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Category Archives: Christmas

God’s Children

27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. 31 Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:27-31, CEB)

How does the world know we are Christians?

The old hymn says, “By our love.” They will know we are Christians by our love.

We won’t prove to the world we are God’s Children by sharing them or making them fear God or telling them they are going to hell. They will know it by love.

Show the world love as God loves you. Undeserved and for everyone. God loved us when we couldn’t be close to God and we need to love like that.

Can the world see you are a child of God?

Can the world see you love?

 

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Grace upon grace

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10 The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11 The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12 But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13 born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” 16 From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 17 as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. (John 1:1-18, CEB)

From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

We have all received gift upon gift.

We have received the blessing that only God can give us and this is absolutely not by our doing. We could not earn what we have received or work our way towards. God has graced us beyond imagination.

Know that God came here to show us love and because God loves us. As God created us, God loves us.

Know this is true. You are loved as you are.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.

 

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Wisdom from above

13 Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. 14 However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. 17 What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. 18 Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts. (James 3:13-18, CEB)

If you are truly living the life God has called you to it will show in your life. You will not have to say or give signs you are a Christian. People will just know it from your life.

Does your life show you follow Christ? Or do people have to ask?

How do you show Christ in your life?

 

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Named

15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told. 21 When eight days had passed, Jesus’ parents circumcised him and gave him the name Jesus. This was the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived. (Luke 2:15-21, CEB)

After all these things happened and it was time according to the Law for him to be circumcised and named, he was named Jesus as was foretold before his conception.

There are a lot of things that were foretold about Jesus. Many things happened to help prove Jesus is the Son of God.

And yet many don’t believe.

And yet his name is just one…

Why do you beleive?

 

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Know

12 Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “Because you are testifying about yourself, your testimony isn’t valid.” 14 Jesus replied, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, since I know where I came from and where I’m going. You don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. 15 You judge according to human standards, but I judge no one. 16 Even if I do judge, my judgment is truthful, because I’m not alone. My judgments come from me and from the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the witness of two people is true. 18 I am one witness concerning myself, and the Father who sent me is the other.” 19 They asked him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You don’t know me and you don’t know my Father. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (John 8:12-19, CEB)

Do you know Jesus?

It is interesting that the powers that be are pushing back on Jesus because they are fearful of what he will do to their comfortable living. They have power and yet Jesus’ teaching is taking that power away. And so they are fearful.

And Jesus says, “In your Law it is written that the witness of two people is true.” I am one and my Father is the second. Where is your father they ask…

If you knew me you would know my father but you do not know me.

Do you know Jesus?

 

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Slow

Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? You must live holy and godly lives, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming day of God. Because of that day, the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. (2 Peter 3:8-13, CEB)

The Lord is not slow to keep promises like we think but is patient. Time is a construct we humans have put together and sometimes it is not a good thing. We can get hung up on people being late or things not happening as we think they should in a timely manner but God is not controlled by our understanding of time.

We need to let go and allow things to happen as God allows them. And know that God is patient that all creation would be redeemed.

So always hope and know that God is always there.

 

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Family

46 While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers stood outside trying to speak with him. 47 Someone said to him, “Look, your mother and brothers are outside wanting to speak with you.” 48 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 He stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers.50 Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50, CEB)

It wasn’t that long ago we had this same passage and maybe Todd Agnew is just stuck in my head but the topic of family makes me think of his song Family from his Better Questions album.

He says, “if we’re all under one father that makes us all brothers. We are all family.” We are all going to be together in the sweet by and by so we should act like that here.

 

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Innocent

13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.”14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt 16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi.17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet: 18 A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving. Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more. (Matthew 2:13-18, CEB)

Joseph took Jesus and Mary and went to Egypt because God warned him that Herrod was going to try and kill Jesus.

So Herrod had all boys 2 years old and younger killed so that the boy the Magi were looking for would be dead, because that is how long ago the Star rose and the Magi started following it. Herrod slaughtered innocent babies to keep his power. Herrod slaughtered innocent babies out of fear.

What do we do to maintain our status? Our power? Out of fear?

How do our lives show God’s love to the world?

 

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For told…

22 When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (23 It’s written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord.”) 24 They offered a sacrifice in keeping with what’s stated in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. 25 A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law.28 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, 29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, 30     because my eyes have seen your salvation. 31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. 32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” 33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. 37 She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. 40 The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him. (Luke 2:22-40, CEB)

The knowledge of the coming messiah was known throughout the land and many waited on the coming.

Simeon and Anna both waited many years for the coming Christ. They waited with expectation and awe. They lived their lives waiting for when God would bless them with the presence of the Christ.

And now we have Jesus as a part of our lives and how do we live?

What are we waiting for?

How does your life point to Christ and the love God has given us through Jesus?

 

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Stephen

Stephen, who stood out among the believers for the way God’s grace was at work in his life and for his exceptional endowment with divine power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose from some who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Former Slaves. Members from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia entered into debate with Stephen. 10 However, they couldn’t resist the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. 11 Then they secretly enticed some people to claim, “We heard him insult Moses and God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the legal experts. They caught Stephen, dragged him away, and brought him before the Jerusalem Council. 13 Before the council, they presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and the Law. 14 In fact, we heard him say that this man Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and alter the customary practices Moses gave us.” 15 Everyone seated in the council stared at Stephen, and they saw that his face was radiant, just like an angel’s.

51 “You stubborn people! In your thoughts and hearing, you are like those who have had no part in God’s covenant! You continuously set yourself against the Holy Spirit, just like your ancestors did. 52 Was there a single prophet your ancestors didn’t harass? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the righteous one, and you’ve betrayed and murdered him! 53 You received the Law given by angels, but you haven’t kept it.” 54 Once the council members heard these words, they were enraged and began to grind their teeth at Stephen. 55 But Stephen, enabled by the Holy Spirit, stared into heaven and saw God’s majesty and Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56 He exclaimed, “Look! I can see heaven on display and the Human One[a] standing at God’s right side!” 57 At this, they shrieked and covered their ears. Together, they charged at him, 58 threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses placed their coats in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 As they battered him with stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, accept my life!” 60 Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” Then he died. (Acts 6:8-15, 7:51-60, CEB)

Stephen was put on trial because the religious powers that be secretly paid people to lie about him. They trumped up charges against him so they could get him to stop preaching the good news.

And they took him and stoned him to death. Stephen was the first martyr of the church, stoned for preaching the good news of Jesus. Yet through it all, God was with him.

So don’t worry when people speak all kinds of evil against you. God is always with you.

 

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