Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Luke 2:8-11 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

My wife’s mother is 100% Danish and collects those Bing & Grondahl & Royal Copenhagen Plates from Denmark. You know, those blue ones with great scenes and landscapes that people hang above doors and along the ceiling. Here in California, we have a little Danish village, just inland a little bit from the coast, between Buelton (where Andersen’s Split Pea restaurant is) and Santa Ynez, off highway 246. They have the best Danish Butter cookies, Danish pastries and abbelskivers (Danish round pancake with a Raspberry jam) there. But they also have a shop of these Danish plates that date back to before the turn of the century. Here I found a beautiful B&G “Jule Aften” Christmas plate from 1911 titled “First it Was Sung by the Angels to Shepherds in the Fields”, that depicted this very Bible passage above. I took it home to reside on our dining room plate rail at Christmas each year to remind us of the reason for celebrating Christmas ... the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christian Christmas carols fill the air with praises to God for sending His Son “God with us”, to redeem all of mankind from sin and death to forgiveness and eternal life. What would it have been like to have been one of these privileged shepherds to see and hear and experience the proclamation of the Angels that night that the coming Messiah, the Prince of Peace and the Redeemer of the world, promised by God (Creator of Heaven & Earth), had arrived.

This Savior, Jesus Christ, is what we, in pure gratitude and excitement, celebrate this and every Christmas. We are so blessed! Thanks be to God!

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
In Christ, Brian

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holy Days!

1Peter 1:3-9 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

You may or may not have heard, or noticed the efforts of secular America to eliminate the phrase “Merry Christmas” and replace it with “Happy Holidays”. This conscious and concerted effort, in the name of “Political Correctness”, is being implemented to not offend the non-Christians, atheists and those of other world religions in this nation, who do not know or believe the Holy Scripture above and the Savior of the world sent by God. 1 Corinthians 1:18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” One politician recently said that he believed that America was no longer a Christian Nation, as originally founded, acknowledged by the United States Supreme Court and known around the world, but now just a nation of citizens. For humanist sake, ignoring the truth of Christmas, John 3:17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” So the unholy campaign to remove the mention of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost and the word “Christmas” has begun; to reject the gift of God.

Revelation 15:3-5 : They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “ Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
This scene of Heaven brings great joy to me, but not-so-much to those who hope & pray that this scene and judgment is not true. By expressing the phase “Happy Holidays” only, it is hoped that the meaning “a day of festive celebration for the season” is accomplished in the hearts and minds of Americans. It is acceptable to offend God, but not to offend man. Yet the word “holiday” gets its root from the word “holiness”, which means the quality of being consecrated to the worship of God; freedom from sin and the unswerving obedience to the Divine law. The holidays are essentially “holy days”, Happy Holy days! These holidays are (1) Thanksgiving Day – the day that we, in gratitude, give thanks & praise to God for His Providence to us, for everything is of God. (2) Christmas Day – the day that we, in gratitude, gives thanks and praise to God for sending His Son incarnate (God with us) to be our Lord and Savior. (3) New Year Day – the day that we, in gratitude, gives thanks and praise to God for a new year “2010 A.D.”, Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning "in the year of our Lord; The Lord Jesus Christ and the birth of Jesus Christ the dividing point of world history. The holidays are a celebration of the Grace of God; they are truly “Holy Days” to be celebrated. When someone says “Happy Holidays” to you this week, please be sure to say “Merry Christmas” back to them. Jesus is the reason for the season, and the Way, the truth and the Life for all.

Psalm 116:8For You, Lord, have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Genesis 4:7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

The other week, my Goddaughter called with some questions concerning “The Temptation of Christ” (Matthew 4, Mark 1, & Luke 4) for her Comparative Religion class final. That call, study of God’s Word and discussion brought to light an important message for each and every one of us, for we are all tempted by the sinful world, the acts of the sinful nature in our own flesh, and Satan (the devil, the deceiver and the tempter).

Matthew 4:1-3Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him."
I see a significant element of the temptation of Christ is that Jesus answers all three temptations from Satan with Holy Scripture (Temptation #1 from Deuteronomy8:3, Temptation #2 from Dt. 6:16 & Temptation #3 from Dt. 6:13). With Jesus as our model, this demonstrates what we need to be prepared (by reading, studying, meditating on and knowing the Word of God) and use the scriptures in our defense of temptation and for our offense in spiritual battles. A surprising element is that the devil quotes scripture also in Temptation #2 from Psalm 91:11-12 - Satan knows scripture and twists the Word of God to trick and trip us, to cause us to fall. You learn to know a counterfeit dollar by studying a real dollar so well that a fake dollar is easily recognized. This is also true with the Holy Scripture. We need to recognize when the Word of God is taken out of context and manipulated to tell a lie and deceive. Christ truly is the model for all believers when tempted. We are to stand firm on the Word of God and we are to rely on God for our physical and spiritual providence (cares and needs fulfilled).

The first Adam (in the Garden of Eden) failed the great test of Satan and plunged the whole race into (original) sin. Jesus (the second Adam) was faithful in temptation, demonstrating his qualification as Savior of all who receive Him. Some state that since Jesus was “God the Son” (Second person of the trinity - Father, Son & Holy Spirit), He could not be tempted. But Jesus is God incarnate (meaning God with skin on ... in the flesh). Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time. Jesus has the same senses, physical and mental needs that the human body and mind requires in all of us. Therefore these, after forty days of fasting, were tempting, yet Jesus was faithful.

Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, with all their splendor and tells Him, "All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus does not deny that Satan owes the kingdoms of the world, but gives a commandment back to Satan in reply: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”. In other words: instead of me worshiping and serving you, Satan; you are to worship and serve me – the Lord your God. By dying on the Cross, Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, the propitiation (satisfying payment for the debt) to God for all mankind. Had Jesus by-passed the cross at the temptation, he would have escaped his death, but also forfeited the salvation of man ... the purpose that He was sent by God the Father. Because of his faithfulness, God exalted Jesus to the Right hand of God in Heaven (Acts 5:31). All judgments (for all the kingdoms of the world and all people) was given to Jesus (the Son) by God (the Father) (John 5:22), therefore Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This is what we celebrate each Christmas! Emmanuel – God with us, our Savior!

Proverbs 4:23Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
May you and I keep our hearts and minds on our Lord Christ Jesus, especially when Satan tempts us to turn away.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remembering Laura

Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.”

Monday, December 14, 2009 marks one year since my priceless cousin Laura's passed away after a couragious fight against breast cancer. Laura once wrote me: "People always look for the “why” in these situations. People often say “why me”? I guess my mindset is “why not me?”. If I ever got sad during treatment, I would remember that I would rather take on this disease than any other member of my family. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I wasn’t a cancer survivor. If I could take it all back or start all over, I probably would. But, then I remember the story of Job or Noah or Jonah or Abraham. All of them went through suffering and God allowed it to happen because that is just the way life is on earth. Suffering happens. It just does. I am a better person because of all of this and my family(extended, included) are much better, closer. I appreciate hearing the positives you saw in me, I only hope to be a positive influence on help them know you can live a happy and abundant life, even while having to address cancer. I have to support other causes, too. It is just part of who I am now. Once awakened to these things, there is no turning back! :) God bless you and your family!" Laura

What an incredible woman! Though I knew her for such a short time, Laura touched my life with love and faith, and made me a better person. I hope to be half the person that she was. I heard this song today and I thought that the lyrics were fitting and honored Laura so well.

Why did she have to go? So young, I just don't know why. Things happen half the time without reason, without rhyme. Lovely, sweet young woman; Daughter, wife and mother. Makes no sense to me. I just have to believe she flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels. By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees. And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting, and I know she's smiling, saying: Don't worry 'bout me. It's hard to say goodbye. Her picture in my mind will always be of times I'll cherish. And I won't cry 'cause ... she flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels. By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees. And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting, and I know she's smiling saying: Don't worry 'bout me. Don't worry 'bout me. Don’t worry 'bout me
Alan Jackson - Sissy's Song

Laura's Husband wrote on her Blog last Friday: "Everything that happens to us leaves a mark… it changes us as a person. We all have, or will, lose someone we love. When that happens, we can never be the same. I know she does Rest In Peace. Let us remember to Live In Peace. I know it is what she wants."

Daniel 7:18 “The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Father of Lies

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

This morning, I was reading in Romans and thinking about the other night when my Goddaughter called to discuss "The Temptation of Christ" (Matthew 4 & Luke 4) for an upcoming “Comparative Religions” college final. With Christ as our model, this brought me to think about how that related to "The temptation of us" (Christians saved by grace) in this secular humanistic society. Just look around, sin abounds in this world, but we are called to be holy (as God is holy) - set apart and see to it that we not become "Slaves to Sin", but "Slaves to Righteousness"; not slaves to Satan, but bond slaves to God through Jesus; not slaves to death, but slaves to life! Called to see and know the difference, to be separated from Sin, to live in the world (ambassadors for Christ), but not of this earthly, self-centered and materialistic world, but be of the kingdom of God. This secular world, ruled by Satan, dangles its temptations of temporary sinful pleasures and gain, to entice us to abandon Heaven and sell our soul to Hell on the same lie from Genesis 3:4-5 that "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God". When not walking in the Spirit of God, how easily we can fall to vain pagan thoughts of self - power, position, prestige, possessions, passions, pride, partying, playboy, pageantry and pleasure - outside the word, will and way of God. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” How true!

The father of humanism wasn't even a human. This fallen angel Lucifer (the Devil) is "the father of lies", who tempts and attempts to deceive us into becoming a slave to Sin and take us down with him. In John 8:44 Jesus said. "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Satan is nothing but "the thief of mankind", who steals our life and our future - In John 10:10-11 Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – Satan is the thief and Jesus is the “good Shepherd”.

The temptations of this culture are there, calling us to Sin, turn our minds from God, and forget righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, godliness and our eternal home, and to return to what we were saved from . Stand firm.

Romans 6:19-23 “Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

May you and I keep our hearts and minds on our Lord Christ Jesus, especially when Satan tempts us to turn away.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Holy Word of God

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."

I was once asked if I could explain anything without referencing a Bible verse. My humanist enquirer did not read, study and know the word of God, and therefore didn’t not revere nor trust the knowledge and wisdom about life communicated from the Creator in the Holy Scriptures or vise-versa. Through years of reading, hearing and studying the Bible, I have found that the answers to life and living are found in the “living” Word of God. It is the road to maturity of mind & soul, love of brother & sister, peace in the storms of a chaotically uncertain world, and joy that only comes from the Lord.

2 Samuel 22:31 & Psalm 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

We must understand that the natural man looks at the world through the physical, but does not comprehend the spiritual and supernatural. A Creator in Heaven is outside the fields of their sense perception and ordinary reasoning that God is spirit (what Jesus speaks of in John 3:3). Lacking saving faith and belief in God, they seek answers from that which is familiar and visible. They put their trust in mankind and nature; things that they can sense and reason, spiritually blind. At best, they may believe in an energy, a force or a power that affects life, but the focus is on self, not in the sovereign God, Creator of all, that actively reigns, provides, maintains, and rules the affairs of His creation, and that they must give account. But, the Holy God of the Bible is our heavenly Father, Maker and Sustainer of Heaven, the Universe and all life. Point to the Holy Word of God for those who want to know Him (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), but, in dedication, devotion and the desire to know Him more and be improving progressively in the likeness of the Lord, read His Holy Word found in the living Scriptures of the Bible daily and commune with God in prayer and relationship, and be spiritually filled, find contentment in your soul, and truly find satisfaction in life, as your walk and grow in the knowledge and wisdom that only comes from above. Don’t miss the love, peace and joy of the Word. Details shall follow. Seeing or not, God is love.

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”

In Christ, Brian