The Coming of Christ Foretold

Christ was foretold

The Coming of Christ Foretold: The Bible is often referred to as the inspired word of God. That is really a very simple way of describing God putting words in the writer’s head and the writer scratched them down on the scroll.

Throughout the Bible, God makes sure that His most important points are repeated often and this is especially important in the prophesies concerning the coming and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are told 176 times that Jesus the Messiah will come. The story is told in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in the writings of the prophets, but also in the Psalms more than 500 years before His birth.

Told in detail about the crucifixion of Christ

Take for example Psalm 22, which is not a prophesy of the coming of Christ, but a very accurate description of His crucifixion. Another interesting passage is in Isaiah 43, which likewise describes the happenings on that day. But God then tells his writers 257 times that Jesus will come back, not as a child, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But there has always been disagreement on who the Messiah would be. Jewish scholars were looking for a military leader, who would crush the Roman occupation of Israel.

A mild, soft-spoken craftsman from Nazareth was not their idea of the person who would fit that job description. The disagreement rages on. Jews very much believe in the Messiah, just not Jesus.

Some Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah

Some Jews, however, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, while still holding tightly to their Jewish traditions, so are they Jews or are they Christians? The answer in the opinion of this writer is that they are both. Christianity is just an extension of Judaism, and this is brought out nicely in the television series “The Chosen,” that depicts Jesus as being very Jewish.

Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. I think we’ll all know everything when He returns.

176 Prophecies on First Coming

257 Prophecies on Second Coming

433 Total Prophecies about Jesus the Messiah

Much debate about Jesus/Yeshua

Scholars have debated the prophesies of the coming and return of Christ for centuries. Jewish scholars have laid our their case for why Yeshua/Jesus could not be the Messiah, which has been argued and discussed down through the ages.

Christians find it difficult to believe the people don’t see that all of the Prophesies point to Jesus, but if it is impossible to prove the existence of God, it is likewise impossible to prove the deity of Jesus.

Faith is key to belief

That gets us back to a familiar and all-important point: FAITH. God wants us to accept His word by faith. Intellectuals will dissect every sentence, Theologians will examine every possible interpretation and some regular people will just believe what they want to believe.

The proper balance of knowledge and faith is essential. One should always know what they’re talking about. The evidence is there. Sometimes people just end up with opposite conclusions. What is really sad is people will sometimes know something is true, but they ignore the truth. They just don’t want to believe it.

Everything points to Jesus the Christ

The bottom line here is that everything in Scripture hinges on one essential and unavoidable question– what is the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth? The prophesies must point to a conclusion. The evidence is all there.

If Jesus is not the one the prophesies point to, then was there another, or when will Messiah come? Christians believe it all falls on Jesus. The rest of the world challenges that claim.

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

God and suffering

One of the most asked questions is why does God allows suffering? The answer is straight forward enough, but it’s what Al Gore would call “an inconvenient truth.”

God created a perfect world, free of conflict, disease and worry. Animals walked about freely without fear of man. Tigers did not attack and kill their prey, Adam did not hunt for food. It was a utopia. But a perfect world wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve. That’s where all the trouble began.

Nothing was withheld from them

God gave them dominion over everything, withholding nothing. They were free to do what they wanted, but that didn’t satisfy them. It all came apart in Genesis, just three chapters into the Bible.

Satan, taking the form of a serpent, deceived Eve and talked her into believing a lie. Call it the first recorded incidence of “misinformation.” Rather than trusting and believing God, they chose to buy into the lie. Why? Pride.

Every tree in the garden was available to them except one. God told them not to eat the fruit of that tree. Eve explained this to the serpent. But the serpent jumped on her description of God’s directive, saying “Did he really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”

Satan followed quickly with the poisonous deception, Eve said they were allowed to eat from all of the other trees, just not the tree that is in the middle of the garden. This is true, that’s what God told them, but she added something. “And you must not touch it or you will die.” God didn’t say that.

