What is in a name?


Immanuel meaning “God with us”

Isaiah 7:10-16 King James Version

10 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Even today there are many men named Yeshua, Jesus, and other Biblical names but that doesn’t give them the ability to be that person. God foretold that Immanuel would be born and that He would be the Messiah, the Christ. In order to be the Messiah or Christ, He would have to be God in man’s flesh, there is no other way to do this! This only happened one time!

When you have or are given the name of a famous person, does that make you into that person? Of course not! A name is just a name, unless it is given to you by God Himself. Then it becomes a calling and a purpose for your life. God had seen this from the beginning and He knew that Jesus being born of a virgin would literally be “God with us”, as the prophecy had said that the seed of the woman would be our Savior. That is Who Jesus is and always has been!

Why did He have to come in this manner? Because, only a perfect and sinless sacrifice could cover the sins of the World and the only way for this to happen would be for this Man to have the Spirit of God in Himself, not the spirit of sinful man. God could’ve made Him a body of sinless flesh, but He chose to do it by natural birth by a woman because Jesus had to be born under the Law in order to begin a new Covenant with sinful mankind.

A little at time


This is exactly how I recommend for people to learn about and read God’s Word…a little at a time. Why? Because our Creator’s Word and His Wisdom is better suited to learning and understanding a little at a time. That being said, we should all try to read the entire Bible in a year’s time, but it only takes a chapter or two every day!

Like the old commercial said, “A little dab’ll do ya!”. I am showing my age. 🙂

In any way that you want to look at it, God’s Word is worth more than any education, any college course you could take today! It covers finance, life situations, business, religion and relationships so there is no need for any self-help course or book! God loves us and has loved each of us since before the world was formed, He doesn’t give you bad advice and He wouldn’t harm you in any way.

Satan, the serpent from the garden, God’s adversary and ours, will seek to destroy you and he will send all kinds of problems your way in order to steer you away from God and His blessings for your life! Make sure that you know which one is hurting you or trying to steer you in a direction which is counter to what you know God would do. If it isn’t good for you and it is causing problems in your life, then it is from Satan and his demons, so get rid of whatever it is and seek God’s strength and His provision to do so!

He never leaves our side, but He will only come to your aide if you ask Him to. God doesn’t jump into your life and take over, He is only waiting to make His blessings available to you when you ask Him to, although some of our blessings are given to us as life itself. Breathing, walking, talking, thinking, going about your everyday work and play, all of these are blessings which most of us take for granted. We don’t look at any of them as blessings, yet that is what they are.

God gives us those blessings a little at a time just as we should learn more about Him a little at a time. He is the Creator in the first part of Genesis, He is a friend in later chapters of it. As the Word evolves and we learn more about Him, His attributes become clearer and sharper to us, eventually making sense to a point. Why do I say it that way? Because, we will never understand God on this side of life and we may not fully understand Him even in eternity, although we will know Him better.

God loves you and me with a love which we can’t comprehend because there is no human analogue for it. We can’t know a love as deeply because He is God! So, we can’t truly understand His love for us in the light of His being our Creator! He knows us fully and knew us this way, even before our world was made or anything in our world was even formed. The atonement which was given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus is given to everyone, freely, all each of us needs to do is ask for His forgiveness (which we have already), because we can’t receive it unless we ask for it.

Please, seek out His Truth in the Bible. There is no other book on Earth which is like it because the words in it came from Spiritual inspiration by God!

Holidays and loss


Many times we think of the holidays as the happiest time of the year but for some that is not the case. Twenty-one years ago my mother died on Christmas day which has impacted my holidays for a while. Some of my friends on Facebook have lost beloved pets just this week. Why do I compare the two? Because pets are part of your family and when their lives come to an end, it is just as heartbreaking as a child’s death or someone else that is close to you.

During the holidays many people are more depressed than during the rest of the year. Sometimes it is because of deaths in the family, sometimes it is because of loneliness or other problems, but the effects come down hard during the holidays. It happens to all of us at one point or another and it is natural to be emotionally drained and depressed when the holidays come around. Why? Because we expect or we are taught to expect this time of year to be happy with family and friends visiting and sometimes those visits just don’t happen.

