As you think about the New Year, how many of you have set a fitness goal? Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or get in shape to run a 5K race. I think those are worthy goals and I want to encourage you to stick with it even when the going gets tough.
But even more important than that .. I would like for us as a congregation to get inspired about studying God’s Word .. For as the Apostle Paul tells us “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (I Timothy 4: 8)
It’s not going to make much difference if you can run a 4 hour Marathon if you miss heaven. You may be an expert on nutritional supplements, body building and healthy eating, but if you don’t know what’s in the Bible your knowledge is lacking.
I recently ran across a fun little quiz I though some of your Bible scholars might enjoy. (I only got one of them right so don’t feel bad if you don’t get the answers). The answers are at the bottom of the page.
I know these are really corny, but maybe you can use them to annoy your family or co-workers.
My point is I hope you will make a resolution this year to really get into God’s Word. We have some Bible reading schedules on our information table that will help you read through the Bible in a year. (If you e-mail us we will send you a copy) Another option might be to read THE STORY, which is sort of a “cliff-notes version” that gives you the important themes of the Bible in 30 readable chapters. We also have some copies of this available for sale or you can purchase them at any bookstore.
Nothing will change your life more than a steady diet of God’s Word.
Have a great week!
Santa Clause is really a quite remarkable fellow. He has almost universal appeal and recognition around the world. He’s known as Sinterklaas, Pere Noel, Hoteiosho, Sonnerklause, Father Christmas and to most of the English speaking world as Santa Claus.
I decided to check up a little bit on the background of this living legend and I found that his original name was Nicolas. (*Most of this information about Saint Nicholas comes from Max Lucado, “A Christmas Candle” devotional.)
He was not born at the North Pole but in what is now modern day Turkey about A.D. 280. He was orphaned at age 9 when his parents died of a plague.
You might have thought Santa majored in toy-making and advertising when he was in college, but actually he studied Greek philosophy and doctrine. In the early 4th century he was named Bishop of Myra and held the post until his death in 343 A.D.
History recognizes him as a saint, but in the third century he was a troublemaker. He was twice thrown in jail; once by the Emporer Diocletian for religious reasons, and another time for slugging a fellow bishop during a fiery debate. (SO MUCH FOR WHOSE BEEN NAUGHTY AND WHO’S BEEN NICE.)
But old Nick is best known for the kindness he showed to a neighbor who was unable to support three daughters or provide a dowry so they could get married. Old Saint Nicolas slipped up to the house by night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the window so the eldest daughter could afford to get married. Later, he did the same for the other two daughters.
That story, added to down thru the years, became the Santa legend. The gift grew from a handful of coins to a bag of coins. Instead of dropping them through a window, he dropped them down the chimney. And rather than landing on the floor, the bags of coins landed in the girl’s stockings which were hung on the hearth to dry.
The original Nicolas, as Bishop of Myra, wore ecclesiastical robes and a mitered hat. He is known to have been slim, with a dark beard and serious personality. By 1300 he was wearing a white beard. By the 1800’s he was depicted with a rotund belly and an ever-present basket of food over his arm. Soon came the black boots, a red cape, and a cherry stocking on his head. In 1866 he was small and gnomish, but by 1930 he was a robust 6 footer with rosy cheeks and a Coca-Cola in his hand.
Someone has said that Santa reflects the desires of people all over the world.
Yet, in spite of his goodness, in spite of all the wonderful gifts he brings, Santa comes up short as the answer to all our needs. Santa can not give us the solution to most of our problems. For one thing, he doesn’t hang around long enough. The day after Christmas – HE’S GONE.
When the credit card bills start rolling in come February, Santa’s no longer in his chair at the mall. What happens if you get sick or need a miracle in July? Unless you can find his secret North Pole hide-a-way, you’re out of luck.
As far as legends go, Santa is ok. Yet, I submit to you that we need more than a Santa. We need a Savior! That is what Jesus came to be. “John 3: 16-17) Have you met the Savior this morning? Is He your redeemer and your God? For the gift that really matters by pass Santa, and give your heart to the Savior.
Have a great week!
One of the most moving Missions stories I’ve ever read is the story by Don Richardson entitled PEACE CHILD. Don and his wife moved into the jungles of Papua, New Guinea to settle among a savage group of headhunters known as the Sawi.
The Sawi were indeed a strange bunch. Not only were they cannibals but the highest ideal in their society was treachery. To them, the greatest act of heroism. The most prized quality you could develop was the ability to “fatten somebody up with friendship.” You were a hero in their society if you could get someone to trust you and then kill them when they least expected it.
When Don Richardson began sharing the gospel with them, he ran into a problem. Judas Iscariot was their kind of guy. They thought he was the hero of the story. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss. To their way of thinking you couldn’t get any better than that. That was fantastic.
After several years of ministry with no results, Don Richardson was about to give up. Two tribes had kinda settled around the missionary. They liked the steel machetes he could provide them with. It was kind of a status symbol to have this white man living among them.
But the two tribes being so close together kept fighting. They kept killing each other. So Don Richardson finally issued them an ultimatum. He told them either the two tribes would have to make peace or he was leaving.
He said when he gave that ultimatum to the tribal leaders, he saw the color drain out of their faces. He had no idea at the time what he was asking them to do. But in a short while he noticed that the two tribes were lined up on either side of a clearing facing each other.
Then he said suddenly he heard a woman’s blood-curdling scream. He watched as one of the Sawi men ripped a baby from its mother’s arms and started running toward the other tribe, holding it above his head. Then on the other side the same thing happened. Another baby was taken.
Don Richardson said it was the most heart wrenching thing he’d ever seen to see those two mothers running after, screaming for their children. He was concerned that they might be going to sacrifice them or something, but he just kept watching.
Actually what happened was that they traded babies. That child became a PEACE CHILD. It would be taken in and raised by the opposite tribe. As long as those children lived there would be peace between the two tribes.
Don Richardson said he didn’t realize it at the time, but that was to be his opening. That ritual of the PEACE CHILD would be his means of explaining the gospel to those savage people. For you see, God gave His Son as a PEACE CHILD to a hostile world.
As the angels would pronounced on the night Jesus was born “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2: 14)
Have you invited the “Prince of Peace” into your heart? He is the only source of true and lasting peace.
Have a great week!
Before Jesus was a month old He was a refugee. Herod feared this baby might be a threat to his throne, so he sought to kill him. Jesus can certainly identify with those Syrian and Iraqi refugees, many of whom are Christians, who are fleeing for their lives.
The Pharisees and religious leaders conspired to kill him for fear that he was undermining the law of Moses and their temple. The Roman Emperor, Julian, sought to check Christianity because he said, “This Jesus is the greatest rebel that ever lived.”
Nietzsche, the German philosopher whose ideas influenced Hitler, declared that, “Christianity is the one great curse, the one great corruption, the one immoral blemish in the earth. You must purge this disease of Christianity out of your German hearts.” Communism took the position that, “Religion is the opiate of the people”, and sought to remove it from society in both the Soviet Union and China. Today, the ISIS terrorists and other Muslin radicals are seeking to wipe out Christianity.
Yet, there is an interesting verse in the Christmas story in Matthew 2:20. The angel tells Joseph after his sojourn as a refugee in Egypt, “those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Herod, the Chief Priests, Julian, Nero, Nietzsche, Hitler, Stalin, Osama bin laden ... all dead.
None of us know what might happen in this crazy world of ours but know this: No one can blow out the light of our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of these days we are told that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) Our God still reigns this morning and He always will. Be encouraged. Nothing can stamp out the flame of the gospel.
Have a great week!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson