Christmas when even the hardest hearts are softened

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
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Advent Conspiracy – Worship Fully

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
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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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The Visit of the Magi cont.

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
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The Significance of the Magi

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…

Extra Grace Required

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.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=singresoguid-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=0310585902 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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Unintended Destinations – part 2

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
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The Jewish Jesus – More Prophecies

And the prophecies continue:

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” ~Jeremiah 23:5

Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. ~Jeremiah 31:5

This is what the LORD says; “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

That’s the killing of the innocents when King Herod, who was a Gentile who converted to Judaism, was afraid of the King of Jews that the Magi spoke of that he had all the babies killed. (Matthew 2:16-17)

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. ~Hosea 11:1

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”~Matthew 2:14-15

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~Zechariah 9:9

Palm SundayAs they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” ~Matthew 21:1-3

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son…” ~Zechariah 12:10

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.” ~Zechariah 13:1-2

O Little Town of Bethlehem“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth…” ~Micah 5:2-4

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. ~Luke 2:4

Today in the town of David [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. ~Malachi 3:1

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” ~John 1:29-31

The Jews of the first century expected a coronation, but what they got was an act of redemption.

But it is not too late for the Jews and all the nations.

There are many more prophesies about Jesus that I didn’t touch on especially the ones describing His crucifixion to smallest detail. I will save that for Holy Week.

My goal here was to prove that Jesus is The Messiah, The Christ, Emmanuel, God with Us, the Baby in the manger in Bethlehem, the Lamb of God, The Savior, The Son of God, Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. I think I did that.

Jesus didn’t die so we could have religion. He died so we could have a relationship with Him.

Do you have a relationship with Him? To become part of the chosen, click here for direction

The Jewish Jesus Part 1
The Jewish Jesus Part 2 

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
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=singresoguid-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1449718280&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Award-Winning Christian Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar