Giving Thanks in the Bad Years

9 01 2021

As 2020 closes we look bad on what was for many the worst year of their lives. Covid, lockdowns, death in the family, mask mandates, and lost employment have taken their toll. How is a Christian to respond to such trials?

There could be several answers but I want to focus on the words of the Apostle Paul.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Paul says we are to give thanks for everything. Not somethings, not even just good things. We are to give thanks for Covid, the death of loved ones, lost jobs, and even government overreach. It doesn’t mean we don’t speak out against injustice but we give thanks for even the trials because those work for our benefit.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1 :2-3) This year let’s practice 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The world will take notice and Christ will be exalted.





Celebrating Good Friday

10 04 2020

I come from a Christian tradition that doesn’t necessarily celebrate Good Friday. There is debate as to whether Jesus died on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. There are good arguments on all sides of the debate but I’m not planning to weigh in on it right now.

The question is this: is it wrong to celebrate Good Friday? My answer is no, in fact my family attends Good Friday services even though I am not convinced that is the actual day of His death. I want to address two common arguments used against Good Friday to see if they have any validity.

1.Good Friday is a Catholic holiday.

The problem with this objection is that you could make the same arguments against Christmas and Easter. In fact many people do make that argument. I find that most of the people I know who are against Good Friday do in fact celebrate Easter and Christmas. We should strive for consistency in our Christian lives.

Also consider that Catholics doing something or believing something doesn’t make it wrong. Seventh Day Adventists condemn us for meeting on Sunday because Catholics meet on Sunday for example. Catholics believe in the Trinity as do I. Catholics believing something that’s true doesn’t make it wrong for us to believe it. Catholics doing something doesn’t make it wrong to do as long as it doesn’t violate the Scriptures.

2.I don’t believe Jesus died on Friday.

This is the second most common argument. Do you celebrate Christmas? Was Jesus born on December 25th? I know a lot of people who use this argument who would also deny Jesus was born on December 25th yet they celebrate Christmas.

This is hypocrisy. Once again we need to be consistent in how we live our lives. This argument is one of the most inconsistent. I was reading that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th, If I remember it was July 3rd yet those who rely on this argument never take a stand on the 4th of July.

My point is that Good Friday is a day set aside by many Christians to remember the death of Christ. This is not a bad thing, in fact all secular calendars mark the remembrance of the death of Christ. That can’t possibly be a bad thing. I feel many Christians waste an opportunity to preach the Gospel because of their man mad tradition which is all opposition to Good Friday is.

It’s not a consistent argument which hurts our Christian testimony and it’s not a Biblical argument because the Bible is clear on the subject.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6)

If you don’t celebrate a certain day then that’s okay but don’t judge those who do. For those of you that don’t it’s fine as well. I’m not judging you or saying that you should. My argument is that each needs to be persuaded in their own mind but don’t use inconsistent arguments against your brother. We need to strive for consistency in our Christian lives and in understanding towards others in the body who do things a little different than we do.





What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 2)

13 12 2019

The place of His youth. (Matthew 2:23)

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Now this is an interesting verse. It’s often used by enemies of Christ to prove the Bible is wrong. The reason is that there is no verse in the Old Testament that predicts the Messiah will be a Nazarene. Let me tell you what I believe this means.

The town of Nazareth comes from the word netser which means branch or sprout. Now follow me on this. Matthew didn’t say it was spoken by the prophet singular, but the prophets plural. The other prophecies were by a single prophet but this one was by more than one prophet.

Where is it spoken that the Messiah would be a netserene or a branch or sprout. It was spoken by several prophets, plural.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:15)

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” (Zechariah 3:8)

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.” (Zechariah 6:12)

He is a yes to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah.

The trip to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15)

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Herod hears from the wise men that the King of the Jews had been born. Fearful for the loss of power he tries to destroy the child. He kills all the male children 2 years old and under. Joseph is warned to go to Egypt until the king dies and it’s safe to return.

Why Egypt? The reason is that it was prophesied by the prophet Hosea.

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)

This was based on a historical event that served as a type of the coming Christ. Everything in the Old Testament points to the coming Messiah even the Exodus from Egypt. We also see God using normal means to accomplish prophecy.

Just like He used a tax to bring them to Bethlehem, God uses the evil desire of the King as a means to take them to Egypt so that He can call them back out.

Also note that Egypt had once been a place of death for Israelite males but now it serves as a place of refuge for the holy child Jesus. God can make a river in the desert and bring calm in the midst of a storm.

He is a yes to the prophet Hosea.

The Rage of the King. (Matthew 2:16-18)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

The King orders the murder of all males 2 years old and under. This fulfills a prophecy about Rachel weeping for her children. Rachel here the mother of Israel weeping for her children. This refers back to Jeremiah 31.

Jeremiah is writing about the carrying away of Israel into captivity by the Babylonians.

“Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

As the captives marched past the tomb of Rachel she is said to be weeping over them but not just about the captivity. Many of them would return this was looking forward to this event when the children of Rachel would be slaughtered.

In that same chapter Jeremiah talks about the new covenant that God would make with His people and here we have not only the fulfillment of this prophecy about Rachel weeping but it’s at the birth of the Messiah who would initiate this new covenant with His on blood.

He is the yes to the prophet Jeremiah.

I could go on and on. At the death of Jesus and throughout the ministry of Jesus we see many more fulfilled prophecies. We have many examples of the yes that Jesus is to all of God’s promises.

What God was doing in the Christmas story was showing that His word was trustworthy and that He could be trusted to fulfill His promises. He kept His word about the coming of Messiah so they could trust Him about the sacrifice of Messiah.

We can look back and see that He kept His promises about the death of Christ and trust that all He promised us in Christ He will likewise fulfill.





What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 1)

5 12 2019

I love the story of Christmas. It’s a beautiful story that only God could tell. It’s a story that only God could write. We know the basics of the story, it’s all very familiar to us. I don’t want to hit on the basics I want to dwell for a few minutes on the facts less talked about.

I don’t have a single text because we will be all over the place but if I had to have a set text from which to jump into the subject it would be Galatians 4:4-5:

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

What we have in the Christmas story is the middle chapter a longer story. It’s kind of a bridge between the types and shadows and the fulfillment. The story began in Genesis 3:15 with the prophecy from God Himself that a Savior would be coming.

From there a foundation is laid throughout the Old Testament with types and figures of the fulfillment of this great promise. How could such a Savior come to fulfill these types that we see played out in story form across the Hebrew Scriptures?

It’s clear you would need a separate story to bridge the promises and the fulfillment. Certain prophecies were written into the story hinting at what that bridge would look like. Prophecies hinting at how such a Savior would come.

Then we get to the birth of Jesus and we begin to see these prophecies played out in real life. God was doing more in the birth of Jesus then giving the world a Savior. He was keeping His word and demonstrating that He was faithful to bring this Savior.

Have you ever noticed the emphasis God places in the Old Testament on His previous works? The Psalms which were the songs sung in Israelite worship constantly recount the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people.

God over and over again tells the people of Israel remember when I parted the Red Sea, or delivered you from the house of bondage, or gave your fathers manna in the wilderness. His keeping of his word became the evidence that they should trust Him in the future.

This is what Christmas is about. Jesus and the events of His birth are the proof that God keeps His word.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

All the promises of God are yes in Jesus because in Jesus we find the great fulfillment of all that God promised. So let’s look at the Christmas story with the eye to see the the Word of God to His people fulfilled.

1. The nature of His birth. (Matthew 1:18)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

After going through a list of this father begat this son Matthew comes to Jesus and he is like the birth of Jesus the Messiah was in this way. In other words not the normal way. He was born of a virgin.

This was promised by God through the prophet Isaiah 700 years before His birth. This was in Isaiah 7:14. If Jesus was born in the normal course of things then God’s promises would be void but they are yes in the birth of Jesus.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

We see these events play out in Luke 1:26-35.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

2. The place of His birth. (Luke 2:1-4)

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And 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.”

The place of His birth is vital because the prophets spoke of it long before it happened. The Jewish leaders understood this, in fact even the Roman authorities knew it had been foretold.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-6)

Where are they quoting from? They are quoting the prophet Micah.

“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)

He had to be born in Bethlehem and then God used ordinary means to bring it about. A census was taken in order to tax the population. We often forget that God uses mundane day to day activities to accomplish His purpose.

God tells the king to take a census and the king thinks it’s his decision and doesn’t realize that God is using him to bring the Savior in the world. He is the yes to the prophet Micah.

To be continued…





Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

14 02 2018

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday in Roman Catholic tradition. Catholics get a cross made of ash put on their forehead as an outward sign that they are fasting for Lent. I wanted to address some major concerns about this practice in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Ash Wednesday is a violation of the spirit and letter of Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Jesus is very clear that we are not to appear to fast in front of other people. Ash Wednesday violates this directly. I don’t believe that Jesus is just addressing the heart because He does tell us not to physically look like we are fasting. Catholic.com tries to cover for this by saying that Jesus didn’t really care if we look like we are fasting He was just concerned with the heart. They even argue from complete silence that the ones He is addressing were not truly fasting:

“First of all, Jesus’ primary concern is hypocrisy. What he is condemning are acts undertaken to show off one’s personal piety. If the intention in doing an otherwise good act of mortification is to draw public attention to oneself, then, Jesus says, the attention received from the public is the only reward that person will receive, rather than the heavenly reward for which we are searching.

