Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Emmanuel" (meaning, God is with us).                                                                      
                                                                Matthew 1:23 (NLT)
 
God is with us.  He came to the world in the usual way...that is...if you are an ordinary child, but not the Savior of the world.  God is with us.  He chose to walk in our shoes, to experience what we experience, to laugh, to cry, to joke, to bleed.  He chose to be among us, which makes Him special.  It makes our God one who truly knows who we are and what we're going through.  This proves His love for us. 
 
Lets prove our love for Him this Christmas by being with Him.  Let's worship God by coming together in love and peace this year.  Let's worship God by taking Him to others this year.  Let's worship God by remembering the baby that was born in a manger this year.  Let's worship God by extending mercy and forgiveness to each other this year.  Let's worship God by placing more importance on Jesus than on Santa this year.  Let's just worship God this Christmas.
 
Christmas is just around the corner now.  How will you worship the Creator of the season this year?
 
In the love of Christ,
greg

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
                                           1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (NIV)

Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica.  He is praising them for their faithfulness to Jesus even in spite of the suffering that it produced for them.  In this praise he remembers how it all started.  They "became imitators of (Paul's group) and of the Lord."

Paul is not bragging and saying "Look at me!  Imitate me!"  Instead he understands that he has to not only tell others how to live in Christ Jesus, but also show them.  Ultimately he wants them to imitate the Lord because then they will be imitating what is perfect and true.  But in his teaching he had to show them his best imitation of the Lord as well.

How many people look at you and imitate you?  How many people look at you and decide that they don't want to imitate you?  As Christians we should be doing our best to imitate Christ before others so that they will see Him in us and learn to imitate Him as well.

This Christmas let us see how well we can show others what Christians are supposed to be like.  Non-believers see so much that is wrong with us.  Let us show them (not just tell them) that by grace we are forgiven for those faults and by repentance we come to imitate the one true perfect gift of Christmas, Christ Himself.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

"For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."
                                                   James 4:14b (ESV)


We all have trials that we go through in this world.  There are temptations that we struggle with and pains that come about because of our own doing.  Many people will wonder if it's really worth it.  Many will give up on life or love or ever finding true happiness.  This is a sad reality.  It's sad mostly because there are things in this world, God-given things that can be used to lift us up.  There really are places of joy to be found for those who are hurting or just plain miserable.  There are people out there that care, even though sometimes we're hard to find because we don't show it well.

As wonderful as God made this world, with all it's beauty, with all our potential, there is a time that is coming where this old world will pass away and a new "perfect" world will arise.  And when it seems that the bad things of this world are holding you down, set your eyes to the future.  In the Book of James we read that "For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  You may think this life will never end.  But in comparison to eternity in Heaven where there are no more tears, pain, struggles, and most importantly sin, this life is but a mist that lasts but a little while.

Don't give up on today or you'll miss so much.  But when life gets you down, remember that what lies ahead is far better than what lies behind.  May God bless you and keep you and bring you happiness in this world and the next.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

(Joseph) took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
                                                                   Luke 2:5-7 (NLT)


Most of us have heard the story of the birth of Jesus over and over again.  How the shepherds saw an angel proclaim the birth, how some wise men saw a star, how there was no room in an inn, how Mary pondered the happenings of the night in her heart.  Yes, many a stage has been filled with children acting out the first Christmas and many shelves, counter tops and even yards have displayed nativity scenes. 


We do know the story (If you don't, look to Luke 2), but what about those who came to see the baby?  Did they know what to expect?  Think about the shepherds.  They came to the place where the Savior of the world was born.  And even though they were told that he would be wrapped in "swaddling clothes", or strips of cloth, I wonder if they were surprised. 
I wonder if the shepherds, and later the wise men, were surprised to see what they had heard was a King residing in peasants' care.  I wonder if they were surprised to see that a stable, and later an ordinary house, was where this king resided.  I wonder if they thought that they might have the wrong address.

No, I think not.  After all, they had been told.  And even more importantly, I imagine that when they saw the baby, they just knew.  My only reasoning for this is that when we meet Jesus, we know that there's something different about him.  He attracts and pulls us to him.  There's no mistaking the one person in the world that will love you more than anyone else in the world.   

He may have been a fragile baby in a cold stable lying in a hay-filled manger, but he was something special.  And even now, we are drawn to him.  May he bless you this Christmas as you are attracted to the manger.  And may we all share the gift that God shared with us so many years ago.  The gift of love.  Merry Christmas.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
                                                               Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)

  
Whenever I read this verse I think about how we all have different gifts and how we each have an important function as a different part of the body of Christ.  But as I read it this morning I noticed the last part of the verse that reads "and each member belongs to all the others."

We belong to God the Father, who created us.  We belong to Jesus the Son, who saves us.  We belong to the Holy Spirit, who lives with us.  But do you realize what it means to belong to each other?  We have a responsibility to each other.  This means we must not take other Christians for granted.  We must do things that would lift each other up and not tear each other down.  For when we speak or do harmful things to other Christians, we harm the body that we are a part of, therefore harming ourselves.

Let us live today as though we belong to each other.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
                                                  Luke 2:7 (ESV)

Thinking back to that glorious night I'm reminded by this verse that the inn was all full up.  There was no room for Mary and Joseph.  I wonder how the innkeeper felt about turning them away. 

Actually, the biblical account never mentions an innkeeper.  What we've learned about him (or her) has come mainly from Christmas plays, often where children come to a door and turn the couple away.  The line normally goes something like "I'm sorry but there's no room for you."  But I wonder what really happened that night.

The innkeeper might have been tired.  He might have been too busy to notice that Mary was pregnant.  He might have simply not cared.  Could it be that out of frustration he barked at Joseph "Get out! Can't you see I can't fit one more person in this place!" and then slammed the door?  Or might he have been more kind and compassionate.  Could it be that he did take notice of Mary's condition and is the one who found the only spot left in town for them to spend their day and night?

Noted theologian William Barclay assumes he found them the stable and suggests that he did them a favor.  If he'd brought them into the inn there would have been overcrowding and busyness and noise all around.  So Barclay claims that even though the stable was not the perfect setting for a child to come into the world, it was at least quiet and private.

Back to the innkeeper though.  The thing I wonder about him was his attitude.  Was he a grouch, a grinch, a scrooge?  Or was he caring and compassionate?  This Christmas season we have the same choice to make.  Will we be grouchy because we're worn out or too busy.  Will we think only about ourselves and how things affect us?  Or will we take notice of the little things that are important, like a pregnant girl on a donkey.  Well, maybe not a girl and donkey, but maybe a child in need, a family with too little money to care for their kids, a person who is homeless or hungry, an elderly person forgotten at Christmas, or to just smile at people this Christmas.

May we show the world this year that Christ is still with us in the little things.  And may we find joy in sharing those things with all whom we meet.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said."
                                                              Luke 1:42-45 (NLT)


Three times Elizabeth tells Mary she or her baby is blessed.  But just what does this mean?  We thank God for our blessings.  We thank Him for the good things we’ve received and those good things going on in our lives.  We associate blessings with comfort and ease…with good times (and they certainly can be).

But Mary’s blessing had nothing to do with security or well-being.  As a matter of fact, hardships would continue to follow her because of her blessing.  She would flee for her and her baby's life to Egypt, have to worry about those plotting against her son and end up seeing him crucified like a common criminal. 

Her blessedness came not from an easy life, but from being a part of God’s plan.  She was blessed because God chose her, and because she believed that He would do what He said He would do.  She was blessed because she was chosen to bear the Messiah…the Savior of the world.

We can all live out our lives in relative ease, especially when compared to others living in slums all over the world.  But if we want to experience the true blessings of God we will seek our callings from God and then do just as Jesus taught his disciples to do.  We will “deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow.”

The world…and sadly…some preachers out there…teach that blessings come in security, fame, wealth and other things we can gain in this world.  But Jesus teaches us that blessed are not those who have it all, but those who are meek, humble, merciful, who mourn and who suffer for his sake.

In the love of Christ,
greg