Christmas Gift

My family has a tradition on Christmas day to be the first to say, Christmas Gift! to another member of the family. It started years ago but it helps us to remember that the greatest Christmas gift is offered to us all by Jesus.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. – John 7:37-39

God made us for an intimate relationship with Himself, and we cannot get our deepest needs met anywhere else but in Him. Jesus offers the only satisfaction for spiritual thirst. In verse 38, from within them refers to the innermost recesses of the body.

Just as it was a miracle of God for water to flow from a rock in the Old Testament (giving life) it is greater miracle of God to have the Holy Spirit flowing from His people and eternal life.

Praise be to God for this gift!
Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Returning Joy

This season our church had a theme of Joy! It reminds me of the great song of Christmas, Joy to the World was written by English hymn writer Isaac Watts. The song was first published in 1719. We’ve all enjoyed singing this song, let’s look at the Word that inspired it out of Psalm 98:

1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. 3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; 5 make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King. 7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; 9 let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

Jesus came 2,000 years ago, and He is coming again!

Be ready always for His return. Amen
Pastor Ty Choate


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Everyone

Today let’s look a little a closer at the Christmas story as found in
Luke 2:8-20.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Good News of Christ is personal, and is available to all people. Once you have encountered the living Christ you will never be the same – just like the shepherds! They spread the news and everyone was amazed.

May we be excited to take the Good News to the world just like those on the first Christmas. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Slow Down

It’s easy this time of year to get over extended and anxious about many things. Slow down! Take a breath – enjoy a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) and be reminded of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

When we don’t trust in God to provide we end up running around and worrying needlessly. You have what you have because of God’s faithfulness not by our own devices. Trust in Him who protects, provides, and guides. We just need to be obedient.

Be wise and seek to always live life God’s way. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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What Love Is

This is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 that I recently was reminded of. Please enjoy and think about it!

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of LOVE will endure.
-Author Unknown
God so loved the world that He sent Jesus – to you, me, and everyone. It’s not based on what we did, but on how much he loves us. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Being First

The word “firstborn” can mean first in birth order, but also first in sequence, or first in rank. Matthew 1:25 – Joseph did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Jesus is “firstborn” in other ways too:

1. He is God’s firstborn. ( Hebrews 1:6 & Psalms 89:27)
2. He is firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15)
3. He is firstborn from the dead (Revelation 1:5)
4. He is firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29)

May Jesus always be first in your life- heart, mind, body, and soul. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Drinking

If Jesus was never born we would never experience His baptism. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:13 – 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.

Three practical requirements for receiving the Holy Spirit:

1. We must be thirsty Recognize you need more than you already have. Thirst is one of the greatest desires in the human body. If you are really thirsty you can’t think of anything else.

2. Jesus said “come to me”. If you want the baptism then you must come to the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.

3. Then He said you must drink. Drinking is receiving something within you by a decision of your will and a physical response. Depending on what you are drinking it could be a good or bad thing. It is the best thing when receiving the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to “over-flow” in your life and that of others.

Thank you Jesus for coming and giving us the Holy Spirit.
Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Directions

We can learn much about honoring God from Joseph and Mary.

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. – Matthew 1:19
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. – Matthew 1:24
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.- Luke 1:38
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their throne but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”- Luke 1:46-55

What quality or faithfulness do you see in Joseph or Mary that you can apply to the choices you have to make?

May we always use the hope, truth, and love of Christ when we make choices. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Given

This is a prophetic word from Isaiah foretelling the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9:6-7 – For unto 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. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

What does “unto to us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given” mean?

I think that it is a reminder that Jesus is for everyone and He is a gift from God. Salvation is available for all who call on the Name of the Lord.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9

If we accept this gift of salvation then we too are reborn, and we are given to the Son. To give Him honor and glory all the days of our lives should be our main focus.

Amen
Pastor Ty Choate


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Ye Faithful

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. – Luke 2:15-16

We all know the song, O Come All Ye Faithful:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

We have that same calling and opportunity to experience Christ.

Remember the last verse?

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Accept Jesus in every area of 0your life. It’s the best present you could ever receive. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Christmas Mission

We are told of Jesus’ mission in the Old and New Testaments. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. – John 1:10-13 Some rejected Him. – the world and His own people. Some received Him. – those who believed became children of God.

In Isaiah 40:3 we see the prophesy of Jesus’ mission and John the Baptist. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (also quoted in Mark 1:3)

Do not be confused about Jesus’s mission. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:17

An impossible mission for a mere man. but with God nothing is impossible. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Decorations

In the past two hundred years, a new element has found its place in our Christmas celebration. It is from the Christian practices and symbols in Mexico that we have adopted this tradition. In the very early part of the 19th century, an American who served the United States as an ambassador spent a tour of duty in Mexico. He admired the dramatic beauty of the bright red poinsettia that grew rooftop high and bloomed profusely at Christmas. He was awed when Mexican Christians told him why the bright red poinsettias were a part of their celebration of the birth and life of Christ. In Mexico, the story goes like this: The Bethlehem star shone over the manger where Jesus was born. Its light so bright the earth responded, reflecting that star light, receiving that star light, mirroring that star light with a beautiful flower. Star shaped, radiant shaped, pure white petals, golden star centers. In Mexican lore, it was always the Flower of the Holy Night. It grew on earth as a creation to glorify and commemorate that Holy Night ‘For the stars shout forth the glory of God.’ Then came the tragic day when Jesus dies on the cross and the blossoms changed. Pure white petals remembered the sacrifice of the Christ born when the star was over Bethlehem. Flower of the Holy Night, star shaped, radiant shaped, blood red petals, star flowers for the Holy Night. Now, everywhere, on cards and on trees, in churches and in our homes, the poinsettia takes its place; reminding us of a Holy Night, pointing to a Good Friday.

The star stands out in significance as relevant and vital today as when God hung it in space. The Bible tells us that God commissioned a particular star to serve as a travel guide for a group of men from the East who had developed an interest in looking for a child to fulfill a prophecy that in Bethlehem a ruler to shepherd Israel would be born. They found Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in a house where they fell to their knees, worship the child, and gave Him gifts. The star is a symbol of God’s gift of direction to us. It is His travel guide to seekers who will look and follow. The star led the wise men to Jesus, the Light of world. As we light the tree and the star remember that Jesus is the true Light in a world of darkness, He points the way to God. 

May we remember to honor Jesus this Christmas. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is widely used in our celebration of Christmas. Some of our fondest memories of Christmas probably revolve around a tree that was placed in our homes during the season. Green trees, blue trees, frosty snow-covered trees, inside a warm room. Lighted trees, living trees, all are trees of Christmas. Our use of Christmas trees is so widespread, we have forgotten the beginning. Martin Luther put lighted candles on his tree to recapture the glistening twigs of the tree in the forest. He had been walking home and was amazed at the beauty of the stars.
He also topped his tree with a star to commemorate that star which was in the Bethlehem sky as recorded in scriptures: ‘Behold, there came wise-men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and we have come to worship Him.’ He said the Christmas tree, with its top pointing up to heaven, was like hands folded in prayer, pointing to the throne of grace, from which we received our Savior. 
David said, But I pray to you, LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.

And His (and our) prayer was answered – His name is Jesus.

Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Glory To God

Christmas reminds us that Glory came down from heaven in the form of a baby, Jesus! We must give Him all praise, honor, and glory. Paul writes to the church: God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! – Ephesians 3:20-21(MSG)

How does God show His love, hope, and truth to the world? One way is by sacrificing His life for ours. Prophesy tells us in Isaiah 53 (MSG)

Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this? 2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises, we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him. He looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, He took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Give God all the glory at Christmas and throughout the year. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Hope and Light

We see the facts surrounding Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:22-25. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

This passage is a very moving revelation of important truths of God’s plan for the world. Even though He is King of Kings, and all will bow in His honor, he was born in a borrowed room not a palace. Jesus came to show God’s love for people who feel they have nothing. God has known the same sadness.

Jesus alone brings hope and light in to a dark world. Once each year, Christmas comes along to renew our hope and to remind us that the darkness of this world cannot overcome the light of the world.

Allow Him to light up the dark areas of your life this year. With light comes clarity and direction. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Birth Plans

Jesus’ birth was planned by God. All details concerning His birth were exactly as they should have been.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. 17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:16-20

This shows that Jesus was the Son of God. Having no human father, conceived by the Holy Spirit shows His divinity. Born to a human mother shows His humanity.

The Great News is not that we are human, but that Jesus was born, died, and resurrected so that we can have the Holy Spirit living in us.

Are you just human, or holy and human?

Holiness only comes through Jesus. Amen?


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Who Is In Charge?

How does this reminder from the Word of God make you feel? Malachi 3:6 says “For I am the Lord, and I do not change.” Does this knowledge (or reminder) effect your life?

I think that we should have a passionate and clear vision of what God has called us to do. We should not judge our faith by public opinion polls or what’s fashionable, because these things change. I am a big believer in learning from the past but we also need to keep focused vertically and forward. Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new.”

How do you apply this verse to your life?

This is a new day! Today you stand on the edge of a new change, a new challenge, and a new commitment. The only way to proceed is trust, obey, and know the Word of God.

Trust in the one who knows your future. Amen?


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Confession

The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven of our sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness. This is the state of cleansing that God desires for us to be in. That’s what Zechariah 1:3-6 is talking about – God’s people will be cleansed by their confession.

Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? “Then they repented and said, ‘The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”

We see two things here:
1. Repent (Don’t be like your ancestors) – Don’t repeat the history of turning from God! Turnto God instead!

2. Remember God’s Word is forever (apply it, Joshua 1:7-9) “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Do life God’s way not your own way. Realize who is the true power source. So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6

Amen?


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Making Wise Choices

In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus talks about having Treasures in Heaven instead of accumulating wealth here in this life. Over the next few days we’ll unpack this great teaching and hopefully apply its lessons to our lives. Today let’s look at the first two verses about being rich?

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

There is a contrast here about two kinds of riches. There are Earthly riches, which you leave, and are temporary. Jesus says do not store up or focus on these, but instead on heavenly riches, which you receive in Glory which are eternal.

Our problem with riches is we choose the wrong thing. May we follow Jesus’ example and focus on what really lasts. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Gifts of Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a day to express grateful and thankful hearts. We’ll continue to look at things we should be thankful for from 1 Corinthians 1:7-9.

7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Gifts (v. 7) All believers are blessed with spiritual gifts we should share.
2. Protection (v. 8) Stand firm in the faith and allow the Lord to be your shield.
3. Faithfulness (v. 9) Give thanks to a faithful God by showing your faithfulness.
4. Fellowship (v. 9) Thank you Jesus for bringing us in to the family of God.

May we give thanks for today for all these and more. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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