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I pray the Lord’s Prayer every morning. I especially like the part about “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Kingdom of God on earth is Already – But not yet. It already exists.  It started with the new born King whose little body was laid in a wooden manger in Bethlehem and whose adult body was crucified on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem. It started out as the smallest of seeds, starting to grow over 2000 years ago, and is still growing, just like Jesus said in Matthew 13:31-32.  It has not yet come to completion.

When George Bush was President he promoted a 1000 Points of Light program. I like to think of the Kingdom of God on earth as a Million Points of Light program. Everywhere that Christians gather together to glorify God and love Him and love their neighbors is a Kingdom Point of Light.

I live at a Home for Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of those Points of Light. We take in children who are poor, abused, neglected and abandoned. They are hurt,sad, angry and confused when they come here. Here they experience the love of God and of Christians who care for them.  Here they are transformed.  We give them a safe place to live with plenty of nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink. They receive a good education and spiritual direction. Our goal is not just to make them into good people, but to make them into faithful disciples who love God and want to cooperate with Him in growing the Kingdom.

My wife and daughters and I spent Christmas day with a half dozen of these children, all under the age of 6. They are new comers to our little Kingdom Point of Light. Most of them are brothers and sisters who had been separated and put into different children’s homes in Oaxaca. Now they are reunited, happy and healthy, living in a loving Christian community that meets their every need.

New Kids at the Mission

Brother and Sister Reunited

God’s Kingdom is coming everyday in many different ways all over the world. In 2018 He may choose to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment; to completion. Then He will be the one to wipe away the children’s tears and there will be no more need for children’s homes. If that doesn’t happen in the new year, then God’s Kingdom will continue to come, on earth as it is in heaven. Little light by little light. Followers of Jesus will continue to spread the joy and peace of God and people all over the world will be coming into relationship with God, glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever. He is the One who truly puts the Happy in the New Year!

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Psalm 16 is one of my favorite Psalms. In verse 2, David writes, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; Apart from you I have no good thing.’ ”

It’s Christmas and everybody wants Good Things! Kids look longingly at all the presents under the tree, thinking about all the good things that that they will receive. Adults want good things too. As the saying goes, That which separates men from boys is the price of their toys. True for women and girls too, I’m sure.

The best Good Things come from the LORD. Psalm 16 is like a Christmas tree with lots of gifts underneath. Gifts like –

security (vs5)

boundary lines in pleasant places (vs6)

delightful inheritance (vs6)

Godly counsel (vs7)

glad heart (vs9)

a body that rests secure (vs9)

no fear of death (vs10)

path of life (vs11)

joy (vs11)

eternal pleasures (vs11)

and the best Christmas present – God’s presence (vs11)

These gifts are way better than an iphone 10, Play Station or a Sony 50” TV. How do we go about acquiring these Good Things?

David tells us the secret in verse 8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD.” That reminds me of Hebrews 12:2, Let us “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Also sounds a bit like Colossians 3:1-2, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above.”

To get the Good Things of God we need to keep our eyes on the LORD, to fix our eyes on Jesus –

Jesus in the manger

Jesus turning water into wine

Jesus walking on water

Jesus multiplying the bread and fish

Jesus’ compassion on the sick, blind, and demon possessed

Jesus’ love for the sinners and tax collectors

Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead for our justification

This Christmas, instead of asking Santa for good things in our stockings, lets thank Jesus for the Good Things He has already given us, and that are available to us in abundance if we keep our eyes on HIM.

Merry Christmas from the

Schwab Family

Today is Tifani’s birthday. She is my oldest daughter and I dedicate this post to her. In Romans chapter 12 we find five ways to be, five ways to treat one another and five Do Not’s. Considering and living out these 15 admonitions from Paul we can all experience happier birthdays, merrier Christmas’s and happier lives.

The Five Be’s

Be devoted to one another in love.

Be spiritually passionate, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope.

Be patient in affliction.

Be faithful in prayer.

Five Ways to Treat One Another

Share with one another.

Rejoice with one another.

Mourn with one another.

Live in harmony with one another.

Live in peace with one another.

Five Do Nots.

Do not be proud.

Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Do not take revenge.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

God loves us and wants us to be happy. He inspired Paul to write these words so that we would take them to heart, put them into practice and live in right relationship with God and our fellow human beings. I think of them as 15 gifts  around the birthday cake or presents under the Christmas tree. Each one to be carefully unwrapped, treasured and used daily.

 

The 2017 Advent season has begun!

Advent is a time of anticipation. A time of looking forward to something unbelievably good. Looking forward to Jesus’ birth. God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. God condescending to be with us. Emmanuel.

Honestly, all that doesn’t mean so much to people anymore. Advent in our day and age usually means anticipating buying gifts, going to parties and family get togethers. Things that a lot of people Don’t look forward to. For too many people, the Christ birth event is a minor part of the holiday season, if it exists at all.

Jesus in the manger has lost it’s luster for a lot of Christians for another reason. It happens every year. It’s not new. We Want New. New electronics, kitchen gadgets, clothes and toys. Christmas isn’t new. It’s the same old thing, year after year. I’m 54 years old. I was raised in a Christian family. I have 54 years of Luke 2 and Matthew 1-2 under my belt. What could possibly be new in 2017 Advent? What is there to anticipate?

With this in mind, I began to think about how Jews might have been thinking around the time of Jesus’ birth. The Chosen People of God. They hadn’t had a prophet speak the Word of the LORD to them since Malachi, 400 years earlier. They had been under the thumb of foreign rulers for about 600 years. So, People Of God, how’s that working out for you?

Some of them probably decided that it wasn’t working and gave up on God, but many were holding on to the promises proclaimed by the prophets that someday a Messiah would come and bring peace and freedom. Proclamations like:

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

 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.”

 Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Some of us look forward to celebrating the birth of the Messiah every year. The Jews had been anticipating that day for over half a millenia!

When I think of looking forward to something good, I  think about our family vacation that we took in July. We drove from Oaxaca, Mexico to Brush, Colorado. In May we began planning for the trip, and the anticipation began. Anticipation of crossing the border into the U.S.A. Anticipation of seeing my parents and sister and oldest daughter. People I haven’t seen for over two years. Anticipation of Mom’s great cooking, as well as Taco Bell and Mountain Dew –  food and drink that are not available here in Oaxaca. Normally we would fly to Colorado, but this time we were going to drive, so we were looking forward to close family time (four days in the car) that would include museum visits, tourist attractions and motel swimming pools (Sally and Kelly, my youngest daughter’s favorite). Anticipation of camping in the mountains and seeing a Rocky’s baseball game.

The fulfillment of all of those things was great. A wonderful time was had by all. Heart’s longings were met and we were filled with joy. And that was after waiting a mere three months.

After waiting hundreds of years, the Messiah came to the Chosen People of God, and brought true spiritual freedom to all who would accept him and his message.  Some were disappointed that he didn’t overthrow Roman rule and bring national freedom.  But many more people through the ages have received something greater to celebrate, freedom from sin and adoption as Children of God.  The hungry eat the living Bread and the thirsty drink the living Water.

One of the Advent readings for the first Sunday in Advent is Isaiah 64:1-9.   Verse four says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

This Advent season I hope we can all find time to “wait for him”. Wait for Him to reveal himself in new and wonderous ways that can fill our journey on earth with happiness.

In waiting for Him, in meditating on Him, we find hope and joy. Strength and peace. Below is a web address for a video meditation on Advent that may encourage you on your journey.

https://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/series/liturgical-meditations/