Merry Christmas, and may the Lord bless you! The verses below should help put the celebration of Christmas in perspective, as prophesied in the Old Testament, and brought to fulfillment in the New Testament. Remember as you celebrate this Christmas, that God the Father sent His Son to bring you into a relationship with Him... He is reaching out to you, and stands at the door, knocking. Some of you have answered the knock at the door, and asked Him into your lives, and some of you still need to open the door. The Person that is knocking at the door has a gift for you. It is the most important gift you will ever receive, and contains eternal life with Him.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of 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 9:6-7, KJV)
1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
(Isaiah 11:1-5, KJV)
1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:1-6, KJV)
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, KJV)
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
(Zechariah 12:10, KJV)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And 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.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
(Luke 2:1-21, KJV)
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18, KJV)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
(John 14:6, KJV)
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
(Revelation 3:20, KJV)
... Be sure to answer that knock at the door when He knocks...
Best Buy on AFA's "Naughty" List:
ho ho harummpph.
Welcome to the Christmas season, and the annual begathon for your shopping dollars from some of the major chains in the name of the "Season", without of course using the name of the Lord... or hinting at Christ... or any association with Him or the reason for Christmas. This year many retailers are avoiding or marginalizing the word Christmas in ads as they compete for your shopping dollars. This open competition is what makes free markets great, and is no different than previous years, but what is relatively new and disturbing is the ever lengthening list of retailers that refuse to use the word "Christmas" in their ads and promotional material.
There is a "reason for the season", a phrase you still see on occasional billboards along the road, and still alive in millions of families throughout the world. The reason is Jesus Christ, and His virgin birth, which was a sign from God as prophesied in the Bible:
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, KJV)
God sent His Son as a perfect sacrifice for you, to get to know you, and have a relationship with you. One of the many signs that it was His Son was the virgin birth spoken of in Isaiah, and this is what we celebrate at Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. This Gift from God was the greatest Gift of all. This is the "reason for the season", and why we remember Christ at Christmas.
Now... if you really want to get into the spirit of Christmas giving, then consider reaching out and helping those that are going through hard times - now more than ever there is a need for help due to the economy. There is probably a Christian homeless shelter or kitchen in a city near you that targets its giving to those that are truly in need. Consider contacting them and sending a Christmas gift that in turn helps others. One of the best ministries in most major cities is the Salvation Army, which has an excellent track record of stewardship. Sadly, a number of large chain stores no longer want Salvation Army donation collections anywhere near their stores (it is not politically correct). Here is a link to Salvation Army if you are looking for a place to donate, and can't find one of those familiar red kettles nearby:
When it comes to the word "Christmas", we have some new players in the "banned speech" department this year. Each year, the American Family Association publishes its "naughty and nice" list of stores that are avoiding the use of the word Christmas in advertising and greeting, and apparently specializing in "holiday" gifts. Best Buy in particular has had a bit of controversy lately after heavily advertising for an Islamic holiday during the Thanksgiving Friday sales for Christmas, while avoiding using the word Christmas. If you do shop at any of the big retailers that ban the word Christmas, be sure to give a big smile, and wish them a very Merry Christmas. Some of the employees are not as politically correct as the management, and understand the "reason for the season"...
The table below is from American Family Action, with the link below:
American Family Association List of Stores Supporting Christmas
Companies FOR "Christmas"
Bath & Body Works
Bed Bath & Beyond
Harris Teeter Stores
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts Stores
Pier One Imports
Super D Drug Stores
Companies marginalizing "Christmas"
Bass Pro Shops
Barnes & Noble
Toys R Us
Companies against "Christmas"
Advance Auto Parts
Barnes & Noble
Dick's Sporting Goods
Home Shopping Network
Thanksgiving is an long standing American holiday and tradition, when we take time out with our families and friends and give thanks to the Lord for everything He has done and is doing in our lives. Not only has He blessed us individually, but He has blessed our nation with great farmland, factories, resources, and an industrious and free people with the spirit and faith to know that the Blessings come from Him. These are trying times economically for the nation and its people, but with faith in Him, His blessings will continue to flow, and He will lead us through the hard times. We are all praying for a healthy economy, and a peaceful world, but understand that there will be trials in a fallen world, and will continue to praise Him.
Take a few moments out this Thanksgiving and make it a point at your Thanksgiving dinner prayers and conversations to thank the Lord for His blessings, even in hard times, and to explain to others where blessings come from. Remember to also tell them that God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to bring you into a closer relationship with Him. Clearly, THAT is something to be thankful for.
I would also encourage you to give food, labor, and other offerings to the many charities that are helping people through hard times. There is probably a Christian ministry in YOUR city that is feeding the hungry and homeless, so get involved this holiday season, and stay involved throughout the year.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
(Matthew 25:34-40, KJV)
34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40 "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
(Matthew 25:34-40, NASB)
Nobel Peace Prize: A Completely Meaningless Award
Mr. Obama was nominated for the nobel peace prize only 12 days after being sworn in as President of the United States. Today the Nobel Committee announced that Mr. Obama was the winner of the prize. President Obama is now in the same league as other winners of this silly prize like Yasser Arafat and Al Gore (who also won the "Peace Prize" for political reasons). It is now abundantly clear that the "Nobel Peace Prize" is a completely meaningless award, given randomly to terrorists, new Presidents, or President "wannabes" for completely political reasons. Perhaps it is time to rename the prize the "Nobel Politically Correct Prize".
Could somebody please explain what Mr. Obama did in his first 12 days in office to warrant the award of this prize? The Nobel Committee should consider expanding on this now meaningless honor, and award President Obama the Nobel Prize in Physics as an additional honor!
After awarding the terrorist Yasser Arafat the Nobel "Peace" Prize, the Nobel committee decided to add a punch line to the Nobel Comedy Series... yesterday's nomination of Barack Obama after 12 days in office was that much needed punch line.
There is a message here: Man's awards and gifts will all pass away. The only award that will ever count is the one that is written in the Lamb's Book of Life: having the label "Saved" after your name. Some of you may have not won many of mankind's great awards, or achieved the fame and fortune that go along with worldly awards. But those of you that know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior have won the greatest award of all, salvation and eternal life.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
(Luke 6:26, KJV)
Are You Prepared?
I knew major "Change" was coming in political and economic terms some time ago, and most recently made a major change in my own course in mid 2007. The stock market was at an all time high of 14,000 on the DOW for the first time, and all of the TV commentators were glassy eyed and talking about how DOW 15,000 was right around the corner. America had been on a huge drinking binge for some time, and was ready for more. The binge buying and selling went into overdrive during the war, which of course is never a good idea. So I changed course and sold. It was time to adjust according to the signs and prepare for a different world.
Over the years I have been through three flooded homes, a couple of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and riots, similar to a lot of people to a greater or lesser degree. In my early years I was into backpacking and camping, and even spent a whole year living on a glacier in a remote station in Antarctica, so I have always been an advocate of "Emergency Preparedness" and planning for "Change", both expected and unexpected change, and of course preparation for both good and bad change. I did just that back in 2007, and planned for "change".
While preparing is second nature to me, I thought it might be time to discuss emergency preparedness with our readers. This is not an "end of the world" post, but a post about common sense and preparation for emergencies. Only the Lord knows what the stock market or your 401k or other savings will be like tomorrow, but the Word has certainly given us plenty of examples of preparation. Perhaps one of the most famous examples was the instruction by Joseph to Pharaoh to store food for seven years of plenty, in preparation for seven years of famine. The story begins with Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream as a message from God:
25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
(Genesis 41:25-31, KJV)
God has always been faithful in leading His people, and showing them both what is to come, and how to deal with it. The story continues, with Joseph counseling Pharaoh about this dream, and the instruction from God:
34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
(Genesis 41:34-36, KJV)
America, and the entire world, has had a long period of abundance, combined with ample cheap fuel (oil) to build a robust society and infrastructure. At this point in time (February 2009), oil is cheap again, around $37 per barrel, but of course the economy is heavily in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. When we combine the drunken stupor brought on by sub-prime loans and easy credit to the uncreditworty, with the massive spending on social engineering, it is easy to see how we got into this mess, and yes, it was easy to see this coming.
Part of the "Change" that has been decided upon is to inflate the currency as a way out of debt, which is always a dangerous path. This is *particularly* true when we try to boost the economy through social means and social engineering, as opposed to *real* engineering with tangible outcome. As with all government programs, this will cost us for generations to come. So here is an early warning message: the "stimulus" and "bailout" packages may make matters worse, and you should prepare for the possibility of further economic problems. We will all pray that things improve, but as a practical matter we should prepare, and save... While we are to trust in the Lord, He has also given us some solid wisdom through His Word, and as Christians we should act upon that wisdom found in the Bible.
So prepare yourself and your family by "saving" and preparing for emergencies. In America that "saving" word is almost heresy, where the populace is accustomed to running up consumer debt, housing debt, education debt, car debt... always a "good" reason of course, along with myriad bad reasons for debt, like entertainment, expensive vacations, gambling, smoking, etc.
Some of you have fallen into this mode of belief that the Lord will take you away in the rapture before anything remotely unpleasant will occur in your life. I am not going to launch into a doctrinal discussion of "pre-trib" or "post-trib" rapture. This site has a focus of unity in Christ through essential Christian doctrine, and "pre-trib" or "post-trib" interpretation of scripture is not an essential element of the faith. What I will say, however, is that those that are hoping for a "pre-trib" rapture to take you out of the world should at least be prepared for emergencies, wars, riots, and economic hardships that just might come along before your anticipated rapture. Just remember that "times can be tough" without the world entering into the "great tribulation".
If you have not yet started saving and preparing for emergencies, then perhaps you should sit down with the family and discuss plans for the future. I will expand on this theme in the next few months, but for many of you, it is time for *you* to get started.
Yours in Christ,