Inn At Christmas And All Year Long

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”–Luke 2:7

As we gather with friends and family today to celebrate Christmas, let us remember the lesson of the inn. Mary and Joseph were turned away because there was no room for them. It was filled with people who were involved in the worldly matters. In a sense, we are that Bethlehem inn some two thousand years ago.

That same Jesus whose parents were turned away has come to us, asking if we have room in our hearts for Him. Let us ask ourselves; do we have room for Him, or are our hearts filled with the things of the world? When they were turned away the first time, it was a fulfilling of prophecy; if you turn him away today, it will also be a fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew 7:23 says, “Then I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

My Christmas prayer is that this season, everyone will search their hearts and find room for Jesus. Don’t remain filled with worldly concerns as the inn at Bethlehem; open up your heart to Jesus. May God bless you.

Hoarder In Another Man’s House

A cluttered life.

Hoarder In Another Man’s House

Are you a hoarder? It’s a simple question that often leads to complex answers. The word “hoarder” really came into its own a few years ago. At some point in the relatively recent past, we developed a fascination with those who chose to never throw anything away. For some strange reason we suddenly wanted to know all about the lives of those men and women who have an unexplainable obsession to hold onto everything. What is it about these people that have captivated us so? Is it because we want to know exactly how many empty pizza boxes they own? Or do we just like to feel sorry for people who are worse off than we are?

So, what exactly is a hoarder? This question is best answered by asking a second question; what is it that causes a person to become a hoarder? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA for short), hoarding is a disorder that is often a symptom of another disorder. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can become hoarders. Hoarding is also a symptom of dementia. Even as a disorder by itself, the effects it can have on a person’s life can be tragic.

Hoarding can cause rifts in families, widened by both anger and resentment. More than just rifts, it can tear families apart. It can affect the afflicted physically, mentally, socially, and even financially.

In Hebrews 3:6, we read about a house not our own. “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” As Christians, we are the house in which Jesus dwells. When we confess our sins and open our hearts to allow Him to come in, we are to step out of the way and let Him clean up our lives. That means we aren’t to sort through the things He tries to remove and hold onto them.

I was going to refer to us as “spiritual hoarders”, but realized that is not correct. When we hold on to the things God wants to remove, we become “unspiritual hoarders”. Too often we want to hold on to things like bad language, alcohol, lust, anger, grudges, hatred, discrimination, and so forth. (Let me just briefly say, as a matter of clarification, that calling something wrong which God has called a sin is NOT discrimination.) Once God removes everything unclean from our hearts and lives, it is up to us to make sure they stay that way. We do this through prayer, praise, worship, fellowship, and witnessing. When Christ abides in us, we are held accountable for everything we allow in our lives.

The best thing about letting God clean up our lives and remove the things we do not need is that He doesn’t leave us empty. He replaces what He removes with things from Him; blessings, love, joy, strength, hope, forgiveness, and more. Above all of these, however, is the gift of eternal life. The things we think we lose are worth infinitely less than the things we receive.

Food For Substantial Thought

Food For Substantial Thought

Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.”–Genesis 1:30

While your actions may be your own, the end results can have long-lasting consequences on those around you. In last week’s verse, we saw how God intended for us to live on the herbs and fruits. We also saw how God put His original intentions on hold because of sin. (We cannot confuse man’s choice to go against God’s law as a mistake on His part. Had Adam and Eve obeyed God to begin with, we would not need the meat as we do now.)

In today’s verse, we discover man was not the only species designed by God to be vegetarian. God designed the birds, the animals, and every creature that creeps on the earth to subsist on a meat-free diet. Although it is hard to imagine a pack of hungry wolves wandering into a garden for a lovely tossed salad, that was God’s original intent. We need to remember, however, God neither gave up on nor abandoned His initial plans. He has prepared for us a world where blood would not be necessary for us to survive. In Isaiah 11:6-7, we find the prophecy of the day we get back to what God intended all along.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” [Just a quick side note: These verses show the lamb and the wolf lying down together, not the lamb and the lion, as many often quote.] Not only will the need for animals to kill to live be taken away, they shall live in unity as was God’s goal all along.

Everything we do—good or bad—is going to affect someone, or something, else, just as we will be affected by the actions of others. A few years back, before we did anything, we were to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”. While I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, perhaps we should start asking ourselves “How is this going to affect others?”

