Wednesday, December 30, 2015


With Christmas 2015 just past, let’s start 2016 with a reminder of what Jesus’ birth begins.  The word GOSPEL is used to describe His story, life and teachings -the hope of eternal life with Him.   By hope, I don’t mean the way we use the word today (for example: “I hope the weather isn’t bad.  I hope you like what I got you.  I hope you’re doing OK.”)    When hope is referred to in the Bible it describes a sure and certain promise that will be realized in the future.  It’s not an “if or maybe,” but only a matter of “when.”

The GOSPEL also concerns the example that Jesus has provided that He wants us to follow.   We’ll use the New Living Translation of the Gospel According to Mark for consideration of what the word GOSPEL coveys.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chrisT – The Way, Truth and Light 

From previous posts, Jesus entered this world in a unique way – born of a Virgin.   His life was unique in that He was both God and Man and as such uniquely prepared as the only qualified mediator (see 1 Tim 2:5) between God and Man.    God sent His Son to do what no one else was capable of – be an offering for the sin of the world so we could be restored to God.   He is the Redeemer and Rescuer that God Himself provided.  It has been said that there are over 300 predictions in the Old Testament concerning the first coming and life of the Christ, all of which have been fulfilled. The odds of just 8 of those 300 being exactly fulfilled is 1017 ( 1 in 100 quadrillion).   This is why Jesus could make the claim recorded in John 14:6.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Just in case what has been presented isn’t enough proof for you, consider as well that after His death on the cross He rose from the dead to confirm what He said.   His resurrection shows us that His death was for our sins and not His, because if He had remained in the grave, then His death would have been for His own sins.

This Christmas recognize the gift that God has sent you.  Will you accept God’s Gift of salvation through Jesus?    The choice is yours.  Ask God to guide you in your search and knew that He will.   Let me wish you a very Merry Christmas in which the Christ is the most important part!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chriSt – Savior Born for Us  

Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth in Galilee, but the prophet Micah in the Old Testament had foretold the Christ would be born in Bethlehem  Ephrathah (Micah 5:2).  I just recently learned there were two towns in Israel named Bethlehem at the time of Micah, so he was specific as to which one – the town in the south close to Jerusalem.   As Luke chapter 2 tells us, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census that had been decreed.  And while there, with no room in the town except for stable (barn) the Messiah was born into this world and placed in a feeding trough for a crib.   Humble beginnings.

And with such Good News who should be chosen for the grand announcement?  Kings?  Religious leaders?  The towns people of Bethlehem, the City of David?   As Luke tells us God’s choice:

“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.”   Luke 2:8-17

Humble messengers.  Shepherds (a despised people & profession) were told about the birth of the Savior, which implies that people need to be saved or rescued from something.   As Joseph was told in his dream, the child to be born to Mary would be named Jesus, which means “God is Salvation” or as the angel said, “because He will save His people from their sins.”    That salvation was later made possible by Jesus’ humble submission to His death on the cross.   Follow the example of the shepherds and “come see what the Lord has made know to” you.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chrIst – Immanuel, God With Us   

As you listen to the music of Christmas, especially if the music has a Christian background, notice how many times the word Immanuel is used.   The word means, “God is with us.”   The writer of the Gospel of Matthew tells us about the birth of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, the man who was engaged to Mary.   Imagine if your fiancĂ© left home, was away for 3 months and came back pregnant and claimed it was God’s doing!    Matthew tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”    Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew is telling the reader that Jesus’ birth by the Virgin Mary fulfills what Isaiah had spoken of in chapter 7 of his Old Testament book written centuries before.    Consider the incredible events in the lives of Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph.  Without the signs and announcements God provided would you have believed Mary or any of this?  Mary’s commitment to be the mother of Jesus and Joseph’s to be His step-father are tremendous indications of their faith in what God was doing.  

God was with the Israelites during their wandering in the wilderness and through much of their kingdom history until their disobedience led to their captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem.   Then He was present again through His Son Jesus, but He was rejected and crucified.  Yet someday in the future Jesus will return and reign for eternity as God With Us for those who believe.   How is your faith in Jesus the Christ?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Keep CHRIST in Christmas:  chRist – Redemption for His People 

God had created mankind and as such we were His possession.   But then the first man and woman chose to disobey God and their disobedience caused separation between them and God – what we know as sin.   A perfect and holy God could not allow imperfection and sin in His presence and mankind, now in a state of sin, could not survive in God’s presence, much like a piece of wood does not survive in a fire – it’s consumed.   So God chose to send His Son Jesus to this world.   And with God being His Father, Jesus was born into this world without original sin (for more on this see Romans 5:6-21).  And unlike any of us, Jesus never sinned.   As such only Jesus was uniquely qualified to offer His life as payment not for His own sin, but for ours.  And by that He made it possible for God to Redeem  / Bring us back to Himself because the price of separation would be paid when Jesus gave up His life on the cross. 

When Zacharias was asked what the name of his son should be, he wrote on a tablet, “His name is John,” and immediately, after nine long months of silence, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and had a great deal to say.  He begins with this proclamation in Luke 1:68,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,”

If you take the time to read the Romans 5 passage, you’ll find another word used that’s closely related to redemption – Reconciliation.   God made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.