Saturday, January 06, 2007

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Epiphany, January 6

An Epiphany Devotional by Joe Hittle, Ottumwa, Iowa, USA

Epiphany: Neat word. "To show upon." A disclosure. A manifestation.

"For God so loved the world that He gave . . .." " . . . and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

The Christian Church has long celebrated the 6th of January as the feast of the Wise Men. We have never quite figured out who they were. But, is it really important? Probably not.

They disclosed their finest to the One they believed to be the King of the Jews. Just as God had given his best, they gave what were the most expensive gifts of their day. Gold for prosperity, frankincense for sweetness and atmosphere, and myrrh as a preservative symbolizing his ability to overcome even the worst of times. Their finest to the Finest.

It is a long journey from the first day of Advent to Epiphany. If you have read each day you have laughed, cried, and discovered a new vision of God's greatest manifestation of His love for you. You too have felt your own emotions churn as the recollections and reminiscences of others have reminded you of days of hope, love, peace and family. You have had things disclosed to you that you had long forgotten. Some of those were blessings. Others may have been things that you wish had remained hidden.

But, each one of them is you. Your life, your dreams, your desires, your longings. Like it or not, you have to deal with each of them and accept yourself because and in spite of them. That is okay. It really is. God does, whether you do or not.

The whole story of the season is meant for you. You are the "whosoever" of John 3:16. God gave Himself for you. A whole year is ahead of you as the celebration of Christmas draws to a close. If you have not done it yet, please, be encouraged to give God the best gift you ever could. Yourself. You are important, so important that Jesus came and gave Himself on your behalf. All He has ever wanted is to give you the chance to be free in Him. To be His. To know Him as a personal God, Friend, Companion.

Won't you give Him what He wants most for Christmas?

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

Friday, January 05, 2007

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos meaning a delegate, messenger. So, in a sense, we are all messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The office of apostle was held by twelve men chosen by Christ and later Paul. Mathias replaced Judas after he betrayed Jesus. Below are the scriptural qualifications for the office of apostle as put forth by Parson’s Bible Dictionary.

(1.) That they should have seen the Lord, and been able to testify of him and of his resurrection from personal knowledge (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Cor. 9:1; Acts 22:14, 15).

(2.) They must have been immediately called to that office by Christ (Luke 6:13; Gal. 1:1).

(3.) It was essential that they should be infallibly inspired, and thus secured against all error and mistake in their public teaching, whether by word or by writing (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Thess. 2:13).

(4.) Another qualification was the power of working miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; 1 Cor. 12:8-11).

The apostles therefore could have had no successors. They are the only authoritative teachers of the Christian doctrines. The office of an apostle ceased with its first holders.

That the office no longer exists in no way releases us from our task of being ambassadors for Christ. We are told to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19 - 20 (NASB)


Thursday, January 04, 2007

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

Romans 13:9 - 10 (NLT) 9For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

Matthew 22:37 - 40 (NLT) 37Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

John 15:5 (NASB) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Romans 7:4 (NASB) 4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Colossians 1:9 - 12 (NASB) 9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

The word beatitudes is taken from the Latin word beatitudo, which means happiness. Here is the passage as put forth by Eugene Peterson in “The Message,”

3“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Matthew 5:3 - 10 (TMSG)

Monday, January 01, 2007

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

Keep in mind that this is put forth as an explanation of the origin of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and not a theological document. We know that more spiritual gifts are mentioned in the scriptures. Perhaps these seven were singled out because they edified the entire body, whereas healing, miracles and tongues were more individually oriented. Whatever the reason, 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT) states that,

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? Study what God has to say on the subject. There are many excellent books available to assist you as well. Once you’ve done that, put it (or them) to use in the service of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Make that your primary New Year Resolution! May God bless you in this New Year as you seek Him and continue to walk with Him.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

CRI/Voice, Institute, Copyright © 2006 CRI/Voice, Institute

Genesis 1:1 (NASB) 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Day 1 – Space, earth and light

Day 2 - Separation of the waters - atmosphere

Day 3 – Dry Land, seas & Vegetation

Day 4 – Sun, Moon, Planets & Stars

Day 5 – Fish (Sea Creatures) & Birds (Flying Creatures)

Day 6 – Animals & Man

Genesis 2:2 - 3 (NASB) 2By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

John 1:1 – 3, 14 (KJV) 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.