Thanksgiving Dinner is The Eucharist

When you come together, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For at the meal, each one eats his own supper. So one person is hungry while another gets drunk! Don’t you have homes in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I do not praise you in this matter!

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

-1 Corinthians 11:20-26

Thanksgiving Dinner is The Eucharist
“The Eucharist”, means, “The Thanksgiving”.
The definition of the word Eucharist is “thanksgiving”.
It is the same word for saying grace,
Giving thanks, before meals.
Communion is not a funeral,
But a participating in celebration and thankfulness.
It is not about remembrance or memorializing.
Jesus said “do this in remembrance”.
What is the this?
The ‘this’ is Jesus working today,
In people’s lives together,
Saving them and discipling them,
To be his disciples.
The Eucharist = The Thanksgiving.
Christ’s life is celebrated,
In a meal,
With laughter and tears,
Sharing our lives in his life.
The “table” is the table at your house,
In your “upper room”.
Not a special table, on a stage, or an alter.
The table is the place between us,
Where we experience the presence of Christ.
That is Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper.
The Eucharist is the Thanksgiving dinner.
The message in the Eucharist, The Thanksgiving,
Is that God comes to your house,
To your table,
Into your world, 
Into this world.
“Do this in remembrance of me”.
Jesus Christ is a living presence.
When the church has communion,
And ‘remembers’ him;
We remember as an encounter.
Jesus is not a distant memory.
Jesus is alive and present to us today.
The question is not how he is present,
But what his presence will do to us.
_________________________________________________________________________
I learned much of this from Robert Stamps, who holds a Doctorate in Eucharistic Theology

We Need A Little Christmas

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.  (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)

-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Voice)

Someone lost her adult son this week.  Someone else has a son with stage four cancer.  Someone else I closely know had the anniversary of losing his young son this week.  I also know someone else who’s husband left her and their kids.  I know someone who’s romantic relationship has broken up after a hopeful year.  And I know several women who lost their husbands in the past 15 months, who are grieving.  We also said goodbye to my neighbors of over twenty years, yesterday, who are moving away, to be closer to their family.

The gospel of Jesus, the good news of the kingdom, is that God has come and rescued us for time and eternity.  Jesus is emmanuel, God with us.  Jesus saves and Jesus is with us.

He promised he would always be with us and would send the Holy Spirit, who is the comforter.  This is what he told the disciples at the last supper, when he was saying goodbye to them and we get the same benefit.  Being a Christian is not just about going to heaven when you die, but having Christ in you when you live.

That is the good news.  I have this thought that we need to celebrate Christ coming often.  Christmas is not once a year, but part of our whole lives.

When someone receives Christ and believes the gospel for the first time, that day is their Christmas.  Christ is birthed in their heart or rather, they are birthed into the kingdom of God.  Then throughout our lives, we continually celebrate Christmas: Christ coming as a gift and the gift of being born into Christ’s kingdom.

We all are celebrants is the mass of Christ.  We take Christ into our lives daily in celebration.

Baby Jesus was born into a dangerous and violent time.  Jesus comes as God’s gift to save the world and redeem it.  He changes everything.

Jesus does not hand out tickets to heaven, but changes lives and teaches us to ask God to bring heaven to earth.  Jesus brings redemption to chaos and suffering in humanity.  Jesus also heals us and delivers us.

Jesus life that we share is also a life of suffering, where we are with and in him, utterly depending upon Father, and living by faith in God as our papa.

Today, right now, we need a little Christmas.  We need to come back to remembering what life is all about and what is important and what we celebrate.  The good news about Jesus is good everyday, especially when we are digesting bad news in our lives.

The good news is so good that it almost makes us forget the bad things we are experiencing.  The good news is not a distraction but the transformative event that changes everything.  We celebrate Jesus coming because he is the gift from God that redeems.

Jesus is the redeemer.  He takes us and pays for us.  And more.

Jesus does not just make the pain or sorrow go away.  His redemption is that he comes into it and is with us in it.  The good news is that we are not alone or left alone.

Jesus coming does not just cheer us up.  He comes to change everything and redeem us.  When we celebrate Christmas, with all of it’s accoutrements, like holly, trees, lights and gifts, santa, reindeer, decorations and fun foods; they all point to the gift and the joy and the celebration of Jesus coming.

Hail The New

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:19
God is doing something new.  You can miss it.  God is providing a way.
God is doing something.  But to experience it, we must see it.  If our eyes are shut or we do not look, we will not see it.
God is active.  We first have to get our minds around the idea that God is always on the move.  God is not just the God of the past.
God is also not just the God of of the past and of the future.  God is the God of the present.  He came and is here now.
God is doing something.  We should be looking for what God is doing today.  We are too often fixated on what God did and will do.
God is doing something today.  He is doing something new today.  He is not changing the past, but doing something new in the present.
God has always been actively working among people to help them.  Before Christ, God’s people got in trouble, faced enemies and fell into sins.  God both saved people outside Israel, bringing them in and also worked with Israel in bondage, getting them out, when they had lost their way.
The context of Isaiah 43 is a message to Israel, who is in Babylonian bondage.  God is going to show the whole world, again that He is the Savior and the one God.
God is going to deliver his people from their sins.  And God’s initiative comes from himself and not because of anything good in the people.  That grace, love, favor, mercy and kindness was true of God in ancient times and is still true today.

We need to see the new thing. We need to hail it. The new is here and we need to give it recognition.

The word says:

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
-Isaiah 43:19
The idea that I see in this verse is that God does new things for our benefit.  He does the new things because God is active and creative.  He moves to move us closer to him, his mission and for his glory.
We can miss it.  The first word, ‘look’ means ‘pay attention’.  The old King James says, “Behold”.  It means ‘see’ or ‘watch closely’.  There is a ‘preacher-ism’ or a phrase preachers say that is, “watch this”, and it means, “listen carefully to what I am about to say”, or “pay attention”, or “listen up”.
We are more distracted than ever.  We have to make an effort to see what God is doing.  We have to make an effort to see it and hear it.
Do you know that song that says, “Did you hear the mountains tremble?”  The point is that you can easily miss it, if you are not paying attention.  A friend of mine came home one day and put a blanket over her tv to remind herself to give her attentions to God more.
The thing that God is about to do and is already beginning to do is like making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The symbology of this means that God is going to do something that seems impossible and is impossible, but for not for him.
Being at the end of your rope and being tempted to feel hopeless means you need God and that is super good.  Being upset about things not working in your life and having tension and lack of peace about things is a good thing because it means you need God.  You need God’s move, God’s way and God to make a way for you where there seems to be no way and to provide sustenance for you where there is none.
The problems and the ‘it does not work’ and signs or pointers to God giving you a gift of a new way.  We want to be in the place of contentment in Father’s lap, being his kids and being taken care of by him.  We do not want to be in the place of proud, smug self-satisfaction that says to God, “I’ve got this”.
The message is that God is alive.  He is here now.  He is on the move.
God is doing a new thing.  Creating, renewing, revitalizing and refreshing has always been God’s business.  The question is, “Will we avail ourselves to God’s continual renewal?”
God is making a way by doing a new thing.  Same God, same Jesus and the same Holy Spirit; but a new to you way that will be a way where the way seemed impossible and sustenance where there seemed to be none.
Will you take God up on the offer?  Will you pay attention, look and see?  Will you lay down your preconceptions and prejudices and let God show you something and bring you into something New?
Will you let God move?  Will you let God change things in your life?  After you see it, will you walk into it and drink from it?
Will you let God be God?  Will you let your heavenly Father take care of you and lead you?  Will you serve Jesus by letting him lead you in a new way than the way you have walked before?
Jesus is still calling to his disciples, “Follow me”.  Will you follow him into the unknown, off your map and out of your comfort zone?  Will you let him save you and keep you, renew you, wash you and comfort you?
Will you step into the place of discipleship where you know him and he knows you?  Your savior is coming to save you in your life right now, in the problems you are facing.  He is Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.
Prepare the house of your life for his coming to make a way for you.  Decorate your house for a celebration of God’s gift to you.  Begin to be glad with great joy that God is coming and already here, to make a way in your life.
See what God has already done for you and be thankful.  Get your heart ready to receive more.
Listen to the joyful and thankful people in your life tell their stories of what God has done for them.  Let them encourage you.
Let go of your past.  Let go of your disappointments.  Release any bitterness.
Do not define your life today by the failures and missed opportunities in your past.  Do not wallow in your misfortunes.  Instead, see every liability or negative on your sheet as a place where God is going to move.
Cultivate a revelation of God as being beyond your wildest imagination and dreams, in his goodness and love for you that he will show you.  God’s very nature is kindness: love and generosity.  If you have a very low or small revelation of God this way, look and even stare at him to get it in your heart just how good that God is.
Share the goodness of God and let your stories be an encouragement to others.  The life is meant to be lived with God and with one another.  Whether you have one friend or confidant or many, share your story.
The whole life is about God’s story and then our stories and sharing them so that we can know and be know, love and be loved and then share, share and share some more.
On the new road, the new way and in the new thing from God, there will be opposition from people and from the dark spirits.  There will be bad weather on the new road, guaranteed.  Regardless of the push-back, keep walking, keep believing and keep worshipping with your life, giving thanks in all circumstances.
The opposition is a sign that you are indeed on God’s path and that God is with you and you are with God.  Sing aloud to God on the new path when the enemy opposes you, and find a partner or partners to sing with and give the enemy a hard time back.

Here is the song that inspired me for this message:

Give Thanks

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.

-2 Corinthians 8:9
Give thanks, from a grateful heart.  Gratefulness is an awesome blessing.  Are you grateful?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  To me, it has all the holidays, including the Jewish ones, rolled up into one.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful together.  We are together with God and with one another.  God has always wanted us together, with him, living in fellowship.

To be thankful is to be simply alive to God.  The recognition of God gives us thankfulness and gratefulness.  When we are thankful to God, we enter into his presence.

The song, “Give Thanks From a Grateful Heart”, was written by Henry Smith, in 1978. Henry was a young seminary graduate and wrote the song when he was struggling to find work and coming to terms with a degenerative eye condition that would eventually leave him legally blind.  Here is a link to more of his story behind the song.

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

Happy But In Need of Reconciliation in Our Family

But the righteous are glad; they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy.
-Psalm 68:3

I am glad, are you glad?  I am rejoicing and celebrating.  And it is before God.

I have hope and I believe things are getting better.  I believe in the redemption of all of mankind through Jesus Christ.  I believe God wants to save everybody, that the invitations have been going out and it is up to us to get the word out and up to the people to respond through their choices.

The big naughty, that I saw, heard, and read, from Christians to Christians, over this past year, was when we questioned the character of other Christians for their views.  This ought not be so, and highlighted the fact that the church in America is very divided and carnal in that we sometimes get too “over the top” about politics, and are unloving towards one another.

What happened to, “They will know we are Christians by our love”?

In a few weeks, we will celebrate my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  And at many tables, we will be sitting with our people whom we disagree with.  The banner over us should be love.

Love listens, love honors, and love always puts God and others first.  Love forgives and love reconciles.  Many of us need to live in and practice the ministry of reconciliation.  I am pretty sure that this involves the cross of Christ being at the center and God reconciling us to each other in Christ.

Reconciled people can say, “I love you, even though I do not understand you or agree with you”, and then, “Please pass the bread”.  We need the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ Communion, as a meal where reconciliation and the celebration of Christ occurs, now, more than ever.  Do you think that when Jesus ate at all those suppers with ‘sinners’ that he was taking a day off or ceasing from being himself?

We, Christians, need to practice the presence of Christ, and find Jesus in the communion meal, together, for healing, reconciliation, and becoming like him.  I need to see Jesus in you, as I look across the table, and I need Jesus’ ears as I hear you and begin to understand you.  We need to make Christ the center and be mediated and reconciled in him again.

Today, I am not rejoicing that God is on our side, or my side; but that God entered in to our election process and has had mercy on us.  Not saying God is a Republican.

We are glad.  We are happy.  We rejoice.  We are celebrating.

Who are we glad towards?  God.  Who makes us happy?  God.  Who causes this celebration?  God.

Who is our Savior?  Jesus.  Who is our King?  Christ.  Who is the Father of lights?  My God, Yahweh, The Lord.

Who do we worship and serve?  God.  Who has got the whole world in his hands?  God.

He Came Eating and Drinking: God’s Banquet

He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love. 

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking.

-Song 2:4, Matt. 11:19 & Luke 7:34
Photo: Pixabay
This is from the forward to Winn Griffin’s “God’s Epic Adventure”

One of the best definitions of the gospel I’ve ever encountered is this one: “Jesus ate good food with bad people.”  Goethe, in a famous essay, suggested that Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” was written to convey Christ’s words “one of you shall betray me.”  But why not “Take, eat: this is my body?”  Why not Christ instituting the eucharist rather than foretelling his betrayal?

A Jesus revolution is a dinner party, the art of play more than work, celebration more than cerebration. Anything artistic involves “play”, whether, sports, music, or video games.  You “play” baseball, not “work” baseball.  You “play” piano or violin, not “work” the instrument.  You “play” video games on PlayStation3 or listen to music on RealPlayer.  Liturgy (forms of worship) is not something you “work” at but “play with”. If it’s not “play”, it’s not a Jesus Revolution.

The bookends of the Bible are “Eat” and “Drink”. God’s first command in the Bible is “Eat freely” (Genesis 2;16). God’s last command in the Bible is “Drink freely” (Revelation 22:17). In the middle: The Table.  In His book, God’s Epic Adventure, Winn Griffin shows how everything in between is a never-ending banquet, not a snack, on which we feast on Him in our hearts with thanksgiving (eucharista).  If the revolution is to mean anything, and if Jesus has anything to do with the revolution, it must “revolve” around that Table.  For as Griffin shows in his winsome books, on that Table is spread out a feast that can give life to a dying people and planet.

-Leonard Sweet (2007)

The Organizing Principle of Life

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!

The earth and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants,
belong to the Lord;
for He laid its foundation on the seas
and established it on the rivers.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in His holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not set his mind on what is false,
and who has not sworn deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Selah

Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.
Who is He, this King of glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of glory.

Selah

-Luke 2:14, Psalm 24
Photo: Pixabay
Many people are going through trials and even tribulations.  There are big problems and small ones.  Some smaller ones feel big.  
There are people that are dying, who witness to us about their faith in the Lord and have a worshipful attitude of heart.  I don’t know if you have met ones like these.  They have in place in their lives that God is our glorious King.
There is a verse, by Paul, that says, “In every thing (in all circumstances) give thanks, for this is the will of God” (1 Thess. 5:18).  To be in God’s presence is to worship Him.  In Heaven, there is continual worship of God.
“Glory”, is not a word most of us use in every day life.  The first time it is used in the Old Testament is from the lips of Laban’s sons, expressing their jealousy towards Jacob, who was, “getting the glory”, or “getting the wealth”, that they wanted (Gen. 31).  We call the American flag, “Old glory”, signifying the honor that we bestow on it, because of what it represents.
Glory means, abundance, riches, honor, and splendor.  Glory has to do with the dignity of position, character, or reputation.  God is the King of glory and we use glory and honor in our relationships with one another, while never glorifying anyone or any thing except God.
We give glory or honor to one another and act honorably, in line with God’s glory.  We see and function in our relationships, according to God’s glory.  To dignify others and receive dignity from one another is godly and reflects God’s glory.
No matter who you are and where you are and what you are going through in your life, he is the King of glory.  God’s will for all humans is given in Luke 2:14, in a statement:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!

 God, in glory, who is glorious, who we glorify; wants to give us peace on earth; to those he favors.  That peace is peacefulness in our lives.  It is the opposite of worry, anxiety, strife, and agitation.  And the people he favors or who bring pleasure to him are simply people who respond to him.

Psalm 24 gives a bigger picture of God’s plan.  These words describe a person who responds to God and note that we do not come to God or get saved through our works, but we receive his power to do the right thing from him and act on it, saying, “Yes, I will let you save me and receive your power to save me and now here is how I will live because of that work you are doing in my life.”  Being obedient to do the right thing results in blessings, but only God can bestow righteous standing before him through Christ.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in His holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not set his mind on what is false,
and who has not sworn deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

We seek him, who has sought us, to receive righteousness and salvation.  But it is another step to seek God’s face.  Seeking God’s face is intimacy with God, opening your heart to God in your daily life.  We will be in trouble when we are people who sought him in the past, but are not seeking his face today.

It is always a temptation to be a Christian in name only, but God is alive and relational, wanting interaction and to walk together with his children.  We are stewards of our lives, but always his child and his slave.

So, there is some paradox there.  God relates to me as his child and as his slave.  We need to live our lives happily responding to both paradigms.

The center of everything is the glory of God.  We want to be in alignment with God and his gloriousness.  God is glorified through saving us and then we bring him glory by living saved lives.

As a person in Christ, you are God’s child, upon whom his favor rests.  You also are his slave and it’s not a bad position because the master is completely good and righteous.  In those two roles that are yours towards God, you live out your life.

You are a citizen, a neighbor, a pensioner, a retiree, a friend, a husband or wife, a student, an employee, or a leader of a company or a business; to name a few roles you might have.  No matter what your place or role in life here, above that, you are God’s: God’s child and God’s servant or slave.  He takes care of his children and he also takes good care of his slaves.

This is the bottom line:  God, who is glorious, lavishes his glory upon us, saving us.  We are now his: his children and his slaves.  And he takes care of what belongs to him.

God’s plan is to save us.  Jesus exemplified God’s glory.  He is the glory of God.  He calls us into God’s kingdom and saves us and we become his, to be cared for by him.

The King of glory saves us, coming into our lives, when we open to him.  His glory shines upon us and we are his children.  And he is a good shepherd and a good father to his children.  And we are on a path, following Christ, dying to our selves, and being his slaves.  And he is the master and takes care of us, because we are not only in his care, as children, but he is living his life through us and his father watches over his life for his glory.

You might ask, “How can I give thanks in all circumstances?”  This is the answer.  God, his glory in his son.  Having his life in my life and becoming rightly related to Father through him gives me thankfulness no matter what, and he uses the stuff of life to help me learn to walk in that relationship and draw upon the life that he gives me through Christ to be his child and let him be the master.

Walking Before God

When Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to Abram. And he said to him, “I am El-Shaddai; walk before me and be blameless so that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you exceedingly.”
-Genesis 17:1 (LEB)

Photo from Pixibay

I looked up Genesis 17:1 in ten translations and looked at David Guzik’s commentary, and decided that I liked the Lexham English Bible the best.  In the LEB, we have, “Yahweh”, “El-Shaddai”, and “Walk before me and be blameless”.
Instead of Yahweh, most other translations have, “The Lord”.  I believe “Yahweh” here in this story is fitting, because that is God’s proper name, that means Lord.  Why not have the name, rather than what the name means?  And “The Lord” means the “I AM”(Ex. 3:15).

This verse starts out with Abram’s age of 99.  He is still Abram, without the “ha”.  These Yahweh encounters are going to result in a name change of  his name (Gen. 17:5); and his wife’s name (Ge. 17:15).

In the verses that follow, God tells Abram that he is going to multiply him and Sarai, which is what their new names, Abraham and Sarah, signify.  They were worried about addition and God wants to do multiplication.  The multiplication did not occur until the third generation, when their great grandchild, Jacob had his children, who became the 12 tribes.  From these 12, there would be millions and millions of people born.

“I am El-Shaddai”

God is standing in our future, with the provision we need to live there.  He said to Abraham, “I am El-Shaddai”, before he said to him, “Walk before me and be blameless”.  From David Guzik’s commentary, he writes that, El-Shaddai might mean “God who is sufficient” (Kidner), or, “I am that God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually” (Clarke), or, “It may have in mind the strength of a man’s chest (God Almighty) or the comfort and nourishment of a woman’s breast (God of Tender Care)” (Barnhouse).

It is a Biblical principal that where God guides, he provides.  Before God gives Abraham the promise, that was something Abe and his wife wanted more than anything; he wants to transform Abraham through a revelation of who he is.  Abraham gets an expansion of his knowledge of God.

He must be expanded, to receive what is coming.  And Abraham and Sarah’s relationship with God must deepen and widen.  The gift will come in the context of the relationship.  All authentic ministry comes from relationship with God.  All the benefits come from the benefactor, just like a good father who takes care of his child. 

