A Season to Change

Isaiah 11.pngA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with the righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give with justice he will give decision for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.        Isaiah 11:1-5                          I will baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, who sandals, I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirt.                                              Matthew 3:11

Once again, we have entered into the season of advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus and hoping that soon very soon that the promise of peace on earth would become true, but can we change our own lives if not the world. As we stop and look into the manager of a tiny little baby perhaps we can say to ourselves what does this all mean. We can pick up a newspaper, watch the television to take notice and to say where is this peace on earth? So much violence in our world and at times so much hate, where is this love that people seems to be talking about especially that we seem to hear it more during this season. As we begin to prepared for this season in many ways such as baking with our children or grandchildren, going shopping in a crowded mall where at times people can be a little crazy, okay you may be thinking they can be nuts at times, the beautiful lights we all see, and the music that is playing on our car radio, and even the movies on television which reminds all of us this season. I personally love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree in my home, which reminds me of the season. Are all the different traditions that we have in our own families does this tell others and also us that we are ready to make a change in our own lives? Are we showing others of what we do or say that we are followers of Jesus, we are his disciples. Even thro this is a beautiful season there are so many people who are hurting this time of year and need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus. Christmas is a profoundly beautiful season, but for some it also highlights the losses, griefs, and heartbreaks in their lives. In Isaiah 11, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a ruler who would be a descendant of Jesse. Jesse was the father of ancient Israel’s great King David. This descendant would rule with true justice and true faith, and he would establish true peace. This peace would be so great that even wild animals would be able to lie down next to one another and even a child will lead them. This descendant would also become a standard for people throughout the world. And, this descendant would be sought by people throughout the world. As Isaiah talks about this future King, he is telling us that he will be able to look into the hearts of people and judge based on the truth. The poor and oppressed will find a champion in him. This ruler to come will stand for justice and will impose punishment of evildoers. This King will not be clothed in royal purple or anything so fancy, his garments will be righteousness and faithfulness. As we heard from the gospel of Matthew we come to learn that John the Baptize was the one to prepared the way of the coming of the Lord. In most households when someone says, “Company’s coming! Everyone works and clean up the entire house in preparation of their guest. The gospel of Matthew has John proclaiming, “Messiah is coming! But do not go and clean up your house. Instead, mend your heart! Clear your lives of any obstacle that would hinder his coming.” Housework requires the right tools to use. The type of tools John has in mind are repentance and baptism. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means change of mind, to change one’s life completely. Repentance is like driving down the wrong road, then turning around and going in the opposite direction. Baptism is the symbol that one has repented and been cleansed of sin. This was important to John’s ministry that he became known as John the Baptizer. How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, return the purpose of Christmas to the focus of Jesus? How do we prepare for his birth and for the second coming, it is not by having parties, decorating our houses, and giving gifts wrapped in fancy paper, but instead by giving ourselves anew over to the way of Christ? I suppose giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ begins with God’s gift of grace to us. It is something we feel inside. Some call it a moment of conversion. Others call it baptism by the Holy Spirit. John Wesley the founder of Methodist called it assurance. Maybe during the season of Advent, we could call it the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts. But whatever we call it, we will know when it happens to us, because it does cause us to confess our sins and turn ourselves away, over and over, from the trappings of this world so that we can reorient ourselves back toward Christ.

Grace and Peace yo You My Friends

 

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Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

Matthew 1.pngThis is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”) When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lo0rd had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And He gave him the name Jesus.                                                           Matthew 1:18-25) NIV

I wanted to take a moment to consider the faithfulness of Joseph. We hear a lot about Mary, and rightly so. She was, after all, the mother of Jesus, the only person constant in the life of Jesus from the cradle to the grave. But what do we know about Joseph? In all the New Testament he never utters a word. Yet, he’s one of the principle figures in the Christmas drama. And so, let’s take just a moment to give Joseph his due. Tradition has it that Joseph was a simple man of an honorable trade: A carpenter from Nazareth. Sometimes you see Sunday school pictures showing him in a wood shop making furniture. But “carpenter” in Joseph’s day referred to a wide range of trades. Joseph could have just as easily worked with metal or stone, as with wood. The regional capital, Sepphoris, was under construction during this time, and it was within walking distance of Nazareth. It’s possible that Joseph was one of the stone masons there.
In any case, craftsmen worked with strong shoulders and callused hands. They were educated by apprenticeship. Their place was respectable but not on one of the higher rungs of the social ladder. Remember the flap in the synagogue in Nazareth when Jesus preached his first sermon? The elders raised their eyebrows and asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon?” (Mark 6:3).Jesus’ father was neither a rabbi nor a scribe nor one of the civic leaders. He had but two qualifications to play a part in the Christmas drama – he was a descendent of David and, for whatever reason, he was God’s choice. In this regard, I like to think that Joseph is someone with whom we can all identify – a common man who dared to be obedient to God’s will for his life.
His place in the Christmas story, of course, is that of Mary’s husband. According to Matthew, Joseph and Mary were “betrothed,” but not yet married. William Barclay explains that there were three steps in a Jewish marriage: The engagement, which was often arranged by the parents through a matchmaker when the boy and girl were children; the betrothal, which was a formal ratification of the marriage-to-be, usually done a year before the couple was married; and the wedding itself, which lasted a whole week, at which time the marriage was consummated. During the betrothal, the couple was legally bound to each other so that, if the man died before the actual wedding took place, the woman was considered to be a widow. They were actually referred to as husband and wife, though they refrained from having sexual relations. And then, in one further act of faithfulness and obedience to God, Joseph publicly named the child. Matthew says simply, “he named him Jesus.” In so doing, he claimed the child as his own and gave him the benefit of a noble ancestry, making him a descendent of the house of David. Because of the faithfulness of Joseph, Jesus would have a father and Joseph would have a place in the drama of God’s salvation.

