Seventh Day Of Christmas: Seven Swans of the Spirit

Seven Swans

According to the Catholic Church for whose youth the song was written these are the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Every person has a unique ability about them. Some have a mish mosh of trades they can do but have one special thing that they use extremely well. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well the Holy Spirit has given each of us a gift that we use in everything we do. It is that one unique part of us that most people hardly ever recognize that is within us. Peter exclaims this in his first letter:  

10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God’s many-sided grace — 11 if someone speaks, let him speak God’s words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah — to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Some folks find their gifts and abuse them by using them for their own gain. In the long run they find that they lack a certain joy and happiness because they misused what was divinely given and their soul actually suffers. Somehow God still uses them but makes them realize their faults when others are given joy as they suffer. I know it sounds mean but it is God’s way of talking karma.

But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8

Paul tells us of the Spiritual Gifts and using them for God’s Glory. Do not prophesy falsely for you will lose others trust; Serve others without need for recognition; Teach right and proper, morally, ethically, and spiritually correct; Counsel others comforting their soul and leading them on a right path; Givers give without recognition and not because they have to or coerced into giving, but because they want to; Lead not with an iron fist or falsehoods but so that others will follow for the right reasons and not your own gain; Those who are compassionate be so without a contrite heart showing and sharing God’s Grace to all mankind.  

To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of these gifts: Wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; working of miracles; prophecy; judge between spirits; speak in different kinds of tongues; and interpret tongues. Each one is given by the spirit to share God’s Word in unique ways.

To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; 10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as he chooses. I Corinthians 12:8-11

The Holy Spirit chooses each individual gift by deciding when and who they go to. Some gifts are permanently sealed on us while others are temporary. Now as a note, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues (languages) and interpret (translate) them is the ability to speak, understand and share in other earthly languages to spread the Gospel throughout the world preparing Christians for missional work.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are ingrained in us so that we can do God’s work and complete the Great Commission to the world while keeping separate from being of the world. These gifts help us clear our minds to do what God desires of us and helps rid us of earthly desires and prepares us for His Kingdom. We still need to live in the world but that is only temporary. We must Live in the Spirit, Recognize, and Share our gifts of the Spirit with others to accomplish our task on this earth. Be gracious to others as God has shown His Grace to you. Love as God Loves and give of yourself. Strive to be better Christians this coming year so that we can show the Kingdom of God on this earth.

God Bless

Sixth Day of Christmas: 6 Geese and the Joy of Being Creative

6 Geese A Laying

On the Sixth Day of Christmas. Well, how about the Six Days of Creation. Geese laying eggs represents the creation of all life, earth, sun, moon and stars.

Only God can do something so amazing in the matter of minutes. When God created the heavens and the earth, He created something from nothing. Science had produced many theories on how everything was created but still cannot explain one thing: If the Big Bang was caused by a rushing of hydrogen into a source of other matter, where di all of those components come from if there was nothing to begin with. The best way to explain it is that someone  or something came into being, breathed out and the rush of the hands coming together to clap brought together all the elements, atoms, etc. and the moment the hands connected, there is the Big Bang.

Someone with a moment of hilarity could say that God sneezed everything into exitence because when He prepared to do so the Word said “ah-choo” and the Spirit came forth with all the elements. but we won’t really go there.

Ever since the creation of mankind we have been able to create in our own way by making something by using other things that already exist. It is not really creating but manipulating or utilizing what God created in order for us to either survive or enjoy life. We make things to cultivate the earth, move from point A to point B, sit on, live in, and more. God is the only being who creates, we just make use of the materials given. The unfortunate thing is that we also make things to destroy other things.

What we can produce in others is the emotional responses by making things from what God has created. We do not create this either but the response of joyfulness comes from a thing made by our hands. For example, I work with wood and stone to make things that create emotional responses in the individuals for whom the product is designed for. I make someone happy. God created in us the ability to make others have emotional responses by our actions. The problem is that because of the Fall we also have the capability to make someone angry, sad, or disappointed.

This coming year let us make people happy by sharing the joy within us which is Christ. Let’s correct and forgive the mistakes of the past (because that is what God does) and look towards a brighter future in Christ. Every day we live for Him is another day closer to sitting with Him at the biggest feast in the known and unknown heavens. May God grant many blessings in this coming year as we await His return.

