Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE

I saw Heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. Revelation 19:11

 

Dogs are called man’s best friend—a  faithful companion. Dogs are always there for you, waiting by the door for you to get home and tagging along wherever you’ll let them. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood you are in, your dog will always love you and always be glad to see you.

Photo10132005

What about you? Do you think of yourself as faithful? Are you someone people can depend on to be there for them? Can you be counted on as a friend, co-worker or church member to be available when needed and do what you say you’ll do?

No matter how faithful we try to be there are times when every human will let others down. That’s part of our human, sinful nature. We are not perfect and will fail at one time or another.

There is only One who is faithful without fail. Jesus is the only human who never sinned and will never go back on His word. Hebrews 3:2 tells us that Jesus was faithful to the One who sent Him just as Moses was faithful to all of God’s house. Throughout the gospels we see Jesus’ faithfulness as He taught His disciples and gave them the promised gift of the Holy Spirit after He returned to Heaven. Jesus always did what He promised and was  true to His word.

Do you know the faithfulness of Jesus in your life? When you look at the baby in the manger of nativity scenes do you see more than a tradition? Do you see your Savior and King?

Jesus can be depended on. If you haven’t put your trust in Him there’s no time like today. If you experience His faithfulness in your life share it with others so they can experience the Savior who is faithful and true and will always follow through on the promises of His word.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”  John 6:35

 

Bread is one of the simplest forms of food and in its basic form is found all around the world. Whether it’s a light, yeasty delicacy or in its unleavened form of a pita or tortilla, mixing flour with a few other ingredients gives us bread. For some it is an addition to a table overflowing with good food. For others it is the only thing they have to sustain them.

cupcakes

When the Israelites escaped from their slavery in Egypt they had to go through deserts to get to the land God promised them. Deserts are pretty barren, and no food was to be found. God heard the cries of His children for food and they awoke one morning to manna—a bread-like substance that had fallen from the sky. This manna was not just a bland floury substance but a sweetened wafer that could be made into other food to give the people strength and maintain their health. It was this manna that sustained them on their journey.

In today’s scripture from John 6 the people are asking Jesus what is required to do the work God requires. Jesus tells them that they must believe in the one God has sent. He goes on to remind them that it was not Moses who sent the bread from Heaven but God who gives true bread.

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.      John 6:33

When the people heard this they asked that this is the bread they be given from now on.

Jesus goes on to tell them that He is the bread of life, come down from Heaven not to do His own will but the will of God who sent Him. (v 38)

Jesus was sent to sustain our spirits just as bread sustains our bodies. If we believe God sent Jesus to complete us we will have all we need to do the work God requires. Without this bread of life our spirits will starve.

What an incredible gift sent from Heaven on that first Christmas. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to be the Bread of life—with Him we will never hunger for the things of this earth but be filled and satisfied with His love.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE

The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.    Psalm 118:22

What’s the first rule when constructing a building you want to stand for many years? Make sure you have a good foundation! Without sure footing the building can be shaky and its future uncertain.

peonies-with-barn.jpg

The cornerstone is the first stone laid in a foundation. It is the stone that all the other stones are set in reference to. If the cornerstone isn’t set properly or on a firm foundation none of the other stones laid will be secure either.

Scripture speaks of Jesus as the Cornerstone. He is the first one at God’s creation of the world and all of creation was set in reference to Him.

As we see in Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, from the first news of His birth there were those who opposed Jesus and wanted to kill Him. Earthly rulers were threatened by Him and the news that Jesus was born King of the Jews. Throughout His ministry as Jesus taught God’s truth, healed the sick and even brought life back to people who had died many did not believe Jesus was sent from God and was the One who they should follow to have eternal life. They rejected Him, even though He is the one who sits at the right hand of God.

A strong foundation with a well-set cornerstone is important with every building yet those who build in locations prone to earthquakes or on sandy or shifting ground are critically aware. The foundations in those areas need to be dug deeper and reinforced more strongly than those with solid ground beneath.

What a great comparison this is to our lives. As we go from day to day in a world shaken by terrorism and random acts of violence combined with hurricanes, earthquakes and deadly wildfires we must be keenly aware of where the foundation of our lives are being set. If we put our trust and hope in the circumstances around us or on human capabilities we will always see our world crumble at some point. People let us down and circumstances are uncertain. If we put our hope and trust in Jesus we will always find a firm foundation under our feet.

 

In my life Jesus is always the one constant. I can depend that He will remain the same no matter my circumstances. I have hope in a world full or uncertainty because I know I can depend on the words of Jesus in scripture that He will never leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) I have seen this proven in my life over and over as my earth is shaken.

 

I pray the same for you today. As we draw closer to Christmas may each of us draw closer to Jesus, the Christ and make Him the cornerstone of our lives!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Jesus Is Our Advocate

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the father in our defense—Jesus Christ the righteous One.                 1 John 2:1

When things are tough it’s always better to have someone by your side. Whether we are trying to get a job or promotion, get the best medical care or ask for leniency when we’ve done wrong it makes a difference to have someone to advocate for us and help others see the best in us.

just_hugging_stick_figure_decal

Have you ever experienced this? Perhaps as a child you and your siblings stood together in front of a parent or other adult to explain behavior or ask for forgiveness and a lesser punishment. Maybe one of you stood in the place of another, willing to take the punishment for him or her.

As humans we are sinful by nature and our sin keeps us from having fellowship with God. He is perfect and cannot allow any sinfulness into Heaven. But God loves His children so much He wanted to make a way for us to enter Heaven in spite of our sin. God had to have a perfect substitution who could stand in our place.

That substitution was Jesus.

Because Jesus was the substitution for our sin He is also our advocate. When we sin and then ask forgiveness Jesus stands between us and our Holy Father so that God sees the perfect substitution of Jesus instead of our sin.

Because Jesus is our Advocate we are also justified—declared or made right in the sight of God. Some define being justified this way—it’s just as if we’d never sinned.

When we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas we are celebrating so much more than the nativity scene we recreate each year. We are celebrating our substitute—our Advocate, knowing that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord He will stand in for us, allowing us to some day spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

This is good news indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE MIGHTY GOD

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

                                                                  Isaiah 9:6

 

Looking at Jesus, hours old in the manger, I’m not sure the shepherd thought to themselves, “look how mighty he is. This child will defeat our enemies and rule the world!” But that’s exactly what Jesus came to do. He had the ability to rule the world with strength and the power of the Heavenly armies. That might was within Him, but that wasn’t God’s plan for Jesus.

nativity in ball

The Mighty God who was born in a stable in Bethlehem had the power to conquer sin and death. He had the power to be perfect, even deflecting the temptations of Satan when He could have called on the angels to save Him. It was a quiet strength that showed itself in love and acceptance. It was the strength to do what was right when everyone around Him chose what was wrong.

One of the most awesome parts of the Christmas story to me is that the same might that was born in Jesus is available to you and me!

Ephesians 6:10 tells us, “finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The verses that follow tell us to put on the armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the evil one.

This armor is the protection born into Jesus that night in the manger.

As you go through your day and through the Christmas season think about tapping into the power provided by our Mighty God. Put on the belt of truth, to be ready to tell the truth of Jesus’ birth; fit your feet with the gospel of peace. Let the peace fill your heart and spread it to those around you.

You can do it through the power provided by the Mighty One!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE SON OF MAN

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

                                                                                                               Luke 19:10

Jesus is the Son of God but when God sent Him to earth to save the human race and bring us back into fellowship with God Jesus also had to become fully man. To be born as an infant Jesus needed an earthy father—a caretaker.

Dad & Girls at Falls2

Think of the emotions Joseph must have experienced as the news of Mary’s pregnancy reached him. I imagine there was shock and confusion as he wondered and wrestled with the news. Part of him probably wondered if he was wrong about Mary. Perhaps she wasn’t the girl he though he knew. Then the angel came and confirmed she was even more special than Joseph thought. She was to be the mother of the Son of God, and God wanted Joseph to be the child’s earthly father. Jesus would be his son too, and Joseph was given the honor of naming Him.

I sometimes think Joseph is pushed aside in the story of Christ’s birth. We focus so much on His mother Mary but without Joseph the story could have been much different. Because Joseph was a descendant of David they had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was born according to the prophecies. If Joseph had been unwilling to serve God as Jesus’ father it sure would have complicated things! But God knew Joseph’s heart and knew he was the right man for the job. It might not have always felt to Joseph that he was but he was obedient to follow God’s plan for his life and his family.

God knows your heart too and has a task that is specially suited just for you. Just as Joseph couldn’t have fully comprehended being the earthly father to God’s Son and most likely felt inadequate for the job you may not feel adequate for your task(s). Thankfully just as God was with Joseph, guiding him to ways to keep his family safe and finding the right place to raise his Son God will guide each of us—you too!

Our place in God’s plan may not be noteworthy by earthly standards but each is an important part of God’s plan, just as Joseph was.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE RADIANCE OF GOD’S GLORY

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.  Hebrews 1:3

 Often the artistic representations of Jesus’ birth show Jesus with a halo—radiant in the manger. Whether or not that visual is accurate scripture confirms that indeed Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s glory. We know that people were drawn to Jesus during His time on earth even though we don’t know whether or not there was a physical trait that drew them but the Spirit within Jesus drew the lost and hurting.

The same radiance is available to each of us through the Holy Spirit. Is the Spirit within you one that draws others closer to the Lord, or one that pushes them away? Perhaps neither.

moon over lake1

Our radiance—our attitudes can change those of others, just as the twinkling lights and excited faces of children at Christmas can brighten the toughest of days.

When others see you, do they see the radiance of Christ and an invitation to come near to the Savior whose birth we celebrate?

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE KING OF KINGS

The Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.

