Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Yearning for His Returning

This is the time of the year when the Church observes Advent. It is a time to count down the days to Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In His coming, He identified himself with those he came to save. He also has promised in His word to return someday for those who are His.

As we count down to Christmas, the young and the young-at-heart will be anxiously looking forward to the season and the gift giving (and receiving). In the Bible we see that God’s people, Israel, also looked for and anticipated the promised Messiah, who was to be born in Bethlehem. In the New Testament book of Luke, we read of a man name Simeon, who was looking for the Promised One.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation (Savior) of Israel…Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God. (Luke 2:25-28).

In the New Testament, the writers spoke of eagerly anticipating the second coming of the Lord Jesus. We, also, are told to expect His return at some future time. The apostle Paul speaks of those who “long for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). In another letter, Paul reminds us to live holy lives, “while we wait for “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

My question this week is this: Are you eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord? Are you ready for Him to come? How are you preparing?

Those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be living a godly life as they look forward to His eventual return. In the midst of trial or blessing, they can say with the apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Are you yearning for His returning?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God With Us

It’s time again to reflect on the blessing of Christmas. I could  have said “blessings”, for there are many, but the Blessing of Christmas is my focus today. I  take us back to the Old Testament and the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6, concerning the promised Messiah..

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

What does this mean to us? Let’s look at these five truths: As the One with the government on His shoulders, we see Him as the one who holds the world together. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1 Corinthians 1:17). As Wonderful Counselor, He always gives wise counsel to those who will hear and obey Him.

As Mighty God, He can forgive sin, defeat Satan, redeem us, and restore our broken souls. As Everlasting Father, He is eternally in complete and sovereign control of His creation. He knows everything, and works everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

In His role as Prince of Peace, He brings real and lasting peace. Not peace as the world thinks of peace, but to those who believe in Him, He brings an inner peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).

In summary, the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, as fulfilled in the birth of the Savior, is the answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexity and conflicts of life. It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity. He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise counselor and mighty king. He is God with us. Emmanuel. May He bring you peace in these troubled times.*

In His amazing love,
Pastor Jerry

*[credit to Dr. John MacArthur for some content]

Going Home

It is the Christmas season, a time when people everywhere make plans to go home for the holiday, and reunite with family members. For the past week I have ministered to families who have experienced a loved one take the ultimate journey home. Their departed ones have gone to be with their Lord at Christmas time.

As hard as it sounds, I believe Christians have reason to celebrate Christmas, even in the midst of mourning the loss of a loved one. I will explain why I believe this is so.

First, scripture tells us that as believers in Jesus Christ, as we live here on earth, we are strangers in a foreign land (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). The word used for strangers can be understood as “aliens, or temporary residents”, meaning that this world is not our home. Philippians 3:20 states, “our citizenship is in heaven.”

And, Jesus came to earth as a baby; God taking on human flesh, come to save His people from sin. The truth of this is what we celebrate at Christmas. However, He did not come to remain a precious infant in a manger. He came to die on a cross for our sins, and to be raised from the dead, in order to make a way for our salvation and to give us eternal life. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.”
So, at this joyous season of the year, we can celebrate in the midst of sorrow, knowing that our loved ones are finally home. We will miss them, but we rest secure in the knowledge that they will be spending Christmas in the presence of their Savior and Lord, and we who know Him as Savior will be reunited with them, when we, also, are “finally home.”

Believing Heaven’s Promise,

Pastor Jerry

The Light of Christmas

Continuing the Christmas theme, I was noticing the many displays of Christmas lights soon after Thanksgiving. Actually, some were up and ready even before Thanksgiving, but that is another subject altogether.

My thought was this: All the festive lights of all the houses in the world cannot equal the Light we celebrate at Christmas. May I share a few verses concerning this Light?
The prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 is that God would send a Light. Read it with me: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.” He expands on the prophecy in verse 6; “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”
In the New Testament we find these words: “There was a man named John who was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. The true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:6-9)

Jesus testified about himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Finally, these Spirit inspired words from the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

The light of the world is Jesus. May all the bright lights of the Christmas season remind us daily of this truth.

Walking in His light,

Pastor Jerry

Immanuel, God With Us

It may come as a surprise to some, but Christmas is not grounded in Santa Claus, evergreen trees, winter scenery or the spending of huge amounts of money on gifts. It is first of all centered on the Incarnation, God’s miraculous gift of a Savior, born to a virgin, to be the sinless sacrifice for our sins.

” … the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph…The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you….Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus… The Holy Spirit will come upon you…Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35).

I wonder how many of us really understand the importance of the Incarnation and the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ? What does it matter that Jesus is “God with us?” It means that we do not have to pay for our own sin. Jesus, sinless from conception, came to be the sacrifice that would once for all cover the sin debt of all humanity. Without the virgin birth, there would be no salvation for sin, no way to restore our broken relationship with God. Without the virgin birth, our faith would be futile.

Now, when we see all the trappings of the season, and the excesses it brings, let us first know and understand why and how Jesus came. As we meditate on these truths, may we slow down and take the time to acknowledge the real “Reason for the Season.”

Thankful for His birth,
Pastor Jerry

2012 Christmas

It’s that Christmas time of year again. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you each week. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Savior, may each one of us be aware of the purpose for his coming.

I have wondered all week what I might write in regard to the school shootings on the 14th. One wonders how we could celebrate Christmas in the wake of an event like this. Every one of us, I’m sure, had feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, anger, disbelief, among others. I came across an article written by Ravi Zacharias, a well-known Christian apologist, who had some very insightful comments. I would just like to share a few sentences with you.

After pointing out some things wrong with our society, he comes to the point of his article. It is that sin (disobedience to God) is the root cause of all our problems.

I quote: “The Bible only speaks of one remedy for this: the transformation of the heart by making Christ the center. Those who mock the simplicity of the remedy have made evil more complex and unexplainable. Every heart has the potential for murder. Every heart needs a redeemer. That is the message of Christmas. The world took that child and crucified Him. But by his triumph over death He brings life to our dead souls and begins the transformation within. Unto us a child is born and He shall save us from our sins.”

My prayer this Christmas season is that everyone who reads this will look to Jesus, and receive the free gift of salvation he offers. Your life will be changed, and you will never, ever regret making that decision. If the gift is already yours, praise the Lord! Live each day for Him, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen!

Christmas blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown

I’m writing from the shores of frozen Lake George this morning. All through the night I could hear geese out my window. As the sun came up, there were literally thousands of Canada geese sitting on the ice waiting to head for the cornfields. What a sight and what a sound!

Last night (Sunday) Christmas candlelight services were held at the “historic” Rose Church. It was a great celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus, and everyone enjoyed a soup and sandwich supper following the worship time.

In my message last night, I made these three points concerning Christmas taken in the Christian context:

1. We have the cradle. This is God relating to us. He came to experience life among the people he created. He experienced humanity at its level. “The Word (that is, Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

2. We have the cross. God redeeming us. Mankind was under the death sentence of sin and in need of a Savior. Man was set free by Christ’s suffering. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

3. Finally, we have the crown. God reigning over us. Jesus did not come to remain in a cradle or on a cross. He must be more than your Savior, He must be Lord of your life. “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The Bible says “today is the day of salvation.” Is Jesus your Savior, your Lord and your King? Wouldn’t the Christmas season be a great time to give yourself to Him?

Celebrating the Gift,
Pastor Jerry