Being Brothers and Sisters in Christ that love and care for each other, enjoy each others company and are there when needed. Prayerfully seek God’s will and wisdom in our day to day lives.

Did You Know God Knew Us Before We Were Born?

God knew us before we were born, before we were formed in the womb. Not that we existed before, like some of the other religions suppose or that we’ll keep going through this until we get it right, but he knew us and what we would be before we were born. Our days are already numbered here on earth. The day of our birth and the day of our death are already marked in eternity. Nothing we can do or say, no worrying or planning is going to change anything. As King Solomon said, who was the wisest man to have ever lived, “our lives are but a vapor, here and then poof, gone.”

How we live and what we do is something God already knows. God has a plan for each and every one of us. He’s going to use us, whether we like it or not, or whether we know it or not. We will not know everything until we are standing before Him in eternity.

So, what does it mean? Do we just do nothing and wait for a sign? Wait for God to push us in the right direction? No, I don’t think that’s it. I think that we have a clue in John 16:12-15, Jesus talks about the Spirit of Truth coming.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

For us, believers, it is the Holy Spirit where our strength and guidance come from. But before I go on, how many are confused about who or what the Holy Spirit is? I hope I can help you in understanding a little more about the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus was on earth, he was face to face with his disciples. His disciples needed to be near him to talk to him. If they were geographically separated from him, they couldn’t communicate with Jesus.

Jesus told his disciples that he is leaving, that he must leave so that the Counselor or the Spirit of truth can come. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. Unless Jesus leaves or goes back to the Father, the Spirit will not come, but if Jesus goes back to the Father, he will send the Holy Spirit to them.

Some people think that the Holy Spirit is a force, like in Star Wars, “Use the force Luke, use the force” or how many remember the old cartoons where it depicted our conscience with an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil sitting on the other. Sometimes the Angel won and sometimes the devil won. Or like the comedian Flip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it!”

No, the Holy Spirit is none of that. The Holy Spirit is our direct line to Jesus, all of us, all at once. You could be here, and I could be on the other side of the world and have access to Jesus all at the same time. It’s through prayer that the Holy Spirit can communicate back to us, if we are willing to hear Him, if we are willing to let ourselves go and trust Jesus. Jesus needed to go back to the Father in order for us to have the Counselor or Holy Spirit, all at once.

Many believe that what happened at Pentecost, or for the new church, was for his followers then and that doesn’t happen now. God doesn’t talk to us that way anymore. Or does He?

God talks to us in many ways. When we look up at the heavens in a perfectly clear night sky with no other ambient light, it is awesome! Sunsets, Sunrises, Clouds, or other great mysteries of the world can be some of the ways God speaks to us. His creation speaks to us every day. That’s one way, but there is more.

I think God can and does speak to us directly. I think that what happened at Pentecost can and does happen today. When we accept Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes upon us and as Paul says in many of his writings, we receive spiritual gifts from God. Some of the gifts are speaking in tongues, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, discernment, and the interpretation of tongues.

Tongues. What are tongues? The definition of tongues in the Bible is language. At Pentecost, the disciples were speaking in tongues or languages. The people listening to them were hearing them speak in their native tongue or language. The miracle was that they were hearing them in their different native tongues all at once.

When someone speaks in tongues, it is God talking to that person. Tongues edify the person talking in tongues. For the rest that hear him speak, they don’t have a clue of what God is saying if they don’t understand the language being spoken. So then usually when someone speaks in tongues, right after in the Holy Spirit through another person, comes a translation for the rest, the interpretation of what was spoken.

I remember the first time I saw someone speak in tongues. I was about 10 years old. I didn’t understand it or what was going on. Several people talked in tongues and several people translated afterwards, although I didn’t realize that’s what they were doing. Someone told me later that the tongue or language was probably ancient Hebrew.

