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Christmas, Bethlehem, and the Tigers’ Roar from where the Kids were Slaughtered.

This evening, I discovered the relevance of the Bible to American Life. We examined the center of attention at Messiah’s Birth in Bethlehem and how BethlehemInTheBible has relevance to today. (See the passages examined in the link highlighted.)

Roughly 7 years ago, one period of debt relief ago, there were 20 children who were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Newtown school district of Connecticut. Though so recent, we have forgotten that debt, that transgression, that violation of childhood wonder. Children who would now be high school were killed.

Some would quickly lift a voice for or against gun control. But that is not the point.

Guns are not in control and never have been. Gunmen are not in control, and never have been. Terror will not have the last say! God is in control!!

This was around the time of the Christmas season and Ephiphany and the observation of the memory of the Slaughter of the Innocents in Bethlehem, some 2,000 years ago. The same scene played out again of tyranny let loose seemed to prevail.

But tyranny and terror will not prevail. For God is in control!!

Many Christians will remember the Christmas narrative of what happened in Bethlehem around the change from BC to AD. The following is from the KJV, for copyright reasons.

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2%3A1-18&version=KJV

This will be familiar to many. Perhaps for you too, this Christmas is met with tears and sorrow and sadness: memories of those loved ones you have lost one way or another. All the festivities and drinks do nothing but bring back bitter memories of those who leave which leaves a tear in your eggnog. So will you linger over this bitterness? Will this bitterness prevail? NO!!

Is it because the loss of loved ones is not sad? No, God knows your sorrow and weeps with you. But sorrow and sadness and sickness will not have the final say. No. The Savior shall return another day and shall have the last say. God’s Word is final, not death nor destruction, not disease nor divorce, not division nor discouragement. Why? For God is in control!

The final verse from that passage quoted in Matthew was from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he had some sad, very sad, lamentable things to say and lamentable times to observe. But lamentation shall not prevail! For God is in control!!

Let us revisit that passage from the “Old” Covenant: Jeremiah 31:15-17 reads in the NIV

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
    “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
    “Your children will return to their own land.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+31&version=NIV

Jeremiah is also one who prophesied restoration after a time of exile. But he looked beyond these pleasant dreams to a vision of the New Covenant, when mercy would abound and all would be made new. As the ESV has it:

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+31&version=ESV

 

The Lord foretold forgiveness and salvation. And that is exactly why Jesus came: to forgive us, to save us from our sins. God also desires to forgive the American people Just as he forgave the children of Israel through Jesus. Just as Israel is being regathered physically into a new nation and spiritually as more and more Jewish people recognize the Messiahship, the Kingship, the Sonship of Y’shua is being acknowledged by more and more people, Jews and Gentiles, God’s grace and truth is making an impact on the nations as far as the curse is found.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

This village where Rachel was buried, the town where Ruth was found by Boaz, the town where David was raised and near where he shepherded sheep, the well of the city had become the source of water that served as a unique and simple sacrifice of that home-dug water, the same town where Micah prophesied a future ruler and where Babylonians had likely massacred children and where Jesus was born and where Herod slaughtered children. This same village will one day see victory. Why? Because God is in control!!

In the irony of God who gained victory through sending His Son to suffer, joy and sorrow often meet in the same places on this earth.

Today, there are Arab believers in the Jewish Messiah who was born in Bethlehem who are longing to visit Bethlehem, not just to see historic sights, but to see family. Those from the rocks, the seed of Hagar, are longing to be reunited with their loved ones in their home town. But a government would stop them. But will those who have been estranged from their family in Christ be separated forever? No, the gates of hell will not prevail. One day, the Baby born in Bethlehem will lead wise men from all nations into the place of joy. Because we are so clever, because we work so hard or are so tough? No. Because God is in control.

Jesus did not merely die on a cross, he rose from the grave. God is in control.

Bethlehem in the region of Judah means there is a House of Bread in the Land of Praise! God provides for us whenever we praise Him. Because God is in control!!

I have seen God’s mercy myself so many times. I have also seen God’s provision and protection. Because I deserve it? NO!! Because God is in control!

Let us look back to the place we started on the shores of this land, in a New Town, In Newtown, Connecticut.

Now, a 7 short years later, something new has happened.

Seven years was the limit that debt had its reign. In the seventh year, there was to be mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from bondage.

In Newtown Connecticut, guess what, bondage is lifting: there seems to be a year of favor in the city where the Tigers play. This year in the same city which saw its little kids slaughtered is now seeing victory. The Joy of Victory (Joieta) is coming to the same place where defeat once seemed so imminent.

God smiled on the people of New Town and they won their final football game of the season. They won their final game against a high ranking team against a team from Media, Pennsylvania. Newtown is fields the Tigers as their team just as Judah fielded the Lion as their iconic creature, both are felines. Both shall live in peace with grazers on the field when Jesus reigns. Why? Because God is in control.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+11%3A1-10&version=NLT

In America, Media is powerful. The media seems to govern America. Media seems to make up the minds of America. But American football declared that a New Town shall defeat the Media!! There is a new city which will win in this land as well as in the land of promise. Because the promise has gone out to the ends of the earth. Is it because America is righteous? Certainly not!! The media has done a fine job recounting all the vices of America and violations in the nation. But a New Covenant shall win in a new town. Why? Because we are good or great or special? No! Because God is in control!!

God is in control and He shall have the final say. He shall speak life, peace, and joy for all time! God is victor in the land!! I write this as Trump was impeached. As the media discusses the meaning of politics in places of power.

But I tell you, a little Child shall lead: Jesus shall reign. We do not put our hope in Trump, Congress, nor the Supreme Court!

For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Ruler,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us.

Isaiah 33:22 Amplified

If you believe that is true, say Amen!!

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+33%3A22&version=AMP

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

https://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/christmas_carols/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.html

https://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/marple-newtown-fightin-tigers-(newtown-square,pa)/football/schedule.htm

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Thanksgiving Report

2019-ThanksgivingReport
God has significantly blessed the work of IF4ES: Numbers of baptisms increased … to three. Numbers of groups grew and impacted new cultures … to three. Those impacted by the preaching of the Gospel included all sorts of people: Mandingo, Congolese, Ugandan, Tamil, Persian, … Jews and Muslims and the church of God.

New works are underway that could potentially impact many in the county as we mobilize prayer and equip the saints for works of service.

Please pray for us. For a more detailed report of the year, current as of the start of November, see the attached PDF at the link at the start of this posting.

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My Eyes are Fixed on the Lord

EyesPagerAttached is a document with verses referring to the eyes in the Bible. … Do you perceive the good news in what the Bible?

I compiled these after working at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center for the past 5 months picking up trash and sweeping and vacuuming the floors.

As I have cleaned, I have been regularly reminded:
A. God has preserved both of my eyes intact, they both work.
B. God has protected the vision in both of my eyes, better than adequate vision.
C. God has granted me favor in His eyes.
D. God has granted me visions of His glory with the eyes of my heart.

Please be encouraged to pray for your own vision and for the vision of others. God still heals. God is watching you, do you live in His favor or disfavor?

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Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

Today I witnessed the repairing of the world.

Some years ago, a man who fought the tyranny of an oppressor of Israel married a local woman in his city in the Middle East. They moved to what is now my home town. Four and a half years ago, he passed away due to complications from unmanaged high blood pressure.

I had met the man almost a decade ago at a grocery store and gradually got to know his family.

Today began with a walk to pick up a moving truck as I listened to God’s threats of judgment to Israel through Jeremiah. After a short drive, we gathered for prayer, not least of which were prayers for more to come help and for good enough weather to make the move without getting the furniture wet.

A group of believers in the Messiah came together today to move the widow from one end of town in a high priced apartment to another apartment that is more affordable. People came from many different churches, bonded by the love of the Lord and a calling to help a widow.

The LORD listened.

People seemed to come from the East, the West, the North and the South to help the widow move. It was true religion. In a short time, all the furniture was in the truck and hauled across town to her new place.

The multi-talented group included engineers, a senior pastor, young and old, men and women, those with tools and those with sweaty hands and achy backs. We converged to reassemble the furniture in her new home.

The single mother’s children mainly watched and kept a curious distance. Furniture was put in place, arranged, and rearranged several times. The furniture pads were one by one put on the furniture for the move, jostled, and then put off the pieces of furniture then folded.

When the hostess was satisfied with where everything was located in her new home, she spread out the food. We read the Scriptures of the LORD blessing Abram and calling him to move to a new place.

We called on the name of the LORD.

We feasted.

We recounted the works of God: the threat of flooding rains had been stayed, the need for workers had been met, the health of all had been preserved, memories of past healings were recounted. Love was shared as friends, new and old, greeted one another.

Slowly the workers headed home to the various cities we are from. The truck was returned. I even had time to mow my own yard and sweep the sidewalk before the rain came.

When the rain came, it did not flood as the weather man had threatened. It was a gentle mist. I sat on a bench looking at the garden behind my humble abode: my wife had selected the plants with care and helped work with me to tend our own Eden.

Today, I am grateful for the suffering of the Lamb who was slain so that we might feast today.

Grateful for the Carpenter who worked on the Sabbath, repairing the world.

Now I go to bed to rest and dream of even more wonderful things.

This is what Tikkun Olam is all about.

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Coming to Jesus

Friend, if you go to God with arrogance,
He’s apt to keep you out of Heaven’s dance.
And if you come for honor for yourself,
He’ll put your proud position on the shelf.
But if you come to call Christ Jesus, “Lord,”
He’ll meet your pure request with faith’s reward.
For if you seek the good of one another,
You’ll find Christ’s not ashamed to call you, “brother.”
Come together to be fully healed,
And then Messiah’s church will be revealed.
Acknowledge Jesus as the great “I AM,”
And He will feed you as His little lambs.
If you would enter Father’s very home,
Your constant praise and pray’r must be His Throne!
Offer God your life, your love, your very best:
For He’s prepared for you His joy and rest.

Based on my reading of Matthew’s account of the Gospel
during a trip to Western Europe.

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Rain

The dew, a drizzle, drenching rain …
When water falls upon the ground
the barren earth is slowly changed
by echoes of the dripping sound.

A cloud far off collects, descends
and rinses air of dust and dry
as God directs the whirling winds
and hears the holy farmer’s cry:

to gather as a roaring flood,
the fuel for some fragrant thyme,
transformed as trees and creatures’ blood.
Its constant motion measures time

erodes hills, deepens valleys, fills
the rainbow, quiets games, then sparks
the lightning-thunder dance; distills
the oceans and leaves dried drops as marks.

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The Body

Rather unique, yet we’re related

distinct, but not too different

pride is humbly dulled

vital part of the whole

gifts shared

mutual care

unite

our

insight

friends pair

lives spared

the team is made full

fruit is lovingly culled

no longer are we indifferent

rather together, we’re elated.

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Faith, Hope, Love

Faith proves what is unseen like dust

makes evident the hidden wind.

With a simple promise heard, one trusts

for pardon for the times he’s sinned.

Hope presses on with certainty

because at hand is proof of more

to come. Sight sees what was unseen:

Our rising promised by the Lord’s.

And love perfects the rest by service

to the least, the gift secured

by joyful deeds that do not swerve

away from faith and hope assured.

When heaven fin’lly kisses earth,

we’ll know the fruit of our new birth.

 

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Confessions of a Selfish Person & Prayer of a Person Desiring to Love

I am a very selfish person.

I smirk, when I should serve.

I gather when I should scatter.

I hold on to things when I should let go.

I beg when I should offer.

I consume when I should produce.

I pollute when I should come clean.

I get the best of things when I should help things get better.

Let me not clatter meaning like a gong, but speak with simple courage.

Let me not be proud of my knowledge but use it conscientiously.

Let me not give merely of my time, nor my things, nor offer my body without offering my heart.

I long to be kind to both kin and kings and commoners and cursors of men.

Lord, let me love you and let me love my neighbor,

But do, Lord, simply let me love.

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Patience

Waiting to get there.
Waiting for a friend to come back.
Waiting for grandma to get in the car.
Waiting for eternity.
Waiting for now. …

Not everything happens at once.
Not everything is fast.
Not everyone has the courage.
Not everyone is in a hurry.
Not all dreams come true quickly.
Not all days pass in a flash.

… still waiting
will be waiting still when the end of all things come.
And so I won’t pass by the roses,
their thorns or fragrances,
eternity won’t pass me by
for it is in my life today,
for my heart has found the way.

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