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Matthew 5:1, 14:23, 17:1, Luke 24:50-53

Do you like high places?  Jesus did.  In Matthew 5:1, He sat on the side of a mountain and preached.  In Matthew 14:23, He went to the side of a mountain to pray.  In Matthew 17:1, He led some disciples up a great mountain which is where the transfiguration took place.  And in Luke 24:50-53, while Jesus had his hands up blessing them, He ascended to Heaven.  The Living Bible says, “and then began rising into the sky, and went on to heaven.”

Mountains were the highest place on Earth Jesus walked on.  But when He ascended to Heaven, He went higher.  Jesus is so high above us in every way!

 

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1 John 1:9

The other day I was munching on popcorn (our son, Ethan, calls it dropcorn) and a piece of popcorn fell on our begging American Eskimo dog’s back.  I watched to see how he would solve the problem.  After several attempts of trying to reach it,   Ezzo got down on the floor and slightly rolled to the side.  He was rewarded for his problem solving when he heard the popcorn roll onto the floor where he could get his tasty treat.

Let’s say that dropping popcorn represents tripping spiritually.  We don’t need to problem solve.  We just need to go to Jesus in prayer, confessing whatever the sin is and He’ll extend forgiveness.

Luke 24:13-35

My family loves to go on walks.  So when I read this passage about two people taking a famous walk with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, it grabbed my attention.  Can you imagine going on a walk and then Jesus joins you?  Wow!  A fascinating twist though, was that the people walking to Emmaus with Jesus didn’t realize it was Him until it was time to eat and He gave them bread.  Then, they were allowed to recognize Him.  Once they recognized Him, He disappeared.

One great thing about Heaven is that Jesus lives there.  And whenever Christians enter Heaven, they can enjoy Jesus eternally.

Luke 22:39-46

Revelation 21:4

When Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, He was distressed.  He hoped that He wouldn’t have to become a sacrifice, but He was willing to be obedient to God’s will.  The Bible reads like He was in such anguish, that He sweat blood that fell on the Mount of Olives.

If you do an online search for sweating blood, one link that pulls up is from Wikipedia. “Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress…The episodes may be preceded by intense headache and abdominal pain…(and the) effect on the body is… mild to moderate dehydration from…both blood and sweat loss.[9]

The New Testament indicates that Jesus underwent hematidrosis before the Crucifixion, during the Agony in the Garden (Luke 22:44).[5][12] These claims are plausible, given that the modern day dermatological research notes the presence of hematidrosis in people awaiting execution…[5] Leonardo da Vinci described a soldier who sweated blood before battle. [13]”

We don’t know if Jesus had a massive headache with abdominal pain before sweating blood, or if He had any dehydration from the loss of the blood/sweat combination.  We do know that even before Jesus was arrested, cruelly beaten and killed, He was already suffering.

Since Jesus was in Heaven before coming to Earth, He was in a perfect place with no pain.  We’re the reason why Jesus felt immense pain.  We are all sinners and our sin is why Jesus became the sacrifice for sin for all time. Whatever sin you may be holding onto, give it up!  Show Jesus respect for what He did.  Jesus didn’t die for nothing.

Revelation 3:1-6 

Romans 10:9

What does your “to do” list look like?  Maybe it’s a little longer with New Year’s resolutions, or shorter if the resolutions didn’t work out.

In Revelation 3, the Holy Spirit communicated to the Sardis Church.  Most of them were warned to awaken and complete the unfinished deeds.  If they didn’t awaken, repent and obey, Jesus “will come like a thief…”.

There were a handful of Sardis people Jesus found worthy.  He relayed that anyone victorious like those few will get to be with Him.  Jesus promises not to “blot out” the worthy person’s name in “the book of life.

If life has you distracted, force yourself to stop and reflect on your status with Jesus.  If you’re not saved yet, say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.  If you don’t think it’s important to get saved, the enemy is lying to you!  Or if you think you can put off salvation like procrastinating on a project, you may not have the time you think you have.  What if you could see Jesus about to delete your name from the Book of Life?  Wouldn’t you want to stop that action?

I once heard a pastor give an electrifying message on salvation.  He challenged listeners to care about others’ salvation to spare them from Hell.  He begged the congregation to imagine lost people unknowingly walking towards and over the edge of a cliff.  He hoped that if people could actually see others nearing that deadly place, they would call out, “Hey!  Stop!”  Then, they could tell them about Christ.

