Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nook Readers

I received a new reader for Christmas, so I am a little preoccupied in learning how to use it.  I maybe a little neglectful of posting.  I am sure many of you can understand.  Click on the post title to link to Barnes and Noble.com.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fourth Saturday of Advent 2011: Always Pointing Toward Christ

Jeremiah 33

Promise of Restoration
 1 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time: 2 “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ 4 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword 5 in the fight with the Chaldeans: ‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.
 6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. 7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and will also rebuild them as they were before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9 Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’
 10 “This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying,

   “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, 
   for the LORD is good; 
   his love endures forever.”

   For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD.
 12 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. 13 In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the LORD.
 14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

 15 “‘In those days and at that time 
   I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line
   he will do what is just and right in the land. 
16 In those days Judah will be saved 
   and Jerusalem will live in safety. 
This is the name by which he will be called: 
   The LORD Our Righteous Savior.’

 17 For this is what the LORD says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”
 19 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’”
 23 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 24 “Have you not noticed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two families he chose’? So they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation. 25 This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.’”

As in the days of the Old Testament God has been telling us about Jesus and about who He is, what He has done, and what He will do.  He fulfills His word.  His promises are trustworthy and true.

This evening read Luke chapter 2 aloud.  
Attend a church service and give praise and worship to God for His son.  
Give to those in need.  
Love your family and friends.

Rejoice this Eve of Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fourth Friday of Advent 2011: Epilogue Invitation and Warning

All quoted scripture is from BibleGateway the New International Version.

Revelation 22 Verses 12 - 21

Epilogue: Invitation and Warning
   
12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have 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, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and The Bright Morning Star.”

 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
   Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Footnotes: 
a.  Revelation 22:16 The Greek is plural.

The following is from the Christian Classic Ethereal Library:

All is confirmed by an open and general invitation to mankind, to come and partake freely of the promises and of the privileges of the gospel. The Spirit, by the sacred word, and by convictions and influence in the sinner's conscience, says, Come to Christ for salvation; and the bride, or the whole church, on earth and in heaven, says, Come and share our happiness. Lest any should hesitate, it is added, Let whosoever will, or, is willing, come and take of the water of life freely. May every one who hears or reads these words, desire at once to accept the gracious invitation. All are condemned who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it, or taking from it.

After disclosing these things to his people on earth, Christ seems to take leave of them, and return to heaven; but he assures them it shall not be long before he comes again. And while we are busy in the duties of our different stations of life; whatever labours may try us, whatever difficulties may surround us, whatever sorrows may press us down, let us with pleasure hear our Lord proclaiming, Behold, I come quickly; I come to put an end to the labour and suffering of my servants. I come, and my reward of grace is with me, to recompense, with royal bounty, every work of faith and labour of love. I come to receive my faithful, persevering people to myself, to dwell for ever in that blissful world. Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus. A blessing closes the whole. By the grace of Christ we must be kept in joyful expectation of his glory, fitted for it, and preserved to it; and his glorious appearance will be joyful to those who partake of his grace and favour here. Let all add, Amen.

Let us earnestly thirst after greater measures of the gracious influences of the blessed Jesus in our souls, and his gracious presence with us, till glory has made perfect his grace toward us. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!
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On the 'Eve of Christmas.'  Many will be with family and friends. Many will attend a church service.  I hope this year will be a year for many to renew their faith in Jesus Christ and earnestly seek Him and His righteousness.  Let us earnestly thirst after greater measures of the gracious influences of the blessed Jesus in our souls, and his gracious presence with us, till glory has made perfect his grace toward us.

I hope this ADVENT is engaging, refreshing, and inspiring.  I hope you want, and desire to dig deeper into the word of God and en-strengthen your relationship with the Lord.  He wants that all should come to the knowledge of His saving grace. Love the Lord! And, praise His name! He is coming again!  He keeps His promises.

May you come to the saving knowledge of the love of God.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fourth Thursday of Advent 2011: "Look, I am coming soon!"

New International Version

Revelation 22 Verses 6-11

John and the Angel

 6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

 7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”


The following is from The Matthew Henry Commentary:

The Lord Jesus spake by the angel, solemnly confirming the contents of this book, particularly of this last vision. He is the Lord God faithful and true. Also by his messengers; the holy angels showed them to holy men of God. They are things that must shortly be done; Christ will come quickly, and put all things out of doubt. And by the integrity of that angel who had been the apostle's interpreter. He refused to accept religious worship from John, and reproved him for offering it. This presents another testimony against idolatrous worship of saints and angels. God calls every one to witness to the declarations here made. This book, thus kept open, will have effect upon men; the filthy and unjust will be more so, but it will confirm, strengthen, and further sanctify those who are upright with God. Never let us think that a dead or disobedient faith will save us, for the First and the Last has declared that those alone are blessed who do his commandments. It is a book that shuts out from heaven all wicked and unrighteous persons, particularly those who love and make lies, therefore cannot itself be a lie. There is no middle place or condition. Jesus, who is the Spirit of prophecy, has given his churches this morning-light of prophecy, to assure them of the light of the perfect day approaching.


In the end of all things, the question is "In whom do you believe?"

Faith in Christ.
Hope in Christ.
Love in Christ.

May the joy of knowing Christ flood your spirit, soul, and body.  
May you rejoice in Him.  
May your voice ring out in worship and praise of who He is this Christmas!

In the words of Tiny Tim from Charles Dickens', A Christmas Carol,
 "God Bless us all, everyone!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fourth Wednesday of Advent 2011: Sing!

