The Birth of Jesus

Jesus Is Born

Bill’s Comments:

Deb and I started Christmas morning by reading the historical account of the birth of Jesus with friends in China by means of GoToMeeting an online conference tool. The husband is a Christian and the wife is considering Christ.

The four of us took turns reading verses from Luke 2:1-20.


Luke 2: In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. 2It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be listed. 

4So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. 5He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby. 

6While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. 7She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. There was no room for them in the inn. 

Angels Appear to the Shepherds

8There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 

10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. 12Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 

13Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 

14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! 

And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!” 

15The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 

19But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 

20The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told. 

 New International Reader’s Version. (1998). (1st ed., Lk 2:1–20). Zondervan.


Bill’s Comments:

One question which was asked during our early morning meeting was this, “What does, ‘He is Christ the Lord’ mean?” It was our joy to explain that Jesus is the Savior promised throughout all of human/Biblical history, and that Christmas is the day Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I asked the husband if he would close in prayer. He said he would but that he had only ever prayed in Mandarin (Chinese Language).

It warms my heart and creates in me a sense of awe to realize that Christians all around our world are raising their voices in a thousand tongues thanking our Father for our Savior born on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas my brothers and sisters,

Bill E

The Limits of Money

Psa. 49:5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit. 10    For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. 13    This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah

Devotional Thought:

It is an old and neglected truth. All of us will forever exist  in either eternal bliss or eternal torment, and our temporal financial well being will not determine our eternal estate—money cannot ransom our eternal soul.  Therefore, we should not trust in our wealth, nor should we fear those who use wealth to oppress us. In the end (actually the beginning), those who trust in Jesus Christ the Savior will rule over those who trust in riches.

Simple but true and a foundation to build life upon,

Bill

 

Our Responsibility

The Word of God

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

My Thoughts

Jude is doing his best to protect Christians from false Christians who infiltrate the fellowship of Christians. After a detailed description of these false Christians, Jude explains how to protect ourselves from them.

First of all, we must recognize and embrace the fact that it is our responsibility to keep ourselves in the love of God. This does not mean that we keep ourselves saved–members of God’s family. Rather, we have the responsibility to take the necessary steps to maintain our fellowship with God and with other Christians.

Probably just thinking about this brings to our mind areas of our walk with God that are lacking. This would be a good time to begin to fix those areas.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Lord willing, we will study the phrase, “building yourselves up on your most holy faith.”

Until then, may God help you to enjoy your life with Him.

Bill E.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Jud 20–21). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Don’t be Self-Centered

October 8, 2017

Jude 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

This is an odd place to renew my devotional diary, but I just felt it was time. I desire to help, in any little way I can, my many friends made through the years.

The word translated worldly minded in Jude 19 refers to a person who is not spiritual or overtly sinful. They can converse intelligently about the world around them and may be quit friendly, but they are self-centered. Their world revolves around themselves. Self-satisfied, they are actually shallow individuals who have a small universe consisting of self.

The self-centered life is actually a miserable existence. True life, abundant life, meaningful life is one spent for others. This kind of life is based upon a true knowledge of God’s intention for us, our failures, and God’s redeeming love.

We are created to be caretakers for our world and the people in it. We have failed at this, but Christ has redeemed us, building in us the desire to serve Him by helping others.

Let’s enjoy the life God has given us by helping each other and not being worldly-minded.

 

 

Ken Davis

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?

This Sunday morning I received news from Ken Davis that his cancer has become much more aggressive–it doesn’t look good. He has diligently worked holistically to treat his stage 4 cancer, and he has, until now, had remarkable success. I am praying that God will put Ken’s cancer into remission.

At the same time, I am reminded that, at 63, longevity is not guaranteed. I can and should be diligent to maintain my health, but, in the end, God will tell me when it is time to go. Until then, I will pursue God and His desire for my life and calling.

As I think of my many friends, I am prompted to include another verse from Proverbs 20. Verse 9 reads, “Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will need to admit that we are not pure from sin. All of us have done things which we know are shameful and which deserves God’s judgment. The questions is this, How can I make things right with God? The answer is by admitting our guilt and trusting in our Father’s provision for our sin–Jesus Christ. Jesus, our Savior, has never sinned, yet he died as our sin bearer. He took our gross part upon Himself, so that He could offer us forgiveness and life with Him.

Undoubtedly, we will need to make things right with people whom we may have injured. We may need to ask forgiveness from them as well, but it all starts with being right with God who is our ultimate judge.

This all began for me years ago on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. My life with God began when I confessed my guilt, my record of hurting people, and accepted Jesus as my Savior. Since then, it has been all about learning to live with and for Him.

Living for God is not a chore for me but life itself. I have come to love God whom I know through Jesus Christ. He knows me and accepts me even while He changes me. He is my constant companion. He will see me through death into His wonderful presence.

I hope this helps a friend.

Gaining Competence

Proverbs 18:1-2

He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.

During my time with the Lord today, I read Proverbs 18. The first two verses of this Proverb has always caused me to pause, reflect and adjust my actions and attitudes.

My paraphrase of  Proverbs 18:1-2: To isolate myself is selfish, doing so (isolating myself) runs counter to all successful thinking. I need others to gain competence.

Being Thankful

For the third day in a row, Deb and I walked up to Jose’s Ridge. Today, we made it in 45 minutes. At the end of our upward trek, we sat at each others back, supporting each other, and marveled at the beauty of God’s creation. While doing so, we listen to a song, God of Creation. It was  a wonderful time, and it made us ask the question, Should we dare enjoy ourselves while so much of the world is under such duress?

We decided that we should be thankful for the moment, learn about the God who made such beauty, and prepare for a future of sacrificial service to our God and for our neighbors (the population of the world).

Eccl. 3:1   There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven —2  A time to give birth and a time to die;  A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4  A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. 5  A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;  A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6  A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7  A time to tear part and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8  A time to love and a time to hate;  A time for war and a time for peace. (NASB)