Saturday, December 24, 2016

What surprised you most in 2016?
  • Was it the National Presidential Election?
  • Was it the number of God-seekers that came our way to worship with us?
  • Was it having 8 nations represented in many of our Sunday morning services?
  • Was it the appointing of both shepherds and deacons for the first time ever?
  • Was it welcoming 4 newborns into our midst between October 2 - November 10?
  • Was it Patti leaving Minnesota for 5 months to teach one semester in Indiana?
(That last one really surprised me!)

     Perhaps the world’s greatest surprise ever was when a young virgin girl, around 13 or 14 years old, gave birth to the Creator of the world!  Although in retrospect  it shouldn’t have been such a surprise; Christ’s virgin birth was announced over 700 years beforehand by the prophet, Isaiah (7:14).  "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and    bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”     

     The Gospel writer, Matthew, refers to Isaiah’s prophesy when he documents Christ’s birth: 
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  (Matthew 1:18-23)
     While the exact day of Jesus’ birth is unknown, the forever effect of the Incarnation, God coming in the flesh and living among us, is almost as life-changing as God’s ultimate desire to live within us!  WHY?  GOD’S INTENT HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO TRANSFORM US FROM THE INSIDE OUT (1Corinthians 6:19-20)  INTO BECOMING MORE AND MORE LIKE HIS SON!  Surprised?

LIFE-CHANGING!                                       God is good all the time.  Mr. Steve
  • What is the most expensive item you’ve ever owned?
  • Who is the most important person you’ve ever known?
  • What is most precious to you -- your greatest treasure?
     When I was 14 years old I got my first pair of new shoes.  I’d had shoes before but they were usually hand-me-downs from my brother or from the children’s home storeroom.  These shoes were brand new, right off the shelf!  i still remember their new smell, color and style to this day.  I also remember polishing them over and over -- even the soles!  Since my parents paid for the shoes, I don’t remember their cost; all I know is, at that time, they were my most treasured possession.

     Fast forward 50 years.  I’ve had many a new pair of shoes since I was 14 and of course, my value meter has changed.  But the question, what do I value above all else.... is still most necessary. 

     I believe many times my actions have betrayed the value and worth my heart has placed on my Lord.  Evidently, there was a time when Jesus wasn’t the apostles’ greatest treasure either.  In Matthew, Mark and John’s accounts, Jesus came up second to a year’s wages!  Even more, His being anointed with such an expensive perfume was in their own words, “Such a waste!” 

“While he (Jesus) was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very 
expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” Mk 14:3-5

     Besides Matthew 26, Mark 14 and John 12, I’ve been reading the book, “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee and an article by Steven Cole entitled, “Wasting Your Life On Jesus.”  Many questions!  Do I treasure Jesus more than my stuff?  Do I treasure Jesus more than my pride?  Do I treasure Jesus more than my reputation?  Have I even come close to the point of pouring myself out.... wasting my life on Jesus?  Mary understood the value of her Lord.  WORTHY!

     At age 14 it was a pair of shoes.  At age 64.... my comfort zone.  Isn’t Jesus worthy of all of me?  My heart?  My passion?  If I say no .... then what a waste! 
God is good all the time.  Mr. Steve