Thursday, December 25, 2008
But the Christmas story, as nice as it is, if God visited us, and did nothing to save us from the result of our sin, is useless. Jesus came to earth for two reasons: first, to show us how to live submitted to the Father's will and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and second to pay the penalty we incurred by our sin. The penalty of death was our punishment, yet He (Jesus) willingly paid the penalty for us.
Jesus lived a sinless life, with only human abilities, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in His life, He worked many supernatural miracles. He said His followers would be able to do the same. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles did also perform healings, and miracles.
Jesus said He came to die. He told Pilate that Pilate had no power over Him. He could have called down legions of angels, to rescue Him, but He chose to allow Himself to be put to death. This was the culmination of God's promise all the way back to the garden of Eden, God sacrificed two sheep so He could clothe Adam and Eve. This was a type of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He has paid the penalty for our sin.
Thank you, Lord Jesus
1. In the Spring, around the time that is traditionally, Passover or (today, Easter)
2. The time currently celebrated (Dec or Jan)
The Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm offers the perspectives, with links so you can investigate for yourself.
Personally, I do not think it matters much. God is timeless, and as long as we honor God in what we do, I do not think He cares which day we celebrate what... Paul's Epistle to the Romans reminds us of this philosophy, and I find it refreshing. If you have not read Romans recently, check it out. I recommend reading it straight thru, then breaking it down, and really reading and focusing on one chapter per day. This holds true to each book of the Bible.
May the Christ of Christmas, the God man, the Lord and Savior of the world, be born in your heart today, as He was long ago in Bethlehem...
Next post, Christmas, looking toward Good Friday...
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Most religions are all about drawing close to a god or gods. Christianity is about God drawing near to us. He repaired the destruction that we (as humans) did to our relationship with God from the very beginning. Jesus said that He came to lay down His life as a ransom for many. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, the penalty was death (Eternal separation from God). Physical death, as well as the separation from God's presence (Spiritual Death), was the result of their sin.
The Scriptures teach us that without the shedding of blood (death) there is no remission of sin. So Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, came down from heaven, became human, and lived a sinless life, voluntarily dying a sinner's death, even death on a cross to pay for our sins.
Jesus stated that when (He) the Son of Man was lifted up (crucified), He would draw all men unto Him.
Thank You Jesus...
Friday, December 05, 2008
Some people claim that the Bible does NOT teach such things, or if it does, it was a carefully fabricated story. But 400 - 800 years prior to Christ, his charactistics were predicted, including the EXACT way that He would die, even to words used at His crucifixion by others present. Some people challenge this, but I submit the following as evidence (or at least something to ponder if you are skeptical):
Psalms 22 written by King David approx 800 years prior to Christ, describes a man beaten, bloody, taunted and crucified, but no bones broken. Broken bones was very common during crucifixion by the Romans (not even done when this was written by David) but the Romans did not break Christ's bones. They usually broke the legs to make the person suffocate quicker after they had suffered into the late afternoon. Jesus gave up His spirit mid afternoon, and therefore, the Romans pierced His side to verify He was dead, or they would have broken His legs.
Isaiah 45:23 written approx 500 years prior to Jesus Christ, says "By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear."
Romans 14:11 states this applies to Jesus Christ, Lord of the living and the dead.
When Jesus Christ was challenged by the leaders of the Jewish church in the Temple, just prior to His betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion, He stated that, "...before Abraham was, I AM" Jesus clearly declared Himself to be God, using the title that God (I AM) used to describe Himself to Moses when He sent Moses into Egypt to bring the Israelites out of bondage. The Jewish leaders understood this, because they immediately yelled Blasphemy and tore their clothes.
So again, Who is this man called The Christ? He is God Incarnate, the creator of the universe, the Savior, our Redeemer, the baby born in the Stable, placed in the manger... the most humble child, who came to die for our sins.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Christianity is not a system of rules; Do's and Don'ts -- so much as it is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, which is lived out in every thought, decision, and action. We should be careful to not cause our brother to stumble, but the Bible, (God's Word) informs us that there are things that each of us must decide for ourselves whether or not they are acceptable. We should not let others have undue influence on what we believe (as long as it is not opposed to the Laws of God).
So, we see people making statements every day by putting bumper stickers on vehicles, or tattoos on their skin. The difference, I believe is that we should be VERY CAREFUL as to what we decide to put in the form of a tattoo, due to it's permanence, whereas, bumper stickers can always be removed simply with a little solvent, and elbow grease.
As Paul wrote in Romans 14:13-18 13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
I know some wonderful Christian people who have tattoos, and some who have bumper stickers... I personally have stickers and magnets on my truck, but no tattoos, but it does not offend me, when others choose to have them. The key question is, do either the tats, or stickers make a positive statement, or cause people to draw nearer to God, or their fellow man, or do they have the opposite effects??
These last questions are the basic premise of our responsibility in Christianity in all that we think, say or do... What effect does what we do, have on our relationships with God, and others?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
the philosophy of Christian living, there are much more complex issues at hand than to just condemn war outright. For example, World War II was fought to end the tyranny of both Germany and Japan who were vicious in their persecution and domination without mercy upon others. Similarly, the war in Iraq is all about liberating the people of Iraq from a vicious and evil tyrant that did not even hesitate to gas and murder 100,000+ of his own people!
