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Are you a "Mary" or a "Martha"?

Are you a "Mary" or a "Martha"?
This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Christmas

In Luke 10:38-42 we are told the story of 2 sisters, Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, all good friends of Jesus, on the occasion of Jesus’ visit.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

At Christmas time, we tend to act like Martha – distracted with preparations and not like Mary, who’s sole attention was Jesus and His word.

Mary chose what was better – what was important. Is it that important to get the prettiest tree or the most lights? Is it that important to makes sure the gift is perfect and that everyone on the list is covered? Is it that important that cookies are homemade instead of store-bought?

What’s important in this and every Christmas season is that we prepare for Jesus’ visit into our homes and that he’s firmly settled into our hearts. Keep it simple, saints, (KISS) and remember that if it wasn’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. And that Jesus was the ultimate Gift that a Loving God could give us.

Have a Blessed Christmas and look for more Christmas posts in my other blogs:
http://giselleaguiar.blogspot.com/
http://giselleaguiar.wordpress.com
http://musingsbygiselle.blogspot.com/ 

Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
www.giselleaguiar.com/wwjd
Search Amazon.com for Christ in Christmas

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – What is Advent

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – What is Advent
This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Christmas

Advent WreathIt’s Advent. What exactly is Advent? 

The Advent season begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. It usually lands on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In many churches, traditional purple cloths adorn the altar and Christmas decorations go up including the Advent Wreath. The word advent means: The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. It’s roots: Middle English, the Advent season, from Old French, from Latin adventusarrival, from past participle of adven reto come to ad-, ad- + ven re,to come.
Advent is the anticipation of Christ’s coming, celebrated on December. 25th. (I’ll be writing another article on the real origins of December 25th. We are also anticipating the 2nd arrival of Jesus any day now.
I wrote a series of articles examining the Christmas carols that we hear everywhere and delved into exactly what they mean. They are songs we learned as children. They are played and sung in stores and malls so that you will be in the “Christmas Spirit” and buy more. But they were written for a different reason. In olden times, the majority of the people were illiterate way before the bible was the best selling book. So pastors turned to both stained glass windows and song to tell the bible stories.
Emmanuel = “God with us” 
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) The Old Testament
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) The New Testament – This is one of many biblical prophecies that have already come true.

Madonna & childO Come, O Come Emmanuel

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father*, Prince of Peace.
 (Isaiah 9:6)
*An interesting note is that this is one of the only places in the Old Testament where God is referred to as “the Father”. It was not until Christ, His son was born and we became His children that He was call “Abba”, Father. We can call him “Daddy.” Everlasting Father. Usually in the Old Testament God was referred to as “The Lord.”

The Lord God, the Father, sent us His son, a saviour, in a humble manger. He came to serve and save us from death not to condemn us.

Like what you read? Then you’ll love my award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award-Winning Christian Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar
http://twitter.com/wwjdrevival

Peace on Earth? Yeah, Right!

Peace on Earth? Yeah, Right!
This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Christmas

I have to share today’s Our Daily Bread Devotion: 

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
~John 14:27

I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with a sky full of angels, but I must admit that I’ve always wondered about the promise of peace the angelic host made to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem. For the last 2,000 years, peace on our planet has been at best a rare commodity. Wars continue to ravage innocent lives, domestic violence is a growing calamity, divorce rates soar, churches split, and peace in our restless and wayward hearts seems to be an elusive dream.

Where is the promised peace? Actually, on reflection, we can see that Jesus brought all that is needed for peace in our world. He taught the principles of peace, calling for people to love their neighbors as they love themselves. And as He was leaving this planet, He promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). He told us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive offenses, reject greed, tolerate each other’s weaknesses, live to serve and love one another as He has loved us.

It seems that in large part, peace is up to us. [WWJD] Paul verifies that in Romans 12:18, “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” This Christmas, let’s make peace our gift to the world in which we live as we reflect the Prince of Peace. — by Joe Stowell

Read: Luke 2:8-14

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

When we experience peace with God,
we can share His peace with others. 

May you have a Blessed Christmas and a Bountiful and Peaceful New Year!
Giselle
Soli Deo Gloria
Search Amazon.com for peace on earth
www.giselleaguiar.com/wwjd

Unintended Destinations

Unintended Destinations
This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Christmas

This is an excerpt of a sermon given by Chuck Foreman, Teaching Pastor at First Christian Church of Phoenix on Nov., 27, 2011

Unintended Destinations

We just go along holding God at arm’s length and before you know it, we’re so far away from Him it seems impossible to ever get back. We try not to think about it. We stay busy and put it out of our mind. But in those occasional moments-something happens to trigger that gnawing feeling inside us. We know we’ve drifted about as far away from God as we can get—so far we don’t even know how to get home—to Him.

There’s only one thing that separates us—creates this painful distance between us and God, distance we can feel: SIN

I know, you’ve heard all that before, haven’t you? You see, that’s the problem with going to church all the time—it all becomes too familiar. After a while, we turn it all off. We stop listening. We just set our cruise control and go on down the road—but it’s almost always in the wrong direction. Our sin problem just gets bigger and bigger until it takes up the full screen of our lives—just like that.

Come on Foreman! It’s Chrismas time! We don’t want to hear about SIN!… Maybe you haven’t read the Story in a while. Don’t you remember what the angel told Joseph to name Mary’s baby? (Mt. 1:21) Jesus—Yeshua:“The Lord Saves”—because He will save His people from their—SINS.
People, that’s what Christmas is all about—God’s plan, God’s way of saving you from the sin that ruins your life!

One thing the Lord has made very clear to me is that I’m not supposed to make it easy for you to come to church here at FCC. WWJD? People would say to him, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you go!” What was his response?

  • Foxes… Luke 9: 57-58
  • Bury my father… Luke 9: 59-60
  • Hand to the plow… Luke 9: 61-62
  • Deny yourself & take up your cross… Matthew 10:38

Sometimes SIN is blatant. We know exactly what the sin in our lives is. We just don’t care. It hasn’t quite caught up to us and we’re still enjoying it. Or it has such a hold on us we can’t get rid of it. But sometimes SIN isn’t so obvious. Sometimes SIN disguises itself as… SELF It’s barely visible. We’re hardly aware of it, if at all.

Our own self-centeredness is the most powerful, yet most subtle separator of us from God.

We’re all in the same boat as humans as far as our sin problem. Look at these:

  • Romans 3:10-18       Is that you?
  • Romans 3:23
  • Romans 2:5-11
  • Ephesians 2:1-3     Can you speak about yourself like this, using the past tense, or are you still there?

If Jesus was here, right now, would he say to us what he said to His 1st century religious contemporaries?   Mark 7:6

So if God knows all this about us, that we become dirt bags pretty fast w/o Him, what’s his attitude toward us, his intention for us?

  • I Thessalonians 5:9
  • Parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:1-7

Here’s what I think that means: If you’ve stayed from God, He knows it. He knows you’re missing. And he’s after you! He’s searching for you—and He won’t stop until He gets you home!

More later….

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award-Winning Christian Author

Check out Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar
http://twitter.com/wwjdrevival

Unintended Destinations – part 2

Unintended Destinations – part 2
This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Christmas

This is a continuation of Unintended Destinations an excerpt from Chuck Foreman, Teaching Pastor at First Christian Church of Phoenix

It’s Christmas Time, so I’m gonna throw in a little of the Christmas Story here. Remember the part about the Wise Guys? I mean the Wise Men? It’s in Matthew 2:1-12

Verses 1-2
The Star— We actually have software now which enables us to look at what was happening in the sky around the beginning of the 1st Century. What the Wise Men saw was Jupiter (King Planet) & Venus (Mother Planet) aligning. This would have looked like the largest star you’d ever seen! By God’s design, the Heavens were telling about the birth of a King.

When this alignment of the King & Mother planets occurred, it happened w/in the Constellation Leo (the Lion). The Lion, is the symbol of Judah, which told these eastern astronomers right where to find this new King.

Verses 3-8
On Dec. 25, 2 BC, Jupiter went into retrograde motion, which from a person’s vantage point on earth, who might just happen to be in Jerusalem, would appear that Jupiter had actually stopped in the evening sky right over a little Judean town called—Bethlehem. The Heavens were telling God’s Story, and Jupiter, the King Planet led the Magi all the way to Bethlehem. Pretty Cool.

Verses 7-12
But now these guys are stuck in Judea. They can’t go back home thru Jerusalem because Herod will figure out where Jesus is and go kill him. Matthew is very specific that, “…having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” They couldn’t get back home they way they’d come.

I know that’s not Matthew’s main point. He’s just telling us the story. But I’ve been thinking about that—These astronomers found themselves in a real pickle, a long way from home. And getting back required a change of direction.

If we’ve found ourselves distant from God, far away from Him, we’re never going to get back to Him on the same route that led us away from Him! We have to get back home another way!

If we’re honest, we know what sin it is that has us in its clutches. We keep going back to it and we know it’s become like a brick wall between us & God. We won’t let go of it and therefore, it won’t let go of us.

  • Sex with your girlfriend or boyfriend before marriage
  • Porn—It’s as addictive as any drug isn’t it? And it’s everywhere. You have to decide ahead of time what you’re going to do.
  • Anger or Critical Spirit—you do more tearing down than building up.
  • What’s the thing you won’t let go of?

  • What’s the thing that won’t let go of you?

Sometimes our sin isn’t that obvious. Some of you are sitting here right now thinking, “I don’t do any of those things.” But you still feel about as far away from God as you can get. It’s because for you, SIN has masked itself as—SELF. But you can’t see it because you haven’t stopped to take a long, hard look in the mirror since who knows when!

The thing that’s separating you from God isn’t any particular heinous sin that you can put your finger on. You’re not a bad person. You’re just a self-centered person—however subtle your self-centeredness may be.

If those who know you well were interviewed by Fox News, and asked these questions about you, what would they say?
Questions:

  1. What does (your name) do?
  2. What does (your name) love?
  3. What does (your name) stand for/believe in?
  4. What defines (your name) ?

How would those who know you well answer these questions about you?

What are you hanging onto that you need to let go of so God can change it into something that will help you serve Him?

What has a hold on you that you need to be released from so that you can be close to God again?

You see, our problem is either SIN of SELF. What’s keeping you away from God? What aren’t you letting go of? Are the habits & patterns in your life driving you to God or keeping him at arm’s length?

God wants you home for Xmas. He wants you back home with Him. But like the wise men—you’re not going to get back home the way you came. You’re gonna have to get home to God another way. Living life the way you have been & doing the same things you’ve been doing isn’t going to get you back to God. You’re gonna have to make a change in the way you live & in the way you think.

Seek, Reach Out, Find Him— Acts 17: 26-27

Everything God has done in your life has been so that you would find Him. The good and the bad happen to drive you to Him! He’s not far away from any of us. If you seek Him, you’ll find Him. If you reach out to Him, He’ll reach out to you…and lead you home!

Let Him take you home, back home, where He is, where you belong— this Christmas.

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award-Winning Christian Author

Check out Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar
http://twitter.com/wwjdrevival

The Significance of the Magi

The Significance of the Magi
This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Christmas

Here is the excerpt from the Christmas Eve message by Chuck Foreman at First Christian Church of Phoenix:

3 wise menThe Magi

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” ~Matthew 2:1-2

The Magi— A Greek word used to describe educated men who specialized in magic, sorcery, enchanting, astrology, and interpreting dreams. But we can tell that these guys were actually scientists, astronomers. Probably from Persia or Babylon. They were historically enemies of God’s People. The Babylonians had conquered and taken Israel captive 800 years B.C. And the Jews never forgot!

What about—The Star?

We actually have software now which enables us to look at what’s happening in the sky 2-3 years prior to Herod’s death. The heavens were full of activity! And here are some of the coolest astronomical occurrences: During this time period, the star Regulus (King) lined up with Jupiter (King Planet) 2 times—once on Sept. 12, 3 BC and again on Feb. 17, 2 BC. Then on June 17, that same year, Jupiter (King Planet) & Venus (Mother Planet) aligned. This would have looked like the largest star you’d ever seen! By God’s design, the Heavens were telling about the coming of a King.

It just so happened that some astronomer dudes in Babylon were watching. Get this—when this alignment of the King & Mother planets occurred, it happened w/in the Constellation Leo (the Lion). The Lion, is the symbol of Judah, which told these eastern astronomers right where to find this new King.

A Disturbing Visit

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. ~Matthew 2:4

Why?  We know why Herod was disturbed-jealousy. He wanted no rivals to his throne.  (After the Eastern Astronomers left, he sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the boys 2 yrs. & under.)  But why was all Jerusalem disturbed?  I’ll tell you why—it was that the news of their long awaited Messiah was brought to them by these uncircumcised foreign heathens!  How dare God reveal the birth of His Son—the Messiah—to such people!

