Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Are You Ready For Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas? – Luke 2:21-33

"And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS."

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.

And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him."  Luke 2:21-33

I.  Reflecting upon the story

II.  Reflecting upon our faith

III.  Do you see Messiah Jesus this Christmas?


Do you personally know the Messiah Jesus as your King and Savior?  How do you  know?

When did you first personally come to know Messiah Jesus?

At what time did you feel you had the best relationship with Messiah Jesus?

What could you do to draw closer to the Messiah Jesus?

What will your "new normal" be in 2016?

What will your “new normal” be for 2016?

"For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."  Galatians 6:15

I.  We must know that we are not part of the world system

            A.  Not legalism
            B.  Not lawlessness

II.  We are citizens and children of the new creation

"But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."  2 Peter 3:13

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love."  Galatians 5:6

A.  What changes do we have to do to defeat the legalism and lawlessness in our lives?

B.  To live as a citizen and child of the new creation we must have our faith working through love.  How can we do this more effectively?

III.  How should we then live?

A.  Come to the “Learning How to Succeed At Life” seminar on January 9th at 10 AM

B.  Journal on the questions raised today and prayerfully meditate on the passages of scripture.  Seek the Lord’s will for 2016 and your life at this moment.

C.  Ask the Lord to send reformation (correction of belief), renewal          (application of true belief), and revival (the conversion of those lost that we are in contact with)   to visit your life in 2016 and First Church West.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Meditation

Luke 1:26-38

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her,

"Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God."

And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."  Luke 1:26-38

I.  Real-time and space history.  This is not a myth told to inspire.[1]

II.  It is not blind faith.  Mary asks honest questions and seeks honest answers.

III.  Passive Participation or Active Acceptance:  Saying yes to the impossible.

Mary at her Annunciation models faith for us. She shows us that faith is more than intellectual agreement, but is also trust, submission and commitment. Mary trusted in God’s promises in HIS WORD and in the specific revelation of Gabriel, chose to surrender and submit to God’s specific will for her life and committed herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation in Messiah Jesus.

Today, we can hear the gospel of Jesus, and ask for it to be done to us  according to the great promises offered to be transformed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Is Christmas Real?

Is Christmas Real?

1 Timothy 3:16

16  By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

‘He Who was manifested in the flesh,

Was justified in His spirit,

Was shewn to the angels,

Was proclaimed among the nations,

Was believed on in the world,

Was taken up in glory.’

I.  Can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?[1]

“Matthew published his own Gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the church there. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned on his breast, himself produced his Gospel while he was living at Ephesus in Asia.”  (180 A.D.)

Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 3.3.4.  Strobel, Lee (2009-07-27).

II.  Does Archeology confirm the biographies?

“Gaius Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt [says]: Seeing that the time has come for the house to house census, it is necessary to compel all those who for any cause whatsoever are residing out of their provinces to return to their own homes, that they may both carry out the regular order of the census and may also attend diligently to the cultivation of their allotments.”  (AD 104)

John McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1991), 155,  [2]

III.  Can a reasonable person believe in a virgin birth?

“The grounds for belief and disbelief are the same today as they were two thousand — or ten thousand — years ago. If St. Joseph had lacked faith to trust God or humility to perceive the holiness of his spouse, he could have disbelieved the miraculous origin of her Son as easily as any modern man; and any modern man who believes in God can accept the miracle as easily as St. Joseph did.” C.S. Lewis Miracles

IV.  So when was Messiah/Christ Jesus born?

                           i.      Born somewhere between 6 B.C. and 2 B.C.

                           ii.     Wise men may have seen “the star” in June and arrive when Messiah Jesus is two years old. – Star may have been planned to signal the birth of John the Baptist.

                         iii.     Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was conceived just after Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) and born 40 weeks later in Tammuz (June/July).   Luke 1:36 tells us that John was about six months older than Jesus. 

                       iv.     Jesus was perhaps conceived in Nisan (Mar/Apr), near Passover, and born about 40 weeks later during late December. About six months after John the Baptist. (

V.   So ….. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2Peter 1:16)[3]

[1] You can get F.F. Bruce’s book;  Are the New Testament Documents Reliable at

The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ
by Gary R. Habermas 
The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger by Lee Strobel