Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

“O Holy Night”

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Christmas

Throughout human history there have been many famous nights: The night Jacob wrestled with God, the night of the Passover, the night of Belshazzar’s feast and the fall of the Babylonian Empire, the night Daniel spent in the lions’ den, and the night when Judas betrayed Jesus.

But there was another night that changed the world from B.C. to A.D. It was the night when God the eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven to earth to live among us humans to display before our eyes what God really was like (John 1:1-18).

     Shepherds. Rather than choosing to be born in a palace, He identified Himself with the lowest of men and was born in a manger. Many shepherds of the day were not of noble character. Some weren’t allowed to bear testimony in a court of law because of their dishonesty. But God was/is concerned about people like that too. There is hope for anyone who is still living, moving, and breathing. There are no second chances to be saved after you die. If, as you read this, you are disappointed, discouraged, and doubting God’s love for you, let us help you learn more about Jesus.

     Angels. To these shepherds an angel (perhaps Gabriel) made an appearance that frightened them greatly. Accompanying him was a host of heavenly beings praising God for what He had just done for the benefit of humanity. A perfect Savior had been sent to live a sinless life so He could die as a substitute for our sins and then rise from the dead. He offers salvation to everyone freely. It’s true. We all need a Savior? We’re all sinners by birth and by choice and deserve to be separated forever from God in hell (Romans 6:23).

     Disqualified. One sin (eating the forbidden fruit) brought judgment on Adam and Eve. We’ve all sinned many times (Romans 3:10, 23). This disqualifies us from entering heaven unless somehow we can acquire Christ’s righteousness. It can/will be put to our account when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively and believe that He died for our sins and rose again bodily from the grave on the third day. Have you done this yet? If not, why not do so today and receive eternal life?

     Adoration. Having been told not to fear but rather to go into Bethlehem to find the Babe, these shepherds hurried to the place of His birth to be witnesses to His arrival on earth. While the people to whom they gave testimony concerning Christ’s birth were amazed, we find no evidence that it made any lasting difference in their lives.

     Proclamation. We sometimes hear at Christmas time the song, “Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.”  It’s not hard to love a Babe in a manger, but to identify with the Christ of the cross is more difficult when we think that we are the ones who rightfully deserved to be hanging there on the cross. But I’m glad that He died as the just One for the unjust ones (1 Peter 3:18). That includes me but it also includes you.

      Mary. She was only the mother of Christ’s humanity. She is not the Mother of God! We are never told to pray to her because she was/is more sympathetic than Jesus is. He is the only Mediator between God and man and the only Head of the Church (1 Timothy 2:5; Ephesians 1:22). As a good mother she pondered the things that God had graciously done through her. She even acknowledged Jesus as her Savior (Luke 1:47).

     Celebration. It’s sad that many people who take the day off to exchange gifts don’t acknowledge Him or place their faith in Him. Are you one of them?. His virgin birth is an essential teaching in the Word of God and was predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14;Matthew 1:23).

     Question. Have you accepted the gift of eternal life that He has offered to you? Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven the moment you die? You can be sure (1 John 5:13). Remember this. Our getting into heaven is not based on our good works but rather by God’s grace (unmerited faith) through faith in Christ alone.

     Help. If you have questions or need spiritual help, call us at 805-238-3549 or visit our web site at www.kelseypeach.com.

“Home Alone”

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Christian Life, Christmas, Salvation

It’s not hard for me to imagine a child’s being left behind at home when traveling on a trip with a lot of family and friends. Parents sometimes assume that the children will watch out for each other and that they will all arrive safely at their destinations together. But it doesn’t always happen like that.

      Eleven. We had a family with eleven children in one of the churches where I once was the Pastor. They usually came in two cars. Every once in awhile one of their children would get left behind at church when one of the parents assumed that the child was with the other parent.

      Eighteen Kids. Imagine a family with 18 kids. They have to be well organized or such incidents will happen. Has something like this ever happened to you? We can recall when one of our children got separated from us at a mall when he was small. Talk about being nervous – we were. Thankfully we found him.

     Jesus. Something similar happened to Mary and Joseph when they went to Jerusalem to worship when Jesus was twelve years old. Since they probably traveled with other families, they may have assumed that Jesus would be somewhere in the crowd among them. It’s surprising that His parents didn’t even realize for a whole day that He wasn’t with them as they traveled back to Nazareth from Jerusalem. So they hurried back and found Him in the temple area discussing spiritual things with the religious leaders (Luke 2:41-52).

      Trauma. Imagine the trauma that a little child might feel when he/she is faced with danger and can’t find his/her parent. Or imagine a child’s being kidnapped at an amusement park and never being seen by his/her parents again. A friend of ours told us about a family who had this happen to them. Try to imagine the anguish and grief that the surviving family and friends are experiencing now as a result of premeditated murder in an elementary school. Pray for them in their time of grief.

     Tragedy. Maybe you have had a tragedy like this happen to you. Think about the millions of babies that have been murdered in the womb and the anguish and emotional stress of a mother who experiences guilt feelings after doing such a thing to a helpless infant. Is there forgiveness for such a heinous crime? Yes, through Jesus Christ. He died for all our sins once for all (Hebrews 10:10). But this forgiveness is only granted to those who accept Christ’s death as their death and His resurrection as theirs (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:7). Have you done this yet?

      Palace. Consider this – God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily left the ivory palaces in heaven to come down to this earth, to be born in a manger, to live in virtual obscurity for thirty years at home with his parent(s) before beginning His three year ministry among His own people, the Jews.

     Rejected. He knew/knows what it’s like to be rejected and to be all alone in this world. As predicted, first He was rejected by His own people, the Jews whom He came to save (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11; Luke 19:10). This included His own family members (Mark 4:21).  But even worse than their rejection was the rejection He experienced on the cross when God the Father turned His back on Jesus Christ as He bore the sins of the whole world on Himself (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). This included your sins and mine. Surprisingly this action pleased God the Father as He considered what His Son was doing for the benefit of mankind (Isaiah 53:10). Only the God-man could provide such salvation to sinful men and women. The value of His death came from His being God; the reality of His death came as a result of His being a real man (Philippians 2:5-11). God can’t die; a man can.

     Accepted. Having fully paid the penalty for all our sins (1 John 2:2), God the Father demonstrated to us humans that Christ’s death for our sins was a sufficient payment made once and for all. That is why He raised Jesus from the dead on the third day (Romans 4:25).

     Touched. Since Jesus was tempted like we are and overcame each temptation that the devil hurled at Him, He is able to understand fully the trials and challenges that we have in this life (Hebrews 4:15, 16). He wants us to come to God the Father through Him (Jesus) and make our requests known to the Father. God invites us to cast our cares on Him since He truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Have you done that yet?

     Lonely. Thanksgiving and the Christmas season are some of the loneliest times of the year for many people who are separated from their family and friends. Maybe you are in this situation yourself.

     Never Alone. Thankfully a true Christian can say, “I know that I am never alone because God has said, ‘I will never leave or forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). These and other promises from God can be a source of great comfort to the believers in Christ. Would you like a booklet of promises from God? Ask us for one. It’s free!

     Abandoned. Sadly, many people for whom Christ died will be eternally separated from God in hell (Matthew 25:41, 46) because they refused to accept the gift of eternal life that comes to each of us when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins…and rose again bodily on the third day.

     Heathen. Even those people in the remotest part of the earth are without excuse because God has revealed Himself to them through nature. It declares to us that there is a God who is all powerful (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1). If a person accepts this information and expresses his/her desire to know more about God, He can/will see to it that this person receives the Gospel message so that he/she can believe on Christ to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31). Knowing and believing the facts of the Gospel aren’t enough to save anyone. Faith must be transferred from all other gods and from ourselves and our good works to Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Have you done this? Do you have assurance of your salvation?

     New Beginning. Perhaps you need to take a step of faith today and let this be the first day of the rest of your life. God can forgive us of any and all our sins. There is no “unforgivable sin” today except rejecting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and dying physically in that condition (John 16:8-11). There are no second chances to be saved once you die (Hebrews 9:27).

      Fellowship. Maybe you’ve already placed your faith in Christ as your Savior but you’ve wandered away from Him and been enticed by the things of this world and the devil’s allurements. Perhaps you’re a slave to your sin nature and want to be freed from it as the Apostle Paul did (Romans 6:11-23; 7:15-25). Engaging in sin brings temporary pleasure (Hebrews 11:25). But after it’s over it brings bitterness and anguish to our soul unless our conscience is seared (Proverbs 5:11; 1 Timothy 4:2). Sin (lawlessness) won’t satisfy us in the long run. It can lead to a premature physical death for a Christian (1 John 5:16). Why not get back into fellowship with God and enjoy an abundant life that is found in Christ (John 10:10)?

     Help! If you need spiritual help, call us at  805-238-3549 or visit our web site for additional help: www.kelseypeach.com.

  Why?  Please tell me why would someone leave the comforts of home and go to a hostile place and risk his life?  We’re all motivated by something.  It might be fame, fortune, power, pleasure or something else.  What motivates you most of the time?

  Foreknowledge.  Have you ever wondered why One of the members in the Godhead would condescend and volunteer to come to this earth knowing beforehand what men would do to Him?  Yes, His death by crucifixion and resurrection were predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53; Psalm 16:10; 22).

  Decree.  God the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ) came to this earth to carry out the “Decree” or “The Godhead’s Plan For The Ages” (Ephesians 1:11; 2:7).  He came to reveal some things about Himself to His creatures, whom He had created (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2), both spirit beings: cherubs, seraphs, and angels (Colossians1:15, 16) along with human beings (Genesis 1:26; 2:7, 8).  No, we can’t see the wind or gravity either but we believe they exist (John 3:8; Matthew 4:6).

  Reliable.  Yes, there is much that we can’t see and/or know apart from the Scriptures.  But it is a reliable source of information in all that it says (John 14:6; 17:17).  Believers need to study it carefully (2 Timothy 2:15).  Most of it will seem to be foolish to unbelievers who have a natural blindness toward God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:14).

  God’s Nature.  From nature (God’s creation of the heavens and the earth) we can learn that there is a God who is very powerful.  Those who reject this truth and who aren’t grateful to God will suffer dire consequences (Romans 1:18-32).  Even the rain that falls to the ground that causes the crops to grow tells us something about the goodness of God (Acts 14:17). 

  Love.  When you truly love someone, you usually are willing to do what he/she wants you to do (Hebrews 10:7, 9).  God the Son came down to our earth and joined Himself to humanity through the virgin, Mary.  He added to His Deity a true human nature and a real body (Philippians 2:5-9).  While He was here on earth Jesus did exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do and say (John 8:29). 

  Law.  As a Jew, Jesus lived under the Mosaic Law perfectly and kept it completely (Exodus 20).  He was qualified to become the sacrificial Lamb of God to take upon Himself the sins of the whole world and pay the penalty we owed to God (John 1:29; Romans 6:23; Isaiah 53:6; 1 John 2:2). 

  Fulfilled.  He fulfilled all the requirements of this conditional covenant (Matthew 5:17).  You and I can’t do what Christ did.  New Testament Christians are not under the “Mosaic Law” but we are to be governed by “Grace Principles” (Romans 6:14, 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; 5:1; 6:2; Ephesians 2:15; 3:2).  Do you know specifically where to find them?  A Christian can’t come to spiritual maturity by keeping the Mosaic Law or Kingdom Laws.  See our “Dispensational Chart” for more information.  It could revolutionize your life as it did mine.

  Ivory Palaces.  Our Lord left the comforts of heaven (Psalm 45:8) and came down to this sin cursed earth (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:22) to glorify God the Father (John 17:4).  God will fulfill His plan for the ages and keep all His unconditional promises (Covenants) to the Jews and separate ones to the Church.  Do you know what they are?

  Replaced?  The Church hasn’t replaced Israel nor can it claim the promises that were given exclusively to the Jews.  These are two distinct groups (1 Corinthians 10:32) and God will keep His separate promises to both groups.  Among other things, God promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants the land that is heavily contested even to this day (Genesis 15:18-21).  Do you know who rightfully owns the land and why?

  Remnant.  Did you know that the believing Jewish remnant is also promised a new earth in eternity future (Matthew 5:5; Romans 4:13; 11:1ff; Revelation 21:1).  God hasn’t abandoned forever the Jewish nation and neither should we.  They will be restored when they repent and cry out to Him whom they had crucified by the Romans (Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:39).  God holds all men responsible for Christ’s death (Acts 3:13-15; 4:25-28).

  Armageddon.  But eventually and sadly the U.S. and all other nations will turn against Israel and meet in Armageddon to try to annihilate that tiny nation which the devil hates and wants to destroy (Revelation 16:16; Zechariah 14).  But God will come to their rescue in the nick of time (Revelation 19:11ff).  If God doesn’t keep His promises to the Jews, we have no assurance that He will keep His promises to us Christians.  Rest assured, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

  Plan.  God came up with a unique plan to deliver sinful men from an eternal hell (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).  Jesus lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) so He could die in our place for our sins and rise again bodily (Luke 24:33-43) on the third day from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  He died as the Just One for the unjust ones (1 Peter 3:18) and paid a debt He didn’t owe.  He did this once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Only a living Savior can help us (Revelation 1:18). 

  Offer.  God offers eternal life to anyone who will place his/her faith in Him exclusively (Acts 4:12; 16:31).  We can’t be saved by our good works (Ephesians 2:9).  Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6).  He offers us forgiveness and peace with God (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:1).  Would you like to have these things?

  Personalize It.  Have you received Him as your personal Savior?  If not, why not now?  Once you’ve done this, demonstrate your faith to others by being baptized (immersed).  It will enable you to have a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21).

  Share It.  If He is your Savior, are you giving others the opportunity to trust Him too?  They can’t believe in Someone and be saved forever if they don’t have the right information about Him.  One’s faith must not be in the Christ of the cults but in the Christ of the Scriptures.  Do you know the difference? 

  Gift.  You can give the greatest gift to someone by sharing the Gospel with him/her or by giving a “clear” Gospel tract to someone.  (Read “God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation” on our web site.  We have it in 24 languages.)  Don’t disseminate a false Gospel to others or they could end up in hell (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15).  Don’t leave the job to “Clerical George” either.  All Christians can/should be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).  Are you one of them? 

  Forward This.  If you agree with what you have read here, will you pass this information on to someone else?  It might help someone get saved or help a Christian grow in Christ and serve Him better.

  Thought.  “Good news is only good news if it gets there on time.”  Don’t delay.  Your life and the other person’s life is like a vapor (James 4:14).  We’re all going to spend eternity somewhere.  Where will you spend it?  Are you absolutely sure?  God’s Word says that we can be sure even before we die (John 3:16, 18; 36; 1 John 5:11-13).

