The Burden of Belief… John 15: 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Another time back when..I shared one of my favorite church signs with you Tried Christianity…Try Jesus. One author that I have read over the years is Beth Moore and the other day while doing some research for a study lesson I revisited a book written in 2004 I believe. The title of the book is Believing God and I opened the book to chapter one. Well, that is all it took because it fitted in somehow with a subject I was wanting to confront.  

It is God’s intention for all believers lives to be fruitful, if we are to succeed. That alone just by itself leads us to ask, are we living a successful Christian Life?  Theology, the study of the nature of God and our religious beliefs differ to such a degree that we (the church)  leave ourselves open to ridicule. Many church going Christians work hard to lift the church up, to support the ministry…working selfishly for something that is hardly working. To be even more blunt, our own personal belief system isn’t working. Those of us who acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior are blessed and have assurance of our salvation. Perhaps we would be more understanding of that salvation if we accepted the fact it is our duty while here on earth to do all we can for Christianity to succeed, here and now. My feelings, perhaps a bit hard, are that both ourselves and the church are taking a defensive stance. We are not going forth with the greatest story ever told, we have become content with just getting by. Getting by is not our Christian destiny. We are meant to be effective tools of the faith, taking the word to all people. Are we satisfied being complacent with our present efforts, or does the God we serve deserve much more? Do we live our faith or just rest comfortably in a world of indifference?

The Church has become a victim of a world content with the  status-quo mind set. Overwhelmed by the societal demands for change, driven by cultural change and political agendas. We as individuals find our faith challenged in the very basics of life itself and a Church struggling to remain relevant. It has allowed the myth of kingdom power to lull it into a false sense of beliefs while in reality it has become powerless and given up its seat at the table of public opinion. In many parts of the world the Church and Christians are held in contempt and ridicule. We who are the Church have perverted the scripture to fit agendas of the day, no longer valuing biblical theology. We want to be the best and in reality we are far from God’s best. God has made many promises to his people that allows us to be productive while living our lives here on earth.Throughout the Bible there are writings of these promises shared by the prophets and writings of the apostles. But we wander in this wilderness of uncertainty and the burden of belief  becomes heavier through our wavering faith. When we allow God’s promises to become a living motivator and reality, we have at our disposal the awesome power of God to be productive and live a life of peace and joy. When God gave the Israelites the promised land…they had to go and take it, to make it theirs. 

There are those who would take away these promises if we continue to remain complacent. We must live a life “standing on the promises”… They are our strength and hope…Matthew 11:30  “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Come out of the wilderness, “Stand on The Promises” Live a Christ like life, filled with the peace and joy of that which is promised to all who carry the burden and keep the faith.

Life is Good

jk

The Power of Endurance…

Image result for pictures of biblical enduranceThe power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way along with the fact that you can read story after story of people in the Bible who faced difficult times and still chose to go forward in the faith, not knowing what the outcome would be, leads us to this week’s Blog. Endurance could also be expressed by any of the following:

bearing; tolerance; sufferance;  fortitude; tenacity; patience;  acceptance;  resignation;  stoicism; stamina; staying power;  perseverance;  persistence; determination……

As you can see endurance covers a wide range of emotions but what about endurance from a Biblical point of view?…

Romans 15:4 ‘Endurance Leads To Hope’  As Christians we must endure in the faith because it strengthens our faith and seeing this it gives hope to those struggling to find the faith and those who want to believe, to have hope.

Galatians 6: 9, 10

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

If we allow the lower side of us to prevail, so to speak, we can expect to harvest nothing but trouble. If we instead take the good way and do what’s right, God will repay, the harvest will be plentiful. We cannot expect there to be no consequences for our sins but God can and does forgive us of our sins. 

Romans 5: 3,4

 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

The word Paul uses for fortitude in these verses means more than just endurance.  It makes a stronger statement that indicates a spirit that does not passively endure  but seeks to overcome the trials and tribulations of life. Paul makes a strong statement to close out these verses, Christian hope is not an illusion. Hope such as this is the result of the believers love of God, it is real and sustaining. Hope such as this is the result of a loving God, with an everlasting love backed by an everlasting power. There is no end to Biblical justification supporting the Power of Endurance…

1 Corinthians 10: 13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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. 

I have always believed that life is what it is….Our faith and the God we serve provides us with the means to meet the challenges that we will face in this life. Paul knew life was a chancy business and temptation would surely come our way. The Greek word translated to temptation has a meaning pointing to more of a test and is meant to not make us fall but to test us. With God’s help we will emerge from it stronger than ever. Temptation is not unique for any individual, it comes to all of us from time to time but we must remember others have endured it and come through it. Keep in mind as we are going through it so have others and through the grace of God they have endured and conquered. For the Christian there is no temptation that God cannot provide a way out of. It is not the way of surrender or retreat. It is the way of conquest in the power and grace of God.

Revelation 3: 10

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

We find here in Revelations an old Jewish belief. The Jews divided time into two ages. The present age, which was totally bad and the age to come which was totally good. In-between those two would be a time of destruction and the wrath and judgement of God would come upon this world we now live in. John referred to that terrible time but we as those of the faith can be assured that when this world as we know it comes to an end, those who are faithful to Christ will still be safe in his keeping. 

The link below will give you a number of scriptures that refer to endurance in Bible readings.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/endurance

Keep the Faith, Endure…

Life is Good

jk

  

 

In His Image… Imago Dei

Christianity and Judaism and some Sufism sects of Islam, view The Image of God as being of a concept and theological doctrine. Hebrew scholars like Gaon and Philo believe the phase to be a type of  figurative language and that God has bestowed a special honor on mankind which he did not confer on the rest of creation.

In the Hebrew Bible the phrase “image of God” is found in three passages, all in the Book of Genesis. 1: 26-28; 5: 1-3; 9: 6.                 

Consciousness, the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world, add to that the ability to speak, both make mankind different from animals. We are able to think and reason, also not all of our actions are just instinctual. Man as an image of God Lost some of its luster with the fall of man in The Garden of Eden and it is  because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that man will once again be redeemed in the Creator’s eyes. All Christian writers agree that each person has value not to be limited by class, race, gender or disability. There are many interpretations as to the exact meaning of this phrase but it can be argued to be a concept that is the foundational doctrine of Christianity and Judaism. From the Christian standpoint we must be aware that we, being a part of the creation, are intended to be part of His plans and purposes for His creation. Imago Dei has within it the fact that if humans are to love God, then they must love other humans that God has created. All of creation is an expression of God.

John 13:35

35 ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’

God is the maker not the made. He made us in such a way that we long for Him and His presence in our lives. 

Acts 17:28

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being…….’ 

There is a need to live as a person in the state of Imago Dei,one who understands and strives to emulate Christ’s life and teachings, to live in his image. Image and likeness are two different words that simply reinforce each others meaning. So much has been written about this Image of God…and from so many different perspectives that as a layman I can sometimes become lost in a mass of words generated by the theological and scholarly world, that I revert back to simpler times and the comfort of what I have been taught in church. So here is what I believe to be true. We know that Jesus Christ is The Image of God. What does it mean to be conformed to the image of God?

The thoughts, words, and actions that Jesus displayed in His life and ministry serve as a model for how we glorify God in our lives. … This is what it means to be conformed to His image.

-We show God’s mercy and grace to all people at all times

-Our love for all creation is unconditional

-God wants His people to expect only the best for others and in our actions present to the world good exceptions of things to come

-Take to the world God’s will for justice

The Image of God is one of mercy, love, hope and the salvation of us all through His son Jesus Christ. I guess we could best sum this up by understanding that the image and likeness of God we seek will be found in the life of Christ…As we wrote earlier image and likeness while different words are the same but I would refer to likeness as a spiritual attribute of the moral qualities Of God. It is worth repeating…The Imago Dei can be found in the life of Christ. May we all strive to live a Christ like life,

Life is Good 

jk

 

 

Comfort….2 Corinthians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father who is ever compassionate and the God who sends all comfort, he who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we are able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction’….  (2 Corinthians 1: 2-4)

When Paul wrote this he was writing as someone who knew trouble and if anyone knew trouble it would be Paul. His life up to this point had been a series of challenges, many placing him square in the eye of trouble. Now he shares that experience of God given endurance with those who find themselves in trouble.  Those who sought to become Christians in Paul’s day, chose to face trouble. It would not be uncommon that they found themselves abandoned by family, friends or their pagan neighbors, even at times experience persecution from official powers. Sound falmilar….Could easily be applied to some people today and Churches…most any Christian out reach program. William Barclay notes “It is always costly to be a real Christian, for Christianity is not true Christianity without the cross.” One of the key points of comfort is that we are able to endure. The Greek word does not signify a grim, bleak acceptance of trouble but one that leads to triumph. Christians are able to endure because the Spirit enables us to just not accept suffering but to triumph over it. Difficulties strengthen our faith and in most instances we emerge much stronger and better disciplined in the faith.

In 2Corinthians 1: 3-7  the word comfort as a noun or verb appears nine times. Its root lies in the Latin fortis which means brave. Christian comfort brings with it the courage to cope with all the things life can do to us. It was Paul’s belief that God surely would never seek to comfort us without enabling us with the strength and courage needed to receive and accept such a gift. We must remember that to suffer for Christ is a privilege. The big takeaway from all this is that our comfort from the bad things of life, enables us to comfort others who are suffering. 

Hebrews 2: 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  

Comfort is God given and the Comfort  we receive during our suffering and sorrow will help us to comfort others in theirs.

Life is Good

jk

The Great Inheritance…A Living Hope

For many the state of our country and if truth be told, the state the world in general, is one that leads some to believe the future seems hopeless. I am not referring to the politics of the day, it is a situation of “the world is ok…I just don’t like the people in it”. God did not create us to be solitary creatures devoid of any contact with  people and things around us. Relationships matter, interaction among all people is important. The attitudes and the discord of the day marginalize our ability to take the gospel to others. For many Christians this can be a time of hopelessness. We need the assurances of others of the faith to strengthen us and we need to share with others, we need to be doing the work of the kingdom. With this in mind I return to 1 Peter this week, Chapter 1: 1-9.

Peter brings hope to us  of the faith in the first two verses of this chapter. These people, the Gentiles had no hope, they lived a very futile life. Now the conceptions of those who lived outside the mercy of God no longer applies to them. They had become believers, they are now a part of the family of God, hope, mercy and salvation are now theirs through the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ. This applies to you and I this very day and all the privileges that once belonged to Israel now belong to us and the Christian Church. There is a point to be made here. During the Diaspora the Jews were scattered to all the countries outside of Palestine. During these times of trouble they were forcibly deported from their native lands, thus they were different from other people and treated as such. Now things are different and the ones who are different are the Christians. We are in a sense exiles in the world, for our home is in eternity, with our God. This world for the most part is hostile to us and our God and faith. The uplifting thing here is we are now a part of the Family of God. Of course there comes with that honor a challenge and serious responsibility. He honors us by choosing us to be a part of His purposes for his creations. We are the exiles of eternity. We are not expected to withdraw from the world but it is our responsibility to remain apart from the sins and temptations of this world.

Christians, when we pray… ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ we are praying to the God who is like Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that we have come to know our God and in whom we put our trust, faith and confidence. We have been reborn into a new life. The changes in our lives should be so great that the only explanation could be a re-birth, fueled by God and the Holy Spirit. We have asked that the Holy Spirit possess and re-create us. It is one of our responsibilities as children of God to ensure that the word of truth prevails in this world and among all the people. We are the first fruits of a new creation. We have been lifted from this world of sin and defeat. We are now in touch and aware of this promise of eternity and salvation. We have been reborn into a state of living hope. Righteousness is reborn and should we fall, we have in us now the power and grace of God to rise again. We are free to love all people because the power of unforgiving bitterness and self-centered attitudes has been replaced with the sacrificial love of God. We have learned how to have a victorious life in living and serving Jesus Christ. The points of hope for Christians are many. There is the hope that is now a reality, the great inheritance….that word inheritance means something we will possess in the future. To the born again, those in the faith it means something different. Biblical meaning is a secure possession now, for all God’s children, repeat all God’s family. We belong to and serve God and because of this, The Inheritance, will endure forever. As we make our way through this world we are protected by the power of God.

Peter lays before them the fact that their Christianity will bring upon them certain persecution and at times agonizing experiences. Endurance…rejoice! But you can stand anything brought against you. At the end there will be the inheritance, every trial is a test but there will God’s Grace to strengthen our endurance. There is the undeniable truth that at the end Jesus Christ will appear and we will hear that wondrous ‘well done’.

 Don’t give up hope, never surrender to the evil of unbelief, keep the faith.

1 John 3  

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

As the hymn has it: 

Jesus, these eyes have never seen That radiant form of thine; 

The veil of sense hangs dark between Thy blessed face and mine. 

I see thee not, I hear thee not, Yet art thou oft with me; 

And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot As where I meet with thee. 

Yet, though I have not seen, and still Must rest in faith alone, 

I love thee, dearest Lord, and will, Unseen but not unknown. 

When death these mortal eyes shall seal, And still this throbbing heart, 

The rending veil shall thee reveal All glorious as thou art. 

Thanks for joining us in the Pew

Life is Good

jk

 

Some Good News…Mark 1: 14-15

Mark 1:14–15 

After John had been committed to prison, Jesus came into Galilee, announcing the good news about God, and saying, ‘The time that was appointed has come; and the kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe the good news.’ 

I can think of no better time for a little Good News. There is plenty of bad news to go around…the world and back. In the book of Mark we are reminded that there is some good news to be shared.Two simple verses, if I counted right, 39 words. Dominant in these verses are The Good News, Repentance and the word believe.

Let’s start with the Good News. This being the news that Jesus brings to all of us. What is the content of this message that Jesus brings to all of us? It is the good news of truth. Before Jesus we had no ability to see and to know. Job cries out…‘O that I knew where I might find him,’ (Job 23: 3) The Good News being those falmilar words ‘I can see clearly now’. With the coming of Jesus we can see clearly who God is. We no longer have to guess or wonder, now we know. It’s the good news of hope. The ancient world always looked to see the worst, a doom and gloom attitude, despondent and depressed. The coming of Jesus brought hope to the hopeless and today that hope abounds in the heart of the believers. It is the good news of Peace… Ephesians 6: 15

 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

As mortals, sin and goodness are always fighting a battle for our souls. The coming of Jesus brings together the waring factions of the mind and body and we find victory as our warring within is conquered by Jesus Christ.

It is the good news of God’s Promise. Ephesians 3: 6

that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Those not of the faith tend to believe God to be a demanding God. Christianity tells of a God who is willing to give more than we could ever ask.

It is good news of immortality… 2 Timothy 1:10

 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 

To the pagan you are born to die and life was the road that got you there. Jesus brought the good news that we are on the way to life, not death. 

It is good news of salvation…Ephesians 1:13

13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit

Salvation is a positive thing in that it is not just liberation from past sin, it gives us the power to conquer sin. We are left with two more words. 

There is the word repent,  a word I feel is often misunderstood. In Greek the word means change of mind. Yes, sin can make us sorry for what we have done but often leaves us more concerned with the consequences and the sorrow  brings. Truth is most people would do it again if they thought they could escape the consequences. As Christians we must understand that to repent means to change our actions, the way we live. We must learn to hate sin. 

There is the word believe. Believe in the Good News!  We can believe that God is the kind of God Jesus has told us about. This is the one time that something is to good to be true…is true! Have faith, believe the Good News, God loves you and will make any sacrifice to bring you back to him.

Life is Good

jk

Song of Moses…Deuteronomy 32: 1-43

We of the community of faith, the Christian community throughout the world have our faith tested each day in the trials and tribulation of any given day. But we do have one blessing that is constant, that being our God and his unfailing love and mercy for us, His children. He is the one living God, our salvation and hope. The Song of Moses speaks to just that.

The debate about one God or many is found throughout the Old Testament. It travels within abstract debate, theories and speculations. These give rise to the question of a single, all powerful divine God that will control the universe. In The Song of Moses, the sovereignty of the Lord God of Israel is majestically put forth. The question of other gods, demons, idols and no gods become irrelevant. Also there is our introduction the theological impact of monotheism… God is one and there is no other who is comparable in power or purpose. There is an interesting paradox here in that this song does not declare a monotheistic faith, as it does often refer to other deities besides the Lord God of Israel. The primary insertion of different deities that Israel was repeatedly tempted to worship were the gods of the former occupants of the land. The point being made in this song is that these other gods are weak and powerless beside the God of Israel and must submit to the will of the Lord. It should be recognized that if other nations or peoples believe in or accept that their gods exist, for them it is so. One point of this song is to emphasize the absolute power of the Lord. Moses sets out to show the power of the Lord in all the history of Israel. Things sometimes went bad for the people because it was necessary they be punished, by the same token when things went good it was God showing his mercy to the people. In verse 32:27 other nations wrongly assumed that their gods were greater, more powerful than the Lord God of Israel. The song sets it straight, there are no gods greater than the Lord God of Israel. A minor theme is that each nation has its own deity, each looking to be more important than someone or something else. Scripture teaches us that only that which is divine has the power to create. None of the other gods have that power, being  limited only to their appearances and the misplaced faith of their followers. 

 We all have over time had a moment in which we pondered why does God let bad things happen? We can’t help but look at our situation today. There is no respect for others as to age, gender, faith, in general no tolerance for that which is different. Why has God let this happen? The song’s answer for the Israelites is that in time this will pass. Many of us this day have a lessening in faith that God is in control. Israel had to accept the fact that the divine will with the uprightness and loyalty of God’s children, along with the belief that Israel’s enemies were God’s enemies also and would be punished in His Time. To wrap this up it is best said that for us to maintain a sense of oneness and wholeness of our history and life experiences and the oneness of God is far better than being distracted by the rivalries between many different gods and their causes. There is only one God…. He and only Him is in control.

What is your song? To whom do you look? 

Life is Good

jk  

The Other Election…Second Peter 1: 3-11

2 Peter 1: 10-11

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

 Pogo, a popular cartoon charter of days gone by once said, ‘we have found the enemy and they is us’. The very opening of this letter contains a profound truth that if not carefully read will escape our coming to know a  beautiful truth that such a blessing is ours. It is an honor and a privilege, Peter writes and we came to realize that he is speaking of us, who were at one time Gentiles, not the chosen people of God. Now through the glory of Christ, we too have become uniquely chosen of God, elected by, if you please. So in these few words Peter addresses those once despised Gentiles as now having equal rights of citizenship with the Jews and according to Peter even the apostles themselves in God’s kingdom. We have not earned this, it is ours completely through grace. There are so many things, people and circumstances working against a simple but defining attribute of Christianity, love, just a pure simple agape love. It is how Christ loves us. In verses 3 and 4 there is a clear picture of this love of Christ. The love of Christ is a divine power, which cannot be defeated or frustrated by the sins and tragedies of this life. Sometimes we are frustrated, left helpless, unable to do His will and unable to meet the disasters of this life with compassion and love. The love of Christ is always backed by His power. It is always a victorious love. Here is a wonderful thought. Christ tells us what life is and through his generosity gives us all we need for true life and true religion. To us Christ gives a religion and a faith that enables us to be triumphantly involved in it. Christ is the one of great and precious promises, promises that through Him come true. ‘For Whoever’…That means me, it means us. Petter just keeps awaking our minds to truth in these two verses. Sin and corruption were so prevalent then as well as now that this common human trait still seems to over power people. Peter had to deal with the antinomians of his day and in our day they are still among us. These are people that use the grace of God as an excuse for sin. God’s grace is big enough to cover every sin.The grace of Christ will win the day, total forgiveness. They really believed that you could sin as often as you wished, there was enough forgiveness for all. Of course the flaw here is that this is simply not true. What is true is that people who think and talk like this are overcome with the fascination of sin and lust, they just want to sin. But through Christ we have the power to escape the world’s corruption. Now let’s be fair and honest. All of us will never be completely free of sin and the fascination that comes with it. As long as we live in this world sin will always be there; but with the presence of Christ we can and will overcome, He is our defense against such fascination. Christ makes it possible for us to become sharers in the divine nature. 

 Within the Church we find those who speak to going on to perfection. Peter in verses 5 and 6 says we must add virtue to virtue, propelling us toward Christian love. There was a group of people at that time, Stoics, that saw a continuous need for moral progress. They believed that in Christian life there had to be a steady advance toward moral behavior. It is a common trait of those new to the faith to have that exceptional moment of enthusiasm, then falling into a period of doing nothing and in some cases reverting back to being simply unchanged, failing to recognize that a Christian life is one of constant progress. Peter makes it plain that there must be on our part an all out effort to embrace the grace of God, we must be willing to work for what is good, find pleasure in our labour and stand strong in our faith. Everything at this point comes from faith…a faith that does not lead to a new life, that is not faith at all.  It is a hard realization that faith is more that just a commitment to the promises of Christ…it is far away and above all a commitment to His demands.

In these verses we also find a list of virtues. It is an interesting fact that in the ancient world lists were quite common. Books were not so readily available and one way of teaching pupils was to compose simple lists that could be easily memorized. One commentary writes that these verses 5-8 can be referred to as the Ladder of Virtues. It is with these things and the grace and mercy of God that we can make known and strengthen our call. We must confirm this calling, election if you will into the fellowship of His people. Once more those verses…

2 Peter 1: 10-11

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

The world this day is in great need of Godly people, Godly morals and for those who will continue till journey’s end. Will you accept your election and go on to a faith of continuous service in His name?

Life is Good

jk 

A New Year, Hope and Judgement

Psalm 96

Praise to God Who Comes in Judgment

 

O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.

 

A new year will always bring the quick look back, the moment of wish I hadn’t or deep regret when we think, wish I had. For all of us there will come the moment when that golden orb comes sliding down bringing us back to the realities of the day among the horns, sparklers and hopes for a better year. For most of us hope does not recognize judgement and yet with the end of anything there is always that moment of judgement. 2020 has been a rough year….universally as well as personally. Joy is just a tear away and hope is only a thought without action. Christians cannot shy away from the horrors of the Cross, nor not be overwhelmed by the suffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus there was God’s Judgement on this world and the sins of his people nailed to that Cross in the person of Jesus Christ. We will never leave behind the scars of 2020 until we learn to praise God for the judgement that brings hope, the tears that bring joy, a renewal of faith and a  the purpose of commitment.The Church has lost much in the past year and those who believe have been sorely tested by the harshness of the covid-19 virus and the evil of humanity that stains our world, our lives and those that are supposed to lead us.  

There is a wealth of theological information concerning the Bible and the New Year, various fixing of the date, customs, culture and anything inquisitive minds would like to know. But I like to keep it simple. After the ball has dropped, the fireworks, horns and other means of crude welcoming given the New Year…. Take a moment and seek the one who has made all things new, look to the wonder and power of God. In his name rests salvation, glory and greatness and be in awe of his Holy presence. There is honor, majesty, strength and beauty in that which he has created. These things have given the psalmist cause to praise Him. Worship the Lord, giving him the glory due Him. Worship him with a diligence that requires holiness and a deep sense of reverence. The psalmist reminds us that we are to witness to all nations the truth of God’s sovereignty, power, judgement and righteousness. All creation will welcome the coming of the Lord and his righteous judgement. It is then that we all we be judged according to his truth. 

The remaining verses of Psalm 96….

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12  let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

13  before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

I pray the New Year to come will be one of coming closer to Christ and every new day brings a us all closer to the truth.

Life is Good

jk

The Christmas Blog

This has become a Christmas tradition here in the Pew. To everyone a Merry Christmas and of course a Happy New Year. I pray you will step back out of the glow of the many colored lights of the season and in the year to come focus on the true light of life.

John 8:12  

Jesus the Light of the World ] Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

This will be the Christmas Blog a bit early.

Life is Good

jk

I am constantly searching the internet for little gems of knowledge and wisdom that will enrich and encourage us ordinary folks whose frantic pace in this life causes us to rush by without even taking the time to “smell the coffee” so to speak. Over fifty years ago we were introduced to the world of Charlie Brown. Charles Schultz created a community of lovable misfits each with their own recognizable frailties’ of mind, body and spirit, in which many of us saw a part of ourselves in the characters and took this lovable bunch into our hearts. Unlike some of the modern animated cartoons of this day the brilliance of Charles Shultz shows us our faults in a gentle and endearing way. Charlie Brown also helps us see the real value of community, the need we have for others and the power of a simple love that transcends the norms of this day. Having said all this let me introduce you to a brilliant post of December 14, 2014, by Jason Soroski. I have edited his original post for space requirements and encourage you to go to the posted url to read it as posted. (jasonsoroski.wordpress.com)

Here are some excerpts from that post.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since. But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now. Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.

Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up. Until this moment, when he simply drops it. In that climactic scene when Linus shares “what Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, “fear not”

 Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and take Jason Soroski’s advice and “drop the blanket” in the coming new year. Again I encourage you to go to the url posted above and read some more of this gentlemen’s writings and activities.