The other day I was walking my dog. As usual, we went down the sidewalk toward the park. The paths were cleared off for the most part. But, there was one neighbor who hadn’t cleared his portion of the sidewalk. As my dog and I approached, I decided to put my feet inside the imprints in the snow. Someone had blazed a trail before me. So, I merely tried to place my feet inside the person’s footprints who went before me. Of course, as a pastor, there is a spiritual lesson here. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). The word follow in the Greek μιμηταί, refers to imitating someone, but also carries the idea of following in the tracks. There is within this little verse a series of followings. First, there is the path that Christ has already established. When Jesus was on the earth, he lived for God in every aspect of his life. So, he left an example for people to follow. Second, Paul says that he’s following in the footsteps of Christ. If you have read the Bible and are familiar the Apostle Paul, then you know that Paul followed Christ, even to his death. Third, Paul called his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to follow his example. There are many tracks we can observe in this life. Some of those tracks don’t belong to Christ, the apostles or to faithful Christians who have gone before us. We have a choice in our lives! Which road are we going to travel? Are we going to follow the footsteps of lost mankind or are we going to follow the steps of godly men and women? My prayer is that we will walk in the footsteps of godliness.
In Christ, Pastor Mike
Out of Bondage…
As we begin the New Year, I would like to encourage our congregation to read the Scriptures. Therefore, we will start by reading a chapter a day in the book of Exodus. On January 1, read chapter one and so on. I would like to encourage you to journal as you read. Here are some things to include in your journal.
- Write down any that catches your attention. Don’t make it complicated; just write it down. A brief sentence or two.
- Write down any thoughts that come to mind. This may the activity of the Holy Spirit speaking to you.
- Then, write a sentence on what you learned. Maybe something like, “I feel led to help others or I need to change this or that in my life.”
- Finally, offer a brief prayer to God and help for living out what you learned.
Again, don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what you have written. The journal is for you to hear the voice of God and for personal spiritual growth. We should finish reading Exodus by February 9, 2018. Then, we will have a pot-luck dinner on February 11, 2018, at 6 pm. We will have a time of fellowship together and discuss the book of Exodus. The informal time of discussion is just that – informal. I want to hear how God spoke to you and how the reading changed your life.
P.S. Listening to Exodus on CD or other devices helps free your hands to jot down anything that comes to mind.
In Christ, Pastor Mike
Well, Christmas is over. Now, we look forward to New Year’s day. On New Year’s day, families gather together for meals and watch a myriad of football, basketball, hockey and many other sporting events. Commercials will advertise weight loss programs or exercise equipment which promise to help fight the battle of the bulge. Also, many people will make new year resolutions – quit smoking, start exercising, spend more time with the family, begin taking classes and many other resolutions. But, in reality, most of these promises will be broken before the calendar hits February.
However, the New Year does give believers in Christ an opportunity to make one important resolution.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” First, the writer of Hebrews is stressing the point of worship in this verse. As in biblical times, people today are in the habit of not attending church. The word “habit” (ἔθος) refers to a pattern of behavior more or less fixed by tradition and sanctioned by society. Therefore, if you are not attending church on a regular basis, then you have established a tradition which is approved by the lost world. For believers, this is not a good tradition but rather mirrors our culture. Second, the reason we need to go to church is to encourage one another. The word “encouraging” (παρακαλέω) means to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled, either by verbal or non-verbal means. In short, it refers to helping others continue in their Christian walk. All of us from time to time need encouragement, particularly with life is difficult. We can help our fellow strugglers get over the rough patches and help them find a support system to sustain them in hard times. This encouragement is reciprocal – as we help others; they will help us. We do not live in isolation but are part of a larger community. Third, the necessity for attending worship and helping others is because of looming judgment. The word Day (ἡμέρα) is a judicial term which points to a court of justice. Thus, it points to a futuristic time of judgment. As Christians, we know there is the coming day when Christ will judge the world and his followers. In light of this truth, we need to encourage and challenge each other to live for Christ!
So, while you are making your New Year’s resolutions, I would like to encourage you to put attending worship at the top of the list. Decide today that you are going to start taking your family to church! Then, don’t let anything else interfere with that time with God and other believers. You will be worshipping God with other believers, who will pray for you and help provide encouragement in difficult times. And, you can help them when times get tough! Go to church this coming Sunday!
Dr. Michael J. Frazier
Many of you have already put up and decorated your Christmas trees. Maybe you played Christmas music and enjoyed hot cocoa as you decorated. If you are like my wife and me, you discussed each ornament as you place it on the tree. Many of our decorations have a story behind them. When the tree is decorated, you turn off the lights and enjoy the wonderful lights in the darkness. There are many theories about the origin of the Christmas tree. Some believe that trees were used celebrate pagan festivals as early as a thousand years before Christ. Others believe Christmas trees started appearing in the second century and made the transformation from that point to where we are today. However, many believe that the first Christmas tree to be brought into the house and decorated started with Martin Luther, the great reformation leader. The legend goes that Luther was walking home in the evening shortly before Christmas. On his walk, he happened to look up at the trees and saw a star shining in the midst of the tree. As he pondered the encounter, he thought about Jesus who left the stars in heaven and came to earth to go to the cross to pay for the sins of the world. Then on Christmas Eve, Luther cut down the tree and brought it home. He placed the tree in his living room and decorated it with white candles. Then, he shared the joy of the Christmas story with his family. And thus, we have the start of the Christmas tradition. Galatians 4:4-6 declares, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
May the Lord Bless you this Christmas season and every day of the year!
Dr. Michael J. Frazier
One of my favorite accounts surrounding the birth of Christ is the Magi from the east. Many movies, articles, and figurines depicting the wise presenting their gifts in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus are inconsistent with the Scripture. Matthew 2:9 says, “When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” First, I am sure Matthew is able to distinguish the difference between an infant and a child. If he would have used the word “infant” or “baby” in describing Jesus, then we could assume the wise men were present at the stable. But, Matthew calls Jesus a “young child” indicating the Savior was not an infant. Second, Matthew 2:11 says, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped him.” Unlike the stable narrative which often appears in movies and plays; the wise men go into a house, not a stable. Third, King Herod orders the killing of every male child two years and under, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). It is my contention that the Magi started their journey when the star first appeared. Since the wise men traveled from Persia (Iran), the journey was a little over 1,000 miles and would have taken 18-24 months on a camel. The journey was dangerous so the Magi would not have traveled alone (see picture above). The wise men would have needed water, food, tents and other items for survival not to mention security. So, I believe the wise men didn’t arrive for nearly two years. This helps explain King Herod’s edict to kill all children two years and younger. In closing, the wise men stand as an exceptional model for the Christian faith. They blindly followed a star across many miles just to see this King, who was born to take on the sins of the world and bring redemption for those who believe in Him.
May God bless you this Christmas season!