22
Dec
14

Whom God Has Sent

God sent His Son and then God sent His Spirit and it all started in the manger of Bethlehem.  God chose the perfect time in history to send His Son, Jesus.  Jesus was, “born under the law” of Moses to “redeem those under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5, NIV).  In other words, Jesus was born to keep the law of Moses perfectly because people cannot.  In our sins, we are slaves to sin and Jesus came to ransom us from the sin the holds us captive.  Jesus came to turn us from slaves of sin into sons and daughters of the King.  We have been adopted into God’s family through His perfect Son.  Now, because we are His children, God has made us heirs and we have received an inheritance of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of Christ dwells in our hearts and reminds us of our status as God’s children.  This Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6, NIV).  Abba is no ordinary word for God.  This is the Aramaic word for “Daddy.”  This is a word of deep affection that is only used within a family setting.  We are God’s children because of what God’s only begotten Son has done for us.  This is what Christmas is all about.  So live today as that which you are – a son or daughter of the King!
Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV)
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
19
Dec
14

What The Angel Said

The angel told Joseph, “Do not be afraid…”  Apparently he was afraid of something.  Of what could he have been fearful or dismayed?  Perhaps he was afraid of the religious people of his day.  According to the Scriptures, Mary would have been guilty of adultery and should have been condemned to death by stoning.  By this time in Israel’s history, this was no longer the case.
Maybe he was afraid of what the community would think.  Joseph could have divorced her in a very public, shaming way.  Mary would have had a very difficult time ever finding a husband again because of her “infidelity” and having a child.  She would have had no one to support her once her parents passed away.  Joseph was a good man, though, and didn’t want to disgrace his soon to be wife.  He would just quietly divorce her and send her on her way.
Maybe Joseph was afraid of what his family would think.  Whatever the reason, Joseph was afraid and troubled over the news that his fiancee was pregnant.  He knew that he wasn’t the father and that is when the angel showed up in a dream.  Joseph needn’t be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  She did not cheat on him.  She was highly favored by God and was going to give birth to the Messiah!  God had a plan for this little baby she was carrying.  He had a plan all along and it was a good plan.  It was a plan to save the world through Jesus.
We who live 2000 years later needn’t be afraid, either.  We do not need to be afraid of God because through Immanuel, God is with us.  We do not need to be afraid of the devil, for Jesus came to save us from our sins.  We do not need to be afraid of what others think, for no matter what happens, God has a plan.  It is still a good plan and we can trust Him to carry it out and work all things together for our good.

Matthew 1:18-23 (NIV)

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”).

15
Dec
14

Zechariah’s Song Of Praise

The latest sermon from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

12
Dec
14

The Greatness of…You?

What great thing are you going to do for God today?  Mordecai was a pretty ordinary guy who did extraordinary things for God.  What did he do?  He saved the Jewish race!  By doing this, he ensured that the Messiah whom God had promised to send through His people, would be born.  Because of Mordecai’s bravery, Jesus was born centuries later.  We owe Mordecai a lot!  So don’t say, “I’m just an ordinary human being.  I can’t do anything great.”  Not true!  You have the power of God within you in the person of the Holy Spirit!  You can do anything with God’s power within you!  Do it for Him and for His glory and you will not fail.  He can give you the strength to stand up and doing something awesome for Him.  So seek His will and to follow His plan and do something great for Jesus today!
 
Esther 10 (NIV)
 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores.And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
11
Dec
14

A Feast To Celebrate

The Jews had been saved from their enemies!  In chapter 9 of Esther, we read about the establishment of the feast of Purim.  It got its name from the pur, which was the lot that Haman used to determine the date that the Jews would be executed.  The Jews took a bad thing and turned it into a reason to celebrate.  The name of the device which was used to determine their annihilation was now the name of their feast that celebrated their deliverance!

Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.​ – Esther 9:20-22 (NIV)​

When God does great things, we should celebrate.  God saved His people from the hands of Haman and the people celebrated what God had done by having a feast and giving presents to one another.  Sounds like a good idea to me!  We have the opportunity every year to celebrate God’s deliverance of us from the chains and bonds of sin and shame.  Jesus Christ came into this world to do just that.  He set us free and we celebrate that wonderful gift each year at Christmas.  Our celebration should not be limited to December 25th, though.  We should be celebrating every day like it is Christmas Day.  For our salvation is not to be remembered once a year or twice a year or every once in a while.  We are saved every day and we should celebrate what Christ has done every day!

Esther 9 (NIV)

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews,because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”

13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”

14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

Purim Established

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them,27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

09
Dec
14

Our Unconventional God

God is far from conventional.  Look at this passage from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV):

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

He does not choose the strongest because the strongest are content in their own strength.  He does not choose the wisest because they’re dependent upon their own intellect.  He does not choose the noble and the wealthy because they trust in their status or their riches.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3 (NIV).  Those who know that they are spiritually bankrupt are happier than those who think that they’ve got it all together.  It is when we realize that we are weak, foolish, lowly and poor that God can do something with us.  When we think that we’re self-sufficient that we are truly far from God.
Esther 8 shows us how God chooses the weak and the lowly to be lifted up.  The Jews were not the most powerful nation when God chose them to be His people.  Esther was a lowly Jewish girl who rose to a position of great power and prestige.  Mordecai was a nobody who chose to honor God instead of honoring Haman.  God, in His great wisdom and love, worked through Esther, Mordecai and the Jews to bring about salvation through His Son, Jesus, the Messiah.  For if Esther did not bravely stand up for her people, they would have been wiped out and there would have been no virgin birth as was foretold by the prophet Isaiah.  Salvation would not have come the way it had been prophesied in the Old Testament.  It is because of Mordecai and Esther’s bravery and devotion to God that we have been set free through Jesus Christ.

Esther 8 (NIV)

That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring,which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.

Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

“If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”

King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.

11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.

The Triumph of the Jews

15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

08
Dec
14

Mary’s Song Of Praise

The sermon from December 7, 2014 from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.




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