Saturday, December 24, 2022

December 24, 2022

People dismiss their dreams. I’m not talking about goals, but the visions in the night while you are resting. Not all dreams are messages, some happen because we ate pizza or tacos and are random, but others contain vital clues that can help us determine the right direction to go or give us a heads-up about a situation. If you ever find yourself saying, “I had a weird dream last night,” there is probably something in that dream that needs your attention. Imagine if Joseph had dismissed his dream where the angel of the Lord came to warn him to flee to Egypt with Jesus and Mary. Where would we be right now if Herod had gotten his way and killed our King, the Savior of the world? Can you even imagine a world without Jesus? People think they can live without him, but they are affected by Christianity no matter what they do. Charities, hospitals, colleges, and many other institutions came about because of Christianity. You can’t even open an interior door without noticing the crosses designed into them. It’s no wonder the demons are all stirred up; they can’t get away from Jesus; he is everywhere! When God gives you a warning, you need to act on it as Joseph did. He picked up his family and moved, then stayed until it was safe. Listen to the warnings God gives you and act upon them if necessary.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. Matthew 2:13-15a

Friday, December 23, 2022

December 23, 2022

For years, my daughters and I had traditionally gone to see the Nutcracker ballet at the posh Performing Arts Theater in Tampa. We got away from doing that because, as usual, they grew up and had their own families. Still, we tried to accommodate that tradition when we could. I didn't even propose the idea this year, but one of them found tickets to a concert by a string quartet who performed the Nutcracker music plus other notable classical pieces, and she insisted that we keep up with our tradition. It was in the Ybor City area of Tampa, so I wasn't expecting much, similar to going to an off-Broadway show. Well, all I can say is we were overwhelmed to tears by the music's beauty and the soloist's robust voice. It was one of the best concert performances we have ever attended. It was an utterly heavenly experience.

It reminds me of the humble beginnings of our Savior, whom most believed would be born in a palace adorned with robes and attended by many servants. However, he was born in a stable and laid in a manger to show that he was accessible to all, not just to the elite. The girls and I dressed in our holiday best because that's how we are, but others dressed in shabby attire which reminded me that the concert was accessible to all, just like our Savior. Jesus is the picture of beauty wrapped in humble garb, and all are invited to come to him. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

Thursday, December 22, 2022

December 22, 2022

Every year, about this time, my father-in-law, who had shopped only a few days earlier with my daughter, would have her over to wrap the presents he bought. He loved Christmas but always waited until the last minute to prepare. To honor him, we will gather the entire family one more time on Christmas morning as a tribute to him, so we went out and bought gifts just like he would have us do in the past. So yesterday, which seems last-minute, we spent several hours wrapping all the gifts.

Some of the things we do are rooted in traditions from the past, even though we may do them without knowing exactly how they started. I’m guessing someone, many years ago, decided that giving presents as a celebration of the birth of Christ was a good idea because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus; at least, that’s what I keep telling myself because I like giving gifts. Whatever we do, we must honor God and worship him because without him being a part of our celebration, it becomes worthless and time-wasting. Make it a tradition to glorify God and praise him as the shepherds did on the night of Jesus’s birth. 

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

December 21, 2022

We have foolishly fallen for the notion that there were three wise men, but the Bible doesn’t specify. That number is arbitrary and was assigned by the Roman Catholic Church. We have also been falsely led to believe that they visited him in the stable, as depicted in the nativity displays. Another lie is that they were kings; the Bible doesn’t say that either. These observations further make my point that we need to read our Bibles carefully and not read into it what is not there. 

My question today was: How did these gentile wise men know that the star indicated that a king had been born for Judah? After a bit of reading, I discovered that it could be because the star had suddenly appeared over that country, and that’s how the wise men knew that a king for Judah had been born. They first went to Jerusalem and inquired of King Herod, who probably got all in a tizzy thinking he was about to be replaced. He asked them to report back to him when they found the newborn King, but they were warned in a dream not to return to him. They followed the star that led them to Jesus. When I look at the stars while riding in the car, it seems like they are following me, so I assume this star was lower in the sky and moved, giving them a beacon to follow. It had to be moving because the Bible says it came to rest. The point is to be careful what you believe and study your Bible because it is the ultimate truth.

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Matthew 2:9-10

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

December 20, 2022

As Christ-followers are exalting our God and Savior for his gift and his sacrifice for us, much of the news of the day shows the utter contempt our government has for its people, especially Christians, but we know that God is in control and he will be the one who administers pure justice. In the whole scheme of things, what we see is petty and will make no difference in our salvation. However, those caught in treasonous activity will have much to account for. We cannot ignore what is going on, but we can continue to worship our Savior, who left Heaven to participate in the human experience and to give us a worthy sacrifice to cover our sins. Though Christmas may not be the actual season that Jesus was born, it is exceptional that the entire world, Christian or not, worships him together for nearly a month. Keep this season holy; our Savior deserves nothing less.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:9-10

Monday, December 19, 2022

December 19

My niece gave birth to a handsome baby boy yesterday. She was in a sterile hospital environment with people around her caring for her every need. I’m sure her new baby will be brought up to love Jesus and become his follower as he grows in knowledge. Can you imagine Jesus, our Savior, and King over all the earth, being born in a stable and placed in a feed trough as a cradle? It’s unfathomable. However, it was part of God’s plan to make him relatable to everyone, rich or poor. He may have been born in a stable, but his reception was beyond what any other human on earth has ever seen; an angel and a multitude of heavenly hosts announced his arrival. I’ll bet they lit up the sky with their presence. You know his birth was the talk of the town. The shepherds witnessed the miracle that we still talk about today. They were the instrument God used to spread the word in those days. Little did they know that Jesus would call himself the shepherd and his people the sheep of his pasture. It’s amazing how God orchestrates everything, giving detail to even the most mundane, everyday occurrences. 

If you feel insignificant and unseen, here is a reason to change your mind: Did you know that heaven lights up with rejoicing when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior? Probably the same heavenly host who announced Jesus’s arrival on earth praises God that you turned your life over to him. We are indeed a blessed people.

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7

Sunday, December 18, 2022

December 18, 2022

“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;” Luke 1:51-52

Mary was blessed. Not only was she chosen by God to carry our Savior, but she spoke prophetically about his future. I’ve not heard anyone mention that she was prophetic, but remember the wedding at Cana when they ran out of wine? 

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 1:3-5

Wasn’t that a bit prophetic? She knew her son would help her in this touchy situation. 

Mary’s whole song in Luke had a dual purpose, remembering what God had done in the past and praising him for it, but also a projection of what is to come through Jesus, our Savior. Catholics may honor Mary by exalting her, but Protestants, seeming to go in the opposite direction, may not give her enough credit for her contribution. So today, I thought it would be fitting to honor Mary, not only as the chosen one to carry our Savior in her womb but also as a prophetess whose words, at least some of them, are still waiting to be fulfilled.