Tongues are a sign, for unbelievers, but not for believers. Unbelievers look at those people and say that they are out of their minds, or weird or crazy. But think about it. God is speaking through the Holy Spirit directly to those people. Do you think that those people have any doubt that God exists? God, the creator of all things, someone beyond our comprehension is speaking directly to us. Moses couldn’t look directly at God, or he would die. Just being in God’s presence made him glow from the righteousness of God.

Yes, I believe in tongues today. I heard it and have seen it but know there are fakes out there, talking gibberish and not really speaking in tongues. There are videos on YouTube that teach you how to talk in “tongues” but it’s nothing more than faking the truth and making us, believers look bad. Unfortunately, there are more fake evangelists than real spirit driven ones. Most likely if you saw people rolling in the isles, out of control talking gibberish, you probably saw something that was fake and meant to get people to put more in the offering plate. But I’ve seen the real deal. God is a God of order, not chaos. It was how Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 26-33, 2 or 3 speaking in tongues and 2 or 3 interpreting what was spoken. It was a little weird or maybe a little scary at first but now I think that it is pretty awesome.

Speaking in tongues is for that person since no one knows what he’s saying. Paul says that tongues are a sign for unbelievers, so what about believers? Prophecy is sign for believers. When someone prophecy’s, God is speaking to the whole church, believers and unbelievers that can hear Him. Paul says that in the last days there will be lots of these.

Tongues is one of many gifts that can be given to us as saved believers. But not all will have the gift of tongues. Paul believes it is better to have other gifts like prophecy, wisdom, healing, administration and many more. The body of Christ is made up of many parts and of many gifts. We all have our purpose. God planned us and made us to fit in exactly where we need to be.

We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. He is where our strength and guidance come from. He can speak to us in dramatic ways as in tongues or prophecies, or in the subtle ways, in the softness of prayer or in creation around us. We grow as Christians through the Holy Spirit. We need to allow God to take control through the Holy Spirit. That can be scary, weird, crazy at first, but it will become an awesome thing if we let it. Amen

God’s Perfect Plan

John 1:29 – The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”.

The Lenten season will soon be upon us. So what does that mean to us as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ? Many of us think that it’s about giving something up until Easter and then, back to the way it was until next Lenten season. Being a Christian and follower of Jesus means way more than that. As Christians, it’s all about the relationship we have with Jesus as our savior. As we mature as Christians, that relationship needs to get closer and closer. Lenten season is a time to reflect what God did sending his Son to be “the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”.

When we became Christians, we were “born again” made new by the Holy Spirit. At that time, we became a temple of God, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. We are now holy or “set apart” from the world we live in. As we mature as Christians, we allow the Holy Spirit to have more control over us. Our relationship with Jesus becomes closer and closer. Our eyes open more to what is around us and we start to see how lost we were without Jesus. We also see how lost the world is and where it is going.

Lenten season is a time to realize that we need to break away from this lost world; stop “eating” from the table of this world and start “eating” from the table of God. Lenten season is a season to realize our bad habits, our blindness to the sin rampant in the world and continue to set ourselves apart from this lost world. Make this Lenten season a real continuing life changing experience. Make this “fasting” from the bad things of this world a permanent change in your life and not just a annual Lenten thing.

God is amazing in how his perfect plan unfolds itself. We all know about the shepherds that went to see the new born King born in Bethlehem. But did you know who exactly these shepherds were that were out in the fields that night when the host of angels announced the birth of our Savior? These were special shepherds that took care of the special perfect unblemished sheep that were used in the sacrifices on Holy days in Jerusalem. What a Holy picture of our savior, when John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Another Holy picture of how God’s plan unfolds itself is the exact time Jesus died on the cross some 2000 years ago. Ever since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and they celebrated the Passover for thousands of years, the Priests prepared the lamb offerings and sacrificed them between the 15th and 16th hours, the day before the Passover sabbath. Guess when Jesus died on that cross?

When was Jesus born?