God loves you dearly and He is always near to each of us. His Word gives us comfort and strength to get through this time. When depression comes to my house and involves me, I get into God’s Word, specifically in Psalms. Sometimes I read a number of them and I have spent three weeks in the Psalms to find my way out of depression or in the attempt to keep it at bay. God will give you strength and the ability to do this along with His Wisdom that you can share with others.

The loss of a family member, whether they happen to have fur or not, is a hard loss but with the wisdom and the comfort that is available from God, you can get through these hard times. Seek Him out for your comfort and for your salvation because both can be found in Jesus! Amen.

How much more?


We are thankful and we were thankful yesterday, so how much more thankful will we be today? I have seen shoppers at stores who are waiting all night to get in when the door opens and some of them are pushing and shoving so they can be first in getting what they want and getting out of the store.

What happened between being thankful for God’s blessings and bounty and getting more stuff? How much more will we choose to get so we can be fashionable or in step with our neighbors? Do we really HAVE to have that new doodad that came out a few weeks ago? What about paying off your credit cards as a gift to yourself or your spouse? What about giving to your church or to the homeless shelter in town instead of spending over five hundred dollars on something that will be gathering dust in a couple of months? Does 4K resolution really matter that much when you are watching the Super Bowl in February? Does the price you pay for that resolution really bring you more satisfaction while watching any TV show?

All of these questions are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves long before we wake up at three am in order to be close to the front of the line this morning! What really is more important to you and your family? That is an even better question. Have you considered your relationship to Jesus in all of this too? I am a pastor and these questions do go through my mind about myself and about those who attend my church. I pray for all of the people out there who are traveling today and for those who are working today because they need God’s protection and His blessing, whether they realize it or not.

During the holiday season, which seems to have gotten off to a running start yesterday afternoon. Yes, many stores opened early, around four or five yesterday, just to get people out of the house and into the stores shopping. I don’t think I will ever get out there and into the thick of the lines and the crowds. It’s just too much!

God needs your energy and your presence in His family too and if more people would spend even ten percent of their time and money for His work, out world would be so much better than it is now! How is that possible? Because ten percent of the billions spent on gifts during this weekend could go a LONG way toward helping the homeless, both Veterans and non-veterans alike! It would also go a long way toward helping the hungry in the world too.

God can use your blessings in any number of different ways, but if you spend all of your cash on “stuff” and not on helping others, then what are you really doing? You are showing others that “stuff” is more important to you than serving God. During the holidays it seems that many people do just that and it makes me wonder what is keeping them from helping the church? What is keeping them from coming to church when they can get up before sunrise to get to a store and be one of the first through the doors?

Something to ponder during this Christmas season when we are supposed to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! He didn’t tell us to go and spend, Jesus said go and TELL others about Him!

The day of His birth…


Most of us celebrate our birthdays, although many seem to worry about them as the numbers get bigger. Why worry about a number? It just means that God has given you another year, another day to live and enjoy your life here with friends and family! Yes, there are some who feel as if their life would be better if they didn’t have so many birthdays piled one on top of another, but let me ask this question: Without killing yourself, what can you do about the march of time and another birthday?

Blunt answer: nothing

God gives us the air that we breathe and the food that we eat throughout our lives, so what will you do with another day, another week or month or even another year? Will you glorify Him in your days, telling others about His grace and His mercy?

This is one of the jobs that we are all supposed to be engaged in, particularly if you are a follower of Christ. Why do we walk as though we don’t know Jesus? Are there some who do this? Yes, there are some who only come to church on holidays or weddings or funerals, what good does it do for you to come at these times? Do you truly listen to the message or did you come to be seen and be in the community?

If you are doing this for your personal gain, it is no good at all for your spiritual well-being. Like the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple:

Luke 18:9-14 King James Version 

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Jesus’ day of birth is celebrated in December not because that is when He was born but because it was easy to get pagans to celebrate a day that they already celebrated. Jesus was likely born sometime between the middle of September and October, in any case we do celebrate Him by giving gifts to each other, just as He was the ultimate gift to us. He came not to bring a kingdom down or to begin His reign as Lord and King, but to shed His blood as a perfect sacrifice for ALL of our sins! He died for the whole WORLD, not just for the Jewish nation but for all of the people on Earth and His sacrifice was necessary for us to be able to atone for our sins.

