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Glad Tidings

God’s Love Celebrated! Merry Christmas!

3 Dec , 2016  

GT—Volume 13 Issue 12

Christmas is Comin’, By Gum!

gt-logo-2016Christmas in the Church calendar does not begin with Christmas Eve and end Christmas Day (too often with great relief!) It begins with a season called, “Advent”. This is a four-week celebration that anticipates the birth of the Christ Child. For believers, it is a time of remembrance and excited looking for the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Son of God became a God/man (in truth fully God and fully man). He was “veiled in flesh” so, none but believers could recognize the Son of God. Unbelievers saw only a man, preaching great truths of life with God and proclaiming the further truths of the Kingdom of God.

God sent His Son the first time to demonstrate God’s love for mankind. He ministered exhaustingly to the needs of the multitude. Their infirmities and sins weighed on the heart of Jesus and aged him prematurely (at 32, the Pharisees looked upon Him, seeing a 50-year old).

They rejected His truth, while maintaining their misunderstandings as truth. God presented them with living proof of His love, but the unbelievers killed Him.

What confused the leaders most was their desire for a conquering king who would deliver them from the Roman yoke.

What God sent was the Suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah. The Son of God came as the Suffering Servant because that was what the people needed. Their need, and our need today, is forgiveness for sin and an atoning sacrifice to reconcile us to God. Far more than a conquering King, we need a Savior.

The reality of our lives is that we are separated eternally from God by sin. So long as that sin remains a barrier, we are doomed to separation from God forever. While we are under this curse of sin, the coming of the Son of God as a conqueror would be an extreme danger to us. He will come to eradicate sin on earth. Without His atoning sacrifice, all people (including us) would be eradicated. There is no mercy in the Son of God for sin.

john-the-baptist

John the Baptist, Stated he was a voice crying in the wilderness. His mission was to prepare the way for God’s anointed King, Lord Jesus, the Christ. When he saw Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! He said. “I must decrease and He must Increase.” John 3:30

Since Jesus has come first as a servant, He has served us well by dying for our sins and cleansing us from sin (all who believe are saved).

For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;    (Ephesians 2:8)

Believers are no longer enemies of God. His Son’s Coming as the Conquering King can be joyfully anticipated.

He will destroy sin on the earth. All who perpetrate sin: the devil and his demons and all who have not embraced Christ will be cast into the lake of fire.   dove-vector-clipart

The Severity Of God’s Love

Now that sounds harsh. The early movie star, W. C. Fields, was a notorious unbeliever. When his Director found him reading a Bible on a movie set, he was shocked. The Director asked, “What are you doing, Bill?” He replied, “Looking for loopholes, looking for loopholes.”

Our emotions want to find a way to escape the consequence of sin, without surrender to Christ as Lord and Master of our lives. However, the plan of God has not been kept secret. Everyone within the reach of my writing has had many opportunities to comply with God’s requirements, i.e. obedience to God’s will, belief in the truths written in the Bible, acknowledge sin, embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Throughout the Bible is recorded the history of God instructing people in the way to live and remain a part of the family of God. Reading that history, we discover that as many times as God blessed His people they eventually turned away from Him. Many times, God sent witnesses to correct the waywardness of the people. Sometimes, they heeded the warnings and mended their ways; and then returned to obeying God. Too often, they ignored God’s corrections. As a result, He would remove His hand of protection. In His absence, enemies attacked, killing and sacking. Other times, drought destroyed crops, plagues afflicted and killed many. At times, these calamities drew the people close to the Lord God, but other times no warning, no calamity convinced the people that they were on the wrong road.

After King Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two nations–Israel and Judah. For two hundred years, God sought to turn the resulting Israel back to Him. They continued to refuse. God gave up on Israel. In 722 B.C., they were crushed and deported into Assyria. The people were ultimately assimilated and completely lost to the message of God.

Judah had a better run. The nation had many “good” kings who called the people back to God. Tragically a century after Israel was ultimately lost, Judah fell into Israel’s pattern of ignoring God and persecuting the prophets He sent to warn them.

israel-defeated

The people of Judah are led into slavery

150 years after Israel was destroyed and that part of the people of God were deported into Assyria, Judah was defeated by Babylon. They were led as slaves into Babylon. However, there was a difference. They acknowledged their sin and drew back to God while they were in exile that lasted for 70 years.

They returned to the Land of Promise to rebuild Jerusalem, the Temple of God and reestablished themselves as people of God.

500 years later, the Laws made to keep God’s People close to Him, had become barriers to a lively faith. God sent His Son to be the Redeemer and to save all who would trust in Him alone for relationship with God and for salvation from sin and entry into eternal life.   dove-vector-clipart

Will the Pattern Repeat?

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1857) by American painter Robert Walter Weir at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC

America was founded for the purpose of communicating the Truth that Jesus is God and He is the Savior of all men. Columbus voyaged to a land he thought was India. When He landed, Columbus claimed it for Christ. Nearly 130 years later, the Pilgrims arrived on the shores of New England with the vision of establishing a godly nation.

Their vision proved to be God’s vision, and for 300 years America was a shining example to the world of a nation dedicated to Jesus Christ. The Pilgrims and later others evangelized the native Americans giving them the benefits of salvation. In the 1850’s, America became the foremost missionary-sending nation in history. Our missionaries, led by Christ evangelized on every continent, bringing the Good News of Jesus’ salvation to peoples who were living in fear of the evil in the world. Jesus delivered them and gave them joy in life.

America has not just shared the Gospel, we have shared our selves. We have given away our resources to nations all over the world to support them financially. We have sent food to starving nations. We have shared our medical expertise, without cost to peoples dying of ailments simple to treat with modern medicine. We have sent technology to disadvantaged nations, giving them jobs and income to help them rise out of squalor.

christmas-tree-decorationsUnhappily, 80 years ago, we began turning away from our faith in God. Increasingly, we have adopted a culture that excludes Jesus. This began with questioning the authority and the veracity of the Bible. The real turning point was 60 years ago when morality was thrown overboard. In the last 30 years, we have experienced a continual attack on anything that is Christian. We have done this, thinking that there were no consequences to legislating Jesus out of our culture.

The consequences that have occurred we have refused to see as the removing the hand of God’s protection. We were horrified at the scourge of AIDs but refused to recognize it as the consequences of homosexuality. We were horrified by the attack of 9/11, the worst loss of life as an act of war against our homeland. We are insensitive to the slaughter of the innocents in the abortion clinics. This, too, was a judgment of God.

weeping-libertyI am a voice crying in the wilderness, “Behold your God”. It is necessary for us to connect the dots and take warning. To save America, we must return to Christ as a nation. We must realize that God is not playing around. He is deadly serious that

  • Jesus be honored
  • Jesus be obeyed
  • the people of the nation live in righteousness
  • we give generously to all who are in need
  • we establish discipline in requiring people to be responsible to God and to one another

For centuries, America was a melting pot that drew us together. We drew people together around Christ. That must be our goal again. In the Revelation, the Resurrected Christ wrote letters to the seven Churches in Asia. He wrote to Ephesus.

But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:4-5)

christmas-598132_960_720The Candlestick represents the life of the church. To remove it means that the church at Ephesus would no longer exist. This applies equally to America.

We Have Left Our First Love

We have left our first love. We have turned our backs on the Christ who has greatly blessed our nation to make it the most free, most generous, most prosperous, and most godly nation in history. We have lost sight of that truth. We have gotten caught up in the “Jack Horner Syndrome” – “What a good boy am I!” God is warning our nation and our people,

“Repent! Return to your roots in Christ! Your place on the world’s stage will last only so long as you obey me, the living God.”

We have become steeped in materialistic philosophy. We have been deceived that material well-being is all-important. We have secularized our thinking to reject the reality of the spiritual needs of people. A truth we have been unwilling to embrace is that unless a person is spiritually alive, material well-being is bankrupt. It is a dead end.

All the wealth in the world lasts only so long as one lives.

All the wealth in the world lasts only so long as one lives. Upon death, all this world disappears. If we are only material, then in this life alone we have hope. Were this true, then it does not matter how I get my well-being. The only important thing is securing my place, and the “devil take anyone else”. In this philosophy, no one else matters. They are tools to use and discard by the powerful.

