REAR VIEW MIRRORS & WINDSHIELDS!

REAR VIEW MIRRORS & WINDSHIELDS! Both are necessary in driving a car and living a life. And where I live you had better be looking on each side of you as well because the other drivers just seem to want to take over your space. Someone has said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I think that is true of our lives in a lot of ways. So it would profit us to look in the rear view mirror of our lives and see how we lived in this current year so that we can avoid any faults and failures that occurred that it may help us to not repeat them in the New Year. But we should not spend so much time looking in the rear view mirror that we fail to look through our windshield of the

SOARING IN THE HEAVENS OR FALLING FROM THE SKIES?

SOARING IN THE HEAVENS OR FALLING FROM THE SKIES? There is a big difference as you know. We watch eagles and stand in amazement and we watch jets do amazing things and marvel. But when things go wrong like an eagle being shot or a jet having an explosion or engine failure the results are disastrous. And often as we reach the end of a year we often feel like a falling jet. This is often our own fault and of our own making. And sometimes it happens because of the euphoria of the season and then the letdown. Or sometimes it is the outcome of the year just past or the situation of our lives as the year ends. But God says that we can be soaring in the heavens in the new year instead of going down

WHERE DID IT GO?

WHERE DID IT GO? Another year has come and gone. Some would say, “Good riddance!” Others would say, “Best year of my life!” Some would yawn and say, “Same old stuff.” Regardless of what you would say the year is gone and the New Year is in front of us. We can’t go back and make this year better or worse. But we can help determine what the new year will look like. There will be things in the new year that will be beyond our control. We don’t always control the circumstances nor do we control other people and their actions. But we can control ourselves, our actions, and our planning for the future. The Apostle Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of

FAILURE NEED NOT BE FATAL!

FAILURE NEED NOT BE FATAL! This year is about to pass and a new year will be upon us with all the hope and great expectations we can envision. As Christians reviewing the soon to be gone year we know our sins and failures of this current year. We know how we have failed and sinned against ourselves, others and most of all against our God. For some they will be living with the results of these sins and failures for some time to come. And for some these failures will cause anguish of soul and despair. But God is a gracious God and He has assured us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9 NIV). What a fl

QUESTIONING GOD?

QUESTIONING GOD? Sometimes it must be hard for people who live in squalor and poverty to feel that God loves them. And it might be really hard for someone who is unsaved to understand why the only person they loved and who loved them just died. Where is the loving God in these situations? I have often walked where the poorest of people lived in shacks with no electricity, no running water, no indoor toilets, holes in the roofs of their homes, and no food for their table. But these same people had smiles on their faces, joy in their heart, songs in their soul, and praise for God on their lips. Why would this be? The answer is they knew the love of God for them in spite of outward circumstance

NOW WHAT?

NOW WHAT? The day after is here. Christmas day is over in America. The garbage can is full. The leftovers are in the refrigerator. The sales, refunds, exchanges, and crowds are in the stores. For many it is back to work as usual. Or maybe you have the rest of the week off. The relatives are still sleeping, maybe in every square inch of your house. What to do with all this stuff may enter your mind as a valid question. And if you have children, well that is a whole different situation and I wish you well. Many people will suffer an after Christmas let down. Some will be despondent over the bills they know are coming in the mail. And even Jesus and his parents in the not too distant future aft

MERRY CHRISTMAS! IT IS GIFT TIME!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! IT IS GIFT TIME! You will not receive a better gift today than what God has already purchased for you. It is yours. It is free. You only need to unwrap it and God will help you to do that. Usually a few weeks before Christmas gifts begin to arrive at my door and I receive explicit instructions that they are not to be opened until Christmas day because some do not belong to me as they are for other people. So we wait and we wait. Now these people probably don’t even know I have their gifts just waiting for them. And I am not sure what is in the packages. Nor am I sure any of those gifts are for me. I sure am glad God doesn’t treat us like that with His gifts and believe me th

REJOICE! GOD IS HERE!

REJOICE! GOD IS HERE! It had been nine months since the baby was conceived and the journey to Bethlehem was very difficult. And there was no room for them in the Inn so they were sleeping in the stable. Emperor Augustus had issued a decree concerning registration so Joseph and Mary had made the long trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem as required. And the time came for the baby to be born (Luke 2:1-6). Here was a pregnant young lady about to give birth just as God had promised and directed. But these were no ordinary parents and this was no ordinary baby. As the Lord had said through the prophet, “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which mea

UNDERDOGS!

UNDERDOGS! One of the things that stands out among our society is that it seems most people are for the “underdogs” whether that is in sports or just life in general. Philip Yancey in commenting on the biblical records of the birth of Christ said this, “Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.” Looking at my own life I am thankful that God is for the “underdog” because if He wasn’t there could certainly have been great times of discouragement during the course of my life. And Satan is great at using situations in life to discourage us as Christians but thankfully

WHY DID JESUS COME?

WHY DID JESUS COME? Sometimes when the Pastor shows up at a person’s door unexpectedly their immediate question is, “Why are you here?” Many people ask that same question concerning Jesus and many never figure out why Jesus came to planet earth. That’s a shame because the Apostle Paul answered that question quite clearly. Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” (1 Timothy 1:15 NIV). Even though the answer is clear many people still don’t get it. Often people don’t consider themselves sinners. Sometimes people just don’t understand exactly who Jesus is. Others think they are not lost so they don’t need to be found (saved). Others are just spiritually ignorant. And some

THE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS!

THE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS! The Wisemen brought gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus as a long awaited King! And out of that I suppose the tradition is continued in a way today but usually with us giving gifts to one another. But I think Vance Havner touched on the real meaning of gifts at Christmas when he said this, “Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.” This exchange of gifts should affect every Christian on a daily basis and not just once a year. When we stop to think about the miracle of Christmas it is almost beyond our comprehension and certainly c

A SAVIOR FOR ALL!

A SAVIOR FOR ALL: Dr. George Truett, a wonderful preacher of a by-gone era said, “Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.” The Gospel of John 3:16 NIV states it this way, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Christmas should be celebrated on every place on planet earth because every person on earth has reason to rejoice over God’s great gift to mankind. Nothing man is or does provides a reason for God to give His Son to us but only God’s love for us grants us th

DO YOU HAVE TIME TO HEAR?

DO YOU HAVE TIME TO HEAR? “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom hi

BE A CHRISTMAS CANDLE!

BE A CHRISTMAS CANDLE! When Jesus was born in Bethlehem there was a light in the heavens to guide the way to His manager. When the angels appeared to the shepherds “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” In speaking of the coming Messiah the Apostle John said, “the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world,” (John 1:9 NIV). Lights and candles it seems have always been a part of the Christmas celebration among the followers of Christ reminding us of the one who is truly the light of the world. After the baby of Bethlehem had grown up and began His public ministry among the people of Israel, on one occasion Jesus spoke of light, “When Jesus spoke again to the people,

ISN'T THIS THE CARPENTER'S SON?

ISN’T THIS THE CARPENTER’S SON? It appears people have always had a hard time believing the King of Glory could come from such humble circumstances even when the King of Glory stood before them and spoke with God’s wisdom. “Coming to His hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him,” (Matthew 13:54-57a NIV). The same kind of thing happens today. People fail

THE NEVER ENDING FOOD OF CHRISTMAS!

THE NEVER ENDING FOOD OF CHRISTMAS: Over the years Millie and I have gathered together with people to enjoy the special foods of Christmas. Often this was with the Church family, friends, family members, and sometimes just by ourselves. And when our family came together for Christmas dinner each of the adult ladies had their own special dish they prepared. What a great time together and what delicious food we enjoyed. And isn’t it great the way bakeries and stores turn out special food treats at Christmas time? And who can beat those Church ladies at baking and cooking? People are always looking for good things to eat. And it wasn’t any different in Jesus’ day. In one event in the life of Je

PEACE?

PEACE? The President of the United States made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the United States embassy to Jerusalem. Immediately Israel’s neighbors and the surrounding countries in the Middle East and indeed around the world have threatened violence against Israel and U.S. armed forces. Palestinian terrorist groups have threatened retaliation against Israel. Peace, peace, where is peace? There really hasn’t been much peace in this world in my lifetime. But 2000 years ago God gave renewed hope of peace to the existing world of that time and His promise of peace still holds. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us: And the government will res

MAJI, KINGS, AND A STAR!

Magi, Kings, and a Star! “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him,” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV). What would Christmas be like without the Wisemen (Magi)? They and their gifts for King Jesus are woven into the Christmas musicals, songs, plays and stories of our day in many ways. Much tradition and folklore has grown up around these Bethlehem visitors which has no biblical foundation. So who were these Wisemen (Magi)? It appears these men were not kings but rather men from a priestly class of people in Mesopot

DON'T KNOCK SMALL PLACES!

DON’T KNOCK SMALL PLACES: God uses small places and small things to produce big results. People often ridicule other people who come from small places as though big is good and small is insignificant. Some people on the East & West coasts of the U.S often refer to those living in the middle of the country in a derisive manner as if the people in the middle of the country are insignificant as compared to the people on the coasts. And they often think people in the middle are less educated and overly religious. I think people in the first century at the time of the birth of Christ might have felt the same way about Bethlehem. Probably only those Jews on top of their biblical studies would have

WHAT DID JESUS? ( SAY PART TWO)

WHAT DID JESUS SAY? (PART 2) Yesterday we were discussing Luke 4:18-19 and Jesus reading the scroll of the prophet in the synagogue in Nazareth (Isaiah 62:1-2). Jesus applied this text to Himself as Messiah and said four things that marked His public ministry in His time on earth. We discussed the first thing yesterday; He came to preach the good news to the poor, and today we look at the remaining things. The second thing this passage teaches us is that Jesus came to proclaim freedom for prisoners in literal physical prisons run by the government by setting them free spiritually. And he also came to free everyone who is bound in terrible circumstances of their own making or someone else’s

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