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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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The Mystery of Mistletoe

The Mystery of Mistletoe

When I think of mistletoe, I think of kissing. We all do. The song “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus” immediately comes to mind. The origin of the mistletoe tradition is interesting. Mistletoe is actually a parasite that grows on tree branches. It feeds on bird droppings. The word literally means “dung twig.” It might seem a bit crude, but the early Anglo-Saxons saw mistletoe as a symbol of God’s power to create something beautiful out of something ugly and useless.

To put it in common language, God can make something beautiful out of the “mistle” in our lives. You know, the “poop”. The bad stuff, in other words. When trials come into our lives, the Bible says that we are to rejoice because God is testing us and producing patience in us.

For hundreds of years, people of faith kissed under the mistletoe, not only to express their love for each other, but their love for God as well.

Find some mistletoe to kiss someone under. As you kiss, thank God for the “bird droppings” in your life that He has made into something beautiful.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas?

12 days of christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas?

 Why are there twelve days of Christmas? Has this song confused you over the years? It sure has confused me. I never have understood it. Why are there “Fiiiiivvvvveeee gold-en riiiiinnnngggssss?”

According to Ace Collins (in his book Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas), the song means the following:

  • A partridge in a pear tree…represents Jesus the son of God. A mother partridge is the only bird that will die to protect its’ young.
  • Two turtle doves…represent the “twin birds” of the Old and New Testament.
  • Three French hens…represent faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13).
  • Four calling birds… represent the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • Five golden rings…represent the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch as they are called.
  • Six geese a- laying…represent the six days of Creation, each one “hatched” by God.
  • Seven swans a –swimming…represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and compassion.
  • Eight maids a –milking…represent the ones who would receive His word and accept His grace: the eight beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-11.
  • Nine ladies dancing… represent the nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Ten lords a-leaping…represent the Ten Commandments.
  • Eleven pipers piping…represent the twelve disciples minus one (Judas Iscariot).
  • Twelve drummers drumming…represent the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.

So now you know. Tomorrow we will analyze the meanings behind Jeff Foxworthy’s song, “The Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas.” (Just kidding!!!)

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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What Will You Give to Jesus?: Acts 20:17-38

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I love the old movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, starring Jimmy Stewart. Stewart played the part of George Bailey, who gave his heart and soul to his hometown of Bedford Falls. He could have become famous or rich, but instead he gave himself away to others; and in the end, became wealthy with friends.

The wise men came to the baby Jesus, as recorded in Matthew’s gospel, and they gave. The Bible stated that they saw, they fell down, they worshiped, they opened and they presented. They never took.

The apostle Paul, quoting the words of our Lord Jesus, declared that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Paul gave his time, his gifts and abilities, his mind, his heart, his finances and his entire life to Jesus. On a number of occasions, he refused to take anything in return.

What will you give to Jesus this year? Will you give Him your time, your gifts and abilities, your mind, heart, finances? Will you give Him your entire life? Giving is a matter of the will. The question is, Will you?

Harry Bailey, George’s younger brother, went off to war and became a hero. George stayed home, never went to college, and never became a famous millionaire. He never took his wife Mary to France. And yet, George received the greatest reward.

If you give to Jesus, your reward will not be here on earth. Your reward will be far greater. Your reward will be “out of this world.”

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Sermons

 

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How the “Grinch” Steals Christmas: Matthew 2:1-18

How the “Grinch” Steals Christmas: Matthew 2:1-18

One of my favorite Christmas stories is the Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The old cartoon version is the one that I love, especially the song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”

The Grinch hated the joy of the Christmas season. He hated that people were having such a great time while he was so miserable. The Grinch was selfish.

Herod hated the baby Jesus. Jesus was a threat to his throne. Jesus was receiving more attention than Herod was. Herod wanted Jesus dead, and devised a scheme in order to kill our Lord. God’s plan was greater than Herod’s plan. Herod was selfish.

Satan hates the Lord Jesus. He does not want to give the Lord praise and worship. The devil does everything in his power to take attention away from the birth of Christ. At this time of year, when Christians have set aside time to honor their Savior’s birth, old Lucifer floods the joyous season with perversion, drunkenness, parties, depression, loneliness and selfishness. Satan is the real “Grinch” who steals Christmas. Satan is selfish.

When we become selfish, we miss the joy of Jesus’s birth. Like the Grinch, Herod and the devil, we want all the attention for ourselves. We want to receive rather than give. Christmas becomes a matter of what we want, not what He wants.

Is the “Grinch” stealing Christmas from you this year? If so, then quit taking and start giving. Give your life to the Lord Jesus and give to Him the worship which He deserves.

Lord, I have taken the attention away from you and put it all upon myself. I repent of my selfishness. Jesus I want to give you glory and praise this Christmas season. In your name I pray, Amen.

Matthew 2:1-18
Wise Men from the East
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
The Flight into Egypt
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Massacre of the Innocents
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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Messed up Messages: 1 John 4:1

Messed up Messages: 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

He stood within three feet of Barack Obama at the funeral of Nelson Mandela. Waving his arms and hands frantically around in the air, this man supposedly provided sign language for millions of deaf people.

As it turns out, the man was a fake. He doesn’t know sign language. To make matters worse, he is a mental health patient. In interviews since the funeral, he claimed that he saw angels as he “signed” and heard voices speaking to him. Pretty scary stuff, especially since he shared the platform with dignitaries from all over the world.

There are many false interpreters in the world today. Many of them are standing in pulpits, with a Bible in their hand, claiming that they see angels, and that they hear the voice of God. They are fakes. Their messages are messed up. The spirit of “antichrist” is spreading false signs to a gullible and unsuspecting audience.

How was the false interpreter revealed to be a fake? Deaf people did not understand his language. They know their language, and he wasn’t speaking it. They tested him and he failed the test.

How do we know if prophets are false? We should know our “language”. We should be able to hear the voice of our Shepherd. We should test the spirits that are going forth. If they do not confess that Jesus is the Christ, then they fail the test.

Father, help me not to believe every spirit that speaks. Give me the ability to discern which spirit is of you and which ones are not. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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Pulling Your Own Little Red Wagon: Galatians 6:4

Pulling Your Own Little Red Wagon: Galatians 6:4

“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama was in South Africa, attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela. While he was there, photographers caught the President doing something most inappropriate. He and the Danish prime minister were caught taking “selfies” of themselves on their cellphones. (For the uniformed, a “selfie” is a photo taken of one self; not to be confused with a “photo-bomb”, which is something completely different.)

Of course, this is not the first time a President has done something inappropriate in a public setting. Examples of bad manners and poor etiquette abound in presidential history. Most notably, George H.W. Bush once puked on a Japanese prime minister, although we can assume that it was totally accidental.

When I judge other people for their poor choices and behavior, I am reminded of something that my father once taught me: “Pull your own little red wagon.” In my day, kids owned “Radio Flyer” red wagons to carry toys and other kids around in. The message that Dad was trying to communicate was this: “You worry about your own self, and let other people worry about themselves.”

The apostle Paul was telling the Christians in Galatia the same thing. Instead of judging those who make mistakes, do stupid things, or deliberately sin, we should focus on our own thoughts, behaviors and actions. If tempted to do something wrong, we might just fall ourselves. If we think that we are above taking “selfies” at a funeral, we are deceiving ourselves. We are probably capable of doing a lot worse.

Instead of looking at others, you and I should look at ourselves. We should pull our own little red wagons, and let others pull theirs.

Lord, help me to self-examine my own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Instead of judging others for their mistakes, help me to focus upon my life and my relationship to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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The Hall of Faith: Hebrews 11:39-40

The Hall of Faith: Hebrews 11:39-40

“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

Yesterday, Bobby Cox was selected to the baseball Hall of Fame. For those who do not know, Cox was the manager of the Atlanta Braves for 25 seasons. During his career, the Braves won 14 division championships, five National League pennants and one World Series. He is fourth on the all-time list for wins as a manager.

Hebrews 11 is oftentimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith”. Beginning with Abel and going through the New Testament martyrs, the writer lists the amazing stories of believers who had faith in God, were persecuted and hated for their faith, and many of them died for their commitment to the Lord.

You don’t have to be a “superstar” to be in God’s “Hall of Faith.” You don’t have to be famous or have your name listed in the Bible. Abraham, Issac, Moses and Rahab’s stories are incomplete without your story; you are just as much a part of God’s promise as they are.

How can you be selected to God’s Hall of Faith? By simply “obtaining a good testimony through faith.” Trust God with every area of your life. Do not expect to receive rewards in this life for your labors. God has something better for you in the life to come. Live by faith.

Father, I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. I trust you and believe in you. I do not follow you in order to receive something in return. Like these other saints, I just love you and serve you because you are worthy of my praise. In your holy name, Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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