Missed it by “that” much

targetHave you ever done any baking and forgot to add an ingredient to the recipe?  Did it turn out the way you remember it turning out or look like the picture?  You checked off every ingredient as you went through the recipe but overlooked one and then the final product came out and you went, hmm, that’s not how I thought it would turn out.  Maybe you were watching the NFL football game between the Vikings and Saints last Sunday.  Did you see the last play of the game?  The defensive man dove at the receivers legs but missed!  He put his head down and whiffed on the tackle totally and the Vikings receiver went into score the winning touchdown, no time left on the clock.  He missed the tackle by “that” much.

The old Get Smart tv show always had Maxwell Smart saying “Missed it by, that much”.   He would always be close but just miss it but somehow it worked out for him.  Well, our sin misses the mark of perfection that God demands.  We miss the mark by a lot more than “that” much.  We could never make up the deficit or align our site on the target on our own.  But God in his loving mercy provided us a true and perfect fulfillment of his demand in Jesus.  We have no worries or fears of falling short when we look to Jesus

Think of it this way:  If life is like climbing a ladder, one rung at a time, and you think you are living a good life getting closer to God, up a rung you go.  However, when you sin you slide back down a rung.  Could you ever be sure that you could attain heaven by climbing the ladder and making up for your sins?  No.  We’re sinful from birth, sinful from the time our mother conceives us.  But, in Christ, we have the full forgiveness of sins,the debt if paid and perfection is ours through him.  We are at the top of the ladder through Jesus Christ.  No fears, no worries, just finished and completed for you and for me.

Rejoice knowing you are a redeemed child of God with a home in heaven waiting for you.

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A new coat of paint

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We’ve been living in our house for 13 years or so and we decided it was time to paint the exterior.  Two walls are all stucco, one is all brick and the other is half brick and half stucco.  I of course chose to paint the house using a 1 3/4 nap roller not a spray gun.  I’ve never used a spray gun and knew how to roll a paint roller.  Uggghhh..  Stucco and rollers are not a good match.  Every nook and cranny has a nook and cranny.  Even with the huge nap of the roller there were spots that we had to go over with a brush and dab paint into the spots.  This morning I walked out and looked at the pillar out front, which is stucco, and saw some more “holes” that need to be dabbed.   As awesome as the house looks from the street with the new coat of paint, there are plenty of areas that need to be addressed.   The closer you look at it you begin to see the “missed” spots that need to be painted.

The paint on the stucco reminds me of ourselves.  When we try to cover our mistakes/sins by fixing it ourselves we miss some spots.  As good a life as we try to lead we fail to attain what God demands, perfection.  Sometimes I feel like I will always have to add some paint to the house because I will keep finding spots that need covering.  And that’s exactly how we are without Jesus.  Jesus came to earth-born as a baby to live a perfect life, to give his life for us and rise from the dead.  Jesus is more than a paint roller or spray paint gun covering us.  We are immersed in his perfection; made clean by his blood.  There is no imperfection, no missing spots on us through Jesus.  When God looks at us through Christ Jesus he says perfection and purity.  Up close or far away we are fully covered.

Next time you want to fix your self remember that we have flaws even when we think it’s covered.   Laying everything at the cross and trusting in Christ’s promises is the way to go.

A New Me

I wonder if your email boxes are as full as mine are with emails sharing ways to improve myself for 2018.  Better eating habits, better ways to exercise, better ways to recycle and be aware of my carbon footprint along with a host of other advertisements.  It’s mind-boggling.  Even my digital Bible wants me to join some reading plans for self help.

There are a lot of emails that give me hope and lead to good intentions on my behalf.  I’ve seen it in a couple of places and I’ll share it with you today.  92 % of New Year’s resolutions aren’t kept.  Most are given up by the second week of February.  That my friends is our sinful nature letting us make excuses to rationalize why it’s ok to not keep our promise to our self.  As much as I want to change me it takes committment and perseverance to get it done.  Both of which we lack at times.  Thank God that his son did not lack commitment and perseverance.  He’s done the work for us and paid the price for us.  God brought you into his family through the word, the Holy Spirit and baptism.  We are made new in Christ:

But that is not how you came to know Christ,  assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus,  to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires,  to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.  Eph 4:20-24

As the new year moves forward let’s be diligent in spending time with God in worship, Bible study and prayer.  Come on board with us in the ONE YEAR BIBLE study group.   Send me an email and I’ll add you to the GROUPME app where our discussion is for the readings.  Let God be in control for 2018 and trust in his promises!

Merry Christmas

I’d like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!

My blog will resume next week January 1, 2018

 

Why wrap gifts?

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The tradition of giving gifts didn’t start with the modern holidays we celebrate each Christmas or birthday. Many ancient cultures celebrated various holidays that involved the giving of gifts.  The desire to hide the identity of a gift until just the right moment led people to wrap gifts long, long ago.  They wanted to keep the recipient in suspense until they removed the wrapping paper and voila’, your gift!  
Sometimes if seems like we do the same thing with Jesus.  We have this great gift of a Savior and we tend to leave him hidden under wraps.  But we go one step further because we don’t give the gift away.   Here we sit with the greatest gift of all and it’s tucked away because we don’t want to deal with the uncomfortable nature  of telling someone about JESUS.
We have a great opportunity the next few days to boldly and proudly proclaim that we have this awesome gift to give away!  The easiest way to give someone the gift is invite them to a Christmas worship service.  Let the Holy Spirit unwrap the truth in the heart as the power of the word works.  Its pretty simple and cost-effective for you.  All you lose is a few words inviting someone to worship with you.  Remember the stat from earlier this year?  82% of people asked said they would go to church if someone would ask them.  Um, that’s 8 in 10.  Do you have room next to you when you come to worship?  Let’s all make an effort to unwrap the gift of Jesus!

Budgeting for Christmas

How do you do it?  How do you make plans for purchasing gifts at Christmas?  Some of us save throughout the year in a Christmas club account or put money in our Dave Ramsey envelope earmarked for “Christmas”.  Others may just wing it and spend what they have and that’s it while others overspend and use their credit cards to purchase those all important items.

Using a budget usually helps you stay in control and allotting a specific dollar amount per person keeps it fair.  When the money runs out so do the gifts.  But then you start remembering who gave you gifts last year and then there are the people you forgot to get something for and then there are those people at work and  on and on it goes.  We get stressed out trying to find something for everyone that the joy is gone and the true meaning of Christmas is lost somewhere between electronics and toys.

The best gift that we can give people won’t impact your budget at all.  It’s sharing the good news of Jesus.  Why not invite your friends, neighbors, relatives or acquaintances to your Christmas Eve worship services?  Offer to pick them up and sit with them so they don’t feel uneasy.  Christmas is one of the best times of the church year to invite people to hear God’s word and let the Holy Spirit to its work.  The gift of salvation is far better than any AMAZON gift you’ve found for that person.   If you want to go all out you can invite them to one of the Advent supper’s that takes place before the Advent worship service.   Dinner and God’s word on YOU!  Wow!

Remember it isn’t about the temporary stuff it’s about eternal stuff.  God isn’t budgeting how much grace he doles out to us; he’s not checking our wish list’s for what we want because he knows what we need-a Savior.  Rejoice in the amazing gift of the newborn baby in the manger.  The Son of God come to earth, for you and for me.

“Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:11,12

Centering the Season

Have you seen the new craze sweeping the nation?  It’s the upside down Christmas tree!

tree   This one is on sale at Wayfair.com for $299.99.

A little bit of history about the Christmas tree.   The Christmas tree was first used by Saint Bonafice of Devonshire in the seventh century to explain the holy trinity to pagans. The Christmas tree was originally hung upside down so that pagans knew the tree was not simply a floral decoration but was instead a symbol of Christianity. By the 12th century, Christians across Europe were customarily hanging their tree upside down. Eventually, the tradition was replaced with the upright Christmas tree, so that the tree pointed toward heaven.

To say there is some confusion over what’s proper and correct would be true.  What gets lost in the discussion is the central point of why we celebrate Christmas.  It isn’t about which way to hang our tree, or trees with different themes, or how many gifts each person gets, or the dollar amount we’ll spend on each other; its centering the season on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We have enough distractions in our lives that we don’t need something else to pull our focus away from God’s word and the birth of our Savior.  Put up a tree or don’t.  Place your tree upside down or right side up.  Buy a gift for someone letting them know you think they are special.  But most importantly let’s come together and worship our Savior. In the words of John Wade:

O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!
Midweek Advent worship services start up this week and it gives us a chance to prepare ourselves for Christmas.  We have supper at 6pm with worship at 6:30 pm.  See you  there.