In today’s post, my original intent was to show simply this; what we do affects others. God’s intentions, however, was to show me even more. He has shown me how, even when something interferes with my original goals and I have to put them on hold, I shouldn’t abandon or give up on them. He has also shown me the necessity of preparing for changes in my plans. Most of all, He has shown me to trust in Him in all things because He knows the outcome.

As you read these posts, if God shows you something I don’t touch on, feel free to share with us. We could all use a little food for thought

Have a blessed day.

Vegetarian, But Not For Long

Vegetarian, But Not For Long

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”–Genesis 1:29

God’s original intent—according to this verse—was for mankind to be vegetarian. He designed every herb and every piece of fruit so mankind would have food indefinitely. And just as He created these to sustain us, He made our bodies so this would be all we would need. It was never God’s desire for blood to be shed for man to survive. Unfortunately, He knew the day would come when it would be required, so He prepared us for that eventuality. Unlike many of the herbivores in the world, He gave us the teeth of a carnivore. While we can get protein and certain vitamins from plants, science has proven we need meat.

These herbs and fruits are a great representation of God’s Presence and fellowship. After the creation of man, God walked with him and talked with him. Had he not listened to Satan in the guise of the serpent, God would have sustained all his needs eternally. When man sinned, he lost the sustaining Presence of God. Man now needed something more to maintain contact with God; he needed blood. God Himself killed the first animal to make tunics for Adam and Eve. He fashioned the tunics to cover their nakedness and their shame; it was also to protect them from the elements.

While it is unlikely we will all return to our vegetarian roots, God made a way for us to return to Him. It, too, required blood. Just as He took the lives of the animals for Adam and Eve’s sake, He gave His only begotten Son for our sake. It is now His sacrifice that sustains us. It is the grace and the mercy that allows to come into God’s Presence and partake of His fellowship.

Likeness Of God And Dominion

Likeness Of God And Dominion

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”.”–Genesis 1:26

The first thing we notice in this verse is that God is using plurals, “Us” and “Our”. We also see that both words are capitalized, indicating the divinity attached to them. This brings up the question, who is God speaking to? Some might be inclined to say He is speaking to other gods, yet such a belief lessens God’s glory. At no other time when other gods are mentioned—unless a proper name is being used—there is no capitalization. It also indicates that He was working with others and required their input and assistance. Verse 1 specifically states, “In the beginning God…” Just one; just Him. So, if we rule out other gods, who is He speaking to?

Some might say He was speaking to the angels. While they may have been present at the time, this is also a false belief. It implies that God was seeking their approval, something He did not need. The Creator had no need of the approval of those He created. We must also remember the descriptions of angels from the Bible rarely are those of a human-looking creature. It is only when they appear on earth that they resemble something human. We must also remember the angels are of the spiritual realm, not the physical.

When God speaks in the plural, He is referring to Himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We know from Scripture both were with Him from the beginning. Jesus is described as the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, while it was the Spirit who moved on the face of the waters.

The second thing we notice is God refers to image and likeness. Likeness refers to our general appearance. When you look at yourself in a reflective surface, you are getting a glimpse of what God looks like. Image, on the other hand, goes much deeper than just appearance; it is the embodiment of the Divine. When we look not at what we are, but what we were meant to be, we can see God’s intention.

In Jesus, we see God in the physical realm; that is our realm. As Christians, we are to be Christ-like. Although it has become something of a cliché, we really should ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” During His time on earth, Jesus’ desire was to do the will of the Father. Being in the flesh, however, Jesus faced all the temptations we face on a daily basis; He even prayed for God to change His situation while in the Garden of Gethsemane. God’s answer to this prayer was no. The death of Jesus was all part of the greater plan, the opportunity for salvation for the entire world. In the image of Jesus, we see the need to be obedient to God.

The Holy Spirit—Who is with us today—is our link to the spiritual realm. In Him, we find the intangible things of God. He is the presence of God, the force of creation and beginning. Whenever God prepared someone for a specific task to do His will, the Holy Spirit was there. He is also a source of comfort until Christ returns. You may ask how we are to take on His image. By being a source of comfort, of course, but there is more we can do. We can create; we can be the beginning. By creating a lifestyle of humble devotion to God for ourselves, we can lead others to Him. This will give us the opportunity to embody the intangibles of God so others might see them in action.

God is all-encompassing. He is both the physical and the spiritual. To be in His image, we must let the physical and spiritual work in unison in our lives. Beyond asking “What would Jesus do?”, we must ask ourselves “What would God have me do?”. By striving to do His will (as Jesus did), we let ourselves be opened to receive the Holy Spirit Who then brings about our new beginnings. This allows us to show that it is possible to live in this world without the world living in us. It is also where we discover the dominion God gave us over the creatures of the earth is both a gift and a duty.

