When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)
Today is a memorial day in the church year, the Day of the Holy Innocents. Even as we continue to celebrate with joy the gift of God’s Son, born to be our Savior, we take a day to remember why we needed one. King Herod, known both inside and outside of the Bible for ruthless devotion to his own interests, thought nothing of killing innocent children in an attempt to protect his position. In a country that has sacrificed more children through abortion than through all of its wars combined, it’s hard to argue that the world has improved. Yet Matthew records the incident, and even sees it as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophetic word, to remind us that God cares about every innocent life sacrificed to self-interest and always shares in our grief. That was, after all, the reason that He sent His Son into the world: to redeem us from all such evil.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to redeem us. Give us hearts of compassion and selfless devotion to Your Kingdom, in Jesus, amen."
THE 7 DEADLY SINS IN THE NEWS (By Andy Simmons):
Lust: When their pet tortoise, Boris, escaped through a fence, the frantic owners searched YouTube for tortoise pornography. The mating noise is loud, startling, and evidently quite seductive, since Boris lumbered home soon after hearing the videos play. theweek.co.uk
Greed: A North Carolina college student was arrested for using counterfeit money. What gave her away was the signature on the bill. It’s supposed to be the name of the secretary of the Treasury. Instead, it was signed “Moe Money.” myfox8.com
Anger: A Miami Beach thief snatched a necklace from a tourist and took off. He was arrested when he returned to berate the victim over his “fake” jewelry. nbcmiami.com
Sloth: When a British woman texted a baker to make a cake for her daughter’s 21st birthday, she requested a “wee blond figure” on top, but failed to proof read her message. Thanks to autocorrect, the figure adorning the cake was a wee blind girl. telegraph.co.uk
Pride: A thief on the lam was arrested soon after liking a copy of his Wanted poster on a Crime Stoppers Facebook page. Great Falls Tribune
Envy: After spotting the car of their dreams, two Houston teens pointed a gun at the owner and made him hand over the keys. One problem—the car had a manual transmission, and neither teen knew how to drive a stick, which made it a lot easier for the cops to catch them. Associated Press
Gluttony: A burglar broke into a house in Petaluma, California. He might have gotten away with it except for the fact that he stopped to heat up some Tater Tots. That’s not all. When the homeowner returned, she found him snoozing on the couch. Associated Press
The Lord give you joy in His redemption this week!
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." (John 4:13-18)
It is a strange tradition in our culture that we suggest to children that an obese, immortal, omnipotent saint is spying on us throughout the year from a secure, undisclosed arctic location to dispense some sort of subjective justice in the form of gifts on Christmas Eve. How much more wonderful the truth is: the immortal, omnipotent, omniscient God who created us gave Himself, beginning that first Christmas, so that we can experience eternal life in fellowship with Him! We cannot fool Him, since day or night He truly does know everything we’ve thought, said, or done, but there is no need: God knows we cannot earn His gifts by good behavior; He sends them anyway, to all who believe in Him, through Jesus.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace to us, since we cannot earn the gifts You give! Empower us to love each other with such grace and share the message of Your salvation, in Jesus, amen.
After teaching the children about salvation, a teacher asked his Sunday School Class:
"If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave
all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?"
"NO!" the children all answered.
"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept
everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?"
Again, the answer was, "NO!"
"Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the
children, and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, they all answered, "NO!"
"Well," The Teacher replied, "then how can I get into Heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!"
The Lord give you confidence this week!
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ""Abba", Father."(Galatians 4:4-6)
The year-end holidays are a perfect time to think about…well, time. Scripture suggests that God is outside of time, such that to Him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. So God always has enough time to hear our prayers and do whatever is needed. Yet He also intervenes in human history with perfect timing. It may not have seemed perfect to Mary or Joseph, but God timed Jesus’ birth so that all the conditions were in place for the fulfillment of hundreds of predictions about the Savior. It may not seem perfect to us, but God will time Jesus’ return so that all He has promised will be fulfilled. Likewise, when He intervenes in our lives, we can be sure it is perfectly timed for our benefit, the children who through His Spirit are able to call Him “Abba, Father.”
“Heavenly Father, give us patience and faith in this season. Keep us watchful for Your work in our lives, even as we await the fulfillment of all things, in Jesus, amen.”
IT’S NOT JUST TIME THAT FLIES…
It was early December.
The trip had gone well, but he was ready to go back.
The airport had turned a tacky red and green.
Loudspeakers were blaring annoying renditions of Christmas carols.
As someone who took Christmas very seriously and who was very tired,
the man was not in a particularly good mood.
Going to check in his luggage, he saw hanging mistletoe.
Not real mistletoe, but very cheap plastic with red paint on some round parts
and green paint on some of the flatter and "pointier" parts.
It could be taken for mistletoe only in a very Picasso sort of way.
With a considerable degree of irritation and nowhere else to vent it,
the man said to the lady at the counter, "Even if I were not married,
I would not want to kiss you under such a ghastly mockery of mistletoe."
She replied, "Sir, look more closely at where the mistletoe is."
He paused, then said, "Ok, I see that it's above the luggage scale,
which is the place you'd have to step forward for a kiss."
She responded, "That's not why it's there."
He rolled his eyes. "Ok, I give up. Why is it there?"
"It's there so you can kiss your luggage goodbye."
The Lord give you time to find joy this week! In Jesus,
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” (Isaiah 40:1-5)
After being rescued from slavery and given a new land of plenty, the people of Israel repeatedly turned away from the true God to worship the false gods of their neighbors. So God withdrew His protection and their land was destroyed, with many of those not killed taken into exile in far-away Babylon. Yet God never forgot His promises to His people, even when they had forgotten Him. He had vowed to restore their nation, forgive their sin, and send the Messiah to reveal His glory and reconcile all humanity. So John appeared, calling out in the desert, going before Jesus and prepare a highway for God in the wasteland of human hearts and enabling many to recognize the coming of God’s Savior.
“Heavenly Father, prepare a level path in our hearts this season that Jesus may come to us and live with us. Open our eyes to the ways You are working in even events that seem insignificant, through Jesus, amen.”
This guy goes to his dentist because something is wrong with his mouth.
After a brief examination, the dentist exclaims, “Holy Smokes!
That plate I installed in your mouth six months ago is completely corroded!
What on earth have you been eating?”
The guy responds, “Well... the only thing I can think of is this.
My wife made me some asparagus about four months ago with this stuff on it.
Hollandaise sauce she called it...and doctor, I'm talking DELICIOUS!
I'd never tasted anything like it, and ever since I've been putting it on everything!
Meat, fish, toast, vegetables... you name it—I’ve been eating a ton of the stuff!”
“That's probably it,” replies the dentist, “Hollandaise sauce is made with lemon juice.
It’s acidic and highly corrosive. It seems as though I'll have to install a new plate.
This time, though, I’ll make it out of chrome.”
The guy asks, “Why chrome?”
“Well, everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!”
The Lord fill you with joy as you prepare for the holidays!
In Jesus, Pastor Kirk
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.