For many hundreds of years, December 25th has been the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The odd part is, there is nothing in the Bible that supports December 25th as the birth date of Jesus. The Bible is pretty vague about when Jesus was actually born but it is highly unlikely that it was the end of December.

One clue as to why late December is not likely, comes from the book of Luke, chapter 2 verses 8-12; “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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

In Israel, the weather in December is cold and rainy. It is the rainy season and shepherds would not be out in the fields at night with their sheep. They would most likely be in shelters and not in open air.

Another reason that late December is unlikely the time Joseph and Mary were traveling to Bethlehem is due to the weather. People did not normally travel at this time of year, especially a young woman about to give birth. They would normally travel in the dryer seasons which would be spring through fall.

So when is the more likely time that Jesus was born? The Bible gives us some indirect information that can lead us to when Jesus was born. It starts with John the Baptist. We have more information about John’s birth and more importantly, the time between John the Baptist’s birth and Jesus’ birth.

In Luke, Chapter 1, when Zechariah was performing his duties as a priest from the division of Abijah, he was told by the angel Gabriel that he and Elizabeth were going to have a baby boy and they were to name him John. In those days, there were annual calendars set up as to when the different divisions of priests would serve in the temple. This schedule repeated itself year after year following the Jewish calendar. From this we can find when Zechariah was to serve in the temple. Most likely Zechariah served in the temple between June 13 and June 19. After performing his duties, Zechariah went home to Elizabeth and she became pregnant. If this is the case, John was born some time around the middle to end of March.

Another clue is when the Angel visited Mary and told her she was going to conceive by the Holy Spirit, have a son and to name him Jesus. Before leaving, the Angel told Mary about her cousin Elizabeth and that she was already in her 6th month.

Most likely Mary was pregnant before she went to visit Elizabeth which was soon after the angel left. Mary visited Elizabeth for 3 months and then returned home. Elizabeth had her baby John soon after. So that makes John about 6 months older than Jesus. So if John was born in middle to late March, adding 6 months to that suggests that Jesus may have been born in middle to late September.

This time of year more fits in with the shepherds out in the fields at night with their flock and Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem for the census. Keep in mind that this is taking into consideration as to when both Elizabeth and Mary became pregnant which may be later than described. We will never really know the true date but does it really matter? What we really need to keep in our hearts is that God sent his Son to save all of mankind from their sins. That’s what we really need to know about the birth of Jesus, whether of not it was December 25th or some other date. If God thought that the date of his Son’s birth was important, he would have revealed it to us in his word. Merry Christmas!

So where did December 25th come from?

The world celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 25th. But is that really when Jesus was born? The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when Jesus was born and we probably will never know for sure until we can ask Jesus face to face when we get to heaven.

So where did December 25th come from? Research tells us that it goes back to the 4th century when the Roman ruler of that time, Emperor Constantine became a Christian. At that time, the Romans had a pagan holiday and feast for the birth of Sol (the sun god). I would imagine, Constantine now being a Christian wanted to turn this pagan holiday into something that would honor God and not a false god like Sol. So Constantine declared December 25th the day Christians should celebrate the birth of Jesus and not the false god Sol.

Since the Bible is unclear about the exact time of the birth of Jesus, why not? I guess its as good of date as any as it turns a Roman pagan holiday into something that honors God.

It’s up to us as to how this holiday really honors God or not. Making the miracle birth of our savior the reason and not letting all the commercialism, gifts and holiday distractions get in the way is a good start. Unfortunately, I think that most of the world has changed it back into a pagan holiday and put Jesus on the back burner.

Don’t let that happen to you and your family. Keep Jesus at the forefront and make sure your children know what is the most important part of Christmas and why. Have a Merry Christmas knowing what God did for us. Can you quote John 3:16?

Food Drive

We are continuing our food drive. The next collection date is October 9th, November 13th and December 11th. Drop off non-perishable food at the Elias church on those dates at 10-11 AM.

Thank you all that donated food in the past. It was very much appreciated by the food bank. Thank you and God Bless you for caring about others.