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Sermon of the Week 
Monday, December 21 2020

One beautiful December evening during the holiday season, Ken Chi and his girlfriend Jung Lee were sitting by the side of the ocean. There was a romantic full moon, and Ken Chi said, “Hey baby, let’s play Wee-wee-chu.” “Oh no, not now.      Lets just look at the moon”, said Jung Lee. “Oh, c’mon baby, let’s you and I play Weeweechu. I love you and it’s the perfect time,” Ken Chi Begged. “But I had rather just hold your hand and watch the moon.” “Please Jung Lee, just once… play Weeweechu with me.” Jung Lee looked at Ken Chi and said, “OK, we’ll play Weeweechu.” But only one time….Ken Chi grabbed his guitar and they both began… “Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.”

I have titled my message….”Joy to the World The lord is Come”                             I like the fact that the song by the same name says “The Lord is come”… because He is still coming into the hearts and lives of multitudes, every day around the world!

Luke 2:10-12  “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.”

In the heavenly realms of God’s glory, there is no sadness that can enter, no disappointment, no sickness and no death. And with all of that atmosphere of Divine perfection, permeating everything, God looked down at earth and saw the dark shadows of turmoil, trouble and spiritual darkness cast across the people of earth.                                                               AND WHEN THE ANGELS PROCLAIMED WE BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY, JOY WAS BORN! Into the earth… The Father in Heaven wrapped up all that Divine wonder, all that amazing atmosphere which exuded from the very presence of the Father, in the womb of a virgin, and He deposited it in a package called “Baby Jesus”…. sent it to earth and laid it in a manger bed….                                                                                                                           

Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that “The Joy of the Lord is my strength..

He came in a time when grief, sorrow and disappointment hung over society like a dark cloud. Hearts were weighted down with heaviness and people’s steps were filled with anguish, as they stopped thriving and were only surviving. It was an atmosphere that was a magnet for every evil work of the enemy. These things not only effected  people’s outlook on life, but it became systemic and faith and hope became the victims. There are few things that Satan relishes more than people who are in despair and bowed down with doubt and discouragement. When people lack spiritual comfort and joy, the Deceiver rejoices because then he can rule them with their feelings and fulfill their fears and negative words.2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul is speaking about someone who is experiencing excessive sorrow, and he gives us this advice….      “encourage and comfort him, lest somehow he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.... in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes."

When JOY WAS BORN in Bethlehem, a flashing “EXIT” light was attached over the door that used to say “No Way Out”….. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me”.

Scripture tells us that when Mary who was pregnant with Jesus, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, as the two ladies came together, the baby Elizabeth was carrying, suddenly leaped for Joy in the presence of Jesus, who was in Mary’s womb…. We need more of God’s children to get a visitation of that exuberant, overwhelming, all encompassingjoy, in the presence of Jesus….

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. v3 You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people rejoice before You as they rejoice at harvest time…”  Now in Isaiah’s day, harvest time was a time of days of celebration, with dancing and loud music, trumpets blaring, along with much shouting and laughter!

Isaiah goes on to say, Isaiah 61:1-3 as He speaks for the lord, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because He has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord... To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Can you receive it!!!!

The angels said We bring you G00D Tidings OF GREAT JOY…..                   And FAITH WAS BORN INTO THE EARTH! The words “I believe” are a vital link in every faith journey.  (say it with me… “I BELIEVE”)                                                                                 Mark 11:24 "I say unto you, that all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and you shall have it."

I believe in doctors, and when I put my case into that doctor’s hands, I believe he can keep me well, and cure me of whatever ails me…. I believe in lawyers, and when I leave my case in his hands, I trust him to represent me, plead my case effectively and fight for me. I believe in  bankers and when I put money into their hands, I trust them to protect it, keep it accounted for and make it available to me when I need it with interest.  

I believe that my God sent a Savior, so that when I put my helpless case into His hands, and trust Him to do what I cannot do for myself—He will do exceedingly beyond all that I could hope, ask or imagine!                                  I must come to the place that I accept the fact that when my faith is weak, His faith is strong. If He could stuff God Himself in a baby’s body, what else can He do! I will rely on His faith when my faith is small. I will understand that He has more faith in me than I have in myself. I have come to understand that His faith has already supplied all my needs according to His riches in Jesus Christ. And I am greatly encouraged by the words of Paul….

Galatians 2:20 “I live, but it is not I, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”.                                                                                                         This verse deals with two levels of faith. Experiental faith and Positional faith. Experiental faith will fail you because it only extends to what you have or have not experienced. But it is Positional faith that will see you through, because it is based on the faith of the Son of God.

One of the gifts of the Spirit listed in Corinthians is the gift of faith. That gift is the very faith of God. Or, to receive and operate in the faith of God!

When Thomas asked to touch the marks where the spear went in and the nails pierced his hands, Thomas was relying on experiental faith. He said “except I see it and touch it, I will not believe”…. But Jesus said      more blessed is he that has not seen and yet believes”….                        Jesus encourages us to move from experiential faith to Positional faith in order to receive the greater blessing!

Faith is not merely your holding on to God--it is God holding on to you.

Saint Augustine said “Don’t seek to understand that you may believe, but seek to believe that you may understand”.

He took care of all that I need, before I knew Him. He made every provision for my entire life, before I was born.* All I have to do is receive the faith of the Son of God, and begin to walk in it and watch Him do what I could never do. Watch Him make happen what I could never make happen. 

After being out of town for a week, before Christmas, Tom was rushing to buy his wife a last minute gift to bring to her. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $90. “That’s a bit much,” said Tom, so she returned with a  smaller bottle for $50. “That’s still quite a bit,” Tom squirmed a bit. Growing disgusted, the clerk brought out a tiny $30 bottle. Tom was getting impatient and said, “What I mean,” he said, “is I’d like to see something real cheap.” So the clerk handed him a mirror.

Don’t have cheap faith……Jesus gives us the gift of faith, but there are attributes which we must add to our faith so that it is deep, and wide, solid and established. Faith must not abide alone….

Our instructions are found in 2 Peter 1:5 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, (moral excellence), and to virtue knowledge, (insight and understanding) v6 And to knowledge temperance, (self-control) and to temperance patience, (steadfastness) and to patience godliness, v7 And to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity (to unselfishly seek the best for others). v10 Wherefore brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall.” 

The angels announced, we bring you Great Tidings…. So take your faith, deep, and wide and solid and complete, in the faith of God!                                 

When the angels announced Good Tidings…HOPE WAS BORN INTO THE EARTH! Having to hope when things are hopeless….it is then that hope begins to shine it’s brightest.                                                                 Someone said, “Hope is the thing a person must not lose, because when you lose hope, you lose the most important thing of all”.

There was a little town in Arizona named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a Government project which would create a large lake where the town was. For years, the construction of the dam took place. In the years before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the entire town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was going to be wiped out? Why build anything, when it would soon be unusable. They even stopped decorating for Christmas. So, monthby month, the whole town became more and more run down, more neglected, and sank more into ruin. *……Someone put up a sign on main street…"Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present."

Jesus came to give us power in the present, because we have hope for the future!

Scripture tells us that wise men from the east made the journey to Bethlehem and they said we have come to worship Him… Were they wise because they worshiped, or did they worship because they were wise. They came in hope, they followed the star in hope. They could have done other things, but they worshiped Him. They could have done many good things, but they did the best thing, they worshiped the hope of the world. They saw with their own eyes what they had only hoped for, because they dared to believe what they could not yet see!

The angels announced that they were bringing great tidings….         PEACE WAS BORN INTO THE EARTH! And with the Gift from heaven, the kingdom of peace entered a war torn and weary world.                                               The world is not the way it’s supposed to be. You didn’t need me to tell you that; you already know as much. People’s lives are not the way they’re supposed to be. God has always had something else in mind. It was on his mind in the beginning when he went about creating the world and everything in it. He always had and still has A vision for shalom…      it means wholeness. Flourishing. Interconnectedness of all things. The way things are intended to be. It means right relationship with God, right relationship with others, right relationship with all of creation. But the shalom was disrupted, relationships became fractured. And up went the walls. Walls all around us; walls between us; walls within us. Our own hearts divided against us. But God laid a sledgehammer in a manger that would break down dividing walls…beginning with the wall between ourselves and our God… He made a way that would allow us to come into His presence, free of all condemnation, shame and guilt. Isaiah called His name….”Prince of Peace”….

Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her in a Nazi prison camp. She had forgiven the person, but the situation kept popping up in her mind. So she went to a local pastor and she confessed her failure. The pastor told her, “Up in the church tower, is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the bell ringer lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. Ding, dong, ding, dong, ding dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final….. DONG, and it stops. The same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at that bell rope for a long time, we shouldn’t be surprised if the old thoughts, and memories keep coming for a while, until the final “DONG”…..The fading memories are just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down till it stops.” Jesus came at Christmas, to cause the old bell of anger, the old bell of resentment, and the old bell of shame and unforgiveness from continuing to ring until the final….”DONG” sounds out                                                                                                                                                              

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”.

There is a true story of the famous “Christmas Eve Truce” of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm the second, had sent thousands of Christmas trees to the front lines in order to boost the morale of the German troops. After the trees were set up over their trenches, in sight of the enemies’ lines, a German soldier began to sing the beloved Christmas hymn “Silent Night” in German. His strong voice pierced the cold, wintery night and all the rest joined in as the opposing enemy armies sat in their trenches gripping their rifles. “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace”. Soon the French and Scottish troops, huddled in their separate barracks, begin to sing along in their own languages. Then something remarkable happened. Slowly, soldiers from all sides began to climb out of their trenches, and meet in the war zone between them, without their weapons. They began to engage each one other in conversation, exchanging gifts, as they participated inhonoring the blessed babe of Christmas!                                                              Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be sons and daughters of God. Let it begin with each of us. Let it begin within our own hearts. What is impossible for us is now made possible with God.

When the angels announced they were bringing Glad Tidings….                         LOVE WAS BORN INTO THE EARTH.                                                                                                                               God is love and so, when Jesus was born love entered into human history in a new and unique way. When a person believes in Jesus, A new level of love is birthed in them by God the Spirit.                                                                                                                                 If you are a parent then you know that the day your child was born, a new dimension of love was born in you. 

My love for David in no way diminished my love for Chris or Karen. I love, each of my children with all my heart. That love does not diminish the love I have for Winnie. As each child was born, a new love was born in me. And I suspect that if we had more (Winnie would kill me) anyway, with every child, the same thing happens. A new love would be born. Parental Love is like that and so is the Christ love that is born in us.

1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love unto us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

Each one of us has 100% of God’s love. That also means that we all have 100% access to God’s Joy, His Faith, His Hope, and His Peace. 

Christmas means we have 100% access to Christ by the Holy Spirit. And His Love is not pushy, it is not manipulative, and it is not presumptuous. God’s love was revealed in a common birth, to a common young girl, in a remote village, to very ordinary people. I think if I were God, I would have had a 100 foot angel appear in Holigraphic imagery in every major population center at the same time, and announce that God had come in the flesh, whether you liked it or not and you better like it!!!

But God chose to not impose His love on anyone, because then it would not be love given in return. The point was not just that God so loved, but that He wanted us to volunteer our love to Him in return, totally and completely.

God so loved that He gave….. Love gives without strings attached. Love does not pull back it’s expression, if it is not returned in kind. That’s the difference in emotional love and Agape love. Emotional love gives out of obligation, or manipulation. If you don’t love me, I won’t love you. But the Love that was Born on Christmas, is found in ….                                                        1 John 4:10 And this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.…

Love is like an echo, you get back what you send out…..

JESUS IS BORN IN THE EARTH….Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. We have been given, access, favor, grace, mercy, admittance, New life, and a new future by the gift God placed in a stable manger, 2000 years ago. Hallelujah! 

Prayer……”Lord, I thank You for Christmas, when you came into the earth to bring us Your Joy, Your Faith, Your Hope, Your Peace, and Your Love. When I think of the lengths You were willing to go to in order to put my life in order, it makes me want to shout, to celebrate, and to cry with thankfulness. 

You know me so well, and I am so grateful that in that foreknowledge, you provided for all my needs, for all of my life, and in eternity too. Without You, I would still be lost and in sin. But because of everything You have done for me, today I am able to celebrate the real Christmas. 

My life is blessed, You are my Lord, Heaven is my home, and Satan has no right to control me. I am eternally thankful for who I am in Christ. Thank you for Your birth, Your life, Your sacrificial death, Your resurrection, and Your coming again in the clouds of glory. I will praise You for the rest of my life and throughout eternity, in Jesus' name I pray, Amen!

Posted by: AT 07:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 08 2020

Winnie and I have both gone through the lost phone, credit card, debit card scenarios, where you realize how dependent you have become on those little gadgets. There’s a lot of your life in those digital containers. So you end up backtracking to all the places you’ve been for the entire day, starting with the most recent and working your way down. What a relief to find these pieces of your cyber identity. But have you ever come to the place where you acted in such a way or spoke in such a way, or even thought in such a way, that you misplaced your cross somewhere along the daily routines of life.

So, my message askes the question “Where is the cross in your life”?

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25For whoever wants to save his life (hang on to the old life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (lets go of the old life) for My sake will find it”.…

Well, as of today, there are only 18 more shopping days until Christmas. Typical of last-minute Christmas shoppers, one mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three-year-old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his *…...little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! it’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay". With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "we have too much to do to take time for that!"                       We don’t have to ask “Where the cross is in her life”….                                            (it got lost in the shuffle of things)

There was an article in Forbes magazine entitled "You’d Cry Too If It Happened To You." In that article, 11 men and women were asked to answer the question "Why are we so unhappy?" They all agreed we are unhappy because we have lost our moral and spiritual center. Listen to what Peggy Noonan says (I quote) "Poet W. H. Auden called his era ’the age of anxiety.’ I think what was at the heart of the dread of his day, was that folks could discern that they were beginning to lose God-- banishing Him from the scene and from their consciousness, and losing the perspective that He is a vital part of life’s daily drama”. She goes on to say It is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult enough, and people’s lives are riddled with fear, when they suddenly realize that to lose God, is to lose man’s greatest source of consolation and coherence"

We were in a huge mall in Washington, and I had to go to the men’s room. When I got back, I couldn’t find Winnie. I started describing her to one of the employees on the floor, and I said, I can’t find her, and she isn’t answering her phone. “He looked at me and said, “A wife is a terrible thing to lose.”…. (I don’t know what his story was) In Luke 15 Jesus tells of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. He says there was great rejoicing when each was found. But in each case Jesus says “How much more should we rejoice over every sinner that is found” It’s as though Jesus is asking each of us “Where is the cross in your life”  