The serpent/Satan had her. “Surely you will not die,” he said. He then told her that God didn’t want them to eat of that tree for fear that they would become like God, your eyes will be opened and you will know good from evil. That was also a lie. Satan’s plan was to separate man from God. He did it by appealing to their ego, their pride. He wanted them to turn from God and believe him. It still goes on today. Nothing has changed.

Satan knows God

Satan knows exactly who God is. He was once the angel Lucifer and was the most glorious of all angels. But he decided that he wanted to be the one worshiped. He was jealous of God’s glory and he wanted to sit on the throne.

God expelled his prized angel out of heaven and cast him to the earth. Lucifer became Satan, or the devil. A third of the heavenly hosts sided with him and were likewise kicked out. They are Satan’s demons.

Why do we rebel from God?

If people, like Lucifer, know who God is, why do they rebel? Because they want to be the center of their world. They don’t want to worship God, or be obedient to His will. Also, they want to make the decisions and not have interference on their lives.

The only reason they can do this is why? Because God created them with a free will. That might be described as a small slice of autonomy, the right of self direction. But that comes with a price.

God created man as an object of His love. So that we can make a free will decision to follow God and love Him back. God lets them and us make choices, always willing to restore the relationship. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, the world was now fallen. Death, destruction, disease and misery entered into it and evil grew.

Man collectively causes his own suffering

Man causes his own misery. By turning away from God, man changes a perfect world into a slime pit. Death and dying. Sickness and suffering. Murder and cruelty. Man’s creation, all orchestrated by Satan to take as many humans into hell as he possibly can.

In Genesis 3, the stage was set. Of course, it is common for people to blame God for all the evil they themselves cause. Free will, the right to make choices, also means the right to make the wrong choice. We just don’t want to accept the responsibility. Nothing really has changed from the beginning.

The Bible is the story of God’s love for His creation

The Bible is the story of man’s relationship to God and of God’s love. The atrocities of the Old Testament are all about man’s choices. But all of the ugliness, the evil and the wretchedness all pale in comparison to the glory of God.

Man needs to accept his own wickedness in order to see the beauty and perfection of God. Man did make an attempt by creating religion. God knew this wouldn’t work. He knew that a personal relationship was the only want to reconcile man to Himself.

God’s sends Jesus as the remedy

Then, in an act of amazing grace, He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to make the restitution. To escape Satan’s grip, man needs only to put his trust and faith in Jesus, to accept the gift of salvation. Jesus, God’s only son, His perfect first born, paid the price by dying on the cross. Man could not achieve this on his own, only God could overcome evil, death and suffering.

Jesus and the Sower… Some Believe, Some Don’t

Jesus and the sower

Jesus was a great story teller. During His earthy ministry He told stories, parables, to illustrate important points in a way that would help people to relate to the message and understand its significance.

One of the parables is that of the sower, whom in this case was Jesus Himself. He knew, of course, that there would be some who were attracted to His message, but others would either listen and then lose interest, while others would reject it entirely. Here is the parable that Jesus shared in Matthew 13:1-9

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’”

For anyone who has ever tried to share the Gospel with someone else, you know that it’s sometimes a challenge, especially when the message is rejected. We tend to take it personally. Our egos are bruised. But it isn’t about us at all, it’s about God’s business.

Jesus was never in a hurry

That is why Christians today learn about ways to evangelize, so they can best communicate with any person. We want to get to the punchline and get people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, but it doesn’t work that way.

Jesus was never in a hurry and He always met people where they were at. People for the most part liked him, that is except for the Pharisees, who saw him as a troublemaker and a threat to their authority. They accused him of blasphemy. Little did they know that it was He who inspired the Scriptures.

Some have a harden heart

The pathway in the parable represents those with a hardened heart. They will never receive the good news or turn to God for salvation. The rocky places are those to hear the message and it appeals to them, but they haven’t completely bought in to the message, so at the first sign of conflict, they fall away.

The thorny ground tells us about people who receive the Gospel, but they have other things getting in the way, like their job, money, social standing, etc. God’s truth doesn’t grow in them because there isn’t room enough to allow it to flourish.

The good soil, as it’s description implies, talks of people that allow the Word of God to take root in their soul. They share their love of God with others, they study, they associate with other believers and this is exactly what Jesus wanted.

Hard ground will not bear fruit

The parable illustrates the condition of the heart of man. One can argue whether or not those who are less than the “good soil” are going to heaven. But that is a discussion for another day.

The hard ground clearly is not going to bear any fruit, any belief, or any kind of life change.

The others represent various degrees of belief. How much belief, how much faith is necessary for salvation?

It is the opinion of this writer that wherever a person is on the spectrum, God will spare them. Even those with true belief/faith, however fleeting or childlike in nature. Only God knows the depth of the human heart. This is exactly why all of us need to open up to Him and allow Him to take root.

A simple message

Jesus brought us a simple message. He expressed it in multiple ways, so various kinds of people would hear it. The Apostle Paul, the evangelist to the gentiles, followed Yeshua’s lead and likewise altered his style and approach. A great deal of thought and effort went into communicating a simple message, just so we can understand it.

But I Don’t Feel It?

In any friendship there is an element of emotional attachment. Maybe you share the love of music with your friends, or perhaps it’s your passion for the game of golf. Our friends are our friends mainly because of the way we feel when we’re with them.

My music friends bring joy to my life and I must admit, playing before an audience, can have its rewards as well. Sometimes it’s hard to explain why friendships develop. There may not be any chemistry between people, but they’re friends. It’s just the way it is. Don’t ask me to describe friendships, because there are some folks I regard as friends even though they can be irritating. There’s feeling.

Relationship with God not based on feelings

When it comes to our friendship or relationship with God, feelings have little to do with it, at least from God’s perspective. Our heavenly Father loves us unconditionally, despite all the times we turn away from Him and even when we don’t want to be friends at all. It’s just a fact.

I once had a chaplain colleague who would tell people, “God loves you, I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” That always invoked a laugh and when delivered properly, even the most negative person could break into a smile.

Called to love others as God loves us

We are called to love others as God has loved us. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That line from the Lord’s Prayer, as taught by Yeshua Himself, highlights God’s absolute love for man.

Feelings can get in the way. They can block us from seeing what is, as we focus on how we feel about it. Truth is more important then how we feel about God.

People get angry at God

Christians struggle with feelings, especially as they relate to their walk with God. The reality of their true relationship to God gets smothered in negative feelings.

They get mad at God for bad things that happen. They blame God when their life does not go as planed. They question their standing with God because they can’t feel it. They talk of losing their salvation because they don’t feel saved. But feelings have nothing to do with it.

God’s love and salvation for us is a gift from Him

The Apostle Paul wrote that our salvation is “a gift of God” (Romans 6:23) and that we are saved by the Grace of God, not by works. In short, it is all God. Our only part is in accepting the gift.

Look at it this way—it’s all about the Glory of God. All of our efforts will fail. We cannot erase the stain of sin on our lives. We cannot obey His commandments. We get defiant, frustrated and discouraged. Thinking entirely too much of ourselves, we lose sight of the fact that we are powerless to reverse our fate, but for the Grace of God.

Paul writes to the Romans:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:1-8)

Faith flourishes in love

Our faith glorifies God. We were created as an object of love and that love grows and flourishes through faith. When I first came to faith I attended a small Baptist church in California. Those memories are warm and just recollecting my days there lifts my spirit.

I was just beginning to scratch the surface of discipleship. I was full of feeling, but had no understanding of my true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. For new believers, it can be an emotional time. There’s excitement and in so many cases they are “on fire” for the Lord.

But that passion can quickly fade. Following the Christian path can be difficult, as there are more people who don’t believe than do believe. We want to share the faith, but there’s rejection. We think it’s us being rejected, but it’s the Lord who is being rejected. Still, we take it personally. People will fall away not realizing that their relationship with God is secure and He beckons them to draw closer.

