Tag Archives: Bible

Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas wreathWe hear it this time of year, but what does wishing a merry Christmas mean?  What does it mean to you?

To me there are several things in mind when I wish you a Merry Christmas.

First and foremost I am wishing you well wishes at a time we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus the Christ, who came to earth as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Without His birth in the way and the manner in which it happened, then He would not be qualified as a perfect sacrifice.

John 3:16-17 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” No other man do we celebrate this way, and no other man should we celebrate this way.

Secondly wishing your Christmas to be merry means I hope that the way you celebrate His arrival brings joy and peace in a festive way!  I hope you celebrate His gift by giving to those you love!  Sometimes that means we buy things they would like and present them as gifts, but it also means giving of your time and attention.  That is why I am glad we eat and play at Christmas parties and family gatherings – enjoy each other with lighthearted fun!

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Lastly I wish you a merry Christmas season.  Not just a day, but a time to celebrate, give thanks and share love.  To do that right it will take more than just a day – it will take a well orchestrated season.  A day can be built up and fall so anti-climatic, and you will have to stuff so much into one day.  But in a season you will have time to enjoy and share with more people – more time to spread the love as Jesus taught us!

So from me and my family of four – we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

Temptation leads to pain

I wish I could remember who shared with me this wisdom of truth in life.

With temptation comes pain.

I guess I was aware that there was pain associated with temptation, but when this person said it out loud I stopped to look at what tempts me and realized they were right.

We all are tempted.  Each and every day, and we all have different things that tempt us.  Some temptations are strong and some just annoy us.  From lust, to envy, hate, gossip, gluttony, laziness, pride, idolatry and more – we have temptations that take away from our relationship with our Creator, Savior and King.

But I have learned one way to fight temptation is to realize there will be pain, and endure just a little while – without giving into the temptation.

The pain is going to come either way…

God gave me a picture that shows where pain comes in.  I have shared it with some folks and it really makes sense to me.

Pain in Temptation

Knowing we all have temptations we will take one of two paths – giving in to the temptation or denying the temptation.

Giving in to the temptation

If we are weak in the flesh and give in to the temptation, what immediately follows is pleasure.  That’s what makes the temptation so strong is the thought, taste or feel of the pleasure.  No doubt we enjoy the pleasure for a time.  Sometimes it is short-lived and sometimes we really dwell in it, but we do experience the pleasure.  But then comes the pain.

After we have squeezed all the pleasure out of that sin we face the reality that we have disappointed God.  If that does not pain you then your relationship with Jesus should be evaluated.  By giving in to the temptation and experiencing the sin, I experience some kind of pain.  Sometimes just bothered by what I did, and sometimes grieved to tears.  Some people even hold on to that pain for years without knowing how to get rid of it.

Of course what should come next is repentance to God and those offended by my actions.  Even more pain!

Denying the temptation

The other option we have with a temptation is to deny the lure and not give in or experience the pleasure.  That of course creates pain for us by not allowing us the pleasure that we know can come with the temptation.  Here again, sometimes these pains are just a nuisance, but sometimes we have a really hard time saying no.  By saying no I know that I will not get to experience the pleasure that was on the other side of the temptation, and that hurts.

The good news is that when we say no to the temptation and know that pain is coming we can prepare ourselves.  For example I can say to myself – I know that if I hold my tongue for about 10 minutes I will not hurt anyone’s feelings and I will have avoided the temptation of hateful talk.

James 4:7 says Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Submit to what God says – do not sin.  Take a little pain by denying the temptation.  Then according to the Bible – satan will flee from you!

So – do I just need to deny satan one time and he is out of my life?  No, that is not the case.  We are told by Jesus in Luke 9:23 to daily deny ourselves (deny sin), get about the business He has in store for each of us, and follow Him.

Jim Rohn said “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

Choose the option of pain by denying temptation.  In the long run your life will be more richer and satisfying!

Fellowship: the core of a local church

Fellowship hall, fellowship time, fellowship church, fellowship app, academic fellowship, fellowship college, right hand of fellowship ….

Just what is Fellowship?IMG_1634

With the help of the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Merriam Webster I would define fellowship as:

  • Joining in membership with a local church
  • Communion together at the Lord’s Supper 
  • Giving of tithes and offerings
  • Ministering to the saints
  • Suffering together

 


Join in membership with a local church [Hebrews 10:24-25]

First let me qualify that my look at fellowship is only from the view of a church member. With that in mind, I think everyone needs to join a local church to enjoy the fellowship of a church. Thom Rainer outlined very well what it means to be a church member in his great little book I Am A Church Member. Thom says a healthy church member will:

  • Be a functioning church member

By studying God’s word, praying, eating, serving, sacrificing, giving, sharing, and ministering with other church members.

