The Faithful Disciples (11 Pipers)

 

Pipers PipingAS we  near the end of the 12 Days of Christmas we get to the 11 Pipers Piping. These Pipers are the faithful Disciples. Why eleven and not twelve? Judas is not counted because he betrayed Jesus. Also, the eleven followed Jesus’ mission up to their deaths.

It is interesting to note that the only Disciple not to be martyred was John the Beloved. If you want to talk faithful Disciple then he is the one. He risked being killed himself by accompanying Jesus mother and Mary Magdalene during the whole crucifixion process. The others ran and Peter even denied knowing Jesus. Because of His faithfulness and being there in the open providing comfort to Jesus mother by being there (ministry of presence), John seemed to understand people enough that they could not kill him but the Greeks and Romans exiled him to a cave on Patmos.

What happened to the rest during this time is well known and we have a page dedicated to the Apostles here: Lessons from The Apostles

When the Disciples ran where did they go? Did they return to the Upper Room and lock the door? Did they disburse and meet up later? There is no real understanding of that time except for the absolutes known because of the fast turbulent pace in which everything happened. But we do know that they all gathered within hours after Jesus died and were almost all present for Jesus first meeting with them after the Resurrection. They all did see Him and were taught much more for the 40 days before the Ascension.

The Acts of the Apostles is really only the tip of the iceberg for what the Apostles accomplished after Jesus left. We have the record of only a few written in Scripture but the rest are recorded in the annals of history and reported by the Catholic Church. I am guessing that letters were written to James, Peter, and John and the areas they were in were then researched to actually figure out their demise. One thing is certain, they faithfully served Christ.        

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

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.

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.