Witness and Mission According to Paul

23 Jan , 2017  

What Makes a Christian Minister?

Some of you know Ruth’s and my testimony. Jesus found us, lost and astray, in our 27th year. Neither of us knew the Bible or even how to pray. Nevertheless, Jesus sent a layman to speak the Gospel of Jesus to Ruth. The Holy Spirit went out into our wilderness to corral us, and by Sovereign power make us a daughter and a son of God.

I became what before I had ridiculed: I carried a big black Bible and talked about Jesus all the time. Someone asked me, “Are you going to become a minister?”

Before becoming a Christian, I had been Chairman of the Board of Deacons in our church. I didn’t like our minister. I thought he was an old fuddy-duddy. I wouldn’t allow him to baptize Laura and Susan. As he rambled on in meetings, I cut him off, and then moved the meetings on. The Deacons believed our Pastor was too old to appeal to the people we thought should come to our church. So, we had a clandestine meeting to decide how to get rid of him. He was approaching retirement, so we decided to wait him out.

Bangor Theological Seminary

Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor, Maine, 199 year legacy of providing exceptional theological education and formation of persons responding to a call to ministry.

So, after I was saved, when asked if I would become a minister, I responded, “No! I know what they do to ministers.”

Ministry Begins

God led us to go to Bangor Theological Seminary, where I received my Masters of Divinity. In the process of time, I was ordained. I served churches as an official minister for just three (3) years. For the last 42 years, I have served as a layman. In a sense, my ordination is irrelevant. I have served my Lord and His people in a wide variety of positions, none requiring my ordination.

I have some questions for you:

  • What was Peter’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A fisherman.
  • What was Matthew’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A tax collector.
  • What was Paul’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A tentmaker.
  • Where did they go to seminary to qualify for the ministry? They did not.

St. Paul’s Ministry


“Saint Paul Writing His Epistles” probably by Valentin de Boulogne

Let’s look at Paul: He was layman, a tentmaker. Paul was not even there when Jesus said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.    (Matthew 28:19)

He was not there on that Judean hillside when Jesus said to his Disciples, “You go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

But on the Damascus road Paul had a confrontation with Jesus, who he had thought was a heretic. Jesus commissioned Paul through the godly man Ananias,

Go, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.   (Acts 9:15)

Paul looked around himself and said, “Who, me? I don’t know anything about preaching. I’m not a priest or even a Levite. You must be pointing to the guy behind me.” So, he went back to Tarsus and made a tent, Right? No!

The truth is that:

And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.    (Acts 9:20)

He began testifying to what he knew. He didn’t know much, but He applied Himself to the Scriptures and to prayer. He turned himself over to the Holy Spirit. He submitted to the work of the Spirit in his life.

Paul was not a priest. He was not ordained. He was a common man filled with the Lord Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. That means he, too, was a disciple of Christ.

Ministry of the Disciples


“Peter the Apostle” by Giuseppe Nogari

Peter and Matthew may have been “capital D” Disciples, but they were not priests. So, they also were “small d” disciples. They were common men, who were sold out to Jesus.

What was the primary work of the Spirit in the lives of the Disciples? Jesus revealed that just before His ascension,

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”   (Acts 1:4-5 & 8)

Their primary work was to submit to the baptizing in the Holy Spirit to receive power and then go! Go to make disciples at home, in the neighborhood in the region and to foreign lands.


“The Calling of St. Matthew”, by A.N. Mironov

Paul was an Apostle, a church planter. He went into a town, located a place where people gathered. He proclaimed to them the truths of the gospel:

  • They were sinners and doomed
  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus died to save them from their sin and their doom

Pretty elementary, Right?

Then he collected those who responded, the new believers into a church, introduced them to the Scriptures, assigned them the responsibility to tell the good news to others, and then he left for unreached territories.

The Growth of Christian Ministry

Tell me who grew the church?

The spread of Christianity from A.D. 1 to 2016:

Paul recognized that the world as too big a place for him. He could not evangelize a whole city. He knew the ministry was not restricted to ministers, pastors and priests. His teaching in Ephesians points that out.

Paul enumerated five ministry offices in the church:

  • Apostles
  • Prophets
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors
  • Teachers

What was their primary responsibility? “… to equip the saints for the work of ministry…”.

And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,   (Ephesians 4:12)

What was the work of the ministry that those elders had to prepare those church members to do?

  • To individually grow in Christ
  • To build one another up in the most holy faith
  • To share the good news with family, friends and acquaintances.

Paul left them, not expecting the believers in Ephesus, Philippi or Corinth to know much. They were, for the most part, Gentiles, who had little or no knowledge of Scripture and probably no knowledge of Christian doctrine. But he left them, expecting that they would share with unbelievers their experience of Jesus in their lives. And that would be enough to arouse in others an interest in Jesus

Paul Plants Many Churches

Over 20 years, from A.D. 33 to 53 Paul plied the Roman world proclaiming the Gospel. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reflected on his first coming to them,

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.   (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Paul’s Mission was to spread the Truth

  • that man needs God
  • There is only One God
  • Jesus died to open access to God
  • Jesus seal of the promise of God to all who believe was rising from the dead
  • Surrender to Him is the only way to know God

This is not rocket science. It does not take a seminary education. As a matter of fact, that may actually be a barrier. What it takes is a love for Jesus and a willingness to be a fool for Christ. Paul did not use theology or doctrine to convert the Roman Empire. He used simple truth that any new believer knows.

Paul’s Ministry Gets Him Arrested

St. Paul Chained to Praetorian Guard

ST. Paul imprisoned , chained to a Pretorian Guard.

Even Paul’s chains provided him opportunities to witness.

When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.   (Acts 28:16)   

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!   (Acts 28:30-31)

My understanding is that, while Paul was imprisoned in a rented home, he had companions around him and had visitors. But, he was perpetually chained to one of the Pretorian Guards. They were the household troops of the Roman emperors, a permanent corps of nine cohorts, stationed around Rome. The Praetorian Guard at over 4500 men, was nearly the size of an imperial legion.

The Greek word Paul used to refer to his being in chains means a short chain binding he wrist of the prisoner to the wrist of the guard. Chained to a powerful and wide awake guard made escape impossible. To the Philippians, Paul says,

“my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole Praetorian Guard” (Philippians 1:13).

The guard was most likely changed on a regular schedule, probably 4 to 6 times or more in a 24 hour-day. It is also likely that there were more guards in a shift.

They overheard his talking with his companions, his prayers and his discussions with visitors. I cannot imagine Paul resisting the opportunity presented by a literally captive audience. I am sure that he shared the Gospel with the guards. Each day there was a rotation, so he had a number of guards to evangelize. Apparently, as one became converted and then another, they talked in the barracks about the reality of Christ. Over the years of Paul’s imprisonment, many, if not most of the Praetorian Guard became converted to faith in Jesus.

This is the power of witnessing by word and life.

Basic Christian Ministry

Paul’s witness was straightforward–what Jesus did for him and what Jesus was doing in his life.

  • Who among you knows he or she is a sinner, saved by grace?
  • Who knows the love of Jesus?
  • Who believes that everyone who does not embrace Jesus is doomed to a Christless eternity?

Knowing this, each of you is fully qualified to evangelize. If that is too strong a word, then to share the love of Jesus with your neighbor.

If your neighbors do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will be cast into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth

He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

If you have not told them of their danger, how will they hear?

Since Paul knew that his days were numbered, he wrote to the Ephesians.

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”  (2 Corinthians 6:2-3)

And again, how can those in this culture respond to the Gospel? The Good News has been shuttered off from the general populace. Since we live today in a 1st Century, pagan culture, Paul’s comments are relevant

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? Even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!   (Romans 10:13-15)

You Are a Minister

Jesus gives you all you need to witness.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  (Luke 24:49)

This promise is the indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit.

“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Therefore, in the Name of Jesus Christ I send you into the fields that are white unto harvest. You are the Evangelists. You are the Missionaries. You are the Preachers.

Go and make Disciples of all nations.

 Prayer to Equip Ministers

Lord God Holy Spirit, pour out on these people Your power. Make their hearts soft to Your entry and open to Your ministry in their lives.

Give them boldness to speak of the blessings of Jesus to any and all.

Give them confidence in You to protect them against the debilitation of the enemy of our souls.

Manifest in them your Gifts of the Holy Spirit and raise up in them the Fruit of the Spirit, so that their declaration of the truths of the Gospel will be natural and comfortable.

Hallelujah! We Praise You!


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Glad Tidings

New Year, New Opportunities for Love!

2 Jan , 2017  

GT—Volume 14 Issue 1
Glad Tidings 2017

Party! Party ! Party!

New Year’s Eve is the time for parties, whether we go to a large public party where one can get lost in the crowd and lose all inhibitions, or go to an intimate party with friends or family.

Seattle’s major celebration is held at the Space Needle. The city arranges for a fireworks display to be fired from the Needle. Fire bursting out all over it. Ladders of light-fire work their way up the Needle. The circular roof lends a crowning effect with colorful fountains and multicolored explosions.

We had watched the fireworks on TV a number of times, so several years ago, Ruth and I decided to see it in person. We bundled up. We arrived early and parked some distance away, to avoid the crush to escape after the show. Then we walked the long distance and picked out a site near the base of the Needle, but far enough back to see the full show. We were there long enough to get chilled and began to be anxious for the show to start so it would be over and we could get back into our car and warm up on the way home.

Seattle winters do not give us much snow. The snow we do get comes overnight and melts off (usually) during the day. Because of the Japanese Current our temperature is mild. Not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. But we have a lot of rainy weather in the winter. The air at 42o makes a damp, chilling cold that seeps into your bones.

Fog Steals the Show

About 15 minutes before the fireworks were to go off, fog rolled in. Within 10 minutes the Space Needle was engulfed. We could barely discern it through the fog. At the stroke of midnight the fog lit up. The smoke of the fireworks thickened the opaqueness of the fog. We could not see the fireworks, but the fog glowed in alternate colors and pulsing glows. It was a bit of a bust.

When the fog stopped glowing we figured it was over and hustled back to our car to turn the heater on BLAST! – and then wend our way home through the traffic. We agreed through chattering teeth that the TV was a better option for future years.

Joyful New Year’s Eve

Perhaps the best New Year’s party we celebrated was ‘72/73’. We lived in Maine, so there the snow was deep and old by the end of December. January nights plumbed the depths of the teens below zero. We drove about 20 miles to a party in a community center with friends from all over southern Maine.

Ice coved branches in Holden Wednesday, Christams day. After several days of freezing rain in Maine tens of thousats of people were still out of power two days after the storm. Gabor Degre | BDN

Ice covered branches after several days of freezing rain in Maine.

The party began at 10 PM, with singing Christmas songs and a before midnight pot luck supper. Then more singing until just before midnight. And then we prayed in the New Year. We broke out in singing and dancing. The joy of the Lord filled our hearts and the love we shared was deep and rich. We prayed and sang and danced some more until after 2AM. As we were leaving, we discovered a freezing rain had come in. Everything was covered with a glaze of ice. Discretion likely would have made us wait until midday to leave, but nothing daunted, we hugged goodbye and amid prayers and blessings we all went our separate ways to skate home. We felt we were floating on angels’ wings as we negotiated the ice-slicked roads. It was a glorious celebration that is emblazoned (or should I say iced) on my memory.    dove-vector-clipart

Loving with Valor

Is discretion the better of valor? That depends upon what you are facing. Driving in heavy traffic, the answer is definitely, “yes”. When applying for a job, it depends upon the situation. But in matter of loving, valor is to be recommended.


Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in many ways.

Scientists tell us that for better general health we need many hugs each day. Most people go for days without hugs. Humans are relational. We have deep needs for the affirmations of others. Some of the best affirmations are hugs. With a hug, we communicate love.

One of the common factors in grief over the death of a parent, spouse or child is, “I didn’t say’ I love you’, before she or he died”. This teaches us that we should always express our love to those who are near and dear to us.

There are misanthropes who do not like to be made a fuss over. They just don’t love people. But they are few and far between. By far the vast majority of people miss genuine expressions of love.

Some people hold off because they are not comfortable in a personal relationship. It is likely that they, as much as anyone else, need that positive affirmation of love that such a personal connection communicates.Too often we misuse discretion and repress our inclinations to make a loving gesture or say a loving word. We fear we may be intruding on a person’s personal space. We fear that we may be misunderstood.

It is a devotion to the caring that leads to giving what they need.

Let’s make it clear. I am not talking about the erotic love which is lustful, nor about the friendly feeling toward acquaintances. I am discussing the deeper more generous love that one has for another, leading to caring deeply for their welfare. It is a devotion to the caring that leads to giving what they need.

The majority of us need someone, or perhaps several someones, who care when we are happy or sad; who are willing to go out of their way to be with us; who find time in their busy days to include a visit, a phone call or a letter.

Love is Inconvenient

Love is inconvenient. Love is demanding, but love is worth the discomfort. Our desires are often in conflict with our love. But because we love we set aside our plans and do for another.