It is also noteworthy that Jesus says these hypocrites are “neglect[ing] their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting.” Perhaps those Jesus was condemning were not actually fasting but creating a surface impression so as to win the praise of others for their presumed piety. God, who sees the heart, knows whether or not they were really fasting. Hypocrisy, after all, is creating an appearance that is at odds with reality. (Article by Michelle Arnold, 2017)

To argue they were not really fasting is to argue from silence. To argue that the only important point is humility which is the spirit of His instructions is to ignore the plain meaning of the text. Yes humility is the reason we are commanded not to make our fasting public but the command to not make it public is still valid. It would be a gross misunderstanding of the Scripture to say that Jesus meant only don’t make it public if you’re not humble otherwise its okay.

This same article argued that the practice is Biblical because of a text in Maccabees 3:47. First of all that text is not even accepted as Scripture by the Jews. It was never a part of the Hebrew canon and was even rejected by Jerome and others because of that fact. Secondly, these were Jews performing a historical mourning ritual. There is no command for or example of Gentiles doing this.

Also of note, they rent their clothes and wore sackcloth. Why only a partial obedience by Rome? The truth is that Rome is notorious for finding Biblical passages that have even the vaguest reference to one of the non-biblical doctrines to support it. Even though they argue against Sola Scriptura they know the importance of it. Another point is that these ashes were sprinkled on their heads not smeared on the forehead.

Another point in reference to the above article is that they say it’s not to be done as an outward form of false humility. Many, if not most, American Catholics rarely attend church or practice their religion, yet they accept Ash Wednesday in large numbers. What you have is millions of people with no sincere desire to follow the church wearing a false symbol on their heads simply to look righteous.

This is also part of the system of penance set up by the church. Penance is the idea that we need to help pay for our sins. We need to make satisfaction for our sins. This is a spit in the face of the work of Christ. He made a perfect offering for sins.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12-18)

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the propitiation or satisfactory payment for sins.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

If He is the satisfaction for our sins (and a perfect satisfaction I might add) how can we do anything to satisfy God’s wrath on our sin? The answer is we cannot. The article does end well and I want all Catholics to heed what it says.

“Believe in the gospel!”

The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. We cannot make atonement for our sins because we are dead in sins. A perfect atonement is needed and that perfect atonement is given by Jesus Christ. We are not saved by contributing good works to the work of Christ but by trusting entirely in what Christ did on the cross.

On the cross Jesus paid in full the debt of your sin by taking on Himself the guilt of your sin. He now offers you His perfect righteousness as a free gift. You can be right with God because in salvation we are united to His Son. All you must do is to put your faith and trust in Christ and what He did on the cross. Call on the Lord to save you. You can be perfectly purified right now for all sin by putting your faith in Christ. Turn to Him today He is a perfect and loving Savior.





The Christmas Holiday

14 12 2009

This time of year is a special time. For me it’s my favorite, I love the winter as the weather gets cold, the smell of fireplaces burning, the lights, and Christmas music. This month is set aside in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many question whether a believer should celebrate Christmas at all due to its pagan roots. I too have thought on this quite seriously. I first want to remind all believers that nothing should be done in violation of God’s law, or if God’s law is silent on a matter then your own conscience. If a believer simply feels wrong about it then celebrating would be sinful. Paul speaks in Romans 14, of the importance of being fully persuaded in your own mind concerning eating, drinking, and regarding certain days.

It cannot be mistaken that Christmas was put at this time of year because of its proximity to pagan holidays, especially those who followed the religions of the Babylonian mysteries. One thing to consider is that the pagan roots are very ancient, and the entire world celebrates Christmas with no thought or knowledge of these roots. Should Christians ignore an event as tremendous as the birth of Jesus simply because of ancient roots? My answer is no.  The entire world recognizes this time as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which presents many opportunities for believers to present the gospel and a time for us as believers to give thanks for this gift.

One thing that separates Christianity from every other religion past or present is this event. Every religion has a god that demands of people, and asks people to die for that god, but no other God ever entered human history, and became like His people, and then rather than demanding some great task from them He gave up His own life. This is the importance of Christmas. God knew we could never reach Him, and could never atone for our fallen condition. Hebrews 2, tells us that He decided to take upon Himself our form, weaknesses, feelings, temptations, and limitations. He then gave Himself over to be tortured, humiliated, and mistreated by His own creation, ultimately giving His life to save them. There is no other event in history outside of the death and resurrection, which parallels the birth of Jesus.

Christmas is also a time to spread God’s love and goodness to those who don’t know Him. We should never lose focus or get caught up in the worldly aspect of the holiday; there is no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on gifts. I usually encourage families to buy 1 gift for each other in honor of God’s gift to us and then spend the rest of the money you would have spent on the poor, especially children who may not receive much themselves. What a wonderful opportunity to make others feel loved.

There is no command in the New Testament to commemorate the birth of Jesus, all we are commanded is to commemorate Christ’s death until He returns through the breaking of bread. If you do not believe in celebrating then I don’t believe your wrong in not participating, and if you do always put a difference between the holy and profane. Do not replace the commemoration of Jesus’ birth with secular materialism.

Keep it about Him because the entire event deserves remembrance, celebration, and above all thanksgiving. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

 








%d bloggers like this: