Quote for 12/28/2021

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.    Colossians 3:15

******************************

Fear seems to be the constant in life, and especially for the last couple years.  There are real things to fear and other things over which fear is exaggerated for the sake of money and power.

Whatever your fear, God is love, and perfect love casts out fear.  Love is peace.  We too often allow fear to penetrate us and infect us.  Our defense is God and His promises.  Either we learn to push fear away as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 – “Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” or we trust God and His strength to get us through whatever happens.

Give thanks.  God provides and deserves our thanks. 

Quote for 12/27/2021

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.    Psalm 95:1-2

******************************

This psalm is the basis of the Te Deum Laudamis, which is part of both the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Order of Matins, a morning church service.  This verse serves as the opening lines:

“Oh, come let us sing unto the Lord! / Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!”

I went to a Lutheran grade school.  Every Wednesday morning was a chapel service.  Pastor Beuschline spent several weeks teaching us about each part of Matins; what it meant and its purpose.

Matins still exists in our hymnal, but churches too often print customized liturgies in the bulletin instead of using a traditional liturgy.  I miss Matins!

It is so familiar, so ingrained in my memory that I can use those familiar words and songs as my basis for praise, repentance, and the rest.  I don’t have to struggle with choosing the right words or reading something unfamiliar in the bulletin.

That’s me.  However you worship, whatever means you use, sing to the Lord and make a joyful noise to Him!

Quote for 12/26/2021

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.    Luke 2:6-7

******************************

Pregnant women are advised not to travel once they are pretty far along in their pregnancy.  This is an age where traveling means sitting in a car or plane!  Sitting for long periods can cause problems.

How about sitting for long periods on a bobbing donkey!

Upon arriving in Bethlehem there was no Marriott or Holiday Inn waiting for them.  Mary was not going to finally collapse into luxurious bed.  She was going to lie in a straw bed with farm animals – and their smells – to give birth.

Jesus came from more than humble beginnings.  He was born into adversity.  He was born to a woman who suffered pain and indignity having Him and a father who was a stand in.  And yet God saved the world from itself through Him.

Throughout His ministry Jesus consistently called on the inglorious, the cast outs, to hear His Good News.  He used simple people and even an enemy to tell the entire world about Him.

Despite whatever our social or economic status, we are humbled and downtrodden in our sins.  Jesus calls to us to hear his Good News and to spread the Word…His Word.  It starts today, remembering His birth and why He came!

Quote for 12/25/2021

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.    Luke 1:46-47, 49

******************************

My personal interpretation goes this way:

Magnify means to make bigger.  A second meaning is to glorify.  Mary doesn’t just say “I magnify the Lord.”  She says her soul and spirit do!

Her soul is so overwhelmed by God’s saving message to her and being chosen to bear the Christ, it cannot be contained!  It is to much for human flesh, so her soul, her spirit burst forth in the effort to enlarge God in her existence, to glorify Him.

Quote for 12/24/2021

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.  23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.    Hebrews 11:22-23

******************************

Yesterday we looked at Mary’s challenge that she met with the faith of a child.  Today we consider the oft-neglected Joseph.  His job was to take a back seat to Mary and God, the Father and yet play the role of earthly dad to Jesus.

And yet, by faith, he managed to do exactly what God asked him to do.

His namesake, the Patriarch Joseph, acted on faith regarding his descendants leaving Egypt centuries later.  Why else would he give instructions on how to leave?

Moses’ parents, having faith in God, risked punishment by saving their baby’s life instead of killing him per the Egyptian edict.

What shall we do in faith?  Shall we share the Gospel message, because, like God, we wish none should perish?  Shall we be forgiving?  Shall we practice a sacrificial love with our spouses and children?

This Christmas, as we remember Jesus’ birth, shall we – by faith – do all He asks us to?

Quote for 12/23/2021

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.  23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.    Hebrews 11:22-23

******************************

Yesterday we looked at Mary’s challenge that she met with the faith of a child.  Today we consider the oft-neglected Joseph.  His job was to take a back seat to Mary and God, the Father and yet play the role of earthly dad to Jesus.

And yet, by faith, he managed to do exactly what God asked him to do.

His namesake, the Patriarch Joseph, acted on faith regarding his descendants leaving Egypt centuries later.  Why else would he give instructions on how to leave?

Moses’ parents, having faith in God, risked punishment by saving their baby’s life instead of killing him per the Egyptian edict.

What shall we do in faith?  Shall we share the Gospel message, because, like God, we wish none should perish?  Shall we be forgiving?  Shall we practice a sacrificial love with our spouses and children?

This Christmas, as we remember Jesus’ birth, shall we – by faith – do all He asks us to?

The First North American Christmas

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.    Matthew 1:18

Today’s title probably has you thinking about how the Pilgrims or original settlers might have celebrated their first Christmas in the “New World.”  That, however, is not where I’m taking you today.  Let’s go back about 2000 years!

I have a book, That’s What the Old Ones Say by Chief Joseph Riverwind.  It’s a collection of Indian oral histories.  Traditionally, a tribe would have someone designated to learn, tell, and pass on their history.  Chief Joseph worked with such a man to finally record these oral histories before the tradition dies and the histories are lost.

Chief Joseph is also Christian and has recognized God’s presence in the North American Indian history going back thousands of years.  Let’s start with a prophecy of Jesus’ purpose on earth.

This is my favorite account from the book.  It is about an old chief who went up on a mountain to fast and pray for his people who were suffering –

“Creator sent a spirit being who hovered in the sky above the old chief…The spirit being moved his arms and with its fingers drew a window in the sky above the old chief.

“’Look through this window, and you will see the answer to your prayers,’ the spirit said with authority.

“The old chief…saw a man who was pierced and hanging on a tree.  The spirit said, ‘He is dying so that your people may live.’

“’Wait!,’ the old chief exclaimed.  ‘What is His name so that we can remember Him and His sacrifice for our people?’

“’His name is Bright Morning Star.  Remember His name.’”

This stunned me when I read it, because I knew that in Revelation 22:16 Jesus said, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

The Cherokee people were also told of Jesus’ birth and death.  Here is how their history records them:

“The Oldest Cherokee Story Ever Told.  It tells about when a great star appeared in the eastern sky, so the Cherokee gathered near modern day Tallulah Falls (Georgia) and how spirit beings brought the message to the Cherokee that the greatest Holy Man the world had ever seen was born.  They brought stories from across the great waters about miracles this great Holy Man performed.

“But one day the sky grew dark, the earth shook, and the spirit beings came across the great waters crying because this great Holy Man had been killed in a cruel and unusual way.  Their tears hit the stones and the stones turned into crosses that can still be seen to this day.”

Yes, the first Christmas in North American happened when spirits came to the Cherokee and announced Jesus’ birth!

I highly recommend this book to you!  There is so much more in it about North American Indian history and their ancient connection to God and Jesus.

Quote for 12/22/2021

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”    Luke 1:30-33

******************************

I can’t begin to imagine a young girl in her early teens being confronted with this news and responsibility!  A child of Israel, she had to have known about the promise of a Messiah that had been held out in the future for thousands of years.  Now an angel tells her that she is the one who will give birth to and raise this Son of God.

I’ve heard stories of people who have met angels, and they are fearsome creatures literally radiating power!  How can anyone be confronted by such and still be able to process anything they say?

But Scripture interprets Scripture, right?

“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  Jesus in Mark 10:15

Mary, early teens, just old enough to conceive, still in many ways a child.  That’s how she did it.

Quote for 12/21/2021

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.    2 Corinthians 3:17

******************************

John wrote Jesus’ words in his Gospel that “The truth shall make you free!”  Indeed, freedom is to be had in the safe arms of Jesus and His Spirit.

His love and His ways can free us from worry in our darkest days.  They can free us from hate.  They can free us from our darker selves.

Sin remains in this world and can often cause us trouble, but as long as we can remain in His Spirit, as long as we continually invite Him into our lives, we will have His liberty!

Quote for 12/20/2021

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.    Psalm 1:1-2

******************************

Actions have consequences.  Some or good.  Some…not so much!

Keeping good company and counsel are actions that have consequences; you will be blessed!

Keeping good company and counsel inspires us to learn more, to be more like those we are around.  We’ll want to know God’s laws and ways.  It’s easy to see how obeying civil laws benefit us, keeping us out of trouble.  God’s laws can guard us both on earth and eternally!

Stay away from those who speak ill, make dark plans, and congratulate themselves on their cleverness when cheating others of their goods or reputations.