Blog 143 for December 28, 2019
I AM THINKING ABOUT WISE MEN!!!
If you have read my blogs for December, you know, I’ve been “thinking”! I have thought about God incarnate, the Babe in Bethlehem’s manger. I have thought about angels, who announced His birth, and shepherds who were the first to be notified and first to follow the star to the manger. Well, today, I’m thinking about 3 Kings, those wise men, the Magi.
Matt. 2:1 introduces us to the wise men from the east, who inquire about the newborn “King of the Jews," whose star they have seen in the east (Matt. 2:2). There is no mention here of “three” or “kings." Presumably, the number three arose from their 3 gifts (Matt. 2:11); while the idea that they were kings probably came from reflection on Psalm 72 and Isaiah 63, which both make reference to visits by kings. Although the names of the wise men are not mentioned, later tradition attributed variations of Balthasar, Melchior, and Casper.
In Matthew’s account of the story of the Magi, the guidance of a “star” is mentioned 4 times in Chapter 2:2,7,9,10. Its purpose was to guide the wise men to the newborn Baby. Given that the Magi were almost certainly astrologers, the kind of phenomena familiar to them would have included comets and a conjunction of planets.
The star first sighted by the wise men (2:2) could be explained as a “supernova," a star that suddenly increases in size and brilliance. The astrologers seeing this would search for its meaning. Checking the statement of Tacitus in his Annals, they would realize that “a comet means a change of emperor," and that the conjunction of planets is associated with the birth of a king.
A common role for such wise men was to discern the rise of a new king. And, it was God who guided the wise men by utilizing the ordinary processes of creation. The wise men, the astrologers, must have learned something of the Jewish messianic expectation (Num. 24:17) “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel." Once they saw the star, they were convinced to make the long journey to Judea to acknowledge His birth. And they brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Take the opportunity to read of the Magi’s visit in Matt. 2:1-9,11; Lk. 2:30-32. Enjoy the lyrics to that familiar hymn, “We Three Kings," page 202 in the Nazarene hymnal. And worship as you listen to the beautiful song, “I am Not Ashamed of the Gospel," sung on YouTube by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (with lyrics in Spanish and English)..... For WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM.
A blessed New Year to you and yours.
Blog 142 for December 21, 2019
I AM THINKING ABOUT
Going to the Holy Land has been one of the greatest highlights of our life’s journey. Walking where Jesus walked. Going to Bethlehem. Seeing places where Jesus lived out His purposeful life; His message of love, of redemption, of paying our debts. Oh, what love. And one of the many places we visited was “Shepherd’s Field." The sheep know the Shepherd’s voice.
One of my sweet friends is Phyllis Parker Webb of the famous Rick Webb Family Singers. On our retirement, two and a half years ago, she presented us with one of her original oil paintings, entitled “MY Sheep Listen To MY Voice." It hangs in our home for all to see. I share a picture of it here for you.
As the inhabitants of the Roman World were preparing to go to their own town to register for the census for taxation purposes, a decree that Caesar Augustus issued, shepherds were out in their fields watching over their flocks per their custom. Joseph and pregnant Mary made their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register, traveling at least 85 miles, either on foot or sitting on a donkey. And while they were there, she delivered her firstborn Son; wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. Too busy a time...so many people there, registering for the census.
The shepherds were living in the fields nearby, watching over their flocks at night, when an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and naturally, they were afraid. As God’s angels always do, they said, “Do not be afraid." Then the angel gave the shepherds the good news of great joy; the sign - Christ the Lord was born in a manger. “Lord” was commonly applied to Caesar, but it was also a title for God in the O.T. So whenever Jesus was called “Lord,” both Jewish and Roman ears would have perked up. God was in Jesus bringing salvation in a way that the greatest Roman emperor could not even imagine.
Shepherds were ordinary people. The sign; this Savior, Christ, and Lord, would be found in a feeding trough rather than in the lap of luxury in an imperial palace. When the angel had left, the shepherds said one to another (they kept saying to one another), “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. The shepherds believed the angel’s message. So they hurried and found them as the angel had said. When they had seen the Child, they spread the word and all who heard it were amazed. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. The Baby in the manger was confirmation of the angel’s message.
The story of the shepherds relates so closely to our great Shepherd. Please enjoy these YouTube videos, Evie singing “Shepherd of Love” and the Hoppers, singing “Gentle Shepherd.”
I’m so glad that the Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23. Hope He is your Shepherd, too.
Blog 141 for December 14, 2019
I AM THINKING ABOUT THE SINGING ANGELS!
