The Annual Christmas Program

Was wonderful-

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Funeral Arrangements for Roy Liles

The family will receive friends Tuesday December 26, 2017 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Schubert Funeral Home in Wartburg. The funeral will immediately follow with Dr. Jim West officiating. The graveside will be at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday December 27 at the Old Petros Cemetery with Military Honors.  In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Petros Fire Department of which Roy was so proud.

Scripture Reading for the Day

Good will come to the one who lends generously and conducts his business fairly.  He will never be shaken. The righteous one will be remembered forever.  He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is assured; he will not fear. In the end he will look in triumph on his foes.  He distributes freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. His horn will be exalted in honor.  The wicked one will see it and be angry; he will gnash his teeth in despair. The desire of the wicked leads to ruin. (Ps. 112:5-10)

Why Jesus Came

Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed?  For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of my people was he stricken.  And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his month. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isa. 53:1-10)

Scripture Reading for the Day

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels!  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.  I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’  Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’  And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:41-46)

The Story of Jesus’s Birth- In Matthew and In Luke

Around this time of year the careless and unobservant (and those incapable of reading simple Greek) like to ‘point out’ the ‘contradictions’ between Matthew and Luke in their telling the story of the birth of Jesus.  So let me set them straight: there are no contradictions.  Why? Because, simply put, Matthew and Luke are talking about different periods of time.

Luke tells the story of Jesus’s actual birth.  He is born in Bethlehem, laid in a stable, and is visited by shepherds.  He is, in Luke’s telling, a newborn infant.  Here’s Luke’s bit-

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby (βρέφος) wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  (Lk. 2:6-14)

Luke chooses his words quite carefully, including the word translated ‘baby’, βρέφος.  This is the Greek word for newborn.

Matthew says nothing about shepherds because, frankly, he doesn’t care about shepherds.  He is far more interested in talking about a few years later, when wise men arrive from the east, after having seen a star appear announcing the birth of the promised Messiah.  Their journey takes time, so when they arrive, they find Jesus and his parents not in a stable, but in a house.  And the child is no longer a βρέφος, he is a παιδίον.  This is not the same word Luke uses and it doesn’t describe a newborn, it describes a child, a toddler.  Here’s Matthew:

Entering the house, they saw the child (παιδίον) with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.  (Matt. 2:11-12)

The conflation of Matthew with Luke is a modern invention.  The shepherds and the wise men were not at Jesus’s birth together, at the same time, as portrayed in the usual nativity play.  They were separated by a couple of years.  Furthermore, Matthew and Luke aren’t talking about the same period of time and accordingly they are not ‘contradicting’ each other any more than you contradict yourself when you say you ate eggs and that you ate a burrito if you ate eggs for breakfast and a burrito for dinner.

Why Disobedience is Deadly

We live, I think it’s fair to say, when many Christians believe obedience is optional.  This is the same viewpoint held by many in ancient Israel, so that God addresses those folk, those disobedient folk, in very straightforward terms.  Here is what he says:

The LORD will also subject you to madness, blindness, and confusion of mind. You will feel your way along at noon like the blind person does in darkness and you will not succeed in anything you do; you will be constantly oppressed and continually robbed, with no one to save you. You will be engaged to a woman and another man will rape her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not even begin to use it.  Your ox will be slaughtered before your very eyes but you will not eat of it. Your donkey will be stolen from you as you watch and will not be returned to you. Your flock of sheep will be given to your enemies and there will be no one to save you.

Your sons and daughters will be given to another people while you look on in vain all day, and you will be powerless to do anything about it.  As for the produce of your land and all your labor, a people you do not know will consume it, and you will be nothing but oppressed and crushed for the rest of your lives.  You will go insane from seeing all this.

The LORD will afflict you in your knees and on your legs with painful, incurable boils– from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. The LORD will force you and your king whom you will appoint over you to go away to a people whom you and your ancestors have not known, and you will serve other gods of wood and stone there. You will become an occasion of horror, a proverb, and an object of ridicule to all the peoples to whom the LORD will drive you.

“You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it. You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them.  You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with olive oil, because the olives will drop off the trees while still unripe. You will bear sons and daughters but not keep them, because they will be taken into captivity.  Whirring locusts will take over every tree and all the produce of your soil.  

The foreigners who reside among you will become higher and higher over you and you will become lower and lower. They will lend to you but you will not lend to them; they will become the head and you will become the tail!  All these curses will fall on you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping his commandments and statutes that he has given you.  (Deut. 28:28-45)

Disobedience… it’s insane.