To have dominion over something is to have responsibility for it. God intended for the world, and everything in it, for the survival of man. For something to be of use, it must be cared for and maintained, not abused. When God gave us dominion over His creations, He gave us the opportunity to truly be in His image. It is our chance to show both compassion and good stewardship. By caring for the earth, and everything in it, we show God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in Their purest form.

We are special; we carry the likeness of God. You are special. You have the opportunity—today, right now—to be remade into the image of God. I pray you do so if you haven’t already.

Deserted Place Of Rest

Deserted Place Of Rest

“And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for a while”. For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”–Mark 6:31

I know you were expecting us to continue our look at Genesis this week, so I hope you won’t be too disappointed. In the short verse above, Jesus points the importance of taking a moment to rest in a deserted place. While it won’t be deserted, I am taking a day or two to rest my mind, recover my wits, and recharge my body.

We will be back on track (with the Lord’s help) before you even know we are gone. Take this opportunity to do a little recharging yourselves and keep us in your prayers.

Ring The Bells By Nannie R. Glass

Ring The Bells By Nannie R. Glass

Ring out the bells of heaven!
Obey the great command,
That all may hear their melody
On mountain, sea, and land,
The chimes of glory sounding,
Ascending to the sky;
Jesus our Savior reigneth
Forever more on high.

Ring how he bore our trials
And sorrows here below;
Of his lamb-like, sinless nature,
Purer than falling snow;
How he gave his life to banish
The clouds of midnight gloom
That brooded o’er creation
And o’er the dreary tomb.

Ring of the well of Sichar
And the everlasting tide,
With which its sparkling waters
His imagery supplied.
Ring of his mighty power
To comfort and to heal,
His gentleness and sympathy
In either woe or weal.

Ring of his blood that speaketh
Than Abel’s, better things,
And to the guilty conscience
Sweet peace and pardon brings.
Ring how he burst death’s fetters
In rising from the grave,
And from its lasting bondage
Will all his people save.

Ring how he intercedeth
And ever lives above
For all who trust and serve him,
Rejoicing in his love;
Of the many mansions he’s prepared
Of everlasting rest,
Whose joys no tongue can utter
Nor tell how glad and blest.

Awake, then, to your duty,
O church of Christ, awake!
Behold the beauty of their feet
Who the glad tidings take!
Reach out and ring the bells of heaven;
Blest be the hands that give
The truth, that all who listen
May hope and joy and live!
Ah, ’tis a wondrous story!
Good news to all the world!
The gospel means glad tidings
Wherever ’tis unfurled.

Great God, impart thy Spirit
That all who love their Lord
May see in life a flitting hour
To obey and speak his word.

Multiply, Be Fruitful, And Be Blessed

Multiply, Be Fruitful, And Be Blessed

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”–Genesis 1:22

The last line of verse 21 says, “And God saw that it was good.” This week, we see the result of God’s pleasure at creating something He deems good; He blesses his creation.

In this case, the blessing comes in the form of a command, “Be fruitful and multiply…”. God is telling the creatures of the water and the fowls of the air to be productive and increase their population. Time and again throughout the Bible, we read where God gives the command to “be fruitful”, that is, be productive.

We see in this verse an example of how God communicates with the things of nature and they obey Him. In Matthew 8:27, the men marvel at Jesus saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Of God’s many creations, man and the fallen angels are the only ones who don’t listen and obey. Are we so full of self we would rather do things our way than receive the blessings of our Creator? How can we be productive if we don’t listen to the things God tries to tell us?

While this verse speaks of the creatures physically populating the air and the seas, it has a deeper meaning. After God defines us His children, as Christians, He expects us to be fruitful and multiply. The Great Commission calls for us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. If we don’t spread the Gospel, how can we expect to be fruitful, to be productive. Our mission isn’t to fill the seas or air, it is to lead others to Christ and fill heaven.

It is when we are doing God’s work that He blesses us. When we witness to the lost, pray for the sick, minister to those in need, we are offering Christ to others. Some will take hold of Him and hold on; they will make Him their most precious possession. When this happens, we see how much we are blessed in our productivity. Other, however, will turn away. Even when they don’t accept Jesus, God’s blessing are still there because of our obedience.

Let this be our goal for the coming week; be fruitful and multiply so we might see others come to Christ.

Valuable Texts And Precious Words

Valuable Texts And Precious Words

“Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.”–Phillip Brooks