“Love is a chain of love, as nature is a chain of life.” — Truman Capote

When we love, there may be a blowback. When I was in the Army at one point I was the Assistant Gunner on a 106mm Recoilless Rifle. It had an open breech, so the back blast was equal to the muzzle velocity. It could blow a wooden box set behind it to splinters. While this is an exaggeration, it illustrates the impact of love rejected.

Nevertheless, most times, when we express love, it warms our hearts, also. The more love we give the more we have to give. The more we give the better we feel. Love is often difficult to express, but when we do give love, we find out how easy and how rewarding it is to give.

When we love, there may be a blowback. When I was in the Army at one point I was the Assistant Gunner on a 106mm Recoilless Rifle. It had an open breech, so the back blast was equal to the muzzle velocity. It could blow a wooden box set behind it to splinters. While this is an exaggeration, it illustrates the impact of love rejected.    dove-vector-clipart

What About Joy?

Should we exercise discretion in our display of joy? People have differing temperaments. Some people are emotionally restrained, others wear their emotions on their sleeves. The setting overrules one’s natural proclivities. If the Seahawks had completed that shovel pass for a touchdown in the last few minutes of their second Super Bowl there is not a Seahawks’ fan in the world that would have exercised discretion; exuberance would have exploded. The stadium and homes all over would have been rocking on their foundations.

Our culture has embraced the concept that enthusiastic joy at sporting events is acceptable; whereas, public expressions of ecstatic joy are generally frowned upon. In David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, he tells of his grandfather coming to preach at his father’s church. The grandfather considered the church had grown too formal and stodgy. He had them open the windows and sing out their joy in the Lord. That was not enough. He had them march around in the church to let the neighbors and the Neighborhood hear their joy the Lord.


Exuberant joy comes spontaneously when a child is born.

Exuberant joy comes spontaneously when a child is born. Everyone celebrates. Laughter and shouting are natural expressions of great Joy. The shepherds on that night were at first fearful, but with the assurance of the Angel, they began to listen to the Good News.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, watching their flock during the night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Then the angel told them, “Stop being afraid! Listen! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. Today your Savior, the Lord Messiah, was born in the City of David. And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly, a multitude of the Heavenly Army appeared with the angel, praising God by saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!”

When the angels had left them and gone back to heaven, the shepherds told one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what has taken place that the Lord has told us about.” So they went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in the feeding trough. When they saw this, they repeated what they had been told about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. However, Mary continued to treasure all these things in her heart and to ponder them. Then the shepherds returned to their flock, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.   (Luke 2:8-20)

The import of the news caused them to abandon their sheep and race to Bethlehem. There they saw a baby. Something about that baby caused them exceedingly great joy. They were so joyful that they went back laughing and singing, telling everyone the Good News that the Savior had been born.

We must remember it was night when the Angels appeared. It was even later when the shepherds went back to their flocks. In those villages, there was nothing to do but have supper and go to bed at nightfall. The only folk out at night were shepherds. I speculate that as they went through the village, the shepherds were making so much noise that people were leaning out windows and doors to discover why they were making so much commotion. Their joy spilled out all over that village.

God talks about joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy…   (1 Peter 1:8)

I’m for that! Let’s share our exuberance! Let the world know that there is joy in this life. Our society has, like the Wilkerson church, gone stodgy. The only joy we allow is in sporting events. Let’s communicate there are other reasons for outbursts of Joy.         dove-vector-clipart

Let There Be Peace On Earth

For over a century there has been nearly perpetual war waging somewhere in the world. This battered world and its people need peace. It is a precious commodity. In peace people are healthier. Economies are better off. Children grow up in security and become better adjusted adults.

Alfred Nobel, Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist., and was very interested in social and peace-related issues and held what were considered radical views in his era.

Because peace is so hard to obtain in this world Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) included a prize for peace along with those for science, medicine and literature. Global peace seems impossible to achieve, except for short periods of time in local areas.

Therefore, in this troublesome world there is another important type of peace sorely needed, which is achievable; peace at heart for individuals. When we can face the hardships and troubles that naturally occur in life with joy and love we can live in peace. Many people have found in the midst of life a place of peace. They have established an attitude that is realistic but not alarmist. They have come to a place where they have confidence in life. They go to bed in peace and wake up joyful at the prospects of a new day.

