Thursday, December 18, 2014

The ABC's of Christmas

Have you seen or heard about the Christmas ABC book? Each letter of the alphabet connects with the Biblical story in a little rhyme. For instance, A is for Angel; an angel was the first to tell that Christ had come on earth to dwell. D is for Donkey; a donkey followed Joseph’s track and carried Mary on his back.

Some of them are a stretch, like O is for Oxen; ox and donkey’s wondered why so many people knelt nearby. All in all, it’s a great book to help children know the ABC’s of Christmas.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says “For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” This verse gives us the ABC’s of Christmas and sums up the great truth behind our Savior’s birth.

A) He was rich. Rich in His person – He is the eternal son of God who has always existed. (Isaiah 9:6)     Rich in His position – He sits on the throne of the universe. Rich in His power. (Colossians 1:16-17) Rich in His possessions. If you take the 10 most powerful rulers who ever ruled, the 10 wisest men, the 10 mightiest generals who ever went into battle, the 10 strongest athletes, the 10 most memorizing orators, or political leaders or any other 10 greatest men left on earth, calculated their accumulated wealth, power, influence, skill, genius, wisdom, insight and ability – whatever the vast sum comes to, Jesus had more in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3) No one comes close.
B) He became poor. What does that mean? He was rich in eternity. He became poor in time. He left heaven to be born in a manger (that is, a feeding trough), live in a remote village in a foreign province and join a despised race.
 Notice a very important thing in 2 Corinthians 8:9: the verb says He became poor, not He was made poor. He voluntarily gave up the riches of heaven for the poverty of earth. He did this of His own free will, something we would not do. The richest person in the universe, of His own free will, became poorer than the poor. This is called the incarnation – God became flesh. (John 1:1,14) God entered the human race in the form of a man.

C) That we might become rich. Here is the purpose of Christmas. He came so that we who were poor might become rich. How does that happen? Grace. All the grace of God is available to me by virtue of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Think of it. All the riches, all the power, all the prestige of His good name are mine. You might say, “I don’t deserve that.” Indeed, you don’t. That’s the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. If I deserved it, I wouldn’t need Jesus. But through my association with Jesus Christ, suddenly, I am a rich man.

This concept is called imputation. He takes my sin and I take His righteousness. I don’t earn it, it is imputed to me. It is credited to my account the moment I trust in Jesus as my Savior.

There you have it. The ABC’s of Christmas. There is only one question to ask: Have you placed your trust in Him and what He did for you? (Born to die in the place of your sin and was raised from the dead).

Merry Christmas!

Freshly Bru’d will be on vacation until January 7, 2015.

P.S. Don’t miss Sunday services. We will look at how to get along with relatives and people that are difficult without robbing us of keeping Christ in Christmas. Don’t forget your sack of groceries to give to Lincoln’s Food Distribution Center – Just leave it by your car as you come to church. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So let it be written; so let it be done

With Christmas day just two weeks away, I thought I would commit the next two Freshly Bru’ds to the subject of Jesus’ Birth. One of the things that has always been impressed on me are the hundreds of prophecies foretelling the birth, life and death of Jesus hundreds of years before that historic night in Bethlehem.

Each prophecy reminds us that God is trustworthy. He does not and cannot lie. He always tells the truth (Theologians call this the veracity of the scriptures). The truth is always accurate, dependable and will come true.

Here are twelve of my favorite prophecies about Jesus. There is one for each of the twelve days of Christmas: these are prophecies fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.

1. From the seed of the woman would come Jesus who would destroy the Devil.
Prophecy: Genesis 3:15 – Fulfilled: 1 John 3:8

2. Jesus will come from the line of Abraham.
Prophecy: Genesis 12:3 – Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1

3. Jesus will be a member of the tribe of Judah.
Prophecy: Genesis 49:10 – Fulfilled: Luke 3:33

4. Jesus will be a descendant of Isaac and Jacob.
Prophecy: Genesis 17:19 and Numbers 24:17 – Fulfilled: Matthew 1:2

5. Jesus will be born in the family of Jesse.
Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1 – Fulfilled: Luke 3:32

6. Jesus’ mother will be a virgin.
Prophecy: Isaiah 7:17 – Fulfilled: Matthew 1:18-23

7. Jesus will be born in the town of Bethlehem.
Prophecy: Micah 5:2 – Fulfilled: Luke 2:1-7

8. Jesus will reign on David’s throne.
Prophecy: 2 Samuel 7:14-16 and Jeremiah 23:5 – Fulfilled: Luke 1:30-35 and Matthew 1:6

9. Jesus will be called out of Egypt.
Prophecy: Hosea 11:1 – Fulfilled: Matthew 2:13-15

10. Jesus’ birth will be accompanied with great suffering and sorrow.
Prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15 – Fulfilled: Matthew 2:16

11. Jesus will enter the temple. This is important because the temple was destroyed in AD 70 and was never rebuilt.
Prophecy: Malachi 3:1 – Fulfilled: Luke 2:25-27

12. Jesus will live a perfect life, die by crucifixion, resurrect from death, ascend into heaven and sit down at the right hand of God.
Prophecies: Psalm 22:16, Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 53:10-11, Psalm 68:18 and Psalm 110:1 – Fulfilled: 1 Peter 2:21-22, Luke 23:33, Acts 2:25-32, Acts 1:9 and Hebrews 1:3

What are some of your favorite prophecies? Take one prophecy each day until Christmas and thank God for sending Jesus as the fulfillment of them. Enjoy!

P.S. Ever wonder why we put angels on top of Christmas trees? Or candles in the window? Or the history and significance of the candy cane? Come Sunday and discover how to keep Christ in your celebrating. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Time for some self-evaluation

Every December I begin an internal evaluation of my life. Since there is only one month left in the year I evaluate how my life had been lived. Did I grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus? (2 Peter 3:18) Was I more conformed to the image of His Son than last year? (Romans 8:29)

Did I share Christ with people who have not trusted in Him? How was my marriage? Did I nurture that relationship as I should? How was my influence upon my children and grandchildren? Did I pastor First Free with integrity? You get the point.

But there is something else I do in my evaluation; I ask myself “If this was my last month to live would I finish well?” Would I be able to say as Paul said “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

I want to talk with you about finishing well. To help you understand this week’s Freshly Bru’d you need to read two stories in the Bible. One is about King Uzziah who had a great start (2 Chronicles 26:4) but ended up as a leper (2 Chronicles 26:21). Read the entire chapter to see why Uzziah didn’t finish well.

In contrast to Uzziah is the story of Joseph of Arimathea who had a late start but finished well. (John 19:38-42; Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-54) Contrasting these two stories presents four principles we must never forget to finish well.

1. A great start is no guarantee of a happy ending. (Consider Uzziah and these passages: Matthew 13:1-9; 1 Peter 5:9; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

2. A late start is better than no start. (Consider Joseph of Arimathea and these passages: Matthew 21:25-32; 1 Timothy 1:12-16)

3. Only a fool stops fearing God. (Proverbs 1:7, 16:18, 19:27; 2 Timothy 2:5; 1 Samuel 15:22)

4. If you've stumbled and fallen, get up and run again. (Proverbs 24:16; Deuteronomy 4:25-29; Revelation 12:10; 1 John 2:1-2; Matthew 21:28-32)

So, this December why not do some internal, honest soul evaluation and make a commitment to finish well; not just this year, but the rest of your life.


P.S. This Sunday concludes our series “Bittersweet: The Story of Ruth.” The ending of the story will help prepare you for the significance of Christmas. Come and discover how.