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Enjoy the messages of Pastor Peggy right here (below)



From Bitterness to Sweetness

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in eerything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
then ………….. Psalm 100:4 – 5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courtts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.




The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He quoted 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A human looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”




“These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount, but they are different,” he explained.




Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out. “When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out. Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.




“Until we are upset, we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’ Luke 6:45”




What if someone “tipped you over” today? What would flow out? Would you reveal the “honey” of grace and patience and overwhelming gratitude to God, or the “vinegar” of anger and sarcasm? Above all, love each other deeply, because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8   Let’s all focus this  week on l restoring the interior of each of us, from bitterness to sweetness.




Have you ever read the whole inscription that appears on the Plymouth Rock Monument in Massachusetts: “This monument marks the first burying ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here, under cover of darkness, the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should learn how many were in the graves. History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than of this Pilgrim band. In weariness and painfulness, in watching often in hunger and cold, they laid the foundation of a state wherein every human through countless ages should have liberty to worship God in his or her own way. May their example inspire thee to do thy part in perpetuating and spreading the lofty ideals of our republic throughout the world.”




Daily  why not to celebrate the greatness of God’s good. Beginning early Sunday morning, as we dress for church, ready to worship the Lord, we can look at the beauty of our earth and celebrate His Greatness.   We recognize God in our lives, and we will feel good. We will express our gratitude to God through praise, and we are going to see the good everywhere. We will know that God will provide, and everything will be fine.  And with a joyful heart, we can repeat that every day.




I want to share a story with you that takes place in Bethany. This particular day was hot, dry, and dusty, with a hot wind blowing. I don’t know of anything more miserable to the human spirit than a hot, dusty wind. You are all clean, you go outside, and a hot, dusty wind hits you in the face. The air seems so thick with dust that it is difficult to breathe. You feel down because of the environment.




A group of people were really feeling down. They were grieving. They were clinging together as grieving people often do. They were weeping and mourning outside a cave in Bethany that was serving as a tomb for Lazarus (the brother of Martha and Mary). He had been dead for four days. Those in the grieving group were talking as Jesus approached. They were saying things like, “If He had come earlier, this might not have happened. He could have healed our brother, and everything would have been okay. But look, He comes now when Lazarus has been dead for four days.”




Then the group is absolutely dumbfounded as they see Jesus kneel down, and with a smile on His face He begins to give thanks to God. Can you imagine? Imagine if I was performing a funeral service for someone you loved, and instead of grieving with you, I had a huge smile on my face and gave thanks to God. Can you imagine how dumbfounded, and possibly angry you would be?




Let’s look at John 11:38-44: “Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’  So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.‘”




I imagine the people standing around were no longer a crowd, but were now
a mob. I imagine they were getting more and more angry at Jesus.




When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”




A man is lying dead, and his friend is giving thanks. Everybody just looked at Jesus. Then, with His next breath, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!” At this point, you can imagine how the atmosphere is electric. I am sure time was such that a few seconds seemed like an hour.




The “dead” man came out to them. What did that crowd feel? There was joy, shock, fear, and disbelief. But He gave thanks, and that set the miracle into motion.




A man in A. A. told his story. “God caused me to be raised from the dead.” This meant he had the power to give up drinking. Then he looked at all his friends – birds of a feather, people of like mind – and then with tears in his eyes he said to them, “You are unbinding me. Do not leave bound what God has unbound.”




God is constantly unbinding us. God is constantly telling us to come forth. If, after looking back at the past and what God has done in our lives, we hold that in our minds, we will have the incredible intelligence in our mind to give thanks in advance. We know, no matter what we face today, that God is with us. No matter how difficult it is in the moment, we can say, “Thank You, God. I know I am connected with You. I am not separate. I know that when I work with You as a partner, everything will work out all right.”




And I ask God to give me the power to unbind myself – not holding myself bound by the thoughts of the past – and I ask that my family and my friends not bind me, either, and that I have the power to go on.




Every week, we need to begin that feeling. Yes, we are always thankful  for what God has done in our lives in the past. But we are also thankful for the things that we have not seen as of yet. We are thankful because we know we have a God who responds. We know that everything will be fine. No matter how great our mountain, or how great our difficulty, God is a God who answers our present challenges, instantly, in a way that is beyond anything we can imagine.




Because this is Jesus’ way of prayer, a woman in need of her own healing placed a chair opposite her with a picture of Jesus Christ on it. Then she started to give thanks to God and to every part of her God-created body, starting at the top of her head.




She was in pain. Things were not going well. Our human reaction is to curse the things that are not quite right. Instead, this lady gave thanks to the body parts, for God working in the body parts, and brought them into new life, regenerated in the God-Truth that was already prepared for her. We can do the same with any situation in our lives. She gave thanks and unbound herself.




I am going to close with scripture from Romans. As you thank God for all He has bestowed on you in the future, I ask you to remember this:




“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.    For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,  nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:37-38].




Let us pray:


Thank You, dear, wonderful God, for beginning this week and very  week in gratitude for all the blessings  bestowed upon my whole family and all my friends.. Thank You for bringing joy to my heart, and helping me to recall all the things to be thankful for. And thank You, in advance, for all the things I cannot yet see with my physical eyes, but that I know, through faith, Your blessings will come forth. I thank You in advance, and will do so all week.

In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.




Ties that Bind

Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.”
Philippians 4:6




Is Life Overwhelming? I’ve heard some people say in the past; they don’t want to bother God unless it is a crisis emergency situation. Some have said that God’s help is not to be used for small things.




Sometimes, life can become overwhelming. No matter how much we plan, or how much we prepare for it, sometimes things happen, and we feel out of control. We feel as if we don’t have the power that we had before. Something has happened, but we don’t know exactly what.




We all have at least heard of the story of the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels?” Here was a  person, like us, who was all-powerful. Here was a person who could walk above problems. Here was a person who seemed undefeatable, but the giant’s thoughts were working against him.




The giant in “Gulliver’s Travels” falls asleep on the beach. While he is sleeping, all these tiny, little people come, put strings over him, and then stake down the strings.




A few strings would be no problem at all. He could easily pull those up, sit up, and go about his way. But these little people worked all night long. Each tiny, little person came up to the giant and placed strings across him.




The giant wakes up and finds that he cannot move his arms or legs, and he can not sit up, no matter how hard he tries because he is all tied down.




You and I have had the same experience, of being all tied up in the thoughts and worries about momentary as well as other circumstances of our lives.




These little people are those little worries, those human thoughts, those little things that scramble around inside of your mind and that seem so uncontrollable. Every time they move across, they take a string with them. Soon you are tied down. Soon you are weak in thought and you don’t feel like you can get up again. Soon you think the weight of life is pulling you down.




You might say, “God, can I ever stand again? Can I walk tall and free? Can
I ever be all I once was?”




You can! You can! With God’s help you can.




Sometimes, the things that happen to us can seem so overwhelming. But
whatever they are, we can overcome them! We have the power-because God has the power and the know-how.




We have the ability to have a transfusion of thought where we totally change our mind; where we have a fusion (if you will) with a Mind that is greater than our mind, God’s Mind knows how to lift us up and out of our problems. When we are free from selfishness, limitation, greed, fear, anxiety, hatred, and inferior feelings we can stand up to anything.




Revelation 21:4-5: “The former things are passed away . . . Behold, I make
all things new. ” [KJV]




Who is “I” in that scripture? The “I” is God. Imagine if God came up to you, tapped you on the shoulder, stood right by your side, looked into your eyes, smiled at you and said, “Don’t let the past burden you. Don’t let it tie you down on the beach of life any more. Don’t worry about those waves. The past is no more. It has passed away and you have a brand new life in Me.”



As I edit this message this afternoon, I am remembering last week and how we all came together, in our prayer group (Thursday evenings). We are free; we do NOT need to be held down with the weight of the strings tied over us and around us. And I thought how free and open we are; we are not tied down. And in order to remain this way, we only need God!




To truly follow Jesus Christ, we have to do this in our prayers and during our personal meditation, (inside  our own thinking).




“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do
he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12




Let’s suppose one day you get fed up with being tied on the beach and you say to yourself: “Isn’t this interesting? I’m tied down. I can’t move my arms or legs. I can’t go where I want to go or do what I want to do.”




Perhaps you feel tied down in your life.  You know in any moment there can be  more. You say: “Wait a minute! I can have more. With God’s help, I CAN be a success. I can do what I dream of doing. I don’t have to play with these limited thoughts anymore. I CAN do it!  I’m not really tied down.”  Sometime, somewhere, when you dream about it,  you can go BEYOND the dream.




You have to go through this again, and again, and again, to get beyond where you are, to go beyond the imagined potential.




If Jesus would have just imagined and daydreamed, He would not have lived up
to his potential and His mission.




Paul and I, mostly Paul, are renovating/remodeling the home we bought a few years ago. Do people or we think – “You really think you can do this?” “Do you have what it takes? Are you really able to do it?” It puts negative thoughts in our minds; there are always people in your life to give you a negative message. They don’t know any better. They are looking just to outer appearances, not knowing about the spiritual help that is available behind the appearances. God is the great “untier” of your life, God is the great “unbinder” of all that has held you down.  As long as we don’t let others or ourselves tie us down, we can accomplish anything.




You can have a Divine indifference to negative messages. You know you can do more because you are not alone. You know you can go beyond-be more, do more – because you have a knowledge of God who is bigger than any appearance that you, and others may see with their human eyes.




Now, to untie, to turn from the negativity, let’s focus on the one word that says it all FAITH!. To be totally immersed, we no longer MAKE TIME for our faith, we now place God first; our faith comes first and we have to make time for all other things. This is a HUGE difference.




Previously, we might have said: “Oh, God, I don’t have time to pray today because I’m so busy. I’d feel better if I had time to meditate, but you don’t know the pressure and deadlines I’m under.” How much better it is to allow faith to come first, to pray, and to meditate, then to move forward toward your deadlines (with calm assurance).




When you do this, you are recharging; you are getting ready; you are going
apart for a while like Jesus did, and then you are coming back into the
world fully powered, super-charged, ready to perform miracles. Nothing can stand in the  way of the Divine power coming in and through you. You are then FULLY  working with God. You are so much of God in action and God’s love in
demonstration that people cease sensing you and they sense God. That is
the Christ working through you.




We have seen, or sensed those in life that manifest this degree. Mother
Teresa and Billy Graham are examples that comes to mind and there are so many more,




Is this a one-time experience? It’s not even a one-time daily experience. It is something we have to constantly decide upon, choose, and do. When we do, we truly follow Jesus, we live up to our potential of all we can do and be.




Jesus told us: “Leave your nets.” These are nets of personal involvement.
What do your nets pick up? If you are putting down your nets in your human mind and catching things, your nets are picking up thoughts of people who are telling you that you can’t build your future, you can’t prosper, that says you can’t rebuild the cells in your body with God’s help to produce new wholeness and life. Those nets are tying you down.




Jesus said, “Leave your nets – and follow me.” What does that mean? OR as we do in the Spiritual Family Prayer Group Thursday evenings, we share and pray for each other and all those needing us and fill our hearts and souls with all the hurts and pains and negativity and ties that bind us and put them at the altar and leave them there for God to manage. Then, we take a deep breath as a smile covers our face  and move forward in His light.




Now, It doesn’t mean to follow Him with just your feet. It means to follow Him with
your head and heart.  Walt Whitman said, “I am not contained between my hat and my shoes”, and neither are you.




You are much more.   Any time you think you are contained, you are like that giant tied down. Any time you sit in a chair and think this is all there is to your life, you are like that giant tied down.




If something is going wrong and you’re depressed and you think this is all
there is, you are like that giant tied down. You need to go to God and untie that mind that caused your problems, in order to heal your problems.




When you do, the strings just melt away. The burdens are no longer burdens
because you have 1000 times the power. You follow Christ to your potential. Christ already gave Himself for you. Now you can set down your ties; you can let those ties that bind you on the shore just melt away. You now can move forward toward the Goal!




Christmas is over.  We have given and we have received.  We have served and been served in many ways.  Let’s think about that for a minute.



It is better to give than it is to receive, at Christmas, in games, and in life. We all   know it is better, but how is it better?




Psychologist and consultant, Peter Block, wrote the book, “Stewardship:
Choosing Service over Self-interest.” Here is a portion of that.




He says: “Ultimately, the choice we make is between service and self-interest. Both  are attractive. Fire and intensity of self-interest seem to be all around
us. We search, so often in vain, to find leaders we can have faith in. Our
doubts are not about our leaders’ talents, but about their  trustworthiness. We are unsure whether they are serving their institutions,  or themselves. When we look out at our peers and our neighbors, we see so  much energy dedicated to claiming entitlements. The nuclear family now  includes a parent, a partner, children, a financial consultant, and a  lawyer. We are no different. We were born into the age of anxiety, and became adults in  the age of self-interest.


“The antidote to self-interest is to commit and find cause; to commit to
something outside of ourselves and be a part of creating something we care
about so we can endure the sacrifice, the risk, and the adventure
commitment entails. This is the deeper meaning of service.”




When we are called to service, the issue comes up for us. It is a tug of
war between two different parts of us – a part of us that is interested
only in ourselves, and part of us that truly wishes to help and care for




In the Bible when Jesus was hanging on the  Cross? There were two robbers on either side of Him.  One of the robbers looks over at Jesus through his pain and says   (paraphrased), “What are you doing here? If you are so great, why don’t
you save yourself?”




But the robber on the other side of Jesus says, in effect, “You’re the Son
of God. My friend and I are guilty; we deserve to be here. But you haven’t
done a thing.”




Jesus replies to the second man, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”




These two men represent two parts of ourselves. The first man represents
that natural, normal “looking out for #1” self-interest who can only see
through his own eyes of pain and suffering.




The second man looks up a little higher and sees that the sacred part of
life that is Christ is totally innocent and recognizes it. He  calls out, and then Christ,  assures him, “This  day you will be with me in paradise;” just by making that conscious contact with God, with spirituality, he was saved. This second part represents our willingness to become larger than the little parts of  ourselves – to give, to commit, to become great. until we become fully one with Christ.  I think we are always in a kind of conflict or war between these two parts of ourselves.




In spirituality, life is about our service to others.  The reward of service is that when we turn our attention to help someone else, we forget our own problems and misery, which was created by our own willingness  to dote on it.




Service gives us the opportunity to look beyond ourselves. But we have to
make that choice. Who are we going to be? Which man on the Cross are we
going to be, today?




“Each person’s work will become manifest.” 1 Corinthians 3:13




St. Francis wrote a prayer that captures this essence of this idea.   He said: “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek  to be consoled as to console; not so much to be understood as to  understand; not so much to be loved as to love.”




