Have we arrived at a point or time when faith in Jesus shall be at a minimum (Lk.18: 8)? Jesus made some acute predictions regarding such a crucial time (Mt.24: 9-14). Christians shall be hated and persecuted. Christians shall turn from their faith, hate and betray each other. False preachers shall deceive Christians and the increase of wickedness shall ice their love. In spite of the negative impact on Christianity, the Gospel shall be proclaimed all over the world.
Gambling is a game we all play. Even when we do not roll the dice, we are in the game. We are constantly living in risks or taking risks. Even when we gamble in good faith, our losses can be costly. It is within our nature to take chances with others and with ourselves. Others and we are the collateral. All profits and debts are charged to us, not to others. Laws that warn us of the danger become a challenge for us to outwit.
Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt.7: 6;NIV). The Nativity is Holy Ground Mt.1: 18,23) and it should not be displayed in places where it is being ridiculed by humans that believe they descended from animals. A nation that no longer adheres to the teachings of the Bible has no right to display the Birth of the Benefactor of this nation. Christians must stop throwing pearls at godless humans, wipe the dust of their feet and move on (Mt.10: 14).
Why is there such an assault on the Bible? Well, what other book is as forward about human behavior and destiny? It claims that it is the message of the Creator that knows humans inside and out (Jer.1: 5). God is the source of everything that is good (Ja.1: 17) and the devil is the source of all that are evil and do Satan's bidding (II Cor.11: 3; Jn.8: 42-47; Gen.3: 1-15). Contrary to the popular opinions of the majority, the prince of this world is Satan and not God or the Christ (Jn.12: 31; 14: 30; 16: 11). Christ's Kingdom is not of this world (Jn.18: 36; Mk.1: 14).
Christmas stands for the celebration of the Eucharist or the memorial service of Christ. It began with the departure of Jesus and became a celebration of the birth of Christ. Theologically, Christ means the Anointed and Mass stands for the service we render to or in behalf of Christ. Christmas is not just a time of rejoicing over Jesus' birth, but also a time of anointing. It is a process of renewing life in leaving behind the past year and rededicating to a new one. Like the season, we humans need to shed old luggage and start out or over in new ventures. Life needs to be revitalized because it ages. The word “Christ” means anointed. Anointing is not a one-time act. It is a constant, or at least a once a year renewal, not to faith but to service.
When we are in the wrong, we all are easily insulted. We do not like to be reminded; particularly, when Bible believers compare our life-style with incest. Jesus told those that felt insulted that they had a beam in their eyes and were trying to pull a splinter from those less guilty (Mt.7: 3-5). Even if it is a splinter, it is out of place. We are all guilty of some infraction (Ja.2: 10; Ro.3: 23) and if we deny it then we lie (I Jn.1: 8-120). We should be grateful for those in our midst that are brave enough to stop us from ending up in a place where we shall not like to be (Ja.5: 19-20).
Shakespeare has been credited with saying, “To be or not to be.” Long, very long before that Jesus said, “I Am” (Jn.8: 58). Longer before that Moses heard a voice saying “I Am”(Ex.3: 14). Shakespeare had existence in mind or is life worth living. The Bible has being in mind. It is all about being. Man is a being and not an ideology or even a theology. Every human is an “I AM” or a being. According to the Bible, man is a specially designed being. He bears the mark or image of His Makers, The US (Gen.1: 26-27). After man's physical form was completed, God added part of Himself by breathing His Spirit into him and man became a living being (Gen.2: 7). This being is worth more to God than the entire world (Mk.8: 36-37). It more than matches the price of God's only Son (Jn.3: 16). One of “the US” gave up His place in glory to rescue this fallen being (Gen.1: 26; Phil.2: 6-8).
What is being rational? Let us test ourselves. When we were first in love and got married in the worst kind of weather, were we rational? When we do things that make no sense, are we rational? When we abandoned principles that worked for ways that do not, are we rational? Here is one for the books, when we use an army to defeat a handful of tugs, are we rational? When we pervert sex into animal behavior, pleasure and human trafficking, are we rational? And when we abort babies and keep criminals alive, are we rational? Is it any wonder that the Bible defies such rationality and regards it as an abomination to the Creator?
Malachi's message was not popular in his day neither is it heeded in our time. I wish I had preached on Malachi when I was active. We have gone soft on sin and hard on God and that is the direct opposite of the oracle Malachi had to deliver. The prophet's name itself means “my messenger” or “my mouthpiece.” The Lord wants mouthpieces and not explainers, interpreters, translators and others. He wants us to read His Word and draw our own conclusions. This journey is one that everyone must take alone.
Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger twin brother of Esau and father of twelve sons that formed the Hebrew nations that Moses delivered from Egypt. His fourth son Judah became the father of the Jews. At birth, he held on to Esau's heel; hence he was named the supplanter or the one that overreached (Gen.25: 26). For the first years of his life, Jacob lived up to his name. Yet, in spite of who he was and what he did, God reshaped this man into the father of a people that would become the apple of God's eye and the way for God's Son to enter the world.