Forward all the way . . .

Special Edition – December 24, 2019

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son, and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. –John 6:32-40

From Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum, I have fully preached [proclaimed] the Gospel of Christ. –Romans 15:19

God sent His Son to be born into humanity, with the intense purpose to reach a sick world. God was extending His grace and mercy, making salvation available through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus came to be born, then die for us—a sinful people.

When David Livingstone volunteered as a missionary with the London Missionary Society in 1839, they asked him where he would like to go. “Anywhere,” he said, “so long as it is forward!” When Livingstone reached Africa he was haunted by the smoke of a thousand villages, that he saw in the distance.

That was also Paul’s motivation, his drive and passion was to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ forward to people who had not heard the Gospel.

Paul got the message; have we?

[It strikes me as strange that churches schedule “retreats.” Churches should schedule “advances” not retreats. The Gospel is designed to advance, not move backward! The church is to be a forward moving church!]

Jerusalem is the advance point of the ministry of the Gospel. Paul had a greater regard for Jerusalem’s people who needed the Gospel, than Jerusalem had regard for Paul. From the time of Paul’s conversion in 33 AD, someone has figured out (from the Book of Acts) that he and his companions advanced, traveled, over 10,000 miles – over 4800 by land, and 5200 by sea. It seems, also, that he possibly made a trip to Spain. He advanced, traveled, without the aid of a bike, bus, car, plane, or even a modern powered sea vessel.

He did not have Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts, a smart phone (or even a dumb phone like mine), an umbrella, bottled water, or other amenities.

From Jerusalem to Illyricum (Albania and Yugoslavia), he traveled about 1400 miles. He mentions two geographical spots – why? I cannot help but think it is because he wants to challenge us with the extensive advance of the Gospel. From Jew to Gentile, from the Middle East to Europe; from a religious center to a pagan country; from big city to rural areas; from Hebrew culture to Greek and Latin influences, Paul advances the Gospel.

Go for it Paul!

Why are we not doing the same?

Paul sees the big picture [do we?]. Go into all the world. Nothing provincial or bigoted, just advance the Gospel to everyone. His statement at the beginning of Romans carries weight throughout the book: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek!

Contemplate the comprehensiveness of what he says, I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. We in our theological zeal call this the divine initiative tied in with human get-up-and-go.

Back to David Livingstone.

Whatever way my life can be spent best to promote [read, “advance”] the glory of our gracious God, I feel desirous to adopt it. I did not come to Africa to be suspended on the tail of anyone, and what is of infinitely more importance as a motive to immediate action; souls are perishing while I have no power (not knowing their language nor culture0 to point them to the Cross. I am convinced that the Gospel has lost none of its pristine efficacy.

Are you in forward mode . . . or backward mode? There is no middle of the road.

A thought from Paul Tripp . . . Come Let Us Adore Him

The Way, the Truth, and the Life was in the manger, causing angels to rejoice, Mary to wonder, shepherds to worship, and us to have hope.

The Christmas story shows that Hope of the universe comes in the Person of Christ. Hope is Who the angels sing about; Hope lies in the manger. Hope causes Mary to wonder in her heart. It is Hope the shepherds worship. Hope is presented with gifts from the Magi who had traveled so far, to meet a Hope like no other.

The Advent story is the story of Hope, it chronicles the coming to earth of the One who is our Hope, Jesus. For a people born in sin, and for a world damaged by sin, there simply could not be any other source of rescue. The inescapable condition of sin infects every single human being and has scarred every aspect of the cosmos, that cries out for one thing, and one thing alone: Divine intervention.

Our Hope has a Name; His Name is Jesus!

As Jesus traveled on this earth, He came to do God’s will. Being born. Confronting people with truth. Willingly dying (He came to die). Providing our salvation, if we but would simply respond to the Holy Spirit’s call.

On Wednesday, December 25th, many of us will celebrate Christmas with family and friends. It is a time of gift-giving. The absolute best gift anyone could receive this Christmas is salvation in Christ.

Paul got the message; have we?

He is not Here . . . He is Risen!

Vol. 3 No. 13 – 4-1-2018

He is not here; He is risen! –Luke 24:6

One of the great miracles in all of history affected a Gallic slave girl, Blandia, in the year 177 A.D. She was set to face torture and death unless she would repudiate her living Lord, Jesus Christ.

Angry church leaders murdered friends before her eyes; they heated her on a grid-iron. They threw her to wild beasts.

They finally impaled her on a stake! Religious leaders indeed!

Blandia firmly believed in the world’s greatest miracle; the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. She was “dead-set” in holding onto the most stupendous events ever to occur in our world.

Scripture tells us that one Friday afternoon, about 3:00 p.m., over 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross of torture, for death, and public display, and was buried before sunset. Historical records and the Scriptures prove that He left the tomb outside of Jerusalem on Sunday morning.

As I thought about this, there was a line of borrowing for Jesus. The Father sent Him to earth to be born of a virgin borrowed, He was born in a borrowed cave/stable, He was placed in a borrowed manger, and He was placed in a borrowed tomb at His death – but not for long. After three days He arose to live forever more, praise God!

