Lessons From Angels and Shepherds

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Luke 2:8-12 (NLT)
8  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
11  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 This week I discovered a great Christmas devotional from one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. He said, “The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn’t ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars. So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn’t have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs aren’t found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough. A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps. You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up. The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees. So…. while the theologians were sleeping, and the elite were dreaming, and the successful were snoring, the meek were kneeling. They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Decorations For All Year Round

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Mark 1:14-15 (NLT)
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Not too many years ago newspapers carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who repented, who came to faith in Jesus Christ. What made his story so remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. But because of his complete and total change of heart, he not only confessed his crime, he voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money! That’s repentance – radical reconstruction of the heart. Of all the decorations you have, this one is the most important of them all. It’s invisible, because it first takes place in your heart. The Holy Spirit changes you through the Word, and through baptism. It’s visible, because you become empowered to show your repentance in your life – just like that former bank robber. And unlike our other Christmas decorations, repentance is something that you and I will leave up all year round (Today in the Word, April, 1989, 13). During this season of Advent, the time of his coming, let’s remember that Jesus didn’t just come to be born, rather he came to die for us. We need to take some time of reflection and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas in our lives in which we need to repent. Let us not just prepare for Christmas, but rather let us prepare our hearts to meet Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Have We Missed It?

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

 Luke 1:46-48 (NLT) 

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47  How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48  For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight of an airplane at Kitty Hawk NC. On their 5th attempt, the plane under the control of Orville, embarked on a 12 second flight. Wilbur rushed to the local telegraph office and sent the following message – WE HAVE FLOWN FOR 12 SECONDS – WE WILL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Upon receiving the telegram their sister, Katherine went to the newspaper office, told the editor of her brother’s new flying machine, and informed him, they would be home for Christmas, if he would like to set up an interview.

He told her that was nice, and he would be sure to put something in the paper regarding the boys. On December 19th, the local paper placed the following headline on the 6th page of the paper: “WRIGHT BROTHERS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS”

The most important story of the year – man’s first flight – and the editor missed it!

I wonder if the same could be said about us when it comes to Christmas. Look all around us…

  • The trees are decorated
  • The music is festive
  • The Season is Right – It is Christmas, and there are only 21 shopping days left!

In all of our rushing around, in all of our gift buying, in all the things we have to do during this season – HAVE WE MISSED THE IDEA – Jesus has come to earth!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on December 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank Heaven

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” C.S. Lewis said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

There are many things about heaven that Christians can thank the Lord about. While living on this earth they have to suffer the consequences of sin just as Job came to know the sufferings of this world. He lost children, possessions and knew bad health. Knowing that at the end of his life something wonderful would take place, he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes… How my heart yearns within me!”(Job 19:25-27)

 

The children of God may very well be afflicted with disease, or loss of property. They may be forsaken by their friends as Job was. However, there is going to be a day when their body will be resurrected and they will have a physical body that is healthy, not subjected to sickness, pain or death or overcome by sin. Christians can praise God, for in heaven there is going to be a perfect city where there is no crime, no homeless, no unemployment, no pollution, no corruption in city councils or government. Heaven is victorious with no civil unrest, no terrorism and no more wars. There will be fairness, truth and goodness, and God’s holiness will reign. Everyone will be upright and honest.

John Newton wrote, “When I get to heaven, I shall see three wonders there: The first wonder will be to see many people there whom I did not expect to see; the second wonder will be to miss many people whom I did expect to see; the third and greatest of all will be to find myself there.” Be grateful this Thanksgiving that God, although he allows to go through difficulties in this life, has an amazing plan in store for us. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (! Cor. 2:9).

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on November 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Donut Shop Faith

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

With all of the conflict between the Church and those attempting to squelch our voice in this nation, I thought it appropriate to share a story that I came across this week.

THE PATRIOT LEDGER REPORTS:

Tuesday, the city’s licensing board approved a plan to open a Honey Dew Donuts at the café counter inside the new $30 million YMCA … It will be the only Honey Dew store in Quincy. …Because of the Y’s focus on physical fitness, the vendor won’t sell doughnuts, said Sara Trubiano, spokeswoman for the South Shore YMCA said. …

The new Honey Dew will sell coffee, low-fat muffins, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit cups and smoothies, Trubiano said. All menu items first must be approved by Y leadership. How ironic, a donut shop that agrees to sell no donuts! Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But isn’t that exactly what we do when we compromise our beliefs in order to please the world? A donut shop should sell donuts, and a believer should seek to please God! “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15). As believers in Jesus we need to take a stand against those who would seek to silence and even banish us from this nation. I applaud the five Pastor’s from Houston who took a stand, and by the grace of God, overcame the opposition to their freedom and Constitutional Rights. Let us learn a valuable lesson from this episode in our history and stand firm for the truth of the Gospel.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Persecuted Church?