Faith not about feelings

Our faith is not about feelings. It’s about seeing the truth. We are called to live in the Spirit and not in our heads. The Apostle Paul talked about the flesh being corrupt, and so to focus on feeling is the corruption of our calling.

The flesh (our feelings) gets in the way and that’s why we don’t feel the connection with God, even thought it’s been there the whole time. Be encouraged. Once God has written your name down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, your ticket to heaven is sealed. That’s because God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Does God Exist?

While this site is about the Bible, it is only reasonable to talk about the author. Considered by many as the Word of God, the Bible was penned by some 40 men over a 1400 year period.

Is the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible IS the Word of God! Prove it. The answer to the question “Does God exist?” must begin with an undeniable fact: it can’t be proven.

In the Bible, God calls upon people to accept Him by faith. And, because He wants people to accept Him by faith, His words do not lead to some kind of “dog and pony show” action, which would negate the necessity of faith.

In other words, God says “trust me” and wants us to follow Him.

We all have some doubt

Even those who lived with Jesus had their doubts. Jesus, according to Scripture, was “God with us,” Emanuel. The disciples saw Him daily for three years. Yet, they may not have been too sure. Was He really God incarnate?

The disciple Thomas, and you’ve heard of “doubting Thomas,” was not convinced that Jesus was actually God in the flesh. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and showed John His scars. John fell to his knees and cried “My Savior and my God.”

Then and only then would John accept Jesus as divine.

Jesus said to John, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).

Again, the Bible is to be accepted by faith.

Non-believers draw different conclusions from the same facts

Now the difference between a believer and a non-believer is very simple. They both have the opportunity to examine the same evidence, but draw opposite conclusions.

One looks at nature and is amazed at how really perfect it is. The other more or less takes nature for granted as just the way things are.

So much of the universe points to a creator God. Look at the precision of the solar system we live in. Each plant orbits the sun with an exact distance and speed. You can look up the precise moment the sun will rise on every day of the year, and predict with complete accuracy when the sun will arise on any day a thousand years from now.

Most cultures believe in superior being

Proof or no proof, the vast majority of people across all cultures believe in some kind of superior being. Call it what you like, but there is something pointing to God. We may not understand it, or we may not be able to describe it, but something is going on. Let’s take a look at some of the arguments.

God the GREAT I AM!

We will start with the ontological position, which uses God to prove God’s existence. This asserts that God is “a being than which no greater can be conceived.”

It goes on to say that to exist is greater than to no exist. If that is the case then there must be a greatest conceivable being. If that is not the case, then of course there cannot be God. In Exodus, God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” He is self contained, requiring no outside action.

Universe is has too much order to be random

You’ve heard the argument for intelligent design. That is basically the teleological argument. I mentioned the solar system before. Well, the perfection of nature is contained in this argument.

Did life come from the “ooze”? Consider that protein molecule would be formed is 1 chance in 1, (243 zeros) or 1,000,000…243 times. Pretty big number. Six zeros would be a million, but 243? A single cell has millions of protein molecules, so to put this together in such a way as man is the outcome, well, that’s all but impossible. Somebody created man.

Cause and effect

Next we look at the cosmological argument. This deals with cause and effect. Something had to cause the universe to come into existence. Science can’t explain this. It’s too fantastic.

The Bible just says that God spoke the universe into existence. That cause is God, or as another writer put it, something that was “un-caused” must have been the cause. Someone outside of science, time and space.

Every culture has rules. Some cultures created very sophisticated sets of laws. The Greeks gave us democracy. But every tribe, every nation has a sense of what is right and what is wrong. No matter who and no matter where, people know it’s not right to kill people, or steal, or lie.

What causes a universal law like that. God wrote that on the hearts of men from the very beginning. This is the moral argument.

Some still reject God’s existence

Still, some will reject the existence of God because it can’t be proven scientifically. Some will reject God because to do otherwise would necessitate their responding to God and heading His direction.