  • Seek unity in my church
  • Not let my church be about my preferences and desires
  • Pray for my church leaders
  • Lead my family to be healthy church members
  • Treasure church membership as a gift

 

Communion together at the Lord’s Supper [1Corinthians 10:16-17]

To take the Lord’s Supper you need to have professed faith in Jesus. So for those who take the supper together; we are saying to one another that we have accepted the same gift of life eternal through the sacrifice of Jesus, have given our life to the service of Jesus, and are together in observing the sacrifice He made for me.

 

Giving of tithes and offerings [2Corinthians 9:6-15]

God says we should give generously. The Old Testament gave the guideline 10% of our first fruits (earnings) are to be given back to Him. The New Testament says to be a generous cheerful giver. Does that mean only 10% – no I say 10% is only a starting point. Give to make God pleased, as much and as often as you can.

 

Ministering to the saints [Hebrews 6:10-12]

Who else in this world will come to the aide of Christians – only other Christians. It is our duty to love and help our fellow brothers and sisters. We need to minister to Christians by listening to them, helping them financially, mentally and spiritually, and praying for them.

We should be ministering not only to the other members in our church, but should be lifting up other churches. There again – who will help a failing church … only another church. We should also be ministering to the missionaries who go and who live to spread the Gospel in places other than their local community.

 

Suffering together [Philippians 3:7-11]

Are we going to suffer here on earth – you bet. Jesus suffered … why would we avoid such? When we suffer we need fellow Christians surrounding us to listen and guide. When you are the one suffering you know it makes things easier if we have a friend to share the burden with. Our burdens range from being uncomfortable all the way to the point of death.

Where should we come along and share a burden with a friend – whenever you feel led that they need support. I don’t know about you, but the problem I have with that is that I need to be more in tune with God to be able to listen when He says go and suffer with someone.

Part of praying to God is to listen, and by listening I can be directed to go suffer with someone.

This Ain’t Heaven

Man life sure can be tough some times.

Amen?

Amen (I’ll go ahead and credit you that one).

Just recently I have spoken with friends and relatives who have been through tough times:

cancer, job loss, marital infidelity, death of a loved one, friend whose parent is sick, job cut back, lay off, loss of trust from a friend, family corruption, drugs, alcohol, disease, unwanted pregnancy, heart problems, broken bones, mower won’t start, car wreck, and the list could just go on…

Some people have asked me and I could tell some were thinking it but just did not ask – why does God let bad things happen?  Some will even ask – why does God let bad things happen to good people?

I submit there is a simple answer that is hard for some to believe or even accept.IMG_5262

In Genesis 2 God told Adam and Eve to work and watch over the garden of Eden, but not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  In Genesis 3 we see their disobedience and followed the advice of satan by eating the forbidden fruit.  And we assume sin entered earth then.  But the more difficult question if you think about it is this – where did that serpent come from?  How did satan get to the middle of the garden that God made to tempt humans?  If satan had not tempted, then maybe humans would not have sinned and we would be in a much better place.  Maybe so.

But the fact of the matter, is that God did create all things – even satan himself.  Now why on earth would God do that?  And even more so why did He allow him here on earth?

I think the answer to many of the questions I have asked here can be answered by three words.

   This ain’t Heaven.

In Heaven there is no sin.  There is no pain.  There is no death!  There are no wasps, snakes, hornets or skunks.  There are no jobs, and our only desire will be God!  Man that is heaven!

But this earth just ain’t Heaven.  Do you see?  Do you agree?  Here on our 3rd rock from our sun we have a lot of things that make us uncomfortable.  And they will always be here on earth.  We do however, have a comforter here who is the Holy Spirit.  He will guide us and help us in our daily walk – while we inhabit this earthly vessel we call a body.  But one day this body will expire for all of us.

And when it does – we will all end up in one of two places.       Heaven or Hell         That choice is ours to make while we are still living and breathing in this earthly vessel.

Who I am – my personal testimony

Recently one Sunday morning at church I was asked by a friend to give my testimony that night during our evening service.  I am always glad to share the assurance I have in Jesus and how God is working in my life, so of course I agreed.  I also had a few other things on my mind that I wanted to share with the church, so I asked our pastor what direction I should go with my talk.  He said to just tell why you are the way you are.  Well I think I know what he meant, but it really got me to thinking how I got to be the way I am.  Those who know me know that I am a bit different.  But then again – so is everybody else I know!

So how did I get to be the way I am?  The accounts that follow will provide some insight…

John collage2

I was raised in a Christian home, and my family was in church on a regular basis.  I grew up in a Methodist church, went through the Confirmation class at 12 years old, and at the end of the class we prayed to receive Christ into our hearts.  Was I saved at that time – I am not certain.  But I do know that when I was 18 years old  I went to FCA Camp in Maryville, TN and I knew God was working in my heart that weekend.  I also knew I could not give a certain answer of where I would go if I was to die that day of May 5th of 1984.  Through the message given by Rev. Jerry Upton, the Holy Spirit convicted  me that I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I responded by coming forward during one of the services and knelt down at the altar to asked Jesus into my heart.  I knew then in my heart for certain that I had: repented of my sins, told Jesus I believed He died on a cross and was raised on the third day as a sacrifice to cover my sins, I asked Him to save me, and told Jesus I would follow Him with my life.