Yes, the pattern of faith slipping away to disbelief and the resulting judgment of God against the unbelievers will continue. It will continue and America will end on the ash heap of history as so many nations have: Syria, Assyria, Israel, Babylon, Rome. They lasted hundreds of years, but died or dissipated in the end. More recently, the official atheist U.S.S.R. fell under its own weight. Without God, they are no more. America is speeding to follow in all these nations unhappy destiny.   dove-vector-clipart

Unless God Provides

christmas-551997_960_720There IS one loophole. I do not know whether W. C. Fields found or if he did, used it. That “loophole” is God’s provision. God always knew that men through their own efforts could never in many millennia achieve the purity and perfection to be in His Righteous and Holy Presence. Thus, left to our own devices individuals are barred from God’s paradise. It is not the meanness of God that bars us. It is the nature in us that seeks the lowest common denominator.

Actually, God is forthright in declaring He loves mankind. We are His creation. He wants us to be with Him during our short life on this planet, AND for eternity.

Here are Scriptures that describe God’s desire for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.   (Jerimaiah 29:11)

Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.   (Isaiah 1:18)

god-so-loved-the-worldFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have eternal life.   (John 3:16)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”   (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.   (1 Peter 1:3-5)

The majority of people have one of three conceptions of God:

  • He is wrathful and only punishes people
  • He is a softie, a pushover who loves everyone no matter how bad they are
  • Likely most just do not believe in Him

There is some truth in the first two. God’s wrath is nothing to tempt. We should avoid his wrath at all costs. However, His wrath is abated when His Son enters one’s life. All those who belong to Jesus will never experience the wrath of God.

The second is true: God eagerly desires for you and me to be with Him in eternity. He loves us with an everlasting love. However, He will not allow sin to go unpunished. He will not receive into his glorious mansions any who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as God.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.   (John 14: 1-3)

There is no truth at all in the concept that God does not exist. Those who espouse this spend their lives in living a lie. The evidence of God is undeniable to anyone who will face the truth.

in-utero

The balance of the cosmos, the intricacy of the human body, the facts of love, hope, faith cry out the existence of a loving and just God.

The balance of the cosmos, the intricacy of the human body, the facts of love, hope, faith cry out the existence of a loving and just God.

It is the greatest thing in all the world to embrace Jesus in love. It is soul-satisfying and spirit-enlivening. The love of Christ sent the Holy Spirit to us to dwell with us and in us. He has given us His Spirit as the guarantee that He will always be with us, encouraging, helping, and that He will welcome us into God’s glorious, loving, joy-filled habitation. There we will both joyfully praise the majesty of God and will feed on the heavenly viands and quaff the wine of the Spirit.

Our eternal lives will be at the same time replete–peaceful at rest; and yet we will be eagerly seeking after more of God’s Presence, love and bountiful manifestations in and through us.   dove-vector-clipart

The Mercy of God

The First Great Awakening

Revolutionary preacher, George Whitefield. Known as a famous revivalist preacher credited for the “Great Awakening” leading to the American Revolution.

As people in America changed from living for God and began living for self, the nation grew more profane. Out of His gracious mercy, Almighty God sent the Holy Spirit to revive the church and to convict the unbelievers. The First Great Awakening swept through the Colonies in the 1740’s. Amazing miracles occurred and amazing transformations in lives were the evidences of God’s grace. The cruder and sinful aspects of the culture died back and the churches burgeoned with faithful believers, many of them were new converts. The society became more civil and the hearts of the people more open to give and receive.

The Second Great Awakening

The revivals enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age.

As is the pattern of humans, over time the first love cooled and the zeal for Christ and His Law faded. Culture coarsened and sin became common. In 1850, the Lord Jesus sent the convicting Holy Spirit to awaken the populace to the reality of their sin. Large groups of people came to revival meetings and heard and responded to the message of salvation in Christ alone. In this Second Great Awakening, there were masses of people wailing with tears of repentance. Thousands were converted and again society was transformed. Out of that revival grew the abolitionist movement and that resulted in freeing of the slaves.

