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Throw Out the Trash

Posted on December 31, 2018 at 12:09 PM Comments comments (1)
Hezekiah Cleanses the Temple

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, and said to them: “Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.

2 Chronicles 29:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)

The beginning of the new year is a great time to purge and rid our homes of clutter and useless items.  This mindset is one of those resolutions we either keep or don't keep as that first day of the first month rolls in.  It's not quite like those we make to follow all year long as we resolve to break bad habits and make promises to do better this time around.  There's an unforgiving cut-off date if that junk is still sitting there on New Year's Day.  We can still resolve to do something about it, but we've lost the chance to have it all gone by the stroke of midnight when the new year actually creeps in.

Hezekiah came into his reign calling for a clean up of the temple of the Lord.  He demanded that the trash be taken out of the "holy place" when he opened up the doors.  Jesus opened up the door of our souls as He gave His life to remove our sin.  When we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, our bodies became temples of the Holy Spirit who desires all rubbish to be disposed of since He is going to be living there.  By getting rid of the garbage, we can make room for something new in our lives as we prepare for another year of God's grace.  We can be thankful that we have now have His help to clean things up!

Because of Jesus, the past, like the trash we tend to carry within our hearts from year to year, can be cast away and forgotten.  Let's throw it out and begin this year embracing that which is available to all who follow Jesus.  Celebrate new life! 

Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.  Isaiah 43:18-19 CEV

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV


Prayers for Peace

Posted on December 28, 2018 at 10:23 AM Comments comments (0)
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

Faithful Father,

You are the God of peace and the God of hope.  We put our trust in You for You are the Creator and Sustainer of Life and the Giver of every perfect gift.  Thank You for Your goodness and mercy.  Fill us with Your Spirit as we look forward to the second coming of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  All honor, praise and glory we offer You in His name.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 NIV

Fear in Loving

Posted on December 27, 2018 at 12:18 PM Comments comments (0)
Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Hebrews 13:1-3, 5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, we have the Spirit of the Living God to guide us, protect us, and provide for all our needs.  David expressed it clearly in Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."  This gives us freedom from the fear we sometimes experience when doing or giving too much.  This also allows us the opportunity to entertain a stranger who may be an angel from God with our benevolence.  Authentic hospitality comes from a heart that loves and God calls us to love and share with everyone.

We have a tendency to pick and choose the people we share our lives with.  Sometimes the people we choose are not in desperate need of our compassion or hospitality.  This means there will be some with an overabundance of love and some others with no love at all.  This is not God's way.  His love extends to all of us and if we claim to love Him, we have got to love as He does.  Jesus laid down His life for us all.  He was born in need to show us what "need" actually looks like.

That stranger crossing our path or even knocking at our door could be an angel God has sent to test our hearts.  That person in our lives who tries our patience may be God testing our patience. What can being kind and loving toward them possibly do to us but perhaps increase our own blessings through our obedience to the command of God to show them love?  We actually could have more to fear in this world by being inhospitable to people we don't know or care about. God's Word says that when we withhold our love from anyone, His love is not in us.  Now, that's a very scary thing to try to live with on this planet, isn't it?

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  1 John 4:19-2 NIV


The Day After

Posted on December 26, 2018 at 3:48 PM Comments comments (0)
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:16-18 New International Version (NIV)

As we clear the wrapping paper debris and put away the gifts after yet another year of celebration, let us remember that the gift of Jesus is a gift that keeps on giving.  We are to do the same.  God does not change and His blessings are continuous.  Unlike some of the presents we receive from people, God's gifts are good and perfect and come from above.  The heavenly lights continue to shine over us even as we set out to take the lights and decorations down from our homes.

God is the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The promise He has made through the birth of His Son is everlasting life. So, as the saying goes:  Don't throw out the "Baby" with the bathwater.   Let us celebrate our Savior every day until He returns for the ultimate celebration.  His gift of grace is not wrapped up in paper or stuffed in bags.  It is a gift given to us that we are to keep in our hearts forever.

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?  Numbers 23:19 NLT

Who is He?

Posted on December 25, 2018 at 8:39 AM Comments comments (0)
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 18:37 New International Version (NIV)

We call Him Savior and Lord. He saved us from sin and is Lord of our lives. Yet, He whose birth we celebrate this day has many names.  He was born to testify of the Truth because He is Truth! King of kings! Lord of lords!  Prince of Peace! Wonderful, Counselor, Healer, Provider is the Son of the Most High God to whom all authority is given!  As the One who is all and over all, He doesn't get caught up in a title. Call Him what you like that conveys who He is in Truth.  But CALL HIM!  Say His name:  JESUS!

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holiday (Holy Day)! Whatever we label this day, we are to celebrate the fact that Jesus was born and now lives forever to save us as we follow Him from His birth and through His life to God's everlasting Kingdom!  As we commemorate His beginning, let us look forward to rejoicing forever in what He promises for the end.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NKJV


Wise Men

Posted on December 24, 2018 at 10:54 AM Comments comments (0)
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Matthew 2:7-12 New Living Translation (NLT) 

The story is told in the Bible of the three wise men who saw the star that proclaimed the birth of our Savior.  What made them wise?  They were wise because they followed that star.  They were further blessed with wisdom as God spoke to them in a dream and told them to avoid Herod on their route back home and they obeyed.  Only God gives wisdom and we become wise when we receive it.

