Thursday, December 25, 2008

From Christmas to the Cross

Christmas is great, fun, and pleasant... It is truly amazing, the God of the universe, set aside his Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence, and became a helpless baby, born of a human woman, impregnated miraculously by the Holy Spirit (she was still a virgin). He relied upon her for his food, and care.

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

Happy Birthday, Jesus

Today, December 25th is the day that we in Christendom celebrate the birth of Jesus... But, is it the correct date? Obviously, no one knows for sure, but there are two main theories.

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 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

Christianity, Religion or Relationship

One of the major differences between Christianity and all other religions is that it is more about a relationship with God, than a system of do's and don'ts. Jesus was a Jew, and obeyed the Law, but got on the case of the leaders of the temple, synagogues, and the teachers of the law in His day, because they were more concerned about the law, than about helping people to worship, and ultimately find God. Jesus did unorthodox things: He hung out with sinners; tax collectors, prostitutes, allowed lepers to come near Him, He allowed unclean people to touch Him, etc.

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

Christ Jesus, Who is He?

The Bible proclaims Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, the Promised One, Emmanuel (God with us), The Savior, The Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father (God), Mighty God, The Alpha and Omega (the first and the last), the Author and Finisher of our faith, The Word of God, God Almighty, etc...

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

Bumper Stickers and Tattoos

This morning (on the Morning Show) on Air1 radio, they were talking about tattoos, and whether or not Christians should have them, and what is acceptable...

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

Advent (What is it, Why do we celebrate it?)

Advent is celebrated from the Sunday after Thanksgiving, until Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the coming of the savior. Traditionally, a wreath with 4 (sometimes 5) candles are lit as the weeks progress. The candles are 3 Purple, 1 Pink, and 1 White. Each Sunday an additonal candle is lit, starting with the purple farthest from the pink, and going around the wreath. The 3rd Sunday, the pink candle is lit to symbolize hope, as well as the joy of the expectant arrival of the King of Glory. The White candle is usually placed in the center, and represents Christ. It is not lit until Either Christmas Eve after dark, or on Christmas day. Prayers or readings usually accompany the lighting of the candles, and hymns are sometimes sung as well. The symbolism of the purple (sometimes blue nowadays) is to represent the waiting, expectation, penance for sins, and the royalty of the expected coming King.