Oh Those Crazy Kids

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Matthew 1:18-21 (NLT)
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

What would people say today about Mary and Joseph?  Probably something like, “Oh those crazy kids!”  Think about it for a moment, and put yourself in their shoes.  They were young and engaged to be married, which in those days lasted for about a year.  The arrangement was legally binding and in all cases they were married in every way except sexually.  To end an engagement took a decree of divorce.  So imagine what happened when the angel appeared to Mary and told her that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  Remember that she was fourteen years old, was a virgin, and she is told she is going to be pregnant.  Imagine what people would think, say, and react when they found out.  For Mary to respond obediently to what God was calling her to do took courage and incredible faith.  Now let’s consider Joseph’s response.  At first, he was probably hurt thinking that Mary had been unfaithful to him.  Most guys probably would have wanted to seek revenge.  By law he could have had her stoned to death.  However, Matthew tells us, “he was a good man…so he decided to divorce her privately.”  If Joseph’s story had ended there he should have be commended, but this is where his story begins.  The angel then appears to him and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the baby inside her was a God thing.  Now if he does what God is calling him to do some will say that he was not a good man for taking advantage of Mary before the engagement was completed will implicate him.  On the other hand, others will say that he is a fool for taking Mary as his wife after she had publicly disgraced him.  The decision that he made, like Mary, took courage and incredible faith.  Most of us today would probably look down our noses at them for fooling around and then lying about it using the story of angel as a cover up.  What would you do if you were in Joseph and Mary’s shoes?  Would you tell God “no way?”  Would you over spiritualize it and say, “well I’ll have to pray about it.”  Or would you step out in faith and be used by God to change the world?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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Give Thanks

 

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  It is a national holiday in which we thank the Almighty for our many blessings.  It was established, interestingly enough, during the Civil War (1861-1865).  Now you might think that there wasn’t much to be thankful for during the time in our history.  The nation was at war against itself, many cities were decimated, portions of the country we basically starving, and there were many communities that no longer had a male population because they all died in battle.  Yet President Abraham Lincoln (the finest President in our history in my opinion) saw that if we were going to survive as a nation it could only come through the blessings of the Almighty.  The picture attached to this blog was one I found on Facebook this week.  It tells me something that all people, regardless of their time frame, need to take to heart.  We may think that there isn’t much to be thankful for in our present time.  The economy is bad, gas prices are high, jobs are scarce, and the nation is divided.  In addition to all this, our recent election did noting but increased the rift between the American people.  More people have “un-friended “ others on Facebook over the election that at any time in the social networks history.  However, the key, as Mr. Lincoln I believe would say, is realizing that we cannot and will not find solutions to our problems without the blessings of the Almighty.  We need at this time to remember the words of Jesus who said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5, NLT).  Let us give thanks and turn our hearts back to the Almighty and pray for his blessings for our nation.  God bless America!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

What Now?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

It is the day after the election, and like many of my friends I am disappointed at the results.  As I observe our nation I see people struggling to make ends meet, others who are content to live off the assistance of others, the sanctity of marriage challenged, and millions of babies each year who lose their lives under the pretense of personal choice.  As I see it there are a number of things we can do.  First, we can complain and gripe about our situation.  While this may relieve our frustration for the moment, it certainly won’t do anything to change our circumstances.  Second, we can argue with those with whom we disagree and cause our nation and communities to be even further divided than they are already.  Again, this won’t change anything, well not anything from a positive standpoint (it could make things worse).  Finally, we can commit our present circumstances to the only One who can really change anything.  In reality to put our hope in any man, Republican or Democrat is futile.  As General U.S. Grant, and later President Grant, once said, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”  We have done our civic duty by voting and letting our voice be heard.  Now it is time to raise our voices not at each other, or even at the politicians, but raise our voices to God and ask for his forgiveness and help in this desperate hour.  Remember that Scripture says, “If my people who are called by my name will humbles themselves and pray…”  It is now time to stop complaining and start praying, and the God who changes hearts and alters destinies has promised to hear us.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark