The Treasures of the Snow

For many years I lived on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. Winters were long and very cold. There was usually snow on the ground for at least 3 to 4 months. Some snows would come down in fluffy flakes. Others would be more like small pellets. The most snow that I experienced at one time was about 3 feet. The Bible speaks about the snow. It says that “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” There is a purity, whiteness, and beauty about a fresh blanket of snow. The snow can transform an ugly place overnight. God’s grace is faster. In a moment he will take away our sins and give us the pure righteousness of Christ. In a moment he will give us a new life. The snow of his grace will cover all the ugliness. Snow should remind us of our Creator. Each snow flake has a beautiful design. Those who have studied snowflakes have concluded that each one is different. Consider how many billions there are in a single snowfall. Each one is a work of art. One alone would not be noticed but together they have great benefits for man. There are a great source of water as well as a source for much fun. Who does not enjoy a snowball fight? What would the Winter Olympics be without the snow? Together Christians can do more than just standing alone. We need each other. Just as the snowflakes differ so each set of fingerprints differ. Even the fingerprints of twins are different. They are still used to identify people....

Expectations for the New Year

There will surely be some surprises, interruptions, and new things. We can have well laid plans but they could be altered because of unanticipated events. This makes life interesting. God often comes in this way. It can be sickness, a promotion, a failure or success. It might be something that we never dreamed would happen to us. During 2018 much will continue as in the previous year. Many of our duties and responsibilities will be the same. There will be continuity. Many of our goals will be the same as in previous years. We will expect to grow and serve the Lord. We will expect His faithfulness as in past years. This does not mean that we will have a boring life. The sameness is good. God works through ordinary things and through ordinary people. Many of our friends will be the same. We can build upon the past year. In Japan where I lived for many years, it was customary to have a major house cleaning before the end of the year. Spiritually this is a good practice. It is good to start by cleaning the closets of our lives. Some spiritual detergents will help. It is well that we look up at the beginning of the year. There are many national and international problems that seem beyond man’s ability to solve. If we look around us too much, we could become discouraged. As Christians we look up. We know that God is on His throne. We know that He is working out His purpose. We know that God will have the last word. Let’s focus our eyes...

No Christmas?

How can you have Christmas without Christ? That is what many people do. They may enjoy the music, put up decorations, and give gifts to each other. But Christ will be left out. You would never guess that it was the birthday of a King, the birthday of the Savior of the world. Some will spend the Christmas season going from one party to another. But they will be just like parties any other time of the year. There will be wild stories and drinking. There will be no thought of the miracle when a baby was born in that manger so long ago. There will be no thought of the amazing love that God should come to this tiny planet and live in a human body. I lived in Japan for many years. There you may hear Christmas carols in department stores. You may even see a Santa Claus delivering Christmas cakes on Christmas Eve. And many Japanese people will give gifts to their children. But, if you ask, “what is the meaning of Christmas?” Many people would be unable to answer. There are many other countries where there will be no Christmas for most people. Governments try to lock him out of their country. The good news is that Christ is alive today. And with Him every day is Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. He is everything to us. As the slogan goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Christmas is a time to celebrate. We celebrate the gift of salvation in the person of Jesus Christ. Have a very Merry...

It’s a Command!

Thanksgiving is a command. It is not optional for the Christian. It is the natural response to God’s grace. In this country we are blessed abundantly. Even the poorest people would be considered wealthy in many parts of the world. It is easy to accept the abundance of blessings with the feeling that we deserve them. Rather than thanksgiving a spirit of dissatisfaction may arise within us. We compare ourselves with others who seem to be more blessed. We want more. Rather than being thankful for what we have, we grumble for what we do not have. Ingratitude hurts when parents experience it from their children. Imagine what ingratitude looks like when it is expressed toward the Giver of all good things, our Lord. Ingratitude is no trivial slight. It is a serious matter. It is what you would expect from people who do not know the Lord. But, for the Christian we should always be grateful whatever our circumstances. This was the lesson that Paul knew so well. Whether in want or plenty he was thankful. A thankful heart is a contented heart. The Bible says, “Be thankful.” Again, it says “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Whether little things or big things we should be thankful. All we have and can do comes from the grace of our Lord. Every day is an occasion for thanksgiving. This is a simple thing but living thankfully and expressing thanks impresses people. People are drawn to thankful people. Let’s be thankful. It is the proper response to the goodness of...

The Ruler of All Nature

Recently there have been tragic floods and earthquakes.  These upheavals in nature are nothing new.  “From the very beginning of history until the present time, men have struggled with the forces of nature.  But no government or scientific genius has been able to tame it. However, there is one exception. Jesus is the Ruler of all nature.  Time and time again, people were super-amazed as they saw Jesus control natural forces.  He simply spoke, and all nature obeyed Him.  And there were times when He did not speak, and nature obeyed Him.  People had never seen anything like Jesus’ power over nature.” “What would be your response upon seeing someone walk on water?  Shocked, surprised, and breathless would hardly express your feelings.  When Jesus walked on the water, the disciples “were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled” (Mark 6:51)  Why would this be so amazing?  Things like this are not supposed to happen.  It is not part of our experience.  We would say that it is impossible  People do not walk on water.  That is, not until Jesus came.”  The above quoted material is taken from my book titled, Astonished Beyond Measure. The e-book will be available at the special price of 0.99 Oct. 29, 2017 until Nov. 4, 2017 on amazon.com, iTunes, and Barnes &...

New Book Forthcoming

My third book, titled, The Focus of Faith, will be published within the next few weeks.  It is being published by Ephesians 612 Publishing.  There are 25 messages which I have preached in different parts of the world.  The messages are expository and cover a wide range of topics.  Included are messages such as:  The Savior We Need, Making Good News Into Bad News,  The Question That Is The Answer, The Hope That Excites,  Love That Is Big Enough, and The Value of Christ. A Biblical text is given before each message.  The messages are easy to understand and are meant to point people to Christ.  Paul said,  “We preach Christ.”  And that is the goal here.  With the exception of the first two messages from which the title is taken, the messages are not in sequence and one may skip about to read things of interest. The last chapter is concerning “The Expected Arrival.”...

When Jesus Was Amazed

It may surprise many people to hear that Jesus was amazed. But the Bible says clearly that Jesus was amazed at the unbelief He saw in His hometown. He was amazed at the faith He saw in a Roman centurion. Some translations also use the word amaze at the time Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. A person may argue that Jesus could not be amazed if He were God. This argument is not valid. We must remember that Jesus was also a man. He was both God and man. In His incarnation His deity was covered to some extent. We would not have been able to stand the full blaze of His deity. As a man, Jesus had all the characteristics of humanity. Part of human nature is to show emotion. There were times when Jesus was angry. There were times when He expressed joy. There were times when He was sad. And, as we will see now, there were times when He was surprised or amazed. This does not point to a weakness in Jesus, nor does it mean that He sinned. The difference in Jesus and us is that Jesus’ emotions were perfectly balanced and under control. When we know who Jesus is, it should not be so difficult to understand the surprises that He experienced. He was amazed to see unbelief in Nazareth. He was amazed to see a great faith in a centurion. He was amazed at the horror of the cross. Although He was God from all eternity, He became a man and lived among us. He hungered as others. He thirsted as others. He...

Authority That Amazes

People were amazed at Jesus’ authority. “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22. What was so different about His teaching? For one thing, Jesus did not qualify His teaching by quoting famous rabbis of the past. His teaching style was not vague and uncertain. You will find no “probably” or “maybe” in His words. We can see His teaching style clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. Over and over Jesus said, “It is said…but I say unto you…” Jesus went to the heart of the matter in His teaching. You never hear Jesus say, “I don’t know” or “I will have to study the matter and bring you an answer later.” There was an absoluteness, a finality to Jesus’ teaching. When people heard Jesus, they heard certainty. They heard truth because Jesus is the truth. They confronted the final Teacher, the Greatest Teacher when they heard Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word to us. He is the revelation of God. When He spoke, God spoke. Jesus did not deny the teachings of the past, but He fulfilled them. We need to read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and not the other way around. Begin with the fulfillment and then move to the shadows and types. From the book, Astonished Beyond...

Bowled Over

Have you ever seen something so wonderful that you fell to the ground in fear or awe? The Bible records times when this has happened. At the transfiguration of Jesus, when His glory shown on the mountain, the three disciples fell to the ground. The same thing happened to Paul when he met the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. He, too was bowled over. The Book of The Revelation shares John’s experience. When he saw Jesus, he fell like a dead man. Imagine what it would have been like if they had seen the full glory of Christ. They would have died instantly. When Jesus came to the earth, He clothed Himself in flesh. He revealed His glory in many ways, but in mercy His awesome glory was hidden. In our weak condition, such glory would obliterate us. Because the earth is so far from the sun, we enjoy the energy and benefit from it. However, if we were to move near the sun, it would burn this planet and kill everyone instantly. One day we will see the glory of Jesus without blinders, but now we need those blinders of faith. They enable us to see enough to live here, but they also protect us from the full blaze of His glory. (From the book, Astonished Beyond...

Have We Lost Our Sense of Wonder?

The words of Napoleon Bonaparte express so well our sense of wonder concerning Jesus. He said, “Everything in Him astonishes me.  His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me.  Between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison.  He is truly a being by Himself.” Have we lost that sense of wonder today?  The wonder of little children?  The wonder of explorers who make their first discovery?  The wonder of a newly married couple on their honeymoon?  The wonder of the athlete who wins a race before 100,000 people at the Olympics?  The nearer we get to know Him, the more we will be amazed. Not just amazed but super-amazed, astonished beyond measure. Who loves you like Jesus?  Who will stand beside you like Jesus?  Who gave everything to you like Jesus?  Who will take you to His home like Jesus?  One of His names is “Wonderful.”  He is full of wonders. How can we not be blown over in the presence of such majesty?  He is our Lord, our Savior, our King, our all in all.  Let us fall at his feet.  Let us tell of His wonders. Let us sing of His glory!  He is super-amazing! The above words are taken from the book, Astonished Beyond Measure by Blake Western.  The e-book is reasonably priced at Christianbook.com and you can find reduced prices for the printed book at amazon.com.  ...