Easter - 2018

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas with the best gift of all!

Christmas. It is one of the most joyous Christian holidays, a time to remember the birth of Christ our Savior. Christmas is a time to share our blessings with one another, and to be surrounded by the people we love. It is a time for giving, and a time for forgiving. Most importantly, it is a reminder of how much God loves us.

It has been asked, "Why did God send Jesus if He knew He was going to die?" In fact, Jesus wasn't just going to die, Jesus was going to be mocked, beaten, tortured, and then sentenced to die a slow, painful death by crucifixion. All at the hands of those He came to save.

Christians like to remember the good times in Jesus' life. We love to tell the Nativity story, but we forget that shortly after His birth Christ needed to flee from Herod's army. We tell about His wisdom, His love, and His healing, but we forget about His suffering. We forget the price He paid, for our sins. We forget the lengths that God went to show us His love (Romans 5:8).

To be honest, thinking about this leaves me without thought, because God knew what would happen to His Son. God had told Isaiah along with many other prophets of the suffering the Savior would endure. God knew that the very creatures He had created, would crucify Him for trying to save us from ourselves. And yet, God lowered Himself in Christ, feeling physical pain and suffering. God lowered Himself, and let mere humans beat Him and mock Him (Philippians 2:7). The God who has all the power of the universe, humbled Himself to be lower than the angels, and to die at our sinful, hateful hands (Hebrews 2:9).

God knew this would happen ahead of time, and yet He loved us so immensely that He sent His Son, to suffer a painful death, so that we could spend eternity with our Heavenly Father (John 3:16). That's the story of love. That is the story of Christmas.

The Christmas gift is that God paid for you, because of how much He loves you. Remember what true love is, and share that love, God's love, with all. You are blessed and it is his joy to bless you with the Christmas gift. Take it today and allow His gift to transform you.

This is my last blog post for 2014. I am looking forward to a great year ahead. It truly has been a blessing to write and an even more blessing to know that you all read it. Merry Christmas from our family to yours. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas is the pivotal moment in History of "WHAT" God is speaking!

Simeon warned Mary and Joseph in Luke 2 -  "This child will be rejected by man in Israel and it will be their undoing." He declares the salvation light in verse 31, “which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” People reject Christ to their own hurt. When people refuse to trust Christ as their Savior they do so to their own self-destruction. Rejecting Christ is the worse sin a person can commit. Ignoring Christ is just plain foolish … it means an eternity of enslavement to sin, evil and judgment. Rejecting and Ignoring Christ is living a life where one remains at enmity with God and separated from His grace. Simeon’s warning is something that we need to give to others lest they too have to suffer needlessly and live in the darkness.

When I was growing up, my dad drove a 18-wheeler truck. He was good at it and loved the road. He drove for a company called, Ted Peter’s Trucking. The company would pick-up cargo vans that were destined for a Ship and shipped over seas. In this large containers, sometimes the seal or weld would come loose and it would no longer be water-tight. The way to check is to get in and close the door and see if any light came in…

On some days, I would be allowed to ride along for the day. I recall the first time he asked me to get in and check to see if there were any cracks…I said sure, got in and He shut the door. It was the first time I truly experienced the lack of any time…it was pure blackness. Instantly, I was afraid and wanted out as soon as possible. The darkness in the container represented the fact there was not way the water would enter in…

Darkness is the absence of light, any hope, any warmth, and any possible future.

2 Corinthians 4:6 – “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” The baby in the manger is God speaking that brings light in the darkness. Here is what we can be assured of this Christmas Season! He came. He lived, He died, and Rose again. He saves, He heals, He hears, … He speaks … still today.

God speaks through a friend, through a stranger, through a song, and especially through His Word. Christmas is not the start of God Speaking. Christmas is not the end of God Speaking… Christmas is the pivotal place in History of “What” God is speaking…He said, “I want to know you, I want you to know me, and I want to be apart of your life.”

So listen. And this Christmas Season you may just find yourself hearing the sound of Children, the sound of packages, the sounds of meal preparation, the sound of football games, and cheering, the sound of quiet rest, and the wind blow…you will ALSO hear God speaking, calling your name, and granting you “Glory in the Highest! And on earth peace to men of good will.”

God speaking a promise…God speaking salvation…God speaking light into the darkness.

Merry Christmas and You know I love ya, Don

Monday, December 15, 2014

God gave us His word and He kept it...

Simeon says in Luke 2:29-31, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.” Simeon was nearly eighty years old and had waited a long time to see the Savior. I pray we will hear God speaking concerning His promise and be relentless in our resolve to wait upon God to fulfill His promises to us. Let us not get weary thinking that we need to run ahead of God and do things in our own strength, wisdom or manipulative abilities. Love is patient - long-suffering and kind. Let us wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen our hearts.
What is God’s Promise? Another translation of Simeon’s statement is: “you have done according to your word.” In other words, Simeon declares because of Jesus, I know God keeps His word.  God promised to come…Isaiah 9: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” God kept His Word and gave us His Word in flesh. He came…

God spoke a promise, that He would crush Satan, evil, and sin – He spoke Himself into history…He Spoke Jesus – He told the serpent in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” From the very beginning God had promised that he would come and strike down all sin. Simeon knew this and was waiting for God to reveal the truth. It is our calling to wait on His promise in our lives and let His promise – Jesus – guide our every move.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, with all the noise of the season, we are neglecting the promise of God’s voice. Just because it is Christmas doesn’t mean that our fears have gone away. That our anxieties have diminished. Or that our loneliness has vanished. In fact, it may very well be the one time of year we need to hear from God the most: the one time of year that we secretly wish everything else would get quiet … and He would speak.

Let me encourage you to hear Him speaking His promise! God will keep His Word in your life… are you willing to hear Him speak. A baby came so that you might have life and
have it with more abundance. God spoke a promise. God gave us his word and He kept it…

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, December 12, 2014

God live among us to bring the highest form of Glory in our lives!

This is my prayer for you in this 2014 Christmas Season:

May the God of Peace give His peace to you. May He speak to YOU!

For God lives among us to watch over the flock, God lives among us to declare good news, and God lives among us to bring the highest glory possible. 

Do you hear him speaking? 
This past week a preaching friend of mine, Nick Vipperman made this statement; “Maybe you are holding on to so much in your clutched hands that God cannot give you something new.” I agree and I also ask, “Could it be we are so cluttered with the noise of the world, the busy, Christmas bustle, and noises of the Season that God is not able to be heard?” 

It is not God that has stopped speaking…it is that you and me...we have stopped listening. Do you hear it…he wants to watch over the flock of the humble, he seeks to present a message of good news; he wants to declare his highest glory in your life.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God Lives Among Us To Bring Us Good News!

Luke 2: 10 proclaims, it is a heavenly message of astonishing good news and joy.
“And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid: for behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people;”

The angel, using the dialect which the people of that time and place, spoke, "Do not be afraid," My presence and this revelation contains nothing that should cause you to fear but it is a message of love, hope and faith. The fear of the eternal unseen universe, which lies coiled like a sleeping snake in all hearts, is now being taken away by the incarnation. We can now know what the sovereign God is like, and, far more than that, we can even know Him.

Many people today hear these words about "GREAT JOY" but don't understand them. They relish the season as they decorate their homes, shop in cheerful malls, attend festive parties, and exchange gifts with the ones they love. But after all the excitement subsides, they feel empty and joyless.

Others don't like the season at all. Many have no money for gifts or decorations. Some have no friends with whom to celebrate. Others are so depleted by all the running they have no energy to enjoy the season. The atmosphere of cheer around them actually deepens their feelings of sadness. Maybe this is your year of great grief and sadness. There is someone missing this year. It could be a job, or death, or simply the end of a dream.

The problem is that we wrongly identify the "great joy" of which the angel spoke. It is found not in the superficial fun but in the deeper meaning of the season. No listen, it is not that celebrations, carols, candles, lights, and cookies are bad…they are just not to be the focus. I love them as much as anyone. YET, When Jesus was born, God became a man so that He could save us from our sins and give us the joyful prospect of eternity in heaven. That's the true reason for joy. The shepherds went back to the cold nights and loneliness of their vocation, but they were "glorifying and praising God" (Luke 2:20).

The real meaning of Christmas is “good tidings of great joy which is for all people." Yes the Good News is for all people, not merely for those who heard this proclamation but for all people everywhere. God lives among you and me! We are not alone. We are surrounded by the presence of God and He is speaking if we are willing to listen.

Are you listening? 

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, December 8, 2014

God lives among us to watch over the flock!

In Luke 2, verse 8 the scene changes from the manger to the fields, from the humble Savior to lowly shepherds. “And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.”

“In the same region,” in the area near Bethlehem of Judea, where the Christ Child was born. "There were some shepherds." Shepherds were among the lowest groups on the social-economic scale. Their occupation made it difficult for them to obey the Rabbical law. So the first public proclamation of the good news was to social outcasts. [It demonstrates that no matter how insignificant you may think you are, God knows you, & you are important to Him. All throughout Scripture God honors and uses people & things that the world often overlooks or ignores (1 Cor. 1:26-28a).]

These shepherds were on the night shift. They were keeping watch over their flock by night. The dark backdrop of night made the brilliance of the angelic appearance all the more vivid.
Since this flock was so near Jerusalem it may have been destine for sacrifice in the Temple. There is beautiful significance in the thought that the Lamb of God born in Bethlehem's stable was the Lamb of God destined to be sacrificed for the sins of the world was announced to shepherds watching flocks destined for sacrifice.

The tranquil night is suddenly changed in verse 9 by a heavenly messenger. “And suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terribly frightened.” It all happened with dramatic swiftness, one moment the quiet sounds of a still night, the next a strong, holy angel of the Lord stood before them in brilliance making the night brighter than day to their unadjusted eyes. They had not noticed his coming for the angel made no visible approach.

Thus “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Glory is used many ways in Scripture and it almost defies definition. Here it was a supernatural light, a heavenly brilliance regarded as the manifestation of God's presence and power flashing all around them.

"They were filled with terrible fright" for they could not bear the holy glory. Although they were devout men, they were still sinners and this experience of the holiness of God had burst upon them unexpected. The word indicates great fear or reverential awe. They were awe-struck. The people of Israel were awaiting and expecting the Davidic King yet these shepherds, as does everyone else, expect it to be revealed to someone else, to some other person or some other generation. God lives among us to Watch Over the Flock… God lives among us to reveal his concern over us…
God loves us! 

What is God revealing to you that you think should be revealed to someone else? 

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, December 5, 2014

The thread follows the needle!

Matt. 1:24 ~ "And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus."

The Bible defines faith with obedience and obedience with faith. In other words, they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. Obedience is doing what God has said. Obedience is not doing what others say, or doing what other say God has said, or doing what you wish God has said. It is simply doing what God says.

The Bible uses some interesting figures to represent Christians and their relationship to God: Vine an branches, Sculptor and clay, Shepherd and sheep.

An African convert used another metaphor. He prayed: "O Lord, You are the needle and I am the thread." Having just visited a school where girls were learning to sow, he noticed a simple principle: wherever the needle went, the thread followed. That, he decided, represented his relationship to God. If he would stay close to the Lord, praying, reading His Word, depending entirely upon Him and following Him, he would make it to heaven. He was simply the thread following the needle.

Each year as Christmas rolls around, different thoughts come to mind. "Vision of sugar plums dance in our heads." You may drive through your neighborhood and see an elaborate nativity display. Perhaps you’ll even attend a play, with children or adults reenacting the precious events that brought our Lord and Savior into this world.

Throughout this season, however, and throughout the rest of your life, I hope that you will take with you, the lessons that we are the thread attached to the needle that is piercing the barriers of darkness found in this life. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Do you hear the callenge?

Matt. 1:20 ~ But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

In Joseph’s dream, God gave Joseph a glimpse of the divine plan. Because Joseph was a descendant of David and a righteous man, God gave him the unique job of raising the Messiah. God told Joseph, that Mary’s Son would, "save His people from their sins!" In fact, the name "Jesus" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word "yeshua," meaning "The Lord is Salvation," or "The Savior."

From His name, we learn Jesus’ mission on earth: to "save His people from their sins!" Jesus came to earth to redeem mankind; to save us from the penalty of our sins. But, in order to redeem something, a price must be paid.

Lou Johnson was a 1965 World Series hero for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He tried for 30 years to recover the championship ring he lost to drug dealers in 1971. Drug and alcohol abuse cost him everything from that magical season, including his uniform, glove, and the bat he used to hit the winning home run in the deciding game. When the Dodgers president, Bob Graziano, learned that Johnson’s World Series ring was about to be auctioned on the Internet, he immediately wrote a check for $3,457.00 and bought the ring before any bids were posted. He did for Johnson what the former Dodger outfielder had been unable to do for himself.

In the same way, God has done for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. He paid the price for our sins with the blood of His Son. He bought us back. He redeemed us. What an awesome gift!

Can you imagine Joseph’s anticipation, knowing that he would be responsible for the upbringing of the most important child ever born? God is asking Joseph to raise the Savior as his own son. Most people would never accept that kind of challenge.

Are you hearing God's challenge - You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Choosing the Right Path before the Divine Message!

Matt. 1:18-19 ~ "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly."

We are introduced to Joseph in the middle of a personal crisis. Having become engaged to a beautiful young girl, he has worked hard to establish an income to support his new bride and begin a family. He is in love. He is committed to Mary. He believed she loved him, until the news that his precious bride is pregnant.

Heart-broken and betrayed, how should he respond? Should he publicly shame her? Should he turn her over to the authorities to be stoned? Her explanation of the pregnancy was unbelievable, even blasphemous.

If Mary would not have been stoned on the charge of adultery, she could have been put to death on the charge of serious blasphemy. However, Joseph chooses the path of mercy. He was "a righteous man and unwilling to put her to shame," so he "resolved to divorce her quietly." Before any divine explanation, Joseph chooses mercy. No malice. No explosion. Certainly he could have asked a lot of questions here: "How could you do this to me? Who’s the father?" But, no words are recorded, only tenderness. He might be the talk of Nazareth. Friends might make snide comments. But he would not hurt Mary, no matter what he thought she had done to him. When he could have demanded a bitter sentence, he chose a righteous mercy.

Today, there is much we can learn from Joseph’s example of righteousness. Maybe you’ve never been in a position quite like Joseph’s, but we have all been wronged by another person. We all know what it is like to be hurt or offended. How do you react when you are wronged?

Let choose to the do the right thing first. You know I love ya, Don