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Mark 6:46

One day while stopped at a stoplight, I watched people driving through an intersection.  There was a guy in a pickup looking down at a laptop computer.  Another driver was quickly trying to get the last bit of a snack out of a small bag with his nose pointed to the car ceiling.  Then, I saw a woman turning left with one hand on the wheel and nail biting her other hand.  Even though the three random people probably didn’t know each other, one thing they seemed to have in common was being stressed and looking distracted.

Life can be stressful and busy, but setting aside special time with God is essential.  Jesus prayed alone on a mountain.

My special time with God isn’t spent on a mountain.  Jesus is so cool!  My special time is just spent at home mostly before I start the day and before I go to bed.  In the morning, I pray, read the verse of the day from biblegateway.com, and read an online Billy Graham devotional.  Before I go to bed, I pray and read my small, but mighty, handy Bible.  The special time we set aside with our loving God gives Him a chance to communicate with us and help us.

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Galatians 6:9

Recently, my son saw, “Paula was here” on a whiteboard.  You’ve probably seen many similar messages here and there.  I don’t know how writing “I was here” got started, but if you think about it, it’s not really saying much.  That you were simply at a location and decided to write that fact on something is usually pretty insignificant.

What is significant is the impact of our Christian love.  We can do more than simply write evidence that we were standing somewhere.

In Toby Mac’s, “Light of Christmas,” he raps, “Our eyes, our smiles, you know we could shine on through all the good that we do for the people that don’t have it so good.”  Yes, even a smile can make a positive Christian impact on people.  One smile could brighten an otherwise gloomy day for someone.  We can also give with our time, treasure, or talent.  We could spend time with someone we know is lonely.  We could give money or donated items to a Christian organization we know feeds, clothes and shares Jesus with others.  We could use whatever talent God’s given us to be a blessing to others.  We can keep doing good and make a Christian impact hopefully revealing evidence in people’s lives that WE WERE HERE.

Matthew 22:37-39, Ephesians 4:31

Because of a friend’s recommendation, on Christmas Eve, my family went to see The Grinch.  We liked it so much we plan to get the DVD when it’s released.  The Grinch mostly lived a loveless life in a cave on a mountain.  His bitterness dominated his days.  At the end of the story though, love wins.

Do you know someone like The Grinch, only he or she isn’t becoming loving?  God doesn’t want people to be bitter.  He wants us to be full of love and showing Christian love.

Luke 2:17

Have you ever heard of the candy cane legend?  One version goes like this:

“Legend Of The Candy Cane

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a
witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several
symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.
White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and
hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and
firmness of the promises of God.

The candy maker made the candy in the form of a *J* to represent the
precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our savior. It also
represents the staff of the *Good Shepherd* with which He reaches down
into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep,
have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it
with red stripes. He used the three small stripes to show the stripes of the
scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. The large red stripe
was for the blood shed by Jesus on the Cross so that we could have the
promise of eternal life, if only we put our faith and trust in Him.”

http://247moms.com/2011/12/legend-of-the-candy-cane-free-printables/

With that in mind for Children’s Church this morning, I found a simplified, free, printable poem, entitled, “The Legend of the Candy Cane” that reads, “Look at a candy cane and what do you see?  Stripes that are red like the blood shed for me.  White is for my Savior, who is sinless and pure.  “J” is for Jesus, my Lord, that’s for sure!  Turn it around and a staff you will see-Jesus, my shepherd was born for me!

I attached the poem tags onto red and white candy canes and passed them out.  After reading the candy cane poem, I told them they now have a simple way to share Jesus with others.  Then, Emily and Ethan accompanied us as we sang, “Go, Tell It on the Mountain.”  It made my heart swell as our voices (including two jubilant boys) joined together in song for our Savior!

Psalm 23, Leviticus 1:10, Matthew 2, Matthew 25:32, Mark 6:34, Luke 2:1-20, Luke 22:7, John 1:29, John 10:11-14

My family’s pastor recently said how Jesus fulfilled many prophesies.  And so He did.  One prophesy in Matthew 2:5-6 says, “…But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.”

Jesus was referred to as a shepherd in Psalm 23, and in Mark 6:34.  Jesus Himself said in Matthew 25:32, “…and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”  He also said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  He also said in John  10:14, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-”

If you’ve read the Bible, you know God was very deliberate in His actions and had a meaningful reason for everything He did.  I believe the angel appearing to the shepherds is no exception, and points to the comparison of shepherds caring for their sheep and Jesus as the prophesied shepherd caring for His sheep.

Furthermore, when the shepherds rushed to see baby Jesus, they “found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”  I saw no mention of actual sheep being present, but if they were, they could have represented Jesus the shepherd’s “sheep.”  In addition, if there were sheep there, it could also have meant that instead of sheep being sacrificed for sin, Jesus would be the new sacrifice for sins.

If I were to produce Nativity art, I think I would show the scene of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger along with praising shepherds flanked by their sheep.  The magi would be absent or in the background since they came later to find Mary and Jesus as a child in a house.

Merry Christmas to you!  And thanks be to God for sending Jesus, our shepherd and Savior!