God wants to transform Abraham into a person who knows God as El-Shaddai:

  • God has everything you need and will give it to you.
  • God’s blessings, in all dimensions, that he wants to pour upon you, are beyond measure.
  • God is The Almighty, who cares for each one of his kids.
  • God’s provision for us is also in his comfort and nourishing, tender care.

God does not just want to provide for us.  He wants us to know him as our provision.

We are missing it, if our eyes are just on the provision.  Remember that we enter his gates with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4) and that it is God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 3:18).  We get caught up in thinking we do not have enough and wondering why God lets others have more.  Ironically, many of the people who have more are also in discontent.  Why?  Because the key is knowing God and letting him transform you, so that you see him as your provision.

What is your vision?  If you are a Christian, then God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are your “pro”.  They are definitely professionals at what they do, but the “pro” here is short for “provision”.  They are the provision for the vision.

Abraham, when he was Abram; had a vision, a desire, and a destiny that God affirmed, confirmed, and prophesied.  That’s the good news.  The bad news was that it did not come to pass, for a long time.  And, he shared that vision and prophecy with his wife, who would be his partner in that destiny or vision coming to pass.

Can you imagine the thrill at receiving the divine affirmation and confirmation about your procreation, and then the disappointment, when it does not happen…  for weeks, months, years, and then decades.

What if the wait was because God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to get something, about God, before God could give them what he promised? 

Abraham would be looked back on as “the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9), and as “the friend of God” (James 2:23).  His faith was severely tested and the friendship was stretched or refined by the fire of his suffering.  Sarai’s suffering was his suffering.

All those years went by and Sarai saw other ladies get pregnant and give birth and raise beautiful children, while she sat alone, barren.  Why on earth would God promise something, but not bring it to pass?  Can you imagine her faith and the strain on her relationship to her mystic husband who told her that God appeared to him and made these promises?

You might remember when Sarah laughed.  Well, Abraham laughed before that and it seems like he laughed even harder (Gen. 17:17), because he fell to the ground laughing.  I don’t think his laughter was joy, but was incredulity.  It is hard to imagine laughing like that when God is speaking to you, not in a whisper, but in a full on appearance.  I think that this is evidence of Abram’s friendship with God.

And God said to Abraham, “as for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, for Sarah shall be her name.  And I will bless her; moreover, I give to you from her a son. And I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations. Kings of peoples shall come from her.”  And Abraham fell upon his face and laughed. And he said in his heart, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?”   And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”  And God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear a son for you, and you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant to his offspring after him.
-Gen. 17:15-19

Faith is messy.  We believe, because after all, God is faithful.  But, we have doubts and we just don’t understand, and then when painful disappointment mixes in, it is a mess; but there is still faith.  It’s still real faith, because real faith has faith in the faithfulness of another.  We don’t have to understand it, for it to be real faith.

So, Abraham could have laughed hysterically, when God again made his promise and gave him the prophetic word; and still be a man of faith.  Notice also that God named his son Isaac, which means “laughter”, right after Abraham laughed hysterically.  On the spot, God took Abraham’s incredulous laughter and incorporated or transformed it into joyous laughter in the more specific prophecy about the promise that would be fulfilled soon.

It is also notable that Abraham and Sarah had a godly marriage, that Peter references in 1 Peter 3:1-7.  Sarah never went to her place of prayer and got words from God about her destiny of being the mother of Isaac, that we know of.  Instead, God gave her words through her husband.

She was subject to her husband.  Subject does not mean “sourced”.  God was her source.  Her husband was her loving leader.

“Walk before me and be blameless.”  

There is a saying that, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”.  The Bible teaches that a happy life, a content life, comes from wholeness.  That life comes from walking before God, who is our Father, our provider, and our all-sufficiency.

You can be rich or poor, an owner or a renter, fertile or barren, sick or well, on the mountain top, or in the arid desert.  You may be highly qualified or a simpleton.  But the question is, are you walking before God?  Or are you going your own way?  Are you letting God meet your needs or are you doing it for your self?

“Walk before me and be blameless” (LEB, ESV, NET, and NKJV)

“Walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” (NIV)

“Walk with me and be trustworthy.” (CEB)

“Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (NLT)

“Obey me and always do right.” (CEV)

“Live entirely before me, live to the hilt.” (MSG)

“Live in My presence and be blameless.” (HCSB)

“Walk before me habitually and be blameless” (Young’s)

Our physical walking is daily and many times daily.  Our walk with God is the same.  We may walk to the curb to get the mail or we may walk from the parking lot to our destination.  In out walks, short and long, we encounter people, situations, and choices.  It is in those places of living that we walk with God.

Our walk with God is not divorced from all of our run-of-the-mill, every-day encounters; but is completely wedded to it.

I think that “blameless”, means, “with integrity”.  I think the idea is wholeness.  God is after wholeness in us.  Playing the part of “Christian”, but not really being one in how you live in private, is not wholeness.

Salvation is an event and a process.  The walk is a continual walk.  We get more sanctified, we get more fruitful, we get more wise, we get more freedom, and we grow in grace.  If you do not embrace the process, the journey, your pilgrimage, and walking before God, through life; then you will not grow or mature spiritually.

Our basis for this walk is not our selves.  God is.  We must do things, but he empowers us to do them.  We must be good, but his goodness gives us that ability.  We take up what he has given us.  That is what Paul means by, “The life I now live is by the faithfulness of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

Feliz Navidad!

Photo By srqpix (CC BY 2.0)

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.

-Luke 2:10-11

Feliz Navidad!  The voice is heard, that says, “Feliz Navidad!”  “Feliz” means blessed, fortunate, lucky, magnificent or grand; splendid, satisfied or content; opportune or timely. (1)

Here are some examples of this word in the Bible.  I looked feliz up in Spanish translations.  Here are the verses, in English, with the word in italics that was feliz in the Spanish translation:

Happy are the people with such blessings.

Happy are the people whose God is Yahweh.
-Psalm 144:15

Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold

Anyone who listens to me is happy, watching at my doors every day, waiting by the posts of my doorway.  

Be wise, my son, and bring my heart joy, so that I can answer anyone who taunts me.
-Proverbs 3:13-14, 8:34, 27:11

He also said to the one who had invited Him,“When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors, because they might invite you back, and you would be repaid.  On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
-Luke 14:12-14

Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense:  “I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa.
-Acts 26:1c-2a

A wife is bound as long as her husband is living. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to anyone she wants—only in the Lord.  But she is happier if she remains as she is, in my opinion.  And I think that I also have the Spirit of God.
-1 Corinthians 7:39-40

Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.
-Ephesians 6:2-3

For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
-Titus 2:11-13

Feliz is more than “happy”.  It means “good fortune has come”, or “you are fortunate”.  Remember “Felix The Cat”?  He is more than a happy cat.  He is blessed.

Don’t misunderstand.  It does not mean “famous”, but “fortunately blessed”.  It means “lucky”, in the sense also of a person who has received blessings.  When we sign a letter, “blessings”, we are saying, “may you be receive good fortune”.

Navidad is Spanish for Christmas or “birth of Christ” or “Christmastime”. Navidad is from the Latin word nativitas, meaning “birth”.  So, “Felice Navidad” means “Blessed Birth”, but since is has referred to The Blessed Birth, it also means “Happy Christmas”.

This is a continuation of the message I posted from last week, Christmastime All the Time.  Some of us are now coming into a special season of receive gifts.  So, here is what you can do: believe, receive, give thanks, and keep being generous.

Christmas in August?  Christmas is harvest time.  In fact, Jesus was likely born in the fall, around the time of The Feast of The Tabernacles.  As they say, “look it up!”

My next post, What Child Is This?, will carry on this theme.  Feliz Navidad!

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1. Websters Spanish Dictionary

Gifts From God: Christmastime All The Time

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.