What do they know?!  What part could they possibly have in our  Messiah?!

But you see, I think that for the same reason Matthew included women—and not just women, but unmentionable women—in his genealogy of Jesus, he also included these Eastern Astronomers in the Story of Jesus.  God’s gift of Himself was not just for the pretty people—not just for the Chosen People, it was for the messy people, the foreign people, the most unlikely people.  Just as Luke’s poor, dirty, smelly shepherds were told by the angel, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL PEOPLE!  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!” –so also God revealed the cosmic arrival of His Only Son to these outsiders.  He told them  before He told those who considered themselves to be God’s Chosen People!

Micah’s Prophecy and Herod’s Treachery…

When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘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 shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”~Matthew 2:4-8

Yeah, right!

A Traveling Star?

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.~Matthew 2:9

Really? This is the part I had trouble swallowing. But look…We now know that On Dec. 25, 2 BC, Jupiter went into retrograde motion [motion which is contrary to the rotation of the primary]. From a person’s vantage point on earth, who might just happen to be in Jerusalem, it would appear that Jupiter had actually stopped in the evening sky right over a little Judean town called—Bethlehem.

Next: The Magi found Jesus in a house…

The Visit of the Magi cont.

The Visit of the Magi cont.
This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Christmas

In the previous posting, we covered the beginning of the story of the 3 Kings’ visit to find Jesus. So we continue with the excerpt from the Christmas Eve message by Chuck Foreman at First Christian Church of Phoenix:

Unintended Destination

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. ~Matthew 2:10-11a

“…and they came into the house…” Wait a minute—I thought Jesus was born in a stable? He was, but contrary to tradition, these Eastern Astronomers showed up some time after Jesus was born. But even a house in little Bethlehem Town that a lowly carpenter could afford was not exactly where they expected to find this new king. If you were looking for a king, where would you go? That’s what these guys thought too. That’s why they went to Jerusalem first—to the king’s palace…. Bethlehem was definitely not their intended destination!

A lot of us are like these Wise Men. We’ve been looking for, hoping for a palace, but we’ve wound up at a house in Podunk Bethlehem, or worse yet, a stable. Things haven’t worked out so far for us in life like we had hoped—in the pursuit of our dreams, our jobs, our marriages, our relationships. God has kind of let us down, we think.

See, God wasn’t in the palace. In fact, you’ll rarely find him there. He was in the stable—and he always has been! People, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel—“God with us” came to us in the most humble, demeaning way imaginable! You’ll find him in the stable, in the humble house. That’s the whole point of the Incarnation—The Word becoming flesh! What Jesus wants you to understand is that He gets down on your level. He meets you in your problems, in your crushed dreams, and in the challenges of life like no one else. When you’re willing to meet him there, he can change your life, like he’s able to do in no other place!

He’s not in the palace. He’s in the stable. He always has been. Don’t miss the opportunity to get to know him there—just as he is, just as you are.

Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.~Matthew 2:11b

The Magi - the first worshipers of ChristUnexpected Worshippers

Do you realize that this is the 1st recorded incident of anyone actually worshipping Jesus? He was still a baby boy. These men were foreigners, probably not too well received in Jewish territory by anyone but Jesus and his parents. They weren’t familiar with the ways of God or His People. They were likely idol worshippers, but they were able to recognize God when there wasn’t anyone or anything else in the way. And there He was—having humbled himself and become flesh—one of us; Emmanuel—God with us!

And did you notice that they bowed down to worship him? When was the last any of us did that? Do we even know what it is to worship anymore? They bowed down and presented him with treasures! Could it be that it might take some pagans like them to teach us how to worship our own God? I think Matthew thought so.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.~Matthew 2:12

Get back home another way…

They couldn’t get back home the same way they had come. They knew what Herod had up his sleeve. They had to go home another way.

We’ve been talking about Going Home for Christmas lately here at FCC—home to God. Too often in life we seem to move away from God instead of toward Him. If you’ve drifted away from God, you’re not going to get back home to Him the same way you’ve come. You have to take a different route.