Fifth Day of Christmas: The Rings of Truth

Fifth Day of Cristmas

NO not the Olympics. These Five Golden Rings are very significant or they would not have the emphasis in the song that they do. It is not the center but these rings speak the truth and the start of the whole Bible. I am talking of the first five books, the Pentateuch. These are the Five Scrolls of Moses. Genesis provides us with the Creation Story, the Fall, the Flood, the Patriarchs, Joseph and the move to Egypt. That is just the beginning.

The other books tell of the shaping of the Israelite nation and the relationship they had with God. Out of these come The Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses, the Exodus from Egypt, and the lessons learned along the journey into the Promised Land of which Moses never steps foot in. The laws and statutes that govern moral behavior, feasts, sacrifices for sins, and other rituals are found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Numbers is just that, probably the largest census ever on record that we still have today.

We are out of the Festivals and are focused on learning of Jesus and the New Testament Instruction. Yes I know it is a short time but so was the time that Jesus had to spread the Word. His ministry began after He was Baptized and spent the 40 days in the desert and lasted for three years.

What do we do now? We continue in His Commission to us, spreading the Word of God to all nations.

4th Day of Christmas: 4 Calling Birds

4 Calling Birds

The 4 calling birds are the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These sing the Song of Salvation. We are up to four in the song and have reached the Gospels. Notice something else about the song so far? The first four are birds of some sort. Not sure the significance there but I am sure there is something.

The four calling birds could also mark the four presenters of the Gospel as well. Even though two were not Apostles they all present the Gospel in a unique fashion especially John. Each one does take a different type of approach in the presentation though many similarities are found. Matthew was the tax collector turned champion for Christ. He went in front of the Sanhedrin to present Jesus to them. Matthew had an inside track on many things and detailed the sermons and parables. His recording of the Gospel is where we get the Beatitudes, the Last Supper, and the Great Commission, just to name a few important details. They did not kill him like they did Stephen, guess he was protected and spoke many truths to them and probably had enough dirt on them to keep him alive.

Mark, also known as John Mark was a student/follower/scribe of Paul. Rumor has it that Mark actually wrote the Gospel first and it was used by Matthew for writing purposes. Not much is known about him except that he journeyed with Paul.

Another who worked with Paul was Luke. Luke was a Physician which explains why his telling was of great detail and possibly somewhat embellished. His writing is where we get the birth story which is read every Christmas. Luke also details more of the parables and also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.

John, oh John the Beloved. John focused on the Spiritualism and Deity of Jesus. The Gospel According to John is where we learn that Jesus is the Word made flesh who was with God at the Creation. We also find the reason Jesus was sent to us. I got my life verse from John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than he who would lay his life down for his friends. John’s Gospel concentrates of God’s Love for us through Jesus.

Who You Gonna Call for Salvation? Look to the 4 Exclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today is also the Christian Feast of the Innocents. It is this day our Christian ancestors remembered the Innocent Blood of the boys killed by King Herod to try and kill Jesus. He was unsuccessful but completed his mark in history as one of the most ruthless of governor/kings ever to rule over Judea.

Third Day of Christmas: Three French Hens

Third Day of Christmas

On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: Three French Hens

Besides the Trinity what would be a good significance for the third day? How about the three gifts of the Spirit or three Theological Virtues? These are Faith Hope and Love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)

But for now, three things last —trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love (CJB)

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (KJV)

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (ESV)

These three virtues are the most important in a Christians Character. Though not the only characteristics, these three are the ones that Christians should emulate the most. In our Faith we put our whole Trust in Jesus as our Savior. Our Hope is in Jesus that He will return again. Our Love is shown through the acts of Christian Charity, how we treat others, the unconditionally conditional love of God which shines through us. We are to share God’s love with all people (unconditional). Sometimes we need to show tough love (God’s Conditions) not a hatred or condemning but sharing the truth of it so they convict themselves of their sins.

The verse written above is at the end of the “Love Chapter”. It spells out God’s Love for without it we are nothing. It states we should love all without pointing out people’s wrongs. In other words, if we have God’s Love within us, we do not judge others. If the person(s) life is sinful and they boast or take pride in their sins, we are not to become part of the sin by acknowledging it and boosting it for that makes us just as guilty of that sin. Remember the Bible does not say, “love the sinner hate the sin”, but it does tell us to treat others as we would have others treat us.

Having faith (trust), is having the confidence that God will watch over us, guide us through the Holy Spirit, so we can live out our lives as Jesus taught us. This faith cannot be inactive and say that I got Jesus so He will take care of me while you do nothing. Faith gives us the confidence so that we can complete the mission that Christ gave us in Matthew 28:18-20. Without doing things for Christ and only doing them for our own gratification is not putting our faith in Him. There is a difference between believing in Christ and being in Christ.

This also happens to be the ancient Feast of St. John the Beloved. John held onto these virtues and was the only Apostle not to die a martyrs death. They celebrated John because he shared God’s love peacefully and suffered greatly until his natural death from old age. The perfect example of how to live like Christ.

If our full faith (trust) is in God then we have the hope that our love will be that as close to godly as we can be. Do not judge another in their sin but show the truth through God’s Love.

12 Days of Christmas: Day 2

2 Turtle DovesThe Second Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, Two Turtle Doves. This should be an easy one since there are very few things that come in twos in accordance with the faith.

The Old And New Testament, God’s instruction book to mankind. These two combined create the Bible, God’s Story which is to be told to the world. Many today do not think the Old Testament is important because of the age of the text and the fact that they cannot see Jesus in it.

Well guess what, Jesus is all over the Old Testament. He was there from the beginning as the Word which spoke creation into existence. He is known in the Old Testament as the Angel of God (notice the capitalization) even though there were many angelic visitors the manifestation of Christ can be seen when Angel is capitalized. The Old Testament contains the basics of living a good moral life and teaches values and characteristics which we need to live long and healthy lives for God. It speaks of the fall and why we do the things we do and how the Hebrews tried to fix it by appeasing God. The Old Testament gives us God’s Rules. These rules are not guidelines to be altered by man. It also tells us our true purpose on being on this earth. All these things are spoken and taught by Jesus in the New Testament.

The New Testament tells the story of forgiveness and love. We finally see the Angel of God in the flesh because with all the appeasing the Hebrews tried, nothing that man can do could heal the sin of the world. The New Testament shares the teachings of Jesus who is the Great High Priest, the Messiah, Saviour, SON OF GOD. It tells us about the reaching out to the Gentiles (non-Jewish folk) and how the Apostles were either accepted or condemned.

Speaking of which, did you know that today is the Feast of Stephen? You know, Stephen, the guy who was stoned for telling the Sanhedrin the whole story of Jesus and how they basically screwed up even though they were instrumental in completing the mission by having Jesus crucified. Yeah that guy. The one that Saul of Tarsus supervised the stoning of. Yeah you know him as Paul, the great Roman Jewish teacher to the Gentiles.

Stephen is known as the first martyr. His feast revolves around taking care of the poor and homeless. So the first mission after Christmas is to share the leftovers and unwanted gifts with those in need. It is not about returning gifts and getting what you really wanted or get the money to do with as you please. It is about visiting those who are homebound, in a nursing home, an orphanage, pet adoption center, you know, doing things that Jesus wants us to do.

So, while you are reading this, prepare your hearts to do the right thing this day, this season, this coming year. Do not be an idle (lukewarm) Christian. Make a change in someone’s life. God told us to do it so get off your donkey and help your fellow man.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Many songs, lymerics, poems, and fairy tales before the 20th century were written to help children learn valuable lessons in living as well as ways to remember Scripture and living by faith. Secular society since the advent of mass media has changed and or poked fun at these songs. Christmas Carols have really taken hits some to the point of absolute disgust and sinfulness. “The 12 Days of Christmas” for instance, was originally written as a teaching tool, instructing the youth about the Christian faith. Each gift is religiously significant. Do you remember each gift?

“A partridge in a pear tree”                                               “two turtle doves”

“three French hens”                                                             “four calling birds”

“five golden rings”                                                                “six geese a-laying”

“seven swans a swimming”                                               “eight maids a milking”

“nine ladies dancing”                                                          “ten lords a-leaping”

“eleven pipers piping”                                                         “twelve drummers drumming”

Those are the gifts but what is their meaning? To understand this we actually have to look at the opening line of the song, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”. Is this a guy giving these gifts to a girl and the girl is singing this as a thank you? Not quite. The “true love” represents God and the “me” who receives these presents is the Christian. These are the gifts of God the Father and it teaches us the meaning and content of the faith.

Also, did you know the twelve days lead up to the next event on the Christian calendar? The last day is the day before Epiphany. Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. It is the moment where the Divine being waited for by the Jews is now known as the Savior of the World.

Today is the first day of Christmas, the partridge on the tree signifies Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God. Christ is represented as a mother partridge protecting her young by being a decoy when predators are about. Jesus is our Saviour. When He died, He took on death itself and covers us so we no longer have to suffer the torment due us because of our sins. Believers are no longer left in the dark but can see the light of God. We are to pronounce Him as Lord and Savior to the world so that no one is left in the dark anymore.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

It was December 7th, 1914. Pope Benedict XV wanted the war to temporarily stop for the soldiers to celebrate Christmas. Though the leaders said no, the word got to the soldiers from two nations so they declared their own unofficial Christmas Truce. German and British Soldiers greeted one another and actually got out of the trenches shook hands sang together and exchanged gifts of what they had with them.

Despite dangers, unit morale high in KandaharThere are no known photos but this is how it could have looked.

Why did this happen? Was it the fact that Jesus was in the hearts of all the warriors? My guess is yes. Was it because the soldiers desired a celebration, though short lived, and wanted to share it even with the enemy because Jesus said to love thine enemy? Yes. Did they understand the true meaning for the season? My guess once again is yes. For a brief moment, hardened hearts became soft, God’s love and compassion filled the air.

We are reminded of the Word according to Luke 2:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 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. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Christmas 2001, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Camp Butmir, a multinational force met for a Christmas celebration. We did not segregate ourselves by country, ethnicity, creed, or gender. We sang Christmas Carols in 6 different languages then the American Army Chaplain gave the message and the Christmas Story seen above. We then shared in Communion with one another in a circle drinking from the same cup and breaking bread together. This was a Christmas to remember. I will never forget that day because I was there. Though we have all lost contact, we remember that one moment where Christ brought us together in complete peace and harmony.

Today we celebrate the earthly birth of our eternal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We celebrate on this day because of it being the day that Emperor Constantine decided to be the right time of the calendar year to commemorate His birth.. This day is the central point of the season which officially ends on Epiphany. But, the Spirit of sharing, giving, and loving one another, is an everyday lifelong thing not just around the Christmas season.

What to say on Christmas but to be joyful, caring, and concerned about your fellow man.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

4th Sunday in Advent LOVE (Angel’s Candle)

4th Sunday LOVE

1 Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness. 2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens. 3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your line for ever, and preserve your throne for all generations.'” Psalm 89:1-4

The final Candle before Christ’s arrival to us is Love. The Angel’s Candle where out of the Love, Joy Peace and Hope, they sang praises to the world that the Lord is nigh. The Shepherds heard the glorious sound of the Angelic Choir singing of peace and good will to all people. Why is it that this candle is the Candle of Love when it really should be Peace? We Hoped for Peace with Joy in our hearts to prepare us for God’s eternal Love for us by sending His Son into the world. This Love is found in the whole process. Mary was given the gift because of her pureness and devotion. Joseph could have ended the betrothal and had her killed but because of his love for her and his devotion to God (plus a nudge from Gabriel giving him peace and joy) he accepted her and the child.

When they reached Bethlehem and could find nowhere to rest, a woman out of compassion convinced her husband to let them sleep in the stable. It was clean enough for human occupation because of the time of year. It was cool outside and the animals were resting in the stable and keeping it warm with their body heat. The wife show us how we are to help those who are weary, homeless, and in need.

In humility, the king of the world was born and the first to see was the animals. All creation knows their master. God’s love and compassion is not just reserved for us.

Snow Monkeys

Then came the Shepherds. They were watching their flocks and the Angel of the Lord came to them and proclaimed the birth of Emmanuel, Prince of Peace. This was a proclaimation that apparently was only meant for the humble in the area for no nobleman nor king heard this. The Angel showed the shepherds love which would be special and designed for all walks of life and make the meek and humble into regal members of the Kingdom Of God.

The Magi would come later. At first they came out of curiosity and a desire to present the new king with gifts. What they found was a euphoric sense of peace, hope, joy, and love for all mankind.        

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.       John 13:34

Jesus came to show the truth of God’s Love and compassion for His creation. When He arrived, He came as an innocent humble child without the regality and exuberance of the earthly kings but the silence and peacefulness which occurred at the completion of creation. He came to correct the work His Father gave to Adam who failed, then to the Israelites who were blinded by Adam’s sin. He came as a silent but worthy conqueror that will rule over us.

For God So Loved The World That HE gave HIS Only Begotten SON, So That Whosoever Believes In HIM Shall Not Perish But Have Everlasting Life. John 3:16

Tomorrow is Christmas. Share the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love all year ‘round. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy time with family, friends old and new, and neighbors. God’s Love and Blessings to all.