It’s the HOLYdays . . . visit your family!

At this time of the year is when most people make time to visit those family members that we haven’t seen in a while. We make long trips, flying across the states, or driving hours for a a few days to visit with loved ones. It’s great to have the conveniences of today to travel so easily and quickly.

About 2000 years ago, Mary journeyed to see Elizabeth. A simple 90 mile, less than 2 hour trek in our day. However, this trip from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea could easily have taken 3 or more days, even in a hurry.

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

If Mary hadn’t believed yet (which I believe she did based on her obedience), she had to have been reassured by Elizabeth’s greeting!

This is the first inclination we receive that Mary not only believed, but now also praised God for His actions:

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mary rejoiced that she would become the mother of our Savior and Lord!

What’s even better is that she remembered God’s promises: God has promised to be merciful to us, and has provided a way of ETERNAL Salvation to those who believe. I’m glad that even though I don’t remember all of my promises, that my Lord remembers His! Praise His Holy Name!

And Happy HOLYdays to anyone “politically correct” out there!

How can this be?

Now on to our regularly scheduled program. Last week, I finished recording the birth announcement of John (the Baptist) to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Today, we pick up with the announcement of the birth of Christ to Mary and Joseph.

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:26-30 NKJV)

At this point, I can imagine Mary, after first being a little afraid, she must be thinking: “Hmm, wonder what I’ve done to find favor in God’s eyes. Well, we’ll see; must be something good….”

The angel then continues…

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:30-38 NKJV)

Interestingly, although many of us would have many more questions for God, our records show that Mary really only had one question during this entire encounter. “How can this be?”

And I love the answer that Gabriel gives her

For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37 NKJV)

What happens next? Mary is obedient. No more questions; instead, she immediately accepts God’s plan for her life, and says “Let it be.”  Wow, I wish I could be so quick to be obedient!

I’m not perfect! (Correction to Previous Post)

I’m not perfect . . . (wow, I hate to admit that). No, seriously, I’m not!

And I want to Thank Christy who kindly corrected me last week on the mistake in my blog.  I wrote concerning Zechariah:

And then John because of his disbelief, became mute until the birth of his son

The correct statement should be:

And then Zechariah because of his disbelief, became mute until the birth of his son John

The good news is that some of you are actually reading my blog and paying attention to what I write, and that is a blessing to me.

If you EVER find a mistake, PLEASE let me know!  I welcome the correction. The Bible clearly teaches over and OVER again, that false teaching is to be CORRECTED.  While I did not purposely mislead or misprint anything in this blog, I did make a mistake, and I have asked God for forgiveness of it. I would ask that if you find a mistake that is clearly erroneous that you contact me so that I can correct it.

The Bible tells us:

The righteous hate what is false … (Proverbs 13:5)

Therefore, I expect you to want to help me be true. And as for me:

[ I ], however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1 NIV)

Thanks for reading!

Drink water YOU!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you breaking news on DRINKING WATER! In the middle of this Christmas Story montage, I wanted to break in to bring you an update on water.

That’s right, you’ve heard it before! Water is good for you! (according to WebMD.com source code:  http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water)

1.        Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids

2.        Water Can Help Control Calories

3.        Water Helps Energize Muscles

4.        Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good

5.        Water Helps Your Kidneys

6.        Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function

With all these good things about water, and the continually reminder by doctors and practitioners that water is 60% of more of the body’s mass, we should focus on water!

But consider this:

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”   (John 4:7-10 ESV, emphasis mine)

Any of us can drink water for our body, but our current body is only here for a short time. Jesus speaks of our eternal soul when mentioning living water:

11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:11-15 ESV)

Do you want to never thirst again? Drink LIVING water – accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior! [contact me or click http://www.whativaluemost.com/Gospel_main.aspx for details]

Finish what you started!

I’ve been known to not finish what I start:  from wood projects to dishes (as early as last night – sorry Nana,). For some reason, I easily get distracted and forget what I was doing. And I’ll blame my age for not remembering what I was doing. These are excuses I use use when I don’t do what I was meant to be doing.

In the name of continuing the Christmas story, we must finish what we started:

Zechariah had just finished burning incense, as part of his duty as serving as priest before God:

When his division was on duty and [Zechariah] was serving as priest before God,  it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.  (Luke 1:8-9 HCSB)

During this time, he learned from the angel Gabriel that his wife would concieve a son. Zechariah was filled with disbelief that he and his wife at such an old age:

“How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18 HCSB)

And then Zechariah because of his disbelief, became mute until the birth of his son John

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept making signs to them and remained speechless.

At this point in the story, I always seem to ask myself “How would I react to such news and event?” Would I run home and tell Kimberly immediately what happened? [obviously not, I would be mute]. The real question is, would I finish what I started?

Zechariah finished what he started:

When the days of his ministry were completed, he went back home. (Luke 1:23 HCSB)

Then we find out, as we always do, that the Lord always finishes what He starts!

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived and kept herself in seclusion for five months. She said, 25 “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:21-25 HCSB)

Isn’t it great to know that the Lord has a plan, He has laid it out before us, and then He always finishes it! I can’t wait for the day when Jesus returns, and finishes what God has planned for us:

7 “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.”

. . . Worship God.” 10 He also said to me, “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.”

12 “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Revelation 22: 7, 9-15 HCSB)

What was that?

As someone who has a slight hearing deficit, there are many times that I find myself asking people to repeat their words. In fact, if I’m in a different room than someone else, the likelihood of me hearing what they say is very slim.

This was not the case for Zechariah. It wasn’t that he had a hearing deficit; he merely didn’t understand how what Gabriel said could be true:

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.

8 When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him:

Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.14 There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

18 “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (Luke 1:5-20 HCSB)

 

As we approach the Christmas season, I thought it appropriate to begin reminding us of the Christmas story from beginning to end. This event foreshadows the coming of Jesus, and is the first among a series devoted to remind us of the Christmas/Nativity story. But let’s not forget that throughout the Christmas story (with it’s primary focus around Jesus), there are many lessons that can be learned about our obedience and trust in God. In this case,  Zechariah had to face the consequence of being mute due to his lack of faith in what Gabriel said God would provide.

Home Sweet Home

I don’t know how many of you have ever been without a “home” for an extended time.
Just recently, as many of you know, I spent about 7 months in transient in a 1 bedroom apartment. Because I didn’t expect to be there long, I didn’t bring along many items from home. I loaded only the “necessities,” and thought that time would pass quickly. Unfortunately, the passing days grew longer and longer, while the apartment grew smaller and smaller. I didn’t have my belongings, so every day I felt more and more out of place, not at home.

Finally, we made it; we are in our home again and the movers brought our stuff. It feels good, . . . no, it feels GREAT to be “home” again.

Do you ever feel that way spiritually?
Jesus promised us before He ascended to Heaven that He was preparing a home for us:

 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2 ESV)

Sometimes we can feel like we don’t belong here. Our lives are turned upside down. The world pushes in on us, and we don’t know if we can bear the load anymore. Maybe it’s our job that’s so demanding, or family stresses that are weighing us down. Maybe it’s just an empty feeling that we get, not knowing what our purpose here on earth is. No matter what the cause, these stresses can lead us to feel like our lives are just not headed in the right direction.

Thankfully, there is good news! Jesus has told us that this life is not the end. He is preparing a place for us, and will be coming soon to gather us and bring us home.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:3 ESV)

And while Jesus is gone, He also said we can rejoice because:

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,

whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and

bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you;

my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:25-27 ESV)

Jesus is preparing to receive us in His Father’s house. In the meantime, we can rest in knowing that His peace and the Holy Spirit will guide us until our Homecoming!

Born OK?

Atheists are now marketing a cartoonish bumper sticker that reads: ‘Born OK the First Time.’

While I believe in free speech, the message this sends is rather disturbing. The “proud” owners that display these on their vehicles have undoubtedly heard us “Christians” preach Jesus’ teachings from John 3:3 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

What disturbs me is not so much the words displayed, but the fact that there are still people that believe that they are OK. (And by that, I mean acceptable to God and having a future in Heaven).

As Christians, we have not only failed to communicate, but probably done it so poorly that people are now opposed to our (Jesus’) teaching to the extent that they want to send their anti-Christian message back to us. Atheists are tired of hearing us preach Salvation. So, how should we react?

Obviously the answer is NOT to stop going and telling. Jesus clearly told us to go! However, He did tell His disciples in Matthew 10:14 (NIV):
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

How do we combine these apparently contradictory messages of “Go and tell” and “Leave that town?” I think the answers lies in not only “telling” others but by SHOWing others why they need Christ in their life. Remember the only Bible some people will read is your life.

What can you do to live as Christ would live?