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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?

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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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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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Check out these other great blogs:

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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What it Means to Be “God Fearing”

What it Means to Be “God Fearing”

Watching the 700 Club last week someone asked Gordon Robertson, “…fearing God. Why does God want me to be afraid of Him? No one would willingly give their life to someone they fear. Why would God want one to fear Him when that defeats the purpose of coming to Him willingly? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Having grown up Catholic, “God Fearing” was not in my religious up-bringing. I heard it in movies and on TV, but never really understood what it meant. I heard it meant to respect God and His power.

But Gordon Robertson clarified it. He said that the Hebrew translation of the word fear is really “awe.” We call God, Awesome, Almighty, All-Powerful, Creator, Ever-Present and Eternal.

It’s towards the end of the show:

So respecting God and His Word is part of it.

We respect His Word by obeying it. 

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” ~James 4:6 NKJV

Excerpt from 365 Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do?

The reader of the Scriptures should be a humble person, who shows reverence and fear [awe] toward the Word of God, who constantly says, “Teach me, teach me, teach me.” The Spirit resist the proud, even though they are zealous and preach Christ for a time without fault…Therefore it is humility that we need in the study of God’s Word. ~Martin Luther

Reflection: Some “scholars” have studied God’s Word and have decided that this or that event or Scripture is erroneous. Interestingly, quite often the parts of the Bible they want to eliminate are the ones that strike closest to home. If they can deem the passage not inspired, then they no longer are accountable to is truth. Those who, in humility, hear God speak through all of Scripture will profit–both now and in eternity–by their willingness to be held to its standard. If we ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” we need look no further than the Gospels to discover what our attitude should be regarding the Scriptures. Jesus often quoted the Old Testament as fact. He believed their accuracy.

So should we. (End of excerpt.)

Besides the scholars deciding that some Scripture is erroneous, we have readers of the Bible who pick and choose what to believe and what to obey. That, my friends, is not an option.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~2 Timothy 3:16-17

When President Obama quoted the Bible when he declared that he accepted Gay Marriage, he said that Jesus told us to “love one another.” But yet, he ignores all other scripture that says that sexual immorality is a sin.

Love the sinner, Hate the sin

Judgement DayEven if a sin is culturally acceptable like sex outside of marriage or with partners of the same gender, it doesn’t make it right in the eyes of God.

Just as we respect God, we must respect other people who are sinners just like we are. It’s all a matter of allowing Satan and our sinful nature to rule our lives or let Jesus and the Holy Spirit guide us. (Romans 8:8-11)

And check out what Jesus said to the Jews. He called them “Children of the Devil” (John 8:42-47) that’s who we are outside of Jesus Christ.

We are in a war with Satan in this world. That’s why we MUST ask “What Would Jesus Do?” on a regular basis and strive to be like Christ.

Had President Obama asked, “What Would Jesus Do?” before he made his statement, I believe he would have not done it.

Remember what Jesus said to the adulteress in the Gospel of John after all her accusers walked away — “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11)

Though we may not like or condone someone’s lifestyle choice, it’s not up to us to judge them. That’s up to God. We can only keep speaking the truth and God willing, if they truly fear God – revere Him, respect His Word  - they will respect God’s Word and “leave their life of sin.”

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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

How do you deal with an adult bully?

How do you deal with an adult bully?

Bullying is not just in schools. Adults do it too. If you thought that bullying just happened in school, you’re wrong. A good friend of mine is being bullied by her neighbors. They play tricks on her, steal from her, shoot BB’s across their fence, call her names, you name it!

She’s terrified and she is at a loss of what to do.

She prays for them, but what else can she do? She calls the police when there’s vandalism which is very often, but there’s no proof of who did it.

I suggested she take pies, cookies or cakes over to them. Kill ‘em with kindness.

Jesus tells us,

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ~Luke 6:27-27 & 35-36

And in Romans 12:20:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

What else can she do besides move – which will be traumatizing in itself? Please comment with suggestions and keep “What Would Jesus Do?” in mind when answering.
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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 USA 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

3 Parts of Being a Disciple of Christ

3 Parts of Being a Disciple of Christ
This entry is part 20 of 22 in the series Striving to be Christlike

Adapted from the sermon “2011 an FCC Odyssey” presented 1/8/12 by Chuck Foreman a First Christian Church of Phoenix

Jesus left us a lot of great teachings, but only 2 commands:

  1. Love one another (John 13:34-35)
  2. Make disciples of all peoples (Matthew 28:19-20)

Our goals as Christians are to help people find Christ and teach them how to follow Him, obey Him and become real-life disciples to see real change in our lives, churches, communities and nation.

The Great Commission

Jesus instructing His Apostles to make Disciples of all the nations Matthew 28:19-20

A Disciples Life Experience happens in 3 areas:

HEAD – Committed to following Christ (lifestyle): Romans 12:1-2; Luke 9:23;

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. ~James 1:22

HEART – Committed to being changed by Christ (attitude): John 13:35; Philippians 2:5-8

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23

HANDS – Committed to the Mission of Christ (service/ministry): Matthew 4:19; John 15:8; Corinthians 5:19-20

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.~Ephesians 2:10

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…~Ephesians 4:11-12

The Word of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit are the only things that bring real life change to anyone — or any church!

We must be sensitive to God’s leading and open to change when it seems right.

Learning to travel with God and His People is an adventurous journey — like an odyssey. Let’s live 2012 with WWJD? attitude as true Disciples of Christ

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Check out these other great blogs:
Enlightenment, Encouragement & Enrichment by Giselle Aguiar, Award-Winning Christian Author
Deo Volente (God Willing) – covering writing, Christian church history and Christianity

If 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
Award-Winning Christian Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar

Extra Grace Required

Extra Grace Required
This entry is part 19 of 22 in the series Striving to be Christlike

Family holiday dinnerHow did your relationships fare during the Christmas get-togethers? Were there some rough patches you’d like to soon forget? Or was there joy and good cheer all around?

I yelled at my 88-year-old mother over the phone on Christmas day. Bad daughter. I had reminded her to do something regarding a financial matter and she told me that some lady told her it wasn’t necessary. She’s been let’s say, a little unwise with her finances and I lost my cool. I reacted instead of stopping and saying WWJD?

A few minutes after hanging up, I started feeling lousy. How could I yell at my mom on Christmas?! I called her back to apologize begging her forgiveness.

She’s become one of the “EGR” people as my pastor, Chuck Foreman, (First Christian Church of Phoenix) spoke about a few Sundays ago. EGR= Extra Grace Required.

For 88, mom’s doing pretty good even after major surgery and a long recovery. She’s home in Puerto Rico (I’m in Phoenix) and doing OK. But, she’s 88, set in her ways, and even though she seems to be “all there,” she’ll forget some things sometimes.

Anyway, Pastor Chuck has been sending me his sermon notes to use as material in this blog and here’s an excerpt of the sermon message of 12/18/11 entitled: “Going Home for Christmas: Unintended Destinations—-in My Relationships”. (Listen to the whole message here.)

There is nothing more important to God than our relationships.

Ironically, that’s where most of us have our biggest issues. We’ve driven some giant wedges between ourselves and some people. We hang on to hurts, resentments & we’ve either written people off or we’ve fallen into an ungodly pattern of how we live with and treat them. We might even tell them, “The last thing I want to do is hurt you.” But it’s still on the list.

There are some things I’ve noticed about people—about us.

Settling In…

Christians are often the guiltiest of this tendency, especially when we’ve been a Follower of Christ for a long time. We stop really following Jesus and just settle in. We stop growing. Over time, our Christianity becomes more defined by our routine of attending Christian Stuff –going to church, prayer, Bible Studies, concerts, conferences, meetings—Our Christianity is more about that kind of routine than really behaving and living as Jesus would. We stop paying attention to our attitudes & how we respond to people.

