Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of the Year Thoughts

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un...
English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un sans domicile fixe à Paris. Tiếng Việt: Một người đàn ông vô gia cư ở Paris Polski: Bezdomny mężczyzna w Paryżu See below for more translations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

Psalm 77:11

English Standard Version (ESV)

      Bad times seem so much worse when they're happening.  Later when we look back we may be in wonderment of how we ever made it.  When we've gotten past the bad times we can often look back on them as a learning experience.  We might even be able to laugh about it and realize things weren't as bad as they seemed at the time or might have been if they'd gotten worse.

       God will guide us through the bad times if we allow him to do so.  When we open our eyes to see what God gets us through we may be amazed.  We hopefully will be thankful and give Him credit for what He has done.   It's important for us to remember how we survived the darkest hours and how God has been there for the faithful in ages past for thousands of years.

        None of us wants trouble, discomfort, pain, or sorrow.   Sometimes these things will come our way.  Always remember that we don't have to travel the difficult road alone.   There is a reason and a season for everything.   Live, learn, trust, and be thankful.   God is there when we call upon Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Is the Best Gift You've Ever Been Given?

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: The Three Wise Men" (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: "Mary and Child, surrounded by angels", mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called "Master of Sant'Apollinare". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
    render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts!

Psalm 72:10

English Standard Version (ESV)

           Tis the season when gifts are given.  We give to loved ones and to those to whom we wish to pay tribute.  We give gifts to relatives, friends, and co-workers.  Often gifts are exchanged.  Other times gifts are given selflessly without expectations of receiving anything in return.  

            The Magi--those Three Kings of yore--brought gifts to one whom they knew was important even though they might have not had any idea why he was important.  During his brief stay on Earth, Jesus gave himself freely to the people.  He taught us how we should live and how we could live forever in his light.

           And what did the people give Him?   A cross, a crown of thorns, pain, ridicule, and death.

            Yet, this is what had to be.  We call it sacrifice.

              God calls it love, mercy, and justice.  Jesus was our ultimate gift from God.  His life for our sin. Don't forget Jesus Christ this Christmas.

...they (the Three Kings) went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.   When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.   On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:9-11

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Is the End of the World Near?

NASA Sunspot Number Predictions for Solar cycl...
NASA Sunspot Number Predictions for Solar cycle 23 and 24 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

Psalm 22:27-28

New International Version (NIV)

           The end of the world is upon us...again.  

            Why do people keep falling for the old end of the world line?  These non-events seem to pop up every few years or so and perhaps with greater frequency in the last couple of centuries.  Often the predictions are pretty devastating ones that leave us little recourse other than to just die.   Other predictions give us a hope for survival if we take steps to be ready.

           For me being ready means heeding one source.  The plan is in the Bible.  Scoffers may rebuff the Holy Word while embracing the nonsense they are fed by the latest apocalypse fad.   Others may sail on obliviously, thinking everything will last for millions or billions of years more until it all fades into some natural celestial event.  Resistance to the Word can take a lot of work for some and blind ignorance for others.

          The predictions of the Mayans or anyone else who claims they know our final date of existence are absurdity.  The world is enamored by absurdity.  The truth is that no one knows when the final hour of the world as we know it will come except the One who created it.  The answers can be found in the Holy Bible.

         It's worth reading.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

Matthew 24:42-44

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Will Your Christmas Be Merry?

Why am I so sad?
    Why am I so troubled?
I will put my hope in God,
    and once again I will praise him,
    my savior and my God.

Psalm 42:11

Good News Translation (GNT)

           Are you planning to have a sad Christmas?

            For many of us Christmas can be a time of sadness, despair, and loneliness.  The memories of past happier Christmases may haunt us.  Perhaps we have loved ones who are gone.  Some us may be dealing with financial woes or health issues.  The holiday season may seem like a burdensome time that we'd rather forget about.

           I hope this is not the case for any of you.   We have plenty of reason for celebration.

...the angel said to them, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.

Luke 2:10

Good News Translation (GNT)

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hallelujah! 'Tis the Season For Handel's Messiah

Portrait of George Frideric Handel from the Ro...
Portrait of George Frideric Handel from the Royal Collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 146:2

New International Version (NIV)

        The rousing strains of Handel's Messiah will be oft heard over the next few weeks in many venues as we near Christmas.   Though a work appropriate and inspirational for any time of year, the Messiah is a musical work that has become closely associated with Christmas.

            This year I will be joining an assemblage at my church for a performance of this sacred oratorio on Sunday December 2nd.  This choir will consist of a handful from the church that I attend, a few members of a Japanese men's chorus from the city of Torrance, some professional soloists hired for this performance, and a number of Koreans from a church that uses our facilities in Downey, California.  

            We've been practicing since July under the baton of one Ken Taguchi who originally came to us from Japan.  It's a wonderful assemblage of peoples from several parts of the world, professional and amateur, all gathering for one evening of worshiping God.  

            Surely this amazing musical composition is but one example of the music of praise that will be sung to God in Heaven.  Thank you George Frederick Handel for the oratorio.  And thank you Jesus for the inspiration.

            Hallelujah!  He shall reign forever and ever.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!

Revelation 19:6-7

New International Version (NIV)

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