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Romans 12:1 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

 

There is a lot of talk in the Church these days about persecution. However, to us America we see persecution as not being able to pray or read our Bibles where we would like. A recent Face Book post by a Pastor friend of mine in Pakistan about a Christian family who was burned alive for their faith in Jesus was a sobering reminder that we do not have a clue when it comes to persecution. I ran across this story that gives the true meaning of being a living sacrifice. “History knows them as the forty martyrs of Sebaste. They were soldiers in the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army, around A.D. 320. One day the captain informed his troops that Emperor Licinius had sent down an edict commanding all soldiers to offer a sacrifice to his pagan god. Forty of the soldiers were followers of Christ, and they refused. ‘You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ,’ they said.  “The emperor decided to make an example of the soldiers, so in the middle of winter he marched them onto a frozen lake and stripped them of their clothes. ‘Renounce your God and you will be spared from death,’ he told them. Not one man came forward. So he left them there, huddled together to contemplate his offer. Throughout the night the man stayed together, singing their song of victory: Forty Martyrs for Christ. When morning came, thirty-nine of the men had frozen to death. The one survivor finally relented and crawled to safety, recanting his confession of faith in order to live. The officer in charge that night had been so moved by the scene that during his watch he’d come to Jesus, so he broke rank and walked out onto the ice. Stripping his clothes he openly confessed his faith in Christ. The furious emperor demanded that he renounce Jesus, but he refused. When the ordeal was over, the Roman soldiers carried forty frozen men off of the ice” (Lahaye, Tim, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin ed., Embracing Eternity, Living Each Day With a Heart Toward Heaven: The Persecuted,. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).

The next time you think that giving up a bad habit or getting up earlier to spend time in prayer is difficult, remember what others are going through and remember what it really means to be a living sacrifice.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ring At The Bottom

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Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

John 2:11 (NLT)
This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

A Persian legend tells us that a certain king needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates for the office. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work. After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, “What is the good of doing this useless work? As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides.”

The other answered, “But we have our wages, haven’t we? The use is the master’s business, not ours.”

“I’m not going to do such fool’s work,” replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away.

The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shining at the bottom that proved to be a diamond ring. “Now I see the use of pouring water into the basket!” he exclaimed. “If the bucket had brought up the ring before the well was dry, it would have been found in the basket. Our work was not useless.”

When God’s blessing does not fully coincide with your expectations, remember to wait until the well is dry. There may be something precious at the bottom. Expect a miracle and believe!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Published in: on October 29, 2014 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Give Them Salt

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)
13  “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
15  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Howard Hendricks, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, sometimes talked about his days when he was a student at the same seminary. In one of those stories, he tells about the time he was invited to preach in west Texas. “You’ve all heard of Nowhere? Well,” Hendricks says, “this was 25 miles beyond that.” The teeming crowds were gathering — all 17 of them, but Hendricks preached with all the fervor and passion of his heart. When he got through, a tall Texan came up to him and said, “You were wrong.”

“Well, sir,” Hendricks said. “I’ve been wrong on many occasions. Give me the information.” The Texan replied, “In your sermon you made a moronic statement. You said you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. And that ain’t true, ’cause you can feed him salt.”

How do we feed people salt? According to Jesus we feed people salt by what we do and what we say. The book of Revelation says, “They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). However, if our testimony is blemished because of something we did our said it loses its power and effectiveness. How salty is your life in front of others?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Lamb

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name of the Lord:

John 1:29-31 (NLT)
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Found this little poem this week that I thought was very profound. So I wanted to share it with you.

“Mary had a little Lamb, His fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went, The Lamb was sure to go. He followed her to school each day, When it wasn’t against the rules. He made the children laugh and play, To have a Lamb at school. Then the rules were changed one day, Against the law it became. To bring the Lamb of God to school, Or even speak His Name. Every day got worse and worse, And days turned into years. ’Stead of hearing children laugh and play, You heard them crying tears. What must we do to stop the crime, That’s in our schools today? Let the Lamb come back to school, And teach our kids to pray.”

Have a blessed week!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Theological Misunderstandings

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 1:14 (NLT)
14  So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

 When we were pastoring in Yellville, AR I met a group of Christians from another church in town. They were wonderful people but from time to time they would say things that just didn’t set well with me. One day one of them said to me, “We don’t want to talk about doctrine, we just want to talk about Jesus!” So asked them, “What do you believe about Jesus?” They replied, “Well He is the Son of God!” To which I commented, “So you believe in the doctrine of the Deity of Christ?” The brother looked at me and said, “Well I guess so.” Then I asked him what else he believed about Jesus? He said, “I believe that he died for my sins.” Then I replied, “Oh, so you believe in the doctrine of the Atonement of Christ?” By this time he was getting a little aggravated with me, but I kindly pushed him a little a bit further and asked him what else he believed about Jesus? He said, “Well I believe that he came to earth and became like one of us!” So I piped up, “Great you believe in the doctrine of the Incarnation!” After a while I think my point was getting across to him that it is impossible to talk about Jesus and not talk about Christine doctrine because it all revolves around Jesus. People get bent out of shape about theological terms, however, if someone takes the time to explain the doctrines to them in ways terms they understand they discover that theology isn’t as evil as they suppose. Take for example the doctrine of the Incarnation. Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer once said “The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.” The theological word for all of that is incarnation, meaning “in the flesh.” Jesus was the incarnation of God. Jesus was the way that God sent His “idea” to humanity; there was and is no better way! Like the little girl who said, “Some people couldn’t hear God’s inside whisper and so He sent Jesus to tell them out loud.” If we simplify big theological words they make perfect sense.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Published in: on September 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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