Grace and Peace to you My Friends

 

 

 

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1b.pngAt that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting. the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for hoy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.                                     Luke 1:39:56

When one thinks of the women of the ancient world, our first emotional response is usually pity. This would even be true in the Jewish world of those days when our Lord added humanity to His deity and manifested Himself to men. There was so much that women could not do, or at least were not allowed to do. We might suspect that the limitations of biblical revelation, compounded by those of the culture, would have made womanhood a curse. The men assumed the leadership roles, especially in spiritual matters. The women seemed only fit for fixing meals and bearing children. Perhaps a few women, “blessed” by financial prosperity and social standing, may have been able to enjoy some of the benefits of the male world. Luke is well-known for his high regard for women and for the prominence which he gives them in his two accounts. We find the first instance of his highlighting of women in our text in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, where the spotlight is directed toward two godly women. The two women are Elizabeth, the soon-to-be mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother-to-be of Messiah, were truly great and godly women. Both were humble women of no social or economic standing. Elizabeth was the wife of an obscure priest. Both she and Zacharias were country people, who lived in an unnamed village in the hill country of Judah. The bore the added social stigma of having no children. No doubt in the minds of some they were being punished by God for some sin. Mary, too, was a humble peasant girl. She did not have any social standing due to her parentage or class, nor even the dignity of Elizabeth and Zacharias age. Yet the worship of both of these women is such that they are models for all true disciples of our Lord. By reading these words in the Gospel of Luke I believe that as long as anyone including a woman has a willing heart God will use them to glorified his kingdom.

Grace and Peace to You My Friend

 

John The Baptist Birth Foretold

Luke 1.pngIn the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s  division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not ne afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of their parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.               Luke 1:5-20

In Biblical times it was a disappointed for a woman not to have her own children and for others to look down upon Elizabeth because she was barred. However, little did they know of or anyone else know the plan that was in place by God. The child that was to be born to Elizabeth and Zechariah called John was to be the one chosen to prepared God’s people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even through they had no children they never doubt that somehow or someway that God would bless them, and that God was the one true God, “The Great I Am” that was told by Moses, and by other prophets. Can you even try to imagine the joy that was in Elizabeth’s heart when she came to realize that she was with child even pass the child bearing years. Jesus’ own words to his disciples later in his life would be, “With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)  Because regardless of your situation in your life right now at this very moment, all things are possible with God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Who’s Your Dad?

Hebrews 10.pngThe Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Hebrews 10:32-37  Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. you suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to perseveres so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, in just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.

I know as a Christian woman things never seems easy for us and at times we may say is it all worth it in the end! The way others judge us make fun of our live style not knowing at all who is our daddy. I am not saying the man who gave you life along with your mom and of course with the help of God, I am asking you who is your daddy? Why is it then that the ones of this world seem to have less of heartaches at times than people who is of the Christian faith? Let me tell you this, that you and I are in great company with the believers who went before us, their were the apostles, who all died for their beliefs with serving Christ, and even other believers of today, and even Jesus himself was persecuted because he love us all and he was a man without sin.  People around the world go to great lengths to make sure more will hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who is this man call the Christ let me tell you, He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. He is and always will be, the Great I Am.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, The Light of the World, He is the Gate to keep true harm away. He is the Good Shepherd, The Resurrection and the Life, He is the Way and the Truth and the Life, Jesus is the True Vine. He is the Creator of us all, He is Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit entwine into one. Jesus took our pain on the cross, and bore our suffering. Pierced for our iniquities, and by his stripes, and I am saying the whipping he took upon his back that broke his flesh for all of mankind. He was led like a lamb to be slaughter and he remind silent by oppression and judgement he was taken away. You need to understand this our world can’t understand him, armies can’t defeat him and death could not hold him. Even in the world of today the schools can’t explain to our children who this “Great I Am” is. The leaders of today, they can try to ignore him but somehow it will creep in once again who this Christ truly is. No matter what anyone could try to even do, you could never and I mean NEVER erase the name of Jesus Christ, for everyone the world thinks could destroy their will be at least one hundred more to continue to tell others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As for me I will continue to preach the words of Christ for all to hear: Never will he leave me and Never will he forsake me, when I am depress and feeling lonely his is my comforter, when my pain overwhelms me at times he will help carry my burdens, and he will walk by myside in my journey of life. His love never fails and no sins that I commit or any of my tomorrows will he stop loving me, when I call on His name, their is never a busy signal and he always answer me. Jesus is Yahweh, I Am that I Am, Jehovah, Immanuel, Jesus the Christ, Supreme Being, Creator, Elohim, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, El Roi, the One who sees You, Jehovah Nissi, the One Who Stands Guard Over You, Jehovah Shalom: The One Who Gives you Peace. All consuming fire: The God who is jealous for you. El Elyon: The One Who is the God Most High:, He is my Abba, Father! my daddy. There is nothing that can ever separate me from his love not death, nor life, either angles, nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creations will be able to separate me from the love I have in my Dad! “The Great I Am” He was and is to come into all of creations, and my love for him will never cease in this life or the life I will have in all of eternity when I see him face to face.

So who is Your Dad?

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Being A Witness for Christ

Acts 1.jpgThe book of Acts continues the history of Jesus’ followers in the period after Jesus’ ascension. Peter and Paul soon emerged as leaders of the rapidly growing church, which flourished and spread despite, and sometimes because of persecution of Jewish leaders and Roman authorities. These followers of Jesus at this time didn’t look like a leader did they, they never had an high school education and never went to college, which in fact never exist at that time. However, in spite of their short comings they seem to have God still use each of them to do mighty work for his kingdom. If we take a moment to think about it where were these same disciples on the night Jesus was be trade. When Jesus was in the garden to pray to God for strength they were asleep, after he was arrested they all seem to disappeared. Peter that night be trade his friend, his master not just once but three times, and when he was crucified where did most of these men go to, where they at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying. After dying on the cross his body was laid in the tomb and for awhile the disciples all were in hiding. But six weeks later their lives all change in the upper room on Pentecost, as the Holy Spirt came upon all of Jesus disciples and other followers as well, their lives would never be the same. The same thing goes for us, once we accepted Jesus into our own lives we begin to change, and we too will never be the same again. As Max Lucado tells us in his book “Out Live Your Life”

You hillbillies will be my witness, You uneducated and simple folk will be my witness, You who once called me crazy, who shouted at me in the boat doubted me in the Upper Room.  You temperamental, parochial net casters and tax collectors, You will be my witness. You will spearhead a movement that will explode like a just-opened fire hydrant of Jerusalem and spill into the ends of the earth, into the streets of Paris, the districts of Rome, and the ports of Athens, Istanbul, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires. You will be a part of something so mighty, controversial, and head spinning that two millennia from now a middle-age redheaded author riding in the exit row of a flight from Boston to Dallas will type this question on his laptop?

Does Jesus still do it?

Does he use simple folks like you and me to change the world? We suffer from such ordinariness and my answer besides what is written in this book by Max Lucado, is yes Jesus still does use ordinary simply folks like us to share the good news of the Gospel. As long as you and I have the willing heart to serve Christ he will use us, to tell other about the “Great I Am” To tell all that their is nothing that you or I could ever do so horrible that is love cannot penetrate it.  Just open up to the book of Romans 8:38-39 to read the following words, by Paul the Apostle: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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. When we come to know this kind of love we want to shout it from the mountain top and pass it on to all and I mean all who will listen, and my friend some will and some won’t listen to what you need to share with them, but that is okay we simply plant the seed of God’s love into their hearts and we allow God to do what God does best allow it to take root and grow. The words to a hymn that I have personally sung many times by Dan Schutte: Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night, I will go, Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart. Beautiful words, God has been calling in the night, are you willing to witness to others what he has done and how much he loves you and all of his children, I am willing to go as he leads me down the road. Will you?

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

PENTECOST SUNDAY

Penetcost 2.pngWhen the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in on place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.                        (Acts 2:1-4)

As Christians we celebrate the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came in the upper room where all the eleven disciples were at that time as well as other believers.  It was on holy ground that the Spirit fell some fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There were what seem to be tongues of fire and a sound like a rushing wind. The Holy Spirit had come, and wind and fire were metaphors that only weakly described the reality they experienced.  After Jesus was crucified the disciples all hid, why one reason is they could hardly believe that the man whom they all loved and come to know who he was had just died, second I am sure they were afraid that they could be crucified next. However Jesus was not just an ordinary man, he was and is the Son of the Living God, and this was all of God’s plan he would become the bridge that would bring man and God together because of sin that has separated us from God. Once the Holy Spirit came on these believers they began to speak bold for Christ, they were not afraid of what may or may not happen. They knew others must heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus had prepared these disciples as well as other believers for such as a time like this, and he also told them as well as us before hand.  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.                                 (John 15:26-27 NIV)                          God prepares all of his children to do his work here on earth, as long as we have a willing heart to serve God can use us all.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CHURCH

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends