Let Jesus Control Your Life

Our world is out of control. Daily headlines declare terrorist attacks, economic collapse, natural disasters, rumors of wars, deadly epidemics, famine, and more.

President Obama said recently, “There’s a sense possibly that the world is spinning so fast and nobody is able to control it.”

Even our personal world appears to be out of control. I’ve talked with people whose jobs are slipping away. Finances are stretched to the limit. Marriages are dissolving. Children are getting more and more difficult to rear. We try to do the best we can, but nothing seems to work. Who’s in control?

My encouragement to you is to give Jesus control of your life. The disciples gave Jesus control of their life. They followed Him for over 3 years. In Mark 6:30-34 we discover 3 things Jesus gives people who give Him control of their life.

1. Jesus gives a Companion.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. (Mark 6:30)

Jesus sent the disciples in pairs to preach the kingdom. He called them to return to meet together as a group. Mark says little about the details of the ‘work.’ It is almost as though more important than what they said and did is their coming back to Him. Preaching, teaching, healing, and casting out demons do not make those who do them disciples of Jesus. The clue is in their being sent by Hi, doing what He told them, and returning to Him and staying with Him. These other things may be fruits of discipleship, but not the root. The root is attachment with Jesus Himself, from whom the disciples’ life comes.

It is easy to get caught up in the work. If we are not careful, we will miss spending time with Jesus. This was the first time the disciple went out on their own (without Jesus). They returned with excitement to tell Jesus all about it. Perhaps it would be a good adjustment for our, sometimes, foolish activities if we adopted the same practice of reporting our work to the Lord in prayer. We could ask Him to sort out the good from the bad, the important from the trivial. By doing so we could receive His guidance for future activity.

2. Jesus gives Rest.

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: (Mark 6:31)

Doing God’s work is important, but Jesus recognized that to do it effectively we need periodic rest and renewal. There is only so much a person can do physically and spiritually; then the body needs rest and the soul needs refreshment. Even Jesus needed time to rest, fellowship with His friends, and find renewal from the Father.

Rest allows time for reflection, meditation, conversation, reading, and prayer. Take a little time to dream. Count your blessings.

Even God rested on the 7th day. Why? Not because He was tired. A God that can put enough energy in one atom to destroy a city doesn’t get tired. He rested because He finished what He set out to do and wanted to enjoy the fruits of His labor. The idea of a week with its Sabbath is unique in that it wasn’t instituted because of the natural world (like day, month, year) but because God says so. It is the wise provision of a loving God who knows how we are made and makes provision for us to rest not only between each day but also one day out of seven.

3. Jesus gives Guidance.

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)

The crowds surrounded Jesus. He saw them as ‘sheep without a shepherd.’ No animal is as dependent as a sheep. Without someone to guide it, it wanders, is lost, and becomes food for wolves.

Many people are wandering through life with little good guidance. They are unsure of what to do. What do they need? They need guidance. The Bible is God’s guide book. It is the true source for spiritual food, and protects us against the evil in the world that seeks to destroy us.

Are you serving in a ministry that you love and feel God’s blessing? Come to Jesus and talk about it.

Are you tired and weary? Come to Jesus for rest. He said, “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Are you wandering in life with little purpose? Jesus wants to give you guidance and instruction through life. Follow Him.

Read my other article: Who Controls Your World?

3 Lessons from the Buckeyes Championship Game

The Ohio State Buckeyes are the truest champion college football has ever crowned by beating Oregon 42-20 on January 12, 2015. Before this year, Associated Press and coaches’ polls tried to sort out the champion, with help from bowl games. But this year the first College Football Playoff National Championship put the top 4 teams in a tournament. Ohio was #4 and were underdogs the whole playoff. But they dominated Monday night’s game.

As a Buckeye fan and native of Ohio, I’m just happy they won. But overlooking my bias, there were some interesting examples about church and the Christian life I observed during the game. I just want to share them. If you think of another one, leave a comment.

1. Never Underestimate the Influence of the 3rd String.

It shouldn’t have been a contest. At quarterback, there was the Heisman Trophy Winner, Marcus Mariota, for the Ducks vs. the 3rd string quarterback, Cardale Jones, for the Buckeyes. The Buckeye’s 1st string quarterback (Braxton Miller) was out with an injury before the season started. The 2nd string quarterback (J.T. Barrett) became a Heisman candidate, but went out on the last game of the regular season.  But Cardale led OSU to a blowout against Wisconsin for the Big 10 Championship, an impressive win against #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and beat Oregon by 22 points for the first College Football Playoff National Championship.

In life it is easy to applaud the superstars but neglect the common workers. But success that is dependent on one or two superstars is very fragile. And when God wants to do a BIG thing, He often overlooks the talented and chooses the common. He chose a donkey to carry Jesus into Bethlehem rather than a stallion standing by. He chose the smallest shepherd boy, David, to be Israel’s greatest king rather than any of his older and taller boys. Even Jesus’ choice of early disciples reveals His fondness of common people, most were fishermen.

So if you are a leader in a church or business, make sure you take notice of your overlooked associates. Your success may depend on them one day. It probably does not, you just recognize it.  If you consider yourself a 3rd string replacement, don’t underestimate yourself. God has a great moment for you. So prepare for your day in the ‘game’!

2. Keep Plugging Away.

The hero of the game for OSU was Ezekiel Elliott. That guy was a ‘beast’ as he tore through the Oregon defense, averaging 6.8 yards a carry for a total of 246 years (championship record). But the difference between the first and the second half was the wear and tear on the Oregon defense, especially their line. Play after play, the Buckeye line pushed the defense back, making a hole for Ezekiel. By the second half, the Duck Defense was exhausted. And Ohio kept pounding until they owned the line.

Since I live in Michigan, I get to interact with Wolverine fans. Many of them cheered for the first time for Ohio in the championship game. Some just couldn’t do it. What we all liked about the game was it was an old-fashioned Big 10 game. I think Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler would like that the game was won in the trenches. For years the ‘West Coast’ run & gun offense has dominated football talking heads. But this year, it was the way football is supposed to be played – Big Ten style.

That’s the way life is. Most of life is not some glamorous big play or adventure. It’s the constant faithful attention to doing the same things right and wait for the results. We live in a world that wants success right now through some miracle or fast-moving action. But we are called to be ‘good and faithful.’ How do you stay married for 50 years? Love your spouse every day. How do you become a ‘great Christian’? Read your Bible and pray every day, go to church every week, share the message of Jesus when you get a chance… keep plugging away.

3. Don’t Let Mistakes Stop You.

You’re not supposed to win a football game, let alone a championship, with 4 turnovers. Ohio made 4 of them! And I guess that’s what makes you think… what would the score have been had they not turned it over? Interceptions, fumbles, and other not-so-great plays. But they refused to dwell on the mistakes. Get it out of your head and play the game forward.

Even the earlier season loss to Virginia Tech could have devastated their chances. Many counted them out. Few thought that any of the Big 10 could make the championship. But you can’t let others, or your mistakes, count you out.

In life we will make mistakes but we can’t let our mistakes define us. Even our sins are available to be washed away through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. So if God won’t remember our sins, why should we. Guilt is a poor motivator. So if you look back at your past and recognize how you would have lived differently, good. Use that wisdom to make better decisions as you move forward. Remember, life doesn’t have a reverse. Pick yourself up. Wipe off your tears. And get back in the game. We’re counting on you!

Do you have any life lessons you want to share?

More Than Enough – Lessons from Feeding 5,000

Have you ever been to Golden Corral? It’s a crazy all-you-can-eat restaurant. They have everything and lots of it! If you go away from there hungry, it’s your own fault.

When Jesus performed His most famous miracle, the Feeding of 5,000, He made more than enough out of only 5 loaves and 2 fish. If you want to read the story you can see Mark 6:35-44. I discovered three lessons that have impacted my life in this simple story.

1. God wants to use us to bring the Bread of Life to a needy world.

The disciples brought the problem of a hungry crowd to Jesus’ attention. Their answer was to send them away. But Jesus told them “You feed them.” Even thought Jesus performed a miracle, He used the disciples to arrange the people into smaller groups and to pass out the bread and meat. Jesus performed the miracle and used the disciples to distribute the food.

As we think of hunger, the most tragic hunger is spiritual hunger. People are starving for the message of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. God wants to use us to share Jesus with others. He is the Bread of Life. I’ve heard it said that true Christianity is simply ‘one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.’ Share Jesus with others.

2. God can use a very small thing if it is committed to Him.

A small lunch (5 loaves & 2 fish) will not feed a multitude. But in the hands of Jesus it is more than enough. When we give our resources to Jesus, they are multiplied. If you don’t have much to offer Jesus, you’re in luck. That’s exactly what He can use to make a lasting impact on your community.

We often think God wants and needs our strengths. He does when they are committed to Him. But what about our barley loaves, our ordinariness, our weaknesses? The truth is, these are harder to give to God. But when we give what we have to Jesus, He will use it to reach others.

3. Jesus only works when resources are put into His hands in willing consecration.

The entire lunch was placed in Jesus’ hands and that’s where the miracle occurred. We must give Jesus our all, total surrender, and watch Him work. Hold nothing back from His Lordship. Place it all in His hands.

Sometimes we don’t know what God will do. But if we give Him time, we will see more return to us that we ever surrendered. Following the miracle, the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftovers. I’ve often wondered if they gave this to the boy who surrendered his lunch for Jesus. He deserved it.

 

During the Dark Ages, a vassal would pledge his loyalty to his feudal lord in a ‘ceremony of homage’.  Each would approach their lord, bow their knee, and raise their hands together in submission to his lordship. The lord would then acknowledge them, place His hands over theirs, and proclaim ‘You belong to me.’ Christians during this time recognized the similarities between this ceremony and their obligation to Jesus Christ. This began the custom of kneeling and folding the hands in prayer and submission to the Lordship of Christ that continues today.

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Give your all to Jesus. He gave His all for you. 

I Love Being a Grandparent

I’ve been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren who add richness to my life. Our newest, Henry, arrived 2 weeks ago. I love talking to them and just watching them.

As I thought about my grandchildren I thought I’d share a few thoughts of the meaning of being a grandparent from Erma Bombeck.

Below is what she said…

  • If I’d known grandchildren were going to be so much fun, I’d have had them first.
  • A grandparent helps you with the dishes when it is your night.
  • A grandparent is the only baby-sitter who doesn’t charge more after midnight–or anything before midnight.
  • A grandparent buys you gifts your mother says you don’t need.
  • A grandparent pretends he doesn’t know who you are when you play dress-up.
  • A grandparent will put a sweater on you when she is cold, feed you when she is hungry and put you to bed when she is tired.
  • When you’re a baby, a grandparent will check to see if you are crying when you are sound asleep.
  • When a grandchild says, “Grandma, how come you didn’t have any children?” a grandparent holds back the tears.
Those were good, but what does an 8-year old think of grandparents.  I found these quotes by a class of 2nd graders…
 
  • Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them.
  • They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.
  • When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
  • They don’t say, ‘Hurry up.’
  • Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.
  • They wear glasses and funny underwear.
  • When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.
  • Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.

If you are a grandparent, I hope you enjoy all your grandchildren (and some great-grandchildren).

Do you have a thought about being a grandparent or grandchild?

Abortion: Morally Wrong but Legally Right?

The third Sunday in January is considered ‘Pro Life’ Sunday in remembrance of the Supreme Court ruling that made abortions legal in the United States (1973). Since then over 56 million abortions have been performed legally in the U.S.

We all know people who say that they would never have an abortion themselves but who feel that abortion should be legal. After all, abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor. But they are forgetting someone – the baby. The womb was once the safest place in the world for a baby. It has now become one of the most deadly.

Why does a person believe that abortion is morally wrong? Because of the basic beliefs that (1) an unborn child is a human being, and (2) it is wrong for one human being to kill another.

For a person to believe that abortion is wrong but should be legal, he must believe that abortion is an exemption to the criminal laws against killing another person.

Some say abortion should be legal because of the burden of pregnancy or child care on the mother, or because the child may be unwanted or handicapped. But these reasons would not allow us to kill people already born.

Some say we should not impose our morality on others. This sounds great in a day of tolerance. But every law imposes some morality or ethics on others. To make abortion legal imposes a morality against the unborn baby and the society which must tolerate the intentional killing of innocent babies.

Some concede that it is impossible to enforce anti-abortion laws. People would get them anyway. So at least abortions can be performed by a doctor to prevent further damage to the mother. But the laws against abortion were effectively enforced prior to 1973. It is never right to allow wrong (legal abortions) to do right (safety of mothers in illegal abortions).

There is no logical way in which a person can believe both that abortion is wrong and that it should be legal. To do so would be like saying, “I think it is civilized and appropriate for a society to permit the killing of innocent and defenseless human beings, so long as killing is done by a doctor with the consent of the victim’s mother.”

No reasonable person of good can honestly make that statement.

How to Memorize LONG Sections of the Bible

While at Baptist Bible College (Springfield, MO) I was encouraged to memorize chapters of the Bible by one of my professors, R. O. Woodworth. Even after 75 years of age, he could stand up and quote Romans 8, John 14, and several other chapters.

I tried to do that, but seemed to fail a lot. But a few years ago, I was encouraged to memorize Philippians (104 verses). It took me about 16 weeks, but I did it. Since then, I’ve memorized other long passages of the Bible.

I’ve made a new commitment to memorize Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and highlights the importance of Scripture. Nearly every verse mentions the Bible.

As I began my journey, I found a few ideas that helped me memorize long sections of the Bible. If you choose to memorize long sections of the Bible, like a chapter, I hope they will help you. Go ahead and try it. Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13, or the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) are great sections to begin.

1. Review Old Verses

Always give priority in your mind to the retaining of old verses even over the learning of new ones. You should begin every day’s work with review of old verses.

2. Repetition Over Time

The absolute key to successful Scripture memorization is repetition over a long time period. This is how you retain old verses while learning new ones.

3. Memorize the Verse Numbers

Memorize the verse numbers as if they were part of each verse. This will help prevent you from dropping out verses or even whole paragraphs when you’re reciting the book al the way through. don’t short-cut this discipline!! It actually makes memorization easier in the long run!

4. Photograph the Verses with your Eyes

Read each new verse ten times, covering each word as though photographing it with your eyes. Burn each verse into your brain with your eyes.

5. Say It Out Loud

Another help in memorizing is to say the verse out loud to yourself. This helps the memorization process. It doesn’t have to be very loud, just loud enough so kyou can hear it. Also, try putting some feeling and interpretation into reciting the verses… this is actually a form of meditation on the verses as you are learning them.

6. Recite the Entire Section from Memory for 100 Consecutive Days.

If you have done your work well after about the second week you probably won’t even need the Bible anywhere near you while reciting. This can be done anywhere… it will add no extra time to your busy schedule!!

7. Weed the Garden

Simply take one of your Monday morning times after the 100 days (perhaps every other month) and just read the book by sight all the way through. This will correct errors… thus “weed the garden.”

Read some of my other similar articles: Tips for Memorizing Scripture, Why Memorize Scripture?

Do you know of other ideas to help memorize Scripture?

Happy New Year!

I saw a recent article that listed the five most popular resolutions made most every year. #5 was to take up a new hobby. #4 was to make more money. #3 most popular resolution was to improve relationships, and #2 was to stop smoking. The #1 most popular New Year’s Resolution was to lose weight.

A woman walked into her bathroom at home one New Year’s Day. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, ‘He thinks he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.’  So, the woman rather saracastically said to her husband, ‘That’s not going to help.’  Her husband said, ‘Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.’

It is time for a new year!  Here we are, on the first day of 2015. How did your 2014 go? Was it a good year? Do you wish you could live it over again? Are you just glad it is over?

I do not know about you, but I am looking forward to the New Year. It is not that 2014 was bad. It was a great year for me. But I am looking forward to the New Year as an opportunity for our church to build on the past year. It is a chance to maybe do some of the things that we let slip by in the past year. Somehow the words “New Year” have a fresh ring to them.

Whether you are part of the Faith Baptist family or not, I believe your church is on the verge of doing even greater things for the kingdom of God. What is it going to take to be able to do that? Why is it important for your church to be successful? Because every day people in your community, your family and your friends are living and dying without Jesus. Your church must be successful; the world is depending on you.

We can gain some insight into ‘church success’ from the early church.  According to Acts 2:42, ‘And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.‘  We can find 3 keys to a successful year for your church.

1. They made prayer a priority.  

When you read through the book of Acts, the early church spent a lot of time in prayer. Every revival in the Bible and in history was accompanied by prayer.  Your church will never be successful until you spend much time in prayer.  I hope you will pray for your pastor, church leaders and our church family in 2015. If church members prayed for others as often as they complain and gossip, maybe the world would be better place.

2. They built on the foundation of God’s Word. 

The early church did not have the New Testament, so they depended on the apostle’s doctrine. We now have the completed Word and we would do ourselves and our church some good to spend a lot of time in it. I encourage you to read it through in 2015.  Get in a Sunday School class or small group to learn the Bible with others.  Let’s make the Bible our most read book this year.

3. They built a strong sense of community (fellowship). 

The early church spent a lot of time together. Today, so many things try to keep us from church and Christian gatherings. I hope you will make your church and Christian fellowship a priority in your life.

Make 2015 a year your church will look at as one giant step forward for the kingdom of God.

4 New Year’s Resolutions to Help Make This the Best Year Ever!

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of 2014. Tomorrow will be the first day of a new year – 2015. This is a great time to set goals for the new year. However, many make resolutions for the new year and by the end of the week we break them.  Here are some resolutions that are good to make anytime.

Read Your Bible in a Year

Getting into the habit of reading the Word is also a common New Year’s resolution for many Christians. There are plenty of Bible reading plans out there that guide you through reading your Bible in a year. It just takes discipline to open up the book every night. You may not even want to read the entire Bible, but rather use a year to focus on a specific topic or area of your life that you want God to help you improve. Find a reading plan that works for you.

Become a Better Steward

One of the most challenging issues for Christians is the idea of stewardship, which is the process of tithing. However, God calls on all Christians to be good stewards. In fact, money is mentioned far more often in the Bible than other topic.

Plant Some Seeds of Faith

How many times have you evangelized to friends or family. Make it your goal this year to talk to a certain number of people about your faith. While it would be great if someone converted or “got saved” through your discussions, don’t get too caught up on that number. You’d be amazed how many people will end up believers from a discussion you have about what God has done in your life. It just may not happen while you know them.

Bring Someone to Church

A simple idea, but it takes a lot of courage to ask a friend to come to church. Faith is something most Christians have difficulty discussing with non-Christian friends, because it is often something very personal. Yet, many Christians would never have come to Christ without that one friend who asked them to come to church or talk about their beliefs. For every person who might shoot you down, there are two or three other people who will be curious about why your faith is so important to you. Taking them to your church can help show them why.

The Case for Christmas – Fingerprint Evidence

Fingerprint evidence is compelling in any criminal case. The premise is simple. Each individual has unique ridges on his or her fingers. When a print found on an object matches the pattern of ridges on a person’s finger, investigators can conclude with confidence that this specific individual has touched that object.

What does that have to do with the identity of the baby in the manger? There is evidence that is equal to fingerprints that establishes to a degree of certainty that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and the world… prophecies about the coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament. These predictions form a ‘fingerprint’ that only the Messiah would be able to match. This would help the Jews rule out any imposters and validate the credentials of the authentic Messiah. Jesus fulfilled these.

Let’s look at a few of these…

The Messiah’s Manner of Birth – Virgin

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus was born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-27, 30-310.

The Messiah’s Place of Birth – Bethlehem

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

The Messiah’s Ancestry – Abraham, Judah, David

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3).

Jesus was a descendant of Abraham (Matthew 1:1).

 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah; nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49:10).

Jesus was a descendant of Judah (Luke 3:33).

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:7).

Jesus was a descendant of David (Luke 1:32-33).

The Messiah’s Death – Betrayal, False Accusations, Crucifixion

“Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9).

Jesus was betrayed by one of His twelve disciples, Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:47-48).

“False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” (Psalm 35:11).

Jesus was accused by false witnesses at His Jewish trial (Mark 14:57-58).

“… the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:16-18).

Jesus was crucified (Mark 15:27-28; John 20:27). This prophecy depicted crucifixion as a form of execution (pierced hands and feet and bones out of joint) before it was invented by the Persians & perfected by the Romans.

The Messiah’s Victory – Resurrection

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.” (Psalm 49:15).

Jesus resurrected after 3 days in the grave (Mark 16:6-7).

Was this all a coincidence? No. The odds that Jesus could fulfill only 8 prophecies is 1 in 100 million billion. That is millions of times greater than the total number of people who’ve ever walked the Earth. If you took 100 million billion silver dollars you could cover the state of Texas 2 feet high. If you marked one of them, what are the odds that a blindfolded person pick out the marked coin? It is the same odds Jesus could fulfill 8 prophecies. But there are over 48 prophecies. That’s a 1 in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion (13) – more than the atoms in the universe. It is no coincidence.

Maybe the gospels changed their story to make Jesus fit? That is not likely. The Gospel stories were circulated when many people knew the truth and would have objected if they wrote it wrong. Besides why would the writers fabricate stories and then be willing to be put to death for someone they knew wasn’t the Messiah? Besides, the Jews & Romans would have been all over the false information.

Could Jesus have made sure He fulfilled the prophecies? Some of the prophecies could have been fulfilled this way. While on the cross Jesus cried, “I thirst” to fulfill prophecy to drink vinegar (Psalm 69:21; John 19:28-30). He ministered in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2;; Matthew 4:13-16) and entered Jerusalem (Zech. 9:9; Mark 11:7-11) in fulfillment of prophecy. But how did He control the fact that the Jewish leaders paid 30 pieces of silver for His betrayal (Zech. 11:12; Matthew 26:15), or method of execution, or the soldiers gambling for his clothes (Psalm 22:17-18; Matthew 27:35-36), or his legs remaining unbroken after he died (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-33)? How could he arrange for His resurrection? Or where He was born? It was impossible for Jesus to ensure He fulfilled every prophecy unless He controlled everything. And if that is true, He is God.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies made hundreds of years before He came to earth. He, and only He, fulfilled the ‘fingerprint’ of the Messiah, the Son of God. He deserves our obedience, our worship, and our life. Surrender to Him today.

Getting the Christmas Spirit – Blessings from a 1996 Church Fire

I just wasn’t in the Christmas Spirit 18 years ago.  Maybe it was because I was up until 1:00 a.m. putting together a couple of Christmas presents.  Or maybe it was because I was disturbed at 5:00 a.m. – not by my children, but by the fire department.  They were banging on my front door and informed me that our church was burning.  Was I dreaming?  It sure seemed like it for the next few hours.  By the time it was all over (about 10:00 a.m.) our church building was completely destroyed. Many church members were at the house and we were all crying – trying hard to believe what we were going through – especially on Christmas Day!

We had planned on going to my in-laws for Christmas Day celebration in southern Ohio.  We had to call them and let them know we were going to be late.  We left in the early afternoon.  We came back the next day.

What started out as a bad Christmas ended up being a blessing.  We had a church family meeting at First Baptist.  Everyone was there, including media.  What happened at that meeting was a true unity of our church.  Over the next few months miracle after miracle happened.  What some thought impossible happened.  Within 10 months we were in our new building. Most said we would be lucky if we could settle on the architectural plans.  God brought the right people at the right time to get the job done.  It was a good ending to our church’s ‘Christmas Carol.’

Before his first ‘Christmas,’ Joseph didn’t exactly jump for joy when he heard of Mary’s pregnancy In fact, he decided to break of the engagement. things changed dramatically when God explained it all to him in a dream:

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph.. do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 1:20).

Matthew’s account sounds somewhat unemotional, but Joseph must have felt quite relieved when he awoke. His humbug situation was turning into a hallelujah outcome.

What are you doing to make sure your Christmas will have a good ending? Are there some humbug potholes in your path? Will Christ be honored through the way you celebrate Christmas? Has something unexpected intervened in your holiday plans? If you’re feeling humbug-like, why don’t you try saying this hallelujah prayer:

Lord, I feel humbug about _________________________.  Help me to find hallelujah in this situation. Amen.

My prayer is that your Christmas will be a HALLELUJAH CHRISTMAS!