Emmanuel, Hallowed Manger Ground


Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)
Advent is a season of waiting, hope, peace and expectations.  This Sunday you will be listening to a song called “Emmanuel – Hallowed Manger Ground” during our offering.  It is a song of hope, praise and rejoicing as we look at Emmanuel from an Old Testament and a New Testament mindset – an excellent song for Advent.   Following is a commentary on each verse.
Emmanuel, Hallowed Manger Ground by Chris Tomlin and Jason Ingram
What hope we hold this starlit night
A King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
That leads to the hallowed manger ground
In this first verse we get into the minds of the wise men, full of hope and expectations as they acknowledge, as if from divine inspiration, the knowledge that a King was just born in Bethlehem.  Their journey is long but they have a guiding light that will lead them to the holy land.
What fear we felt in the silent age
Four-hundred years, can He be found?
But broken by a baby’s cry
Rejoice in the hallowed manger ground
In the second verse we find ourselves in the minds of the Old Testament people, wondering where God is, as He has been silent for 400 years.  God’s people must have been wondering about this promised messiah.  Most notably, when would he be born as the timing of Jesus’ birth was not revealed, just a promise that He would enter our world one day.  Finally, when the baby cried, and the shepherds and angels appeared on the scene, they knew, and they rejoiced in the birth of their savior and king, born on a hallowed manger ground.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel
The chorus repeats the name “Emmanuel” five times because it means “God with us” (God incarnate).  What a concept and certainly a reason to rejoice.  Praise His name – Emmanuel.
The son of God, here born to bleed
A crown of thorns would pierce His brow
And we beheld this offering
Exalted now the King of kings
Praise God for the hallowed manger ground
In verse three, we move to the mindset of the people who were contemporaries of Jesus.  We now know the reason for God’s son, Emmanuel,  to be among us.  He was born for sacrifice, He was born to bleed.  But rest assured, He conquers death and is exalted still as our King of Kings.
As you listen to this song during the collection of offerings, reflect on Emmanuel, God with us – right here, to dwell.  The birth of Jesus shattered barriers, God dwelled among us and still does to this day.  He is present right now and is being honored by the praises and the offerings of His people.  To close our service on Sunday we will be singing a favorite Advent hymn – “Oh Come, Oh come, Emmanuel.”  Yes, we still proclaim, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” with the hope and expectation of His second coming.

God’s Handiwork


GOD’S MASTERPIECE!

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. – Psalm 96:12 

There is an oak tree in my hometown of Granby that is so majestic and beautiful that I often make it a point to take a slight detour on my way home from work to gaze at God’s masterpiece in awe and wonder. According to a nearby plaque, this monstrous oak is over 450 years old but the local folks will tell you it’s between 200 and 250 years old. Only God knows for sure. The tree has several sprawling limbs that are bigger than most tree trunks as they stretch out horizontally and touch the ground in a few spots.

God has indeed created a beautiful earth 🌏 for our exploration and enjoyment. Why not make it a point to get outside this weekend and enjoy all that God has created!

One Another


ONE ANOTHER

Scripture is a great guide for how we all should act towards one another!

Teach and counsel one another:
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. – Colossians 1:28-29

Instruct one another:
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14 

Carry each other’s burdens:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Love one another:
This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:17

Confess to one another:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

Pray for one another:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

Live in peace with one another:
Live in peace with each other. – 1 Thessalonians 5:13b

Do what is good for one another:
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15 

Encourage one another:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13 

Spur one another on towards love and good deeds:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, – Hebrews 10:24

Be kind and compassionate to one another:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –  Ephesians 4:32

Forgive one another:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –  Ephesians 4:32

Submit to one another:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  – Ephesians 5:21

Accept one another:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – Romans 15:7 

Friends and family should follow these “”one another” scriptures!
Friends pray for each other.
Friends confide in one another.
Friends empathize with each other.
Friends help one another.
Friends do not gossip about each other. (Gossip separates the best of friends – Proverbs 16:28b)
Friends are sincere and loyal to one another.
Friends trust each other. (An honest answer is the sign of true friendship – Proverbs
24:26)
Friends enjoy time with one another.
Friends accept each other’s weaknesses and imperfections.
Friends are good medicine.
Friends enrich our lives.
Friends celebrate good times and support in difficult times.
Friends prevent loneliness.
Friends are quick to ask for forgiveness, and ready to be forgiving.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

Can you imagine a world where we all abide by these scripture verses?

The Winds of Pentecost 


The Winds of Pentecost

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can rarely feel it. And most of the time you forget that it’s even there.  And it’s no exaggeration to say that our very lives would end without it.  We.  Need.  Air.

It’s interesting, sometimes The Bible translates air as “breath,” sometimes “wind,” and sometimes “Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit gives us a breath of fresh air — of life-giving air — in bringing us the Gospel.  And by that gospel he gives us the ability to share this gift with others and fans into flames our zeal to do it.

Through the Word and through the Sacrament of Baptism, he’s breathed life into us as he created the very faith that’s in our hearts.  And with a puff he’s blown away every one of our sins so they’re sent sailing as far as the east is from the west, as high as the heavens are above the earth!  What a breath of life-giving, fresh air!

I always enjoy our celebration of the day of Pentecost which we recently celebrated on May 15.  Can you imagine, those that heard that particular wind were instantly converted to language scholars, being able to talk in foreign tongues.

As I contemplated the sermon and the day’s scripture, I was stirred to pen a poem about the winds that blew through the room on that day.

The winds roared through the room
All who were present heard
The followers were filled with the Spirit
Their hearts were stirred

Do you hear His voice in the wind?
Is He calling to you?
This Spirit who dwells among us
He still seeks a precious few

The winds of Pentecost are real
They blow with passion and fire
They inspire a certain zeal
A calling to which we aspire

He turned babble into understanding
As the ordinary people spoke anew
The languages once foreign and mixed
And God’s kingdom grew

As we enter the season of Pentecost
Of growth, passion and zeal
Feel the warmth of His Spirit
Inside you and incredibly real

I close with John 20:21-23 because in it Jesus is sending the people out and breathing upon them, as if by the Pentecost wind, and by this breath He tells them to receive the Holy Spirit.  The exciting thing is that we are still in Pentecost times and the Holy Spirit is sent to be with us as well.   He breathes spiritual life into our lifeless souls, but he also fans into flame our zeal to live for him and to share our faith.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:21-23

What difference will the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s power make in your life today?

Saul to Paul


Have you ever thought about the conversion of Saul to Paul? He was probably a well known and well connected, middle aged Pharisee. Then one day, in the blink of an eye, his life and his name were drastically changed. Just think, every acquaintance that he ran into after this time, he would have to retell the account of his name change.
Does God still convert people today?  Did He once convert you?

Here’s what Paul says about his conversion:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. – 1 Timothy 1:15-16 

The key phrase to me in the above passage is “as an example for those who would believe.” So God has other people in mind when he saved Paul.   It could be our unchurched family member!  How far fetched can this be when Paul was such a nasty opponent of Christianity.

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. – Acts 8:3 

Paul is exactly the kind of person that no one expected to be converted. Through Paul’s conversion, God wants us to see that the worst enemy of the church can be completely converted through the work of the Holy Spirit. The voice that speaks to Paul from heaven while on the road to Damascus does not ask for Paul’s decision to believe; it tells him exactly what he is to do. 

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” – Acts 9:5-6

The fact is that God chose Paul before he was born, in the same way that he chose you and me.

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased. – Galatians 1:15

God moved in on Paul’s life and as C. S. Lewis said, “surprised him with joy—and with suffering.”

So may your unchurched friends and loved ones be converted, suddenly, unexpectedly and by the sovereign overflowing grace and love of Jesus and through the works of the Holy Spirit.

Unio Mystico!


In a recent bible class we studied the concept of “Mystic Union”, a topic that I found to be most interesting and useful.

The passage that first appealed to me was Mt 10:19b-20 that states:

“At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

To me, this passage instills confidence, especially when I stand in front of the church and give a children’s message.  Imagine, the Spirit of the Father is speaking through me!”  The same of course also holds true for our Sunday School teachers and really anytime that you as a believer confess and speak your faith.

Another verse that reinforces this idea is Romans 8:9-11:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

And how about this beauty right from the mouth of Jesus:

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” – John 14:23

And here is Jesus praying for all believers, which of course includes you:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  – John 17:20-23

But it’s not only Jesus praying for you.  Here is Paul as well:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. – Ephesians 3:16-17

So here’s our role in this mystic union:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  – John 15:4-5

United we stand:

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. – 1 Corinthians 6:17

Did you catch all those spiritual gems?

  • You, dear reader, are in the realm of the Spirit
  • The Spirit of God lives in you
  • The Spirit of the Father speaks through you
  • Christ is in you
  • You are in Jesus
  • Jesus and the Father have made their home with you
  • You are strengthened by the Spirit within you
  • Christ dwells in your heart through faith
  • You are one with Jesus in spirit
  • Christ lives in you

Pastor Ehlers closing remarks on this subject:

So when you share in the divine nature, you…

  • Are bonded with God
  • Have regained a part of His holy image
  • Love what He loves
  • Hate what He hates
  • Share in His work
  • Approve of His judgements

Honestly I sat in wonder as I absorbed all of this in  bible class.  I pray that these scriptures have been uplifting and enlightening to you as well my dear brothers and sisters who are one with Christ, one with the Father and one with the Spirit who all reside in you in a mystical union.

My New Year’s Verse


My New Year’s Verse

I found my New Year’s verse. Actually, it found me because I wasn’t looking for one – in the same way that Jesus made himself known to me so many years ago. Here it is:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Get that? – I am in Christ and the old has gone! It is exciting! A new year! A fresh start! What will God do with me in 2016?

The truth is that I do not know if I will have health problems in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll lose my job in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll lose a loved one, or if terrorism will strike on US soil. The list of unknowns goes on and on. But I do know that it will be a good year with Christ in my life because He loved me enough to trade His pure and holy life for mine. So my life is important and I do make a difference. My destiny is with Him forever and this changes everything.

So in 2016 I will rejoice. I will trade my life’s minor chords for major chords; no make that Major 7th chords because these jazzy chords have a happier sound. These are major chords that have been blessed.

Today, I pray that you hold tighter to Jesus, your Lord and your Savior in 2016. Cling to Him and to His words and feel the power of the Holy Spirit inside you. He’s there and He’s bursting at the seams to inspire you. Let Him lead you. Pray through Him to God the Father. It will make a difference.

I share with you my New Year’s verse. You also be in Christ. The old is gone and the new is here!

Wishing you all peace – the peace that only Christ can bring in 2016!

This is My Church


messThis is my church!

I am accepted here.
I hear God’s word here.
I pray collectively with like-minded believers here.
I confess my sins here and know that they are forgiven.
The truth is taught here.
God is present here.
God is glorified here.
I am inspired here.
I matter here.
I receive the Lord’s Supper here.
My hard heart is softened here.
I learn here.
I give offerings to my Savior here.
Love is here.
Peace is here.
Hope is here.
The Gospel is preached here.
There is a sense of wonder and awe here.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
– 1 Corinthians 12:13

My friends are here.
We sing praises together here.
We baptize here.
We are one in faith here.
We chant the Psalms here.
We are blessed here.
We are the church!

All, are welcome here. Christ is reaching out to you with open arms.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body; you were called to peace.
– Colossians 3:15

Christ's Love, Our Calling.

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