They will exchange the truth of God for a lie to avoid being accountable. Evolution is a religion that endeavors to explain the origin of man in the absence of a creator God.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam write of a creator, but only Christianity offered the why behind that creation. Only Christianity brings the rejection of God into focus.

All things were created by and for the Lord Jesus Christ. But man turned from His creator and sin entered the world. Helpless to reverse that stain on his own, man needed a Savior. Yeshua, Jesus came to set the record clean and free man from the sin, allowing believers into an eternal Heaven. But that is entirely predicated on faith, not action. Those who cling to evolution, who try to disprove God only serve to illuminate their worse fear, that God does in fact exist.

Still, I can’t prove that God exists, I just search for evidence. The Bible is powerful. It has changed hearts and minds. It is alive, a living breathing document. It is God talking to man. It is all about having a measure of faith.

Too Good To Be True

I have always been told, as I am sure you have too, that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true at all. We wish for things. Oh, if it were only true. I was also told that promises without action are just empty words. Don’t be sold a bill of goods.

W.C. Fields said “Never give a sucker an even break.” You get the point. We want to believe something to be true and we might even go to ridiculous lengths to try to prove it to ourselves. In my youth, that’s how I looked at the promises of the Bible.

My sense of justice says that the bad guys should get locked up and I have often fantasized about giving someone the proper beating they deserve. It’s really difficult to put up with everybody else’s flaws. If I were in charge, there would be some changes. Ya right.

God sees terrible behavior from us and wants to forgive us

God has His own view on all those flaws in human character and my way of dealing with them. His ways are counter to mine, and I dare sway yours too.

He looks at disgusting human behavior and sees a person in need of forgiveness and salvation. Instead of taking somebody behind the woodshed, He wants to take them to the foot of the Cross. He has given them His son… Jesus.

God forgives us even though we do not deserve it

I am not deserving of salvation or forgiveness. There’s just too much history. But the Bible says I can be forgiven, no matter what I’ve done. If I’m really honest, I have to admit that whatever the record says, I am guilty as charged.

The Apostle Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament, but also the guy who personally killed many Christians, asked in the Book of Romans, “Who shall save me from this body of death?”

He admits he’s a rotten guy. But Jesus chose him to be an evangelist. Jesus forgave him. Too good to be true, right? What did he do to catch a break like that? Well, nothing. Jesus chose him. He reached out to him and gave him to opportunity to join God’s family of believers and deliver to Good News. Paul did not earn this privilege. He didn’t buy it. It was given to him.

Salvation seems WAY to easy?

Like many people, I have wrestled with the idea that just because I can confess my sins and ask for forgiveness, it will be given to me. Confess my sins, yes, that is a good thing, Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, repenting and opening up my heart to God is all fine, but is it too good to be true? Sounds too simple… too easy?

The key to understanding this offer of eternity in heaven is to come to grips with my own inadequacy and realize that I can do nothing to reverse the punishment that has already been ordained. Jesus paid the price. He offered His life on the cross.

Paul said that “the wages of sin is death,” and Christ died to pay the bill. Paul then said that the gift of God is eternal life THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord. This has to be too good to be true. Is salvation really that simple? A child can understand it. Say you’re sorry and let Jesus be your forever friend, to put it in a child-like way. Simply stated, that’s what the Bible promises.

We must have faith to be forgiven by Jesus

We also have to exercise a measure of faith. It is by faith that we are saved, not by our actions. Is that justice? Yes it is, because in God’s justice rich people can’t get off Scott-free just because they have the money to buy their way out of trouble.

It is justice because God IS justice, perfect justice. Paul explained that what we could not do for ourselves, God did. Too good to be true? What promises made in the Bible have been proven to be a lie? None of them!

God’s track record in bringing prophesy to pass is flawless. For believers, Jesus comes to life in their hearts and minds. He is a living, breathing Savior, who shows Himself in remarkable ways in people’s lives. I can’t prove this to you. I’m only telling you that the Bible ISN’T too good to be true, because it is the absolute truth.

