Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"It's all about the gift"

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope this has been a wonderful day for you.

As always Christmas has been lots of fun at the Brown home.   We start by opening up our presents before 9:00 am while enjoying the smell of home made cinnamon rolls in the oven.   My wife makes the best!!

As a family we especially enjoy watching each other open the gifts we bought for them.  I think we like watching their reaction to the presents as much as we enjoy getting our own.  Okay  maybe that sounds like an adult thing to say but it is true.  I guess it only makes sense that if we have searched for the right gift we are anxious to see the reaction when it's opened.

When it comes to gifts, I think sometimes we know we've bought the right one!  Sometimes its because of all the hints. hahah  .Other times we're not sure if the gift is destined for the service desk return counter or not.

I think we did good this year.  I don't think that anyone will have to fight the lines to give back gifts!

Yes gift giving at Christmas can be a lot of fun and hopefully your loved ones enjoyed everything you selected for them.    Socks seemed to be a real theme for our family this year.   Christmas socks for the girls and the older boys (I'm the oldest boy of course) received everyday crew socks!  We needed them...  I know I have a lot of holy socks to throw out.  Movies was also a hit.  Everything from adventure, comedies, love stories to Disney.  There's no reading material this year.  We'll maybe next time.

Hopefully along with all the wonderful gifts you'll remember the greatest gift given by the greatest gift giver of all.  Yes, today we celebrate that we have been given a Savior.  I'm pretty sure God knew that he had the right gift for us and I'm sure that he waits with anticipation to see how we'll respond to that gift.  I wonder how sad he is when we reject or turn away his gift.

This Christmas receive the gift of Jesus.  I know that you'll be glad that you did!

Now it's on to another Christmas tradition around the Browns.  Taking naps and enjoying the smells of the traditional Christmas Lasagna.  Oh what a gift it is to have a wonderful wife who's also a great cook!

God bless and Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

God with us

 Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and[will call him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:20-25

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”] (which means “God with us”).24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


The Christmas story is a story of the greatest love of all. It is also the fulfillment of the prophecies of Scripture. Specifically today I want to consider Isaiah 7:14. The word given to the prophet Isaiah that Jesus would be born of a virgin and that this son would be called Immanuel.

You might ask, "Does it really matter... the virgin birth I mean. Perhaps it is hard to believe and it surely had never happened before or after but I believe it's critically important. 

The virgin birth makes perfect sense if we are to believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human. 

 In the same way that the  Spirit of God hovered over the waters at the first creation as recorded in  Genesis 1:2, now the spirit of God would once again hover over Mary and she would conceive new life. In Luke 1 starting with verse 34 Mary asks, "How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."  

Truly only Jesus could be called the Son of God because he was not the son of any earthly father. 

 Jesus was God and He was man.  Without the virgin birth the Spirit of God would have to come upon Jesus in the same way that the Spirit had come upon many others before. Yet to do so would mean that the Spirit would have entered into an imperfect man since all men or women born of human parents have a sinful nature. Jesus could be perfect because he had and was the very essence of God's perfect nature! At the same time he was born of a human so Jesus knew the temptations, pain and feelings of humans.   

 This is truly mysterious and truly amazing. It is also how God could become Immanuel which means God with us. Yes, the Spirit had descended upon many women and men of the Bible but now God would dwell inside the body of a man from beginning to the end. What a truly amazing mystery!!

 But that's how much God loves us!

 Why don't you spend some time in prayer today to say thank you.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

The greatest miracle of all! Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

So what was the most amazing miracle about the Christmas Story?

Was it the angels appearances to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds?

Was it the star that shined in the sky and the Wise men who traveled so far to follow it?

Was it the virgin birth?

Was it the choice for Jesus parents lowly and humble Mary and Joseph?

I think that the biggest miracle is Christ Birth.   Jesus our Lord humbly entering the world as a baby.  Never mind that it seems unfitting for a king!   Never mind that Mary and Joseph could find no room in the inn.  But how could God fit inside a mothers womb?  How could Jesus be fully human and fully God at the same time?  God incarnate..... really?   That's the mystery that I can't comprehend. 

Yes Isaiah proclaims, "For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders."

God with us.  Emmanuel!  That is the most wonderful and the most amazing miracle of all.

With that one miracle everything changes doesn't it!  Hope is reborn and peace seems possible even in our world today!

God with us.  Think about that this morning?  Think about the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to live inside of us?

The star and the angels were more flashy.  The three kings from a far more royal looking.  The virgin birth is more controversial.   But the true star of Christmas was a small baby born in a manger bed.

Have you made Jesus the star of your life?   Does he have first place in your heart?  Christmas is a reminder of another miracle that happens every day as people put there hope, trust and life in the hands of their Savior.

To Ponder: Why don't you renew your faith in that miracle today?

 Our salvation in Christ is a miracle that each of us can have a part in this morning.  Yes, All of us can join the Christmas story!  Because Jesus came for us.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So what's the celebration all about? Isaiah 9:6,7

"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this."

Isaiah 9:6-7

Its Christmas season and there are few texts that say Christmas better than our scripture for today.   I remember in High School and perhaps other times in life singing this text as a part of the Handle's Messiah.   It speaks of the peace that will happens when the Lord sits upon the throne of David.  It will happens as Christ brings justice, righteousness to this world.  The government will rest on his shoulders not on the shoulders of elected officials, frail sinful leaders and judges that lack wisdom and understanding.

We long for this day...   So why celebrate today?  Have you looked at the world lately?   Do we have a reason to be joyful? Do we have reasons to be hopeful?

I guess this is a good question that we generally try to avoid at this time of the year.  For some Christmas is just a month to put the blinders on.  At best it is a celebration of family and friends.  I heard on the news that the average family spends $700 at Christmas time.  That's a lot of cash!  So has Christmas become a huge boost to the economy?  Perhaps but come January is there any more peace and good will on earth? 

Maybe Christmas is just time for Children.  I guess you could say I'm being a pessimist.  Oh don't get me wrong I love Christmas and all the lights, special concerts, services and giving gifts.  So perhaps Christmas is just a rehearsal for the peace on earth that is yet to come?

Or perhaps Christmas is about something much more as the Grinch would learn.

Perhaps Christmas is like a seed that has yet to grow to full bloom.  Its a confirmation of the Peace that can be and will be.  It's about a hope that we have now because a Savior, the son of Peace has entered our world.  Perhaps Christmas is a Dream that started at Jesus Birth and will find it's completion when our text is fulfilled.  Perhaps Christmas is a celebration that we have already won!  Perhaps Christmas is a challenge and a hope that we will become the people of light that the world is so desperately waiting for!  

What is Christmas to you?   May your preparations focus upon the true spirit of hope, peace, joy and love this Advent season.