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All I Want For Christmas Is Peace, December 10

December 11th, 2017

All I Want for Christmas Is Peace

Isaiah 9:1-7 and John 1:1-18

(Quoted scripture us New International Version)

 

Christmas is 15 days from today! There are cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, concerts to attend, and family gatherings to prepare for. In addition to these activities, for this woman pastor, there are church services to plan, sermons to write, and visits to shut-ins. Each of these things is equally important and must be accomplished.

Yet, as we strive to accomplish all our Christmas preparations, the world around us seems to be in utter chaos. Fire devastation in southern California, school shootings, violent protests, and the murder of UN peace keepers in Africa. I am sure I’ve missed even more bad news happening in our country and around the world, but I can only take so much, before I choose not to listen anymore.

I visited a woman the other day, who told me, “It’s so depressing listening to the news, so I turn it off and watch the Hallmark channel.” Personally, that is my choice too! Our minds and spirits can only take so much bad news before Satan begins to win and we become discouraged and depressed. At least on the Hallmark channel there are Christmas movies that always end happily, and for just a moment we are able to forget the chaos and experience a  bit of Christmas spirit.

I’ve decided that All I Want For Christmas Is Peace; I want inner peace, peace with God, and peace in our world. I want Jesus Christ, who came into the world as God’s love light, to bring me peace of heart. I want to be more connected to God, to walk in His peace daily. I want my life to reflect this peace to the world. All I want for Christmas is peace!

An art competition awarded a prize for the best expression of peace. One painting depicted a deer and a fawn grazing at the base of a mountain, in a meadow rimmed with pines and cedars stretching heavenward. Another showed a cat curled up in a basket, completely relaxed and at peace, oblivious to the world around it.

But the first prize went to the painting of a tumultuous waterfall. Torrents rushed downward, crashing on the rocks below, sending spray high above. A tree branch extended just above the mist, with a bird’s nest in a fork. Safely within and seemingly at peace, were the mother bird and two babies.

This is peace of mind. The ability to be at peace in the most chaotic surroundings. Peace does not depend on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Peace depends on the circumstance of our heart.

Peace is trusting God with our lives and inviting God to enter our chaos and give us His peace. As we cultivate the presence of the Holy Spirit, by spending time in prayer, it is the Holy Spirit of God who gives us peace in our heart, mind and soul.

We read in the gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has

not understood it.” (John 1:1-5)

Visitors to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky know that at a certain point in the cave a guide turns off the artificial lights and allows the heaviness and blackness of deep and utter darkness to descend upon the visitors. It is an eerie experience. Once when this happened a small child in a tour group cried out in fear.

“Don’t be afraid,” said the child’s older brother, “there’s a man who knows how to turn on the lights.”

That is the world’s hope. There is One who knows how to turn on the lights. That is why we make our advent journey every year to a manger in Bethlehem. Somehow lying there amidst the straw, we believe there is help and hope and purpose and above all, peace.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes about inner peace. In chapter 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Then in verse 9 of the 4th chapter, Paul inverts two of the important words in that benediction. Instead of saying “the peace of God,” he says, “And the God of peace will be with you.” The peace of God comes when we know the God of peace.

700 years before Jesus Christ was born the prophet Isaiah told us who God’s love light, Jesus Christ would be. I think when we understand who this baby Jesus was meant to be, we begin to understand how we are to receive Him and the heavenly peace He offers.

Isaiah writes in chapter 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.

He begins by telling us “For to us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” As a child of man, Jesus was born; but as the Son of God, Jesus was given. What does that remind you of? The greatest verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16) God’s Christmas gift to the world was a person of deity wrapped up in the package of humanity.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but he did not have his beginning in Bethlehem. We read this morning in John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” In the beginning was Jesus, in truth before the beginning was Jesus, because Jesus is God. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was fully divine, even as He became fully human.

It is a marvelous mystery of God’s plan for the salvation of the world. We are not called to understand it; we are commanded to believe it.

Isaiah goes on to describe who this child will be for us. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (v.6)

This child is our “Wonderful, Counselor” Many people today are going to psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors for advice on how to deal with their problems. As a pastoral counselor, I can tell you I am doing the best I can with my human knowledge. Yet I will testify that the best counselor I’ve found is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will never give you bad advice. He doesn’t give opinions. He gives truth. He will never steer you wrong. Isa. 28:29 says, “The Lord of hosts is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”  The greatest counselor we can ever have is the Son of God; the greatest counsel we can ever find is in the Word of God. Their advice is always true; their counsel never fails. If we want to find peace of heart, mind and soul, we must turn to God’s Word in the Bible and God’s Word made flesh in Jesus!

This child is the “Mighty God.” As the Wonderful Counselor he can tell you what is right; and as the Mighty God he can empower you to do what is right. He is mighty in his presence, for He is Omnipresent; He is mighty in his power, for He Omnipotent. As Mighty God He is sovereign over all.

When Jesus first appears to John in Revelation, He tells John, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God “who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”(Rev. 1:8) In John 14:11a-12,14 Jesus tells us, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me-, I tell you the truth anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.”   Jesus is Mighty God and He is in complete control of this universe. It is through our faith in Jesus we are given power; to live, to love and to accomplish great things.

This Child is the “Everlasting Father.” This literally translated says, “He is the Father of eternity.”

A father denotes source, or origin. Jesus is the father of all things pertaining to eternity. Hebrews 1:10-11a tells us, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain;”

In John 14:8, Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replies, in verse 9, “–Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Jesus is the Everlasting Father, who brought into this world eternal light, that He might give to this world eternal life. If you want eternal life, you must get it from Jesus. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life.” (Jn. 10:27-28)

This Child is the “Prince of Peace.” Only Jesus can give personal peace. Only when you receive Him will you have peace with God, and the peace of God. Only Jesus can give perpetual peace. Jesus said something very interesting about the peace that he gives. He said, in John 14:27,”Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” This peace of Jesus cannot be shattered by fire’s destruction, school shootings, violent protests, or even innocent lives taken. When we have the Prince of Peace reigning in our heart, we find the strength we need to survive in our world of chaos.

It was the Christmas of 1968. Gerald Coffee was spending his third Christmas in prison. His Vietnamese guards gave some candy to him and to his fellow prisoners-of-war. He heard the guards outside talking and laughing with their families. One of the guards had a son who was about three or four. Coffee thought of his own children back home. He ate the candy and looked at the red and silver foil. He began to form that foil into three shapes — a swan, a rosette, and a star. He thought of the star of Bethlehem. He placed those three shapes above his bed. He laid there looking at them. Then, he began thinking about the birth of Christ. He knew it was only faith that was getting him through this experience. He wrote later that in that place there was nothing to distract him from the awesomeness of Christmas, even though he had lost everything that defined who he was. He wrote, “Yet, I continued to find strength within and peace. I realized that although I was hurting and lonely and scared, this might be the most significant Christmas of my life.” *

Jesus came into the world as God’s love light to the world. It is through our relationship with Him that we find the peace that only He can give. If you are saying, like I am, ‘All I Want for Christmas Is Peace,’ then seek a closer relationship with God through His Son Jesus, and the peace of Christ which passes our human understanding, will be yours.

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut

December 10, 2017

 

References: *John Killinger, “Entertaining The Mystery,”

Pulpit Digest, November-December, 1992

(San Francisco: Harper, 1992), p. 16.

 

 

 

 

 

By: Ironwoodumc

December 11th, 2017

Repent and Find Hope, December 3

December 5th, 2017

Repent and Find Hope

Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8

(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)

 

Grandma took her little granddaughter Annie Christmas shopping, with the promise that if she were good, they would go to see Santa Claus after the shopping was finished. Little Annie dared not say she was ‘bored,’ which she was, she dared not say she was hungry or thirsty, which she was, she just patiently followed her grandmother from store to store. After watching her grandmother choose and buy gifts all morning, Annie was taken to her promised visit to Santa Claus. She politely made her requests for Christmas, and as she started to leave, the Santa handed her a large candy cane.

“What do you say?” prompted grandma. Little Annie  thought for a moment, then smiled and brightly announced, “Charge it.”

I have a feeling many of us are saying “Charge it” at the stores or using our credit cards to do our internet shopping, as we prepare for Christmas. Many of us will repent after January 1st as we have to go the other way and pay for our purchases.

Christmas does require preparation if we want to be ready to celebrate with family and friends. The first Christmas took thousands of years of preparation. People, not credit cards, were what God used to prepare for His Son’s birth.

Alexander the Great spread the Greek language over most of the civilized world. It was the international language by which the gospel would be shared. The Romans furnished a system of law which made it possible for the gospel to grow in relative stability. The system of Roman roads made travel by missionaries very possible.

Do you suppose that as Alexander was extending his empire, he had any idea that God was using him to prepare the way for the babe of Bethlehem? Do you suppose that as Julius Caesar built the roads that made commerce possible over all the known world, that he knew he was preparing the way for the King of Kings? When Augustus Caesar sent out his decree that all the world should be taxed and that every person should be enrolled in his own cities, do you suppose that he had any idea that he was bringing to pass an ancient prophecy that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem? God used people to prepare the way. I wonder who God is using today to prepare for Jesus’ second coming?

The prophet Isaiah was also used to prepare the way for Jesus. In the first 39 chapters of the book of Isaiah, the prophet is announcing the destruction of the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel. He keeps calling the people to repent of their sins. They do not listen and Isaiah laments the fall of his people. However, in chapter 40, God gives Isaiah a message of forgiveness, comfort and hope. The people will endure the consequences of their sin, yet God will restore them someday. The message of hope Isaiah brings is that of the Messiah, the Savior.

Isaiah prophesied that John would be the first voice of introduction to the Messiah. ‘A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”’ (Isaiah 40:3) By the time John began to quote Isaiah and call people to repentance, God had already been at work for thousands of years bringing about just the right conditions for the birth of his Son.

Each year, during the season of Advent, Christians set off on a journey of preparation. We begin to prepare our hearts and our minds for the coming of the Christ-child. The problem comes when someone says “repent, we think to ourselves, we’re not really too bad, are we? Yet, we must examine our heart, we must repent, we must prepare, so we can find hope of restoration of our faith. The people of Israel and Judah had to come to the place of repentance, before God would restore them.

Isaiah 40:28-31, gives the people hope, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

The Gospel writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all say that if you want to go to Bethlehem, if you want to find hope, first you have to encounter John the Baptist. He’s the gatekeeper of hope. Imagine them saying, “So you want to go to Bethlehem, do you? Tell you what to do: go on out to the desert, outside of the relatively safe confines of Jerusalem. Keep going till you get to the Jordan River. You’ll find a strange looking man there, standing in the water, baptizing folks left and right. That’ll be John the Baptist. If you want to get to Bethlehem, you have to start there at the Jordan with John.”

The season of Advent belongs, not to Jesus, but to John the Baptist, munching on grasshoppers, dressed in his camel’s hair shirt.  Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. As much as we want to resist the call for self-examination and repentance, we must do exactly that. As Dr. Fred Craddock says, “Advent pilgrims on the way to the manger must pass through the desert where John is preaching (repentance).”

When we think about it, we are about to celebrate the birth of a Holy Child, the Son of God. We should all want to approach that Holy Child with a clean heart, mind, and soul, for that is what God calls us to have when we worship Him.

John the Baptist calls us to repent; to examine the things in our life which keep us from a loving relationship with the Holy Child; the things in our heart, mind, and soul which keep us from experiencing the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ in our life.

People come to me and say, in essence, ‘I didn’t know life could be this good. Why didn’t I do this before? When I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to be my Savior, I found hope for a future. No longer am I controlled by the things of this world. I’ve given my life to Jesus. I have hope for a future, where I didn’t see hope before. I have a peace in my soul I didn’t know was possible. I have a deep, down joy that cannot be taken away by things that happen in my life. I feel a love from God that surrounds me and fills me. I am excited about my faith and expectant of what God will do!”

Maybe you believe, yet have not given Jesus control of your life. Maybe you were once excited about what Jesus could do for you, and that excitement has worn off and you just plod through your faith day by day. Maybe you stopped expecting God to do great things in your life.

I pray this Advent Season, this time of heart, mind, and soul examination, will reveal what it is we have to repent of. Instead of saying, “I’m not really that bad.” We should be saying, “Reveal to me O Lord, the changes I must make to approach the Holiness of your presence.” Repent simply means a turning and going in a different direction. Do you need a different direction in your life? Repent and find hope.

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut

December 3, 2017

By: Ironwoodumc

December 5th, 2017

Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend, November 26

December 5th, 2017

Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend

Deuteronomy 11:18-21and Ephesians 1:1-23

(Quoted Scripture is New International Version)

 

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind, I try to keep you safely in between the lines, I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed, I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye.  When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world? I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world. How could I make you so small, when you’re the one who holds it all. When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world? –(Written by  Becca Mizell / Natalie Grant / Samuel Mizell, sung by Natalie Grant.)

Today in Christian churches around the world we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. We celebrate Jesus Christ as our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. We celebrate the King of the World!

The Apostle Paul, having experienced Jesus Christ as his Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend; writes many letters (epistles) to churches through-out the region, sharing his experience with Jesus and the power given to believers to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. He writes to affirm what they are doing and to encourage them.