So what? We are not Iraqi's some people would say! But that is what was said when Hitler was murdering Jews. Then Catholics (1/3 of the Poles murdered were Catholics), then Evangelicals, finally there was no one left except those too frightened to say anything, or his supporters. So anyway, getting back to the purpose of this...
Having served in Iraq (I am the one on the far left of the picture above) I can tell you that most of the people there DO feel liberated. They are happy to have a taste of freedom! So what do the Scriptures say about war... ?
The scriptures do not condemn a righteous war, in fact they demand it. The problem we face is deciding when war is righteous and when it is not. Fortunately, I do not have to make that decision, on my own. The leaders of this country decide when our soldiers go to war. The Bible also says to follow the law, and the orders of those in our leadership. Romans 13 covers this quite well. So again back to the subject at hand.
Is war opposed to Christianity? That depends on the purpose for it. Is it wrong for soldiers to participate in war? Never, as long as they follow the rules (and yes there are rules in war -- the Geneva convention) of land warfare. Soldiers must obey their leaders, as long as they are not given orders to do something illegal or immoral according to their faith, or the laws of land warfare.
Therefore, if you object to this (or any other) war, but say you want to support the troops, do not talk out of both sides of your mouth. A soldier does not feel support if you tell them, "I support you, but not what you are doing."
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving was originally celebrated by the British colonists those who landed on the continent of the Americas to thank God for safe passage. Then by the pilgrims and the indians (Native Americans as it is PC to say these days) as simple harvest festivals, but became formally a day of Thanks after a particular hard drought, and prayers brought rain, which resulted in a good harvest. Squanto, a Native American, had also taught the pilgrims how to catch eels and plant corn.
Now days, people just use it as an excuse to skip work. Those who have a deep and abiding faith in God, still recall that all we have comes from Him, and we truly give thanks for what we have and who He is.
I had a thanksgiving experience back in 1984 that is unparalleled.. I was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, and traveled with my chaplain (my boss), his family, my roommate, and some friends of my boss's wife to West Berlin from West Germany. Back then, travel thru East Germany was an interesting experience. We had to travel thru Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo as we left West Germany and entered West Berlin respectively. As we were driving thru East Germany, it was the middle of the night, and we were apparently driving thru the middle of nowhere as there were no lights anywhere, except an occasional light when we would pass an on/off ramp onto the Autobahn (Freeway) on which we were traveling. All was good, we arrived safely, had a great few days, enjoying West Berlin, and traveling thru Checkpoint Charlie which allowed us to visit East Berlin, where we had a thanksgiving dinner of sorts in an "International Restaurant" that was barely passable as a decent meal. At the end of the weekend, we again went thru East Germany, passing Checkpoit Bravo in th early afternoon, and driving the same Autobahn that we had come in on. Back then, if you traveled from West Germany to West Berlin, there was ONLY ONE approved route, and you had to have "Flag Orders" so named because they were printed on paper with the US Flag preprinted. The Flag Orders had to be letter perfect, with the information on them matching exactly the Identification Card information that accompanied them. So anyway, as we traveled this same autobahn that was totally dark in the middle of the night, we saw bildings, houses, factories, and just basically continuous city all the way as we traveled back to the West (and freedom). The friends of my boss's wife, had relatives that had recently escaped the East German life into the freedom of the west, so I enquired about this anomaly.
So I found out that the East Germans had a curfew imposed by the Russians (East Germany was still occupied (and oppressed)) at the time. It was told to me that the curfew extended to light emitting from the home after certain hours, and that the Stasi (East German Secret Police) would very harshly enforce this curfew. Thus total darkness in the middle of the night and a Blaupunkt factory, lumber mills, houses, etc. plainly visible in the daylight, and early evening.
The bottom line, we are grateful to God, for our freedom, His gifts of life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness.
Mostly, tho' I am grateful that the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, stepped down to earth, became human, in the person of Jesus Christ, and redeemed ME from my sins 2000 years ago. He did this not because I deserve anything other than death, but because of His own Holiness, that demands that the atonement for sin is death. Because we cannot pay these demands ourselves, He paid them for us.
John 3:16-17 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
Thank You Jesus!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Life is like a quilt project. It looks like a mess to all but the master quilter. He has all the pieces already laid out in His mind. As He works, the scraps begin to make sense, and form patterns to the onlooker, but still, until it is complete, there is only patterns and colors, but once the Master has finished, we find a thing of beauty.
Jeff Steinberg ( a Christian musician from the 1980's) had a song called Masterpiece in Progress, which illustrated this concept perfectly. Visit his website at http://www.tinygiant.com/
Anyway, right now, my life is a mess. I am working a full time job, as well as a part time job. I am in a financial crisis. I have stubborn sin that keeps rearing its ugly head. I have been a Christian all my life, yet 46 years in, I still struggle with sin. Why, O Lord, cannot I win over the sin in my life? I think it is so I will be more compassionate toward others in their sins. I also think it is to remind me I need to rely on God's Grace to get me there, not get there on my own. No matter how good I am, I will never be good enough to get into heaven. God loves me, and paid the price for my sin back 2000 years ago. Jesus died for my sin. !! He loves me that much.
God, help me to resist the devil, and to sin no more, but keep me living for You, and compassionate to Your other children, that I may see them from Your perspective.