Angelic visitations are associated with Jesus’ birth. While every child’s birth is special; they are not normally announced by angels. Luke 2 records the birth of Jesus; and the angels sang the 4th Nativity Hymn, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
- Nativity Hymn #1 was sung by Elizabeth. (Luke 1:42-45)
- Nativity Hymn #2 was sung by Mary. (Luke 1:46-55)
- Nativity Hymn #3 was sung by Zechariah. (Luke 1:68-79)
A familiar angel to us all is Gabriel, the arch-angel, who announced that Mary would have a Child who would be the Messiah, and also, the Son of the Most High God. Gabriel also appeared to Zechariah and announced the birth of John the Baptist. Gabriel appeared to Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary, and told him that Mary’s Child was the Son of God. That night, Jesus was born; a host of angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem, announcing that “there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1) And at a later date, Gabriel warned Joseph to leave Bethlehem to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13) Another angel, when the time was ripe, told Joseph it was safe to return to his Jewish homeland. (Matthew 2:19-21)
Angels are spirit beings who serve God. Psalm 91:11 says, “He will give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways." WOW! How wonderful is this. Over our 80 plus years, Charles & I remember with thanksgiving, the many CLEAR times, God has covered us. He has had us in the palm of His hands. He was watching over us all the time. He saved us from calamity. When you are on the Lord’s side, He has your back. He goes before you, preparing the way. Lyrics of a favored song flood my mind today…"Never a burden that He does not carry. Never a sorrow that He does not share. Whether the day may be sunny or dreary. Jesus, (that Baby born in Bethlehem) Jesus is always there."
Kirk Talley wrote a song about angels, “Serenaded by Angels." You can easily view it on YouTube. You have a lot of choices but the best one I like is him singing it at one of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Homecoming videos. Our response to being “serenaded by angels” or (“touched by angels") is to believe the message, obey the message, glorify and praise God, and spread the Good News.
The YouTube I want you to enjoy is Bill and Gloria Gather’s Homecoming video, taken in South Africa, and the song is, “Angels We Have Heard On High." You will be blessed.
Blog 140 for December 7, 2019
I AM THINKING ABOUT THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
As I began thinking about Christmas, I decided to explore more about the ADVENT SEASON. The four weeks leading up to Christmas is a time to reflect on what that Baby born in Bethlehem’s stall so long ago, means to us. He means everything for sure; but I wonder, can we even comprehend it all?
The ADVENT SEASON anticipates His coming, His arrival, His birth; and It gives perspective on the "WORD” made flesh. Yes, it is Jesus, the WORD, arriving in human form as a baby on that first Christmas morning. The WORD truly became flesh! John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD.” John 1:14 says “The WORD became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (The God-Man)
The WORD, who was with God and who created this vast universe (vs. 1-3), became a human being. The theological term for this is “incarnation.” To say, He who is God became flesh, sets Him apart from all other teachers, prophets, and religions. This is amazing. What the incarnation tells us is that God is not a distant God. And, because He became flesh, there remains forever a closeness to humanity. Remember the little chorus that we love to sing…"He’s as close as the mention of His name.”
As I think of Jesus, the Savior of the world, the God-Man and the Son of Man, I realize that we have an accessible God. WOW! Another song comes to mind that I’ve enjoyed through the years: “I never walk alone. Christ walks beside me. He is the dearest friend I’ve ever known. With such a friend to comfort and to guide me. I NEVER, no I never walk alone.”
In the Old Testament, the statement, “I will be with you,” appears more than 100 times. And that same truth is told throughout the New Testament with such phrases as, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Feast on these additional scriptures. In Jesus Christ, God has made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). Matthew points to Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “They will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). And, Matthew tells us in (1:23) that Immanuel means “God WITH us.” Again, Matthew tells us in (28:20) that Jesus’ last words to His disciples were these, "and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
One preacher’s sermon went like this:
Who is Immanuel? Immanuel is GOD with us.
Where is Immanuel? Immanuel is God WITH us.
Who is Immanuel with? Immanuel is God with US.
I serve an awesome God. “And, He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Enjoy the YouTube of “In the Garden” and praise Him for His closeness. What a mighty God we serve!
Blog 139 for November 30, 2019
(Part 5 of 5)
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
I AM THANKFUL FOR CHRISTMAS
Can you believe Christmas, 2019, is only a few days away? It almost seems like yesterday that we celebrated Christmas 2018. But no sweat for me, because I love Christmas. The Immaculate Conception is amazing. When we focus on Baby Jesus and how He came to this earth, Deity becoming humanity, it is amazing. Our faces light up. Our eyes open wide. We have the look of wonder. We want to hear more. Wow-We! Tell me more about Jesus. Lest you are still blindsided; I, for one, am thankful for Christmas!!!
Micah 5:2, one of the many Messianic prophecies, announced way ahead of time, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. We live “eons” after the many Messianic prophecies. We live after Jesus’ earthly life and His ascension back to Heaven. We have eternal life today because He came as a Babe in Bethlehem with a purpose...to pay our sin debt. At this Christmas season, I honor Jesus and His “whosoever will” Redemption plan. Because of “whosoever will”, I got to partake. And let me tell you, “It is glory just to walk with Him”.
I wish for you and yours a glorious Christmas, as you celebrate with Family and Friends, JESUS, MESSIAH! He makes life worth living. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Blog 138 for November 23, 2019
(Part 4 of 5)
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
I AM THANKFUL FOR SECOND CHANCES
November is moving so rapidly. We’re now home in Florida, close to our children and their families, and close to many great friends. I’m so thankful. When I started my blogs for November, I said early on, that “The Lord has filled my world with a lifetime of abundant blessings.” It is so. A huge blessing is a second chance. I’ve needed many of these throughout my life. Remember that little saying we learned as a kid. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again until you do succeed.” Well, I had many “start overs and second chances.”
Have you had any “oops” in your life? I have. Sometimes, it’s as simple as writing a check, and you mess it up. So you have to start again. Sometimes, it’s the things you say or write. The words are not right, so you have to start over again.
Sometimes it’s the ingredients you put into your mind. They are of poor quality. They turn out to be disastrous. They lead us to a dark place. We need help. We need to start over again. It’s then that The Potter gives us a second, third, even fourth chance to start over. Oh, how great is His love toward us.
Have you been broken? Are you addicted to a dead-end street? Is the hole you’re in, so deep, you think you can never get out again? Have you grieved the Lord with some recent choice? Do you need help? Do you want help? Do you feel like giving up? Do you yearn for sweet peace and for faith to increase? Do you cry for deliverance? How many times I’ve said, “I’m so sorry Lord.” I’ve messed up, done some things I shouldn’t have. I needed forgiveness. I needed to start over again. I needed a second chance. And God gave me that opportunity...to start over again. PTL.
I’ve been feasting on Dr. Jerry Goff’s great song, “He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away,” as I’ve listened to several artists, sing his great song. Oh, my, what a blessing! It just makes you love Jesus more. Please be inspired to start over again if need be, as you listen to this song. Be inspired to lift your voice in praise to the Lord for His great love for you. He’s the God of the second chance. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His Holy Name.” Enjoy. Be raptured as you listen to Dr. Jerry’s song.
Blog 137 for November 16, 2019
(Part 3 of 5)
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
I AM THANKFUL FOR TEACHABLE MOMENTS
There are not enough days, not enough hours, not enough minutes to get in all my praising. I am still praising the Lord; thanking Him for establishing my goings and building me up in the most Holy Faith; praising Him for my Birth Family and my Personal Family and for YOU.
Growing up, I had a myriad of teachable moments. As one can imagine, family life is a special place for learning. We learn from each other. We especially learn from parents, from siblings, from teachers, from pastors, from you, our friends. Remember that what you do and what you say and how you act are teachable moments for us all, especially to those looking on.
From my birth family, I learned to respect my elders; to obey, to share, to love each other, to tell the truth, to get along with others, etc. One could go on and on. (Somewhere in the scheme of things is the hickory stick, the switch, the paddle, etc.) There is so much learning in family life; not only positive things but negative things as well, such as, do not cheat; do not fight, etc. Thank you, Jesus, for lessons learned from the family.
From teachers and pastors, I learned right from wrong, God’s plan of salvation, truths in God’s Word, the 10 Commandments, to tell the truth, to be a team player, to serve, to pray, to mend fences, to admit guilt, to be kind, to not cheat, and so much more.
From life, from YOU, I’ve learned to be a good neighbor, to share the bounty with others, to care for others, when hurt, to let Jesus bind up my wounds, to not hold a grudge, to not return evil for evil, but good for evil, to work out problems, to pray lots, and to study God’s Word, finding help, hope, and healing in the Bible.
Children teach us. Friends, associates, & others teach us. The influence of others plays a huge part in the teaching process. Difficult times teach us. And we must let those difficult, hurtful, heartbroken, & stressful times, move us closer to God. We must become better, not bitter. We can always run to our “Hiding Place” for God will take care of us. After all these years, I’m still standing; that’s proof enough for me.
