.

Things are different this time around. This time God is letting man choose who he will follow. God wants everyone to accept the gift of salvation, but he is not going to force it on mankind. In fact, for those people who accept the gift of salvation and are willing to follow Christ will be given a home in heaven. Revelation 21 tells about this heaven:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5(NIV)

The new heaven and the new earth are better than the current heaven and earth. There is no separation between the new heaven and the new earth. God dwelling place will be with the people. We will be able to have eternal, uninterrupted fellowship with God. God’ ultimate dream will become reality. Sin and sinful behavior will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, never to be released on earth again. There will be unity at last. We will be restored to the perfect condition in which God made us originally and sin will never separate use from God again.

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

What do you enjoy about Christmas?

For children, Christmas is frequently a time when they enjoy receiving gifts. The gifts are frequently toys or games that they have been wanting. The gifts come from parents, grandparents, teachers, leaders of the various activities in which they are involved.

As we get older, we enjoy the gifts from a special someone. They could be our best friends, the person we are dating at the time, or some other person that has a special meaning to our life.

As adults, we enjoy the gifts from our children or family members. We especially enjoy the company of our families and friends. We enjoy eating together, watching sport events of Christmas programs where our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren are participating.

As we grow older, the things that we enjoy about Christmas seem to move from material things to relationships that we develop over the years.

God wants us to enjoy a relationship with Him.

In the Old Testament when man sinned, there was a price to pay for those sins. The price was the shedding of blood of an innocent animal. People were required to go to the high priest to make these sacrifices.

The animals that were sacrificed were animals that did not have any blemishes. In other words, they needed to be “perfect” animals or in some cases doves. In most cases, they were sheep or lambs. The sacrifices were made to please God. People were required to obey the commandments and laws that God gave them. There salvation was based on what they did or did not do.

Making a sacrifice was something they were supposed to do when they had sinned against God or the fellow man. However, one day that changed. God loved us so much that he wanted us to be his children. He wanted to have a relationship with his children. He wanted the love of his children. He was going to send a sacrifice that would be for everybody. He was not going to force this relationship on people but rather have them love him willfully.

God had a plan. He was going to send his son Jesus down to earth to show His love for us. Jesus would be born as a baby and experience life on earth. He was going to show people how to love. Jesus taught us about his father and what the Father’s will was for his children. Jesus taught us who God is.

Jesus lived a perfect life while on earth. He did not live to have a high self-esteem; he did not live to please other people; he did not live to condemn the world. Jesus lived to do the will of his Father. Everything Jesus did was the will of his Father and not his own will.

After a short life on this earth, Jesus laid down his life for our sins. He became the perfect sacrifice. However, unlike the sacrifices made in the Old Testament, Jesus was raised to life again. JESUS WAS VICTORIOUS OVER DEATH!

Because Jesus was victorious over death, we who believe in him will be victorious over death also. We will be able to live eternally with our Father in Heaven! In eternity, we will no longer experience sickness, disappointment, separation, etc. We will have an eternal relationship with God the Father. We will be coheirs with Jesus. Everything that the Father has will be at our disposal. What a wonderful gift God gave us that first Christmas morning!

There is only one way to receive the gift of eternal life with God the Father. In John 14:6, Jesus said that He was the “way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

You cannot receive the gift of eternal life just by knowing who God is, by belonging to a certain church or religious cult, by living a good life; you can only receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.

God does not want us to be selfish and keep this gift for ourselves; rather He wants us to share this unending gift with everyone we meet. God wants our lives to be a demonstration of who He is and not who we are.

This Christmas remember and enjoy the real reason Jesus came that Christmas night. Because Jesus came on Christmas and became the perfect sacrifice for our sin, we can live in peace even when the world seems to be falling apart and people fear what the future holds.

Jesus gave his followers these promises:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4(NIV)

Later in that same chapter, Jesus said:

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27(NIV)

Over 65 Years ago, I accepted the gift of salvation made possible because Jesus was born, lived, and paid the price for my sin. Over those years, I have experienced disappointments, losses, persecution, loneliness, financial loss, times of physical difficulty, yes, and even times of war. However, through these times, I have felt the peace of God that he gives to those who believe in Him.

This Christmas season accepts God’s gift of salvation. Experience the peace that only God can give.

Merry Christmas

NOTE: all scripture in this blog were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com December 13, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Most of us in the United States have just completed our Christmas celebrating and are now getting back to our normal routine of life.

I personally think it is a great idea to celebrate Christmas just before the new year starts. Because Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived on earth, and was victorious over death, many things have changed.  In Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the ‘mystery’. The mystery is fulfilled because of Jesus.

You ask, “What things have changed?”  Well, here are a few:

1.  Because Jesus came to earth and ministered, everyone becomes eligible for eternal life with God. Because of God’s grace, salvation is now available to everyone, not just to the Jews. We are undeserving of eternal life, but because of God’s love for us, He made it possible for us gentiles to have salvation.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

2. When I sin, I don’t have to go to the priest to have my sin forgiven. In the Old Testament, this could only take place once a year. If I committed a sin the day after the priest had sacrificed for my previous sin, I would have to wait another year with the guilt of my sin. Now Christ has become our priest and is available instantly. When I confess my sin, I am forgiven! I don’t have to wait for the right time of year to seek forgiveness. In addition, I do not have to make a blood sacrifice because God has already made that sacrifice for me.

Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:10(NIV)

3.  Also, in the Old Testament times, people had to work for their salvation. God gave the people laws that they had to observe, feasts that they were to have, they had to observe special days, they even had to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. But now we do not have to earn our salvation. God has given us salvation through faith and not because of our works.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)

4.  Because of Jesus ministry on earth, I have been given the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord was only given to certain people. And it could even be taken away from those people if God so chose.

When Samuel anointed David to be king, David received the Spirit of the Lord.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.     1 Samuel 16:13(NIV)

A few verse later, we see that God had taken the Spirit of the Lord away from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. God spoke to Samuel the prophet and told him that He regretted making Saul king.

I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 1 Samuel 16:10 (NIV)

This was difficult for Samuel to accept. In fact he cried out to the Lord all that night.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells about what happened when God took the Holy Spirit away from Saul. (Please note: the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit from the Lord are not the same)

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23(NIV)

When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His crucifixion, he told them that His Father would give them an advocate, a comforter that would continue to minister to them just as Jesus ministered to them.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:23-27(NIV)

What more could we ask for?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman s 8:32-39(NIV)

Happy New Year!