Facing Fear

(There are fill in the blanks and room for questions and answers in this posting).

What is the worst thing that could ever happen to you?  Death, while perhaps intimidating is not the worst thing.  There is an appointment with death that God has on His schedule for you.  Hebrews 9:27 teaches, And as it is appointed unto men once to ______, but after this the judgment:

Perhaps the way a person dies is something that could cause fear.

Fear itself is not evil.  In fact, the Bible instructs us to fear God.  Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote a message God gave him in Ecclesiastes 12:13, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: ______ God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole _________ of man.

God wants us to “fear” Him.  What does this mean?

The Hebrew word for fear is “yare” and means

“to fear; morally, to revere; to be had in reverence.” -Strongs

History gives many examples of men who did not fear God.  Emperor Julian of Rome had decreed that Christianity be outlawed, and he vigorously sought to destroy it. Passing by an old Christian one day Julian said, “Where is your Christ now?” The old man replied, “Making a coffin for the Roman Emperor.”  At last death caught up with Julian, and he cried out, “O Galilean, thou hast conquered.”  –15,000

The Lord is worthy of all respect, awe, and admiration from you!  We should also be “fearful” of God if we remain at odds with God.  Our sinfulness apart from Jesus makes us enemies of God.

Hebrews 10:31: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  The lost are already judged and because of rejecting Christ are already condemned (John 3:18).  In light of Hebrews 10:31, Christians harboring sin, forsaking service with the church, and rebuffing the leading of the Holy Spirit are also at odds with the Lord.  They should be fearful of the correction the Lord may send.

Other than this healthy form of fear- fearing God, what is there to fear?  What are the six most common things you or people around you fear?

Did you list several of the hundreds of “phobia’s” the world fears?  When Peter and the disciples had questions and did not fully understand the will of God, Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22).  We need faith in God too!

Perhaps you have heard “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.”  It is a valid thought.  Here are 3 Bible characters who faced their greatest fears and saw the Lord do great things!  They learned to have faith in God.

Faith can help you face your greatest fears…

  • When You Feel Surrounded.

Imagine waking up one morning and going out for the day and seeing an elite army unit has surrounded your house. They have their equipment for spying, communicating, and weapons of warfare at the ready. They are not surrounding your neighbor’s house – they are surrounding your house.  The bullhorn and listening devices are pointed at you.  The rifles are shouldered, and your body is in their crosshairs.  You are the target.

Don’t say you would not be afraid!  That would be a shock, a real jolt to wake up to! This is exactly what happens to the prophet Elisha and his assistant, Gehazi.  Gehazi is the one who walks outside and sees they are surrounded.  What are the immediate thoughts that you believe would come to mind if this happened to you?   ______________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

Read the passage: 2 Kings 6:8-23

These men for God were literally surrounded by a band of enemies that were sent by the King of Syria to “snatch and grab” Elisha.  Most governments do not like military interference that spying can cause.  Sharing military secrets is not a game.

The Lord had revealed in advance to Elisha the plans of Syria to capture the king of Israel as he traveled.  Because Elisha had warned the king of Israel, the king had evaded all their attempts.

The enraged king of Syria wondered which of his servants was exposing their plot.  When each cabinet member and military leader passed the cross-examination, they realized that it was Elisha who was revealing the secrets.  How?  I wonder if God does not give hints amongst leaders and militaries today.

Nothing is a secret to God.  Daniel expressed this in another governmental setting to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 2:28:  But there is a God in ___________ that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days…

Who were these men surrounding Elisha and Gehazi?  It seems to be an elite group of military personnel working in conjunction with the espionage arm (CIA) of the Syrians.  For Syria to be the aggressor in this era indicates they had a more powerful army than Israel and were willing to go to war.

Here are several descriptions given of this “Snatch and Grab” unit: the Host (chayil) which means “a force or band of men.”  A different word, Bands (dwdg), is also used which indicates “a crowd of soldiers.”  It appears that this was not a full-scale attack army but rather an elite group of fighting men.  It was a specialized task force.

Gehazi is right.  There is no escape.  There is no way out of this one – or is there? When you feel surrounded by the problems and pressures of life, there are two truths you need to remember.

God’s provision is not always immediately known.

The Lord already had the situation under His control.  The angels of the Lord were already protecting His servants.  Elisha prayed that Gehazi would see God’s protection and provision.

Elisha already knew the score.  See verse 16.  This is a foreshadow of an amazing New Testament verse:  Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be ___________ us?

God is rarely early, but He is always on time.  With imminent danger ready to pounce on him, Gehazi had given up hope.  The fear of being surrounded was real and deadly.  However, the Lord had a different plan.  See verses 17-18.

When Gehazi’s eyes were opened to the spiritual dimension, he saw for the first time the presence of God’s angels.  He was about to witness a lifesaving miracle for everyone involved.  Even the lives of the enemies were spared.  Notice in verse 18 how the enemies come down to Elisha.  Elisha and Gehazi see the angels, but these enemy soldiers do not.  If we were observing this event play out – perhaps we would not have seen the angels.

From a human perspective – there is no hope.  But God is always on time.  His timing is always right, even though we tend to question His timing.  He hath made every thing beautiful in his time… (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  Elisha offered a prayer to God, and God answered his prayer right as the soldiers were about to apprehend him.  You may not see it with your eyes, but you can always believe “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

The band of enemy combatants was blinded temporarily by the Lord.  In an ironic and incredibly merciful scene, Elisha leads this band of elite soldiers right to the King of Israel.  Samaria was the capital of Israel at this time and is only about 12 miles from Dothan, where Elisha was confronted.

Gehazi experienced what David wrote about earlier in history in Psalm 34:4, I sought the LORD, and he _________ me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Be sure to pray for God’s deliverance when you feel surrounded.

  • When You Feel Too Small.

David was a teenager.  He was not the tallest or strongest, even in his very own family.  I imagine him to be about 5’9’ and 150 pounds (just a guess.)

When Goliath, the 10-foot, 400-pound giant arrives with the Philistine army, Saul and the Children of Israel have a major problem on their hands. The difference in size, stature, and strength is disparaging!  This potential discouragement alone would cause just about anyone to quit.

The army, under the leadership of Saul, had already quit.  No one was volunteering to face Goliath.  Fear was controlling the entire camp.  Israel under their first king was already in a real crisis.

The ravages of war are terrible. A group of academics and historians has compiled this startling information: since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed is equal to a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick. Since 650 B.C., there have also been 1,656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war. The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved.  We human beings seem to have an endless capacity for conflict! -6,000 Plus

Doing the math in 1 Samuel 17:5, we find that Goliath’s armor alone weighed 125 pounds, nearly as much as David!  David is the classic “underdog.”

Read: 1 Samuel 17:30-51.  While Saul’s army thought, “Goliath is too big,” David thought, “With God, I can’t miss!”  Here is how David responded:

Remember the Cause.  29-31.  The cause for life is the glory of God.  While Goliath is mocking the God if Israel, David is suggesting that his cause is to glorify the Lord!  We have the same “cause” to rally around today.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, ______ _______ to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, ______  _______ in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Glorifying God could be understood as “doing the right thing, the right way, with the right attitude, at the right time, all while praising and thinking about God.”  Pleasing the Lord is central to a person giving Him glory.

Realize Others Are Afraid.  32.  David sensed the shame in the camp.  Fear had already captivated the Israeli army.  Even Saul, the tallest and most respected Jew in the land did not know what to do next.  David’s words were not of condemnation.  He was not critical of the other men.  He demonstrated great faith in God and encouraged the other men to have faith in God too.  Let no man’s heart fail because of him.

When people around you are afraid – it is a good time to remind them and yourself to trust the Lord.  Proverbs 12:25 teaches, Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it __________: but a good word maketh it glad.

Reject Bad Counsel.  33-39.  Man’s methods to overcome problems are not that good.  Saul initially says, “you are too young.”  Then he says, “you have no experience fighting in war.”  After that he offers his very own royal armor.  David was too small to fit in the armor.  It was too heavy, and he had never worn any armor.  This was not a proven or tried-and-tested form of defense for him.

David went against the accepted forms of defense.  He rejected the common way of looking at this problem.  He looked to God for an answer.

You will find that humanity has its own ideas of protectiveness and peace.  While David rejected the conventional method, the Lord had him use a sling and 5 smooth stones.  If you are honest, most of your responses (positive) or reactions (negatives) that you resort to in times of crisis are things that you learned growing up.  For David, who grew up in Jessie’s home in the hillside of Bethlehem, 5 smooth stones and his sling were familiar and comfortable.  It had worked in the past.

When we are confronted with a crisis, not everything from our past will work.  New (to us) situations may cause us to look beyond our experiences and background.  In those moments, we must look to God, His Word, and even His servants who are willing to give Biblical counsel to help us.  Be sure that while you reject bad counsel, you also receive Biblical counsel.  “The Lord delivered me out of the paw of the lion.” 37.

Do you react in negative ways when the situation is bigger than you?  Some people get angry.  Others believe if they get “louder,” then the battle will be resolved.  Or, do you respond?  Do you confess your need for the Lord? Do you look for His solution to the problem?

Rely on God.  46-47.  I have never been really good with the “Y” shaped slingshots, and I certainly am not experienced with the type of sling that is whirled around the head and then released.  David was an expert marksman.  It has been said that guns are a great equalizer – no matter how big or small, strong or weak a person may be – if both people have a gun, they have equal power and equal potential in a conflict.  True thought.

Goliath had all the armor and conventional weapons of the day, but he did not have a sling.  No one thought this sling-swinging teenager had a chance.  But God was there.  God is BIGGER than the biggest enemy.  The Lord used the skill of David, the willingness of this teenager, and a single smooth stone to eliminate the single greatest threat to David, King Saul, and the young nation of Israel.  While doing what he could and should, David relied on the Lord. That’s Faith!

When you feel too small, remember how BIG God is.

  • When You Feel the Suffering.

Let me introduce to you a man named Job.  He lived in the day when dinosaurs lived in plain view of humanity.  Job had one crisis after another.  The things he feared most just kept coming his way.  How did he cope?  How did he recover in crisis?

  • The livestock (1000 oxen and 500 donkeys) in the family farming business were all stolen.  The foremen and ranch hands were all dead.
  • A lightning storm struck, killing all the sheep (7000) and workers in the family clothing empire.
  • The camels (3000), part of the family transportation, caravan, and vacation business were all stolen, and the “drivers” were all killed.
  • With all the wealth and livelihood gone, the most tragic thing happens next.  Job’s children (7 sons, 3 daughters), at a party, were all killed when the house they were in collapsed during a wind storm.

This is found in Job 1:13-22.  Job’s plight continued as his health was immediately assaulted, and for the next 12 months his body is in utter and constant pain (Job 2).  He feels suffering every day.

Job describes how the things he feared the most actually happened to him in Job 3:25-26.  The idea of these verses is that he had one bad experience after another.  In swift succession, evil, pain, and suffering overwhelmed his life.  What he feared most happened, then the next thing, then the next.

Have you ever felt like that?  What pain and suffering are you going thought now?  Emotional, relational, physical?  What sickness or surgery are you facing today?  Life is full of Job-like events.

Ever say, “It can’t get any worse?”  No one likes pain.  I am like you – I avoid it if at all possible!  Some pain and suffering are unavoidable.  How can we have faith when the fear of suffering becomes a reality?

Job continued to worship God.  1:20.  Before, during, and after these events, Job worshipped.  Are you faithful to the Lord during good times, or do you only turn to him during bad times?

Job confessed the temporary nature of life.  1:21.  He blessed God anyway.  At least he was blessed to have had these businesses.  For sure he knew he was blessed to have had these 10 kids.  Even when his health is ripped away from him, he still had life and breath to be thankful for.

Perhaps health problems are the most difficult to deal with.  Our pain affects and tests not only our physical bodies, but our cognition, emotions, relationships, and even spiritual life.  Undiagnosed or untreatable ailments are terrible.  Job knew that kind of pain.

Life includes problems.  Pain is a sad part of life.

  • Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of ________ days, and ________ of trouble.
  • Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our ______ unto wisdom.

Job persisted to bless the Lord.  (Verses 1:22, 2:9-10.)  He praises God in the good times and the bad times.

One of the possible struggles we have today is that we can be so busy making a living that we do not have a life.  Disasters, pain, and suffering tend to help us refocus on the main things in life: faith, family, and friends.

Job did not know it, but he was being persecuted for his faith – by Satan himself.  Paul encourages us when we too suffer for our faith in Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the ________________ of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the _____________ which shall be revealed in us.

God brought Job through the pain and suffering.  Job is restored double of everything he lost.  After a year of physical pain, his body is made whole.  He lives out his days closer to God than ever before.  He has a fresh perspective in life, and the hand of God (while evident during suffering) was also seen in Job’s blessing.

What to do when facing the fear of suffering?  Remember, that God has an eternal plan for your life, and it is worth the living!  His mercy can be seen even in the suffering you may endure.

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the ______________ of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Whatever you fear, be encouraged – do not give up.  Get back in the game of life and glorify God!

In his autobiography, William Allen White related the story of a boyhood playmate, Temple Friend, who was kidnapped by the Indians when he was quite young. Ironically, Temple’s grandfather was a missionary to the Indians. The Lord’s servant persisted in believing his grandson was alive. He continued to love and serve the church. He never allowed Indian conduct to sour his spirit. When visiting an Indian village, the old man would line up the boys who would be about the age of his missing grandson, and whisper, “Temple, Temple,” quietly in the ear of each boy, so as not to excite them or the community. He followed this procedure day in and day out. Finally, he found about twelve boys the age of his grandson in one district—all eight to ten years old—and he started the same procedure. At the middle of the line a little boy’s face lighted up, and he responded, “Me Temple!”  -1000

Faith can help you face your greatest fears…

  1. What fear can you give to God? __________ ____________________________________
  2. What areas do you need to trust God with? ____________________________________ ____________________________________

 

 

 

Get Back in the Game

Fear. Aloneness. Anxiety. Struggles.

Failure. Losses. Stress. Falling. Disappointment.

Falsehoods. Lies. Stories. Regret. Pain.

Each of us will experience the above forms of suffering at some point in our lives.  Some of us may seemingly endure more pain and agony than others.  How do we cope?  How can we rise above the fears, failures, and falsehoods that life throws our way?

Faith.  Faith is the answer.  Easy to say – perhaps more difficult to put into practice.

One day John Wesley was walking with a troubled man who expressed his doubt as to the goodness of God. He said, “I do not know what I shall do with all this worry and trouble.” At the same moment Wesley saw a cow looking over a stone wall. “Do you know,” asked Wesley, “why that cow is looking over the wall?” “No,” said the man who was worried. Wesley said, “The cow is looking over the wall because she cannot see through it. That is what you must do with your wall of trouble—look over it and avoid it.” Faith enables us to get above circumstances and look to Christ who is over all, blessed forever.   -Knight’s

David knew about faith in the face of fear, failure, and falsehoods.  He wrote in Psalm 56:3, What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. And in verse 11: In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Faith is the answer to all of life’s troubling events.

This solution is not “faith in faith” but rather faith in God.  David looked to the Lord for help in times of trouble.

Even though David was sidelined from time to time, he got back in the game of life.  Fear has a way of crippling our actions.  Failing has the potential to discourage you to the point of quitting.  Falsehoods, lies by others, and even lies you may believe about yourself can knock you off your feet.

How do you get back up?  How can the Christian recover from the various problems he will face?  Can God use me despite my fear?  Can the Lord pick me up after my failure?  Can the falsehoods be forgiven and a new life forged?

Life crises happen.  A life crisis always precedes a faith crisis.  Your faith will be tested and tried.

Some people never recover.  Why?  Their response to the crisis makes all the difference…

Please follow the next few posts for more about Getting Back in the Game…..

 

 

 

Building Your Kids

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

The house is going up.  In the field where the large tree fell, a new home is being built.  On our way to school, my children make comments, and we enjoy watching the progress on this house as we drive by each day.  The house is going up systematically.  From the foundation on up, there is a building plan.  God gives us building plans for our kids.

An admonition, then a direct command, is given to fathers in particular in Ephesians 6:4.  From what I understand about ancient cultures, some pagan fathers in false religions could be very harsh, demanding, and demeaning to their children.  Prodding or provoking them to get a reaction out of them was a sadistic type of amusement that some would seek to find.

In a conventional sense today, as children misbehave, it is easy for a tired or busy parent to be more rash in their reactions to their children.  I read one study that suggested parents of young children are more angry than most people!  If you are nodding off while reading this after a sleepless parenting night, I totally understand.  But when our children misbehaving, or sin, not obeying and honoring like they should – do not fly off the handle.  Do not exact a revengeful form of correction towards them.

Commentator Adam Clark wrote well: “Cruel parents generally have bad children. He who corrects his children according to God and reason will feel every blow on his own heart more sensibly than his child feels it on his body. Parents are called to correct, not to punish, their children. Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.”  The interaction of a parent with a child should not be rooted in shaming them, or creating a false sense of guilt, or even generating fake conformity.  Truly a parent must nurture the heart.

After this admonition to not cause wrath in a child, the Lord instructs the parent, the father, in particular, to bring up a child.  The phrase, bringing up, carries the idea of a systematic approach to building something.  Like the house being constructed that we drive by each day is being built with a specific order, plan, and design in place, the father should have a plan for the progressive building of his children.  Two words to consider:

Nurture is the tutilage or systematic training and educating of a child.   Remember, in school, the teacher took you through a book, page by page, and chapter by chapter?  Subjects and topics related to one another were taught to you in a complimentary way.  For example, in math class, you probably learned addition before you learned subtraction.  Then multiplication came before division.   You get the idea.

Admonition is to call attention to or to offer a mild warning or rebuke.   When a child is tempted to do wrong, that is an excellent time to provide a word of caution, a reminder of the consequences, a rebuke of wrong thinking or wrong attitude.   Paul says in Romans 15:14 that those with “goodness” in them can admonish one another.  Be sure to give consistent guidance to your children.  Two challenges:

  • Angry parents damage the emotions of their children.
  • Absent parents damage the emotions of their children.

Find the right balance to be building your kids up.  Just like a class in school and a house being built, you are called to systematically and continuously develop your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not easy in this world.  The Church will help you.  Sunday School and AWANA programs can help.  The church and the kid’s programs are not a replacement for the father.  No one can replace the healthy interaction and integration of Bible truth in their ones children.

Next time you see a house being built, think about how God has called you to develop your child.

Please offer suggestions for building up kids in the faith in the comment section…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree Who Stood Alone

Not long ago, just down a ways from our church building, a property was cleared of nearly every tree.  This flat one acre or so of real estate was cleared and excavated for a new house.  After removing 30-40 trees, there was one tree left in this new field.  It appeared it was left to be a showcase piece.  Standing at over 60 feet tall, this tree would stand tall and proud in this recent development against the backdrop of a new house.

Then it happened.  A storm came.  The rain fell.  The wind blew.

The now single tree, standing proud by itself in the cleared field, fell down.  Great was the fall of it!  The tree had grown up in a community with other trees.  As it grew from a sapling to a tall height of 60 feet, it was not alone.  The fibers of its core were not stretched and bent as much as it had been during the wind storm that night.

As trees grow, the storms that come make them stronger.  The wood grain is stretched as the tree bends in the wind.  The fibers harden under stress a storm brings about.  In the woods with other trees, the other trees share the burden, slow the wind-down, and create a buffer from the ravages of standing alone in the storm.

Life is much like a storm to a tree.  A tree can stand alone, and many trees do.  But the tree is most likely to grow healthy and not fall over when in community with other trees.  A tree is less likely to fall over when it is with other trees.