The world, as is commonly understood (as in worldly wisdom), is looking
out for #1. This has its value, its place, and its purpose. We all know
that we have to take care of our own needs. I’m not talking about some
type of total sacrifice, where we give up everything we have and lay on
beds of nails.  We are to seek to satisfy our own basic needs; to find ways
of nurturing ourselves and keeping ourselves healthy; and providing means
of expression of our gifts.





But beyond that healthy self-interest, there lies a subtle trap that we all fall into. At some point, we have to stop trying to satisfy the ego and start surrendering the ego. And surrendering is the last thing the ego wants to do.



What do we do?




What happens is we eventually find ourselves in a cage of our own making.
We do everything we already know how to do, over and over again, until
the suffering becomes so great that we are willing to burst out of that cage
and do whatever it takes. It seems like what is being offered to us as an
antidote is to serve.  Imagine that!




Spiritual people always look out for #2.



Romans 14: 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.




For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men




It is true, when we are thinking of someone else, we take our minds off
our own pain, and it seems to magically disappear. What a great thing that
is!  When we actually begin to give of ourselves, we suddenly feel larger.




Why is that?   Because when we give, we literally do become larger because
we experience, maybe for the first time, how great we are. We realize God’s power of love inside of us. When we touch it, tap it, and give from that Divinity, we start experiencing God in the world.




For all our talk in Christianity about prosperity and abundance, we are
still often trapped by our concepts. We are still that first man on the
cross looking out for #1 in our prosperity. We are trying to see how we
can use affirmations and visualizations to capture more for “me,” and we
think we will give a little bit back, later. We don’t get the big picture
of prosperity, which is simply to know that God is here. Prosperity is to
experience that. When we do that, the world is different. We feel so
prosperous. We know that abundance, but the ego doesn’t like it too much.




There is an old Jewish story of how God decided where to put the temple in
Jerusalem. The story goes that there were two brothers. One had a family
and one didn’t. They loved each other very much. They were in the
grain/flour business together. Every night, the brother who had a family
would look at his wife and children and say, “When I grow old I’m going to
have my family to take care of me, but my poor brother is all by himself.”
So he would take as much of the grain he had taken home for personal use,
and he would put some flour back for his brother.




In the meantime, his brother who was at his house by himself would think,
“I’m just fine. My poor brother has a whole family to feed, so I need to
help them out.” So he would take some of his flour back to the business
for his brother. Unknown to the other, they both would continually give
back some of their personal flour.




One day, they met on the road on the way to their business, and they
realized what they had been doing for all those years. That is where God
chose to build the temple.




That is a sweet story. Behind it is the simple message of where divinity
dwells – in the openness, the giving, and the sharing.




When a great teacher of prayer was asked, “How can I feel the bliss of
God?” He answered in one word: “Service.”




There was an extraordinary article in the Toronto Star years ago. The
headlines said: “Girl Weeps as Jet Passengers Give.” Here is a  little piece of that story.




“The little girl wept as big-hearted passengers on a jumbo jet raised the
equivalent of $97,000 in a mid-air collection to pay for a life-saving
operation. Four-year-old Marian Kadash who suffered from a serious liver
condition, was flying to Britain for tests at a top London hospital. She
will need a liver transplant. The pretty, dark-haired child and her mother
burst out in tears as the 450 passengers and crew who heard about her
plight emptied their pockets. Everyone on board threw money into a
suitcase being carried around the jet as it flew over the Mediterranean
toward Heathrow Airport. The suitcase, which was filled after it went
around once, was carried around a second time to cheers and applause.
Astonished crew and passengers gasped with disbelief when the collection
in a dozen different currencies added up to $97,000. The flight was flying
British holiday merrymakers home from Tel Aviv, and a group of British
millionaires helped bump up the fundraising to its final tally.”




What was going on in that place? People were stepping out of their
self-interest and serving and giving. How did they feel? One of the great
secrets to service is the experience you have when you give.




Service is really more of an attitude than it is a job or a specific role.
You can do service wherever you are with whatever you are doing. In fact,
you can do the same stuff you do every day, but shift for whom you are doing
it  . Are you the man on the right side of the Cross or on the left? If
you can start seeing God in the people you work with, and seeing God’s
expression in everything you do, then all of your chores become blissful
prayer. What a secret. Then you start experiencing and feeling the
presence of God.




Service is the finest way of practicing the presence of God. So, when you
are doing service, whether it is washing your dishes, or balancing your
checkbook, or working in your office, or sweeping the steps, you are
really sweeping out the dust from inside your own heart. You are really
cleaning up your own life when you serve.



Service rules because it gives you and me the opportunity to clean up our
acts, to practice what we know, to see God in the world, to feel God
rather than our own petty egos and our little concerns. What a great gift
that is! Every person in prayer and meditation must eventually get up and
begin serving God in the world.




I would like to close with a parable that Bruce Barton tells that sums up very nicely what service is. It talks about the two different  kinds of people there are in the world, and who live inside of us.




There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh and fish are in it. Splashes
of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch
out their thirsty roots for a sip of its healing waters. Along its shores
the children play as children played when Jesus was there. He loved it. He
could look across its silver surface when He spoke his parables. And on a
rolling plain not far away Jesus fed 5,000 people. The River Jordan makes
this sea with sparkling water from the hills. Men build their houses near
to it, and birds their nests, and every kind of life is happier because it
is there.




The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here is no splashing
fish, no fluttering leaf, and no song of birds, no children’s laughter.
Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs
heavy above its water, and neither men nor beast nor fowl will drink.




What makes this mighty difference in these neighboring seas? Not the River
Jordan – it empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which
they lie nor the country around it. This is the difference – the Sea of
Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows
into it, another drop flows out. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its
income, jealously. It will not be tempted into a generous impulse. Every
drop it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea
gives nothing. It is named Dead – the Dead Sea.




There are two seas in Palestine; there are two kinds of people in the
world; there are two kinds of persons inside you and me.




Move from survival to significance.  Decide this day whom you will serve.




Let’s close with a short prayer.  Lord, we are here to both receive from God and to give.  Today, Dear God we ask a simple prayer that we can serve more. We ask that we can make a difference because of the  difference you have made in and on us. We are ready and we are willing to be of service now. Help us to give more and be  thankful for what we have received and also now less concerned about  ourselves.




For this knowledge and experience, we are grateful,



In the name of Jesus Christ . . . Amen.


God bless you.


New Year – New You?

Start Anew


2 Cor 5:17-21  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become righteousness of God.”





Here we are at the start of a new year. New is the optimal word. People crave for new things these days, especially as the holidays wind down and we begin a whole new year.


• New phones, new cars, clothes, hairstyles, and even a new face.
• Go for plastic surgery to get a new nose, new ear, new look, new body…




Especially during New Year, we want to set new goals, new resolutions, make more money…….Anything that is external, we are ready to change to new. . That’s what we can change. And it’s simple or is it?




• But we cannot CHANGE us – the real me! I can change my clothes but it’s still me.
• I can get a new hairdo, but it would still be me.
• I carry with me the same old handicaps, worries, fears… same sadness and miseries.
• No amount of new gadgets, clothes, things can really give me what my heart longs for.




WHY? Because what we need are not new things, but a new life. We can have many new things but we cannot have a new life, unless we come to or come back to or focus our lives more on Christ.




The Bible says only in Jesus Christ can we have a NEW LIFE – a new creation. It’s not an EXTERNAL change – I still look the same. It is internal. I experience God’s love, joy, peace, and hope. These inspire me. People may not be able to see all these things. The person who looks gorgeous on the outside may be a miserable soul. The one who looks shabby may be one of the happiest people around.




So before we are too drawn away by the sights and sounds of this world, ask yourself – .” Do I want to be really happy in life?” Well, try getting to know Jesus more. Hang on to Jesus.




John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”



Jesus refers to an abundant life, a full life. In John 17:3 He says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”




Man has made great improvements over the Centuries. The speed at which we are gaining knowledge is amazing. Half of all that we learn in the history of mankind was acquired in the last 10 years! We have made great strides in education, science, technology – the new gadgets we have. Yet life has not been better. Life is made easy but not better. We live with the same worries and fears, probably MORE. We worry about not having enough; we fear being diagnosed with cancer of some kind; we have relationship problems – at school, at home, at work, even among courting friends. We have more broken families today, a growing number of suicides and divorces today than ever. And we see more violence. In many communities, there are actually anti-terrorism drills. Life has not improved. Why?




Because man has fallen away from God.




So if you really want a good life – get back to Jesus. Talk to Him, and keep talking to Him. Jesus will make you NEW.




It’s like an old house – He did not renovate it, He rebuilt it. Jesus describes in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” He was talking about himself but also talking TO us. The life we have in Christ is an entirely NEW creation.




Here is a lovely story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army.  He went regularly to the Salvation Army citadel. One day he came home rather disconsolate. His wife said, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I’ve just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don’t have a red sweater.” She said, “I’ll knit one.” So she knitted him a red sweater. The next Sunday after he went to the citadel, he still wasn’t happy.
His wife said, “What’s wrong this time?” He said, “I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing.” They were both illiterate, but she said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll embroider some writing on it for you.” She had no idea what the yellow writing on the red sweater of a Salvation Army man said. The man’s wife had no idea what the letters said, and she couldn’t read anyway. So copying a sign from a store window opposite their home, she embroidered the words of that store sign onto his red sweater.
When he came back the next Sunday, she said, “Did they like your sweater?”



“They loved my sweater. Some of them smiled at me when they saw my sweater.”    What neither of them knew was that the sign on the store window she had copied read, UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.
from…Stuart Briscoe, “Christmas 365 Days a Year,” Preaching Today



We don’t really need better gadgets, better things, or better programs. We need JESUS. Make this one of your resolutions this year – get to know Him better. Spend time with Him . We want to remind ourselves to stay close to God, and encourage one another to do so.




Heb 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”




Now, we need to do this for our sake. We need to stay close to God. We need to nurture our life in Christ.– and only in church and/or Christian Fellowships can we find this. Outside, we can only nurture our OLD LIFE – which is to eat, sleep and be merry. (And then you die.)




And don’t look for peace in this world – you are looking at the wrong places. We have joy – because the Lord is with us, not because our circumstances are good. We have peace – because the Lord lives in our heart, not because there is no trouble around us. We have hope – because the Lord guides us, not because of our wisdom and strength through Him..




As Christians, we have a lifetime goal. This is a resolution for life! The world must know. And now we must tell them. C. S. Lewis says, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.”




What are you living for? Every year, during the New Year, we wish that everything will be new and good. We’ve already passed so many New Years. Are we better off today? What we need – cannot be found in this world. We need a new life, because we’re in sin. We need a Savior; and that Savior is Jesus Christ.




Dear friends, the Bible says, you need to be reconciled with God, your Creator. The man who is in Christ will experience newness of life! You need to put your trust in Jesus. You need to rely upon Him.




Man has been trying – by their own efforts – to do right and live right. But the Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. By our own efforts, we can never be good enough. No amount of change can truly improve our lives. No amount of education can give us a good life. We need a change of heart.




We need the forgiveness of our sins. We need a NEW life. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Believe Him today.



Happy New Year!   Live it ~ with and for Christ







Luke 2:1-20(NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.



4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 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.



8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 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,



“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.





And this is the truth of the birth of our Savior according to scripture.



Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Luke 1:46b-55 (52)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-2



Prayer of the Day

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your Light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.



The Song of Mary from Luke 1: 46-56


If we were to compile a list of as many songs of Christmas that we know or have heard, I imagine we would be able to come up with quite an extensive list. I did a search in Google under the keywords songs of Christmas and it pulled up 55 million websites – by refining the search I was able to narrow it down to 137,000. The list included everything from songs like “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”, “Frosty the Snowman” , “Grandma Got run over by a Reindeer” to “Ave Maria”, “O Holy Night”, and “Handel’s Messiah” and everything in between. Some are just frivolous and silly and give us a good laugh; others have the power to transform human hearts from self-centeredness to God-centeredness, to give hope to the discouraged, comfort to the sorrowful, and strength to the weary.




As we prepare to celebrate again the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into our sad and broken world, I want us to look at the Scriptures that surround that joyous event. Today let’s look at  the song of Mary.




So what do we know about Mary who sings this song? She was from a dry, dusty, land. Her daily responsibilities as part of a rural Galilean family would have included grinding wheat and barley into flour, preparing dishes of vegetables, nuts and mutton, baking bread, spinning wool and making clothes, and fetching jars of water from the well for cooking and washing. There would also be a few chickens and a donkey to feed. Some of the crops to be sown and harvested in the area would have included wheat, barley, olives for food and oil for their lamps, figs, grapes and pomegranates.




In spite of their land having been conquered and ravaged for centuries by one super power after another – the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, and now the mighty Romans the people of Nazareth, including Mary, would have had a deep and strong faith in God’s promise to one day send His Messiah who would free Israel from its enemies.




The Lord who heard the cry of His people in Egypt and mightily came to their rescue through Moses would certainly, one day do so again. The God who had shown Himself over and over throughout their history to be on the side of the poor and oppressed and defenseless would not forever delay in showing His salvation.




In a culture where women were barely noticed, except as a wife and mother, around the age of 15, Mary’s parents took the customary step of arranging her marriage and the man of their choice was Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, to be her husband. Following the engagement ceremony, Mary returned to live at home with her parents for about a year when she would then go to live with her husband.




And that’s when it all happened! The visit by the angel Gabriel, the announcement that she had been specially chosen, hand picked by God to bear His Son Jesus – His Messiah – who would establish a Kingdom that would never end. The power of the Holy Spirit would conceive the child within her womb without any human intervention for His arrival would signal the end of the old human race of Adam and be the first of the new race in Christ.    Mary is understandably overwhelmed, troubled, confused and needing another caring, understanding, and wise human to talk to.




Trying to explain a private angelic visit and an immaculate pregnancy even to her parents and Joseph or anyone in the small community of Nazareth would not have been a wise move.




With the amazing news that her cousin Elizabeth, had conceived and was already 6 months pregnant when she was way past child-bearing age, Mary knew instinctively that was where she was to go. Elizabeth’s joyous, affirming, and prophetic greeting as Mary entered the house now released the song from Mary’s heart that has become known as “The Magnificat” from the opening words in Latin, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,”—“My heart magnifies the Lord.”




Mary’s song is a song of LOVE. It is a song of FAITH. And it is a song of HOPE.





As soon as Mary hears the words of Elizabeth – before she has even had an opportunity to explain the purpose of her visit – referring to her as “the mother of my Lord” and pronouncing a blessing on her for believing the word of the Lord spoken to her – the questions quieted, the anxiety abated, the confusion collapsed and the doubts disappeared, and Mary knew in her spirit that what had happened to her was for real.




Praise erupted from her innermost being like an overflowing fountain. The moment that she and her people had waited for so long had finally arrived. God had heard the cries and the longings of His children and the work of salvation had begun. Her song is made up of images and references to Scriptures from Genesis, from Job, from the Psalms, and from Isaiah and highlights how steeped her thinking was in the Word of God.



It reminds us that it is altogether possible to study the scriptures purely as an academic exercise as one might any other book of literature or history and completely miss the heart of the message.



Mary studied the Scriptures as a lover would passionately memorize and consume the letters from her beloved – they not only stimulated her thinking but transformed her heart and mind and soul.




So from the depths of her being she gives expression to her amazement, her adoration, her worship and love of God that He has singled out a nobody from Nazareth to accomplish His mighty purposes. How in keeping with the character of our God: So that no human being might ever boast in him or herself, thinking that their strength, their wisdom, their beauty, their attractiveness, their ingenuity was what brought things about – the glory and honor belongs always and only to God.

• Mary’s song is a song of love.






Mary’s song is also a song of faith. And faith grows out of true worship and adoration of God. Worship takes the attention off of us and focuses it on God – on His might, on His power, on His mercy and grace. And that environment is perfect for strengthening and deepening faith – because faith keeps its vision focused on the word and promises of God and not on the surrounding or prevailing circumstances.




According to Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” – it is believing that because God has declared something, it is already an accomplished fact even if the tangible and visible evidence is not immediately apparent to our visual, tactile and other senses.




And so here we hear Mary proclaiming that God has already scattered the proud and arrogant; pulled down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the poor; satisfied the hungry with good nourishment, and sent the self-sufficiently wealthy away empty-handed.




But Mary could sing and praise because she already saw a vision of the changed society God was bringing into being where all wrongs will be righted, where every injustice will be corrected, where the oppressed and downtrodden will be lifted up and those who have elevated and exalted themselves will be humbled.






Mary’s song is also a song of hope that is nurtured and strengthened and encouraged by her faith. It is a hope that is based in the promise God made to her ancestor Abraham and to all his descendants. And that promise found in Genesis chapters 12 and 17 was to establish His everlasting covenant with Abraham and to bless all the nations of the earth through him. And He would be their God and cause them to dwell in their own land in peace.




The believer’s hope is always firmly anchored in the faithful, sure and certain promises of God. Life’s unpredictable circumstances – sometimes favorable and sometimes chaotic – may come and go, but God’s promises will be fulfilled. Jesus affirmed that promise by saying, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. [Matthew 24:35]




• Mary’s hope was firmly anchored in what God had promised.



Mary’s song is a song of LOVE, a song of FAITH, and a song of HOPE because in a unique way God had singled her out to carry the eternal Word that Word made flesh in her womb and through her for that life-giving Word to become flesh – become a human being and be Emmanuel – God with us – God among us and one of us.




And here is the additional amazing news – God has also handpicked and personally selected you and me for that very same purpose.




The eternal Word of God seeks to continue becoming flesh – continue being expressed through willing and responsive men and women, boys and girls and dwelling among us full of grace and truth




Your and my body was each specially created to be a dwelling place for God – the sacred vessel through which He will make Himself known in our homes, our families, our schools, our communities, every place where we live and move and have our being.




And so again this Advent season, He comes to us – the least likely individuals in the least likely of places and He says to you and me:
Greetings Sue – Greetings Sallie! – Greetings Nancy! – Greetings Sam, Larry and Hugh.. You who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” and He then goes on to promise the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you so that Christ might be formed within you.




God forces Himself on no one. He takes the initiative and He makes the invitation.




Mary responded by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”



And you and I are here today and have a living hope, a steadfast faith, and the experience of God’s eternal and life-transforming love – all  because she said “Yes”.



Our hurting and broken world awaits your response. Will you let Mary’s song become your own?






“Joseph—Father of Jesus”


Matthew 1:18-25 18. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[ did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.




20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”




22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”




Last week we began our preparation for the birth of the Christ Child. We discussed “Having it all. Whomever accepts our Lord as their Savior has it all.” This week we are going to look at this magnificent event through someone who witnessed it all but whom we know little. He is just not very visible in scripture – – and that is Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.




One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was just about to turn off the light when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?” His mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t, Dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with your daddy.” After a long silence he said, “The big sissy.”




There are certain sayings we associate with fathers. Here are some typical Dad identities:




The bread winner.
The enforcer.
The car keys
The approver/The disapprover
The one who gives away the bride.
The one who pays for the wedding.




As we look in scripture we want to get a good “fix” on this father; we want to see some action, hear some quotes; but as I looked in the Bible for a quote, I couldn’t find one. I never thought about this before, but Joseph doesn’t say a single word in the Gospels. He listens and obeys. We might assume his words are recorded, because we can imagine the conversations he had with Mary, and the Angel Gabriel. We can “hear” him talking to the innkeeper. We can visualize him teaching Jesus about carpentry…but then he fades from the scene. It is widely thought that Joseph was much older than Mary, and when Jesus began His ministry, Mary appears alone, and although the Bible doesn’t say she’s a widow, we can figure that Joseph has since died.





Joseph probably thought his life was pretty well planned. His marriage and his vocation were all arranged neatly for him, but then his world came crashing down. He discovered that his bride-to-be was pregnant. We know that Joseph was a man of integrity—he wanted to do the right thing, in the right way. He considered divorcing Mary when he learned of her pregnancy, but wanted to do so without calling attention to the reason, whereas he could have had her publicly disgraced or even stoned to death for adultery. Instead, he risks being questioned about Mary’s pregnancy and marries her, facing personal disgrace. In those days, a marriage contract was worked out between families, and the engaged couple continued to live with their parents till their wedding. I imagine the townspeople could well have thought Mary and Joseph didn’t wait till their wedding. Perhaps, Joseph protected their reputation by moving up the wedding date, and the Roman census took them far away from the town’s questioning eyes.





Although Joseph came from the royal lineage of King David (thanks to the Gospel genealogy), we can easily picture him as a humble man. The brief portrait of him in Scripture suggests he was a quiet, unobtrusive man, available when needed, willing to endure hardship and disappointment. Looking forward to fathering his own child, Joseph was faced with being a step-father to a child not his own. He accepted the humbling circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. He trusted the providential care of God every step of the way. He didn’t have any parenting books, any training on how to be a father to the Son of God, but he possessed faith and compassion. Bible scholars portray Joseph as an effective provider and protector of the family.




A Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts were handed out, a boy he didn’t like was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn-keeper instead. He was pretty upset about this but he didn’t say anything to the director.




During all the rehearsals he thought what he might do the night of performance to get even with this rival who got to be Joseph. Finally, the night of the performance, Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage. They knocked on the door of the inn, and the inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.




Joseph answered, “We’d like to have a room for the night.” Suddenly the inn-keeper threw the door open wide and said, “Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house!”




For a few seconds poor little Joseph didn’t know what to do. Thinking quickly on his feet, he looked inside the door past the inn-keeper then said, “No wife of mine is going to stay in dump like this. Come on, Mary, let’s go to the barn.” -And once again the play was back on track!




In all the Christmas pageants performed, Joseph doesn’t get a starring role, but his part is so important. His task is to watch over Mary and the baby Jesus. Joseph had the important role of caring for the needs of others.




When our lives take a nasty turn, we cry out, like Joseph must have cried out, “God, how can this be?” But like Joseph, we hear a still small voice from God saying, “Trust Me.” God’s ways are not always our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and we may never understand everything that God is doing this side of heaven, but God says, “Trust Me, and all things will work together for good.”







It’s been said the best thing a father can do for his kids is to love their mother. Joseph’s love for Mary reflected Paul’s definition: “Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast; it is not proud or rude. Love is not self-seeking or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (I Cor 13).  Instead of being indignant, Joseph accepted this child as his own. Joseph accepted the revealed will of God. He followed the instructions—journeying from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, then back to Nazareth. We can easily picture Joseph receiving his son as a gift from God.




Joseph became a father to the Messiah, who would teach us all about the acceptance and grace of God. Joseph is charged with naming their son and thus defining His mission. The name Jesus means “Savior”. Archeologists have uncovered the ruins of Sapphoris, a thriving city near Nazareth. It is believed that Joseph spent much time there working on carpentry jobs, probably with his son and apprentice, Jesus. When Jesus returned to His hometown, the people responded, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter?”




Was Joseph a perfect father? No, of course not. We’re told that after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had children of their own, and they did not become believers in Jesus till after His resurrection. In spite of what their parents tried to tell them of their older brother’s miraculous birth, they refused to accept it. Parents can teach their children, but they cannot give their children faith. They can tell their kids how to live, but they can’t make them moral persons. They can baptize their children, but they can’t make them believe. They can love their children, but they can’t give them eternal life. The influence of parents is important, but we individually choose to accept or reject faith in God.





There’s a lot I’d like to know about Joseph—where and when he was born, how he spent his days, what he said, when and how he died. The last we hear of him is when he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with Mary and Jesus, when Jesus was 12-years old. He was apparently a man of few words, but he did what he was supposed to do. We don’t know much about Joseph. We’re pretty sure he wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms! Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was: “a righteous man” (Mt 1:18). Joseph may have thought that being righteous involved doing the proper thing; he found out that it is also about being the right person.




Who are you? What can you take from the life and activities of Joseph and apply to yourself? How can you follow the path God has chosen for you in a righteous, loving, and respectful manner?  What has God asked you to do that may have taken you by surprise? And what have you done about it? Joseph followed that small voice that told him to take Mary and be a loving husband and father. God asked you to accept this Son as your Savior and to go into every nation proclaiming the gospel to all!





Please join me in prayer: Lord God, when we observe the action of this mature, responsible man; when we study his compassionate involvement, his disciplined restraint, his plain obedience, all woven together into righteous action, we know that we too can live in accordance with Your will for our lives. Help us to grow and build our lives upon this model of pure love and trust in You.