Friday, December 14, 2018

Celebrating the Newborn King

Many people have regular Advent observances from the non-religious little hidey-hole chocolate calendars to various highly regarded practices of faith. In our house we have the tree, the lights (inside and out), the decorations and yes, even the little chocolate calendar. I think we even have a construction paper ring in one of our children’s rooms. But we also have the 3 nativity sets (including a toy one) and an Advent quilt that my wife’s sister made for us. When I received it, I took the time to select Bible verses for us to read each day, beginning with the prophecy of Isaiah. But my favorite calendar day is December 4th which is our only daughter Elizabeth Joy’s birthday. We started our reading in 2003, but in 2006 with her birth that day’s reading became extra special because of what we read.

“And she [Elizabeth] cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”” (Luke 1:42–45, NASB)

The unborn child John (the Baptist) recognized even in the womb that the Savior of the world was soon to be born, and he responded with joy. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were foretold in prophecy hundreds of years before. This was God’s way of introducing His Son to us, and now we not only remember His birth but also His death and resurrection that results in His great gift to us of forgiveness and life.

How special is the babe of Christmas to you?

Posted in Sherman County eNews Spiritual Matters on December 14, 2018

Trusting in His Blessing

In Mark chapter 10 we have a contrast between the faith of little children and the treasures of a good man with great possessions. Despite His disciples trying to turn the children away, Jesus welcomed them saying, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” It was the accepting faith of the children that Jesus praised, and with this “He took them in His arms and began blessing them….”

In contrast to the children was that man of means who asked Jesus what “he must do” to inherit eternal life. Recognizing his performance base, Jesus replied telling him that he knew the commandments (the Ten and others). To this the man assured Jesus that he had kept all of them from his youth. We read in Mark 10:21, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”” This man was devout in his practice, but was he willing to give it to follow after Jesus? We read in the next verse that the man was saddened and that he went away not willing to sell all of his property.

These two examples illustrate the difference between grace and works. Works are commendable, but they don’t save anybody. It’s not that we have to be simple or even than we have to be paupers. Rather, it is the attitudes of the heart that moved them to action that are emphasized here. The children were willing to come to Jesus and climb into His open arms. The man couldn’t get past what he might lose of what he had gained to be blessed with something even greater.

Posted in Sherman County eNews Spiritual Matters November 16, 2018