Some Christmas Love

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Luke 2:8-15 (AKJ), “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I think that is good news don’t you? God’s message that night? “Peace on earth and good will towards man.” Aren’t you glad is wasn’t “Chaos and trouble on earth and I sure am angry with men.”

He had reason to be irritated with His creation. He could have left us to our own wicked devices and allowed the world to “go to Hell in a hand basket.” However, His message that night wasn’t that we get what we deserved, no! It was “I love you.”

Sure He knew how wicked man had become, that’s why He made a way, from before the foundation of the worlds, to show us Ultimate Love. God hanging on a tree. His love poured out to us, just like the blood that flowed from His broken body.

With God, we may reap what we sow, but we don’t get what we deserve. I deserved Hell, how about you? But, I won’t see it! Nope, the closest thing to Hell I will ever experience was my life without Him, before I surrendered my heart to His love. That was bad enough.

Now that we know this “good news” and have experienced it first hand- go and tell someone else!

Isaiah 52:7 (NIV), “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

What Do You Have?

II Kings 4:1-2 (NIV), The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

This poor woman. In those days, in that culture, a widow with small sons had no one to provide for her. With sons not old enough to work, and her husband gone, she is facing the horrible fate of having her sons taken to be used as slaves to pay an old debt. We all come across situations that seem out of our hands. Her husband is gone. Hard enough to handle, and now she may lose her children. As a mother and a grandmother, I don’t even want to imagine what that might feel like, but I can assume she feels deserted, and frantic. Who can help? Then she remembers the man of God.

When she relates her circumstances to Elisha, his response is two sided. First he asks, “What can I do to help,” then he asks “What do you have?” Both are very important questions. He is asking this widow to think about a solution, not just the problem, and he is asking her to think about what she does have, instead of what she doesn’t. God can just override everything and instantaneously give us what we ask for. He is able. However, He knows as well as we do what happens to those who are just handed everything they want. It makes them weak, and spoiled, and they begin to feel entitled. They don’t grow in relationship with the person who seems to be like a vending machine, they only make demands and expect instant results. Nobody wants kids like that, not even God.

We appreciate things more if we work for them, or if it has cost us something. We treasure gifts, don’t get me wrong, a thankful heart that is grateful for every gift is a good thing. However, when a child works hard and saves every penny of his paper route money to buy that new bike…well who can blame him when he is proud of his new purchase. Even King David understood that there should be a cost. He was instructed to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah not only agrees to allow David to do that, he tries to give him the oxen for the offering. Here is what David replied:

II Samuel 24:24 “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.”

Let me try to explain it this way. Pretend that a missionary comes to your church and speaks quite convincingly about the need for help in the Congo. You feel two things simultaneously, one you want to help, two you are quaking in fear lest God calls you to the Congo. So what do we do, we quickly drop a twenty or more in the offering to ease both of those feelings. You say, “I have helped, I don’t need to go, someone else can use that fifty dollars to help.” Usually we are very quick to give to missions. Then the very next week your pastor speaks of the need to replace the furnace at the church you attend, your house, and what do we do? We slip a five into the offering and say, “let so and so give the big bucks, they have a better job, sister such and such doesn’t have diapers to buy, let her give it, I wonder if we can get a grant from Uncle Sam to pay for it?” On the surface it looks like giving to mission is easier, but if you look deeper, it’s the same spirit. We don’t want it to cost too much. Selling everything and moving to a foreign country is costly! So we cave and give money. Less costly. Paying for a new furnace is costly, so we cave and make excuses why we don’t give.

God is so smart! Elisha asks the widow, “What do you have in your house?” She had oil. God gave her so much oil that she borrowed jars and jugs and still ran out of containers. She then sold it for enough to get out of debt! That is just like the little boy who shared a small lunch…with thousands. There was a multitude, a huge multitude, that were tired and hungry and Jesus told his disciples to feed them. They started adding up the monetary cost to feed so many, and of course they came up short. Jesus wasn’t even thinking of money. So, He asks, “What do we have?” Enter the little guy whose mom packed him a few fish and some small loaves. What happened? Well, of course, they were all fed, and they gathered up baskets (12) of leftovers!

Salvation is free, but that doesn’t mean that there will never be another sacrifice on our part. “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” you say. Yes, it sure is. Are you obeying?

Romans 12:1 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.”

Paul “urges” us, in other translations he “begs” and “beseeches” us to present ourselves as living sacrifices. That sounds costly doesn’t it? Before you get all worked up, stop and ask yourself, “What do I have?” What has God given me that will be multiplied to do His will and work miracles?

Do you have a little food, a little oil, some time, some money, a little talent? Give it to God. He’ll multiply it and use it to bless others. Don’t think about what you don’t have. When you are asked to give, don’t just plunk whatever is lying on the bottom of your purse in the basket. Stop, pray and listen. Then be obedient. It may cost you more than you wanted it to, but remember the leftovers? Remember the widow who had more than enough? Yep, that’s what God can do with it. Next time you are running errands and you see someone in need, stop, pray, and listen. What is God asking you to do? Take the time, sacrifice, let it cost you and let God work a miracle.

What do you have that God can use? We all have something, because He made sure you were prepared.

That should get you excited!

 

 

His Good Pleasure

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Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV), “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Sometimes Paul seems to contradict himself doesn’t he? I have pointed out several times that Paul wasn’t schizophrenic. We do have to work out our own salvation. Mama can’t do it for us, Gramma can’t either. Each one of us is responsible for the condition of our own souls. In the same way we can’t do it for anyone else. We would love to, but we can’t. Just working out our own sound like a tough enough job. That’s why Paul goes on to say that it is God who does the work in us. We simply hear and obey, surrendering our will to His will. He changes our hearts with His perfect love so that we want to work “for His good pleasure.”

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV), “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.…”

I want to please God, don’t you? If you do a search on this you will be amazed how many scriptures there are about what pleases Him. I am only going to include a few.

Ephesians 1:5 (Jubilee Bible 2000) “Having marked out beforehand the way for us to be adopted as sons by Jesus Christ in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

II Corinthians 5:8-10 (NAS), “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

It pleased Him to adopt us and it pleases Him when we live holy and sanctified lives. It also pleased the Father to bruise His Son…

Isaiah 53:10 (KJB), “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB), “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

It was God’s pleasure to sacrifice Jesus as an offering for sin.

As a parent that just makes my head spin. How could the suffering of a child, little or full grown, ever please a parent. The only circumstance I can think of is nothing compared to Christ’s suffering. I can think of a child getting stitches, or having a broken bone set, it is painful, but for their own good. God knew the outcome of the cross, it was for our own good. Now think about taking your son or daughter in to have stitches, but instead of watching that needle go in and out of their tender skin, Jesus is sitting in that chair and taking all of the pain for them. That would please a parent. Jesus may have been His only begotten Son, but He has quite a few adopted offspring now and He was thinking of all of us. His will wasn’t forced on His Son. The bible is clear; Jesus freely laid down His life for us. He volunteered and he looked forward to the outcome. To Him it was a joy to reconcile us to the Father.

Hebrews 1:2 (NLT), “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (emphasis mine)

To Jesus, it was all worth it. The shame and the pain couldn’t keep Him from pleasing the Father. He faithfully endured it all.

And He did it for me, for you, for those who are living a miserable life and don’t know that there is a Father and a Friend who can change their lives forever.

Let’s do what it takes to please God.

Let’s let others know about this glorious, wonderful sacrifice and His undying love.

Book Review for “Fearless”-Christian Military Biography

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This was a wonderful biography of a true American Hero. Adam was the golden boy growing up, friend and defender to all. He became up as a drug addict as a young adult, but turned his life over to God, and became a Navy Seal. His team is the one who ultimately took out Bin Laden. This true story will touch your heart and make you proud of our enlisted men and women. I give this book 5 stars and recommend it to Christian and non Christians alike. A piece of modern history!

What Would You Die For?

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We throw words around so carelessly in the United States. It seems every generation accumulates more slang. (Sometimes I feel like a need a dictionary of slang just to understand what is being written on social media). One word that we love to throw around is the word “love,” pun intended. We love our friends and family, our pets, the deer that run through our back yard. We “love” sunsets, beaches, libraries, and the color green. We “fall in love,” “fall out of love,” and for some “love” is a word they use to get something they want, with no regard for the other person. We even “love” hotdogs, the Packers, that cute new purse, our dog, actors, famous people, our boat, and our home.

So, what do we really mean when we use that word?

I know that there are different types of love. The Bible clearly talks about them. I guarantee you; none of them include love for inanimate objects, food, or clothing. The Bible also tells us that God is love. I think it would be smart to look at Him to see what love really is. What does God love?

Well, He loves people. Good people and bad people. His love isn’t the sappy, fake, shallow love of this world. He loves in a way that has nothing in it for Him. No strings attached. It doesn’t depend on anything, period. Nothing or nobody can change that fact. We can’t even stop it or change it. There are millions of people who don’t love Him, some who haven’t so much as heard of Him, and others have believed the lies told about Him, but He still loves them. Talk about a one-sided love affair. In fact God loved us all so much, when we didn’t love Him, that He sent His Son to die for us.

John 3:16 (NET Bible), “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

The Bible goes on to show us more about this kind of love:
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NIV)

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV), “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 15:13 (NIV), “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I John 3:16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “By this we know his love toward us, for he gave his Life in our place, and it is right for us that we would give our lives for the sake of our brothers.”

That simplifies the question of what love really is, doesn’t it?

What do you really love?

What would you give your life up for?

Would you die for a hotdog?

He Is Willing

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God is willing. In Luke Chapter 5, a man with leprosy says to Jesus, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.” The Amplified says, “Lord, if you will, you are able to cure me and make me clean.”
The man knew that Jesus was able, but he was unsure about the willingness of Jesus. But Jesus proved His willingness by reaching out and touching the leper. Leprosy is highly contagious, that is why they had to live outside of the city and had to call out “unclean” as they walked among people. Years later, leper colonies were established to keep the spread down to a minimum. So needless to say, you never touched a leper. But Jesus did. God with Us reached out in love and touched this hurting, shamed, lonely man. Probably the first human contact the man had had in years, and most certainly his first contact with a loving Savior.
Jesus’ reply is simple, but life changing. “I am will: be cleansed.”

In Matthew 19 there are parents trying to bring their little ones to Jesus. The self-important disciples think that is ‘below’ Jesus to waste time with mere children. Jesus however said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for it is to those who are childlike that the Kingdom of the Heavens belongs.” No one was too young, too old, too rich, too poor, too pretty, too ugly, too far-gone for His love, His attention. He took time for them all.

Blind Bartimaeus knew this. Mark 10:46-52 The Message
“They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. Jesus said, “What can I do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you. “In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.”

He continued to yell, as they continued to tell him “shut up.” He heard the call. He knew that there was faith activated. He always knows. He went to the man who demanded an audience with the one who could restore his sight. Willingly Jesus granted his simple request. Bartimaeus lost the name “blind” that day.

Jesus is willing. God is willing. When Adam gave everything, legally, over to Satan, that was no surprise to the Father. He knew what was going to happen, but He willing created man and gave him dominion. Then when there was no other way for redemption, Jesus willingly shed His own innocent blood, bore our infirmities and sin, or shame and our punishment. The Ultimate Sacrifice. The Father willingly allowed His Son to pay our price. The cross proves their willingness.

Then the most amazing thing of all! They willingly forgive us for nailing Him to that symbol of shame! They willingly seat us in Heaven, right with Christ. They willingly hand over all authority and dominion that we so carelessly gave to the enemy!

Yes, He is willing. What do you need?

Living Beyond the Cross: Part Two

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We need to reverence the cross, its work, Christ’s sacrifice of love. But accept your place in the Kingdom, accept his Grace, walk in your God given authority. If you have accepted the atoning work of the cross, then walk through that door into the Throne room. Walk as a Saint, a Disciple of Christ, an ambassador of Heaven, a Son of the Most High, and a joint heir with Christ. Tell sickness to leave, command bodies to be whole, command minds to be sound. Declare your blessings. Are you in a hard place? What do God and his word have to say about it? Speak God’s word over it. Then don’t stop with you and yours do it for others, saved and unsaved alike. No one has to earn it, it’s theirs. The goodness of God turns hearts to repentance.
God just wants to love and bless people. He wants every area of our lives to be blessed, physically, spiritually, mentally, financially and any other area you can think of. He loves to bless his children and he wants his family to grow. Our job is to bring the Kingdom of light, of love to the lost world. We have to accept it ourselves first, “freely you have received, freely give.” The Kingdom is a King, a Kingdom and a Royal Family. It’s about a Father and the love he has for his children. He’s a good Father, wanting to give good gifts to his children. The Kingdom is the all compassing; never ending love of the Father poured out through Jesus and now shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Why? So we can do what Jesus did. Enlarge; add to the Kingdom/family of God. If they don’t become part of our family, then they remain with their father the devil. You are in one kingdom or the other, there is no neutral territory.
So in practical terms, if someone needs healing, we don’t need to explain the whole process of the cross, the stripes, the blood, they can learn the how and the why later. We just need to lay hands on them and pronounce them healed. Tell sickness to leave, tell health to come. Tell bodies to be whole, minds to be sound, debt to leave, money to come, bless people. What’s allowed in heaven? Allow it here. What’s not allowed in heaven? Don’t allow it here on earth. Is God poor, sick, sad, depressed, oppressed, tired…don’t allow that in our lives or the lives of the one’s he loves, (and he loves everyone). What is allowed in heaven? Peace, joy, strength, love, discernment, wisdom, riches, health, the list is too huge to include it all here. We don’t have to wait for heaven to have it. God already brought heaven into our hearts, now our job is to bring heaven here, to earth. The governments of this world can’t do it, the media, Hollywood, economics, education, those things can’t bring us heaven. God’s children, knowing who he is and who we are, we can!
All of creation groans, waiting for us to come into our authority.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and if children, then heirs-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time fare not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of god. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the hold creation groans and labors with birth pains together until now.” Romans 8:16-22
I am changing what I say, how I think and how I pray. That’s what true repentance is, changing our minds, turning away from the world and the kingdom of darkness to the love of God and the Kingdom of Light. Turning from out past to our glorious future in Christ. Jesus’ work on the cross provided the way for us to do that, his beautiful, horrible sacrifice…
I don’t want him to remain forever nailed there. Jesus moved past the cross, won’t you do the same?