We call this season Easter; in Old English it means “Springtime.”

Easter is the springtime both of nature and redemption. Some do not like the term, Easter; however, does mark the new beginning of life in old creation and the bright morning of our Christianity; when people are brought to light out of their darkness. Sadly, there are those even in the church that have never moved from their darkness to the light. The sit on their rusty dusties in the dark of the church searching for something, not knowing it is the LIGHT their souls are hungering for.

Three followers of Jesus look at the empty tomb on that Spring morning, and each sees the scene in their own way. Mary is first. One quick peek is enough. Too startled or emotionally upset, she does not give further evaluation.

John came running and glanced into the tomb. Peter comes running at the news the tomb is empty. Can you picture him; short, chunky, and hampered with a slow pace. The fisherman gives a rather critical examination, seeing stuff or the lack thereof, and comes up with a theory. Critical seeing is not always a “believing-seeing.” Praise God it changes.

The beloved John, that third member of the trio (Mary, Peter, and John) came into the empty tomb, venturing into the tomb (that seems bizarre, given what most people think of tombs). John comes away with an effective change. He came away having seen with his eyes, and the truth of what he saw moves deep into his heart; nothing would ever be the same. The seeing was full of comprehension and understanding.

For 20 centuries, Christians have been declaring that the Easter event is the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Christians lived and died believing that they, too, will someday be brought back from death in a real body.

This faith changed lives like Blandina. It changes lives today. It has changed my life completely. This faith made heroes in the past, and makes heroes for Christ today.

Millions of believers throughout history have chosen to die as martyrs rather than deny their faith. Read some of the history of believers in Foxes Book of Martyrs.

Where do you stand – is your stand sure-footed on the awesome miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?

Seen on an insurance agency sign in our small town:

What do you mean I have to go to church this Sunday?

We were just there on Christmas!

Wonder what it would have been like . . .

Vol.2 No. 52a 12-25-2017

  • Wonder what it would have been like to be present at the
    birth of Christ in Bethlehem?
  • To see Him in a lowly manger
  • To find the conditions that prevailed
  • To see if it looked like the Christmas cards we receive
    or, if the pictures in our story books have validity
  • To see the expressions on the faces of Mary and Joseph
  • To hear the first words of how this birth would change
    the history of the world
  • To hear about the gift of God for all humankind
  • To hear what people understood about the birth of Jesus
  • To observe the normal people surrounding the birth
  • To see Mary’s confidence of what God was providing through the birth of His Son
  • To grasp the wickedness of Herod as the child grew
  • To observe the Magi who later came to worship the newborn King
  • To have seen the tail end of the awesome guiding star
  • To hear the distant angels sing
  • To hear the excitement of the shepherds
  • What were the thoughts of these people really like?

When the Magi finally arrived, they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They bowed in worship. Their gifts were fitting for the events to come. Gold for the family needs as they were to go into Egypt. Frankincense and myrrh for the burial spices needed following Christ’s crucifixion—Jesus was born to die for the salvation of those who would come to Him.

The Magi, following their visit, had been instructed to return to Herod. Herod wanted to kill the Christ child. That is the way of political elites who are distrustful of people taking their positions. However, the Magi, perhaps arriving from the school of Daniel in Babylon (not exactly the orient), knew to avoid returning to Herod. They were instructed through a dream/vision to return on another path.

But then, it is the expectation of God that one who comes to Him changes direction; changes their path of life.

We live in a time when people attend church for the cultural norm, not to really worship. It is about them, not Christ. It is about the holiday (Happy Holidays! — not Merry Christmas!). Worship is only considered if it does not disrupt the holiday plans of families. Wow! Political correctness has led people down the wrong path, to stay on the same road. Not be a part of a forever change.

Believers have to be intentional about their worship—plan the important times for their families. What do we teach our families when we cannot take time for worship due to Christmas eve or Christmas falling on the weekend, or on the Monday following Sunday, Christmas eve? Some churches rearrange their schedules to accommodate “family time.” But they open their doors a week later to make sure the church is open for the many who have spent their New Year’s Eve drinking and making merry. What a contrast we witness in today’s church!

• Churches send notices to their members to “catch up on their giving” – wonder how the early believers got their notices
• Churches redecorate their churches to “catch” the younger crowd or the unchurched. They put bright flashing lights up and paint the “stage” dark, even black. Strange churches would do this if their goal was to draw unbelievers to the light; that is what the Scriptures intend – to draw people to the light
• Churches replace worship to the glorious God with theatre to make unbelievers comfortable, to have a venue like the concerts the young people attend, cranking up the sound/volume so it will be just like the places the millennials and unchurched attend, and then to provide musicians and vocalists that call attention to themselves
• Wonder what rock group played at the birth of Jesus
• Strange what we call worship today, we have made worship about ourselves instead of toward Almighty God

The baby in the manger came as a conquering King to dethrone us and then to enthrone Himself in our hearts and lives forever and ever.

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