When was the last time you stopped to take inventory of yourself, and genuinely, honestly take a long, hard look in the spiritual mirror and asked Jesus, “How am I doing, Lord?”

Without realizing it, we settle in to a negative pattern of treating people. Sometimes it’s only certain people, but how we view them & treat them is so un-Christ-like that we would be shocked if we saw the video playback of our own behavior toward them.

We tend to excuse ourselves thinking that certain people or groups of people don’t apply. It doesn’t really matter how we treat them. For some reason, they are the exception. This happens in marriage, with other family members, parents to children, children to parents, between siblings, in friendships, & in work relationships. No relationship is immune to the abuse of un-love.

Who is it that you exempt yourself from treating in a Christ-like way?

Violating Boundaries…

We break God’s Law by violating each other’s personal boundaries. Before we get into this, What is the purpose of the Old Testament (OT) Law? –and of our subsequent modern laws, all of which are based in some way on the OT Biblical Law. Here’s the purpose of the Law…are you ready? The purpose of the law is to protect us from each other.

In 1992, Henry Cloud & John Townsend wrote a great book called Boundaries. In leadership circles, we often refer to the parts of this book that talk about setting personal boundaries so we don’t get burned out. In other words, workaholics like me need to learn to say NO, etc. But most of this great book is for people who violate the God-given, personal boundaries of others by trying to control them. You see, for some of us, everything has to be “just so” & done “just so”. We impose our hang-ups on those around us, usually those closest to us. We become control freaks, trespassing on the lives of other people—in areas we really have no right to and usually about things that matter only to us. No relationship is healthy or desirable when personal boundaries are continually violated.

We Settle In… Violate others personal Boundaries, and We all have…

EGR People…

These are very special people. Bless their hearts! They’re in a world all to themselves—because their world is all about themselves. They have achieved the honor of belonging to their own category of living things. This category is even denoted by an acronym—E-G-R, which stands for Extra Grace Required! We all know some people who fall into this category.

We all have difficult people in our lives.  Some of us have become difficult people.  We all have relationships that are not what they should be—not what they could be.  Often the single most dishonoring  area of our lives to God is our relationships. 

I’m convinced from scripture and listening to Jesus in the NT that there is nothing more important to God than our relationships with other people—-all the people in our lives and all the people we meet. According to Jesus, love for God cannot be separated from love for people. He never, ever separated what He called the “2nd Commandment” from the “1st or Greatest Commandment:” Read Matthew 22:36-40

And Jesus gave us The Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12
Don’t forget The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
(Read WWJD blog post: Love Your Neighbor)

Jesus’ best friend, the Apostle John, put it this way: I John 4:7-8 & I John 4:19-21

You say, “I don’t hate so-and-so, I just can’t stand him/her!” You know, we’re not gonna feel warm fuzzies for everyone. How do you treat them?—is the question. Do your actions toward this person speak of love, or do they speak of disdain, even hate?

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The last of the “Going Home for Christmas” series was Christmas Eve. I’ll have that one up shortly. Subscribe so you don’t miss it. It was a great message.

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

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But our citizenship is in heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven
This entry is part 18 of 21 in the series Christianity

But our citizenship is in heaven ~Philippians 3:20

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now–to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means loving like He loves, helping like He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with Him 24 hours a day–touching Him in His distressing disguise. ~Mother Teresa

WWJD? Reflection: Why wait until we die to enjoy heaven? By living out the life of Christ in our daily live, we bring heaven to earth. We bring the attributes of heaven–happiness, joy, peace, security and all else that is divine to those we encounter.

As we walk the steps of Jesus today, let’s remember that we’re ambassadors of a heavenly kingdom and the fragrance of that kingdom lingers behind us as evidence that heaven has come to earth twice–first in the person of Christ 2000 years ago–and again in the Body of Believers He has called to represent Him.

