Friday, August 31, 2018

A Promise Fulfilled- Part 3

Joseph and Mary were back in their own home in Bethlehem. They were happy with their little baby boy, and things seemed to be getting back to normal.
But, far away in the East something had happened. Some wise men had noticed a new star in the sky about the time of Jesus' birth. This star, they knew, meant the arrival of an extraordinary king! And, they had begun the long journey towards where this star was pointing. The Bible doesn't say how many wise men came on this trip- many people think that it was three men, but that's just guesswork, because there were three gifts presented.
It would take around 2 years before they got to their destination.
Matthew 2:1-2- Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The wise men followed the star to Jerusalem, and then asked the ruler where the baby king was born. This wasn't good news to Herod!
Matthew 2:3-6- When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Herod found out from the religious leaders in Jerusalem where it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born. Then, he went to the wise men and found out when the star appeared.
Matthew 2:7-8- Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
Herod told the wise men where to find the child king, and then told them to come back and tell him exactly where he was. Herod said he wanted to worship the child, also, but he was lying!
Matthew 2:9-11- When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
The wise men found the house that Joseph and Mary had gotten in Bethlehem. They were so excited! The came into the house and fell down before the child and worshiped him. Then, they presented him with presents that were specifically chosen for a king of Kings!
Gold was given because of his status of king. It was customary to give riches to rulers, and what was more precious than gold?
Frankincense was an herb that was used in the temple. It represented that Jesus was born as a priest. Like a priest, Jesus would be able to offer the sacrifice that was required by God for sins. Only a priest was allowed to go before the Ark of the covenant and offer this offering!
Myrrh was another type of herb that was used in burial. When a body died, they would use this to cover the stink until they could bury it. The myrrh was a symbol that Jesus would die.
The wise men left their gifts with the child and his parents and then went on their way. But, not back to Herod, because God had warned them not to.
Matthew 2:12-15- And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
God not only warned the wise men, but He also warned Joseph. He told Joseph to take his family to Egypt, because there they would be safe from Herod's wicked plot. This would also fulfill another prophesy about the Messiah.
But, when Herod realized that the wise men weren't coming back, he put his evil plan into action!
Matthew 2:16-18- Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Evil Herod had found out that the child king would be around 2 years old. When the wise men didn't return, he sent soldiers to kill all the children age 2 and younger throughout all of Bethlehem.
This was also foretold in the Old Testament. All these things had to come to pass as a sign to any of the Jews who were reading the Scriptures and looking for the Messiah. If they had known about the prophesies, then they would have known about Jesus.
Matthew 2:19-21- But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
When Herod died, an angel told Joseph that it was safe to go back to Israel. We don't know where Joseph had planned on going, but as he was traveling back, he inquired about the ruler that had taken Herod's place.
Matthew 2:22-23-  But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
When Joseph heard that it was Herod's son on the throne, he was afraid for his family. Perhaps he even thought about going back to Egypt. But, and angel came to him in a dream and warned him to stay in the coasts of Israel. So, he went to a city called Nazareth.
This was also prophesied about in Scriptures. The Old Testament told many things about Jesus' birth and his life as a child. If only someone had taken the time to read and search!
Luke 2:40-41- And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
As Jesus grew, his parents made sure to raise him according to Jewish laws. He went with his family every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. He would follow this custom until the year he was killed as our sacrifice lamb during the passover outside the city of Jerusalem.
The Bible tells us about one trip that Jesus took during the passover when he was 12 years old.
Luke 2:42-45- And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Joseph and Mary kept the feast and then left with a group of friends and family to go back to their home. After traveling for one whole day, they realized that Jesus was not with them.
Imagine the panic! They had watched over Jesus and tried to protect him knowing that if the Romans ever found out that he was the Messiah they would try to kill him. And, now, he was lost! In fact, it took them three days to find him.
I bet his mother cried the whole time thinking something horrible had befallen him!
Luke 2:46-47- And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
But Jesus wasn't hurt. He was in the temple listening and learning, and even asking and answering questions.
Luke 2:48-51- And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
Jesus told Mary that he was just doing some business that his father wanted him to. But, he wasn't talking about Joseph, he was talking about God the Father!
Mary, again, put these things inside of her. She pondered on his words like she did on the tale of the shepherd's who came to visit her, or on the praises of those prophets in the temple who thanked God for sending her little baby.
Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary like he was their son. He obeyed them. He listened to them. He even worked with Joseph in his business, carpentry.
Jesus was the perfect child! And, as he grew he was looked on fondly by all who knew him.
Luke 2:52- And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Promise Fulfilled- Part 2

A miracle had been performed. It was so astonishing that after 400 years of silence, God sent an angel to tell someone His message twice in one year!
Zacharias had been the first to receive a message from God. The angel told him that his wife, Elisabeth, was going to have a baby boy and they were to name him John.
Then, six months later, an angel appeared to a young lady named Mary, and told her that she, too, was going to have a miracle baby.
The only problem was that Mary was engaged, but not yet married.
Matthew 1:18- Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
It was a custom in Israel that when an unmarried woman was found to be pregnant that she was put to death. But, they didn't realize that Mary hadn't sinned. She was expecting the son of God through a miracle. Joseph didn't want Mary to be killed.
Matthew 1:19-21- Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Joseph was going to quietly call off the engagement. But, while he was thinking about what to do, an angel appeared to him, also, and told him that Mary wasn't committing any wickedness! She had been chosen by God to bring forth the Messiah.
Joseph was told that he should go ahead and make Mary his wife, and when the baby was born his name would be Jesus.
Matthew 1:24-25- Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph obeyed the angel and married his fiance, Mary. But, they didn't act like married people until after Jesus was born.
Now, remember that the Roman Empire ruled the land. Almost all of Europe, much of the Middle East, and parts of Asia and Africa were under their dominion. And, there was a world wide tax.
Luke 2:1-5- And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
For everyone to pay the tax, they had to travel to the city of the birth of the man of the house's forefathers. Since Joseph was a descendant of David, and David was from Bethlehem, that's where he went to pay his taxes.
But, the city was filled up with people who were in town to pay their taxes. Joseph and Mary couldn't find a place to stay. The hotels were filled. And, everyone who knew someone had people in their homes.
The only place open was a barn-type thing where people kept their animals.
Luke 2:6-7- And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Joseph and Mary didn't even get one night's sleep, because as soon as they got into the barn the baby came.
Baby Jesus was born in a barn, and laid down to sleep in a manger- the container where they fed the animals. You might think that this was terrible, but it was God sending a sign to the Jews. The Messiah was born like a lamb- but this lamb's sacrifice would take away the sin of the world!
God wanted to tell the world about His Son's birth! But, everyone was in bed. So, he sent messenger angels to the shepherds who were awake in the fields.
Luke 2:8-12- And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Can you imagine? All of the shepherds lying about in the fields, perhaps looking at the stars. Then a light appeared out of no where. And, an angel was there talking with them telling them the Messiah had come.
They were very afraid at this sight! But, then it got even more magnificent! The sky filled up with shining angels and their voices rang out a lovely song that had never been heard before!
Luke 2:13-14- And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The Shepherds listened in amazement! And when the angels disappeared, they scrambled to find the baby of which they sang.
Luke 2:15-18- And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Once the shepherds found Jesus, they told everyone they could find about the baby Messiah!
Mary kept the memory of these things in her heart. She probably thought back on it often when Jesus said or did things that she wasn't expecting.
Luke 2:19-20- But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2:21- And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Once, Joseph had paid their taxes, he and Mary left for Jerusalem. They needed to present Jesus at the temple for the Jewish ceremony after birth.
Luke 2:22-24- And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Jesus came to fulfill the law. It all started with his parents bringing him to the temple and offering the appropriate sacrifice.
But, the awesome events of Jesus' birth weren't over!
Luke 2:25-30- And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
A man came to the temple who had been led by God. He had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. We think that he was an old man, but the bible doesn't say that. He could've been a young man.
He began to praise the Lord when he saw baby Jesus. He took the baby in his arms and told God that he was ready to die now that he had seen the Messiah!
Luke 2:33-35- And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Simeon gave Jesus back to Mary, and told her that her baby would change everything! But, her heart would be broken for that to happen.
Perhaps Mary didn't understand what that meant. But, she would have to ponder it later, for another awe inspiring thing happened!
Luke 2:36-38- And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
An old woman came into the temple. Her husband had died after only seven years of being married. After his death, she came to the temple and lived the rest of her life in service to God.
When she heard Simeon's proclamation, she too began to praise the Lord for the birth of the Messiah!
Such an eventful time! Joseph and Mary were probably glad to get back to their normal lives.
They returned to Bethlehem, and got themselves a house. They settled into their new lives as parents in their new town. But, things weren't going to settle down for long.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Promise Fulfilled- Part 1

It has been over 500 years since the Jews returned to the land of Israel from their captivity. Things haven't been easy. There had been wars ravaging the land from all sides. They went into captivity under the Babylonian Empire. They were allowed to return to Israel under the Persian empire. They were trying to live in their homeland throughout the Greek empire. And, now, they were under the rule of the Roman Empire.
All the known world at that time spoke Koine Greek. Even though everyone had their own language from their own area, almost all people could speak Greek.
Throughout most of these troubling years, God's people followed their religious leaders through a mixture of the law of Moses and the traditions of the Pharisees and Saducees. Because of this, God had fallen silent.
But, that was all going to change!
Luke 1:5-7- There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Zacharias was a priest in the temple of the Lord. He had a very important job that Moses gave to the descendants of Aaron thousands of years ago!
Leviticus 16:9, 11-13- And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
Zacharias and his wife were following all the commandments of Moses to the best of their ability. The only thing that they lacked was a child.
They were both now to old to have a child. Or, so they thought.
Luke 1:8-12- And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Zacharias went into the temple one day to do his job. It was the same job that he performed every year- put the blood of the sacrifice offering on the seat of the ark of the covenant in the Holiest of Holies, and burn incense on the altar. But, this year, while he was burning the incense, an angel joined him in the room. Boy, did this scare Zachariah!
Luke 1:13-17- But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
The angel told Zacharias not to be afraid. He was only there to deliver a message- Zacharias was going to be a father!
It was similar to the message that Samson's parents received- this child was going to be used by God, so be careful what you eat and drink.
The angel said that this baby was to be called John, and he would be a messenger to prepare Israel for the Messiah.
Luke 1:18-20- And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
If we've learned anything going through the stories of the Bible, we can be assured of two things- 1) Jews will always ask God for a sign, and 2) It's never wise to question God!
Zacharias asked the angel for a sign. And, the angel said that his sign would also be a punishment for questioning God- he wouldn't be able to speak until after the baby was born!
Well, Zacharias was taking a long time in the Holiest of Holies, so the people began to wonder what was going on.
Luke 1:21-22- And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
When Zacharias finally came out to the people, he was speechless! He kept using his hands to try to tell the people something had happened.
Luke 1:23-25- And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
When Zacharias went back home, his wife soon found out that she was going to have a baby!
But, they weren't the only ones who had been visited by an angel.
Luke 1:26-27- And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
When Elisabeth was six months along in her pregnancy, the angel appeared to a cousin of her's and had a message for this young girl.
Luke 1:28-29- And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Mary was a little afraid when she heard what the angel had to say! What did this mean?
Luke 1:30-35- And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
The angel told Mary that she had been chosen by God to bear a son, because she was a descendant of King David and she was trying to live according to the commandments of Moses.
Mary wondered how she was going to have a baby when she wasn't even married. The angel explained that it was going to be a miracle. Mary would be the baby's mother, but the Lord God Almighty was going to be the father.
Then the angel told Mary the wonderful news of her cousin, Elisabeth.
Luke 1:36-38- And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Mary didn't ask for a sign. I suppose the fact that an angel appeared out of no where and told her was enough for her. She said that she was willing to be used by God.
There were no telephones back then, and there wasn't really any type of post office. So, Mary had no clue that her cousin was expecting a child. Mary decided to go visit her cousin.
Luke 1:39-45- And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
As Mary walked into Elisabeth's house, the baby inside of Elisabeth jumped. This was not something that babies usually did. Elisabeth knew that meant something was special about Mary.
Luke 1:46-49- And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Mary told Elisabeth that she had been chosen by God for something so wonderful that years from that day people would still be talking about it!
Mary stayed with Elisabeth for three whole months. She may have even been there when Elisabeth gave birth to her baby boy.
Luke 1:56-60- And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
Elisabeth gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! And, when he was 8 days old they circumcised him and told others his name. Elisabeth knew what that his name would be John. Somehow, Zacharias was able to let her know that was what the angel said to call him.
But, others assumed that he would be named after his father, and so they started to call him Zacharias. Elisabeth tried to tell them his name was John.
But, they didn't think she knew what she was talking about, so they turned to ask Zacharias.
Luke 1:61-63- And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
The people started motioning to Zacharias what they should call the child. I guess they assumed that because he couldn't speak, perhaps he couldn't hear either.
Zacharias asked for something to write with and wrote down that this baby's name was John.
But, then something happened that shocked them all.
Luke 1:64-65- And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
The moment that Zacharias confirmed John's name, God allowed him to speak again. And, he was filled with the Holy Ghost and started prophesying!
As soon as they heard him praising God, they were afraid! What was happening? And, what type of child would this be?
Luke 1:66, 80- And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
John grew up in the deserts eating locusts and wild honey. He was taught the Scriptures of the Lord by his parents and he was very knowledgable in the commandments of God.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Crawfish Lasagna recipe

Crawfish Lasagna

2 stalks of celery, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
Lasagna Noodles (almost 2 boxes, can be no-boil)
2 packages of frozen Louisiana crawfish
1 lb lump crab meat *optional
1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
½ -1 tsp Tony Chachares cajun seasoning
 1 blocks of cream cheese, softened
 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
 1/2 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
 1/2 lb shredded parmesan cheese
 1/2 lb shredded Colby jack cheese

Melt 1/2 stick of butter, saute celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic till tender.
Add Tony Chachares and crawfish, saute 20 mins.
Mix chopped parsley, cream of mushroom soup, softened cream cheese and parmesan in bowl.
Mix colby jack & mozzarella in a bowl.
Spray bottom of 9x13 baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray.
Take some of the juice from the crawfish mixture and cover the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, then layer noodles, mushroom soup mixture, two cheeses, and crawfish mixture. Repeat this process, ending with shredded cheese layer.
Bake 350 degrees for 30-40 mins (If using no-boil lasagna noodles, follow the instructions on the box). Let sit 5-10 mins.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Whispering Hope (poem)

Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

 If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal;
Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, oh, never depart.
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

-Septimus Winner

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Are You Washed In The Blood?

Friend, may I ask you a question?  Are you 100% sure that you are not going to burn in hell forever?  You know, most people think they’ll go to heaven because of their good works, their church membership, their baptism or some other human effort, but God’s word declares otherwise!  “There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10), so God does not expect you to EARN your way to heaven.  Sure God wants you to live a holy life, and sure he wants you involved in the work and worship of the church, but he never said once that such effort could SAVE anyone.  These things have to do with SERVICE, not salvation.

So what DOES save a sinner?  I would like for you to read very carefully as we study through several passages of scripture, because from the beginning of time God has been designing a master redemption plan.
First, let’s consider two verses from Genesis chapter three: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”  (verse 7) Here we see Adam and Eve immediately after they had sinned against God.  They were ashamed, so they covered their nakedness in FIG LEAVES.  Did this please God?  No, it did not.  In verse twenty- one we read “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”  Why do you suppose God preferred animal skin over fig leaves?  Their nakedness was covered either way, so why did God prefer the skins?  There’s only one answer: THE BLOOD.  No blood had to be shed to make aprons of fig leaves, but God had to kill an innocent animal, probably a lamb, in order to make coats of skins.  This pictured the BLOOD of Jesus Christ that would one day be shed for the sin of the world.  Revelation 13:8 speaks about “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  That is, the blood shed in the beginning (Genesis 3) pictures Jesus Christ dying on the cross for your sins.

Let’s go to Genesis chapter four.  Cain and Able decided to offer a sacrifice to God.  Cain offers of “the fruit of the ground” (verse 3) and Abel offers of “the firstlings of his flock” (verse 4).  God accepts Abel’s offering, but he does not accept Cain’s offering.  Why not?  Surely Cain worked very hard in the fields for his crop.  Why would God not be pleased with it?  There was NO BLOOD shed with Cain’s offering.  Abel offered an animal sacrifice, but Cain did not, so God refused his offering.  The same is true today.  God refuses to save anyone on the merits of their own good works or good intentions.  “. . . without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22)

Now let’s move over to Exodus chapter twelve.  At this point God had just performed many miracles of judgment against Pharaoh and the Egyptians for enslaving and abusing the Jews, yet Pharaoh refused to release God’s people.  So the final day has come.  God will now strike the Egyptians with one final judgment.  He says in Exodus 12:12, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.”  God is going to kill all the firstborn children in Egypt, as well as the firstborn beasts.  To protect his own people, the Jews, God tells them to kill a lamb and put its blood “ . . . on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses . . . “  (verse 7).  He then says, “ And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you . . . “ (verse 13)

God did not say, “When I see your good works, or your church membership I will pass over you.”  God said, “When I see THE BLOOD I will pass over you.”  So it is today. God is looking for BLOOD.  If you are covered by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ, then you are saved.  If you are not under the BLOOD, then you are lost and on your way to Hell.  Leviticus 17:11 says, “. . . it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

Now let’s come to the New Testament and see how the blood atonement finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.  Before Jesus appears publicly, John the Baptist  is preaching to the Jews.  Then one day John looks up and sees Jesus Christ.  Do you know what he says?  He doesn’t say, “Why, there’s Jesus!”  He doesn’t say, “Behold, the Messiah!”  He doesn’t even say, “Behold, the Son of God!”  John takes one look at the Lord Jesus Christ and cries out, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  The LAMB OF GOD!  Friend, a lamb is for sacrifice!  A BLOOD ATONEMENT!  John was saying that Jesus would be sacrificed for the sin of the world.

In Matthew 26:28 Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Jesus shed his BLOOD for you!

Romans 3:23-25 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God . . .”  Faith in what?  He said you need to have faith in his BLOOD.

Romans 5:8-9 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  How are you justified?  By the BLOOD of Jesus Christ!

Consider Revelation 1:5, “ . . . Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”  Friend, if you are saved, it is because you have been washed in the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to be saved from your sins and from hell.

Now consider Hebrews 9:14: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  Would you like to know how YOU can come in contact with the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST and be washed from all your sins?  It says THROUGH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT.  If God’s Spirit is speaking to your heart about salvation, then the BLOOD of Jesus Christ is present and available to you RIGHT NOW.  There is no other way to become a child of God and escape the damnation of hell.  You must be born again (John 3:3) by God’s Spirit, and this can only be done by being washed in the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Why not confess to God right now that you are a sinner, and ask him to wash you in the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.  Claim his word and trust him today.
(Available in tract form at