Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The End


We have come to the end of another year. 2010 is for all practical purposes, gone, and a new year will soon burst on the scene.

Ecclesiastes 7: 8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Some of the most difficult challenges we face in life deal with things which are over – things which have simply come to their end.

· Things we love

· Things we have enjoyed

· Things we have depended on

· Things we have grown used to

We don’t possess the ability which God possesses. The prophet Isaiah said that God sees the end from the very beginning. (Isaiah 46:10)

But that still does not tell us why the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes says that the end of a thing is better than its beginning?

In order to get a greater understanding of this truth we might look back at the original meaning of this word “better” and employ some of its original synonyms.

Better = beautiful; pleasing; beneficial; fulfilling; complete; precious; costly; revealing; more understood

Things are more understood at the end than they are at the beginning. At the beginning one cannot see the purpose, intent or impact of a matter as clearly as one might judge it at the end.

The end of a matter reveals more about the matter than does the beginning.

For example, we cannot know what 2011 will bring, it’s only beginning. However, we do know what 2010 dealt us … but … 2010 is over.

Just because 2010 is gone does not mean it is forgotten, nor should it be. When things end, we must put them in proper perspective.

How do you deal with something that’s over? How do you deal with something that has come to its end?

Some things seem to end on their own and yet there are other things which are just as over but they haven’t ended yet.

What do you do with those things that are over which need to be ended?

How do you end something that’s over so you can start something new?

On December 8th I turned 56 years old. I needed to talk to some of our television producers whose offices are in Southern California, and I also needed to take a look at some historical sites between here and the west coast and survey their potential to be used in an upcoming series. So, I combined those needs with my wife’s desire to do something for my birthday and we drove to California and back - 4525 miles in all. Sort of a work-cation – not quite work and not quite vacation.

Along the way we made some videos at places we found interesting and I could not help but to ham it up a little since these were not meant for broadcasts but rather for program format and site review.

This morning I spoke at a funeral for one of our church member’s grandmothers who passed away on Christmas Eve. This afternoon while I was completing my studies for tonight’s message I thought about the two points I would be making tonight and remembered that I had included these two points in a couple of the videos I made on my birthday trip.

I hope I don’t regret this decision but I got Jerry, our Director of Media, to pull the rough cuts of a couple of the videos to show you. I have to run a disclaimer because even though the information you will hear is historically accurate, these clips were not intended for broadcast and on top of that have not been cleaned up technically - so the video is not filtered nor has the audio been worked on at all.

Nonetheless, since we’re home folks and you are so forgiving, I want to use them for whatever value they might add to support the points.

I’ve not seen anything on this first one, it’s a cut chosen by the media department. The point I’m making is:

What do you do when something is over!

Show Clip From Fort Worth Livestock Market

Ok, just because it’s over doesn’t mean it wasn’t any good.

When something is over we need to remember the good times. All of life you have lived so far is history. And, the moment you do or say something, it’s past. Memories are what we cherish from the life that is past.

A key to enjoying your life today is to put yesterday in its place. In order to do that we must let go of the bad memories, minimize their impact, and hold on to the good memories. It can be a challenge however you can fill your life with your best memories. It is a choice!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — think on these things.

The second point I want to make tonight is that just because one thing is over, does not mean that everything is over. There is always a future and the next moment comes suddenly. Change from the old to the new comes suddenly.

When one thing is over it is a sure signal that something else is about to begin. God does things suddenly!

Watch this clip (Show Clip Two from the Meteor Crater) – again, it hasn’t been cleaned up yet and the wind noise may make it a little hard to hear but I think it will make the point.

What’s the point? Change comes suddenly – often in the twinkle of an eye!

Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Tomorrow comes just as suddenly as yesterday ended! And your next opportunity is apt to come when you most need it but least expect it!

How do you put an end to something that’s over? By embracing the new thing God will suddenly bring your way.

In a just a little over 48 hours 2010 will come to a sudden but official end and there will scarcely be a breath before just as suddenly, 2011 will begin.

Decide right now that you will choose to cherish the good memories which are past while at the same time, embrace every new opportunity God gives to build more good memories both for you and for those you love.

God does things suddenly! Don’t miss your opportunities because you aren’t looking …

Believe me – a new day is about to begin for you!

Fill your life with the good God gives and keep watching, God has a future planned just for you!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Now?


Luke 2

21 ¶ And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD"),

24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."

If you continued to read this account you will find that someone had been waiting at the temple for years to see Jesus. It was a man named Simeon. Simeon had evidently lived a long and full life and was ready to depart this world with only one exception. He had received revelation from God that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Messiah. So there he waited in the Temple looking and hoping for Christmas.

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the Temple that day, Simeon saw Him and immediately knew that this was the promised Christ Child. You can read what Simeon prophesied as he confirmed this baby to be the Son of the Most High God, the promised Messiah and Savior of the World.

Luke 2

34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against

35 "(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

He told Mary that the coming days would not all be easy.

There was also an 84 year old woman in the Temple that day who was a widow and a prophetess. When she saw Jesus she immediately began speaking of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel.