  For more information, call us at 805-238-3549 or visit our web site at www.kelseypeach.com

   As we celebrate the miracle of the incarnation (God’s becoming a man), many thoughts go through people’s minds.  We devote our attention to the Christ Child, His mother, Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men, but little do we think much about His step-father, Joseph.  Not one word he ever said is recorded for us in the Scriptures.  And yet his life spoke volumes to us and it serves as a model for us to follow.  But we do know some things about him.
  Humility.  As the step-father of Jesus, Joseph provided Him and Mary a home in which to live.  It wasn’t a palace but it was a covering for them.  God the Father wanted Joseph to give his step-son the name “Jesus.”  He would be the One to provide salvation for God’s people, the Jews and the whole world (John 3:16).  Joseph taught Jesus a trade (carpenter) that He used until He began His earthly ministry at age 30.  He also took Jesus to Jerusalem at the age of twelve to observe the Passover which was a reminder to the Jews of God’s deliverance from their bondage in Egypt (Luke 2:41).  He Himself would become God’s sacrificial Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
   Important.  Joseph was called a “just man” (Matthew 1:19) and was a descendant of King David and King Solomon.  He had a right to the Jewish throne except that a curse had been put on one of his ancestors, King Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:24-30; Matthew 1:12).  This would have kept him from ever being rightful king of the Jews.  But he could/did pass on the right to rule to Jesus as his step-son by virtue of his being married to Mary.  Mary was also a descendant of King David through his son, Nathan (Luke 3:31).  

 Obedient.  Joseph’s obedience to God is seen on various occasions.  By faith he trusted the angel who brought to him messages from God.
  Marry Mary.  When Joseph realized that the child Mary was carrying in her womb was not his biological son, he was determined to divorce her on grounds of infidelity (Mathew 1:19).  But then the angel delivered to him the message concerning the Child’s real Father (Luke 1:35).  So he took her to be his wife.  She remained a virgin until Jesus was born. Later Joseph and Mary had several other children (Matthew 1:20-25; 13:55; John 7:5).  His half brothers and sisters didn’t believe that He was the God-man or the promised Messiah until after His bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7).  Two of His half brothers wrote New Testament letters: James and Jude.
  Flee To Egypt.  After the Magi visited Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in a house (Matthew 2:11) and went back to their own country by another way, wicked King Herod tried to kill Jesus, the rightful “King of the Jews.”  He ordered that all the boy babies in the area who were under two years old be killed.  This fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15).  Obediently Joseph left that night for Egypt (Matthew 2:13).  They remained there until the death of Herod.
  Return To Israel.  Then the angel instructed him to return to the land of Israel.  They went back to Nazareth where the Christ Child would grow up (Matthew 2:19-22).  It was considered to be “on the wrong side of the tracks.”  The people living there were despised by those living in Jerusalem and Judea.  Jesus would be called “A Nazarene” out of contempt for Him.  But He was not a “Nazirite” (Numbers 6).
  Role Model.  The man who never had anything he said recorded for us in the Scriptures indeed was a man of great nobility, simplicity, and humility.  He serves as a good role model for us to follow.  Our assignment in life may not be noticed or appreciated by the crowds, but when done for the glory of God and the good of others, God will one day reward us for our faithful service to Him and others (Hebrews 6:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
   Faith.  Adoring a Baby in a manger isn’t hard to do.  But acknowledging and trusting in Him exclusively as the God-man who lived a sinless life, and who went to the cross to die for our sins and rise again bodily from the dead, may be something you haven’t done or want to do.
  Not Of Works.  Many people know the facts of the Gospel, agree with them, but won’t place their faith in Him alone to save them.  They want to have a part in their own salvation.  They believe that salvation is gained by faith plus their good works.  God doesn’t allow that lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
  Unsure?  Your most important decision in life involves your response to God’s invitation to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” so you can be saved from hell and gain entrance into heaven. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul” (Mark 8:36)?
  Help!  If you would like additional help, call us at 805-238-3549 or visit our web site at www.kelseypeach.com.  These articles correspond to our talks on Sundays.  We try to add one each week to our web logs (Blogs).
  Purpose.  Our purpose is to glorify God by making Him known to others (John 17:3).  We want others to know the Lord personally, grow in Christ, serve Him effectively, and reproduce themselves in the world.