From:

Great Blessings to you!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award Winning Christian Author
www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1
Follow Giselle on Twitter
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Resurrection Sunday – Jesus Lives! A walk through Holy Week part 11

Resurrection Sunday – Jesus Lives! A walk through Holy Week part 11
This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series A Walk Through Holy Week

The is the greatest day! What happened on that Sunday morning is cornerstone of Christian belief. If it weren’t for Christ’s Resurrection, nothing He said would have meant anything. He would have been just like any other human being, any other prophet, any other teacher.

He was dead – crucified then put in tomb. Since the Sabbath was approaching, His followers didn’t have enough time to properly prepare the body (anointing) for burial. So early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene took herbs to the tomb.

All four Gospels tell the story though they differ slightly. My favorite is John’s version.

In Matthew, Mary and two other ladies wonder how they’re going to move the large stone that covered the opening to the tomb, but to their surprise, it was open!

At first, they thought someone took Jesus’ body. Mary runs to tell Peter and the disciples and they come running to see that the tomb is indeed empty. Just the strips of burial cloth lay where they put the body 2 nights before.

Matthew also tells of an earthquake that moved the stone and that scared the Roman guards. The guards swore that no one came to take the body.

Mary was crying when a man asks her why. Thinking it’s the gardener, she asks him where has he taken her Lord.

Then Jesus says her name and she recognizes Him. He tells her to go to the brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Note something – the women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. And in those days, women were never witnesses at a trial. Women were thought inferior, yet it was to a woman that Jesus spoke to first and instructed to spread the word that He was alive.

I like the questions asked – different in each Gospel, but they are still meaningful to us today.

Who is it that you are looking for? (John 20:15)

Why do you look for the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

The answer is that Jesus has risen from the dead! He conquered death so that we could live – so that we could have eternity.

No other person did that for you.

Easter is not about cute bunnies and colorful eggs, it’s about Jesus being raised from the dead and what that means for us – for YOU!

My next series will cover the days after the Resurrection. Subscribe so you don’t miss out.

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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
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Everlasting Love

Everlasting Love
This entry is part 4 of 21 in the series Christianity

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. ~God (Jeremian 31:3)

God’s everlasting love for HIs people is breathtaking. That there is nothing tha can ever separate us from this love is overwhelming. That many people we know need this love is apparent.

Today, may we learn to “bear the beams of God’s love” and give to others the same unconditional love Christ offered to those He met.
From :

God Bless,
Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
www.giselleaguiar.com/wwjd

Don’t just pretend to love others

Don’t just pretend to love others
This entry is part 4 of 22 in the series Striving to be Christlike

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.~ Romans 12:9

Yesterday I wrote a message to the Christians in Neo-Nazi group that as true Christians, we are called by Jesus to love one another. That God created all people equally. There’s only one race, the Human Race and we all are a part of it.

But the other group involved in the protest and rioting was wrong in what they did. The Neo-Nazi group – however wrong their beliefs, had a right to peacefully protest and march to the courthouse. The protesters – and there were Jews and Christians, among others, were also wrong. They instigated the fight and hated just as much as the Neo-Nazi group.

What they should have done is not try to stop them, but stand on the sidewalks with their signs and maybe hand them water.

Jesus told us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44, Luke 6:35-36)

Paul wrote:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21

Overcome evil with good. So simple. Why is it so hard to obey? Kill ‘em with kindness, people.

God Bless,
Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
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Hate vs Love in Downtown Phoenix

Hate vs Love in Downtown Phoenix
This entry is part 5 of 23 in the series WWJD?

Neo-Nazi hate-group protesters encountered opposition in the streets of downtown Phoenix the other day.

Members of the National Socialist Movement came to protest in favor of SB 1070 saying that it’s not enough. They joined forces with the White Knights of Arizona.

They believe “All non-White immigration must be prevented. We demand that all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force.”*

They claim to be solely a political organization with members “virtually all religious backgrounds with the exception of Judaism!”*

This is a message to the Christians members of that organization: If you are truly a Christian, how can you not obey what Jesus commanded us to do — Love one another?

Come on, people now, smile on your brother
Everybody get together,
Try to love one another right now.

It’s the message of a 60’s song and we need to spread this message now more than ever.

The concept is simple. Love one another. It was Jesus’ main command to humankind. Love one another, not tolerate one another. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love your enemies.

Love is different than “put up with” – all human beings have value – no qualifiers.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

By THIS – love – that’s how Jesus’ disciples should be known. This is a message that’s repeated over and over again in the Bible. Why repeat it so often? So it sinks in. So it becomes second nature to us. It’s engraved in our minds and our hearts.

Check out these other Bible passages: 1 Peter 3:8-9, 1 Peter 1:22, Hebrews 10:23-25, Ephesians 4:2, Galatians 5:13, Romans 13:8-9, Romans 12:10, 1 John 3:11, 2 John 1:4-6, 1 John 4:11-12, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:7-8.

Get the message?

You cannot call yourself a Christian if you continue to hate other human beings. God created humans equally. He Loved the Whole World so much – that means EVERYBODY – that he gave us His Son, Jesus to die for our sins. That ultimate show of love is what each and EVERY Christian should reflect to the world no matter what the other person’s race, skin color or religion. God is love.

Love one another. Period.

God Bless,
Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
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*Their website. I’m not linking it or even showing it, because I refuse to give them any type of SEO. You can Google them on your own but here’s a warning – it’s some scary stuff.

No Greater Love

No Greater Love
This entry is part 1 of 21 in the series Christianity

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.~John 15:12-14

“To lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” No one knows the true meaning of that better than someone who’s fought in a war. It’s Veteran’s Day and today’s Our Daily Bread devotional tells the story of a soldier who threw himself down on a grenade to save the lives of 4 of his fellow soldiers. That’s selfless love. That’s what Jesus did for us.

The concept of WWJD is to stop and think before acting in anger, vengeance or in any way against the teachings of the Gospel. But what about when there’s no time to think? If our reaction is immediate, is it the right one?

How do we make God’s teachings second nature? Jesus laid down his life for us. Would you lay down your life for a friend? For a child, parent or sibling – maybe. When do we throw self-preservation to the wind in exchange for true selfless love?

As Christians, we are called to strive to be like Christ. The only way to do that is to read the Bible, go to church, go to Bible studies and get to know Jesus. The more we do that, the more it becomes second nature and the more we reflect His Love and Light to the rest of the world.

Happy Veteran’s Day
God Bless,
Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

It’s about reactions

It’s about reactions
This entry is part 3 of 23 in the series WWJD?

A Facebook friend of mine wrote me this after she read my blog:

I was reading what would God do but can’t find the answer to that question, some things are Gods will and some are not this I know.

I replied:

That’s not the point. Let’s say someone insults you. You stop and think, “what would Jesus do in this situation?” – punch the person in the face or turn and walk away? It’s stopping to think before reacting to situations. It’s slow to anger, not lying, not cheating, resisting temptation, etc. It’s obeying God’s commandments especially “love one another.” That’s what WWJD is about. 

We as humans have a tendency to react without thinking first.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ~James 1:19-20

 Righteous – conduct of a person that is morally right; virtuous.

It’s do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule. Gee, where have we heard that? Who said it first? Jesus did.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“As I have loved you.”  As Jesus loved you. As Christians, we know what Jesus did for us to show us His love. We need to strive to respect other people. We don’t need to like everyone we meet, but we do need to see that they are human beings with feelings. It’s about respect.

Don’t react. Stop and think: What would Jesus do?

God Bless,
Giselle Aguiar
Soli Deo Gloria
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WWJD The Revival