The songwriter said it this way, “I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions about tomorrow, there’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong, but in every situation, God gave blessed consolation that my trials come to only make me strong. Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all, oh I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”
God’s Word says it this way, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Phil. 4:6
Enjoy this YouTube video of “Through it All” by the Boothe Brothers.
He’s teaching and I keep “learning to lean.”
Blog 136 for November 9, 2019
(Part two of five)
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
I AM THANKFUL FOR MY PERSONAL FAMILY
How blessed I am. I have my wonderful husband, Charles; my son, Chuck, his wife, Kaye, children, Kyle, Michael. Tyler, and their spouses; my daughter, Micki, her husband, Bob, and children, Cody, and Chase. Charles and I pray for them every day.
God chose Charles for me. And, He birthed in our family, two children, the “almost perfect” son and the “almost perfect” daughter (“almost” because only GOD is perfect). God chose them for us, their personalities & their appearances because WE needed them. They have given us many teachable moments. Without them even knowing it, they have contributed to our spiritual growth and increased wisdom. And, I am sure God has used Charles and me to contribute teachable moments for them. Then God started adding to that number, as our family grew from generation to generation.
It’s fun to reminisce those beginning days of our personal family. It started with an “in love” courtship; that developed into a 59-year marriage (as of August 19, 2019). There in my hometown of Houston, Mississippi, on that August day in 1960, we said our vows before God and man at my Nazarene Church. That was the start of my personal family.
In 1961, our son, Chuck, was born in Nashville, TN. Soon after his birth, we moved to our first pastorate in Greenwood, MS, where I taught in the High School. Those toddler years were so precious. Though I prepared to teach on the secondary level, I just love little preschoolers.
From Greenwood, MS, we moved to West Memphis, AR, where our daughter, Micki, was born. I taught there as well. As the years came and went, and our children grew older, those moves from one church pastorate to another were hard on them. But they were “troopers.” Soon after arriving at a new place, they had found NEW friends.
And now, many years have passed. Those toddlers, have personal family stories to tell, themselves. Into every personal family story, some rain will fall. Our personal story is not without pain. But I’m so glad that God has walked the journey with us every step of the way. We have never had to walk it alone. As we soon face the last stretch of God’s winding road to our eternal home, Charles & I will be walking “Hand in Hand with Jesus.”
In the meantime, we want the Charles Kirby Family circle to be unbroken in God’s Heaven. All accounted for. All redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. All praising God for all He’s done. I am so blessed with a great personal family. Thank you, Jesus.
“Enter into His gates with THANKSGIVING...be thankful to Him and bless His Name.” Psalm 100:4.
Please enjoy this YouTube, all-time favorite song, “For All He’s Done,” sung by Greater Vision
Blog 135 for November 2, 2019
(Part one of five)
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
I’M THANKFUL FOR MY BIRTH FAMILY.
November is here. It ushers in THANKSGIVING DAY, our 4th Thursday of the month. What a wonderful holiday; a time for family and friends to get together for good food, great fellowship, and bountiful thanks.
The Lord has filled my world with a lifetime of abundant blessings. It all started on November 17, 1938. My mother gave birth to me “way down” in the Mississippi Delta. God had pre-arranged my specific family, my birth, and my subsequent life. His plan for me started in eternity.
I was blessed at the beginning, as I still am in this 4th quarter of my life. Already, God had a secure, loving family nest picked out for me; 2 great parents and 2 caring sisters, with an order in for a big brother to join us later. There was no need for me to be afraid in this new world. I felt loved. I felt snuggled. I felt like stretching. I felt like smiling. WOW!
In this family, I grew up, learned right from wrong. God had provided a safe environment; a heritage of His Word and His Redemption plan. I heard God’s Word from faithful pastors, Sunday School teachers, and training at home. I went to church with my sisters, and we even sang specials there. It was during these growing up years that I gave my heart to Jesus. I confessed my sins, asked His forgiveness, believed that He died on a cross for me, was buried, and resurrected Himself; yes, I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and I was saved. So, almost since the age of accountability, I have loved and served Jesus. “How can I say thanks for the things He has done for me...things so undeserved…”
The whole month of November is not too long for me to COUNT MY BLESSINGS and PRAISE THE LORD! My Dad and Mom are waiting for me in Heaven. My sister Mildred, waits for me, too! Gwendolyn, Fred, and I will one day join them as we, the GUS PEARSON FAMILY, all together, PRAISE GOD and CAST OUR CROWNS AT JESUS’ FEET.
I am “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20) Enjoy Evie Tornquist as she sings “MY TRIBUTE.”