God loves us because that is what His Word says! He is not a liar nor a cheat, yet some people seem to feel cheated by Him because He doesn’t magically provide all of their needs or their desires. He provides for exactly what you need, WHEN you need it. Not more than you need or less, yet that is why many people don’t like Christianity. They seem to expect God to provide for them because He owes them something. God doesn’t owe you anything at all! If you are blessed by Him with riches and wisdom be thankful for it and help those who don’t have what you have been blessed with, as much as you can without offending them.

Why do I say this? Because many people don’t like charity. They don’t want you to give them something and to some it is insulting that you would even think of helping them. But, if they truly needed it I don’t believe the offer would be turned away. It is the same with salvation. It doesn’t cost us anything and we don’t have to do anything to get it. Sometimes it is because of this that people don’t see the value of coming to church and accepting Jesus as their Savior.

Give …. a chance!


There are many, many things which could go in that space and I don’t want to even attempt to go over all of them. Today, you could say that our country should go in there or the President-elect, Donald Trump, should be in that spot. There are many more that could go there but my point here is that whatever you place in that blank space, do it!

Don’t just say it, do it! What is the most important part of your life which needs to be in that place? Is it your job or something concerning school or your marriage which needs a chance to work? Is it your relationship with your Savior? Is there a multiplicity of options in your life which needs a chance to work?

We all have things which need a chance to work, in one way or another. For some of us it is a relationship, whether it is one with our Savior or our spouse or another family member, really doesn’t matter. The point is that relationships have to be worked on, taken care of, nurtured if we want them to grow. So much is going on in the world today, and if it was broken down to what the REAL problems are and what or maybe Who would fix it, the choice would be simple.

The problem with that is this: nobody likes a simple solution.

Simple solutions to complex problems involving cultures and religions which have been at odds for centuries are not achievable in our world. Why? Because we are human and our solutions involve other human beings, each of us has their own idea about a solution to a specific problem. When we don’t cooperate with each other to implement a solution, the problem gets bigger and it isn’t solved in the long run.

The point that I am attempting to get across to those who may read this is that human problems don’t have a human solution. Our solution is found in the Bible, in His Wisdom and faith in Him, not in our fallible ways and understanding. I don’t claim to have those answers, but God does. They are found by reading and studying His Word and asking Him for wisdom in our daily lives.

Living by His Word, studying His Word and His wisdom and asking Him to show you and me the way through a problem or around a problem is the best way to live. It isn’t easy because most of us don’t like to admit that we can’t find the solution. It isn’t easy because we don’t really like to study any book, regardless of which one it may be. God’s Word isn’t hard to understand if you ask Him to help you to understand it.

Seek Him out in the Bible, because when you go looking for Him…you will find Him or He will come to you. He hasn’t lost you, but you may have forgotten where to look for Him. Don’t forget that God loves you and has loved you and me since before the world was created. Each of us has a job in His Kingdom, mine is being a preacher, yours may be something totally different. Just like any government in the world, all jobs are important in some way and if someone isn’t doing their job then the rest suffer for it.

Regarding Christmas…


Nativity-29Some people say that we shouldn’t celebrate at this time of year because this time of year is from a pagan celebration which the church used to bring the pagans into it. While that may be true, the birth of Jesus should be celebrated, even if He wasn’t born during this time of year. Why do I say that? Because, during this month it is too cold for shepherds to be sleeping in the field at night and traveling wouldn’t have been easy at this time of year either. Many scholars think that His birth was likely during September, who knows.

The point is that a person on the Trinity came to us as a baby, grew up in his time and played like all children do, learned His earthly father’s trade and learned from His Heavenly Father. He fulfilled prophecy and became the Messiah that He was sent to be and He sits on the right hand of God in Heaven until it is time for Him to come again.

Celebrate His first coming because without it, you and I would be lost in this world and the next. Celebrate His life and His mission because He followed His Father’s instructions and did everything that was necessary for our salvation, not just a few people but for all people. The story of His birth is joyous not because we give each other gifts, but because God gave us the most important and priceless gift that we don’t deserve just because He loves us!

We can’t give it back and we don’t truly deserve it, but it was given to all of mankind, so be thankful and glad that we are loved by our Creator enough for Him to give us a chance and the choice to be His children.

Amen