In the passage this morning, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (vv. 15-16.)

His great thanksgiving quickly turns into a prayer of intercession for the church. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (v.17)

I speak often about this personal relationship with Jesus. It is my belief that God came to us in human form that He: our Maker, our Defender, might become our Redeemer and our Friend. How do we humans build relationships? We spend time with one another, we look one another in the eye, we speak, we listen, we touch. Isn’t this what Jesus did?

When we seek to build a loving relationship with another human being, there is give and take. When we build a loving relationship with Jesus, there is also give and take. We give Jesus our heart and He takes our life and transforms it into a life which is used for good, a life which helps to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

God, in Jesus is our Friend – Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:13-15, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins. Can there be a greater love than this? Can there be a better friend than this?

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! (UMH #526) What a privilege to have a loving relationship with Jesus, and to call Jesus our friend!

Paul continues to write to the church, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (vv. 18-21)

God is the maker of all things – In Genesis we read that God created the world and all that is in it in six days. One of the theories scientists have of the creation of the universe is called the big bang theory. But the big bang theory doesn’t fit. The universe isn’t scattered randomly, it is created by a being of order and design. In the May 22, 2004 issue of New Scientist, there appeared an open letter to the scientific community written primarily by secular scientists who challenge the big bang theory. These scientists pointed out that there are many reasons to challenge the legitimacy of this theory, and hundreds of scientists and professors at various institutions have signed this statement challenging the big bang theory.

Genesis 1 is the story of creation. It is what Jews and Christians believe, and it is important for us to teach this story to our children and grandchildren as the truth. God is the maker of the universe, the being of order and design.

God is our defender – After God saved him from his enemies and from the hand of murderous King Saul, King David wrote in Psalm 18,  “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (vv.1-3)

In 2 Kings 6 we read of the prophet Elisha and his servant faced with the city surrounded by an army of Arameans. Elisha said to his servant, “Don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around.” (vv.16-17)

When I am struggling with the temptations of Satan, I envision those big, strong angel armies of God, defending my heart, and my faith in Jesus Christ my Savior.

God is our Redeemer – John 3:16-17 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Romans 3:23-24 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Paul writes that he prays for the church to receive the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of knowledge, and the spirit of revelation which will reveal to them the personality and power of God. Paul prays that the church will receive the spirit of understanding so they will come to know God, His majesty and greatness, to know the full measure of the power and love of God. As we become more aware of the power of God: the power of God’s love, the power of God’s grace to transform life for the better, the power of God to take that which is broken and make it whole, the power of God to take that which is dead and bring it to life; we begin to understand God as our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.

See the little girl kneeling in prayer on the front of your bulletin? When we begin to understand the sovereign majesty of God and just how much He loves us, and that  we are Christ’s body, the church; we understand we have a responsibility to teach the children about God.

Deuteronomy 11:18a,19 God tells us, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

First we have to believe that Jesus is the king of the world; our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. Then as believers, we have the responsibility to teach the children, to make disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world.

Chris Owan from Tucson, Arizona is a Christian father. He shares his story on page 58 of the July 2017 Guideposts. He and his two sons went camping in the White Mountains of Arizona for a guys-only time. It gets cold in the mountains and it had been raining off and on all weekend. On the second night they realized they didn’t have enough fire wood for the night much less the rest of the camping trip. His son Cory said, “Can’t go to the store. It’s closed for the night. Can’t gather anything from the forest. It’s too damp.”

Chris said they thought of going to other campers, but how much would any of them have to spare? Chris said to his boys, “We’d better start praying.” The three of them bowed their heads. “God, please help us find some wood.” Cory added, “In abundance.”

Before they could say “Amen,” a pickup rumbled up. An elderly Navajo man got out. “Do you folks need any dry firewood?” he asked. His truck was full of it. He gave them enough wood, practically for free, to last the rest of the camping trip.

“Funny thing is,” he said, “I don’t know why I even drove down this old road. I guess I just knew you needed the wood.” *

Jesus is God. He is the king of the world, He provides what we need, if we bow our hearts to our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

Believe it, write it on your heart and teach it to the children.

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut

November 26, 2017

 

 

 

References: Guideposts, Volume 72 – Issue 5, page 58.

 

By: Ironwoodumc

December 5th, 2017


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Sunday Service 11:00 A.M. Central Time (nursery available)

Phone Number: 906-932-3900

Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut

Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays

Prayer

~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~