Luke 2:1-20

Last Sunday, I gave the history of the Silent Night carol in Children’s Church.  I then asked the kids to guess how many languages Silent Night is sung in around the world.  One girl guessed 40 and a boy guessed 10.  Not to be outdone, another boy guessed 100,000.  My source’s answer said Silent Night is sung in about 300 languages.  I then told them there’s a man in our church that speaks Portuguese and he would be able to sing Silent Night in Portuguese.  After the service, I talked to him about the Children’s Church discussion.  He decided to sing Silent Night for them in Portuguese this Sunday and it was beautiful!  Can you imagine what it would sound like hearing 300 people each with a different language, singing Silent Night to Jesus?  That would be amazing!  God created languages, so He’d hear their voices and understand what they were singing no matter what verse in the Universe they were on.

Ephesians 4:17-5:1-21

In Ephesians, Paul asks others, “to put off your old self…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  The Reformation Study Bible by R. C. Sproul explains, “Paul outlines six concrete ways that Christians ‘put off’ their old lives and ‘put on’ life in Christ: they must turn from lying to telling the truth…from uncontrolled anger to self-control…from stealing to useful labor…from harmful to helpful speech…from bitterness to  love…and from unrestrained sexual desires to a thankful acknowledgement of God’s good gifts.”  If you want Sproul’s summary simplified, here you go:

OLD→NEW

Lying Truth

Uncontrolled Anger  Self-Control

Stealing  Useful Labor

Harmful Speech  Helpful Speech

Bitterness  Love

Unrestrained Sexual Desires  Thankful Acknowledgement of God’s Gifts

 

Paul’s words, “to put off your old self,” reminds me of a Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs scene of Flint having thrown himself away in a trash can.  In a sense, he was throwing away his old self, the one who lied to Sam and spoke mean words to her.  When his dad showed up with Flint’s white flowing lab coat, it was a pivotal point where in essence, Flint put on his new self and repaired his relationship with Sam.  He also risked his life to stop the worldwide food storm.  Flint’s new self won over his old self.  Can others do that too?  Absolutely.

 

 

Genesis 8:15-17, Exodus 20:1-23, 1 Kings 19:11-20

While spending time in God’s Word lately, I’ve become increasingly curious about His voice.  Moses, Noah and Elijah all heard God’s voice.  God chose to speak at a period in time when people couldn’t obtain an audio recording, so we can try to imagine what He sounded like.  But we don’t have to solely rely on our imagination.

In 1 Kings, when God spoke to Elijah on a mountain, He spoke in, “a gentle whisper.”  A whisper isn’t hard to imagine.

In Genesis, one thing God spoke to Noah was, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.”  How do you think a voice actor/actress would read what He said?  They might first notice that it’s an imperative sentence ending with a period.  They might try to deliver the line with a deep, partially conversational voice.

After the 10 Commandments were given In Exodus 20, the shaking Israelites witnessed a trumpet sound, accompanied by thunder, lightning and a dark, smoking mountain.  They said, “…do not have God speak to us or we will die.”  God followed up by saying to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this:  ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven:”  I think that Moses and the Israelites possibly heard God’s maximum communication.

We know that God can communicate in a booming way, conversational way, or in a whisper.  When I get to Heaven, I hope God will recreate those historical and dramatic moments.

Galatians 6:2

Earlier this month, I occasionally watched a tree removal crew take down a large tree on a cold day.  When they cut a big section of the trunk, it crashed to the ground, making a loud THUMP that could be felt.  When the tree was in logs and wood chips, two workers used shovels to scoop the copious amounts of wood chips.  At one point, they put their shovels together and lifted a heavy lump of woodchips to a wheelbarrow.  It was a perfect picture of how beneficial working together can be.  The weight of the heavy wood chips wasn’t as bad when the workers joined shovels.

Paul tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens.”  According to dictionary.cambridge.org, two definitions of burden are:  “a heavy load that you carry” or “something difficult or unpleasant that you have to deal with or worry about.”

The two tree crew workers shared a burden.  Is there someone you know with a burden that you can join shovels with?

 

John 6:1-15, John 21:1-14, Mark 8:1-10, Mark 5:21-43,Galatians 6:9-10

Galatians says, “Let us not become weary in doing good” so what does that look like?  When Jesus was on earth it was important to Him to feed others.  He fed two fish and five loaves of bread to roughly 5,000 people and fed several fish and seven loaves of bread to approximately 4,000 people.  After Jesus rose from the dead, He cooked fish over coals and had bread available.  He surprised His unsuspecting disciples after a fishless outing with a sudden net full of fish.  Then, after He asked them to get a few of the freshly caught fish, He probably smiled as He said, “Come and have breakfast.”  And you may remember that when Jesus was told a girl had died, He raised her to life “and told them to give her something to eat.”

In the above examples of doing good, Jesus didn’t just provide or arrange for physical food.  He sought to spiritually feed people.

What’s important to Jesus should be important to Christians.  Even though Jesus had breathtaking show stopping miracles to accompany His actions, let’s do what we can to get food and Jesus to others this Thanksgiving and whenever we can.

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