Then again, parallel with the growing evils of the “New Morality” (the old immorality blatant), came the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on peoples of every denomination. The evidence was the multiplying of the “charismata”, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.    (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)

The love of God for America has redeemed us from our sin before. Now join me in prayer for another Advent to revive our apostate churches. We must pray also for the Final Advent in which Christ will come to judge the peoples of the earth and establish His righteous reign   dove-vector-clipart

Questions Demanding Answers

This is a recurring feature. I pose a question in one issue. You have the opportunity to send me answers. I publish the best ones in the next issue. Please cite Biblical authority, and keep you answer within 250 words.

QUESTION: Where is the Holy Spirit now?

ANSWER: Jesus breathed on His Disciples,

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:   (John 20:22)

Earlier Jesus had said,

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.   (John 14:16-17)

The Holy Spirit is one of the Persons of the Trinity. He is Omnipresent. He is present everywhere all the time. So, the short answer is, “He is Everywhere!”. However, he is especially present in believers. Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit specifically to His Disciples and said that He would be with us. He has initiated the Spirit’s presence as a teacher about Jesus. He has come to dwell in believers. His special purpose is as a guarantee.

… in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,—in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit within is our assurance that we belong to Almighty God. He is our Father and He will never forsake us.

When the world dumps garbage all over us, when we suffer loss, when we cannot seem to get anywhere, we have the Holy Spirit’s witness in our hearts that He is with us. Because of His testimony in our hearts we know that nothing in this world or in the spirit world can separate us from the love of God.

The Holy Spirit is our Guide, present to lead us along Christ’s path. Jesus is the way and the Holy Spirit orders our steps so we do not wander off and get lost.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He teaches us what we need to know to live as overcomers in this fallen world. Further, He reminds of what Jesus taught us as recorded in Scripture. Thus, we need to read and study, so the Holy Spirit has those teachings available.

The Holy Spirit is our comforter when things go badly wrong for us. He is our strength in grief when we lose a loved one. He is our support when we have a worldly loss.

The Holy Spirit is our inspirer. He Inspired the many authors of Scripture. He gives us Rhema as we read the Scriptures. That is an understanding of the meaning of a text or a word that we had never learned before.

Where is he? With the unbeliever, silent in the background. With the believer, actively building up our faith and trust in Jesus.

The Holy of Holies

Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.

 Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus. My heart longs to be in Your unveiled Presence. Our Nation urgently needs Your redemption. Our world desperately needs Your reconciliation. Pour out Your Spirit of conviction upon us. Bring us to our knees in openhearted repentance. Many, if not most in America need heart transplants. Your word tells us that You will remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh that will be soft toward You. We are in great need of You.

Lord of lords and King of kings, our world is groaning over the rampant sin around the globe. Come in Your majesty, come in Your awesome power and sweep away the evil; judge the people, condemn all sin, and then restore the world to its perfect state prior to the Fall.

My gracious King, You said You would come quickly and bring rewards with You. You know my heart, Lord. Reward is secondary, the frosting on the cake. It is Jesus I long for.

To be in Your presence, Precious Jesus, would be glory for me. Your Psalmist says, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What a wonderful thought. You give us fullness, all the Joy we can hold, and spilling over. Beyond that You have a place for me at your right hand. The place of honor is for all believers! What a deep and thrilling pleasure to be seated next to You and even more to be honored.

You say in The Revelation “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely.” (22:17) I understand that the Holy Spirit will declare to the Church that time is up and You are going to return in glory and judgment. The Church, the Bride of Christ will unite with the Holy Spirit in a cosmos-shaking universal cry, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

I long for that Day when I will see You, my Savior face to face, when all This world’s trappings will be shed and my mortal body will be transformed into a celestial body. Then I will be able to glorify You and praise You unhindered by distractions.

Hallelujah! My Lord and Savior. Worthy are You to receive all Honor, Glory, Dominion and Praise.

Glory be to God the Father. Glory be to God the Son. Glory be to God the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

QUESTION: Who were the Magi and why did they come to see Jesus?

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