Some cynics will say they are Pollyanna’s or delusional. Either may be the case, but not necessarily. They are content with their lot in life. They are happy in their families. They are people who reach out to help others and gratefully receive help from others. Essentially, they live in a different world, because they have an entirely different outlook on the world they live in than many of their neighbors. They have experienced severe setbacks and disappointments, but they do not allow those real events to steal their peace. Their hearts are so full of positive things, there is no room for doubts, fears or worries.     dove-vector-clipart

The Fruit of the Spirit


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.   Galatians 5:22-23

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” and six more.

For our purposes, we will concentrate on the first three. These are characteristics that develop in the lives of Christian believers, who are living their lives in Christ.

Jesus gives believers the Holy Spirit to dwell in them. He is God’s guarantee that He will keep His promises. As one of the three Persons of the Trinity, He will guide our lives to please God, warn us when we are about to sin, and will convict us when we have sinned. The more we conform our lives to the template of Jesus’ life the better we will be able to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. They are fruit. A tree does not have to strain to produce. Fruit are the natural outgrowth of the DNA of the tree, the nutrients available to its roots and the water the tree receives. In the same way, the Fruit of the Spirit are the natural outgrowth of a spiritually healthy Believer.

As we submit our wills to the Spirit’s work in our lives, He will transform our hearts to be more malleable to the influence of the will of God. This is reflected in the production of the Fruit. People can see how readily we follow he Spirit and conform to Christ by the Love Joy and Peace in our lives.         dove-vector-clipart

The Fruit of Love

When a people receive new life from Jesus, one of the first things most are aware of is love. There is a sharp awareness of the phenomenally great love of Jesus coursing through one’s life. As we learn more about the sacrifice Jesus willingly made to redeem us, we are filled with loving gratitude.

The love that is unbidden and fills the believer’s heart is so deep and fresh. We find we want to be in the Presence of Jesus, so we talk to Him often. As we talk, his love flows down to us engulfing us in His loving Fellowship.

Love communicates acceptance.

Amazing love for God who needs nothing and who can get nothing from us gives us life eternal, freedom from our sins and (wonders of wonders!) adopts us into His family. That is a love that communicates acceptance. It is a powerful force motivating believers to cling to Jesus.      dove-vector-clipart

The Fruit of Joy

When you are loved so extravagantly, the sense of well-being is expressed in joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I will say, Rejoice.    (Philippians 4:4)

The joy that God gives can be the multiplied exponentially. I mentioned the joy that filled us as we drove home on ice-covered streets. It was the overflow of being with Jesus and worshipping him reverently and enthusiastically.

There are many passages in Scripture that refer to the exuberant joy in worship.

And David danced before the Lord with all his might…    (2 Samuel 6:14a)

Shout into God with a voice of triumph, shout unto God with a voice of joy,   (Psalm 47:1)

…for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.”    (Ezra 3:13)

These are people who had no self-consciousness, because they were overwhelmed by God-consciousness. People who worship today have the same God-consciousness that overwhelms their inhibitions and displays exhilaration in Christ. They are showing off, but not for man, but for God.

A woman asked her priest, “Why do you shout when you praise? Do you think he is deaf? He responded, “no, and I do not think He is nervous, either.”    dove-vector-clipart

The Fruit of Peace

This Peace is not quietness or absence of conflict. It is an inner contentment of the spirit that comes from God. When we are born again, Jesus applies His blood to our sins, so that God no longer is offended by our sin, but He sees the righteousness of Christ. This transforms us from enemies of God and subject to His wrath, into sons and daughters of God who are accepted in the beloved; therefore, we have peace with God.

…an inner contentment of the spirit that comes from God.


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

Knowing that the Holy Spirit abides in our lives and that wherever we go we are in Christ, gives us such peace that we can go through life calmly above the strife.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.    (Romans 14:8)

We have assurance that we will always be loved. We have the joy of the Spirit that rings in our lives and we have the knowledge that we will live with God in blessing for eternity. Those truths, and more, make the situations of this life pale in importance. Our lives here are so short, and our love of our Lord will be so long, that the trouble of these lives cannot touch our peace.

God is our Ultimate Companion

That is the glorious truth: we are the Lord’s! That truth can take all the stress out of life. We not only have an eternally secure future in the blessings of the Almighty God, but we also have Him as our intimate companion sharing all the experiences of this life with us. We can lose everything in this life, but that is immaterial to our place with the Lord. He is the source of Love, the object of our Joy and the guarantor of our Peace. Glory to God in the highest and Peace to His people on earth!      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: Who were the Magi and why did they come to see the Baby Jesus?

