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December 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

December 2017

 

December 3

 

The majority of Christians often ask themselves the following question: What do I need to do after I am saved? Each one’s answer determines what kind of Christian they will be for the rest of their lives. Some of the people who attend church believe that God’s purpose is to rescue them from hell through the replacement death of Jesus Christ, but this is a humanist understanding of the divine purpose. God’s purpose in restoring humanity was based on the hope that these people would allow Him to create the likeness of Christ in them. “I have been crucified with Christ and yet I live…, but I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Many Christians do not have the courage to bring their old nature (worldly beings) to the judgment of Christ’s cross, reason for which they remain led by their sinful nature, even though they’ve been baptized and regularly attend church. The best examples are the two listed by Paul in Galatians 5:19-23. The first list described in verses 19-21 refers to the acts of the earthly being. These deeds represent the unsaved people, but after their conversion, and according to how they grow spiritually, born-again Christians need to eliminate them from
their lives.
The second list refers to the works of the Spirit – verses 22-23. Spiritual growth is defined by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit that bears the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the Christian: 1) According to the flesh, the old sinful nature (Romans 8:5a). 2) According to the call of the Lord, of the new nature in Christ (Romans 8:5b). There are many wrong concepts in regards to spiritual growth in Christ.
1) Spiritual maturity comes from within oneself.
2) It is only for Christians who serve in ministry.
3) It happens instantaneously in the moment of conversion.
4) It is directly proportional with their knowledge of the Bible. The Savior said: “You will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16)
5) Maturity is a personal problem. Each born-again Christian is part of the Body of Christ, since Christianity is the religion of unity, of fellowship, of a spiritual relationship.
6) Spiritual maturity is realized only by studying the Bible. The truth is that spiritual maturity is a personal undertaking, it is a continuous process and it does not take place overnight, it develops the character and sanctifies the believing man.

What resources do people have to grow spiritually?
1) The Holy Spirit was sent to help them.
2) God gave ministry workers to His Church: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up….” (Ephesians 4:11-15)
3) They need to use the spiritual armor:

A) Truth is like a weave.

B) Righteousness is like a platoon.

C) Footwear is like the passion for the Gospel.

D) Faith is like a shield.

E) Salvation is like a helmet.

F) The Spirit is like a sword.
The evidence that we are his is given by the fact that we are like Him: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ “ (1 Peter 1:15-16). The hope that we will be with Him depends on our likeness to Him. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The passing of time does not mature us spiritually, it just ages us. Spiritual maturity is the fruit of drawing near to God, of remaining filled and guided by the Holy Spirit, of self-denial and renouncement of the world.

 

  December 10

 

The end of every year is crowned by the joy of the winter holidays. In the traditional sense, these holidays include rich meals with chosen foods, parties, fellowship with friends and family. In the spiritual sense, these holidays include the evaluation of our spiritual relationship with God from the year that is ending and the spiritual perspective of the year we are entering. In addition, these holidays presume the manifestation of thankfulness toward God for life, health, family, and church.
The incarnation of the Savior in the stable of the inn at Bethlehem happened two thousand years ago, but in the conventional sense, Christianity chose the 25th of December to celebrate and remember the Messiah who came down to us. Christmas means celebration, joy, and hope. Approximately 4000 years ago, God promised the coming of Messiah and now, in the modest town of Bethlehem, the divine promise is fulfilled.
During that time, a group of shepherds that were watching their flocks were miraculously visited by a group of angels, reason for which they became very afraid. The angel calmed them, saying to them “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12). The shepherds were listening amazed. Even though they were not highly educated people, they knew that Messiah would come. But now, how could an angel come especially to them to announce them of this?! While they did not know what to believe, together with the angel, a great company of the Heavenly Host united in praise to God, saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, to those on whom His favor rests”. Then the angels retreated discreetly, just as they had come. The shepherds, just like us, remained to meditate upon the message of the heavens and the great grace they had been shown.
Each one of us wants to hear the song of angels, but this group of shepherds had this unique opportunity. The song of the angels had a heavenly message they needed to hear:
1. THE MESSAGE EXPRESSES PROCLAMATION:
“Glory to God in the highest”. This proclamation expresses the atmosphere of heaven.
2. THE MESSAGE CONTAINS PROMISE:
“Peace on earth”. This promise explains God’s perspective on the faithful people on earth.
3. THE MESSAGE ADDRESSES A CHALLENGE:
“Peace on earth… to those on whom His favor rests”. This challenge explains God’s expectation of people.
It is Christmas once again, a Christmas that never was before. God has added another year of experiences that have enriched our understanding about life, about heaven and earth. Do you believe that the time has come to do something different in regards to God and your soul? Do you believe the time has come to accept that this celebration, beyond traditionalism, is the anniversary of Jesus Christ, who was incarnated in the form of a baby for us? Are you conscious of the fact that in a future year you will no longer be alive to celebrate Christmas? What do you think you need to do this Christmas for your own soul?

 December 17

 

 

 

The holiness of God is manifested by righteousness, His goodness is
manifested by love. When man sinned these two attributes of the Creator were
apparently in conflict. God remained just by punishing man with death, but He
also remained loving by punishing His own Son instead of man. God explains
this plan to save mankind through prophets, priests, judges in the Old Testament,
and apostles in the New Testament. The role of the prophet was to present God
to men, discovering His will for them. The role of the priest was to present the
people to God, asking for forgiveness for their sins. The role of the judge was
to impart justice, punish the guilty, and rehabilitate the innocent. The role of the
king was to lead the people of God according to divine laws and ordinances.
The role of the apostle was to be sent on a special mission.
Being close to Christmas and trying to better understand the reasons for
which Jesus Christ came on the earth, becoming our Savior, Christ Jesus, who
has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the
gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10), we find out that He came among men as Great Prophet,
High Priest, Great Judge, Great King, and Great Apostle. These were some of
the offices of the Savior incarnate in the Bethlehem of Judea.
I. JESUS THE GREATH PROPHET. "The Lord your God will raise
up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You
must listen to him." (Deut 18:15) This prophecy was made by God in about 1400
BC and was fulfilled between 5 and 38 AD. After Moses followed a succession
of great prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, but at the end Christ came -
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and
in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom
he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe"
(Heb. 1.1-2).
II. JESUS THE HIGH PRIEST. "For this reason he had to be made
like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement
for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17 ) To justify means "to redeem through
suffering."
III. JESUS THE GREAT JUDGE. "He commanded us to preach to
the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of
the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who
believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10: 42-43).
IV. JESUS THE GREAT KING. "The next day the great crowd that
had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They
took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed
is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel! Jesus
found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter
Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt." (John12:12-15)
V. ISUS THE GREAT APOSTLE. "Therefore, holy brothers and
sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we
acknowledge as our apostle and high priest” (Heb. 3:1). About two thousand
years ago, the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, was incarnate in a stable in
Bethlehem.
While the world had its prophets, priests, judges, emperors and apostles,
the Great Prophet, High Priest, Great Judge, Great Judge, Great King and Great
Apostle came from eternity. He came to us and for us to bring us salvation.

 

  December 24

 

The Incarnation of the Messiah in human form is one of the most significant events that have taken place in the history of mankind.
1. It is significant because it shows the care of God for the souls of men. When Joseph was terrified to learn the news that his fiance was pregnant, the angel came and said, "This child who will be born in your family is the Son of God, and He will be the Savior of the world. He is the Messiah who will save and bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth."
2. It is significant because God chooses to work with all sorts of people.
a) Joseph and Mary at that time were anonymous people in a small village of Galilee. No one would have dared to imagine that through these two very simple people the Son of God would enter the world.
b) God works through one of the cruelest emperors, Caesar Augustus, who ordered the census to add a new tax. Joseph with Mary, though pregnant, left Galilee to Judea to register in his native village. God works through believers and through unbelievers. God can also use us, anonymous or famous.
3. It is significant because God is sovereign and leads history. 700 years before the Messiah came, Micah prophesied that the Child would be born in Bethlehem in Judea, but Mary lived in Nazareth (Micah 5:2). On their way to Judea, when they arrived in Bethlehem, the place prophesied 700 years ago, Mary gave birth to the Messiah.
4. It is significant because a virgin gave birth to a child. The Jews who were waiting for the Messiah were shocked when they heard that the Messiah was actually the child of an unknown virgin in Nazareth. Under God's Old Testament law, when a virgin slept with a man, she had to be killed, not to mention the pain and shame of the two families.
5. It is significant because Christmas emphasizes the differences between believers and unbelievers. The shepherds came by night from the Bethlehem Plains, and the magi came from thousands of miles away to worship the Child. Though they were only a few miles away, in Jerusalem, Herod and the scribes of that times refused to come to Bethlehem, just like the men who were at the inn with the stable where the Messiah was born.
6. It is significant because the angels often intervened in the Christmas event. An angel explains to Joseph what happened to his fiancé. An angel informs Mary that she will become a "God-bearer." An angel sends the parents and the Child to Egypt to escape the hatred of King Herod. An angel explained to the shepherds who kept their flocks on the Bethlehem Plains about the coming of the Messiah, and a chorus of angels sings the principles of the Kingdom. That was the first Christmas, full of significance!
At the first Christmas began the realization of the salvation project. It began in the stable of Bethlehem, then there was a turning point in Gethsemane, near Chedron, and it ended on Golgotha, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. What is significant is that it will continue in glory, in the glory of heaven. I invite you to be present there, not here!

   December 31

 

An anonymous woman and Judas, the disciple of the Lord, are presented by the Bible as being similar in nature and different in their choices. The circumstance in which they are presented emphasizes the fact that everything they did has decisively influenced the end of their life and their eternity. For these reasons, we chose them as examples for the responsible evaluation that we will all do at the end of this year.

Both the anonymous woman and the disciple Judas had the opportunity to be around the Savior. Both went through similar circumstances, but chose to act differently. Both have remained in the history of the Bible. Evaluating their lifestyle and the consequences that
followed, we wil use the following questions in our final assessment at the end of this year:
I. Did you do everything you could with everything you had?
1. The anonymous woman: "She did what she could; she anointed My body beforehand for burial" (v. 8).
2. The disciple Judas: "Judas sought a good opportunity to give Him into their hands" (v. 10-11).
II. Did you do all you could in the time you had?
1. The anonymous woman: "She has done a beautiful thing for Me, for you will always have the poor with you, and you can do good to them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me" (v 7, Luke 16: 17-31).
2. The disciple Judas: "When Judas came, he immediately approached Jesus and said to Him, "Teacher!" And he kissed Him. Then those men grabbed Jesus and took Him" (v. 42-44).
III. Did you do everything you could despite the difficulties you faced?
1. The anonymous woman: "Some were sorry, and they said," What use is this waste of myrrh? This miracle could have been sold with more than 300 lei and given to the poor. "And that woman was very sorrow" (v. 4-5).
2. The disciple Judas: "He said this not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief and ... he took what was put in it" (John 12: 4).
IV. Did you have a proper inner motivation for correct public actions?
1. The anonymous woman: she approached Jesus, asking: What can I do for Jesus?
2. The disciple Judas: he approached Jesus, asking: What can I gain from Jesus?
V. Is the Savior first in your heart as you are first in His heart?
1. The anonymous woman: she said that Jesus is worth three hundred dinars, that is, a person's wage for year of work.
2. The disciple Judas: he said that Jesus is worth thirty pieces of silver, that is, the money with which you buy a slave (v. 8-9).
For two thousand years the names of the two are written in the Bible, but how are they? As a result of what the anonymous woman did, the house was filled with a pleasant smell; as a result of what Judas did, the house was emptied of a disciple.
Whose example did we follow in 2017? For two thousand years, people choose between the example of the anonymous woman and that of the disciple Judas. Who do you choose to imitate in the new year?