Sunday, December 31, 2023

“Live Like Jesus”

“Live Like Jesus”

John 5:19-20 CSB

Key Truth: “A Christ-centered life is living so that the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ naturally flow out of us wherever we livework and play.”

Main Question: What makes Jesus worthy of following and why should we imitate Him? 

1.    Jesus lived a life of submission(vs. 19)

2.    Jesus lived a life of obedience(vs. 20a)

3.    Jesus lived a life of ministry(vs. 20b)

After the Message: 
Read John 17:1-26. In this high priestly prayer, what is Jesus’ relationship to the Father? What is the Father and the Son’s relationship with believers? What is the mission of believers in the world? What obstacles will believers face as they live like Jesus?




Friday, December 29, 2023

What’s in a Name?

Friday, December 29, 2023

What’s in a Name? Submitted by Kay Crumley


Are names important?  Do they have specific meanings?  When couples prepare to start a family one of the things they do is research names they would like to use. There are lists to be found on the internet with definitions of names or of historical figures who had those names. Often the name is selected because it is someone we admire or is a family name we wish to honor. Sometimes the couple wants to select a name that is unique and will create a new name or spelling for the new baby.  Names are important to the family and the individual. It may hold significance for many reasons, the traditional meaning, the character of the one who bore the name, or honoring the family heritage.   


Biblical names often have significance directly from God. In the Old Testament we know that the first man was named Adam which means earth. God created man form the soil and breathed life into him. God made a covenant with Abram promising him, at age 90, that he would be the father of many nations. He changed his name to Abraham, meaning father of a multitude. God had an encounter with Jacob when he fought with an angel. Jacob’s name became Israel meaning ‘let God prevail’. He received the covenant given Abraham to continue promises for God’s people.   


Occasionally God gave the name to the child before it was born. We read in Luke 1 that the angel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth and Zechariah telling them they would have a child in their old age, and they were to name him John, he will be great in the sight of the Lord vs 15. That child became John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for Jesus.  Six months later that same angel appeared to Mary and Joseph. They each learned that Mary would have a baby and that it would be conceived by the Holy Spirit and be God’s Son. They were told to name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High vs 32. 


Luke 2 records the birth of Jesus as well as the official naming of Jesus. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem as was required by Jewish Law. He would be christened and circumcised by the priest.    


21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”),24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”


They were met by ‘a righteous and devout man’ Simeon as well as a prophetess Anna who each confirmed that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.   


However, we find that Jesus was not the only name we know Him by. Our Lord Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ are also names often used. The statement that Jesus is Lord means He is God. Christ means anointed or chosen one. This is the equivalent of Messiah. Jesus is His human name, Christ is His title, and Lord declares He is Sovereign. He is Jesus, the Son of man. He is Christ, the promised Messiah. He is Lord, a member of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is Immanuel, God with us, Matthew 1:23.  We, as His children, must recognized Him as Lord of our lives, making Him our God. He came to earth as the Son of Man to be with us and take our place as sacrifice for our sin. He is the Messiah who came to earth, descended to heaven, and will return to earth again.  


What then are we to do? We claim to be Christians, or little Christs. Followers of Christ belong to Him as slaves belong to their master. He is our Master. We must mimic His character, His righteousness, and His purpose. An example of this is when we watch children who walk with the same gait, speak with the same inflections, and react with similar expressions as their parents. Those children have become the image of or mirrors of their parents. Jesus is our Father, our parent. We are to live in a way that will cause others to see His character and love in the way we live. Consider, daily, how we can exemplify our Lord Jesus Christ to the people we encounter.  




Thursday, December 28, 2023

Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace

Thursday, December 28, 2023 Some material taken from Behold Him; Behold the Savior 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

In Isaiah chapter 9, the prophet Isaiah told of the coming Messiah. During this time, God’s people were in serious rebellion, so Isaiah delivered both good news of hope and bad news of the devastation they were sure to invoke upon themselves. Part of the good news was that message of hope of a coming Messiah who would save them. In this message Isaiah told them that this coming King would be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Yesterday we looked at how Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God, and today we see how He is our Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

Jesus is our Everlasting Father

He is our everlasting Father who loves us with everlasting love, even when we mess up. He never stops loving us. He never gives up on us. He always leaves the 99 to save the 1, giving His own life for us while we were still sinners.  He loves us so much more than we can ever fathom. He is our eternal Father who always has been – before time began, and He always will be in eternity. 

He is present - always there. We will always be His children. He is unchanging and eternally consistent. 

He is our provider. He provides for us the way a loving father provides for his children. He cares about us and will meet our every need. Anything we could ever need or want we can find in Him. Nothing else can ever satisfy the need in us that only He can meet. He came to earth to provide for our greatest need – mercy and forgiveness of sin which leads to eternal life. 

He is perfect. He makes no mistakes. He loves us with a perfect love. He took our sin so we could become perfect before a holy God.  

Jesus is our Prince of Peace

Sin separates us from God and therefore we cannot have peace being separated from Him. But in Jesus, we find true and lasting peace. Because of what He did on the cross, we are justified and reconciled with God. Sin pulls us apart and produces anxiety. But when we find true peace in Him, we are knitted back together. 

Jesus also provides another type of peace – peace from the tribulation of this world. Jesus told us there would be trials and hardships in this life, but He also told us that we could find peace because He has overcome the world. There is suffering but we can be courageous because He has overcome the world. 

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33

No matter what is happening in the world or what kind of circumstances we are living in we can find peace when we look to Jesus. We can find peace knowing that He has overcome everything we feel overwhelmed by. He has already fought the battle for us and won the victory. Trusting in Him and knowing He has conquered the world will bring us peace. We can rest in Who He is as our Prince of Peace. 

Jesus is the promise fulfilled, the long awaited Messiah, for all of us. These four things that we have looked at are promises fulfilled in our lives today. He was back then and is today our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God

Wednesday, December 27, 2023 Some material taken from Behold Him; Behold the Savior

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Wonderful Counselor

In Isaiah chapter 9, the prophet Isaiah told of the coming Messiah. During this time, God’s people were in serious rebellion, so Isaiah delivered both good news of hope and bad news of the devastation they were sure to invoke upon themselves. Part of the good news was that message of hope of a coming Messiah who would save them. In this message Isaiah told them that this coming King would be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. A counselor is someone who gives us guidance, mostly when we are having trouble with clarity and discernment in our own lives. Counselors are someone who we can trust with the messes in our lives. We can be honest with them, and they will give us honest and true advice, of which we may be having great difficulty figuring out. They tell us the truth that we may not want to hear, but it is what is best for us. They help us know how to “deal with” or handle the circumstances we may find ourselves in. They help us figure out what the next step is. They care about us. 

Jesus is always with us – especially in our darkest times. He is our counselor in a legal sense and in a practical sense. 

Legally He is our advocate who stands before our Heavenly Father in our defense. We are all sinners and guilty before God, but because Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, He goes before God and declares us justified and innocent. His sacrifice on the cross makes it possible for us to have a relationship with Holy God. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Practically He gives us direction, discernment, and guidance when we cannot see clearly. He knows the path and He will lead us when we surrender and seek His direction and guidance. We can trust that He is listening when we call on Him and that He always knows what we are going through. 

Jesus is qualified far beyond even the very best counselor on earth. There is great value in the work of counseling but let us always remember to go to Jesus first. He loves us beyond all comprehension. He always has our very best interest at heart and will never lead us astray. 

Jesus is our Mighty God. Jesus has always been. As a part of the trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He displayed His power in creating the world He would one day enter as a baby. While He lived here on earth, He demonstrated His power as Mighty God many times over nature, diseases, demons, and most importantly for us – over sin and death. 

For us, He is our power. We have the same power that defeated sin, death, and the grave available to us in our lives today. We have the power of the Holy Spirit who Jesus sent to be our advocate. One of His roles as Holy Spirit is to be our comforter and what is more comforting than knowing that we have a mighty God who is our strength when we are not strong, who has conquered sin, death, and the grave, and who has provided a way and a place for us in eternity. There is nothing we could do in our own power to secure eternity for ourselves. 

Jesus, our Messiah, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God. He rose from the dead and sits on the throne at the right had of God. He is above all power, authority, and dominion, and by Him we will be judged. He will reign forever, and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. 

They said with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! Revelation 5:12

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Settling In

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:15-20

Settling In

Some of my very favorite memories were the days following the birth of my children. There is nothing better than being able to just sit and cuddle your newborn baby while others help out and pamper you just a little. Those first days were always mixed with the sweetest moments and the greatest fears. Why did they make that noise? Are they getting enough food? Why does their cry sound like that? What if they are in pain? Especially for first time moms, these first days can be scary while still being filled with all the hopes and dreams we can imagine for this little new person. 

Mary had just given birth to the Savior of the world. She knew He came to save His people from their sins. She did not know every detail of what would be in His life or what being the “Savior of the world” meant entirely. But on day two she was probably experiencing what every new mother experiences. She was settling in, trying to learn about her new baby and all the things she needed to remember. I am sure she had to stay in the stable a few days before they could make the trip back. Hopefully she was comfortable and warm and found much peace in cradling her new baby, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

She had been treasuring and pondering and I am sure she was treasuring and pondering different things as she was settling in with her baby. Her life was so different already and would continue to be different than what she could have ever imagined. Did she ponder how all of mankind’s lives would be changed by His birth? As she rocked Him and sang to Him did she even realize that He was the Lamb of God? Did she realize that being the Savior of the World would mean that He would sacrifice His life to offer us eternal life? 

Maybe just for today she would focus on healing and making sure all her baby’s needs were met. Maybe just for today she would study every characteristic of His face – all the dimples and curves. Today she would keep Him dry and content, meeting His every need, not realizing that He would be the only One who could meet the most important need for all mankind.  Just for today she and Joseph would treasure these moments as she settled into this new routine of motherhood and family life. 

Hopefully you have settled into your life with Jesus too. We celebrated advent and His birth this month and we will continue to anticipate His second coming. Get settled in, but don’t become complacent. Don’t forget He is there as we are distracted by so many things this season. Don’t neglect your relationship with Him taking for granted that He is always there. Be intentional and comfortable with Him at the same time. Settle Him into your life and allow Him to change everything today and every day for the rest of your life.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Behold Him “Behold the Savior”

 Behold Him 

“Behold the Savior”

Isaiah 9:1-7 (CSB)

Key Truth: “God makes Himself known so that we can know Him.” 

Main Question: How does Jesus’ role as Savior give us hope and life?  

1.    Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor

a.    He is our Wonderful Counselor in the legal sense.

b.    He is our Wonderful Counselor in the practical sense.

2.    Jesus is our Mighty God


3.    Jesus is our Eternal Father.

a.    Jesus is present.

b.    Jesus is provider.

c.     Jesus is perfect.


4.    Jesus is our Prince of Peace

After the Message: 
Read Isaiah 9:1-7. Do you know the One who is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”? If not, will you receive the greatest Christmas present ever and surrender your life to Jesus Christ today? If you do He will truly be all of these and more in your life.  If you have received Christ, give Him praise today for being all of these things in your life.

Friday, December 22, 2023

It’s Too Peopley In Here!

Friday, December 22, 2023

It’s Too Peopley In Here! 

It’s Christmas week and that means family gatherings (for some). Family can be a hard thing. People have stuff – we all do, even if we think we don’t. Getting together once or twice a year with people you may not like that you share DNA with (or a last name) can be a very tense time – for everyone. 

There is a popular meme for introverts out there right now – “It’s too people out there.” It can be exhausting for those who are not fueled by crowds and chaos to be out and about for too long in the midst of people. But at Christmas and other times we gather with family it can get too peopley inside really fast. 


As a little girl I often dreamed of the family I wanted but did not have. I was loved but our family was not The Cleavers. I wondered what it would be like to have a home like that – complete with the white picket fence. It wasn’t just about the house; it was about the family. My family was a broken family with lots of issues and dysfunction, but not too different than what most families deal with. I became very proficient at being a codependent. I am the best at “not rocking the boat,” and if they let me, I can rally everyone else to do the same. Keep the peace at all costs. I have learned that what that does is that it sucks the peace right out of you. How very human of me – or any of us – to think we can bring or control peace on earth – especially in our homes where we are the most “human.” 


Growing up I continued my role as chief of “We are all just going to keep our mouths shut and get along.” That’s mom code for “Don’t Rock the Boat.” I just couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t feel the same way as me, after all it is just not worth it to engage in some conversations, with some people, no matter how much we disagree or how irritated we are. No one wins that one. I thought not rocking the boat was very important and I wanted everyone else to feel the same way. The great revelation to a codependent is that you can’t control anyone else. Surprise! You can be in the middle of the battle, but you cannot stop the bullets as hard as you may try. 


As mothers, we want so many things for our families. We want peace and we want magical moments. We want love and warmth. We want perfect families, but we are all flawed – every single one of us. When we try so hard for so long to hold it all together – to hold everyone together, in the end it falls apart anyway and slips right through our fingers. I am learning and realizing my hands don’t belong in it, so I hand it over to the all sufficient nail scarred hands of my Savior. Sometimes I don’t take my hands off of it as quickly as I need to and sometimes I even pick it back up as we all do. We all know He is the Prince of Peace but sometimes we don’t fully grasp that until we have tried to keep the peace in our own power. 


God loves every broken piece of every broken family. It can begin to feel hopeless or like He has abandoned us but He never does. He walks with us every step of the way and stands with us in the middle of every battle. As I remind myself that I cannot control others, God continues to remind me that I can control myself. He expects us to follow the example He gave us while He was here on earth. 


These words from Paul give us a simple three step process for living our lives in community with others:


 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18


People have stuff. Families have stuff. Everyone has stuff. We are responsible for our own behavior(stuff) and no one else’s. We can choose peace, and our own behavior does depend on us. Doing what is honorable in everyone’s eyes, especially God’s eyes, is a big deal. Christians who do not act like Christians around family or others, do the kingdom of God and the body of Christ a great disservice. We let hurt, bitterness and resentfulness drive our actions. Family gatherings like Christmas provide the right environment for others to see the mercy, grace, and love of our Savior flowing through our words and actions. This Christmas it will be too peopley and with some people you may not like, but I challenge you to remember our Lord’s examples of how He lived His life, was a friend of sinners, and loved everyone. He didn’t agree with everyone and didn’t like everyone, but He showed the love of God for everyone, and sacrificed His life for everyone.


One more thing – I heard a counselor say this and it has stuck with me – Love that does not speak the truth is not love. Truth that is not spoken in love is not truth. Remember that along with this – It does depend on you. Check your heart at the door and make sure your words and actions glorify God. When we pass on the amazing grace and love we are given by our Savior to others – especially the unlovable – the world knows we belong to Him.


 Merry Christmas! 


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Gift of Christmas

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Gift of Christmas Submitted by Kay Crumley

Christmas is a time of celebration, of family gatherings, of gift exchanges, and of challenging emotions. Most people enjoy celebrating this season with decorations and shopping, but not all. Most are happy to meet with families to catch up with and encourage one another, but not all. Most get great joy from giving and receiving gifts with family and friends, but not all. Many people experience sadness, depression, loneliness, or regret as they enter this season. Those who don’t have a home or resources to decorate with bright and colorful decorations and hang lights on trees or on their houses are reminded that they have less than. Families can be challenging and often not easy to be around. Those who have lost loved ones and are grieving that loss are facing change in the family that is irreplaceableMemories are reminders of what isn’t and leaves them sad and alone. Even when other family members gather to continue with the joy of the season, it is not the same. Some will face disappointment because they are unable financially to provide that special gift to those they love and may have feelings of being inadequate. Those who are caught up in the excitement of the season often are unaware of others who are struggling. However, we often become so drawn to the commercialism that has grown from the trappings of Christmas we forget where the true meaning.  

What is the answer to this situation? How do we refocus our minds on the real meaning of ChristmasI taught the lesson last week on Genesis 3 and Luke 2Genesis 3 is the story of the first sin. Satan in the form of the serpent tempted Eve with the promise that she could be as wise as God, knowing good from evil. The forbidden fruit was the path to gaining that wisdom. He then lied to her by telling her that God would surely not end her life just for that one little sin. Eve listened to that temptation, she looked at the beautiful tree and delicious fruit and decided that Satan was right and shared the fruit with Adam. They both sinned, disobeyed God. That resulted in the death of their intimate relationship with God who had visited with them daily. They would now have to work the soil and have pain because their needs would not be provided by the Father. The Garden was no longer their home, they were evicted, and guards were placed to prevent them from returning. Sin entered the lives of humans for eternity. We now have a sinful nature. How does this relate to ChristmasWithout that sin which caused separation from God, from relationship with Him, there would have been no need for a Savior. God had a plan from the beginning for the restoration of our relationship with Him. God promised a Messiah who would be called Emmanuel, God with us. The Old Testament prophets wrote about His birth and death. Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Luke 2 is the story of Jesus birth, of that prophecy becoming reality. 

In Luke 2:1-15 you can read the story of God using the Gentle leaders to require people to go to their family hometown for a census. Joseph took his bride to be, his betrothed, Mary, with him from Nazareth to Bethlehem. That was an 80-to-90-mile trip most likely taken by foot. The city was full of all those coming to register so there were no guest rooms available for them. However, they did find a safe place in one of the stables. They were dry and warm.   

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

It was there that Mary gave birth to this one who the angels, in Luke 1, had promised that she would be the mother to, the one they were to name Jesus. To ensure that He would be recognized as the promised Messiah there was an angelic messenger and choir who proclaimed His birth to the nearby shepherds, Luke 2:8-15.   

This Jesus became the unblemished, perfect sacrifice for our sins. He is fully God and fully human. That is the only way He can provide an eternal payment for the debt we owe to God for forgiveness of our sin.  

This gift is just that, a free offer for us to have our sins covered so that we can have that relationship with God just as Adam and Eve had. As believers, we can walk and talk with the God of all creation anytime we want to. Our relationship with Him has been restored. This is the true meaning of Christmas. The “stuff” that goes with this season is meaningless and can cause great pain for many. However, the one lasting gift costs us nothing because it the price has been paid by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Those who accept this gift can never be separated from the love of God. That is THE GIFT each of us needs.  



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