Matthew 1:21 (NIV) – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”- The prophecy foretold in the old testament was soon to be fulfilled. The event that the Jews had waited so long for was finally coming. The Savior who could take away their sin and make them justified before God would be born. In his usual style God didn’t do things like we probably would have. He allowed Christ to be born in a simple animal manger, not in a fancy palace located in a great city. And he first announced the happening not to v.i.p.s, but to shepherds, who in those days were pretty low on the social ladder. Despite all this humility Christ was recognized by those present for who he was and they bowed to him as their Savior and king. Many have asked and still ask “how could the Messiah have a human birth, wouldn’t he have to be just a human then?” No, the Bible tells us that Christ had a dual nature, being both God and man at the same time (Philippians 2:6-7, N.I.V – Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.) Why would God do all this ? He takes our sins (transgressions to God’s law) so seriously that we can lose our eternal salvation because of them. But because he would prefer that we not be lost Jesus was sent to be our Messiah because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. This Christmas while we’re enjoying the festivities at our homes, if any, we should remember “the reason for the season” as the saying goes and the words of Acts 4:12 (Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ) Merry Christmas everyone! What About Jesus?
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV) - I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. When the apostle Paul wrote 1 Timothy, historical tradition has it that Nero was the emperor of Rome. Yes, the Nero said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned (but the violin wouldn’t be invented for about 1500 years.) As emperor Nero’s behavior was reportedly often questionable. He is said to have burned Christians alive to make light in his garden at night, murdered his stepbrother, executed his mother and may have executed Paul himself, and that’s just some of the stuff we know about. Most of us would agree that Emperor Nero could be an unsavory character at times. But Paul urged his readers to be thankful and pray for those in authority because it is pleasing to God, and he knew that in his day that would include Emperor Nero. Surprisingly Paul never preached revolt and in some of the new testament, he even tells us to obey government in all it’s forms (some examples are Romans 13:1 – Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. And Titus 3:1 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,) As hard as they often make it (I know I sometimes wonder if they’re taking stupid pills, from local government and up), we need to remember that those in authority are there because God has put them there, and we should obey them. God uses all kinds of people to do things and some of them don’t even know it. He puts people in power and when he decides to he takes them out of it. In the Bible Jesus Christ says he now has authority in all things (Matthew 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.) By believing and obeying him we can be forgiven all our sins and live with him in his heavenly kingdom one day. What About Jesus?
Luke 13:22-24 (NIV) – Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. - As a carpenter Christ probably knew a thing or two about doors and used a type of one as an illustration for his listeners. He calls himself the narrow door, the entrance to his father’s heavenly kingdom. The word “narrow” is sometimes used in the Bible to describe God’s way, while wide is what our sinful nature prefers (e.g. Matthew 7:13-14 - 13.“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.) This reminds me of t.v. shows I’ve seen where a big guy is watching the door at a popular place. There is a line of people waiting to enter and the big guy watching the door is only letting those in that meet his requirements. We can think of ourselves as the people in line and God is watching the door. Those who are let in have accepted Jesus as their Savior, that is the only requirement God has. And those who can’t enter have not, it’s just that simple. Trying to get in under our own power because of something we do or have done, or being a good person is just not good enough. The narrow door is the only way we can enter, and Christ tells his listeners to make every effort to use it. Lets all do what he says. What About Jesus?
Jeremiah 23:25-26 (NIV) - “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? Around 625 B.C a man named Jeremiah was the old testament prophet in Judah, a kingdom of Hebrews that once was part of the country of Israel. Forgetting about God’s law and everything he had done for them, like freeing them from slavery in Egypt, the Hebrews (Jews) of Jeremiah’s day fell into idolatry and false prophets and it cost them big time. As punishment for their behavior God allowed the temple that King Solomon had built to be destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar’s army (of Babylon) , their land to be conquered, and the Hebrews to be taken prisoner and moved to Babylon for about seventy years. They had pretty much lost everything because they had abandoned God and went their own way. Basically the same thing can happen to us if we turn away from God and listen to false prophets. One advantage we have today is a complete Bible we can use to check if someone is telling us something we’re not sure about. But unfortunately many Christians would rather just be told things by their churches instead of reading their Bibles for themselves, and might be leaving themselves wide open to false prophets. If our churches are not telling us the real story of Christ as it is told in the Bible, if they’re just telling us their theories or whatever, they are not Christian churches and have become what Jeremiah 23:25-26 is talking about. Hundreds of years before he came the prophet Jeremiah referred to the coming Messiah who would pay for our sins so we can live with God one day in Jeremiah 23: 5 – “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. - The new testament of the Bible says this is Jesus Christ. Click this link to learn all about him. > What About Jesus?
Matthew 10:22 (NIV) - You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. - When Christ said everyone will hate his followers, I wonder if he meant our government also. I know all about the U.S. constitution and freedom of religion, and don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist here. But Christian principals and those of “the world” are very different and it’s clear that our government leans more toward the principals of the world everyday, and doesn’t have any interest at all in Christianity, and I think it will eventually persecute those that do. That’s why Matthew 10:22 encourages us to stand firm to the end. I hope I’m wrong, but I think that in the future (it could be next week or a thousand years from now) things for Christians in the U.S. will get so rough that many will fall away thinking there are so few left that it won’t really matter. If we start thinking like this it’s time to remember Noah from old testament times. Out of the entire population of the earth at that time only Noah found favor in the eyes of God (Genesis 6:8). The story of Noah is fine, but many want to know how to find favor with God today. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:1 (NIV) - (Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,) What could be simpler? God doesn’t demand that we do some great and difficult thing to gain his favor. Just simple faith in his son Jesus is all he asks. He wants us to accept Jesus and his sacrifice because that is the only thing he will accept for the forgiveness of our sins. It is not possible for us to save ourselves by our own works. If it was there wouldn’t have been the need for God to send his son to do it. What About Jesus?
1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV) - “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. - Among other things July is known as the month when we have Independence Day here in the U.S. Everybody knows that political freedom is what we celebrate on the 4th of July. There is also the freedom the Bible speaks of that those who are in Christ have that is a different type of freedom, but still freedom. It seems like it’s hardly ever thought of but freedom in Christ is a blessing we shouldn’t take lightly. This freedom allows us to do many things as we see fit as long as we put God first. We often hear things like a Christian shouldn’t eat or drink certain things, or celebrate certain days etc. because they will make themselves unclean in the eyes of God if they do. These are popular misconceptions that may have been carried over from the old testament law given to Moses that Christ has freed us from, or they might just sound good to some. In new testament times the apostle Paul had to deal with Jewish religious leaders who were teaching people such things as described were pleasing to God instead of just having faith in Jesus Christ as we are told in the Bible, and unfortunately today some churches are doing the same thing. The Bible says that nothing we eat, drink or do can make us unclean unless we regard it as such (Romans 14:14 – I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.) This should not be taken to mean we can do whatever we feel like. I think that any freedom can quickly descend into anarchy and become detrimental to us when taken to extremes. Something like this might be what Paul meant when he wrote that not everything is beneficial or constructive. As important as political freedom is here in the U.S. it can be removed at any time (I hope it’s not) because it is the work of man’s hands. As with anything to do with him, freedom in Christ will always be here because it’s part of God’s promise to us. What About Jesus?
Colossians 2:8 (NIV) – See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ . - Explanations and ideas that are contrary to God’s word about almost everything seem to be everywhere today, and just like anyone else, if Christians are not careful they can fall prey to them. As the above scripture tells us the apostle Paul (he wrote Colossians about A.D. 60) warned about them and said that it was even possible to be taken captive by someone with them. Sometimes ideas contrary to what God tells us in his word can sound good and because of our sinful nature we can follow along and be pulled in before we even know it. There have been many good ideas in the past and today in such things as science, invention and more, that have and continue to improve our lives, and these should be seen as blessings from God and not used as reasons to deny him or the gifts he gives us. When he sent his son Jesus to “pay our way” into his kingdom because he loves us and we are not capable to do so, we received the greatest gift of all from him, and his free gift is offered to everyone. What About Jesus?