Every state in the U.S.A. has a state flower and a state tree as symbols. Some also have a state fish, a state bird, a state stone, even a state insect. Massachusetts has nineteen such symbols. The Florida state tree is the Sabal Palmetto, the state flower is the Orange blossom, and the state bird is the Mocking bird. Folks from Main have been called “potato pickers”, folks from Connecticut have been called “Nutmegger’s”, Virginians are called “sore backs”, and North Carolinians are called “tar heels”. So when we got married, a “potato picking”, “Nutmegger” joined up with a “Sore back” “Tar heel” and our kids are really mixed up!!!                                                                                                  But Christianity has only one symbol, THE CROSS. (Hallelujah)                                                                                    If we or the world could be saved through human kindness or meditation, Jesus would have formed a sensitivity group and urged us to share our feelings. He might have come as a psychiatrist, but we didn’t need someone else messing with our head. He didn’t come as a politician, because the solution was not government but the soul. He didn’t come as a doctor because the real health issue was about the curse. He didn’t come as a global unifier because His kingdom is not of this world. But He came as a sacrifice for sin, because the world needed a savior!        

He didn’t come to restructure society, He came to save it! He didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive in Him. So He took up the cross, called disciples, gathered the church, and asked us all to follow him down a very different path of freedom.                     

Alexander the Great built the world’s first lighthouse. It was on the island of Pharos, at the entrance to the harbor of the city that bore Alexander’s name, Alexandria. It was Built in 280 B.C., and it stood six hundred feet high. It kept ships from being dashed upon the rocks, it gave sailors a reference point, and it guided the storm tossed and weary back home again. We consider the world’s greatest lighthouse to be the cross, towering above our sin and weakness, shining through our trials and our struggles, and guiding us through our storms and our adversity. It shines unceasingly, unerringly and unfailing. It reaches to the highest mountain, and it shines in the lowest valley. It’s the cross that gives me strength from day to day, it shall never lose it’s power!

The Cross is about intentional living….. It effects our level of accountability, our discipleship, our spiritual growth, our giving, our finances, our serving, our calling, how we love, how we learn, our joy, how we deal with pain and sorrow, and not only how we live but how we die, from day one, till the last day on this earth!

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Young Johnny didn’t like salads, but he loved croutons. So for years when his mom had a salad, he would always ask her for her croutons. This had gone on for so long as he grew up, that heassumed his mom didn’t like croutons. That is, until one day, at around 12 years old … they were eating and he happen to say, “Mom, I’m so glad you don’t like croutons cause I’ve been able to have all of yours for all these years. Well, his mom just startedlaughing … and she said “Honey, I like croutons”. Which really surprised him- “Why do you always give me your croutonsthen”?. “Because I love you more than I like croutons”. HMMMM                                        Let me say on a grandeur scale, the measure of God’s Love for us, that is revealed through the cross is difficult to get our head’s around… But the gospel says….Hebrews 12:3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. (He loves us more than He despised the shame and the agony of the cross)

The cross shapes and governs how you love.                                               Hebrews 9:28 “For consider him that endured (in love) with such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds”. 

The cross is vertical and horizontal. Through the cross, we are united vertically as we come back home to the Father, through Jesus our sacrifice, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the cross we are united vertically as we come into the understanding that we are all His creations, made for His glory, and designed with a divine plan. The cross declares that we all share a common bond. Sinners in need of a Savior, loved equally and fully by Christ.                                                                                                       The cross is a symbol of Unity. But there can be union without unity… tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline. And you will have union, but you will certainly have nothing that even faintly resembles unity!

Matthew 5:21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. 

But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24“leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. And first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”.                                             (God puts a high premium on unity)            

Jesus didn’t come to start a religion, He came to start a relationship. Oh, my, think about it….God says in Matthew, that He feels so strongly about the horizontal aspect of the cross, that you can bring your tithe, and still lose your blessing if you are holding anger, resentment, and ill will, against your fellow believer. 

So it asks us all the question, “Where is the cross in our relationships”…. Are there some cobwebs in some areas that need to be brushed off and cleaned up… The best cleaning ingredient you can use is repentance and forgiveness…                                                                                                          

Has the cross made a difference in who you choose for friendship and who your core group is. I understand that Jesus was the friend of sinners, but that was not his inner core. It was the twelve and they were that core group for one another. Who do you chose in your social life, to fuel you up, and build you up and keep you going strong in the word and in faith. Who are you letting speak into your life and who are you letting bring correction when you need it, or are there some cobwebs growing there. You say, I’m a loner, me and Jesus got it all worked out. I don’t need anybody to tell me what it’s all about!  

Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day (the coming of the Lord) approaching”.

One pastor recruited the youth in the church to help him serve coffee after the sermon every service. One Sunday the pastor who was always encouraging fellowship among the church asked one of the young men if he knew why they served coffee after the church services. "The boy said, "it’s to help the people to wake up before they start driving home."

Well if you got to bed late or didn’t sleep well, try not to snore!Sorry that we have no coffee available for you…..

The horizontal part of the cross, (our fellowship) is vital to provide balance in our Christian walk. 

Our failure to let Christ rule in our hearts vertically … always has horizontal implications. The Lord is very serious about the horizontal and the vertical place of the cross in our lives…. Because one is a reflection of the other. Distance from Christ becomes distance from his people….

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. v33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. v37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. v38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”.

Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but let me say,,,The cross is our symbol of victory. It is in the face of overwhelming odds that we look at the cross and declare because He lives we shall live also. Because He overcame we shall overcome also. If we walk around speaking defeat, and failure, and sickness, then the cross was for nothing. With our mouth we declare his worthiness by declaring, and acting, and living in the reality of His finished victory. His victory is my victory, His victory is your victory! My mouth declares His worthiness!!!                                                                               Your picture is on God’s refrigerator…. Just like we keep pictures of our kids and grandkids on the refrigerator. God lovesus so much that if He had a refrigerator, our picture would be right there on it.

Parents, have you noticed when we go to an event in which our kids are participating, we really only watch our kids or grandkids? Your kid may be on the sidelines or the bench instead of on the field or court, but you’re going to be watching him or her. There may be 30 little girls out there at the dance recital, or 20 other kids in the Christmas play, but your eyes (and your video cameras) are focused on your kids. If they happen to make a football tackle or a goal or perform a beautiful grand pirouette ,we want to tell everybody, “That’s my girl!” or “That’s my boy!”                                                                                                                        That’s how our heavenly Father watches over us with love and compassion. As the song based on the word of Goddeclares…..                               “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”

Perhaps you heard about the guy that bought his, wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas? His friend asked him, "Hey, I thought you said that your wife wanted one of those dressed out 4-Wheel drive Humvees for Christmas”." "That’s right, She did”, as a sly look came over his face, “but where am I gonna find a fake Humvee?"...

Where is the cross in our lives, because there are a lot of fakes that are trying to pass for the real thing. You can fool some folks all the time and you can fool everyone some of the time, but you can’t…(well you know the rest)

The old song says, “I will cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, it’s shame and reproach gladly bear. Till He calls me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown”. (Thank You Lord)!

We lived in Miami for a year, before coming to Key West in 1976. We had some dear friends, Mary and Ted, who helped us move in a U-Haul truck. Mary had claustrophobia, and was very fearful of the narrow bridges at that time, which had to be crossed to get to Key West. But she had never been to Key West, and was more excited to see Key West, than she was afraid of the bridges! As I think of that….

I think of how God, through the cross, built a bridge that would reach from this sin cursed world, with all it’s struggles, pain, sorrow, and trials, and that cross would bridge the gap between this earthly dimension, and into the dimensions of heaven’s glory! And like Mary, we might draw back at times from what the cross demands of us, but our excitement and joy at seeing heaven and all of it’s glory, far out weighs any misgivings we might have!!! In college, some of us were talking about what we would do when we got to heaven. One guy said, I’m going to check out my mansion. Another said, I’m going to check out the ability to fly… Another said, I’m going to find all my family that has gone before. The last guy said, I’m just going to fall at Jesus feen and worship Him for about 100 years… Boy, we all wanted to change our answers!!!