I have in no way lived a perfect or sinless life since then, but know in my heart that I can always ask God for forgiveness and it is granted.  And I know that because that night I received salvation, and by the assurance in His Word, that I will be forgiven of things I do (sin) that disappoint Him.

Now it was not long after I accepted Jesus into my heart that I realized satan was really tempting me in a lot of different ways that I had not experienced before.  I went to college and the US Army facing attacks from satan, and I hate to say it but he won a lot of those battles.  I remember carrying my little green Gideon Bible in my cargo pants every day I was in the Army uniform, but I did not make reading it a part of my daily life.  I was a worldly Christian giving way to Jesus and the world at the same time.  So of course I experienced failures and disappointments as I tried to follow Jesus.

My wife was the catalyst to bring me to a closer walk with Jesus.  I knew in my heart that Jesus connected us for her to be my mate and to bring me closer to Him.  I saw in her something I wanted more of in my life – an active growing personal relationship with Jesus.  I am delighted to say that since our wedding I have been on a slow path of growing closer to Him!

As I grow older my faith increases through the trials I continually face and how I am able to handle them.  You have to know that satan will not leave you alone if you are trying to live for Jesus.  I am slowly becoming more obedient to Jesus by daily denying satan and the attacks he sends.  I am not always successful, but slowly getting better as I grow in my faith.  I know I will never live a sinless life until I leave this body in the grave and enter into my eternal home in Heaven!

I am amazed and humbled by the way God has used me over the years.  I have enjoyed serving Him in many leadership roles such as a youth minister and Sunday School director.  He has molded me through the daily trials as a leader, husband and father.  I have been fortunate to lead individuals to receive Jesus as their Savior  in Guatemala, during camps and Bible Schools, even by phone with my cousin in Ohio.

Jesus has led me on so many adventures, and they all started with a single step of obedience of saying yes  –    I will follow You and I will go where You send!

Free Book: 90-Day devotion

I was fortunate to be asked to participate as a contributing author of a new Bible devotional book called All Time Verses: 90-Day Scripture Journey by the student ministers at First Baptist Woodstock.  I submitted two devotions for the project.

All Time Verses book

Since this is the first time I have been included in a book publication I wanted to celebrate by giving a copy away to one my blog readers.  So I thought I would have a little contest.

I will select one person to receive a free book who #1_will read the devotion and #2_tells me the most unique place they will read this devotion.   (yes – points added for creativity)

Simply fill out the information below to be considered.  You do not have to be a follower of my blog, but will be entered by submitting the form from this page.  Only one entry per person.  I will not give or sale your information to anyone – just using it as a reference.

Contest begins  NOW and will end at noon on Sunday, February 16th.  You must be a valid reader of the English language and the declared winner will need to provide a physical mailing address upon request.

Congratulations!

Terri Brooks is the winner of the free book contest!  Terri said she would read the devotion the first thing in the morning in her sun room.

You can find out more about Terri at http://facebook.com/theimprintdoctor

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.

If you would like to buy your own personal copy of the book it is available on Amazon at All Time Verses: 90-Day Scripture Journey

Mary pondered these things in her heart: the art of pondering

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”  So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:7-20 (NASB)

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is that part in verse 19 where it said that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.

What did it mean for her to ponder in her heart?

Ponder means to consider.  It means to take what you know, and consider what might be.

Pondering

So what do you think Mary may have pondered in her heart?

I think she pondered the fact that God had spoke to her and that she would no doubt hear Him again.  God had been silent in the Bible for 400 years until the arrival of Jesus.  So the God of the universe had spoke to Mary, gave her a baby, and now these shepherds were witnesses to the authenticity.  I think she just pondered what would be next.  Where would these events take her life next?  Who else would come to visit the baby and how did they know of Him?  Would there be a different way of raising this God child?  She had no idea what would be next, but I think her mind would race with expectations.

I think she pondered on the fact that the birth of our Savior was real.  The witness of the shepherds certainly provided a much needed witness.  She had no doubt heard the reading of the scripture about the promise of the Savior.  She had to have known He would come, but now realizing that those promises were fulfilled in her.  If those parts of the scripture were now confirmed, how much more of the scripture she knew must have totally new meaning.  It was not just tradition and religion, but now it was real!  He was REAL!

I also think she certainly pondered on what the future of Jesus would hold.  With what she knew from the scripture, she knew what was told to her by the angel, and she also knew what had happened with Elizabeth and Zacharia’s son John.  She knew that His life would be much different than any of the other children she knew.  Would they someday live in a different lifestyle?  What would God do with Him?  What exactly would become of this son of hers?  What would be required of him?

What a wonder as Mary pondered and treasured all those things in her heart.

May this Christmas allow you the time to ponder what wonder Jesus holds for your your life!