-Matthew 7:7-12 (HCSB)
God is the supreme giver of gifts.  The ultimate gift from God is Christ (John 3:16).  What are the gifts that you are asking God for?  Giving and receiving gifts was invented by God.
Christmastime is all the time with God.  The word “Christmas” evokes thoughts of gifts and giving gifts.  We have the greatest gift and we give gifts to one another in celebration of that gift.  
Christmas also might mean Christ + Mass.  Catholic Christians call their church meeting “Mass”.  “Mass” is thought of to mean “Eucharistic service”, (the Catholic church service is usually a two-part affair consisting of communion and a Biblical exposition) from the Latin “messe”; but “mass” also comes from the late Latin, “missa”, as in “dismissal” (“to let go, send”), calling to mind mission, as in the great commission.  The idea being, “Having taken Christ into your being (or being reminded of such), and with prayers being sent to God; now go out, as his agents, into the world, spreading the good news.  You are dismissed.”  That’s what “Mass” means.
A reminder that although people say Eucharist means holy communion, the definition of the word is “thanksgiving”.  Saying “grace” before a meal is eucharisteo, “To give thanks”, or literally, “Thankful for God’s good grace”.  In the gospels, Jesus gave thanks before meals.  What I understand is that Catholics say, “The Eucharist”, for communion, meaning, “The Thanksgiving”.
The Eucharist is a Thanksgiving Dinner.  (1)
Christmas is when we celebrate God’s gift.  God is always celebrating Christmas and we get to join in.  The Christian life is filled with a reception of God’s gifts.  
God’s ethos is that he is a giver and God’s children become and learn the ethos of being givers.  Remember that as Christians, we are under or in and live through grace.  I don’t break the ten commandments (we keep the Sabbath differently under the law of Christ), because I am in God’s grace, not because I am under the law.  I have the living desire to be a generous giver, because I am in God’s grace.
I am convinced that God always has more gifts and wants to give us more.  We are the ones who decide how much we will get.  We get gifts from God by pursuing God.  
Every day is Christmas with God.  The Christian life is one of receiving gifts and being generous.  It really is that simple.  God gave, God gives; I receive and am thankful (a Eucharistic life); and then in turn, I am generous.
When Jesus teaches us about His Father’s generosity and benevolent goodness towards his children, he ends with this statement, saying, “In the light of what I have just taught you about my father’s care for you – to keep asking, seeking, and knocking for what you desire; because God is a father who gives gifts to his children, surpassing what the best human fathers do – in light of that truth, whatever you want done for you, do that for others.”

Jesus teaches us to, in a sense, “Give what we want to get”.  If you want a promotion, then promote others.  If you want to find a wife or husband, help others to find their future wife or husband.  If you need more money, give money to those in need.  If you need _____, then give ____ to others that need it.

The ethos of the kingdom is generosity.  God starts it and we get to play, and God keeps it going, as we go with it.  Christ-mass-time is all the time and Christmas is a time of receiving and giving.

Children eventually learn to receive and give at Christmas.  We also learn that we don’t give to get, but give from generosity birthed in our lives in God (John 3:16).  We get, then give to get to give.

Jesus addresses earthly fathers in Matthew 7, saying that, “As you give gifts to your children, Father gives gifts to you”, and “Keep asking for what you desire, keep believing your heavenly Father for those gifts.”

Jesus implies that there is often a time between the times, of waiting for something you desire – that thing you want.  He says, “You want something”, “Keep asking for it”, “God will give you the desire of your heart, as He is a father who gives his children gifts”; “And while you are asking with faith, but have not received it yet, give what you want to another person who needs it.”

Jesus also tags that last statement with stating that this is what the whole Law and the Prophets are saying.  This is the golden rule of, “Give unto others what you would have them give unto you”.  We are not under law, but we are in the kingdom that is themed with generosity.  The King is generous and we his subjects are generous.

The kingdom is about generous living.  

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Footnote:
1. The Eucharist is a Thanksgiving Dinner. You would never know that from the way that many churches “do it”.  Even in 1 Corinthians, we quote Paul, and skip the fact that the Corinthians celebrated the Eucharist or Communion in a meal.  The person with the microphone parachutes in to the verse that says, “On the night he was betrayed, Jesus…..”  But, in reality, the Christians hearing those words, had plates of food in from of them, and perhaps some flies buzzing around the room, and crumbs and spilled wine on the floor.


What does this all have to do with gifts from God?  What is has to do with God’s gifts is that feasting is a gift from God.  Jesus Christ is a feast and not a snack.  He is a full meal.  He is a long drink.  He is also someone we continually feed upon, 24/7.

A tiny package does not honestly and justly show the gift of God.  It actually sends the wrong message.  The gospel is wild and overflowing.  It can not be contained.

When God gave the gift of manna in the desert, it was very plentiful.  They filled bags with it.  That’s a contrast to the communion cracker.

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