If you are saved but have a sleepy spiritual life, wake up!  A good way to wake up spiritually, is to complete Experiencing God, a workbook by Henry Blackaby.  I finished the workbook last month and found that although he is not afraid to step on toes, Experiencing God was helpful in deepening my relationship with God.  One bit of wisdom that stands out, is to remember the last thing God communicated to you to do, and then to do that without hesitation.  So, you might have to revise that 2018 to do list.

Luke 19:1-9, Revelation 22:7-21

You are probably familiar with the account of Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore-fig tree so he could see Jesus.  Soon after, Jesus provided Zacchaeus with salvation.

Have you ever wanted to see Zacchaeus’ tree?  I discovered an interesting post of a blogger that searched for the ancient tree.  Once in Jericho, the blogger found three possibilities for the tree and thought it’s also possible the historic sycamore-fig might not exist anymore.  http://www.travelujah.com/blogs/entry/Touring-Jericho-My-Search-for-the-Zacchaeus-Tree

I think that Zacchaeus’ tree is what is displayed in the Greek Orthodox monastery.  Only a trunk is left, but it looks like it was a climber-friendly tree with easily accessible branches.  The last tree the blogger saw in the garden of the Holy Land Museum does not look climber-friendly.

Whether Zacchaeus’ tree still exists or not, doesn’t appear to be known.  What we do know is that Zacchaeus used a sycamore-fig tree to look for Jesus.  Let’s also eagerly look for Jesus now and in 2018.  The end of Revelation tells us in Jesus’ own words that He is coming.

 

 

Matthew 2:1-12

One morning earlier this month, sunlight came through our kitchen window and shined like a spotlight on our Nativity scene.  That light reminded me of the star we associate with Jesus’ birth.

What do we know about the star?  In Matthew 2:1-2 we read that Eastern Magi saw “his star” and they desired “to worship him.”  Also, the star “went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”

The NIV Study Bible says about the star, “Probably not an ordinary star, planet or comet, though some scholars have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.”  And R. C. Sproul, who is now with our Lord, had said in The Reformation Study Bible about the star, “This may have been a planetary conjunction, a supernova, or something purely supernatural.”

It really sounds like the Magi got a show.  The star was like a spotlight on Jesus, the real star.

Luke 2:4-7, 23:50-56, John 19:38-40

When the topic of Jesus as a baby is mentioned, we often think of Mary and his earthly dad, Joseph.  We picture Mary wrapping Jesus as a baby in cloths, and then putting Him in the manger.

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man (Who’s Who in the Bible) present at the end of Jesus’ earthly life.  He asked Pilate if he could have Jesus’ body.  He then got Jesus’ body off the cross and used cloths to wrap the body (with the help of Nicodemus) and got it into a tomb.

Mary and Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus in cloths.  Through the hands of those He created, it’s like God wrapped His only son as a gift to the world.

Luke 18:1-8

Since the holidays are upon us, by now you’ve probably seen at least one costumed Santa.  My family saw one on a chair receiving little kids for photo ops.  Except for a crying little boy that seemed to be scared of Santa, other kids probably told Santa what toys they wanted for Christmas.  I heard another Santa in a store ask a cashier what she wanted for Christmas.  She asked for a day off, something that the costumed Santa didn’t pretend to give.

How would you have answered that Santa?  Maybe you want a day off.  Well, because of Christmas, the Christian celebration of Jesus coming into the world as a baby, most Americans have Christmas off.  And if you’re a student, you might have quite a few days off.  Or maybe you desire healing, something you wouldn’t try to ask Santa for.

You can ask God for healing.  He is able to provide healing.  If you’ve been asking Him for healing, keep praying and asking Him like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable.  She kept asking a judge for justice.  He eventually granted her justice.  If you keep asking God for healing, He can grant you the gift of healing.

Luke 2:1-20, 12:6-7, Matthew 10:29-31

Do you have your Christmas decorations up?  Last weekend, by our bay window, I was fussing with an artificial Christmas tree with a nativity ornament among other ornaments and lights when I got that feeling I was being watched.  When I looked out the window, I discovered some sparrows had been watching what I was doing from an outside bush and near the ground.  Since I had been maneuvering the nativity ornament to my liking, it made me wonder if a sparrow or sparrows could have watched Jesus as a baby in the manger.

Jesus talked about the worth of sparrows.  Maybe sparrows were near the manger foreshadowing what He would say as an adult.

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