Sunday Morning Coffee: Jesus

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Luke 2: 1-20.

[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
[2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
[3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
[5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
[14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
[16] And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
[17] And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
[18] And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
[19] But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Rewards

Isaiah 58:8-10.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.

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When we are obedient; when we fast as God has said to fast; when we reach out to those in need; when we put ourselves aside and offer comfort to the broken—THEN God rewards us. Our light will break forth like the beam of the sun on a clear morning. Health will improve. Our righteousness will be apparent. God’s glory will be our protection.

We are to take away every burden from others, put down all accusing fingers, and quit all boasting. When we encourage our friends to go out to others who are needy, and minister to the afflicted person who is in want, our light will burn in the midst of calamity, trials, and adversities, like the sun at midnight. The darkness will be past.

I understand that this passage is a Millennial prophecy. It is important that we keep that in mind through a great deal of Isaiah. However, I have seen these blessings on the lives of people who truly seek God, who are humble and tender toward the needs of others. There is no question about the rewards in this life of putting self aside.

A Better Fast

Isaiah 58:6-7.

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

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These verses and to the end of the chapter describe a far better way of fasting; not to bring notice to one’s own righteousness, but to make it a benefit to all those around us who could use an outstretched hand of help and hope.

I saw a video the other day that made me do some self-examination. A little boy was placed at a busy post, hundreds of people walking past him. It was cold, and he had no coat. All the passersby wore warm coats, gloves, boots, hats, scarves. No one stopped to inquire why this child was alone and coatless. Finally one woman did stop, gave the boy her own coat, and when he told her he had no place to go, she got out her phone to find him some help.

One person stopped. It was like a modern-day Good Samaritan story. I had to consider, would I have stopped? I don’t think I could have just walked on by without a single thought.

Like the Israelites of Isaiah’s day, we like to look good. We like to have an appearance of godliness. But when it comes down to truly giving up something (fasting) that is somewhat of a sacrifice, we hesitate. We don’t want to get involved. It’s none of our business. It’s probably just a scam anyway.

We are no different than those Israelites in Isaiah’s day.




Wrong Fasting

Isaiah 58:3-5.

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?

The Israelites were proud of their fasting, and wondered why God seemed to take no notice of their piety. Here are ten things that do NOT constitute a fast:

1.Practices about which we complain

2. Afflicting the soul to attract God

3. Doing pleasures

4. Exacting all labors

5. Contention and debates

6. Smiting with the fist of wickedness

7. Making voice to be heard in public

8. Bowing the head like a bulrush to make an impression on others

9. Spreading sackcloth and ashes under us

10. Having a sad countenance, disfiguring the face, and making a show to be seen of men (Matt. 6:16-18).

Clearly, their fasting was being done to glorify themselves, not to seek God.

We ought never to make a show of how spiritual we are, for doing so proves how spiritual we are not.

Israel’s Apostasy

Isaiah 58:1-2. 

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know M ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.



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There are four commands God gives to Isaiah in this passage.  He is told to cry aloud, spare not,  lift up his voice like a trumpet, and show God’s people their sins. 

My people in this passage includes all of Israel and Judah.  It is time to come to a reckoning with God. 

The second verse is a description of the hypocrisy of God’s people at this time.  They put on a face of piety, even going to the Temple daily, showing an apparent love of  hearing the Word of God.  They are convincing in their outward show of piety, even making an outward show of seeking God in prayer. 

Things hadn’t changed much from Isaiah to the days when Jesus walked this earth. When He started His public ministry, it wasn’t long before He was in a whole lot of trouble with the Pharisees.  In Matthew 23:27, He says, 
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

No wonder they hated Him.  An outward show of piety and following the law, every jot and tittle, was important to these self-righteous people. Yet Jesus compared them to the most unclean of all places, a tomb.  They used to whitewash the outsides of the tombs of their dead. It is thought that they did so in order that the tombs would be easily recognized, and would warn people away from touching them. To touch even the outside of a tomb made a person ceremonially unclean for seven days. To be compared to a tomb–whitewashed on the outside, but full of the filth of the rotting decay of a dead body on the inside–was such a slap in the face to those who put on a public show of loving God and His ordinances, 

We are just the same. Polish ourselves up in our Sunday best for church; then when we go home we indulge in entertainments and behaviors that bring no honor to God at all. We can’t feel superior to the people of Isaiah’s day, nor of Jesus’ day.  The human heart remains the same. 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Teeth

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I was at the dentist this week for a routine cleaning.  I mentioned to him that my granddaughter is getting her braces off soon, and that  she had the same gap between her two front teeth that I’ve always had.  Never really gave it much thought before–it’s just part of me. 

But my dentist said, “Would you like to fix that?”  Uhhhhhh, well, what would that take?  

And he told me that it’s not just cosmetic.  My bottom front teeth are all chipped and  eroded because my top front teeth meet them almost perfectly, which is really not perfect at all. Top teeth are chipped, too.  I’ve had them ground off a couple of times because I looked like Snaggletooth. 

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Well, maybe not that bad, but I love the piano keys 🙂

So he can fix my bite so my front teeth don’t chip each other, and he can close the gap.  And when that’s all done,  he says maybe we can repair the broken  places to help stop further erosion. 

At my age.  For goodness sake.  I thought Terry would think it was just silly, but he’s actually all for it. So we’re going to do it.  We’ve already taken molds of my uppers and lowers, and we’ll start the process as soon as the first set comes back. Oh, we’re doing this with Invisalign, not braces.  I don’t think I’d have gone for the braces.  I don’t know.  Maybe. 

Anyway. There’s nothing deeply spiritual about my post this morning.  Teeth are teeth, and compared to some of the pictures I saw while I was looking for one to post, I’m really quite fortunate. 

And that makes me consider.  Adam and Eve had perfect teeth, no overbite or underbite or any other problem. Pearly whites, even, perfect. Did you ever wonder when those beautiful, attractive teeth started to fall apart?  No dentists, orthodontia, novocaine, or false teeth. 

But I assure you, those teeth did eventually decay.  After all, they lived a few hundred years!   Tooth decay is another manifestation of this fallen world we live in.  As are crooked teeth, misaligned  teeth,  teeth too widely spaced. Time was, the local barber would agree to pull out a rotten or broken tooth. That’s why they have those swirly red and white posts at barber shops.   Do they still do that? 

I think I’m coming to a point here.  Maybe not.  Maybe I’ve already made my point. Decay and death are a result of the sin nature passed down to us from that perfect first couple.  The whole world was changed by sin. 

The good news, of course, is that God provided a way of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, Whose birth we celebrate this month. See, it always comes back to sin, salvation, God’s plan,  and His Son. 

You can get a spiritual lesson even from misaligned teeth 🙂

No Peace to the Wicked

Isaiah 57: 19-21. 

19 I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.

20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

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Words of praise to Jehovah are the fruit of the lips (Heb.  13:15). 

Here, God proclaimed peace to the Gentiles who were far off, and to the Jews, that were near (Acts 2:39; Eph. 2:17).  For the second time, He promised to heal the righteous of both Jews (those near) and Gentiles (those afar off), but not the wicked who are without any basis of peace and healing( vv. 20-21).  In this passage, the healing referred to is physical, not spiritual; if it were spiritual, the wicked only could be thus healed. As far as I could discover, the word heal used in this passage is used only one time to speak of soul healing (Ps. 41:4); but many times it is used of physical healing. 

All classes of the wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot be still and constantly stirs up the mire and dirt of sin and corruption. They have no peace, no calmness of soul or spirit; their passions and appetites keep them in continual turmoil seeking something satisfying; the wealth, business, pleasure, pride, pomp, flattery and unrest of the world only keep them dissatisfied; and strong undercurrents of malice, jealousy, lust, revenge, strife, and ambitions to outdo others keep them at war with God and fellowmen. The guilt of a past life, and the burning memories of wrong-doing agitate the sinner day and night to cover up his evil, but he cannot escape the fear of hell and future reaping.