Last week we discovered the word Christmas means the beginning of the mission of Christ. Christ is not Jesus’ last name but rather His title. Christ means the Anointed One, The Messiah. That first Christmas day, announced by the Angels and observed by the Shepherds in the town of Bethlehem marked the beginning of the mission of Jesus the Christ.

However, it was just the beginning. Now What? The story continues!

In the days following the birth of Christ, God continues to give revelation to many and through the scriptural account of those days, we find certain truths and principles of life confirmed. It is by God’s word that we understand Three Certainties:

The Circle of Life

· Which says that things begin and things end

· Simeon and Anna the prophetess were at the end of their lifetime on earth while Jesus was just beginning His. However, Jesus’ would also one day be over.

· Things begin and things end!

The Cycle of Life

· Which says that in between the beginning and the end there will be ups and downs, good times and difficult times, days of laughter and days of tears, both joy and sadness.

· Anna had been married, no doubt with hope, and lived with her husband for 7 years before his death. Since she had spent all of her time in the temple, praying and fasting, waiting for the consolation of the Lord.

· Mary was told by Simeon that both good days and difficult days would follow. This Child, he said, was destined for both the fall and rising of many in Israel …

The Secret of Life

· The secret of life is giving …

· The whole Christmas story and the continuing account of Christmas is a story about the secret and the spirit of giving.

The secret of life is giving.

The world understands at least one thing about Christmas … that Christmas is all about the spirit of giving.

However, the world does not understand the secrets of giving. The continuing Christmas Story reveals:

Three Secrets of Giving

· Giving to Get

· Giving to Bless

· Giving to Keep

This is exactly what God did. God wanted to get, bless and keep, so He gave. Giving is Heaven’s secret of life.

Notice in Luke 21, verse 22, the word says that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to the Temple in order to:

“Present Him to the Lord.”

This literally means that they brought Jesus to the Temple to take His place or to stand in His place beside the Lord.

He, as does everyone and everything else, has a pre-designated place beside the Lord. Jesus was born for a specific purpose … so are you! You also have a definite place beside the Lord, as do all of your blessings.

It was Mary and Joseph’s responsibility to do all they knew to do and what they knew to do was to bring what God had given them and give it back to the Lord.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, and even though Jesus had a destiny, nonetheless Mary and Joseph had to bring Him and offer Him to the Lord … Jesus could not have come on His own and neither can your blessings.

Perhaps this is one reason why God chose Mary and Joseph … Perhaps God knew that they would bring Jesus back to Him.

Perhaps this is why God chooses certain people … maybe it’s because He knows that they will continue to honor Him and give what He gives them back to Him.

Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

It was so with Abraham. God said He chose Abraham because, “I know Abraham … he will command his children and his household after him to observe the ways of the Lord.”

After we have been given something precious, it’s time to give it back to the Lord.

After we have received something from the Lord it is time to dedicate it back to Him for His purposes

Bring it back and dedicate to God what He first gave you.

If you dedicate the first to God, the rest is blessed.

The firstborn sacrifice was a type of firstfruits sacrifice. If the first is blessed, the rest is blessed as well. Lasting benefits accompany the blessing on the firstfruits.

God gave first – in fact – the bible says that we love Him because He first loved us. God so loved that He gave …

God gave to get

God gave to bless

God gave to keep

It’s the Secret of Life!

What we give definitely affects what we get.

What we give definitely affects God’s blessing on what we have gotten.

What we give definitely affects how much we get to keep.

There is a:

Circle of Life

Cycle of Life

Secret of Life

The Secret of life is:

God gave to Get

God gave to Bless

God gave to Keep

And so can we!

What has God given you?

The most precious gift God has given you is your own soul. Give it back to God – dedicate your life on the altar of service to the Lord. Present yourself to God and you will get a new life, an eternal life, a life that will last forever.

Give your soul to God each day in this continuing story of Christmas and you will find heaven’s secret to a truly blessed life.

Give your life to Jesus and you will get to keep it forever. The Word says that if you would save your life you would only end up losing it but if you lose your life for Jesus’ sake, you will save it.

You can only keep what you give to Him … but … what you give to God you can keep forever. So, what now? – Live the secret! (Blessed Eternal Increase)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas Story


Luke 1

26 ¶ Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

33 "And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"

35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

36 "Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.

37 "For with God nothing will be impossible."

38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1

18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,

Luke 2

1 ¶ And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 ¶ Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

21 ¶ And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Matthew 2

1 ¶ Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,

2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

6 ’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’"

7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."

9 ¶ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

13 ¶ Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,

15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."

What can we learn from the Christmas Story tonight?

1. God chooses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. (One word from God changes everything.)

2. Nothing is impossible with God. (As long as we trust God’s Word.)

3. God does not first have to seek your permission before He upsets your plans. (In other words: Life is not always all about you … It may affect you, but it may not be all about you!)

4. God’s will toward man is good. (Peace on earth and good will …)

5. Wise men still seek Him. (God calls the wise and wealthy from afar to protect and finance His Kingdom will)

6. The spirit of this world wants to destroy Jesus before anyone else can know Him. (But God’s angels are on assignment …)

7. God still calls His children out of Egypt! (Come home! It’s time to come home …)