Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Traditions...

I read that this past Christmas season Americans used 28 million rolls of wrapping paper and 17 million packages of tags and bows, sent out 372 million greeting cards, and set up 35 million Christmas trees.
Some of our Christmas traditions are just that, traditions. Jesus was probably not born on December 25, for example. And the Christmas tree is based on the celebration of the reincarnation of Nimrod. The ancient Babylonians burned a “Yule” log (the Chaldean word for infant) in the fireplace, and the next day a symbolic evergreen tree was placed inside the house.
This pagan ritual is hinted at in the Bible, in Jeremiah 10:1-4. But before you get worried, I want you to know that if you come to Pasco Christian, you’ll find Christmas trees! And you know what? Most people born in this country don’t know the origins of these things, and we aren’t worshiping Babylonian gods and goddesses. It’s not about that. (And it’s good to remember that Martin Luther was the first guy to put a Christmas tree inside the home.)
At the same time, what are we to do with some of these traditions? Let’s look at what Jesus did when He was faced with a festival that had a lot of tradition, some of which may have been true and some not. In John chapter 10, He was in the temple for the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. You won’t find it in the Bible anywhere; it dates from the period between Old and New Testaments. But Jesus was celebrating Hanukkah, and He used the Festival of Lights to shine the light on who He really is (see verses 22-30).
And I suggest that’s what we do with Christmas. You can say, “Bah, humbug!” You can get “Santa Claustrophobic.” You can run from it. Or you can use it to shine the light on who Jesus really is.
People are singing the words we preach in evangelical churches every week: Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail, incarnate deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. Hark, the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king!”
At least some of them don’t know what they’re singing, but that’s where we come in. We can redeem it by reminding them. Does it matter when He came? No, it matters THAT He came. Since the celebration is already ongoing, I say let’s use it to remind them of Him.

Love God Love People

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankful...Really?!

Next week is Thanksgiving, and many in this country are facing severe economic hardship or trouble of other kinds. I don't want to belittle anyone's situation, because I understand the worry about what the future might hold. Things look pretty dark to many people. But I want to offer some perspective on suffering.
When our pilgrim forefathers came to this country, what they were up against was far worse than anything we face now. The first year, over half of their band of 110 died. Our pilgrim fathers dug seven times more graves for the dead than they built huts for the living. And yet during that same period is when they decided to carve out a day where they could say, "Thank you, Lord, for all of your benefits." One of their leaders, Edward Winslow, wrote of that first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621: "And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, in the middle of a terrible civil war. He said the country's blessings were due to the "ever watchful providence of Almighty God... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." And he asked for the "Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it."
That's our history. I think that kind of thankfulness pleases the Lord. And as a country, we have a lot to be thankful for, but as Christians we have even more.
This idea of giving God thanks; it's God's will! People ask me all the time, "How can I know the will of God?" One part of the will of God for your life is that you be a thankful person, that you have an "attitude of gratitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives a series of short little commands like "rejoice always," and "pray without ceasing." In verse 18 he says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." One of the things God loves is when we're thankful, even when we don't understand, even when we're going through hard times. So let's not forget the "gracious gifts of the Most High God."  
You know you want to say it.God Is Good All The Time

ThankfuLove God Love People

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Yes...God is Jealous

I heard a story about a little girl who was writing a letter to God. "Dear God," she said, "What does it mean You're a jealous God? I thought You had everything." I was amused at the innocence of the question, but she wasn't alone in her confusion over that portrayal of God. The idea of a jealous God bothers a lot of people, and it may not sit too well with you. Yet, God is referred to as "jealous" eight times in the Bible.  Exodus 20:5 says, "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God." And He never apologizes for it; He just states it.

The jealousy of God is actually a wonderful thing. In the original language, the word means to have zeal over one's property; it means "Hands off! This belongs to me." A holy kind of jealousy should accompany the love we have for those closest to us; it protects the relationship from those who might want to damage it. I think something is wrong in any relationship of love where there's not some kind of jealousy. For instance, I'm jealous over my wife. If someone asked me if they could take her out on a date, I wouldn't say, "Well, I'm not a jealous husband; go ahead." I'd have to be a nutcase to say that! I have a jealous love for her, and she has the same for me.

Different translations have different ways of expressing the jealousy of God. Young's Literal Translation says, "I…[am] a zealous God." The Torah says, "I am an impassioned God." The Living Bible says, "I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god!" The Good News Translation says, "I tolerate no rivals," and the Contemporary English Version says, "I demand all your love." So, jealous is an accurate translation.

The servants of God know this about Him. Paul and Barnabas didn't allow the people at Lystra to bow to them (see Acts 14:8-18). Twice in the book of Revelation, angels rebuked John for bowing to them (see 19:10 and 22:8-9). Why? Because God alone is worthy of our worship. He forbids us from worshiping angels, Mary, saints, pastors, movements, theologies, or ideologies. God is a jealous God.
Yes, as the little girl said, God has everything. But He is jealous—possessive, impassioned—for all of your love, devotion, and worship. That's as it should be. You belong to Him.


Love God – Love People