The greatest news man has ever received is the Good News of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s God’s word. I’ll leave it at that.

Random is Illogical… Everything is Ordered

Everything in the universe is ordered. The sun comes up at exactly the predetermined time every day. The earth revolves around the sun every 365 days. The seasons come and go. That isn’t just a cosmic accident.

Those who do not believe in the Bible will come up with any number of explanations, none having anything to do with God putting everything into its place. Creation, intelligent design, call it what you want, but somebody ordered things.

The Bible has a lovely description. It doesn’t explain how it happened, it just states that God spoke everything into existence.

Order cannot come from chaos

The second law of Thermodynamics says that out of order comes chaos. Chaos does not bring about order. It doesn’t work both ways.

Things don’t just evolve from one thing to another. Living creatures recreate after their own kind, as the Bible states. Cats begat cats, dogs begat dogs.

Bible says there are two genders

Now in today’s society people think they can claim their own gender, or they sometimes insist that references to people be gender neutral. That doesn’t work either.

People are male or female, not some concoction of the two. Anything else is a direct revolt against God’s order.

Man is NOT the center of the universe

The problem is that man is not the center of the universe. Man does not appoint the time of birth and death. Nor does man select eye color, or skin color. He/she also did not put the earth on its axis, or teach the lions how to hunt. But we sure do make a lot of noise about what we want.

We are a vapor, but God is eternal. Our entire lifetime, long or short, is less than a blink of an eye for God. For an eternity before the earth was formed, God was there. For an eternity after we’re gone, God will still be there.

We don’t get to make the rules. We just bend the ones that are clearly in place. Then, we bristle at the thought that God may not approve. It seems much easier accept God’s direction.

We are never the best or everything we want to be

I wanted to be an athlete, but I wasn’t good enough to really go places. It would have been nice to be a musician, but it’s a challenge to really be good at it. I did many things well, but I knew there was always someone who could do it better.

The hardest lesson in life for me was just to accept who I am, make the most of it and be contented.

The best is yet to come

With God, the best is yet to come. He has ordered my days, directed my path and he will call me home, but it’s all good. Knowing that there is a loving and caring God, who is interested in my welfare, is comforting. I don’t have to force the issue. Or as the song goes, “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

Any concern I have will pass away. This is a good thing. God will decide the rest.

After Christmas

Nativity scene, Christmas star on blue sky and birth of Jesus, illustration.

When I was in Navy boot camp, we had an Easter service in a large drill hall. None of us were thinking about Christmas. All the recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center were lined up by company. Hundreds of young men standing at ease as the Navy chaplain began his sermon.

I will never forget how he began. It’s as vivid now as it was when I heard it. “Now here it is Easter,” he grumbled, making it sounded like he’d much rather be somewhere else. “Most of you guys haven’t been near a church since Christmas, so how the hell are you supposed to know anything about Easter.”

That’s what he said. I really cannot tell you one word that followed because I immediately turned him off. If that’s the way God is going to talk to me, why bother? A couple of years later, I heard the message of the Bible from friends and a truly remarkable pastor. They got my attention.

As the years passed, I thought about what that chaplain had said. Although I completely disagree with his choice of words and his entire approach, the fact that many people go to church only on Christmas and Easter is worth thinking about and writing about.

The guy wasn’t entirely wrong. The Christian faith sounds nice when we hear about the birth of Jesus and learn of His remarkable life here on earth. The whole idea of Christmas presents, a baby being born, and singing carols is traditional and pleasant. But for so many it really does end there because they have not yet explored their faith. That process is called discipleship and simply stated it’s just learning the Bible.

Learning what’s in the Bible is discipleship

Think of discipleship this way—you receive a piano keyboard for Christmas, with an instruction book, but you never play it. Maybe you tinker a little, but you never learn how to play. You tell yourself it’s because the piano isn’t for you.

Many Christian believers get that wonderful, initial taste of the faith but never go farther. My wife and I went to one of those mega churches. The place sat 7600 people. They had over 10,000 members. The pastor’s sermon that day was about how they brought people into the faith, but they did a poor job in discipleship. People became “Christians” but they weren’t growing in the faith, there was no discipleship.

My mother never understood her Christian faith

My mother was a devoted Episcopalian. Cradle to grave, she never missed a Sunday. I have Bibles from her childhood church that had little commemorative notes hand written on the inside cover. She had perfect attendance.

But she was never discipled. She never spoke of her beliefs, nor did she talk to me about Jesus, or the Bible. When I came to faith as a young adult, I quickly realized that her knowledge of the Bible was extremely limited.

When I would quote from the Bible, or talk about stories from the Gospels, she didn’t believe me. It’s not that she wasn’t listening. It was just that she had no foundational frame of reference. She just assumed I must have been wrong.

I really never could discern her true, core beliefs. Even when I went through confirmation classes at our church, I didn’t learn about Jesus. I learned about the church. It wasn’t her fault. That’s the way she was raised and that’s what she knew.

My dad only listened later in life

My father grew up in a Methodist home and had strict parents. As a young man, he had his snoot full of religion and turned it off. In his last years, we really connected and he opened his heart to listen to God’s Word.

Unlike my mother, dad became convinced that I knew what I was talking about. He came to that position with the help of a local pastor where he was living. Dad used that guy to verify what I was telling him. Like my mother, his knowledge of Scripture was very limited. He was never discipled either and never went to church with us. It wasn’t his fault. That’s the way he was raised.

Faith is personal

Faith in the Bible is a personal thing. In previous posts I talked about not being able to prove the Bible, so God wants us to accept Him on faith. We are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus. Simple message.

Who is the baby born on Christmas? Who is this Jesus? That’s why we need discipleship. Coming to faith is great, but that’s just the first step in a long and exciting journey.

But that leads to a big problem. Once we understand who Christ is, and what He is, we are accountable to God. Now what do we do? We can put it all aside, just like laying a book down on the coffee table. Or we can explore, ask questions, question answers and argue about what the Bible really says. It just reminds me of the old Gospel song, “His love is richer, deeper, fuller, sweeter, sweeter as the days go by.”

What comes AFTER Christmas is the best part.

Contentment versus Contempt

There’s an Irving Berlin song that goes, “After you get what you want, you don’t want it.” That is the main point of this posting, finding contentment. We are never satisfied and all too often it drives us crazy.

Most people want “more,” or “bigger,” or “better.” Whatever we consider to be happiness seems to be connected somehow with getting what we want. The Bible makes no promises of wealth, prosperity, celebrity or any other superficial goal. Why can’t we just be content?

Be content in what you have

The writer of the Book of Hebrews gave us a warning:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

God desires a relationship with us and it is His desire that we would want Him. It’s not like a jilted lover getting cut loose in the romance, but it’s simply that God, our creator, loves us and made us an object of that love.

Any parent would want their son or daughter to love them back and want to be with them, so it is no mystery that God would want us to want that close relationship with Him. But we focus on other things. Instead of God, we long after things, material things. The trouble is, it’s insatiable. We’re never satisfied.

Has few material things but still content

I have known people, who by most standards, would be considered living in poverty. As a young man, I met a couple from church who lived paycheck to paycheck. The good news is that although they had little to nothing, they had Jesus in their life. They had what they needed and were content. Because of Jesus they were satisfied. Their two children were provided for. Dare I say it, they were happy.

As a young man I didn’t understand the source of their happiness. It was God. It took me a lot of years to see that. That contentment was something that could not be taken away from them. This close-knit family, with God at the center, was just fine.

Many who have everything but are NEVER satisfied… Nothing is enough!

I spent many years covering sports as a journalist. I met people who were so driven that they could not enjoy their successes. Nothing was enough. Win, win, win. And they did win, but there was no joy. Titles and money were the payoff, but there was no fulfillment. It struck me as very sad.

Acceptance often major key to contentment

I now coach baseball at the high school level. We encourage our players to love God, love one another, work hard at their skills and accept the results that will follow. Win, lose or draw, players know that there is contentment and satisfaction in leaving it all on the field. It’s fun to compete.

Without the pressure of winning, the boys have done a lot of winning over the years. They have victory in Jesus, and a couple of state titles. Over the years, only one went on to play professionally, but even that is secondary in the young man’s life. He loves God. He is content.

Paul able to be content in prison, hard to imagine, but true

So much of the Apostle Paul‘s writing came about when he was in prison. But even then, he talks about being content. Not happy, content. There’s a difference.

The man poured out the grace and love of God in his writings, all the while suffering physical discomfort and a lack of freedom. It teaches us to look ahead, to look for the future that God promises through His son. This life is temporary, but the Kingdom of God shall never end and we are promised a permanent place in it. Things of this world will pass away, so why hold on to them?

Don’t waste time having contempt for contentment.

Is there really sin?

One of the major themes of the Bible, beginning in the Book of Genesis and weaving all the way through to the Book of Revelation is the influence of sin on the relationship between man and God. It is the primary dividing line between us and our creator. It’s also the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.

Sin started at the beginning

In Genesis 3, the serpent asked Eve, “Did God REALLY say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Clearly he is challenging the truth of the statement and questioning the goodness of God. He is appealing to Eve’s ego. He entices her to eat the forbidden fruit.

The sin of Adam and Eve causes a breaking fellowship with God, resulting in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. From there, for the rest of Scripture, the “on again off again” relationship with God leads to the coming of Christ and man’s redemption.

Often people don’t believe in sin today

In today’s world, the concept of sin is greatly diminished, as people do not want to hear challenges to their lifestyle choices, or their conduct. There is no right and wrong.

For example, the Bible clearly speaks against same sex unions, but today it is mainstream and perfectly acceptable, if not celebrated. Additionally, people argue that there are more than two genders. Rejecting the Biblical account that God created man and woman. Babies are born male and female, but they are allowed to select what gender they identify with, so male and female in their world is no longer valid

Not only is the picking and choosing gender encouraged, any questioning of this “right” is greeted with anger and disdain. Children are allowed to undergo surgical procedures to change gender and their parents are proud.

Divorce is common regardless of how harmful

Divorce rates continue to climb. Once considered a rarity, divorce is now more common than a sustaining marriage. No fault divorce is the norm, as irreconcilable differences are the key to walking away from one’s spouse and children.

We have become numb to this destruction of the family unit. We have family and extended family. Men jump from marriage to marriage, and have children with every partner. Single moms are more common than married ones. But it’s acceptable. Sin is not considered.

Greed is celebrated

All aspects of culture center around personal satisfaction and gain. Television advertising zeros in on this and appeals to our selfishness. Not only do they make you want something, they tell you that you deserve it and because of this, anything that gets in the way is wrong.

Bigger house, better car, any little pleasures of life are yours because you are entitled. Advertising appeals to the worst of our nature.

We turn from God as we sin

Sin is just turning away from God. Sometimes it’s unintentional, but in all too many cases, it’s deliberate.

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is filled with accounts of people turning away, suffering, then turning back. Sin is an inconvenient truth.

The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) It goes on to warn that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This death is eternal separation from God, a never-ending punishment.

But it also goes on to say that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Realizing that we all turn away from Him and sin, God’s grace is extended to us through His son, Jesus.

It’s like being in court and the judge rules that we are guilty as charged. But then the judge takes off his robes, gets out of the chair of judgment and pays the penalty for us.

Because of what the Messiah did on the cross, we are set free., if we make the choice to accept the gift. You don’t have to accept it, but it’s highly advantageous to take it.

A wrathful, vengeful God? He is a God who loved all of us so much, He allowed his only son to die on the cross. The Bible’s most powerful theme is forgiveness and reconciliation. Sin is defeated when the gift of life is accepted.