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Jesus is not God. I’ve said this before but I think of necessity it needs to be said again (and again and again, as the need arises).
The term “Emmanuel” means “God with us”, not “This is God” or “I am God”. Jesus is called Emmanuel not because Jesus is God but because God was with Jesus and, in being with Jesus, was also with the people on Earth (as prophesied in the Old Testament). In other words, God was with the people through Jesus – not AS Jesus, but THROUGH Jesus. (more…)
As Christians, we talk a lot about loving others as Jesus showed us to love. In fact, we even designate a special word for that particular kind of Christian love (caritas), which is loosely translated as “charity”. Through charity, we love people we don’t know or maybe even don’t like, but we do it because Jesus told us to do it. It’s the Christian thing to do.
But Jesus also told us to love someone else, and that the love with which we are to love that someone else is to be first and foremost of all our loves, including caritas. In fact, the love that Jesus told us about is so crucial and so absolutely necessary that God made it the very first Commandment, specifying that we are to love him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. This is not an optional love, like charity, that we can turn on and off at whim or put into effect only when the opportunity arises. Loving God is a Commandment, and not just any Commandment – the first one on the list, and the one that Jesus pointed out as being the most important. (more…)
They’ve been wept over, prayed over, sat before, fallen before, bathed in tears, bathed in precious perfume, smothered in kisses, patted dry with hair, and hammered through with a crude nail. They are Jesus’ feet, the most famous feet in all of human history.
But even before his birth, scripture was extolling Jesus’ feet: (more…)
The night of Jesus’ birth was a very special night, perhaps the most special night that ever was. On what other night did an angel of the Lord appear to shepherds not while they were at worship but while they were at work, watching over their sheep? On what other night did an angel of the Lord herald the news of the actual birth of the Messiah – the eternal king of all creation – who could be found not in a palace clothed in purple silk and attended by maids and courtiers but in a stable swaddled in rough cloth and attended by cows? On what other night did those shepherds, half in fear and half in elation, hastily corral their flock and hurry into Bethlehem to see the newborn king?
No other night before or since has been as special as that one night when the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and gave them the long-awaited good news. The birth of the Messiah was revolutionary enough in Roman-occupied Israel, but even more revolutionary was the directive that these “good tidings of great joy” should be for ALL PEOPLE, not just the children of Abraham.
God does nothing by half or without a purpose. Those shepherds were chosen for their faith and their profession. God knew each and every one of them and designated them to be both the witnesses and the messengers of his holy messenger’s message. What previously had been told only to Mary and Joseph (and known supernaturally by Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mom) was told to the shepherds on that very special night, and the shepherds then, after they had seen Jesus for themselves, told everyone who would listen.
Who are those shepherds, the ones very carefully chosen by God to bring the good news of the birth of the Messiah to all people? We never hear of them again in scripture, or do we?
Just before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus directed Peter, the fisherman, to feed his sheep and his lambs. We know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that we are to follow him in everything he does. Jesus was directing Peter to take on his role – that of a good shepherd. Not as one that is hired to look after sheep for a fee, but as one who owns the sheep and guards them with his life. The shepherds abiding in the field on that most special of all nights were such shepherds, just as Jesus was, spiritually, and just as Peter became, spiritually.
Who are those shepherds?
WE ARE THOSE SHEPHERDS.
We have been carefully chosen by God, through Jesus, and have been told and seen for ourselves that Jesus is the Messiah. We are telling the world that the long-awaited savior has come and that his name is Jesus and that Jesus is King. And just like our spiritual brethren, the shepherds and Peter, we have been given the directive to watch over and feed our sheep and our lambs – that is, those who follow Jesus, as well as those who are learning to follow Jesus, and those who are going or have gone astray.
WE ARE THOSE SHEPHERDS. The message from God’s holy angel all those years ago was meant for us, just as Jesus’ directive to Peter was meant for us. Jesus is the Messiah and savior of ALL PEOPLE, and we are to feed his sheep and lambs with his Word and to guard their spiritual well-being with our lives.
Merry Christmas to you all!
HALLELUJAH, and PRAISE THE LORD!
One of the things I admire most about Jesus is that he’s real. I don’t mean “real” as in not fictional, but real as in genuine. He didn’t put on an act when he taught in the synagogues or explained scripture to his disciples in private. He was always the same Jesus, speaking from the heart. No BS. Not like the Pharisees and Sadducees who put on special airs along with their special robes and who were always trying to trip Jesus up. But Jesus never fell for their tricks because God informed his every word and move, and you can never trip up God. (more…)
You know the old adage about how to know when a politician is lying (his lips are moving)? Well, there’s just as easy a way to know whether or not your preacher is a prophet sent from God or is a false prophet (that is, not sent from God).
If you spend any time at all in Christian circles, you’ll know that preachers are a dime a dozen and that more are popping up each day. People being enthusiastic about God and Jesus is not a bad thing, but if their enthusiasm is for other purposes than teaching and preaching God’s Word, then what you’re dealing with is likely a false prophet.
There are as many ways to discern whether a prophet is false as there are false prophets, but three of the easiest ways are listed below. If your preachers fail one or more of these “false prophet litmus tests”, it’s best to steer clear of them, even if you’ve grown to like or depend on them. (more…)
When we were little kids, we learned simple songs. The songs had at most a dozen notes in an easy-to-reach range, a simple and catchy tune, and lyrics that didn’t always make sense but were easy to remember. Think “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. We sang these songs at daycare or at school or with our mother at home. Sometimes we’d sing them quietly to ourselves if we were sad or scared, as a way to recall happier times and comfort ourselves. They were as much a part of our lives as play time, snack time, and bedtime. They became part of us and still are part of us today.
I mention these childhood songs because, as born-again believers, we need to learn a new song. We’re old enough now to choose the notes ourselves, but the lyrics should go like this: (more…)