Monday, December 27, 2010

The Birth of Jesus part 4

Matthew 2:12-23
 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.  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. 

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 enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy 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.

 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 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.
But having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way. This warning by God leads you to believe that He was directly communicating with these men, and that their role in this circumstance was by divine design. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph also in a dream, giving him a warning from God. This news was not of joy or hope but of danger requiring immediate action. Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.  We do not know the length of time the family stayed in Egypt only that they were there. It is likely their stay in Egypt lasted not more that a few months awaiting the death of Herod. The primary reason for the family’s going to Egypt is told through the prophet Hosea that scripture might be fulfilled saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son”( Hosea 11:1).

History teaches us that Herod was a cruel and merciless man. He was extremely jealous, suspicious, and afraid of loosing his position and power. Fearing this possible threat, he had the high priest, who was his wife’s brother drowned. He then had his wife killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death (about a year after the birth of Jesus) he had a third son executed. One great evidence of his severe cruelty was having the most  prominent citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. He ordered all male children under the age of two years old to be murdered in Bethlehem and in the surrounding areas in hopes of killing any threat to the throne.
Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for those who sought the Child’s life are dead. After leaving Egypt, Joseph was fearful to take Mary and Jesus back to Bethlehem hearing that Archelaus, Herod’s son, was now ruler in Judaea. Archelaus was a harsh ruler as was his father and so being warned in a dream, he journeyed to Nazareth that it might be be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
Nazareth was an lowly little town 70 miles outside Jerusalem to the north. It was a place of humble importance and nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament. Some have said that Matthew is using “Nazarene” as a synonym for someone who is despised or loathsome--for that was how people were often characterized from that region. (John 1:46) And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (Isaiah 53:3) He 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.
Thought: We must keep in mind that God is bigger than any plan that Satan may have or had to destroy Jesus. He is the sovereign of this universe and His promises are definite and trustworthy. God promised that the Christ Child would come, be born, pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross, raise from the grave, and ascend into Heaven. He fulfilled every prophecy; Oh, praise His Holy name. May you have a very Merry Christmas and be mindful that Christ is the focus and reason for this most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Birth of Jesus part 3

Matthew 2:1-11

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.  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Bethlehem, a small village five or six miles south of Jerusalem was clearly expected by Hebrew scholars to be the birthplace of the Messiah. The little town was cradled between two ridges located along the main ancient highway from Jerusalem to Egypt. Bethlehem meaning “house of bread” would give meaning to the name declared in John 6:33-35: For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 

Wise men from the East came to worship Him who is called, “King of the Jews.” They were not kings, but magi, astrologers and possibly scholars from Persia whose knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures could be traced back to the time of Daniel. The exact number is not given but is thought to be three from the traditional idea that there were three gifts they brought to give to the Child. We are not told how God caused the magi to know that the King of the Jews had been born, only that He gave them the sign of His star in the east.
The star, His star, was not a supernova (a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of it mass) as some suggest, but because of the way the star moved and settled over one place it was more likely a supernatural physical existence similar to the Shekinah ( glory of the Lord) that guided the Israelites in the days of Moses (Ex. 13:21).
Herod asked the wise men or magi to search for the Child diligently and when they had found Him, bring back news of where He was so he too, could come and worship Him. Herod, in truth, didn’t want to worship Jesus but actually wanted to kill the Child whom he saw as a potential threat to his throne. 
By the time the wise men had arrived, Mary and Joseph were now living in a house not a stable. Matthew makes it known that the magi fell down and worshipped Him and not Mary giving Him treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
Gold throughout history has always been considered the most precious of metals and the common symbol of material value and wealth. Matthew undoubtedly presents Christ as King and here in this account He is appropriately being presented with royal gifts of gold.
Frankincense was a costly, magnificent smelling incense that was used only for the most special of occasions. It was used in certain royal processions and sometimes at weddings and also used in the grain offerings at the Tabernacle and Temple.

Myrrh was a perfume, not quite so expensive as frankincense but yet very valuable. Myrrh was mixed with other spices and used in preparation of bodies for burial, even Jesus’ body (John 19:39).
Thought:  It amazes me that our God in His immense greatness and matchless wisdom would orchestrate such a design of life changing events for the world to behold and embrace. To imagine a star moving in the heavens, guiding men from a far off country to follow this phenomenon, then falling down and worshiping the Child, while presenting Him with costly gifts fit for a King. Satan’s plan was to destroy the baby Jesus using Herod ‘s fear of potential threat to his throne but God through His prophets had foretold hundreds of years before of the miraculous birth of Christ and  none can stay His hand  (Daniel 4:35). God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19) The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: (Isaiah 14:24).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Birth of Jesus part 2

Matthew 1:20-25

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 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. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

There are only a few angelic visitations in the New Testament, most of which are associated with Christ’s birth. When the angel appeared to Joseph he told him not to fear what was happening to Mary and gave him instruction that the Child’s name would be called, “JESUS.” The name Jesus, actually means “Saviour” coming from the Hebrew name Joshua (Jehovah is Salvation). In the days of Mary and Joseph, there were no special machines to tell a child’s gender only the miraculous working of God through an angel could bring such remarkable news.
Many, so called Bible scholars, have tried to dispute whether the Hebrew term in Isaiah 7:14 actually means “virgin”  or maiden, I would like to assure you, it does mean “virgin.” The supernatural birth of Jesus is the only way to account for the life that He lived here on earth before sinful men. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Immanuel means “GOD WITH US” which describes who He is and distinguishes Him above all others. 
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.  The word “know or knew” is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, a mild or indirect expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt. Joseph did not have a sexual relationship with his wife before the Christ Child was born which reinforces the truth of Jesus’ divine conception.

Thought:  Philippians 2:9-11 says: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Our Lord has a name, that name is Jesus, in which one day all will bow their knee and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God. The Word of God promised that the Son of God would come to dwell with man in human flesh and live a life of supernatural power as our Saviour and coming King. During this special time of year, remember Him for whom this holiday is set aside for and that His name, “IMMANUEL” undoubtedly means, “GOD WITH US.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Birth of Jesus

Matthew 1:16,18-23

 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  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.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 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.

Genealogies were very important to the Jews, for without them they could not prove what tribe they were members of or their rights to inheritances. As we read Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ, we see that he, Matthew, did not write, “and Joseph begat Jesus.” Matthew gave our Lord’s lineage through His foster father, Joseph, and Luke gave Mary’s lineage which was like Joseph, of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (Romans 1:3). The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne (Psalm 132:11).

Joseph being espoused to Mary was a binding marriage and could only be terminated by divorce. Though the betrothal couple were regarded legally as husband and wife, the physical union had not yet taken place. Stoning was the legal prescription for adultery (see Deut. 22:23-24).  Joseph being a “just man” a man that was a true believer in God had every right according to the law to stone her or put her away by a legal divorce. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20).
What a good and faithful husband Joseph was to Mary. He had every right to put her away but listened to the angel which came to him in a dream. I am sure no one ever looked at Mary and Joseph the same after they knew of her conception. Even though prophecy was being fulfilled, there were those who would never believe that Mary had done things right. True faith trusts in God even when things appear very perplexing and troublesome.
Thought: Mary was highly favored of the Lord and relied on Him when life seemed extremely trying and difficult. Though we have not been chosen to carry the Christ Child, we can be confident that His purpose for our life is worthy of our giving thanks and knowing in His sovereignty all things concerning us work together for our good. May we center our attention on the person of Christ and not on the difficulty of the situation. We thank God Mary’s heart was centered on obeying the Lord and by faith she trusted Him with the prophecies foretold long ago. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Will Hear...

I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: Psalm 85:8

The soul that hears the Lord speaking within and receives the words of comfort from His lips is truly blessed. Ears that hear the divine whispers of God and pays no attention to the complaints of this world is favored. When our ears listen to the voice of God and dismiss the voices from without, we are more inclined to hear what truth teaches. To have our eyes closed to exterior things and matters of this world and have our eyes fixed upon Christ, brings true contentment. 
The Lord encourages us to listen to His Word and His heart when He says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid John 14:27. “What are all temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator? Leave all these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.” Quote by THOMAS À KEMPIS in Imitation of Christ.

The Lord gives understanding to the hearer and His Words are strength and life to those that listen. We are to write the Words of God on our heart and meditate on them earnestly for temptation will come and we will need strength to overcome. We are to walk before the Lord in truth that we may be defended against the attacks of evil.
Thought: Is God speaking to your heart? Are you listening and attentive to hear what the Lord is saying? Have you come to Him asking for knowledge and wisdom to live your life on His behalf?  Have you heard His voice in the still of the night speaking to you of things eternal or do the clamorous voices of this world drown out His sweet voice?
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Psalm 143:8

I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”
“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thy Will Be Done

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Matthew 6:9-10
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Our Lord instructed His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 on prayer and gave them an example to follow so they could experience true communion with God. Christ, through His teachings, instructed the disciples with the truths that prayer works and we need to involve ourselves in the power and practice of intercession and devotion to Him.
Have you ever asked yourself, “If God is in control and everything is working according to His plan, why do we need to pray? Does He have to answer our prayers? Can we change God’s mind when we pray?” These are paradoxical statements or questions, an enigma which is identified as: a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or even difficult to understand. This shows God’s mind is infinitely beyond our human understanding or knowledge. To assure you of any doubt, there are no contradictions at all in our majestic God. He is beyond finding out! Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (Job 9:10) If God allows mind bogglers, then we can too.
Prayer must come from a truly committed heart and an acknowledgement that prayer does change things, mainly us. Whenever we pray we are to pray in accordance to God’s will. In other words, “God, You do what You want and think is best for me.” Our Lord told those that followed Him after the feeding of the five thousand, For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me John 6:38 “The immediate purpose of prayer is the accomplishment of God’s will on earth; the ultimate purpose of prayer is the eternal glory of God.” Quote by Warren W. Wiersbe. This is why Robert Law wrote, “Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven but for getting God’s will done on earth.”
Occasionally there are people who are fearful of God’s will for their life and the thought of surrendering their will to His is overwhelming and at times terrifying. These dear people are sure that if they were to yield to the will of God, they would suffer painful, perilous times in some distant and dangerous place. They see themselves wasting away in loneliness while being miserable in their existence. Is this what God truly wants for them? I think not. Look at Psalm 33:11. The counsel (plan) of the LORD standeth (endures, stands firm) for ever, the thoughts (intentions) of his heart to all generations. They must understand that the plan or will of God for His children comes from an expression of His heart. What does I  John 4:18 say? There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. The will of God is a pure, holy, unchangeable love, God works in our lives to bring about His highest goal, glorifying Him.
Thought: Our prayer should be that God, by His grace, would make us able and willing to know and obey His will in full submission being mindful, that God  designs His will from His heart.

Friday, October 1, 2010

With Strength In My Song

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. Psalm 28:7 With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. Job 12:13

When my strength is all gone and there‘s nothing else I can do, 
God promises to give me a strength renewed. 

When life seems so unbearable and there’s no end in sight, 
God is there, I can trust Him, to give courage all through the night.

How long, O, Lord, will this trial I need to bear?
 Can I take refuse in Your
wisdom and in knowing You are there?

With strength and with hope I know You will see me through,
For You are my shield, my Rock, my help, my song of rejoicing, too.
Dianna Moffitt Carroll
(Written for a dear friend whose husband is battling cancer)

What do you do when your strength is all gone and you feel like you just can’t keep going on? Have you looked for other things to comfort your soul and found that they are   empty, meaningless and futile?  Has food or drink or any other idol stolen your heart from God? Where will you find strength to carry on? 
Luther Bridges, in his twenty-sixth year of life and full of promises and dreams, went to visit his wives’ family in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He left his wife and three young boys with her family and went on a preaching trip.  In the middle of the night, a nearby neighbor, unable to sleep, went to his window and saw Luther’s in-law’s house engulfed in flames. The neighbor sounded the alarm but the house was too far gone to help. The parents were able to escape but Luther’s wife and three young boys perished in the fire.
When Luther arrived home his heart lost all hope and with little strength to carry on he suffered overwhelming thoughts of suicide and depression. What do you do when all hope is gone and your strength is consumed by grief? Luther found hope and strength in the Word of God and in the scripture that reads, “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search” Psalm 77:6.

God did give strength in the night to Luther Bridges and several months later, he wrote the music and words to the song, “He Keeps Me Singing.” God’s ability to heal the heart of man after such great tragedy is amazing and inspiring.
Though times He lead through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing, Keeps me singing as I go.
Luther B. Bridges

Thought:  Where do you run when your strength is all gone? I pray you run to the One who can give you strength and “a song in the night.” Allow God to do the extraordinary, incredible, and unbelievable in your life, bringing new strength and a wondrous song from the heart.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Father, Forgive Them

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

September 11, 2001, will exist in the hearts and minds of our nation as a day of momentous, catastrophic tragedy that we experienced on American soil. May we pay tribute to those that lost their lives on this unforgettable, historic day and to the loved ones left behind. There is however, another day in history we would like to make mention of, December 7, 1941. 
Early the morning, of December 7, 1941, the roar of engines echoed in the ears of Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force. As a child, he had always dreamed of becoming a “mighty samurai warrior.” Though Japan no longer had professional samurai soldiers, his dream of becoming a hero would soon unfold. At the age of 21, he graduated from the  military academy as Japan’s top pilot. The country of Japan was on it’s way to ruling most of the Asian Empire except for one giant enemy, America.
The mission that morning on December 7, was to surprise and destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet on the sleepy islands of Hawaii. While looking through binoculars, Mitsuo Fuchida and 179  fighter planes behind him, saw the magnificent American ships docked at Pearl Harbor. At 7:49 AM, Mitsuo Fuchida cried, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” into his microphone.  The Japanese warriors began to attack the mighty fleet of American ships and in less than two hours over 3,077 American Navy personnel lost their lives or were missing and 150 planes were destroyed. Out of the eight battleships docked at Pearl Harbor, only three were able to be repaired. What great victory Japan saw that day but the sleeping giant would awaken and take revenge. 
In the next four years, Mitsuo Fuchida would have two narrow escapes. While in the North Pacific Ocean, he had emergency surgery for appendicitis.  The doctor ordered him to stay in the hospital and rest but being the warrior he was, he did not obey the doctor and walked out of the ship’s hospital to the top deck. To his dismay, the Battle of Midway was unfolding and just when he thought they would win the battle a new round of enemy planes closed in. Within seconds, the enemy planes blew a hole in the side of the ship and all that were in the hospital lost their lives from the blast. 
On August 5, 1945,  a few years later, Mitsuo would leave the city of Hiroshima for another military base attending a week long military conference. Several hours after his departure, America dropped the atomic bomb on this great city sparing his life again. When the war was over and Japan was defeated, Mitsuo was devastated.  Bitterness and hatred had filled his heart and this great warrior had no recourse but to take up farming to make a living.
One day while Mituso was walking through a noisy train station, an American missionary handed him a tract that read, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan.” This pamphlet told of an American named Jake DeShazer, who in revenge of what had happened at Pearl Harbor, had participated in an attack on the city of Tokyo. He was captured in battle and put into a Japanese prisoner of war camp where he was brutally mistreated. He began to hate everything and everyone Japanese until one day, after two years of captivity, he was given a Bible. How had Jake gone from hating the Japanese to coming to Japan as a missionary? As Jake read the Bible he realized that Jesus Christ was his only hope and accepted Him as his personal Savior. To Mitsuo Fuchida, Jesus was a Western god but because of Jake’s story he wanted to know more. 
A few days later at the train station a Japanese man was handing out books. He was overtaken by the words of this man when he cried, “Get your Bible, --food for the soul!”  Mitsuo reached out and took a Bible. The words of our Lord struck his heart when he read, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  He realized that Jesus had died so he could be forgiven and on that day he became a new person in Christ. Mitsuo had become friends with the Japanese man at the train station and he encouraged him to give his testimony at a faith rally they were having.
Mitsuo consented to give his testimony that night at the rally and five hundred Japanese people accepted Christ as their personal Savior. He continued to share what God had done for him but still something was missing. He needed to have peace and that would come when he visited the man named Jake DeShazer. He certainly was a little fearful to enter his home and tell him who he was, the one that lead the attack on Pearl Harbor. With open arms and a forgiving heart, Jake DeShazer welcomed Mitsuo Fuchida into his home. Once bitter enemies, now embracing each other as brothers in Christ’s love.
Thought: Mituso Fushida would give anything to erase the memory of his past in leading the  attack of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force against the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor but he cannot. His battle now is to fight against to great giants, hatred and bitterness and help others to fight against these enemies too. Are you fighting against forgiving someone for what they have done to you? Are you bitter and hateful against them? Forgive, my friend, that’s what Jesus would do and what He commands us to do as we love them with His love. Forgive them, as He has forgiven you.
Story found in Glimpses for Kids.

Friday, September 17, 2010

God's Reproof

Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Wisdom is crying in the streets and she calls for the simple, the foolish, and  scoffers to stop, take heed, and listen. Proverbs 1:20-22 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
 She tells them that if they will fear the Lord and be mindful of counsel, they will not be destroyed when destruction like a whirlwind comes upon them. How long will they seek simplicity, the foolish things of this world, and mock the knowledge of God? Do they not know, can they not see, that this is God speaking to them?
There are three types of people, in the streets of the city, that Wisdom is crying out to. The simple, those sinners that are fond of their simple notions of good and evil yet, their reasoning is against God. They are intolerant to the ways of God and express admiration for themselves in their wickedness. Scoffers, are proud, but jovial people, that pleasure themselves in ridiculing the things of God and the people of God. They find it amusing to tear down everything sacred and serious to the point of mockery and sarcasm. The last person in the street which Wisdom is crying out to, is the fool. The worst of the three are the “foolish” for they despise to be taught the fear of the Lord and are adverse to those that are godly. They will not hear reproof or counsel and hate the knowledge of God.
Thought: What lies ahead for those that mock God and resist the reproof and counsel of the Lord? Will their lives be filled with adversity and tribulation? The answer is made evident in Scripture, they will suffer distress, pain, agony, torment, heartache, heartbreak, misery, sorrow, grief, unhappiness, desolation, despair and anguish.  Then, God will laugh at their calamity and they will be forced to eat the fruit of their own ways and be filled with their own insidious schemes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Love of God

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:35,37-39

The Love of God
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
words by 
Frederick Martin Lehman
When I think of my own life and my desperate need of love I recall in my mind the day of my salvation. My life was filled with sin and I was in fear of self-destruction and ruin. My last hope was to go to church and see if there be any possibility of escape from this path of destruction. As I entered the building, I felt strangely welcomed, almost as if they knew me, but they didn’t. 
I listened intently to the pastor of the church as he began to unfold before the congregation my life, my sin, my despair, or so it seemed. How did he know what my life was like? How could he have guessed my great despair? Who told him of my sin? All of these questions overwhelmed my mind, as I sat with my heart broken, in my sin, in need of a Savior. The invitation was given to receive Christ but I held fast to the pew, restraining the drawing of the Holy Spirit of God.
Then, an overpowering love conquered all my fears, and a hand touched my shoulder. I turned to see who was summoning me.  A voice behind me said, “Don’t leave without Christ.” Immediately, I excused myself from the middle of the pew and walked to the front of the church. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the moment I stepped out of my place, I was saying, “Yes,” to Christ. What an outpouring of love and joy filled my heart that day as I had never in my life experienced before. 
Could this be the beginning of the greatest love affair ever to be proclaimed? What   had happened to me, that this immense love had overtaken me? Could it be that I had been visited by the True and Living God and had been set free from the bondage and oppression of sin?  Oh, yes, His great love had filled my soul and through His immense sacrifice, cleansed every sin and stain. True repentance had taken place that glorious day and this poor sinner had undoubtably been, “Born again.”

Thought: Could man ever write with proficiency the depth and magnitude of God’s great love and then bestow upon Him, His due reward? What boundless, matchless, love He has showered upon us. This love so exceptional and vast that He left the splendor of Heaven to suffer and die for us. A love so limitless He gave all, all He, Himself could give, His own life’s blood. A love so perfect and incomparable, that it has surpassed any expectation in His magnificent power, to love sinners. How could we not love Him, He, who in His great love for us, spared nothing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

From Prison to His Presence

1 Corinthians 6:20
 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 7:23
 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

A young woman named Perpetua stood firm in her faith in the year AD 203 in Carthage, North Africa. Because she kept a diary, we know much about her. This short account is based on her diary. (Kids of Courage)
Perpetua and Felicitas, the servant to Perpetua, boldly faced death rather than deny Christ. All they had to do to get out of prison was to offer a small sacrifice of incense to the pagan gods. Just a pinch of incense to honor the emperor Septimus and they would walk free. Perpetua’s father insisted that something this small should be easy for her to do. Why was she being so stubborn?
"Father,” she said, “Do you see this pitcher?" She asked as she pointed to the water pitcher on the table. "I see it," he replied. "Can it become a dog?" "Of course not!" he exclaimed, looking at her as if being arrested had scrambled her brains. "It is a pitcher!" "You're right. It cannot become something it is not, and it is ridiculous for someone to call it something else. So, Father, she said, “ I am a Christian and cannot be called anything other than what I am. A Christian." Once again, her convictions just didn't make sense to him and he left the prison confused and in despair.
Pepetua was willing to give up everything, even her life to stand for Christ. As she sank down to the hard stone floor, deep anguish pierced her heart. She asked her self, “How could I cause so much pain to my dear father? I only wanted to love and serve the Lord from a pure heart.” The Roman official, Hilarion, was viewing her case, as her father returned to the prison begging her to abandon her Christian beliefs. "If you won't do it for me, then consider your infant son! Surely you don't intend to leave him behind for the sake of this new god you have found."
Finally, the sentence was handed down. Perpetua and Felicitas were condemned to the arena where wild beasts were set in place to kill and destroy. They would be called upon to give their lives for Jesus, just as He had given His life for them. They knew He would strengthen them for what they must do.
The other Christians were also sentenced to death and in their final days together, they prayed, sang and encouraged one another. They rejoiced knowing that their struggle would soon be over and they would be together in the presence of the Savior!

When the believers entered the arena, their faces reflected great joy! They had finally begun their journey from the dark prison walls of death and doom to the light of God's presence.
A mad cow was set loose in the arena upon Perpetua and Felicitas. Perpetua was thrown to the ground first and then the cow charged toward Felicitas. Though her gown was torn, Perpetua was not hurt. She covered herself with her torn garment and pinned her hair back up as it seemed she wanted to look her best to meet her Savior. The two friends embraced, awaiting the end.
The cries from the crowd began to increase and demanded to see their death. As Perpetua looked into the eyes of the gladiator who was to take her life, his hands trembled so badly he could barely hold his sword. Perpetua reached out and slowly guided the sword for him. As she whispered the name of our Savior, she left this world and entered into the everlasting presence of God.
Thought: Would you be willing to give your all? Is all you have, all you cherish and all you dream about, more important than Christ? Would giving your all for Him bring despair to your heart and mind or would the anticipation of being in His presence bring unspeakable joy? It is hard to place yourself in this situation because there are no arenas with wild animals to devour Christians but, there is a world that wants to bring shame and reproach upon the name of Christ. So, Christian, will you stand for Christ no matter the cost?  Will you stand for the One who gave His all, despite the cost, with the thought of you on His mind? 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thy Kingdom Come

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 

Just three simple words, “Thy kingdom come,” but what an incredible statement   we must approach as something so vast. It was a sad day when the elders of the  nation of Israel fired the godly prophet and prayer warrior Samuel and asked God for a king to lead them in I Samuel 8:5. Since the days of Abraham, they had the true and living God as their King and now, they wanted to replace Jehovah with a feeble, imperfect, human king.

Through the seed of David, the temple of God would be built as promised by God through His prophet, Samuel and God would establish His kingdom forever according to 2 Samuel 7:12-13. Though David was not privileged to build the temple himself, he was promised that his seed, Solomon, would build the temple and through this seed the King of Kings would come.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of a promise given of this coming King, upon whose shoulders the government would stand and His name shall be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6. 

The word Wonderful means: marvelous, magnificent, great, tremendous, superb.  Counselor, conveys that He is our advisor, guide, mentor, model, specialist, and example. Mighty God, speaks of His strength, immensity, exceeding and extreme power on which we can stand knowing, The everlasting Father, reveals His endless, never-ending, undying, enduring, infinite, boundless, timeless and forever incessant existence. Last but not least, He is called, The Prince of Peace, declaring He is the Ruler and Sovereign King which engenders tranquility, restfulness, solitude, serenity, calm and true harmony in our hearts and minds.
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are truly praying, “Christ’s reign, here and now.” The word “kingdom” means “rule” or “reign.” So, when you read “Thy kingdom come,” you are reading, “Thy rule or reign come.” His kingdom is the rule and reign of Christ and that is what we are praying for.  To pray, “Thy kingdom come,” is to pray that He may reside and reign in the hearts and lives of those who are resistant and disobedient to God. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:14,15) This is a prayer for salvation for people to repent and let the rule and reign of Christ in their hearts.
The kingdom of God comes also by our commitment to Christ. Look at Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. As we give ourselves over to the attributes of Christ through the Holy Spirit of God and what He wants to produce in our lives, we are asking for Christ’s reign in our hearts and lives to be made known for others to see.
One day our Lord will come for us in the clouds and we will rise to meet Him there in the air.  At His second coming, (which is different from the Rapture) He will complete the victory and we will rule and reign with Him, the Lord God Almighty, for a thousand years (Revelation 1:6; 20:6). The prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” will then be answered fully.
Thought: What gives us the right to pray, “Thy kingdom come?” How is it that we  are entitled to pray this prayer? Prayer is allowed, entitled, permitted and made possible by changing our citizenship. How does one change his citizenship? By faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. This glorious day is coming when we will see Him face to face. I pray that you are allowing the Lord Jesus to rule and reign in your hearts that you can give voice along with the host of the redeemed, Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20b).