Tag Archives: Purpose

The Sheep of Bethlehem

The Sheep of Bethlehem

He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  Psalm 78:70-71

As the family inheritance was passed down from Boaz to Obed, Jesse and eventually David, we find Bethlehem (the House of Bread) with all the Barley fields of Boaz become a sheep herding location.  The first time we meet David, he is out in the fields, “keeping the sheep” of his father Jesse.

When it comes time for King David to make sacrifice and bring home the Ark of the Covenant to the “City of David”- that is Jerusalem, it is fitting that he would have found the sheep for sacrifice in his hometown.  Following the lead of the Shepherd/King David – his son, Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple sought after many sheep for sacrifice.  From the time of Solomon and David it is clear that the Lambs used for Temple worship and Sacrifice in Jerusalem, were raised 6 miles south in a place called….. Bethlehem.

The shepherds of Bethlehem were partially careful to take care of the sheep.  They would stay with the pregnant ewes and help with deliver.  The stables the shepherds used were the many caves in the hillside of Bethlehem.  These caves offered a safe, warm, and dry place for delivery of the lambs. And best of all: When the lambs were born the shepherds wrapped the lambs in “swaddling clothes!”

It is into this “sheep producing” town that the Lord sent His Son Jesus.  Jesus was born in the “Stable” or shepherds cave just a short distance away from the Inn his parents were turned away from.  It is to this area of the world, renowned for terrific “sheep stock” that the Lord sent the Last Lamb that would ever be needed for sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:10 teaches: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Yes, the sheep of Bethlehem paved the way, and painted a picture of the final sheep that would be required of God.  Jesus is the final sacrifice, making the only way for a person to be saved and forgiven of their sins.  Have you accepted the gift of eternal life?  Have you believed in the “Lamb of God” which taketh away the sins of the world?  Why not believe in Jesus today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Will to Live

The Will to Live

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?  Proverbs 18:14

God has given to man an incredible powerful (yet not all-powerful) attribute – man’s will. The spirit of a man can help him cope, deal with, and go through incredible and extraordinarily challenging difficulties. When a man “loses spirit” that is when he is most susceptible to giving up, giving in, or “Throwing in the towel.”

I have seen this “will power” to live when visiting the hospital rooms of those with terminal illness.  Sometimes their resolve is the only reason (other than the will of God) that they are alive.  Medically speaking, humanly speaking, they should not be alive, but they are by the grace of God.  They are looking forward to another day.  They have hope for a better tomorrow.

I have also seen the shift in countenance when a person has lost hope, when they are no longer fighting the sickness, when the body has been diminished to the point of their giving up.  Even the possibility of pain and suffering can change our minds.

Yes, the spirit of man can sustain through sickness.   Generally speaking – as long as there is life and breath – a person has hope of getting better.  This is a wonderful perspective that God has given to mankind.  If you are facing extreme health conditions, if you are discouraged emotionally, have hope.  God cares for you.  There are other people who love you.  Set up a time to meet with a Christian counselor if you are in a state of despair.  Get help in nurturing the God given “spirit of a man.”

In recent days, we have seen an uptick in celebrities and famous people take their own life in suicide.  In spite of the fame and financial status, something was missing in their lives.  They gave up.  They lost hope.  Causes are certainly different and individualistic to each case, but overall – they missed the purpose for living. Perhaps they were “wounded in spirit.”  If you are depressed or deeply discouraged – talk to a Christian Counselor today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Make the call today.

Please know that everyone will face discouragement from time to time.  It is a natural part of the human experience.  There will be low moments of extreme disappointment.  The Lord can help you through those times.  There will also be times of great joy!

There is natural “Will to live.”  Be sure to allow the Lord to nurture that will!  He is the One who gives meaning and purpose to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Like Zach

Be Like Zach

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.”  On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan.  Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him.  I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.

There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today.  With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.

Zaccheus was loaded.  He had a large house.  He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer.  He was one of the richest people in his hometown.  His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.

Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth.  Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.

No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism.  Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys.  For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.

Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho.  Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold.  If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land.  During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.

Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho.  He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor.  “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire.  Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel.  In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate.  For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves.  People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.

One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho.  Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.”  As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes.  It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.

Zaccheus had a big problem however.  Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27).  Zach could not see.  He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.

Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking.  He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction.  Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.”  Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.

His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho.  The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”

The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs.  Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need the gift of eternal life.

As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission.  Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world.  “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin.  Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost.  There are others who are religious and educated, but lost.  There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.

The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus.  The first and greatest missionary was Jesus.  He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.

  • Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
  • Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
  • And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired.  Our value and worth comes from God.  God loves us.  He loves you!  God created you.  He made you and has given you life and opportunity.  Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places.  Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.

Zaccheus was a changed man.  Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.”  When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen.  He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.

Three truths to take away:

  1. Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
  2. Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
  3. Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Participate in your church missions program.  Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.

 

 

 

A Parental Challenge

A Parental Challenge

The following moth story can help us understand part of our role as parents:  “One man noticed an emperor moth struggling to emerge through a small hole in its cocoon so he decided to assist it. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the cocoon. The moth emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. Later the man learned the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.” – Fresh

Sometimes allowing a child to suffer consequences is the best thing for them to develop proper character going forward.   Parenting is such a demanding calling and requires much patience and personal discipline to properly train and develop a child.  Parenting is a challenge!

Colossians 3:21 teaches, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Parents who take serious the Bible admonitions about parenting will want to know what this verse means in their daily life.  Parents must be parenting with purpose.  There must be an end goal, a hopeful desire that you want to see achieved before your child leaves your home.  Besides the physical and academic growth, we should strive for our children to be more like Jesus, exhibiting real Christ-likeness and not simply outer conformity. It is a terrific goal.  Consistent and specific development objectives should be worked towards.

Part of the goals you have should include – not discouraging your child.

Discouraged is defined as “to be spiritless, i.e. disheartened: –to be dismayed.”

Have you ever watched a child wondering through life and it seems his eyes are glazed over?  Perhaps you have seen a teenager seem totally in a fog.  Sometimes this is attributed to illegal drugs, or it may be a child who has been abused or neglected.  Sometimes it is caused by overused behavioral medications.  At any rate, we have all seen children that seem to have no drive, desire, or motivation. They are emotionless, going through the motions of life.

A child living with a lot of anger eventually becomes a child who has been discouraged to the extreme.  He may look as if he has no reason to live.   According to Colossians 3:21, a parent could provoke his child to this extreme form of discouragement.

Provoke is a Bible term that means to “to stimulate (especially to anger).” In the context of this verse, the word “anger” is connected to this word “provoke.”

Angry words, lifting of the voice, a lack of attention, a perception of not loving or caring could each be ways a child is stimulated to anger.

Anger left unchanged will become consistent discouragement.  Disillusionment can set in early in life.  So many children today are cynical about life.

There are many other areas we could consider that could provoke a child to anger: making fun of a child, making a big deal about small things, not giving a purpose in the home (such as responsibilities which give meaning and purpose), embarrassing a child on purpose, and even  not giving good council and clear direction for choices (“What do you want to do?” Is not good parenting.  “What does God want you to do?” Or, “What does the Bible say you should do?” Is much better.).  You get the idea.  Here are three areas we must avoid or we may provoke our children to anger and if left unchecked, disillusionment with life could develop:

  • Allowing Arguing is not proper parenting. When a parent comes down to peer level and allows arguing, it creates insecurity in the child and feeds the natural man’s desire for rebellion.  A child allowed to argue will become good at manipulation to get his or her own way.  Big and sweeping changes happen in a family when a child becomes boss.  Even the least bit of argument can create a spirit of anger.  Constant battles, raised voices, angry words, flashes of facial hatred should not be tolerated. Be firm and be loving. Be the parent. Be the boss.
  • Accepting Un-Thankfulness ill prepares a child for life. Not developing an attitude of appreciation is a fast way to provoke to anger. A child left to be un-thankful will find nothing to be “good enough in life.”  An un-thankful heart is a rebellious heart for the Lord said: “In everything give thanks.”

This is generally seen in complaining.  For example: “School is not good enough – I need to transfer.  Church programs are not good enough. Friends are not good enough. The food is terrible. A Birthday gift was not big enough. I wish I had more_______.”

A parent determined to not see their child angry and discouraged will not seek to constantly please the child but will do everything possible develop an attitude that does not complain.  “Attitude Adjustments” are needed in some children more than others.

A child left to complain will grow into young adulthood and never find contentment and satisfaction unless the Lord dramatically changes their life.  A college class will be “no good.” A married spouse will “not satisfy me.” The workplace will be “boring” and “I hate my job” will become the norm. Just “getting by” will become common place.  A person like this also becomes real adept at skipping around from church to church.

  • Removing Anticipation. Kids should have something to look forward to with each new school year, and with each age they arrive at.  Becoming a teenager should be mysterious and include new things to look forward to.  Becoming a college student and young adult should be exciting.  Saving sex for marriage is part of the mystery and awe for newlyweds. Anticipation is needed in life.

In our family, our children are taught to look forward to the next step.  For example: A full size bicycle at age 11, youth group starting in grade 7, summer Bible camp in grade 8, for the girls – earrings after age 11, a driver license at 16, the chance to play on a High School sports team in High School.  You get the picture.  However you choose to develop your child – it must include anticipation for something special about the future.

When kids are given everything – they will develop a sense of emptiness and shallowness.  Some have so much given so early in life – they have nothing to look forward to and start searching and longing for a reason to live.  This is one reason so many turns to vapes, tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and illicit sexual activity; it is sometimes because they have nothing good to look forward to.

Take this parental challenge: Don’t allow arguing, change the bad attitude of un-appreciation, and make every year something to look forward to with great anticipation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing Character at Christmas

Developing Character at Christmas

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

In a day of extreme excess and people forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, Christian people must purpose in their mind and be deliberate in their actions to accurately portray Christmas to the family and to others.

The American Research Group reports: “Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $929 for gifts this holiday season, up from $882 last year according to the 32d annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc. Planned gift spending for 2016 is $47 above spending in 2015 and it is the first time planned gift spending exceeds $900 since 2006.”

Black Friday, and Cyber Monday were again record breaking days in the number of sales and dollars transacted.

I like the choir song: “Much to do no time to do it, I can’t get it all done at Christmastime…”

With our schedules and minds being pulled in so many different directions, sometimes we forget the real purpose and meaning of Christmas!

Here are some ideas to help build character in yourself and your family members.

Emphasize Giving, Not Getting.  In Acts 20:35 Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

  • Encourage kids to give outgrown cloths.
  • Encourage the family to give unused toys (Even the tools and toys the men may have).
  • Exemplify giving to others in more need. Find someone to give food or essential items. Give things that you enjoy that others may enjoy them too.
  • Enjoy sharing a meal with others.
  • No matter our age, occupation, or financial status, each of us are in a position where we can give something to someone else.

Encourage Moderation, Not Excess.  Philippians 4:5 declares: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

Moderation means appropriate and mild.  When the wise men celebrated Jesus, they did so with three meaningful gifts:  “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

The gold was worthy of a King, the frankincense demonstrating His purity, and the myrrh represented His purpose for coming, to die on the cross.  Most of the time a few quality gifts mean more.

Joseph was able to take baby Jesus to Egypt and escape the murderous plot of King Herod to kill all the baby boys age 2 and under.  Joseph left his job and had the ability to move because of these meaningful gifts.

With our children we have purpose behind each gift.  We give…

  • An item they were hoping for. An item that would be on a “Wish list.”
  • An item they share with others in watching or listening to. An old TV show or movie that does not take away but contributes to godly character.
  • An item they can play with others. A board game, basketball, or even a video game would work here.

Cloths are a necessity so we do not include them as an item.  Three gifts are all we plan for.  Be purposeful with your gifts.  You may have some priorities that are like the above suggestions.  Whatever you do – have a purpose of some kind behind each one.  Be generous – with purpose and meaning.

Enable Simplicity, Not Busyness.

The church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 “left their first love.”  How can that happen?  Because of the excess, commercials, and lustful society we live in – it is easy to get caught up with material things and business too.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  In order to keep safe our heart – we must have a greater purpose and plan.

Sometimes we are so busy we do get anything done.  Many of us do not accomplish anything that is worthwhile even though they have stress, work, and all the other symptoms of being productive.

SELAH – Stop and Think – is a needed practice at Christmas time.  Here are some suggestions to help you not be so busy that you forget what Christmas is really all about.

  • Read the Christmas Story in Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
  • Go to and participate in special church programs, but lesson your overall commitments of time and energy to things that have less than spiritual purposes.
  • Turn off the tv during the days off school. Our kids should not sit in front of a tv from 8 am to 3 pm.
  • Tune up beautiful Christmas Music. There are many wonderful Christian radio websites that will encourage you.  Please see the other postings for their addresses.
  • Go Christmas Caroling.
  • If you do watch a Christmas Movie, do so together as a family.

Be Purposeful – to Develop Character at Christmas.  Since Jesus Himself is the gift of Christmas, the things we do and give should reflect Him.  After all – It is His birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.

 

 

 

 

Away With the Manger

Image

Away With the Manger

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  Luke 2:7

What a humble birthplace for the King of glory to enter into humanity and to be born into this sin-sick world!  A dirty stall, in a cattle feeding trough with hay for bedding!  What an incredible God we have!  Far away, in a manger, Jesus came into this world for us! Do you enjoy singing the Christmas Carol “Away in A Manger?”  I enjoy singing it along with all the other wonderful carols we have. 

Today, it seems, the most accurate phrase could be: “Away with the Manger!”   Many have attempted and continue to try to remove Christ out of Christmas.  Fake substitutes for gift-giving, like a fat man with reindeer is just one example.  Anything that diverts our attention from Jesus is a cheap substitute for what Christmas is really all about.  People are trying to get “away” from what Christmas is all about! 

Praise the Lord there are a few who still know that Christmas is about Christ. When you hear the song:  “Away in a Manger” remember the tremendous sacrifice, and incredible love that Jesus has for us. Be encouraged to use the word “Christmas” so people know what special day you are celebrating.  Lift up the name of Christ in your conversation as you greet and speak with people this season.  Yes, Jesus came – in a manger – the story remains true – He came for us, He came for you!