                                                                                                            Revelation 17:14b

 There was something about that star in the sky. It was different from all the others. It was more brilliant and awe-inspiring. The wise men who looked to the skies for signs remembered prophecies from long ago indicating the Messiah, a Savior for God’s people would have his arrival announced with the appearance of a special star and they were convinced this was it.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in 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 in the east and have come to worship Him.        Matthew 2:1-2

wise men

These men weren’t Jews. They knew of Jewish history and wanted to be a part of this remarkable arrival of a King. Scripture says they traveled a very long distance to worship a king announced by a star in the sky. They were led by a alight placed in the sky by God to point the world to His Son. The journey of the wise men reinforces that Jesus came for all mankind, not only for the Jewish people.

Are we a light to others this Christmas season? Does the light of our live for Jesus point them to the King who we worship and whose birth we celebrate this season?

Or does our light get snuffed out by the hustle and bustle of this time of year?

Do we, like those magi, set aside out usual routines to worship our King in a more poignant way as Christmas approaches? Our scripture today tells us that in the end of the world Jesus, the King of Kings will overcome evil and will reign forever. With Him will be His faithful followers whom he has called an chosen. That’s you and me, and anyone who worships Jesus as their Lord and King.

As the light of the star led the wise men to baby Jesus may the light of our love for Him and those around us bring others to worship Jesus, the King of Kings!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

John 1:29

I wonder what God’s people expected when they thought about the promised Messiah. Did they expect trumpets and fanfare as a King descended from above with a sword to eliminate all evil in the world? Certainly they must have expected He would be born to someone of prominence—to a king or a prophet.

We looked at Jesus as Servant. He did not come with earthly power but with an attitude of humility. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and proclaimed He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world his words must have held so much wonder at the same time so much promise.

Throughout the Old Testament when people sinned god required blood to be shed as a payment for that sin. Most often a lamb was sacrificed—killed in place of the one who had sinned and deserved death, or separation from God. The lamb that was chosen wasn’t random. It needed to be perfect, without defect or blemish, no lameness. It had to be a spotless, perfect lam. Of course the lamb had done nothing to deserve death. Sheep are some of the most docile and meek animals who follow their shepherd and go where they are led. When a lamb was sacrificed it went willingly to the altar.

This sort of sacrifice was exactly why Jesus came to earth as a baby. Scripture tells us he was fully God yet fully man. While He lived on earth Jesus never sinned.

He followed His Father’s plan for Him and allowed God to lead Him eventually to be sacrificed on the altar of the cross. When the Lamb of God was sacrificed it was the last sacrifice God required. His blood was exchanged for ours and by His death our sins are forgiven.

DSC04752

While we are not Jesus and do not live perfect lives we can follow His example of allowing God to lead us through life, echoing the words of Paul: “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Jesus gave up all He had in Heaven to be the sacrificial Lamb who opened the door for us to live there one day with Him. I wonder if there’s anything we could sacrifice this Christmas season to follow His examples and lead others to Jesus.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

JESUS IS THE HOLY SERVANT

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve,

and give his life as a ransom for many.   

Mark 10:45

Have you ever gone hiking along dusty trails or worked outside in the heat of summer and gotten dirty? I’m not talking about needing to wash your hands dirty, I mean grimy, dusty, “I can’t wait to get in a shower” dirty. Now think about that feeling as a way of life. Walking along roads of dirt and stone either barefoot or with open sandals on your feet you were grimy all the time. Besides occasionally bathing in a lake or stream the only relief you had was to wash your feet, or have them washed by a servant in the home where you were visiting.

How would you like to be that servant, kneeling before men who had a higher position than you, carefully removing the dusty, perhaps mud-covered sandals and immersing their feet into a basin of clear, cool water. For the recipient this was a soothing, refreshing gesture but for the servant it was humiliating. It was one of the worst jobs a person could have.

Now imagine being one of Jesus’ disciples. For three years or so you had walked with Jesus, listening as He taught and watching as he healed the sick and returned dignity to those whose lifestyles brought them shame. You believe He is God’s Son, just s He says and has the power to forgive sins. There s no one greater in your eyes than Jesus.

Then one day as you join Jesus for the Passover celebration—the most holy and special meal of the year—you watch Him remove His outer cloak and gather together a towel and basin of water. Soon He is kneeling before you preparing to remove your sandals.

You try to protest, but Jesus won’t hear of it. He washes your feet, then the feet of every other person in the room.

feet washing

Suddenly your world is turned upside down. Everything you’ve ever thought about leadership and power has now been reduced to this. The most powerful man you know has just lowered Himself to the place of a servant and calls you to do the same.

This is the Jesus who wants a relationship with each one of us. While He is God and already knows everything about us He relates to us on our level—if we allow Him to.

Jesus was born in a smelly, cold stable among the animals and common folk to show us from the beginning of our lives how important our lives are to Him. He doesn’t look down on us with judgment and wrath if we are choosing to follow Him. Instead He reaches out to help us. He strengthens us where we are weak and loves us in the midst of our mess-ups.

Jesus expects us to do the same. Throughout the days leading to Christmas, lets examine how we can serve others. Let’s keep our eyes open for unexpected opportunities and serve with a cheerful spirit in the name of Jesus. You never know whose life might change because of your gesture.