Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Matthew’s Gospel

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.     Matthew 22:29

                The American celebration of Christmas has a variety of expressions: ornamental decorated trees both outdoors and inside; a song about a boy and his drum; dreams of snowy Christmases; a feast of seven fishes; even an imaginary mythical Christmas personage, among them. All good fun.

                Now, personally, I like those things, but I know the real story of Christmas so I realize that these fun things are extraneous accretions to an accurate celebration of the actual event that is Christmas, and they are used by some to obscure the historical record of what happened in Bethlehem. If the non-Christian world, society at large, has its way people who don’t know the real story will think Christmas is a fantasy fun time full of festive foods, and freaky, friendly, flying, forest creatures. The message, to those who don’t know the story, in all of this is a message that Jesus gave to some of his ancient opponents on another subject: Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.

                If a person knows what God’s word teaches about the event we call Christmas, he/she/they will know the following realities of the meaning of Christmas:
                At Christ’s birth the prophecies of God given in the Bible were being fulfilled;
                The unusual star over Bethlehem brought people to the promised Messiah’s birthplace;
                The baby in the manger is the savior of the world;
                The baby is the Son of God given by God to the world because God loves us;
                The Son of God came to save His people, and all people, from their sins;
                As many as receive Him as savior become the children of God.

                The non-Bible believing world likes to think of elves, colored lights, and the joy of gift giving to family and friends (all good things) and call their form of Christmas magical. The Church, all the Christians of the world, would use the word miracle. We would say if you have to make a choice between the two choose miracle, because that’s what real Christmas is all about. If you’ve got the theology right then you can rightly divide the true from the cultural and enjoy both.

 If there were no lights, or trees, or children sharing their wish list with a red suited guy, or lots of fish, or holiday songs, or special homemade candies, or a national holiday, there would still be Christmas because God’s coming into the world, the miracle, is true now and forever. To sum Christmas up in one word, it is Emmanuel. Emmanuel means God with us.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Matthew

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

                Christmas lights are a joy to us all. The red, yellow, green, blue, white, and whatever color lights brightened the darkness of the world in the midst of winter cold. I really enjoy the Christmas lights. Red, and yellow, green, and white, they make this season bright, festive, and beautiful. Each single bulb, string of lights, or old-fashioned candle, contributes to the light that overcomes the darkness of the chilling night.

                Our society with its political correctness can wink and call it winter holiday, community decoration, or party time, but we all know those twinkling lights are a signal that the Lord has come, and because of him, Jesus (God incarnate), there is a good news light in this world.

                That’s the application of this word from Jesus to his followers here in the Sermon on the Mount that I want to make. Let your light (testimony, actions, worship, behavior) so shine, be a bright light in the darkness of this sinful world, in other words be a symbol of Christmas.  Be a little light, red, yellow, black and white, for God, be a sunbeam for Jesus, be a Christmas decoration.  Always let the whole world know the Lord has come, and salvation and joy are offered to all who will receive him.

                When the world winks and says “Happy Holidays,” wink back and say “Thank you for that Christmas greeting.”

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Matthew

Where is he that is born King of the Jews?...      Matthew 2:2

                We were at the church this morning, my wife and I, helping to decorate for Christmas. It was one of those nice times of fellowship that puts us in the mood for Christmas celebration. Later when I read my devotions for the day it included the story of Christmas from the Magi’s point of view. They asked this question: Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

                Herod did not know who it was specifically, although he correctly surmised it was Messiah. He did not know exactly where the birth was to take place, although he remembered that the scriptures gave that information. And, as the wise men discovered through their journey, and then their interaction with Herod, and their arrival in Bethlehem, the King of the Jews was the Messiah who is Jesus.

                This incident with beautiful pinpoint accuracy summarizes the central truth of the incarnation revealed in Christmas.

                That phrase, the King of the Jews, comes up again at the end of the gospel story also. Unable to bring himself to free a clearly innocent Jesus, Pontius Pilate puts a public sign on the cross, it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin (John 19:30), and it stated JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:29).

                From the beginning of the story to the end Jesus is the King of the Jews:
                The baby in the womb was King of the Jews.
                The baby in the manger was King of the Jews.
                The boy in the temple was King of the Jews.
                The preacher on the road was King of the Jews.
                The teacher of the disciples was King of the Jews.
                The crucified savior is King of the Jews.
                The risen Lord is King of the Jews.
                The coming King is the King of the Jews.
                The Creator and King of the Universe is the King of the Jews.
                The promised One sent for all peoples is the King of the Jews.

