Archive for the ‘ Gospel ’ Category

Responses to Christmas: Temple Knights

We have now looked at how Jesus’ parents, the Innkeeper, and some shepherds responded to the birth of Christ. Today, some prayer warriors meet the infant (and this will be longer, because the passage is 20 verses long):

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:21-40

These are two people who have spent the majority of their lives praying. One lived a very righteous life, and the other secluded herself in the Temple to pray continuously.

Simeon “was waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and to see “the Lord’s Christ.” His entire life was about waiting on the Lord – God’s humble servant, if you will. His entire life was dedicated to glorifying God.

Anna went from tragedy – losing her husband relatively early – into a life dedicated to God, 24/7 prayer and fasting. She never left the Temple, so her social life must have been rather limited.

Something fascinating about these two is that the moment they saw the baby Jesus they knew they were looking upon the face of the one who could save Israel and all of humanity. It was instantaneous. Further, this little baby had not even done anything of note (of which they knew, such as the immaculate conception … the virgin conceiving a child without physical interaction with a man), yet Simeon and Anna were ready to die. As Simeon said, “you now dismiss your servant in peace.” He knew he would not die without having seen the Lord’s Christ, and he was content – nay, overjoyed! – to have seen this tiny baby.

Sometimes, when reading this story from Jesus’ infancy, I hear Anna start singing “Let’s Here It for the Boy” when seeing Jesus! Silly, I know, but it at least helps me grasp her excitement!

Do you get excited about the Lord’s Salvation? Can you contain your excitement about all the things God has done and will do? Are you prepared for His Encore, the Second Coming? Are you able to discern His presence? Would you have been able to recognize the child as the Savior of the world? Will you recognize Him when He returns?

We do not necessarily have to hide ourselves away in a temple or monastery to pray 24/7, and we certainly do not have to be perfectly righteous in our own right. Christ took care of that part through His death and resurrection. We do have to be willing servants. I have to be. You have to be.

Responses to Christmas: Social Outcasts

We have looked at how Jesus’ parents and a bed-n-breakfast owner responded to the birth of Jesus. Now for some very important outcasts:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20

First of all, it is understood by many that Bethlehem was most likely a town which handled flocks used for Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem, thus making the likelihood of shepherds being nearby very high.

Shepherds were the social outcasts of the day. They were necessary as sources of food and sacrifices, but they were viewed by some as unclean (I mean, think about, they pretty much lived with animals more than other people). They supplied a need for society, but they were cut off from society in many ways. They really had a very important job!

They hear that the long-awaited Savior has been born, and they abandon their post. The shepherds left their sheep to potentially wander off by themselves (more than a nuisance than a major problem, as the sheep could probably be found later) or be attacked by other animals (shepherds also guard the flock from danger). These men potentially jeopardized their livelihood to see a baby promised to be the Savior of the world.

They did not stop there, though! They not only praised God, they went around telling everyone they saw about the newborn Savior! (And there was much rejoicing)

What about you? When this time of year comes around are you excited or tired of the garbage now associated with the holiday celebrating this birth? At any time of the year, are you willing to lose everything for the sake of our Lord and Savior? Are you willing to put your reputation and livelihood on the line for the sake of Jesus the Christ? Do you have an excitement of knowing the One True God, that you cannot help but tell others about Him and the love He has lavished upon us by coming as a human? Do you give God praise that our Savior was born? Do you give God praise that our Savior came, died, and rose again for you and me and all who will call on His beautiful Name?

If not, seek Him anew. If nothing else, consider me an angel proclaiming to you the birth of our Lord.

LET US PRAISE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE!

Responses to Christmas: The Innkeeper

Yesterday we looked at how Mary and Joseph responded to the birth of Christ. Continuing this little series, how did the Innkeeper respond? (This is a short post, today)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1-7

http://seg.sharethis.com/getSegment.php?purl=http%3A%2F%2Fasimplemanofgod.wordpress.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost-new.php&jsref=&rnd=1324264788564Many people have a tendency to label the innkeeper as rude, mean, hard-hearted, and even evil. It is possible, but what if these labels are either half-truths or flat-out wrong?

As we read, the Emperor had decreed a census required of all people in the Roman world. Even a tiny town like Bethlehem was besieged by weary travellers heading to comply with Imperial commands. We must remember that Bethlehem was the City of David. David had multiple wives with multiple children. His successor as king of Israel, Solomon, had 300 wives. The descendants of David would have been rather numerous, to say the least (even after centuries of being conquered and carted to and from the land, wars, and natural disasters). It is understandable that Bethlehem, surely the home town of many other people who had children throughout Israel’s history, would see many folks showing up for the census.

This would mean that a tiny inn in this tiny village could only handle so many people, even filling to over capacity. It is safe to say that the innkeeper was handling more than his fair share of responsibility.

If the innkeeper is guilty of anything, it seems it would be being too busy for God. He had to keep his paying guests as happy as possible in cramped circumstances, so he did not have time to worry about a young couple expecting a child. There may have already been some expecting parents staying there. GIVE THE GUY A BREAK!

The question we must ask ourselves – both during the busy holiday season and throughout the year – is are we too busy for God? Do we take time every day to focus on God? Are we filling our lives with so many distractions and obligations that we neglect the One to whom we owe our very existence?

Another thing to consider is that perhaps we struggle finding God because He is not moving where everyone else is going. We must also remember that if Jesus was born inside a cramped, over-crowded inn, how would the shepherds have been able to visit the newborn Savior of the world?

Responses to Christmas: God’s Parents

It is time for a special series … THIS WEEK ONLY!

Yeah, I kind of gave into some of the materialistic hype. This special is only available the week leading up to this Christmas.

I have a seen a few similar series going around, but mine is better because … uhhh … I am doing it this week? This series is about how people responded to the birth of Jesus.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

http://seg.sharethis.com/getSegment.php?purl=http%3A%2F%2Fasimplemanofgod.wordpress.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost-new.php&jsref=&rnd=1324259818020

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

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. 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.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25

God clearly chose these two to raise the boy Jesus for a reason. Other than being descendents of David, they also were kinda righteous, as humans go.

Take Mary:

  1. She was presented with something impossible: pregnancy without … the fun part. Her reaction to hearing this: “Help me understand how this is possible!”
  2. With a response that would make most humans say “Yeah, okay. Whatever that means!” she replies “I do not really get it, but I will follow You and see what amazing things you can do!”

Now Joseph:

  1. His first response to the unknown was to protect the girl he loved yet bow out gracefully. He wanted to protect himself (not bad) and the girl who apparently had been unfaithful, someone who apparently had sinned rather egregiously. He was a pretty cool dude, man!
  2. He has a dream telling him that the baby will be God and save people from their sins, therefore he should still marry Mary. Based on that dream, he complies. This is really all we know about Joseph (other than he and Mary forgot Jesus at the age of 12, and he also looked for Him). Personally, I see there is more than enough information here to understand his character: awesome!

What can we learn from these two?

  1. It is okay to have doubts, provided you are willing to listen to God (or His messengers).
  2. It is okay to question God, provided you are honestly seeking answers and not trying to justify yourself or simply asking rhetorically from disbelief.
  3. Sometimes, perhaps many or most times, we will not fully understand (if at all) what God is doing, but that is okay provided we continue to follow His leading.
  4. Enduring something inconvenient can lead to amazing blessings!

What about you? When you have doubts do you listen for God’s leading? Do you ask God any of the who, what, when, where, why, or how questions expecting a reply and being open to the answer? Are you willing to move forward in your confusion and lack of understanding? Do you trust God? If you do, amazing blessings await. To be fair, the blessings may not appear until eternity, but a lifetime of worries and pain is worth an eternity of peace and joy. (Think of a road trip someplace, like Disneyland or to family you have not seen in a while. It may be uncomfortable getting there, but the joy and experience of getting there almost help you forget it or even make it worth it.)

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 12/04/2011

As we are now in December, it is a perfect time to share the gospel message (any time is good, but being the month we celebrate the birth of Christ makes seem a little extra special, you know?). If you are not friends with me on Facebook, you may not have seen this one as of yet. Last year on Thanksgiving, I awoke, got into the shower, and then this poem sprang into my mind. I wrote it down, and typed it up. Today you can enjoy it!

How much does He love us?

How much does He love us?
Living in eternity;
Living in perfect unity;
Demonstrating community
In the Holy Trinity.

But He said it is not enough
And so He created stuff
All for His ultimate creation: us;
But we just had to mess it up.

How much does He love us?
Adam and Eve lost the Garden
And now we are born with original sin.
God knew our relationship with Him
To restore we could not even begin.

God looked on us down on Earth,
Seeing us in our moral dearth.
For some reason He saw some worth,
So He came to us through childbirth!

How much does He love us?
Jesus Christ gave up royalty
To live amongst our depravity.
Jesus in all of His divinity
Entered the world as a tiny baby!

He grew up living a sinless life
Until by John He was baptized.
Religious leaders He did chastise
While helping people to realize.

How much does He love us?
After a few years of ministry,
He went to God’s holy city.
In our backward objectivity
We nailed His sinless body to a tree.

He was aware of His Path,
That it included a painful death.
“It is finished” He said of forgiveness
As He took his final breath.

How much does He love us?
Through our Lord’s sacrifice
We can receive new spiritual life.
Our redemption came at a great price,
But we are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ!

Choose to believe in His grace
So that we may see Him face to face;
So that we may join Him in the eternal place
As His holy and redeemed chosen race.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 07/24/2011

It is time for a poem about getting along!

friends
daniel m  klem

my best Friend lives in heaven
but at the same time lives in me
He could live in you if you believe
that He died for your sins on a tree
understand that He loves everyone
even if they say something against He
who saved the souls of all mankind
and if they do not believe we are free
because my Friend knows all people
He wants to be friends with everybody
especially the people who talk against
He who came to help you and me

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 110.

The Gospel According to Bill & Ted

In 1989 and 1991 some movies were introduced to the masses: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

If you have not seen either of these totally excellent movies, you should. Why?

Bill & Ted tell the Gospel

For starters, look at their two famous quotes:

  • “Be excellent to each other.”
  • “Party on, dudes!”

You may be asking “What do those have to do with the gospel?”

“Be excellent to each other” is clearly a rewording of “Love your neighbor as yourself;” and “Party on, dudes,” is clearly a call to live a righteous life, and I will argue for “Love the Lord your God with [everything you are]” as being included in living a righteous life, dude.

As far as the story of Jesus Christ …

Here is how Bill and Ted tell the story of our Lord

First, they enter time … travel.

Second, they interact with humanity in amazing ways and teach many people truths about life.

Later, they are killed and go to Hell (a “non-non-non-non-NON-Heinous!” place … which, really is wrong unless you add one more “non” in there).

After defeating Death (at board games!) they ascend to Heaven.

They have a helper (Station!) who equips them to fight evil, whom is beaten.

Through their “ministry” (rocking out!) they change the world which eventually becomes a utopian place of peace and prosperity.

In case you missed why this is relevant …

God entered time as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus performed many miracles and performed many amazing things, and He taught people truths about Life.

He was later crucified by the very people who should have worshiped Him (those people are really all people, but specifically the Jews in this instance) and many believe (though, in fairness, not all do) that He then descended into Hell.

Three days later, Jesus overcame death and the grave once and for all proving He is God and justifying all who believe in Him in faith.

Forty days later He ascended into Heaven, and ten days after that sent a Helper (Holy Spirit!) to equip the saints (all who believe in Christ).

Through the ministry of His people the Church He has changed the world, and He will one Glorious Day return to change this world into His Paradise!

I may be a little crazy, but you have to see the connection!

My real point today is that we must always be ready to share the gospel using whatever means we have available. The Apostle Paul did it. I just shared an example.

Now that I have had some fun, what are your favorite stories that remind you of the Gospel?

The Great Banquet

I cannot let go of this rapture thing quite yet.

Yep, my wedding reception!

What about the Great Banquet?

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:12-24, NIV

Is the Church doing its job? Are Christians  acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God as He requires? Are we clothing the naked, giving shelter the homeless, or visiting the infirm or imprisoned as we ought?

It seems the world is doing more of this than most Christians. In fact, I know and know of more people outside of churches who act justly, love mercy, cloth the naked, give shelter, visit, heal, encourage, and support others. Problem? Definitely. It looks like our world is doing a better job at being salt and light than those who have been called to be the salt and the light.

So what do you think? If the rapture were to occur tonight, would we be surprised to see a third of the world gone and almost all of the Christians still here? Should we be surprised? Am I being too heretical? Or are you as convicted as I after reading this?

Seriously. Check yourself. I am.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 04/24/2011

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

How do you know this day is important? As Chuck Swindoll says “What other event do we celebrate 52 times a year?” We remember the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth every Sunday, but this week commemorates the actual day (even if it is usually off slightly, it is like communion … in remembrance).

and so It begins
daniel m  klem

Jesus is on the cross
held with my sin
but i am forgiven
for He is risen
the Father revived
the Son to live
and He loves us
even after His strife
He gave His Son
so we may live
and now through Christ
God will forgive
Jesus is the one
that set us free
and i can love
because of He
who died on the
cross for the world
that we can praise
God and His Word

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 99.

risen

daniel m  klem

the curtain torn
the tomb now sealed
God watching as
His angels work
the lights flashing
thunder clapping
the joy surrounds
all in heaven
explosions  cheers
lightning  thunder
flashes  novas

on earth  Jesus
taking a breath
opening eyes
He sits straight up
removes the cloths
folds them neatly
rises and leaves

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 132.

HE IS RISEN!

Special Friday

For this Friday, I posting two of the poems from my first book. You will catch the reason why I posted these.

crucifixion
daniel m  klem

the bottom of the hill
the sun goes black
in the eighth hour
three structures
one man per structure
each with his arms outstretched
the One in the middle did nothing
closing in on the ninth hour
the Man asks for a drink
i place a sponge soaked with vinegar on a stick
offering Him His drink as He dies
i break down grief-stricken

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 61.

it means something
daniel m  klem

i remember the death
and remember suffering
but i can see more
than just the bad things
the cross gave freedom
when He is burdened
He carried all this sin
and will until the end
the cross reminds me
He died to save us
and that i can trust
in the living Jesus

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 159.

I pray you remember what our Lord has done for us on the day we celebrate today. I pray you remember that He is indeed alive again!

Grace and Peace.

Daniel