Merry Christmas

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 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.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

What does this mean?  Who Cares?  If you find yourself asking these questions, please don’t take my word for it or any other blog.  Read the rest of what God has to say.

If you get started and still have questions or thoughts, I would love to talk with you more about it and I am sure that your local pastor would too!


Does It Apply? Observational Learning

You know that time when you are reading in the Bible and you just want to skip a section that doesn’t seem like it applies?  I had that moment this morning.  I was reading in Titus 1, and the majority of the chapter is talking to the Elders of the Church.  I am not an elder, so does this chapter have anything to do with me?

It reads:

Qualified Elders

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

The Elders’ Task

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Honestly, if you skipped the text and just read the headings, that is exactly what I did at first.  Why read something if it isn’t talking to me?

The Sunday school answer: it’s in the Bible

The real, true, and good reason that I shouldn’t skip it and should try to get a better understanding of this passage: it’s in the Bible

When I finally stopped complaining to myself and put aside my preconceived notion about what I would expect in these sections, I spent my morning sitting in just these passages.

While I got a couple things from this passage, my encouragement to you is this: even if it does not seem to apply to you, reading the word of God will have something valuable to teach you.

When the section is titled blah blah blah for Women, I should probably read that.  When the section says blah blah blah for Elders, I should probably read that.  When the passage starts blah blah blah for the scribe who once had his toe dipped in some quicksand and bit off by a snake, I should probably read that.  Okay you caught me, that last one isn’t in the bible.  Every word from God is important, and divinely inspired.  It may not be as relevant as the next or previous section, but it is still God’s word to me.

If you are not regularly in God’s Word, don’t spend a lot of time trying to analyze these sections, but instead get in and read what the Bible is saying to God’s people.  Then, once you are reading more regularly, circle back and see what His words to others can say to you.

A note to you, yes you.  If you are like me, you probably say you read your bible more than you actually do.  Especially when someone asks you on Sunday morning.  Stop.  Fix this problem in two ways:

1) Actually read your bible more.  I may have said that I had a deep personal relationship with Christ before I was regularly in my Bible, but I was fooling myself.  Do you think that you could have a deep personal relationship with anyone else if you never stopped to listen to what they had to say to you?

2) Don’t lie about it to puff yourself up.  This is exactly the type of thing that Jesus preached against when talking to the pharisees.  Not only is it sinful to lie, but it also isn’t safe to lie to the body of Christ about how your spiritual health is.  If I stuck my hand into a fire and my hand decided to tell my brain “all’s well and good,”  I would be mightly surprised to find my hand crispier than burnt pizza.  Not only is it sinful to lie and dangerous to lie to those who can help, but it also pushed you away from God when you put anything higher than him, and that includes how you think others perceive your relationship with God or how you think other perceive your discipline in reading your bible.  Don’t do it.  Be honest.  I promise that honesty won’t kill you.

I apologize that my note was just as long as the post.  Oh well.