Before they were called Christians in the New Testament, they were called “The people of the Way”…. I like that… and the fish symbol was their secret form of identity… We are the people of theway, just make sure we don’t get in the way of those who want to make the journey!

Jesus said in Matthew 23:13 13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, and youwill not let those enter who are trying to”.

The word “woe” in the Greek is a judgment. It signifies impending doom, condemnation or the wrath of God. Jesus used it more than anyone else in the bible….

When we keep the cross at the center, we won’t be blocking others who desires to enter in, and we will never hear God pronounce “Woe”..Amen?

Mahat-ma Gandhi, a Hindu, is considered the father of modern India. His birthday, Oct. 2, is a national holiday in the second-most populated nation on Earth. In 1891, after graduating law school in London, he moved to South Africa to practice law. The racial system of apartheid was strictly observed in South Africa.Gandhi was fascinated with all who searched for truth and studied the Bible along with other religious texts. He loved the Sermon on the Mount and seriously considered becoming a Christian. One Sunday, he decided to visit a church in South Africa. Gandhi’s skin was light brown, as he entered the church, a South African white man said with a belligerent tone, “Where do you think you’re going?” 

Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.” The man said, “There’s no room for your kind here. Get out of here, or I’ll have some of my men throw you down the steps.” Gandhi never seriously considered becoming a Christian again. This incident might have been one reason he later would utter the famous quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians”. 

Who knows what India would have been like today if Gandhi had been welcomed into church that day and given his life to Christ? We’ll never know…..Because someone blocked the way, a nation was affected….

While we decorate our Christmas trees this season. Let’s remember that the real Christmas tree was decorated by God Himself, as He hung Jesus upon it for the sins of the world. That none should perish, but that all should have eternal life through Jesus His son!

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could barely get by. The cross is our symbol of victory over poverty spirits, over everycurse that came through sin, it declares that because He lives, we shall live also because the same spirit that raised him up, lives in us. 

There is no child and adult Holy Spirit, No female and male Holy Spirit, No preacher and church member Holy Spirit. The same spirit that Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Mark, and Jesus had while on earth, lives in every believer, no matter what age, or the gender, race or color. THE SAME SPIRIT THAT RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD, DWELLS IN US! It’s the same power, the same anointing, the same source and availability. It is the crucified life that fully releases Him in our lives. 

Colossians 3:16 Let the revealed Spirit word of Christ dwell in you richly….that means extravagantly, abundantly, fully, and bursting at the seams! (in other words, you can’t help yourself)!It’s bursting out!                                                                      So where is the power of the cross, of victory in our lives! Let us cling to the old rugged cross, let us never cease to cherish it and be devoted to the difference it brings into all of our lives! (AMEN CHURCH)!!!

Prayer, “ Lord Jesus, as we remember Your bleeding body hanging on the cross, it provides a firm foundation to our faith. The nails and the spear, Your grief, the anguish of Your soul, and the depth of the agony you endured in Your love for us, inspire us and fire our hearts with praise and gratitude. We will bless You Lord forever and give our love and devotion to You every day of our lives. 

Let us always be bursting forth with your love, your joy, your grace and mercy, that You made possible, everywhere we go and in everything we do. Always let our direction in life begin and end from the place of the cross of Your victory. 

Let us never forget that this is where it all begins and it is ourconstant guarantee that we too shall overcome by the power of redemption through Your finished work. We too can shout “It is finished, it is done.” Because of the cross, I have a sure foundation, and the sure hope that all things will work together for our good and Your glory!                                In the mighty name of Jesus….                                                                                 I’ve placed a table in front of the cross, and I want to give each person a blank sheet of paper. Don’t write any thing on it. God knows what it is….write on it with your finger, But if it’s guilt, the cross has covered it all… if it’s insufficiency, lack, or incompleteness, He bought redemption for you there… if it’s a physical need, He paid the price for your healing…. Take a moment, and bring that paper with whatever need or request it is and lay it before the cross of our victory….

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