From the beginning, Jesus was doomed by the world.  God's plan of salvation was attacked from the moment Christ was born.  But who of us can stop the plan of God?  Jesus would indeed die but not before the purpose of His birth was fulfilled.  Our disadvantage in this world is that without Christ, the enemy of our souls knows God better than we do.
 But " . . . greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

As we follow Jesus through life, we can expect obstacles and bumps along the road.  As we encounter opposition and hindrance, God will give us the wisdom to know we are on the right track.  Sometimes, He will even give it to us in a dream.  When we go off course, He will provide wisdom for that too.

All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.  Romans 16:27 NLT
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5 ESV

Simeon Prays

Posted on December 21, 2018 at 7:47 AM Comments comments (0)
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Luke 2:25-32 New King James Version (NKJV)

Faithful Father,

All power, glory and dominion are Yours for You are the Creator and Sustainer of life.  We pray with Simeon and thank You for giving us Your only begotten Son, Jesus.  Because You did, we who believe in who He is will not see death after we have seen Your Son, who gave His life for our salvation. We celebrate His birth and look forward to the blessed hope of life everlasting in Your Kingdom as we follow Him.

In His precious name we pray.
Amen and Amen. 

My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”  Matthew 26:42 NLT

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 NLT

Go Tell it on the Mountain!

Posted on December 20, 2018 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:8-12, 16-21 English Standard Version (ESV)

God selected certain people for the angels to tell of the birth of His Son.  In this passage of Scripture, He chose shepherds watching their sheep. Their reverence for God was such that initially the appearance of the angels frightened them. Their belief in God then led them to curiosity and they went looking for the Savior who had been born into the world. Their faith in what it meant caused them to share this Good News, making it known to everyone they could.  Without social media!  How would we react to an angel appearing before our very eyes with a message like this from God?  Even as we have God's Word to inform us and history to confirm it, there are many who cannot imagine what God has done and is still doing.  Fortunately for us, we will all see Jesus at the same time when He returns to complete His mission.

Fully human, Christ entered the world to live among us.  He was born as a baby and raised from childhood, just like us.  Fully God, He lives forever and gave his earthly life so that we can too.  And we won't have to follow a star to find Him in a manger when He comes back. We can follow Him now and when He comes again we will simply look up at the sky.  Hallelujah!

So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.  Luke 2:39-40 NKJV

The Least of These

Posted on December 19, 2018 at 7:48 AM Comments comments (1)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Luke 2:1-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Preparing for the birth of a child is usually a joyous time in the life of a family.  Gifts are showered to provide for the baby's needs.  Nurseries are decorated and a bag is packed and ready for when the time of delivery comes.  Required to travel very late in her pregnancy, Mary would give birth on the road.  There would be no ideal place for the Son of God to be born.  Makes one wonder what God thinks of all the fanfare we go through when He blesses us with new life in our families, doesn't it?

There was no room available at the inn. This meant they were all occupied by other people.  Other people who did not care to share the warmth and comfort of their lodgings with a woman in labor about to give birth.  As we cling tightly to our joy and happiness to the extent we ignore the obvious needs of those less fortunate, we need to remember what happened when our Savior was born.  If we claim to love Jesus, we had better be careful not to turn Him away at the door if He comes asking for our help.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”  Matthew 25:45 NIV


On the Inside

Posted on December 18, 2018 at 7:42 AM Comments comments (1)
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

 Luke 1:39-45 New Living Translation (NLT)

As God reveals to us His plans for the ages, we are reminded of many miracles along our journey through this world.  How many times has He made a way out of no way?  The miracle of the birth of Christ is shared with us even as our finite minds are baffled at the impossibility of it all.  Yet, John the Baptist, who was born to be a forerunner of Christ, knew from inside his mother's womb the purpose for his existence.  Those who have given birth wonder what makes the baby kick inside their tummies.  A mother speculates about various circumstances that can cause so much activity on the inside. John kicked up a storm when Mary walked into his mother's presence bearing our Lord and Savior in her womb!

God knew us before He even allowed us to be conceived.  He knew His purpose for each of our lives even before we came to be.  He also knew we would need a Savior and He sent the only Person qualified for that job.  We sometimes may wonder why our omniscient God, who knows everything beforehand, would allow things to be as they are now in this world.  If we follow Jesus to God's Kingdom, one day we may have the chance to ask Him about things we don't quite get in these days.  But I have a hunch it won't matter much then. 

It began just as God had said in the book written by Isaiah the prophet,

“I am sending my messenger to get the way ready for you. In the desert someone is shouting, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord! Make a straight path for him.’”  Mark 1:2-4 CEV