ANSWER: Magi were a priest class of Median origin. Perhaps they came from Susa, a capital of the Parthian Empire ca.850 miles (ca. 6-weeks) east of Jerusalem.

They studied and experimented in many disciplines, philosophy, natural science, medicine. They were dream interpreters, soothsayers and diviners. They studied the celestial bodies and looked for signs that could influence human lives. They were a cross between Astronomers and Astrologers.

These Magi had studied the writings of many cultures. In Jewish writings, they discovered intimations of a great king who would rule the world. So, when a new star appeared, they sought to find what it portended. They settled on the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. Apparently, they did not have the writings of the Prophet Micah, so they went to Jerusalem to inquire where He would be born.

As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, even though you remain least among the clans[b] of Judah, nevertheless, the one who rules in Israel for me will emerge from you. His existence has been[c] from antiquity, even from eternity.   (Micah 5:2)

Over the centuries scholars have sought to determine what was the natural cause of the notable, long-lasting, but not permanent star. Two theories stand out, but each has its problems. One theory was that several of the planets came into conjunction, thus combining their respective lights to appear as one remarkably bright “star”. However, the time in conjunction would not be long enough for the Magi to discoverer it, do the research and then travel for a month and a half. The conjunction would break apart in a matter of days. By two weeks the planets would be so separate their lights would no longer be combined.

Another theory that has better credence is a supernova. Supernovae are exploding stars. Their light intensifies for two weeks to a month to a peak, then it diminishes for three to five months. A Nova could brighten the night as a “star” for 3 to 6 months. This would give the Magi all the time they needed to discover and travel from Susa to Bethlehem.

The problem comes in extra-Biblical history. Ancient cultures noted and recorded what the scholars interpret as supernovae. They can compare histories in concurrent cultures to date various supernovae. No record has yet been found of such a nova that lasted for 3-6 month. If it drew the Magi on such a journey it would have been a significant nova that the number of cultures extant at that time would have recorded it.

The explanation that the scholars will not accept is God. He created a phenomenon in the skies to announce the birth of the God/man, the only Son of God, whose name is “Jesus”, “Savior”.

QUESTION: If God is all knowing and God, He will do what is best. Why pray?

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.

My God and Father, My God and Savior, my God and empowerer; How magnificent are Your ways!

Father, before you laid the foundation of the world You chose to create man for You to love and to love You.

Jesus in the counsels of eternity You agreed to relinquish all the characteristics of Sovereignty and to become a servant, submissive to Your Father and submissive to the real needs of man. That is humility and heroics that are beyond conception.

Holy Spirit, You agreed to be the pawn in the game. You are the guarantor who has come to live in the hearts of all believers.

This Covenant of Grace is the greatest promise and bargain in History.

My part as beneficiary is zero. I am an heir who has done and can do nothing. Without earning it, You, Almighty God, bestow the cleansing of my sins, the righteousness of Christ and the Life everlasting!

I love You, Lord God. I have known Your unwavering love for me. I have lived in Your Presence. I have experienced Your unhesitating forgiveness. My heart is full of You and when I stop to consider all You have done for me, I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for you.

I shake my head in wonder that You have done all this for me. I am worth nothing compared to You, the one true God and Only Son of God. I am flawed and broken, but You in grace and mercy reached out with Your pure hand and touch my uncleanness. You loved me when I was your enemy, when I was running the wrong way. You cared enough for me to stand in my path until I ran into You. You sent Your Holy Spirit to chase me down the years and days until He caught my unwilling heart that brought me face to face with the real Presence of Jesus.

When I am quiet before You like this, my love for You grows in my heart and flows out to You. I don’t care about the problems of life, because I am with You. The true perspective comes to the fore. It is my life in Christ that is vital. My life in the world is important, but it is transitory. It is but a sneeze, making a big noise and causing my body to convulse, but instantly over and soon forgotten.

Come, my LORD, take me to Your home and the place You have for me. I long the shed this skin of worldliness and be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, that pure, spotless and seamless garment of praise to You; worthy because Jesus generates it and the Holy Spirit makes it worthy.

All honor, glory, dominion, power and praise belong to You O, holy and majestic God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May I join with all the Cherubim and Seraphim in crying, “Holy, holy, holy!”?

May I join with all the arch angels crying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb!’”?

May I join in with the Patriarchs and Apostles in casting all my achievements at Your feet?

         Hallelujah!                      Amen!

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