Isaiah 35

Joy of the Redeemed

 1 The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
   the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; 
   it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. 
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, 
   the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; 
they will see the glory of the LORD, 
   the splendor of our God.

 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, 
   steady the knees that give way; 
4 say to those with fearful hearts, 
   “Be strong, do not fear; 
your God will come, 
   he will come with vengeance; 
with divine retribution 
   he will come to save you.”


 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened 
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, 
   and the mute tongue shout for joy. 
Water will gush forth in the wilderness 
   and streams in the desert. 
7 The burning sand will become a pool, 
   the thirsty ground bubbling springs. 
In the haunts where jackals once lay, 
   grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.


 8 And a highway will be there; 
   it will be called the Way of Holiness; 
   it will be for those who walk on that Way. 
The unclean will not journey on it; 
   wicked fools will not go about on it. 
9 No lion will be there, 
   nor any ravenous beast; 
   they will not be found there. 
But only the redeemed will walk there, 
 10 and those the LORD has rescued will return. 
They will enter Zion with singing; 
   everlasting joy will crown their heads. 
Gladness and joy will overtake them, 
   and sorrow and sighing will flee away. 

May we all be encouraged to walk THE WAY of the redeemed.  Speak to one another in song, hymns, and spiritual songs.  I hope everyone who reads this will some day do a study of worship, then the last sentence of Isaiah 35 will have a whole new meaning and be a blessing.  

I hope you sing no matter what you think you sound like.  God will be happy to hear your voice lifted in praise.  It makes His heart glad to hear His children's voice in praise and worship.  Sing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah: A Tradition of Light

I found this article in the Jerusalem Post today.  Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends.  May the candles we light help us all along THE WAY.

We Kindle These Lights
12/16/2011 18:22  
BY:  REUVEN HAMMER
The simplest holiday tradition may be the most profound.
Menora
Photo by: Courtesy/Iris Tutnauer

Hanukka is a holiday that is both simple and profound. It is simple in that very little is required in order to observe it according to all the requirements of Jewish practice. According to the Talmud, all that is required is the lighting of one light each night.

The lighting of more than one candle, which is standard practice today, was an addition to the requirement of one light per household performed by those who are “particularly zealous” in their observance. We, who follow the ruling of the school of Hillel, add one more light each night (Shabbat 21b).

The original reason for kindling lights each night is uncertain. The well-known story of the miraculous jug of oil does not appear in the books of Maccabees or in the Mishna, but only in the Talmud. It may be connected to the fact related in I Maccabees 4:50 that “They burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the menorah and they lighted the Temple.” Certainly the rekindling of the Menorah, the most important symbol of God’s presence in the Temple and eventually the most important visual symbol of Judaism, was a central feature of the Temple rededication and one that could be easily replicated in each home by the kindling of a light. The tale of the oil only added greater significance to that action.

Of course it should not be forgotten that the lighting of lights at the season of the winter solstice, the time when the hours of daylight are the shortest, was an ancient practice of many religions. The Talmud records a legend that as the days became progressively shorter, Adam was frightened, thinking that eventually there would be no light at all. “Perhaps because I have sinned,” he said, “the world is becoming dark and returning to a state of chaos and confusion. This is the ‘death’ to which I have been sentenced by Heaven!” He then fasted for eight days, but as the days began to become longer again he realized that this was simply the natural way of the world and then he kept a festival for eight days. He observed this festival every year in thankfulness to God, but idolaters later observed it in honor of their gods (Avoda Zara 8a). This was the Sages’ explanation of the origin of the Roman festival of Kalenda at that time of year.


The eight-day holiday of Hanukka is actually based on the fact recorded in II Maccabees 10:6 that they celebrated the rededication of the Temple for eight days “like Succot, recalling that on Succot they had been wandering in the mountains and caverns like wild animals.” This also explains why we recite Hallel on Hanukka each day, since Hallel is recited each day of Succot.

Although the historical events leading to the Maccabean revolt are quite complicated and include an inner conflict among various Jewish groups as well as the struggle between the Jews and the Syrian Greeks who ruled the land, the holiday has come to represent the triumph of religious freedom over the attempt to force an alien culture upon the Jewish people. As such it is a time to celebrate the right of a people to determine its own destiny and to worship God according to its own beliefs.

The lights that we light, then, do not simply represent the renewal of the physical light that has diminished at the turn of the year and will then increase with each passing day, but they also represent the light of the spirit, the light of religious freedom, the light of the Divine presence in our lives. Thus the simplicity of the holiday and the ease of its observance is balanced by the weight of the importance of that which it celebrates: religious freedom for all.

The writer, former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly, is a two-time winner of the National Book Award. His latest book is The Torah Revolution (Jewish Lights).

Fourth Tuesday of Advent 2011: JOY OF THE REDEEMED


ISAIAH 35 VERSES 1-4
JOY OF THE REDEEMED
 1 The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
   the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; 
   it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. 
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, 
   the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; 
they will see the glory of the LORD, 
   the splendor of our God.
 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, 
   steady the knees that give way; 

4 say to those with fearful hearts, 
   “Be strong, do not fear; 
your God will come, 
   he will come with vengeance; 
with divine retribution 
   he will come to save you.” 

The following is from the Matthew Henry Commentary:

I. The desert land blooming. In the foregoing chapter we had a populous and fruitful country turned into a horrid wilderness; here we have in lieu of that, a wilderness turned into a good land. When the land of Judah was freed from the Assyrian army, those parts of the country that had been made as a wilderness by the ravages and outrages they committed began to recover themselves, and to look pleasantly again, and to blossom as the rose. When the Gentile nations, that had been long as a wilderness, bringing forth no fruit to God, received the gospel, joy came with it to them, Ps. lxvii. 3, 4; xcvi. 11, 12. When Christ was preached in Samaria there was great joy in that city (Acts viii. 8); those that sat in darkness saw a great and joyful light, and then they blossomed, that is, gave hopes of abundance of fruit; for that was it which the preachers of the gospel aimed at (John xv. 16), to go and bring forth fruit, Rom. i. 13; Col. i. 6. Though blossoms are not fruit, and often miscarry and come to nothing, yet they are in order to fruit. Converting grace makes the soul that was a wilderness to rejoice with joy and singing, and to blossom abundantly. This flourishing desert shall have all the glory of Lebanon given to it, which consisted in the strength and stateliness of its cedars, together with the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, which consisted in corn and cattle. Whatever is valuable in any institution is brought into the gospel. All the beauty of the Jewish church was admitted into the Christian church, and appeared in its perfection, as the apostle shows at large in his epistle to the Hebrews. Whatever was excellent an desirable in the Mosaic economy is translated into the evangelical institutes.

II. The glory of God shining forth: They shall see the glory of the Lord. God will manifest himself more than ever in his grace and love to mankind (for that is his glory and excellency), and he shall give them eyes to see it, and hearts to be duly affected with it. This is that which will make the desert blossom. The more we see by faith of the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God the more joyful and the more fruitful shall we be.

III. The feeble and faint-hearted encouraged, v. 3, 4. God's prophets and ministers are in a special manner charged, by virtue of their office, to strengthen the weak hands, to comfort those who could not yet recover the fright they had been put into by the Assyrian army with an assurance that God would now return in mercy to them. This is the design of the gospel, 1. To strengthen those that are weak and to confirm them—the weak hands, which are unable either to work or fight, and can hardly be lifted up in prayer, and the feeble knees, which are unable either to stand or walk and unfit for the race set before us. The gospel furnishes us with strengthening considerations, and shows us where strength is laid up for us. Among true Christians there are many that have weak hands and feeble knees, that are yet but babes in Christ; but it is our duty to strengthen our brethren (Luke xxii. 32), not only to bear with the weak, but to do what we can to confirm them, Rom. xv. 1; 1 Thess. v. 14. It is our duty also to strengthen ourselves, to lift up the hands which hang down (Heb. xii. 12), improving the strength God has given us, and exerting it. 2. To animate those that are timorous and discouraged: Say to those that are of a fearful heart, because of their own weakness and the strength of their enemies, that are hasty (so the word is), that are for betaking themselves to flight upon the first alarm, and giving up the cause, that say, in their haste, "We are cut off and undone" (Ps. xxxi. 22), there is enough in the gospel to silence these fears; it says to them, and let them say it to themselves and one to another, Be strong, fear not. Fear is weakening; the more we strive against it the stronger we are both for doing and suffering; and, for our encouragement to strive, he that says to us, Be strong has laid help for us upon one that is mighty.

IV. Assurance given of the approach of a Saviour: "Your God will come with vengeance. God will appear for you against your enemies, will recompense both their injuries and your losses." The Messiah will come, in the fulness of time, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to spoil them, and make a show of them openly, to recompense those that mourn in Zion with abundant comforts. He will come and save us. With the hopes of this the Old-Testament saints strengthened their weak hands. He will come again at the end of time, will come in flaming fire, to recompense tribulation to those who have troubled his people, and, to those who were troubled, rest, such a rest as will be not only a final period to, but a full reward of, all their troubles, 2 Thess. i. 6, 7. Those whose hearts tremble for the ark of God, and who are under a concern for his church in the world, may silence their fears with this, God will take the work into his own hands. Your God will come, who pleads your cause and owns your interest, even God himself, who is God alone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fourth Monday of Advent 2011: The Branch From Jesse

Isaiah 11:1-9 (New International Version)


The Branch From Jesse

 1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
   the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, 
   the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
   the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

   He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, 
   or decide by what he hears with his ears; 
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, 
   with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; 
   with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 
5 Righteousness will be his belt 
   and faithfulness the sash around his waist.


 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, 
   the leopard will lie down with the goat, 
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; 
   and a little child will lead them. 
7 The cow will feed with the bear, 
   their young will lie down together, 
   and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, 
   the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 
9 They will neither harm nor destroy 
   on all my holy mountain, 
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD 
   as the waters cover the sea.


Footnotes:
  1. Isaiah 11:6 Hebrew; Septuagint lion will feed
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I found two wonderful web-sites on the Jesse Tree.  Here is the first site linkhttp://www.crivoice.org/jesse.html, please check it out because it has very good information and fun family activities to do together. 

The second link for Jesse Tree symbols to color and cut out is http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19971201/FRIDGE/FRIDGE1.HTM.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2011: The Light of Jesus Shines for Everyone

[Light the first three candles of the Advent wreath.]
Read Aloud:
After the angel came to Mary and told her that she would conceive the child in her womb and would call him Jesus, Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)
And Mary sings her Song of Praise:

…My soul magnifies the Lord…he has scattered the proud

   …He has brought down the powerful from their thrones

     …He has lifted up the lowly

       …He has filled the hungry

         …He has provided for the poor (Luke 1:46-55).

We marvel at Mary, the mother of the Messiah, herself a single, teen-aged mother, herself poor and powerless. But she understood that the baby she would call Jesus was sent, not just to her, but to the world…
…To the hungry
   …To the weak
     …To the very young and the very old
       …To those who suffer or are in pain.



[Light the fourth candle of the Advent wreath.]
Read Aloud:
We light this fourth candle to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. May the light of this candle also remind us that the light of Jesus shines for everyone.

In remembrance of Jesus' love it might be a good idea to sit around the table, put on Christmas music, play some games with the family, or watch a Holiday movie, or read a good story together.  Spend time with loved ones.  Do something together for others and give to those in need, especially your care and time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Third Saturday of Advent 2011: Christ is the Gift Eternal


All quoted scripture is from BibleGateway the New International Version.

Matthew Chapter 2 Verses 9-12.

 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

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Wise men.  Are you a wise man?  Do you seek knowledge? 

Again, I implore you to listen, read , and observe.  God is continually wooing men to salvation.  God saved the wise men.  Please read the following from The Matthew Henry Commentary:   

We have here the wise men's humble attendance upon this new-born King of the Jews, and the honors they paid him. From Jerusalem they went to Bethlehem, resolving to seek till they should find; but it is very strange that they went alone; that not one person of the court, church, or city, should accompany them, if not in conscience, yet in civility to them, or touched with a curiosity to see this young prince. As the queen of the south, so the wise men of the east, will rise up in judgment against the men of that generation, and of this too, and will condemn them; for they came from a far country, to worship Christ; while the Jews, his kinsmen, would not stir a step, would not go to the next town to bid him welcome. It might have been a discouragement to these wise men to find him whom they sought thus neglected at home. Are we come so far to honour the King of the Jews, and do the Jews themselves put such a slight upon him and us? Yet they persist in their resolution. Note:  We must continue our attendance upon Christ, though we be alone in it; whatever others do, we must serve the Lord; if they will not go to heaven with us, yet we must not go to hell with them.

I. See how they found out Christ by the same star that they had seen in their own country, v. 9, 10. Observe, 

1. How graciously God directed them. By the first appearance of the star they were given to understand where they might enquire for this King, and then it disappeared, and they were left to take the usual methods for such an enquiry. Note, Extraordinary helps are not to be expected where ordinary means are to be had. Well, they had traced the matter as far as they could; they were upon their journey to Bethlehem, but that is a populous town, where shall they find him when they come thither? 

Here they were at a loss, at their wit's end, but not at their faith's end; they believed that God, who had brought them thither by his word, would not leave them there; nor did he; for, behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them. Note, If we go on as far as we can in the way of duty, God will direct and enable us to do that which of ourselves we cannot do; Up, and be doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Vigilantibus, non dormientibus, succurit lex—The law affords its aid, not to the idle, but to the active. The star had left them a great while, yet now returns. They who follow God in the dark shall find that light is sown, is reserved, for them. Israel was led by a pillar of fire to the promised land, the wise men by a star to the promised Seed, who is himself the bright and morning Star, Rev. xxii. 16. 

God would rather create a new thing than leave those at a loss who diligently and faithfully sought him. This star was the token of God's presence with them; for he is light, and goes before his people as their Guide. Note, If we by faith eye God in all our ways, we may see ourselves under his conduct; he guides with his eye (Ps. xxxii. 8), and said to them, This is the way, walk in it: and there is a day-star that arises in the hearts of those that enquire after Christ, 2 Pet. i. 19. 2. Observe how joyfully they followed God's direction (v. 10). When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Now they saw they were not deceived, and had not taken this long journey in vain. When the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Now they were sure that God was with them, and the tokens of his presence and favor cannot but fill with joy unspeakable the souls of those that know how to value them. Now they could laugh at the Jews in Jerusalem, who, probably, had laughed at them as coming on a fool's errand. The watchmen can give the spouse no tidings of her beloved; yet it is but a little that she passes from them, and she finds him, Cant. iii. 3, 4. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God. What a transport of joy these wise men were in upon this sight of the star; none know so well as those who, after a long and melancholy night of temptation and desertion, under the power of a Spirit of bondage, at length receive the spirit of adoption, witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God; this is light out of darkness; it is life from the dead. 

Now they had reason to hope for a sight of the Lord's Christ speedily, of the Sun of righteousness, for they see the Morning Star. Note, We should be glad of every thing that will show us the way to Christ. This star was sent to meet the wise men, and to conduct them into the presence chamber of the King; by this master of ceremonies they were introduced, to have their audience. Now God fulfills his promise of meeting those that are disposed to rejoice and work righteousness (Isa. lxiv. 5), and they fulfill his precept. Let the hearts of those rejoice that seek the Lord, Ps. cv. 3. Note, God is pleased sometimes to favour young converts with such tokens of his love as are very encouraging to them, in reference to the difficulties they meet with at their setting out of the ways of God.

II. See how they made their address to him when they had found him, v. 11. We may well imagine their expectations were raised to find this royal babe, though slighted by the nation, yet honourably attended at home; and what a disappointment it was to them when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother all the retinue he had! Is this the Saviour of the world? Is this the King of the Jews, nay, and the Prince of the kings of the earth? Yes, this is he, who, though he was rich, yet, for our sakes, became thus poor. However, these wise men were so wise as to see through this veil, and in this despised babe to discern the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father; they did not think themselves balked or baffled in their enquiry; but, as having found the King they sought, they presented themselves first, and then their gifts, to him.

1. They presented themselves to him: they fell down, and worshipped him. We do not read that they gave such honour to Herod, though he was in the height of his royal grandeur; but to this babe they gave this honour, not only as to a king (then they would have done the same to Herod), but as to a God. Note, All that have found Christ fall down before him; they adore him, and submit themselves to him. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. It will be the wisdom of the wisest of men, and by this it will appear they know Christ, and understand themselves and their true interests, if they be humble, faithful worshippers of the Lord Jesus.

2. They presented their gifts to him. In the eastern nations, when they did homage to their kings, they made them presents; thus the subjection of the kings of Sheba to Christ is spoken of (Ps. lxxii. 10), They shall bring presents, and offer gifts. See Isa. lx. 6. Note, With ourselves, we must give up all that we have to Jesus Christ; and if we be sincere in the surrender of ourselves to him, we shall not be unwilling to part with what is dearest to us, and most valuable, to him and for him; nor are our gifts accepted, unless we first present ourselves to him living sacrifices. God had respect to Abel, and then to his offering. The gifts they presented were, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, money, and money's-worth. Providence sent this for a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition. These were the products of their own country; what God favours us with, we must honour him with. Some think there was a significancy in their gifts; they offered him gold, as a king, paying him tribute, to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar's; frankincense, as God, for they honoured God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, as a Man that should die, for myrrh was used in embalming dead bodies.

III. See how they left him when they had made their address to him, v. 12. Herod appointed them to bring him word what discoveries they had made, and, it is probable, they would have done so, if they had not been countermanded, not suspecting their being thus made his tools in a wicked design. Those that mean honestly and well themselves are easily made to believe that others do so too, and cannot think the world is as bad as it really is; but the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. We do not find that the wise men promised to come back to Herod, and, if they had, it must have been with the usual proviso, If God permit; God did not permit them, and prevented the mischief Herod designed to the Child Jesus, and the trouble it would have been to the wise men to have been made involuntarily accessory to it. They were warned of God, chrematisthentes—oraculo vel responso accepto—by an oracular intimation. Some think it intimates that they asked counsel of God, and that this was the answer. Note, Those that act cautiously, and are afraid of sin and snares, if they apply themselves to God for direction, may expect to be led in the right way. They were warned not to return to Herod, nor to Jerusalem; those were unworthy to have reports brought them concerning Christ, that might have seen with their own eyes, and would not. They departed into their own country another way, to bring the tidings to their countrymen; but it is strange that we never hear any more of them, and that they or theirs did not afterwards attend him in the temple, whom they had worshiped in the cradle. However, the direction they had from God in their return would be a further confirmation of their faith in this Child, as the Lord from heaven.

He is actively and creatively seeking to save. 
 His salvation is sure. 

Seek God.
 Call upon His name.
Confess Him unto salvation.
Be baptized in water and the Holy Spirit.
He is the gift of eternal life.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Third Friday of Advent 2011: False Friends Are Worse Than Bitter Enemies

All quoted scripture is from BibleGateway the New International Version.


Matthew Chapter 2 Verses 3 - 8

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

*******************************************************************************
Herod did not care to find the child to worship him. He had a malicious intent which we will explore later in this chapter. God saves the Magi and warns them in a dream not to return to Herod.  Who knows what would have been their fate had they returned to Herod. This brings to mind a proverb.

“False friends are worse than bitter enemies.”
Scottish Proverb

Proverb - A short pithy saying in frequent and widespread use that expresses a basic truth or practical precept. 

Proverbs is a book of the Bible you will want to read.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Third Thursday of Advent 2011: Treasure in an Earthen Vessel

There is treasure at the end of this discourse, please enjoy reading the following.


Matthew 2:1&2                                                   

The Magi Visit the Messiah

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

The following commentary is from Christian Classic Ethereal Library.

It was a mark of humiliation put upon the Lord Jesus that, though he was the Desire of all nations, yet his coming into the world was little observed and taken notice of, his birth was obscure and unregarded: herein he emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. If the Son of God must be brought into the world, one might justly expect that he should be received with all the ceremony possible, that crowns and sceptres should immediately have been laid at his feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world should have been his humble servants; such a Messiah as this the Jews expected, but we see none of all this; he came into the world, and the world knew him not; nay, he came to his own, and his own received him not; for having undertaken to make satisfaction to his Father for the wrong done him in his honour by the sin of man, he did it by denying himself in, and despoiling himself of, the honours undoubtedly due to an incarnate Deity; yet, as afterward, so in his birth, some rays of glory darted forth in the midst of the greatest instances of his abasement.


The first who took notice of Christ after his birth were the shepherds (Luke ii. 15, &c.), who saw and heard glorious things concerning him, and made them known abroad, to the amazement of all that heard them, v. 17, 18. After that, Simeon and Ann a spoke of him, by the Spirit, to all that were disposed to heed what they said, Luke ii. 38. Now, one would think, these hints should have been taken by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they should with both arms have embraced the long-looked-for Messiah; but, for aught that appears, he continued nearly two years after at Bethlehem, and no further notice was taken of him till these wise men came. Note, Nothing will awaken those that are resolved to be regardless.


I. When this enquiry was made concerning Christ. It was in the days of Herod the king. This Herod was an Edomite, made king of Judea by Augustus and Antonius, the then chief rulers of the Roman state, a man made up of falsehood and cruelty; yet he was complimented with the title of Herod the Great. Christ was born in the 35th year of his reign, and notice is taken of this, to show that the sceptre had now departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet; and therefore now was the time for Shiloh to come, and to him shall the gathering of the people be: witness these wise men, Gen. xlix. 10.

II. Who and what these wise men were; they are here called Magoi—Magicians. Some that it in a good sense; the Magi among the Persians were their philosophers and their priests; nor would they admit any one for their king who had not first been enrolled among the Magi; others think they dealt in unlawful arts; the word is used of Simon, the sorcerer (Acts viii. 9, 11), and of Elymas, the sorcerer (Acts xiii. 6), nor does the scripture use it in any other sense; and then it was an early instance and presage of Christ's victory over the devil, when those who had been so much his devotees became the early adorers even of the infant Jesus; so soon were trophies of his victory over the powers of darkness erected. Well, whatever sort of wise men they were before, now they began to be wise men indeed when they set themselves to enquire after Christ.

This we are sure of, 1. That they were Gentiles, and not belonging to the commonwealth of Israel. The Jews regarded not Christ, but these Gentiles enquired him out. Note, Many times those who are nearest to the means, are furthest from the end. See ch. viii. 11, 12. The respect paid to Christ by these Gentiles was a happy presage and specimen of what would follow when those who were afar off should be made nigh by Christ. 2. That they were scholars. They dealt in arts, curious arts; good scholars should be good Christians, and then they complete their learning when they learn Christ. 3. That they were men of the east, who were noted for their soothsaying, Isa. ii. 6. Arabia is called the land of the east (Gen. xxv. 6), and the Arabians are called men of the east, Judg. vi. 3. The presents they brought were the products of that country; the Arabians had done homage to David and Solomon as types of Christ. Jethro and Job were of that country. More than this we have not to say of them.

III. What induced them to make this enquiry. They, in their country, which was in the east, had seen an extraordinary star, such as they had not seen before; which they took to be an indication of an extraordinary person born in the land of Judea, over which land this star was seen to hover, in the nature of a comet, or a meteor rather, in the lowers regions of the air; this differed so much from any thing that was common that they concluded it to signify something uncommon. Note, Extraordinary appearances of God in the creatures should put us upon enquiring after his mind and will therein; Christ foretold signs in the heavens. The birth of Christ was notified to the Jewish shepherds by an angel, to the Gentile philosophers by a star: to both God spoke in their own language, and in the way they were best acquainted with. Some think that the light which the shepherds saw shining round about them, the night after Christ was born, was the very same which to the wise men, who lived at such a distance, appeared as a star; but this we cannot easily admit, because the same star which they had seen in the east they saw a great while after, leading them to the house where Christ lay; it was a candle set up on purpose to guide them to Christ. The idolaters worshipped the stars as the host of heaven, especially the eastern nations, whence the planets have the names of their idol-gods; we read of a particular star they had in veneration, Amos v. 26. Thus the stars that had been misused came to be put to the right use, to lead men to Christ; the gods of the heathen became his servants. Some think this star put them in mind of Balaam's prophecy, that a star should come out of Jacob, pointing at a sceptre, that shall rise out of Israel; see Num. xxiv. 17. Balaam came from the mountains of the east, and was one of their wise men. Others impute their enquiry to the general expectation entertained at that time, in those eastern parts, of some great prince to appear. Tacitus, in his history (lib. 5), takes notice of it; Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore fore, ut valesceret oriens, profectique Judæa rerum potirentur—A persuasion existed in the minds of many that some ancient writings of the priests contained a prediction that about that time an eastern power would prevail, and that persons proceeding from Judea would obtain dominion. Suetonius also, in the life of Vespasian, speaks of it; so that this extraordinary phenomenon was construed as pointing to that king; and we may suppose a divine impression made upon their minds, enabling them to interpret this star as a signal given by Heaven of the birth of Christ.


IV. How they prosecuted this enquiry. They came from the east to Jerusalem, in further quest of this prince. Wither shall they come to enquire for the king of the Jews, but to Jerusalem, the mother-city, whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord? They might have said, "If such a prince be born, we shall hear of him shortly in our own country, and it will be time enough then to pay our homage to him." But so impatient were they to be better acquainted with him, that they took a long journey on purpose to enquire after him. Note, Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.

Their question is, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? They do not ask, whether there were such a one born? (they are sure of that, and speak of it with assurance, so strongly was it set home upon their hearts); but, Where is he born? Note, Those who know something of Christ cannot but covet to know more of him. They call Christ the King of the Jews, for so the Messiah was expected to be; and he is Protector and Ruler of all the spiritual Israel, he is born a King.


To this question they doubted not but to have a ready answer, and to find all Jerusalem worshipping at the feet of this new king; but they come from door to door with this question, and no man can give them any information. Note, There is more gross ignorance in the world, and in the church too, than we are aware of. Many that we think should direct us to Christ are themselves strangers to him. They ask, as the spouse of the daughters of Jerusalem, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? But they are never the wiser. However, like the spouse, they pursue the enquiry, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? Are they asked, "Why do ye make this enquiry?" It is because they have seen his star in the east. Are they asked, "What business have ye with him? What have the men of the east to do with the King of the Jews?" They have their answer ready, We are come to worship him. They conclude he will, in process of time, be their king, and therefore they will betimes ingratiate themselves with him and with those about him. Note, Those in whose hearts the day-star is risen, to give them any thing of the knowledge of Christ, must make it their business to worship him. Have we seen Christ's star? Let us study to give him honour.


V. How this enquiry was treated at Jerusalem. News of it at last came to court; and when Herod heard it he was troubled, v. 3. He could not be a stranger to the prophecies of the Old Testament, concerning the Messiah and his kingdom, and the times fixed for his appearing by Daniel's weeks; but, having himself reigned so long and so successfully, he began to hope that those promises would for ever fail, and that his kingdom would be established and perpetuated in spite of them. What a damp therefore must it needs be upon him, to hear talk of this King being born, now, when the time fixed for his appearing had come! Note, Carnal wicked hearts dread nothing so much as the fulfilling of the scriptures.


But though Herod, an Edomite, was troubled, one would have thought Jerusalem should rejoice greatly to hear that her King comes; yet, it seems, all Jerusalem, except the few there that waited for the consolation of Israel, were troubled with Herod, and were apprehensive of I know not what ill consequences of the birth of this new king, that it would involve them in war, or restrain their lusts; they, for their parts, desired no king but Herod; no, not the Messiah himself. Note, The slavery of sin is foolishly preferred by many to the glorious liberty of the children of God, only because they apprehend some present difficulties attending that necessary revolution of the government in the soul. Herod and Jerusalem were thus troubled, from a mistaken notion that the kingdom of the Messiah would clash and interfere with the secular powers; whereas the star that proclaimed him king plainly intimated that his kingdom was heavenly, and not of this lower world. Note, The reason why the kings of the earth, and the people, oppose the kingdom of Christ, is because they do not know it, but err concerning it.


VI. What assistance they met with in this enquiry from the scribes and the priests, v. 4-6. Nobody can pretend to tell where the King of the Jews is, but Herod enquires where it was expected he should be born. The persons he consults are, the chief priests, who were teachers by office; and the scribes, who made it their business to study the law; their lips must keep knowledge, but then the people must enquire the law at their mouth, Mal. ii. 7. It was generally known that Christ should be born at Bethlehem (John vii. 42); but Herod would have counsel's opinion upon it, and therefore applies himself to the proper persons; and, that he might be the better satisfied, he has them altogether, all the chief priests, and all the scribes; and demands of them what was the place, according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, where Christ should be born? Many a good question is put with an ill design, so was this by Herod.

The priests and scribes need not take any long time to give an answer to this query; nor do they differ in their opinion, but all agree that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, here called Bethlehem of Judea, to distinguish it from another city of the same name in the land of Zebulun, Josh. xix. 15. Bethlehem signifies the house of bread; the fittest place for him to be born in who is the true manna, the bread which came down from heaven, which was given for the life of the world. The proof they produce is taken from Mic. v. 2, where it is foretold that though Bethlehem be little among the thousands of Judah (so it is in Micah), no very populous place, yet it shall be found not the least among the princes of Judah (so it is here); for Bethlehem's honour lay not, as that of other cities, in the multitude of the people, but in the magnificence of the princes it produced. Though, upon some accounts, Bethlehem was little, yet herein it had the pre-eminence above all the cities of Israel, that the Lord shall count, when he writes up the people, that this man, even the man Christ Jesus, was born there, Ps. lxxxvii. 6. Out of thee shall come a Governor, the King of the Jews. Note, Christ will be a Saviour to those only who are willing to take him for their Governor. Bethlehem was the city of David, and David the glory of Bethlehem; there, therefore, must David's son and successor be born. There was a famous well at Bethlehem, by the gate, which David longed to drink of (2 Sam. xxiii. 15); in Christ we have not only bread enough and to spare, but may come and take also of the water of life freely. Observe here how Jews and Gentiles compare notes about Jesus Christ. The Gentiles know the time of his birth by a star; the Jews know the place of it by the scriptures; and so they are capable of informing one another. Note, It would contribute much to the increase of knowledge, if we did thus mutually communicate what we know. Men grow rich by bartering and exchanging; so, if we have knowledge to communicate to others, they will be ready to communicate to us; thus many shall discourse, shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.


VII. The bloody project and design of Herod, occasioned by this enquiry, v. 7, 8. Herod was now an old man, and had reigned thirty-five years; this king was but newly born, and not likely to enterprise any thing considerable for many years; yet Herod is jealous of him. Crowned heads cannot endure to think of successors, much less of rivals; and therefore nothing less than the blood of this infant king will satisfy him; and he will not give himself liberty to think that, if this new-born child should be indeed the Messiah, in opposing him, or making any attempts upon him, he would be found fighting against God, than which nothing is more vain, nothing more dangerous. Passion has got the mastery of reason and conscience.


Now, 1. See how cunningly he laid the project (v. 7, 8). He privily called the wise men, to talk with them about this matter. He would not openly own his fears and jealousies; it would be his disgrace to let the wise men know them, and dangerous to let the people know them. Sinners are often tormented with secret fears, which they keep to themselves. Herod learns of the wise men the time when the star appeared, that he might take his measures accordingly; and then employs them to enquire further, and bids them bring him an account. All this might look suspicious, if he had not covered it with a show of religion: that I may come and worship him also. Note, The greatest wickedness often conceals itself under a mask of piety. Absalom cloaks his rebellious project with a vow.


2. See how strangely he was befooled and infatuated in this, that he trusted it with the wise men, and did not choose some other managers, that would have been true to his interests. It was but seven miles from Jerusalem; how easily might he have sent spies to watch the wise men, who might have been as soon there to destroy the child as they to worship him! Note, God can hide from the eyes of the church's enemies those methods by which they might easily destroy the church; when he intends to lead princes away spoiled, his way is to make the judges fools.


Wise men from the east came looking to find the King of the Jews. They found him; humble, meek and mild in a manger, a watering trough. They had brought gifts for a king, gold, incense, and myrrh. They worshiped him. Upon the night before they left for their home country God gave them a dream to avoid Herod. God saved them from the wrath of King Herod and death. You may want to meditate on that thought alone for a moment.

NOTE: I had a small book I treasure called, The Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke. It is a story of the fourth wise man, Artaban. He had not made the trip with his companions. He had been delayed. His gifts were shared a long the way of his life's journey to find The King of the Jews. If you have the opportunity to find this little gem of a story you will not be disappointed. Share it with those you love, but have a box of Kleenex at the ready. I have reread the story for many years and still cry with great joy. May you find the little gem to treasure in your heart as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Third Wednesday of Advent 2011: Be Richly Blessed

Luke Chapter 3 Verses 21-22


21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The following is from Coffman's Commentaries.

THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

Jesus being baptized, and praying ...

Many have pondered the reasons why Jesus was baptized; and among reasons that might have entered into his submission to that rite are the following: (1) The reason that he himself gave, "thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15), indicates that it would have been unbecoming, even of the sinless Christ, to have withheld obedience to God's commandment. The message for all men in this is plain.

(2) By so doing, he indicated the adoption of the rite of baptism to be the initiatory ceremony by which men are inducted into Christianity. (3) Through this obedience he "fulfilled" God's command. (4) His baptism, as revealed in the Scriptures, prefigured the importance of the ceremony in the true religion under the new covenant. Jesus' baptism announced the importance of it for all men. (5) His baptism symbolized the true meaning of the ordinance in Christianity: (a) one is not a child of God until he is baptized, just as God recognized Christ as his beloved Son immediately AFTER his baptism; (b) prayer, though not denied to anyone, is in many special ways the peculiar privilege of Christians, a privilege contingent upon their baptism; hence Luke indicated Christ's praying, immediately AFTER his baptism; (c) the Holy Spirit is a gift to Christians, contingent upon their being (among other things) baptized (Acts 2:38); and significantly, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended and remained upon Jesus AFTER his baptism. Therefore, it cannot be denied that the baptism commanded in the great commission (following faith, repentance, and confession) is PRIOR to the convert's becoming a child of God, receiving the Holy Spirit, and entering into the more exalted prayer-privileges pertaining only to Christians; and we do not hesitate to add that baptism is a precondition to his ever being so endowed.

In this connection, one of the reasons that may not be assigned to Christ's baptism is this, that he was baptized to set us an example how we might follow him in baptism, since it is impossible for believer's baptism to correspond to Christ's. It was not necessary for him but it is necessary for men. He was baptized at about the age of thirty, and that is far longer than any mortal's baptism should be delayed. Believer's baptism is "for the remission of sins"; but Christ's was to fulfill all righteousness.

Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove ...

This was the heavenly portent by which John the Baptist recognized the Messiah (John 1:33). Appropriately, the dove was a clean creature under the Mosaic law, acceptable in the holy sacrifices as an offering to God, an emblem in all ages of peace, gentleness, and innocence, a monogamous creature, possessing no gall, and used as a messenger. F12

Voice out of heaven ... Thou art my beloved Son ...

It should be noted that John the Baptist is not the subject of the paragraph, and where his conversation is recorded, it was necessary for Matthew to record it as addressed in the third person in order to avoid misunderstanding. See more under Mark 1:11 in my Commentary on Mark. Three persons of the Godhead are in evidence here: Christ coming up out of the water, the Spirit as a dove descending upon him, and the voice of the Father out of heaven.

When one accepts Christ and what he has done and confesses publicly and is baptized the Holy Spirit comes to aid the believer with power to become more like Christ.

If you do not know Christ personally, take time this Advent season and get to know Him. Prepare your heart, your mind, and your body. Then find a church and a small group of people to fellowship with that will encourage you in the Lord on a regular basis. A place were everyone is supportive and encouraging in following Christ by praying, singing, studying the word, and sharing a communion table.

May you richly receive Jesus and the joy of Christmas for eternity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Third Tuesday of Advent 2011: When Does One Cross The Line?

All quoted scripture is from BibleGateway the New International Version.

Luke Chapter 3 Verses 19 & 20.

19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

Ever meet someone who is evil? Someone, so consumed by sins, that their soul must be darker then coal. Herod was such an evil man. Luke tells us in verse 20 "Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison." Matthew goes into more detail. Herod continues in his evil practices.

Matthew Chapter 14 Verses 3-12.

John the Baptist Beheaded

3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. 6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Even Herod knew it was wrong to behead John the Baptist, a prophet of God. 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison.

Sinning continually can lead to evil works. Hanging out with the "wrong crowd" is a bad influence. Evil works can lead you to a place of no return.

When does one cross the line?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Third Monday of Advent 2011: John Directed the People to Christ

All quoted scripture is from BibleGateway the New International Version.


Luke Chapter 3 Verses 15-18

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[b] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

The following is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:

The evangelist concludes his account of John's preaching with: "Many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people, which are not recorded. First, John was an affectionate preacher. He was parakalon—exhorting, beseeching; he pressed things home upon his hearers, followed his doctrine close, as one in earnest. Secondly, He was a practical preacher. Much of his preaching was exhortation, quickening them to their duty, directing them in it, and not amusing them with matters of nice speculation. Thirdly, He was a popular preacher. Though he had scribes and Pharisees, men of polite learning, attending his ministry, and Sadducees, men of free thought, as they pretended, yet he addressed himself to the people, pros ton laon—to the laity, and accommodated himself to their capacity, as promising himself best success among them. Fourthly, He was an evangelical preacher, for so the word here used signifies, euengelizeto—he preached the gospel to the people; in all his exhortations, he directed people to Christ, and excited and encouraged their expectations of him. When we press duty upon people, we must direct them to Christ, both for righteousness and strength. Fifthly, He was a copious preacher: Many other things he preached, polla men kai hetera—many things, and different. He preached a great deal, shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God; and he varied in his preaching, that those who were not reached, and touched, and wrought upon, by one truth, might be by another.
 
Does your life direct people to Christ?
 
Do you exhort people?
 
Do you proclaim the good news to them?
 
Do you praise God?
 
Do you speak of what He has done for you?
 
Give thanks unto the Lord and rejoice!