The Story of Christmas is about the God of the universe—Creator of the stars & the angels who announced the birth of His Son—Revealer of His cosmic plan even to pagans. He left His throne in heaven to be born in a stable, people! He wants you to get the significance of that!

And he wants to meet you, as He really is, right where you are.

Come home; come back to GOD this Christmas. I think He’s been waiting just for you. AMEN! [Right on!]

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award-Winning Christian Author
Check out Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Friend Giselle on Facebook
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Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar
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Advent Conspiracy – Worship Fully

Advent Conspiracy – Worship Fully
This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Christmas

by Chuck Foreman, Teaching Pastor, First Christian Church of Phoenix

Advent Conspiracy - Worship FullyNone of us would dispute the observation that Christmas has been hijacked by consumerism. Even Christians get caught up in the hustle and hassle of buying more stuff than at any other time of year. We agree that Christmas should be about giving not receiving, but what kind of giving exactly? Am I really giving something worthwhile or am I just spending?

How many of you have ever received a gift you didn’t need?
How many of you have ever received a gift you didn’t want? Didn’t even like?
How many of you have pretended to like it anyway?
How many of you still have it because you can’t get rid of it and still live a happy life?
How many of you have ever given a gift to someone and you know they didn’t like it? …because they told you so. 
How many of you remember all the gifts you bought for people last Xmas?
How many of you remember all the gifts you received and from who last Xmas?
How many of you have ever far exceeded & essentially destroyed your normal monthly budget in December buying Xmas gifts?

How many of you long for Xmas to be different—less hectic and more restful, less commercial and more worshipful?
How many of you know how to make that change happen?

Sermon 12-2-12 from First Christian on Vimeo.

It’s a difficult subject to even talk about, isn’t it?
The way we do Xmas has become part of our culture. But something un-Christian has happened to Christmas…
Americans spend $45 billion on Xmas presents every December! Really?!
I wonder how many of those gifts actually meet a genuine need? Or do they fall into the category of stuff we don’t even want, and we can’t even remember who gave it to us?

Imagine the incredible good that could be done in the world, in our communities, in our churches, if even a fraction of that $45 billion was redirected to meet real needs of real people.
If Jesus is the Reason for the Season, why do we spend so much money buying so many things for so many people who don’t have any real needs?

What if this Christmas you went into your living room on Christmas morning and joyfully announced, “I didn’t buy anybody anything this Xmas because everybody already has everything!”

What if this Xmas you found people who don’t have what they need—people who aren’t getting by so well, and you redirected your normal spending—even just some of your normal spending— to meet some real needs of real people?
(Some of you have done that with the gift tags off our Christmas Tree…)
In Acts 4 there’s an almost shocking description of the early Church that always haunts me. Let me read it to you… Acts 4:32-35
I’d like to suggest this morning, as we enter the Xmas Season here at FCC, that that kind of giving is what Xmas—True Christian Worship is all about. We raised over 30K for missions overseas in our Thank Offering. That’s a good thing …But we also have some families at FCC who have some real needs right now, which we’re going to try to help meet too.

For the next 4 weeks leading up to Xmas, we’re going to be talking about how to:

  1. Worship Fully
  2. Spend Less (on ourselves)
  3. Give More (to those in need)
  4. Love All People

at Christmas time.

Worship Fully?   How do you do that?   Do we ever, really?
One thing for sure, you can never worship God fully if there are distractions in the way—or substitutes for him.  If money and possessions come before God, we’re in trouble.  Jesus said, Luke 12:15
Somehow we’ve got to free ourselves from the hold that money & possessions have on us.  The best way to do that is to GIVE it away—but give intentionally and thoughtfully to meet real needs of those less fortunate than we are.

In the Bible, God makes the connection for us between:
Worship————->Taking Care of the Needy
but I’m not sure we’ve paid attention.  Let’s take another look…

What kind of Worship does God really want?
Isaiah 58:1-11
How did Mary worship God?
Luke 1:46-55
(She paid attention, acknowledged what He was up to…)

How did the Wise Men worship Jesus?
Matthew 2:11

How do we give to Jesus now?
Matthew 25:31-46  (summarize)

Joseph’s Dilemna.. When the incredible story of Christmas was just beginning to unfold, Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, had a huge problem with the way God was going about things… (Explain…)

God’s Solution:  Matthew 1:21
Jesus (Gr.) = Joshua (Heb.) = Savior, Deliverer.  Jesus was “God to the Rescue”.  He is our Hero, the One who can Deliver us from all our bondage caused by sin!

And just as Jesus is our Deliverer, so we, as His Followers, are Deliverers too!  With whatever means and power we have, we are to help the helpless out of whatever holds them captive, so they too can enter into the life of freedom and joy God created them for.

The Central Miracle of Christianity?   is not the Virgin Birth.  It’s not the Resurrection, or any of Jesus’ other miracles…  It’s Xmas!

It’s   The Incarnation—“God with us”      Matthew 1:23
The Central Miracle of Christianity is the very idea that God would become one of us.  This is Christianity— that God gave the ultimate gift— He gave Himself!

And as His People, that’s what we do too.  (slide-build bold) We Are Givers.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”  Jesus gave his 12 Disciples a very demanding, draining ministry.  But listen to what he told them:  Matthew 10:7-8

Following is Costly (and “salty”).  He talked about what it would cost to follow him: (slide) Luke 14:33
He said it not me!  This is not figurative language with some more palatable, hidden meaning.  Preachers are often tempted to explain this away…  But you’re not going to get any help from this preacher to make this easier for you.  You’re on your own.  Go figure out what this is going to mean for you.
Then Jesus referred to us as “Salt”.  Luke 14:34

“As my Followers, you are to be like salt—you’re either noticeably present or noticeably absent. (Ever had popcorn w/o salt?)  You are the ones who make a difference in this world.  If you aren’t making a difference, you’re like unsalty salt. You’re of no use. You’ll be thrown out.”  (He said it…!)

Giving is better than receiving.  Paul’s example about working to help the weak: (slide)  Acts 20:34-35
We need to reconnect our ideas about Worship with helping those in need.  When we help others, we are worshipping God with the very way we live.

When you give to FCC, you are giving to those in need.  We have a significant portion of our budget that is dedicated to helping people who are struggling financially.  Every year when we plan our budget, we plan to give away a lot of it.  And we always end up giving away more. And God always provides.

I believe that Following Christ means being a regular Giver.  Following Christ means that you understand that what God gives you, he gives you to manage for Him.  He doesn’t give it to you just for you.  You are a conduit of his blessing to others.  If you don’t give to others, neither will God give to you.  It’s that simple.

Jesus said, The Key to Finding Your Life is to Deny Yourself
Matthew 16:24-25
I have to ask:  How often do we deny ourselves anything in this country?
What about generosity?  How do you define generosity?  What’s the dollar amount cut-off, above which you have just become a generous person, or a “sacrificial giver”?
C.S. Lewis talked about what it means to be generous: (Mere Christianity)
For the Xian, there ought to be some things we just do without.  We simply decide that there will  be some things we won’t have, may never have, may never do, because we’ve chosen to give away enough of our income so that those things, whatever they are, are denied to us—they’re beyond our financial reach, on purpose.

And we’re OK with that, because we know, that just like the One we Follow,
We are Givers!

II Corinthians 8:9

The richest people are those who give—of themselves—to others.

So Let’s Give!    Let’s really Worship!

Let’s rethink Xmas this Xmas.

Right On!

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Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century by Giselle AguiarCheck out Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar

 

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Christmas when even the hardest hearts are softened

Christmas when even the hardest hearts are softened
This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Christmas
Nativity from Duccio’s Maestá, 13th century, a...

Nativity from Duccio’s Maestá, 13th century, a compromise shed-within-a-cave (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ~Luke 2:7

There are some of us…who think to ourselves, “If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord Lying in the manger!” Yes, we would. We say that because we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem…Why don’t we do it now? We have Christ in our neighbor. ~Martin Luther

It’s interesting that Jesus begins life not just in a stable, but in the stable of an inn where there’s no room for His advent. Two thousand years later, there is still no room for Him in many hearts. But if we would make the same visit to see Jesus as the wise men, we may do so by visiting Him in our neighbor.

At Christmastime, many normally hard hearts are softened. It is a perfect time to express the love of Christ–just as Jesus would do it.

That’s really all He wants for His birthday.

365 Daily Answers to WWJD? Excerpt from 365 Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do?

WWJD? The Revival on Facebook
Twitter: @wwjdrevival

Check out these other great blogs:

Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century by Giselle AguiarIf you enjoyed this, you’ll love Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

 

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar

 

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