Make a Difference!

One man made a difference!
Like Noah, we are expected to have faith. Hebrews eleven, verse six indicates that without it we cannot please God. In that context it is a shame that some Christians discount the accuracy of the floods account .
 
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"When thou art converted, Strengthen thy brethren" Luke 22

Go and Wash!
It might be best that we not argue with Jesus' command to be baptized. Oh, but, what if? There are endless scenarios that might be put forth to counter as to why someone might not be baptized and that to be okay. Why don't we let God worry about that? Jesus left us an example by going down into the water with John and being immersed in water......
 
Get excited about Communion!
Jesus  was excited about the last supper. Was it the fellowship of the disciples? Was it the Passover meal itself? Was it the opportunity of the diversion of what Jesus knew was ahead? Jesus said, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.......
 

"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden:" Jesus

Times of the Signs......
It is sad to observe the presence of chaos in most of our lives. Do you think chaos is too strong a word to use? Would complicated work better? Somewhere in between chaos and complication is an area of concern in most all our lives. Through our parents and grandparents we have learned of the tremendous changes they were forced to endure during their lifetime. While they may have suffered the brunt of so many complications of the past generations; a brief survey will reveal just how chaotic "our" lives have been and continue to be even today.
Technology has promised to make our lives less complicated. It has surely added to the medical benefits, but who can afford it or even the insurance which once protected us from catastrophic expenses? Read More
 
 

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FAITH THAT WORKS

 
There are a few things about “faith” that need to be set strait. The first thing is just how important it is.
 
  • It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Heb 11:6 (MSG)
We cannot please God without faith. I’m sure that at least one of our goals is to “please God”, or it should be. It is sad to say that the majority of people in the world are out to please themselves. Paul wrote to Timothy about these people:
 
  • This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves. 2 Tim 3:1-2 (KJV)

With faith being so important, one wonders, “how might I acquire faith”? Does it magically appear? As I have read and studied the Bible I have determined that faith comes through “hearing and hearing by the word of the Lord.” Romans 10:17 To believe something because your church does: it’s in your denomination’ creed: or because your parents do or did believe something is treading on thin ice. A little study will show that Abraham got his faith “by the word of the Lord”. Our link with faith should be as strong as was Abraham’s, whose faith was “imputed to him as righteousness.” James 2:23
 
It is what God has promised that he will perform. It is what he has promised that we must, having heard, either through our ears in hearing or through our eyes in reading, produce faith on our part. The quality of faith we must have is that of “a grain of mustard seed.” Matt 13:31/17:20. Stephen and Barnabas were described as being “full of faith”. That says to me they were energized by what they had heard and believed. Acts 6:8/11:24 The Ethiopian eunuch was invited to be baptized if he “believed with all his heart.” Acts 8:37 As the gospel grew in the city of Antioch, the believers (those who believed and had faith) began to be called “Christians”. Acts 11:26 Faith is the under girder of our hope. Heb. 11:1

The propitiation (appeasement or conciliation) of our individual sins comes about because of our faith in the blood of Christ. Rom 3:25 We are “saved by grace through faith” which is a gift from God. Eph 2:8 We often hear about how we need Jesus in our heart; that is by faith. Eph. 3:17 Faith is actually the “victory that overcomes the world”. I John 5:4 We become “children of God” through faith in Jesus Christ. Gal. 3:26 Before going any further, please note Paul’s admonition to Timothy:
 
  • Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 1 Tim 4:1 (KJV)

Paul admonished the Colossians to be “established” in their faith, (Col. 2:7) and to continue in the faith, grounded and settled. Col. 1:23 That can only be accomplished as we “fight the good fight of faith”. I Tim. 6:12 Paul rejoiced in his letter to Timothy that he had fought that good fight and had “kept the faith”, 2 Tim. 4:7 and in that same letter commended Timothy for his “unfeigned faith which had dwelt first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice”. 2 Tim. 1:5 Jude was concerned:
 
  • Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3 (KJV)

Hebrews chapter 11 gives a long list of individuals who displayed their faith through their actions in their lives:
 
  • Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. 40 God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours. Heb 11:39-40 (MSG)

James, the brother of Jesus, was particularly concerned about faith absent of works. I know you can turn in your Bible and read it for yourself, but let me give you this translation containing James’ concern. It is lengthy, but spares me attempting to put into words what is already said:
 
  • Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? 15 For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved 16 and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? 17 Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? 18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. 19 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? 20 Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands? 21 Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? 22 Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"? 23 The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." 24 Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works? James 2:14-24 (MSG)

May I suggest that this is the type of faith that works?
 
  • For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. Gal 5:6 (MSG)

The KJV says “faith which worketh by love”. Gal 5:6 (KJV) A faith that works is a working faith. It is a faith established firmly on “thus saith the Lord”. Noah proved that, when he built the ark at God’s word of instruction. Abram proved it when he left his homeland and traveled, at God’s command, to a land where he was a stranger and at another time when he offered his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, via God’s instruction. (That completed sacrifice was stayed) Moses confirmed his faith by following God’s command and leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt onto the edge of the “Land of Promise”. Ordinary people have been doing it for centuries of time. The Ethiopian eunuch responded to his faith by being baptized by Deacon Philip who met the eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza having “believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”.

Do you have a “faith that works”? Are you concerned about the “faith once delivered to the saints”? If you have faith, what are you doing with it?
 
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JESUS HAD A GENESIS

 
  • The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Matt 1:1 (NASB)

Matthew says it in his opening statement in the book of Matthew. The word “genealogy” comes from the same word from which we get “genesis”. Did you get that? The birth certificate Matthew gave was of the “beginning” of Jesus Christ. Think about that and don’t ever forget it. The fourteen generations from Abraham to David; the fourteen generations from David till the carrying away captive into Babylon; and the fourteen generations from the carrying away captive to Christ tell us about Jesus’ beginning. Matthew 1:17
 
Why Was Mary Highly Favored & Blessed Among Women?
It was because of God’s plan fulfilled in the womb of Mary his mother, that Jesus had a beginning. All of this was conceived in the plan and in the mind of God before the beginning of the world. I Peter 1:20 Can you now see why Mary was called the favored one by the angel Gabriel. The plan of God focused on her. What a special opportunity for a humble Jewish girl, probably in her teens or early twenties.
 
  • “And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28 (NASB)

That which was conceived in the mind of God was conceived in the womb of Mary. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” Luke 1:31 (NASB) “But how can this be Mary asked, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel explained the process to Mary; “Because of the energizing power of the Holy Spirit”. Mary would through that which would be conceived in her body bring about the “genesis” of the holy child called the Son of God. Truly Mary was as the KJV puts it “blessed among women”.
 
  • "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 (NASB)

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the story:
 
  • Luke 1: 26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

The main focus must always be on that which was conceived in the womb of Mary, but let’s consider Mary for just a bit.
 
  • Mary was of the house of David
  • Mary was from Nazareth, Galilee
  • Mary was engaged to Joseph, the son of Jacob
  • Mary was highly favored
  • God was with Mary
  • Mary was blessed among women

Quite an impressive resume, wouldn’t you say? Her husband to be had kingly roots. See Matthew 1 We get a glimpse of her character as we read the story of her visit with her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was married to Zacharias. They lived in the hill country of Judah. Zacharias was of a “priestly order”. He had been praying for a son to be given to him and Elizabeth. He was visited by an angel of the Lord and given the message that his prayers had been heard and Elizabeth would in fact bear his a son and he should call his name John. They were blessed of the Lord to have a child in their old age. Elizabeth was six months into her pregnancy when Mary came to visit. That visit is recorded in the first chapter of Luke.
 
  • Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah,40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!43 "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.45 "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." Luke 1:39-45 (NASB)

This to me is a tender moment in time: two relatives visiting and sharing how God was working in each of their lives. Elizabeth was so excited at the sound of Mary’s voice that the unborn baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s testimony continues to ring true, even today:
 
  • And Mary said, I'm bursting with God-news; 47 I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. 48 God took one good look at me, and look what happened— I'm the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, 49 the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. 50 His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. 51 He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. 52 He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. 53 The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. 54 He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. 55 It's exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now. 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home. Luke 1:46-56 (MSG)

What happened to both these women would have a profound effect on the nation of Israel, the yet to be built church, and to the entire world. The angel’s message to the shepherds continues to be new and fresh in the sad affairs of the nations of the world:
 
  • "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (NASB)

I am particularly glad that the angel said “news of great joy which will be for all people”. Not just the house of Israel, but all people. The news of that joy continues to resonate in the songs of Christmas:
 
  • Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her king; Let every heart prepare him room, and heav’n and nature sing!
  • O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
  • Angles from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth; ye who sang creations’ story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth; come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the new-born King!
  • Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation! O sing, all ye bright hosts of heav’n above; glory to God, all glory in the highest; O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
  • While shepherds kept their watching O’er silent flocks by night, behold, throughout the heavens there shone a holy light. The shepherds feared and trembled when lo! Above the earth. Rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth. Down in a lowly manger our humble Christ was born, and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

Mary and Joseph were instructed to call the baby Mary would have, “Jesus; For he shall save his people from their sins”. Matt. 1:21/Luke 1:31. This Jesus would take on the task of dealing with sin; that wretched thing which caused, and continues to cause, so much tragedy in the world. We can read the bible and find out how Jesus dealt with “sin”. But how should you and I deal with sin?

Point #1…Sin is a bad thing from which we need to be saved
 
  • Romans 6: 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Point #2…I am a sinner…one that Jesus came to save
 
  • I Timothy1: 15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Point #3….Salvation comes only through Christ
 
  • Acts 4: 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Point # 4…Salvation needs my response.
 
  • Romans 13: 11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand:

Point # 5…Jesus must become my Saviour
 
  • John 4: 39And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41And many more believed because of his own word; 42And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
 
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