Merry Christmas! Celebrate the King! Joy to the world the Lord is come!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.     1 Timothy 2:1,2

Suggested prayers for the USA President-elect as he becomes  one “ in authority” as President of this nation:
Pray that he will seek God’s righteousness for the nation.
Pray that he will have clarity of vision concerning what is good for all Americans.
Pray that he will be strong on moral issues.
Pray that he will work to ensure constitutional American freedom of religion.
Pray that he will be able to galvanize citizens to make America  unified, cooperative, and forward-looking.

However you pray do not fail to pray for God’s blessing upon those “in authority.” Then do your part in helping our nation by seeking to live a quiet, peaceable life in godliness and honesty.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Praying For The President Elect

Let Christians here in America, and the world over, hold Donald Trump in prayer. Ask God to give him the experience of Psalm 84:12: O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Ask God to move upon Mr. Trump’s heart so that he will come to true biblical faith, and have faith that spills over and blesses us all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Amos

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:         Amos 1:3

                In the first two chapters of his prophecy Amos expresses the punishment that will be meted out to Damascus, Gaza, Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel. In each case he cites, “for three transgressions and for four.” Each of the nations to be punished where receiving their “just desserts,” and among those nations you will note were Israel and Judah, the very people of God in the Old Testament.

                Three or four sinful behaviors and actions were bringing down the wrath of God upon them as a nation state and a people. Their transgressions brought severe judgment.

                Ought not modern day nations to be aware that what they sow might be what they reap? I think so! Or, is it possible that modern day nations have so progressed that behaviors worthy of punishment are no longer to be found among them? I don’t think so!

                Let’s let the USA, the most developed and among the most “freethinking” nations in the world be an example. Can three or four societal issues that are worthy of God’s punishment be found in this society? Yes, simply yes! Here are some.

1.       Political, and even religious, leaders, diminishing biblical faith and endorsing everything but orthodox biblical truth.
2.       Political and religious leaders devaluing  the sanctity of human life to the point of more than a half million abortions committed each year.
3.       Political leaders endorsing the relaxing of laws against the illegal use of drugs, especially marijuana, so that we do not know how many drivers on America’s many highways and side roads are operating automobiles and other vehicles under the influence endangering the lives of all those who are on the road with them.
4.       Political and religious leaders virtually approving various forms of immorality and breakdown of the nuclear family.

Yes, such national sin attitudes will bring some kind of judgment. Even if God does not specifically intervene but just allows nature to take its course, these sinful behaviors are some that take a nation, any nation, down into the depths of destruction.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Daniel

Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the kings meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.  Daniel 1:12, 13

            It’s a sort of strange scenario to those of us in the 21st century. Four Jewish captives of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians were being groomed to be leaders in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. The King wanted them well taken care of, so that  they would be able to reach their potential and be useful to him. So Nebuchadnezzar instructed that all the young prisoners, from whatever country they were taken, should eat the very same diet Nebuchadnezzar himself would eat. Roast beef, roast lamb, roast pork, fish, sweet cakes, breads, candy, fruit, vegetables, red wine, white wine, hard liquor,  freshwater, and whatever exotic treats came before the King. Sounds like a good menu.

But Daniel, and by extension Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, apparently had a spiritual objection to eating those foods and requested what might be called a religious exemption from eating them. They wanted nothing but vegetables (pulse) and water.

Now Melzar, the palace representative in charge of those boys, was fearful that they would not be as healthy as the other conscripts from foreign nations who were eating the full royal diet. He was afraid for his own life if the special students were to get weak and sickly from just having water and vegetables. Eastern potentate Neb was not above executing those who had failed him in big or small issues.

Daniel said, just try it out for ten days, at the end of that time compare our health to those eating the full diet, and you decide if we can continue. Test it out. See if our plan works.

Of course, it did. The four Jewish captive believers  honored God by their adherence to kosher law.

Let me leap to the gospel message of the New Testament. Here’s the plan: trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you will be forgiven and saved from the wrath against your sins. You will receive the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in your life. You will be given a new outlook on living, and relationships, and you will possess eternal life from the moment you believe.

In response to God’s biblical plan some may react like Melzar, or Nicodemus, How can these thngs be? (John 3:9). Daniel’s answer was, try it out and see. Jesus answer could be what He said in John 7:16, 17: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.

Test it! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).You will experience its truth personally in your life.