Christmas is Coming ~ and I feel like a little child

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My bins are Christmas green.

Thanksgiving Day is gone, though thanksgiving continues as a way of life for me. So, now I’m thankful that Christmas is coming. For me the day after Thanksgiving is the “official start of the Christmas season” which doesn’t end on December 26th. No, I also celebrate the 12-Days of Christmas and end the season on December 6th with Epiphany.

In my house, the day after Thanksgiving is the day for taking out my large plastic “Christmas bins.”

This year I did some research and I found out surveys show that people who celebrate Christmas early tend to be happy people. All I know on a personal level is that I feel great when I jump into the Christmas season with both feet.

Isaiah 9:6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]

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My baker’s rack in happy disarray as I put away “year round” object ‘d art and start putting up the Christmas stuff.

My feeling is that “Christmasy people” enjoy the “Light” the season brings. Even the non religious feel the light piercing the darkness and they like it. I don’t decry the  overabundance of lights on houses as commercialism. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph don’t upset me. I know Santa Claus isn’t the baby Jesus. I also know the real St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who gave gifts to the poor. I don’t mistake my Santa figurines as “the reason for the season.” Not for one second. But Santa does make me smile. Still, I know if there had never been a Jesus, there would not have been a Santa Claus.

I love to see smiles breaking out on the faces of children when they sit on Santa’s lap. Too often our children are fretful, feeling the anxiety and weight of the world in this angry time. Laughing when they see Frosty or Rudolph is a welcome break. It’s the Light breaking through the darkness. It’s children being allowed to be children, even for a short time. It’s the joy of the season breaking out. It can’t be contained. Darkness can’t hold it back.

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Turkey chili sustains me as I decorate.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t decorate on an empty stomach.

It is up to the church to tell the story of the baby Jesus. If we tell the age-old glorious story, they will listen. We must tell them.

The Birth of Jesus ~ ~ Luke 2 ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

 

Why Christian Evangelicals Bless and Honor the Jewish Feasts and Biblical Culture

 

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Rosh Hashanah

 

  1. Most evangelical Christians have an appreciation of the Jewish Feasts and many of us study them, especially charismatic Christians. This is a little known fact outside of evangelical circles. We also honor Jewish biblical culture and history. The most basic reason for evangelicals having an understanding of the Hebrew feast days is simply because they’re in the Bible, in the Old Testament. Christians adhere to two testaments, the Old and the New. If God put the Jewish feasts in The Book, they’re important to us. Evangelical Christians are a biblical people.
Hanukkah
Hannukkah
  1. The Gregorian calendar is not God’s calendar. The Hebrew calendar is. The Hebrew calendar is marked by the Jewish feasts, as set out in the Bible. If evangelicals want to have an understanding of how God marks time, and most do, we must have a basic understanding of the Hebrew calendar. Evangelicals are a people of The Book.

That said, Christians have peace with and are reconciled to God through believing in the finished work of Jesus…PERIOD. Nothing else!

Genesis 12:3 ~  And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

The above verse refers to Israel and the Jewish people. Most evangelicals are ardent supporters of Israel and defenders of the Jewish people. Why? Because we are Bible people, and it’s the right thing to do.

 

 

Bring Your Bible To School Day ~ October 4th

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Christian children all over America will be bringing their bibles to school on Thursday, October 4th. They and their families will be participating in celebrating religious freedom in the USA with this simple act.

Christian children who read and delight in their Bibles, enjoy sharing this very important part of their lives with their schoolmates. On October 4th, these children can let their spiritual lights shine. It’s awesome that American Christian children live in a country where they have the First Amendment religious freedom to bring their Bibles to school. Bring Your Bible To School Day is a visual celebration of this freedom to talk about God’s amazing love for us.

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Talking With Jesus ~ a two way communication

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The Lion of Judah

Talking with Jesus requires an intimate relationship with Him. Most Christians have a first-hand knowledge of this. Obviously Joy Behar and Omarosa do not.

Most Christians, at least to some extent, function in a spiritual arena whereby we talk to God and hear back from Him. That’s billions of us worldwide.

Over the years God had taken me on a journey to greater intimacy with Him. I have grown spiritually to a point where I hear His voice more clearly. As I speak with fellow Christians, they tell me of a similar walk. This is an exciting way to live. I love watching what God is doing in my life. I can’t wait to see what He will do next.

I can’t give any formula for hearing the voice of Jesus. But I would suggest simply asking Him, with sincerity, to speak to you. Another suggestion would be to read the Bible, especially the words in red. A red-letter Bible puts what Jesus has said in red ink. If you read what He’s said, when He speaks to you, you’ll more readily know if it’s Him. He will not speak in a way that is against the Bible. For example, Jesus will never tell you to steal. That is against the instruction of the Bible and Jesus will never speak to a believer in a way that is against what the Bible teaches.

Who is it who actually speaks to us when Jesus speaks? That’s an interesting question and so is the answer. Right now Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right-hand of the Father. Jesus is our High Priest in heaven and He’s making intercession for us. So, if Jesus is doing that, who is speaking to us?

It’s the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus in the earth today. Jesus was a man (and also deity) but in His physical body He could only be in one place at one time. The Spirit of God, the Counselor is a spirit and can be everywhere at once. Jesus told us in John 16 that it is to our advantage that He goes away for the Comforter will then come to us. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) is the teacher of the church. He is the one who speaks to us with an inner witness, with a whisper in our hearts, or by bringing intense peace in a difficult and painful situation. There are times, perhaps in a dangerous situation, where the “voice” is so loud it’s almost as if it’s audible. Many Christians have sworn it might’ve been audible. “Stop” “Don’t move.” “Don’t get on that plane or train or boat.”

It’s happened that I’ve had several unrelated individuals come up to me separately saying almost the exact same words about a distressing situation in my life. I believe this came about through the power of the Holy Spirit. If I experience extreme peace, then I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit speaking through those people. I’ve had situations I’ve not shared with anyone, and then, out of the blue, some person(s) randomly gave me the answer(s). The Holy Spirit. These things not only make me feel better, they solve problems in my life. Some might say this is coincidence. Well, I love these coincidences I keep having. Please, keep bringing them on Holy Spirit.

Called To Prayer ~ being a good student, I turned it into study.

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The Lord has been nudging me for quite a while to pray. It started about three years ago with making a Blessing Jar every January into which I would deposit written prayers during the entire year. The call has become more intense and I’ve been going to my church’s intercessory prayer group.

I felt I was supposed to get a notebook and study the different forms of prayer, which I did. I became very industrious in this endeavor. I looked in the Bible for the first record of prayer…the ‘man calling out to God’ type of prayer.

I found that in Genesis 4:26 [NASB] ~ To Seth, to him also a son was born and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Background: Seth is a later son of Adam and Eve, thought to be their third son. In Genesis 4:25 [NASB], Eve said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” That led me to wonder if Seth, himself, might have been an answer to Eve’s deepest heart’s desire.

So, the earliest record of a human prayer that could fall under worship, supplication, intercessory prayer, petition is in Genesis 4:26 when men began calling out the name of the Lord.

Seeing this led me to want to review in the earlier chapters of Genesis how they called the name of God. Adam talks to God, while Eve talks about God. All this effort in study was not a bad thing, not at all. Still, the Holy Spirit arrested me and I felt Him asking me, “What do you call God?”

I put my Bible down and began to meditate that.

“Thou Shalt Not” ~ don’t be misled

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I’ve moved to the northeast coast of Florida and am starting a new life. So, when browsing in the local discount Christian book store (there are many of them in north Florida), I purchased a new Bible, a detective story by an author I’d never heard of before (a review is coming), and another silver ring (inscribed with, Phil 4:13). As if I don’t wear enough silver rings.

My old Bible was the Comparative Study Bible with four translations (KJV, NASB, AMP, NIV). I loved that Bible, marked it up, and eventually had to tape it to keep the hard cover binding from falling off. So, it was definitely time for a new Bible. I looked at four translation study Bibles, but like the one I had, they were all very heavy which made it cumbersome taking them to church or growth groups or whatever. I finally decided to get a Parallel Bible with NASB and Amplified translations and I love it.

So, I’m reading through it and have gotten up to Leviticus, the book of laws that seems to go on and on. I joked with God the other day, “Didn’t you know this is my favorite book of the Bible?” Yes, I joke with God. I talk to Him, share with Him, and sometimes cry to Him.

Here I am reading page after page of Leviticus and I can’t wait to get through with it. Yes, I know there are Bible scholars who relish a good day delving into Leviticus, but I’m not one of them.

When I came to Leviticus 20, which the NASB heads, “On Human Sacrifice and Immoralities” I well knew the Old Testament prohibited the sacrifice of Israelite babies and children, which was common among the natives in Canaan at that time. Many “child jar cemeteries” were found near ancient Canaanite altars.

Then I got to the part about who’s nakedness thou shalt not uncover, translated into modern speak, that means who you shall  not marry and/or have sexual relations with. This sets out what have become modern laws of incest, and beyond those laws to what are still mores, or generally held morality. So, the Lord clearly states a man shall not uncover the nakedness of his mother, his sister, or any of his father’s wives. In those days a man cold have as many wives as he could afford. They each had their own tent and households which each wife ran and of course the husband had to pay for.

The text goes on to say a man shall not lay with his father’s wife’s mother. That a man shall not take two sisters as wives, so the sisters will not become rivals…and on and on. As I read all of this, I had the profound realization much of this has become the underpinning of civilized society wherever Judaeo-Christian teaching became the norm. Who wouldda thunk the Lord would stop me cold in the middle of Leviticus, Leviticus to give me this moment of deep discernment. These writings were also the very beginning of the notion of the protection of women and children within a society. The modern feminist cries out, “This is not nearly enough.” Remember this was written between 1440 and 1400 BC and was revolutionary then.

In Exodus, God continually calls the Israelites an obstinate people who turn from His ways at a drop of the hat and always thereby get themselves into some sort of trouble. He calls the pagan practices (child sacrifice, selling ones daughters into sexual slavery as temple prostitutes, and all types of fornication) as being evil. It seems today, society is all too ready to push aside rules that have stabilized society for generations in favor of doing whatever they please. Let the good times roll…

Am I advocating strict biblical law for this modern age. No, I believe the church is now under “grace” not under “the law”. I’m suggesting a return to the spirit of the law, as taught by Jesus. We will and are finding that the loosening of many of these age-old rules has and will put women and children at risk, not to mention the elderly as well. Ultimately, it puts all of society at risk.

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Oy, Another Trial ~ and I’ve been acting like an over-tired baby

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I took a step outside my front door this morning with my trusty gal-pal Sophie, and these words sounded loud and clear inside my head: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I’m facing a particular trial at this time to which these words apply. Let’s see, it’s Thursday, and I’ve got Thursday’s trial. It seems to go that way, doesn’t it.

Anyway, I began to say those words of Scripture from Psalm 23 aloud as Sophie and I walked along, so she could do her business. I must’ve repeated them aloud 35 or so times. You see, I believe the Word of the Lord is powerful and does not return void. These were the “words” He gave me this morning and I wanted to verbally release them into the atmosphere of my life.

When Sophie and I returned to the house, I felt like maybe the Holy Spirit was suggesting I read Psalm 23. Then I did that funny thing Christians do. “What if it wasn’t the Spirit? What if it was just me?” And I had to laugh at how we are. In this case, even if I “missed it,” reading the psalm was a good thing. So, I opened my Bible.

green patures

 

And the next line hit me as something fresh. It was the Spirit prompting me to read it. He makes me lie down in green pastures. I’ve always seen that line as wonderful poetry emanating from the mind of God through David, lyrical in its beauty, bucolic.

This time I saw the strong arm of God. I’d never seen that before in this line. I had to take another look, and another. It actually says, he makes me lie down, makes me do it. I checked several translations and they all say, makes me. Has a parent or a highly respected dear friend ever said in a tone that brokered no argument, “Go lay down and rest!”? That’s the kind of makes me I saw in this line for the first time today. The Lord can spiritually hit believers right between the eyes and say, “Rest!”.

The Lord’s mind is so all encompassing it’s amazing (in the true sense of the word ‘amazing’), and he can be a bit sneaky too in His intimate relationship with his children, marvelously sneaky. Want to know what I’ve been studying this week? Well, I’ll tell you.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus. ~ The battle is the Lord’s, so let Him fight it.

Of course that implies I’ve been doing all the things God’s been leading me to do in the natural world. Having done all that, I’m to give the battle over to Him. He’s got a much longer arm than I’ve got.