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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Inspired by . . . Five Golden Rings

For the last several months, through a global pandemic, riots, racial tensions, lockdowns, and political nonsense our Pastor has been consistently preaching from 1 & 2 Samuel.
From various comments he's made, I can tell that he has been criticized for this approach by many who do not see what relevance these scriptures have to our present-day challenges.

Thankfully, our pastor has carried on, faithfully preaching from the Word, rather than spouting his own opinions, agendas, or five steps to a better life.

Like these rings represented in this fifth day of Christmas snowflake, God is eternal. His message is eternal. Eternally relevant.

Paul reminds us in Romans:
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Rom 15:4)
Learning, patience, and comfort. Three things we desperately needed in 2020. Three things we will desperately need in 2021. God provides all this and more through His word to us: the scriptures.

Over the last few months we've learned:
  1. To wait upon the Lord and trust Him at all times. (1Sam 27-28)
  2. Listen to the Right voice. (1Sam 28)
  3. Death is not the end. (1 Sam 31 c.f. Rom 5:12)
  4. David's story is central to HIStory (and world history) because it points to the coming of Christ: the answer to all the world's problems. (2Sam 1; Heb 12:22; Eph 1; Acts 19; Gal 3)
  5. Knowing it is the will of God does not transmute grief into joy. It is still grief. (2Sam 1)
  6. "Who am I?" This is the central question of our time. The Bible answers: We are made by God, for God. (2 Sam1)
  7. The Bible gives us the answers we need but not always the answers we might like.
  8. Through the teachings of the Bible, we can encounter the Living God. (2Sam 2)
  9. Our victory is found in our King (Jesus), not in ourselves. (2Sam 5)
  10. The rulers of the earth will always seek to destroy the Lord's anointed. (2Sam 5)
Not an exhaustive list by any means. I pulled these ten from the notes I took while sitting in front of my TV watching our pastor speak to a (mostly) empty sanctuary.

He did break away from David's story one Sunday to talk about "Ten Men In Quarantine" referring, as you may have guessed, to the ten lepers in Luke 17.

Ten were healed, but only one turned back, throwing himself at the feet of Jesus in praise and worship.

His spiritual eyes being opened, he saw something in Jesus that the other nine did not.

Who Jesus IS and why He has come.

Perhaps those who see the scriptures as no longer relevant require the same spiritual awakening.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Inspired by . . . Jesus Christ: The Light of Hope

When I first began studying the scriptures for this Advent series on Seeking the Light, I was literally overwhelmed by the number of scripture references. God, Jesus, Light conquering the enemy, darkness of sin, the world, really is THE story.

Jesus wins. He conquers death. Defeats the enemy.
The story, the ONLY true story, really does have a happy ending.

But here's the thing, we're still in Act 3 of a four-act play. We know from Act 2 that Jesus wins. But Act 3 is all about us preparing, and proclaiming, and waiting for His return to claim the victory.

His Advent. His coming. His return.
The Good News is that He didn't leave us alone. His Word gives us specific instructions and the Holy Spirit guides us in all truth, revealing and teaching us everything we need to know. (John 14:26)
I often forget that I have the Light within me, a little flame, the Holy Spirit. He has taken up residence in each one of God's children. Each one of us who proclaim Him.
"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2Co 4:6)
Our waiting is active, not passive.

Matthew 5:14-16 admonishes us to, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The high calling of Ephesians reminds us of our place and purpose as children of God: "for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Eph 5:8-11)

Throughout this Advent season, I have kept coming back, again and again, to the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25. The wait has been long, even more so this year, and some days our hope is very dim.

Are we keeping our lamps lit with the love and longing for His return?

We must, Beloved! For we are, "children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness." (1Th 5:5) And we have been chosen in Him to proclaim His glory! (1Pet 2:9) Chosen! Wow!

We must remember that we represent the only true source of Light and Hope in this dark and hopeless world. We must continue to proclaim the message, "that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." And we must continue to, "walk in the light, as He is in the light, [so that] we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

When He returns: "night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they [His servants] will reign forever and ever."

Our Hope will be realized and the wait will be over.

But while we wait, may we all keep our lamps lit with the love and longing for His return and "[give]thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."

Blessings on your Advent,

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Inspired by. . . Jesus Christ: A Light to the Gentiles

"And He said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth." (Isa 49:6)

Friends, I'm overwhelmed by the grace of God.

He didn't have to save us.

He had His chosen people. The Jews. He could have sent Jesus to save them and them alone.

He could have. But He didn't.

Instead, He CHOSE to love ALL of mankind.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16)
In Romans, Paul confirms this again and again. And all throughout the New Testament:
"For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." (Act 13:47-48)

Yet, we can see from Isaiah 49:6 that this is not a New Testament concept. Isaiah proclaims this Truth again in Isaiah 42:6; 51:4, and 60:1-3.

It is the great mystery, hidden for ages, now revealed!
"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col 1:27)
As if saving us wasn't enough, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the KING. We share in the inheritance as heirs, children of God. To prove this God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6). This Spirit connects us to the Father and we are able to, in our deepest need and greatest joy, cry out to Him, "Abba, Father!"

Have you received this gift?

This amazing, wonderful, overwhelming gift.

The gift of Jesus.

Receive it. Believe it and reJOYce!

Blessings on your Advent,

If you've never accepted the gift of Jesus, I encourage you to begin your faith journey today. https://peacewithgod.net/

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Inspired by . . . Jesus Christ the Light of the World

"The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." (Mat 4:16)

Matthew's gospel, his account of the Good News of Jesus Christ, declares this truth. In this verse, Matthew is quoting from Isaiah 9, verse 2:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (Isa 9:2)

When was the last time you had to wait for something? And even then, how long did you wait?

This side of the cross and in this culture of instant gratification, I think it is impossible for us to truly understand what the coming of the Messiah meant to the Jewish people.

When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the Temple it was the first word from God since the prophet Malachi, 400 years before! We can almost forgive Zechariah for doubting the celestial creature.

Four hundred years!

Yes, this was something to get excited about!

The songs of Mary and Zechariah further on in the first chapter of Luke give us more context as to the wonder of what was about to take place.

Perhaps Zechariah's doubt gives us a hint of why God sent John the Baptist as a herald, announcing Jesus before He arrived on the scene. To prepare their hearts to believe.

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (John 1:6-8)

And so Jesus comes proclaiming that He is the Light of the world. The apostle John gives witness, saying, "In Him was life, and that life was the light of mankind."

This Light is the awakening of our spirit to the saving grace of God. Everything we know of the Divine, every spiritual joy and comfort beams directly from the Son.

Daniel says of God, "He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." (Dan 2:22)

And the writer of Hebrews declares:
"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," (Heb 1:3)

Yet, despite all the miracles, all the signs and wonders and scriptures fulfilled,
"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." (John 3:19)

We rejected the Light: Jesus Christ, scorned and rejected by mankind.

So did the Light go out?

No! Hallelujah! It did not! It became brighter still!
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)
Despite our rejection, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Anyone who receives Him, who hears His word and believes in the name of Jesus Christ will have life eternal.

Everlasting life - everlasting Light!
"And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there." (Rev 21:23-25)
For this, we wait.

Blessings on your Advent,