The God Who created the trees and forests is the same God who created humankind.  He designed our humanity to need spiritual, social, and physical interaction.  We find the community we need in something called The Church.  Christians need to be with their church to grow, develop in healthy ways, and to help when storms come.

Sure, Christians in church occasionally fall, but no one is taking statistics on how many people do not fall because they are faithfully involved in a church community.  I have not seen reports about people who did not fall into sin, or who did not abandon their Christianity – because of the church.  But the fact that a church remains is evidence that it works.  The Bible teaches in Hebrews 10:25, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Christian, we desperately need each other as this world grows increasingly sinful.  The storms of life may be increasing, but God is greater!  He has given you and I a healthy network of friends, fellow Christians with which to worship God, serve Him, and encourage others.

Your church desperately needs you.  Someone at church needs your friendship.  Someone at church needs to see your smile each Sunday and enjoy an embrace, handshake, or word of blessing.

Will some people in church fall?  Will some storms come that they will mishandle?  Sure.  That is what Solomon is talking about in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 

More people will succeed if you are there to encourage them in the first place.  Others will get back up after falling when they receive your help to stand back up with the other Christians in a church community.

Don’t stand alone.  Stand with other Christians.  Storms will come.  Others need you.  You need them.  Go to church. Participate.  Avoid falling.  If you fall, get back up with the church of others.  If you see someone fall, help them get back up.

Don’t be a singular tree in a field.  Stand tall with your church.

 

Grace and Peace

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 1:3

In the opening comments from the Apostle Paul to the people of the Galatian region, he offers the words grace and peace.  As Christians, we are thankful for the grace of God, and we are blessed to know we have peace with God and the peace of God!   God loves you, and I so much that He gives us this grace and peace.  You are valuable to God!

Grace is something from the Lord.  It is not something we earn or deserve.  God’s grace is freely given and freely received.  Getting better than what we deserve is a fantastic thing about the grace of God!

Peace is incredible too.  Do you have peace with God?  Is a guilty conscience rattling your soul?  Is your life full of unresolved regret?   You can make peace with God today.  Confess any sin or regretful instances of experience to the Lord and ask Him to heal your soul.  He will.  Make peace with God by finding forgiveness and a new life in Jesus Christ.  Please see the “How to Have Eternal Life” section on this site.  Peace with God is looking to the future and ensuring your salvation in Jesus.

What about the peace of God?  The order of God is something for living each day.  All of us have challenges and struggles, and as we move forward in our peace with God, there are times where we may not fully realize the peace of God.  Peace. Contentment. Satisfaction.  All of this is part of the peace of God that we can enjoy daily!  This peace is living a life of less stress, more easiness of mind, and a better understanding of God’s presence.

Be encouraged with God’s grace and peace today – you are worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 is Good for More than Vision

What is your eyesight according to the eye doctor?  Need correction?  With today marking the new year and the calendar turning to 2020, be encouraged that 2020 is good for more than eyesight only.  What do you want to see in your life in 2020?  Do you have any goals or dreams that you would like to see the Lord achieve in your life this year?

With more than near-term thinking, could 2020 be the year of the rapture?  Could Jesus return to the clouds of this sphere and take Gospel believing Christians to Heaven?  It could happen.

Jesus says in Luke 12:40, Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.  Could 2020 be the year?  Theologian Charles Ryrie writes of this verse: “There is no place for slothful ease in the life of a believer while waiting or the return of the Lord.”  Very true words.

Sense 2020 is good for more than vision, what are some things I can look for in the year 2020?

  1. A rejuvenated love for Jesus.  Read your love letter from God, the Bible more.
  2. A renewed sense of serving Jesus.  Find ways to help others to glorify God.
  3. A rekindled participation in church life.  More than attend, participate.

Are these important?  Yes!  Jesus could return for the Gospel believer at any moment.  When He does come, our love for Jesus, service to Jesus, and participation with other Christians in church will take on a paramount priority in our life – but when the rapture happens, it will be too late!  Once the trumpet sounds, the love for Jesus will continue in Heaven, the service will continue (or begin for some) in Heaven, and the people we fellowship with at church (or avoid due to lack of attendance and participation) will continue (or begin) in Heaven!

Make the most of 2020 for demonstrating love and devotion to Jesus.

This world probably does not have another Century before the rapture.

The First Song Ever on Radio!

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  Luke 2:15

It was the year 1906.  Theodore Roosevelt from New York was President of the USA (and as a first for an American President, he left the country and inspected the Panama Canal), a revival was taking place in churches on the West Coast, the 7.8 earthquake rattled Los Angeles, Bradbury Robinson of the Saint Louis University throws the first forward pass in football, and the earliest broadcast on over the air radio was transmitted.  It was a progressive era.  The AM radio did not even have regular broadcasting on it until the 1920s.  The technology was new and cutting edge.

Inventor and Canadian Reginal Fessenden sent out the first radio broadcast on December 24.  For the very first radio signal sent, he chose to play the Christmas Carol O Holy Night.  After playing the song on his violin himself, Fessenden read from Luke 2, the Christmas story, according to Luke. This broadcast was made in Brant Rock, MA, with radio operators along the coast listening in.

The very first song played on the radio was on Christmas Eve, and it was a song about – Christmas!

How fitting that on the precipice of new and wonderful communication technology that in Biblical fashion, the good news is proclaimed and shared. Like and angels, the shepherds, and the first radio broadcaster, Christmas is good news worth sharing and giving.

With all the new technology our world is immersed in, phones, PC’s media, podcasts, XM, and good old fashioned AM or FM, don’t forget about Jesus.  In spite of all of the crackly “static” around you be sure to remember Jesus and share His gift with others.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Little Town

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the Old Testament prophet named Micah was given a message from God.  This message was very particular about the place where the Messiah would be born.  Jesus fulfilled this and many other prophecies!

It was small as far as towns go.  Bethlehem was a quiet little town that was known for raising the sheep that were used in Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.  In the very same fields, David tended to his father’s sheep as a youngster is the place the shepherds we read in Luke 2 are working.   It is in this sleepy little place that God would come to earth in human form.

Phillips Brooks wrote the Christmas favorite “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in 1868.  Its words have filled church houses, homes, and hearts ever since.  Each verse carries a significant meaning about the purpose of Jesus coming to this year.

  • Verse one teaches about hope in a time of darkness and fear.
  • Verse two emphasizes the peace that Jesus brought when He came to earth.
  • Verse three encourages meekness as it is only those humble enough to receive Jesus for salvation – that actually do repent and believe in Him.
  • Verse four is a call to salvation – to let Jesus into your heart.  If you have not trusted in Jesus for salvation, believe in Him today.  Receive the gift of eternal life and become a Christian right now.  Ask Jesus in faith for forgiveness of sins, express in a prayer belief in His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, and receive Him into your heart.

Here is the entire carol.  Enjoy!

1 O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie;
above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by:
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

2 For Christ is born of Mary,
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
and peace to men on earth.

3 How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still,
the dear Christ enters in.

4 O holy child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin and enter in;
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!

Merry Christmas!  The merriest Christmas one can have is when a person knows for sure they are saved, forgiven of sin, and have Jesus in their heart.  Accept Him today.

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The Trash Thieves

We hear of this more and more each holiday season. Some people steal boxes as soon as they are delivered to a house. UPS, Fed Ex, and USPS are working overtime in deliveries and thieves are working overtime at collecting the deliveries. Have you seen that in the news? Simple crooks may prowl through a neighborhood looking for boxes left on lonely looking porches. 

One woman with extra Amazon boxes who had ten packages stolen in last week thought of a bright idea. She filled the boxes with garbage, taped them back up, and set them out to see if people would dispose of her trash. They did! 

I like how she became proactive to protect her house and her stuff. While small, this may cause the thieves to think twice about stealing from her front porch. She did not give up. She decided to act.

Jesus said Satan is out to “steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10). In the Christian life, we have a thief that is out stalking our lives looking for the opportune moment to steal our joy, rob our peace, and take our satisfaction. Don’t let him steal from you!  

Don’t’ put trash in the boxes of your life; you can be proactive in other ways. 

  1. Read the Bible each day.
  2. Spend time with God in daily prayer.
  3. Find someone to tell about Jesus.
  4. Be with your church regularly, finding ways to minister and serve. 

There is no need to fear.  Paul told the Colossi Christians in Colossians 3:15, And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  These four practices result in good spiritual health, will protect you when the enemy shows up to discourage you, and will help you glorify the Lord Jesus in your life.

Be proactive in the Christian life.

The Man Singing in the Window and the Outdoor Concert

The Christmas music was reverberating through the streets. People were exuberantly pacing the town. Aromas of coffee, hot chocolate, and special foods wafted through the Winter air. Bundled up in warm clothes and ready for seasonal fun, thousands of people walked the streets of Saratoga Springs in what is known as the “Victorian Street Walk.”

Some vendors give food; others put on shows. Performers walk the streets and on occasion, stop walking to act or sing and draw a crowd. Santa was playing his saxophone. Some churches hand out tracts or materials. Our church handed out invitations to our Christmas Concert.

Two performers drew my attention: One was a large contemporary church with the music reverberating through the streets. Their performance consisted of a choir and several talented vocalists with live accompaniment music. They were singing many well-known Christian Christmas songs in addition to cheerful secular Christmas songs. It was loud. They were there. They had a presence to them. Standing in the freezing temperatures, thousands of people saw and heard them that night. They got their message across very effectively.

Then there was another talented act. Not many people were attracted to this performance. As I walked in search of some of our team, I noticed him. Standing behind a large pane of glass, in the warmth and comfort of a storefront, a man played the piano. He played some of the same songs as energetically as the others. He sang with the same or even better vocal quality. He was putting on a high-quality show – but no one was watching. He had a microphone with the sound system speakers blaring outside the store. He sang so well it sounded like a recording! However, as I peered from across the street, I observed no audience outside the storefront witnessing his performance. There were a couple of people inside cheering on the Man in the Window. But no one outside the storefront was engaged in his show.

I wonder. I suggest. It seems that many churches and Christians are like the Man in the Window. We have the right message and even some level of quality in our presentation but are not engaging the community outside the church. In many cases, we preach to ourselves and are not effectively reaching out. Engaging others, evangelism, outreach are hallmarks of biblical Christianity. 

As Jesus sat at dinner in Luke 14, He tells a parable to those at the table. A rich man with great authority throws a feast with lots of terrific food, and he instructs his servants to invite many people to attend this feast. Specific invitees give various reasons why they cannot participate in the feast. Who doesn’t want good free food? Jesus even used the term “excuse.” A recent wedding. A newly acquired piece of property. One did not come because he just bought some cattle. After hearing all the excuses, the host commands his servants to, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

Very practical teaching from Jesus. God the Father is hosting the meal. The meal is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb of God in Heaven. The servants are the Christians of today. Each Christian must look at his life as being yielded to the Lord. The people invited to the feast are the people currently outside of the church. They are the ones God expects us to witness. He wants us to compel people to be saved. To encourage people to come to church. To invite them to come to salvation.

When Jesus came to earth, He came on a mission of mercy. A rescue mission to save us from our sins. God the Father gave His Son, giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Jesus gave His life for us. He died, paying the price for our sins and rose again three days later, then ascended into Heaven. This Gospel message is beautiful. Christmas is all about Christ! And yet, most of the world does not know this. Will you engage others in authentic Christmas conversation, about Jesus?

Let’s not be like the Man in the Window. Many churches are having less and less people each week. The churches that are reaching out more effectively seem to have more and more people each week. Preach the Gospel. Keep encouraging the saints. Be equipped and challenged to reach out more.  

Reach out. Invite others. Give Gospel tracts. Talk about Jesus. Tell others the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Who will you personally invite to church to attend with you this week?
  • Who will you talk to Jesus about this week?
  • Who will give a Christmas Gospel tract to this week?

Don’t be like the Man in the Window.