THE GIFT OF GOD

Mother and Child- by Ruth Elliott at 16 yrs old, in Pen and Ink.)

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Christmas celebrations, rejoicing, and thanksgiving are appropriate for the gift that God gives us in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. The carols can be wonderful! In the background are the many passages in the Old Testament that foretold the coming of the Messiah.

”Therefore the Lord himself will give a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6,7)

“In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek and his dwellings shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah; from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore, he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth.”then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel.” (Micah 5:2,3)

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:10-13)

“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her: the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34,35) “And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)

Caesar Augustus decreed a census for a large section of the Mediterranean world, that included Judea. As required, Joseph, with Mary, went up to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. During that stay, Mary gave birth to Jesus. The inn was filled. They found a place for the baby in a manger. In a nearby region, shepherds were watching their sheep. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them. He told the shepherds not to be afraid—that the Christ was born. The shepherds came to the manger. They told Mary and Joseph of what the angels had said to them.

They met the prophetess, Anna, who gave thanks to God, and spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. They returned to Nazareth And the child grew and became strong. They brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. They encountered Simeon, who inspired by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

As we look forward to the growth of Jesus Christ into adulthood, we recognize the magnificent qualities that he posses. He was a great speaker and leader. He is the founder of the Church. He healed many, including raising people from death. He is the greatest man who has ever lived!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made though him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4)

We give gifts at Christmas time because of the gift that God has given to us, and the example of the Wise Men who came from Persia bringing gifts to the Messiah gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
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GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES

“HE IS COMING!”                Photo by Tatjana Kaufmann / Getty Images

By Foster H. Shannon

Advent is the observance of the birth of Jesus Christ from Sunday December 3 to Sunday December 24. It is the realization of the promises of the prophets in the Old Testament. It is the fulfillment of the hopes of all believers. Out of our understanding, it brings great joy. The music brings delight. Celebrations are appropriate and uplifting. The inspired word of God affirms the coming of the Messiah:

Genesis 49:10 ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he come to whom it belongs, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

Numbers 24:17, “I see him but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”

Psalm 72:1-7 “Give the king thy justice O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son! May he judge the people with righteousness and thy poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, and give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor! May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon throughout all generations! May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days, may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more.”

Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.”

Isaiah 11:1-3, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Isaiah 9:6,7, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”

Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, as passages from the Old Testament had prophesied. As a young man he worked as a carpenter with his adopted father. He was baptized by John the Baptist. At that time, the Spirit of God was seen to descend upon him. Jesus attended a wedding feast with his mother. When they ran out of wine, Jesus turned water into wine; the first of many miracles. During his time of ministry he healed many. He gave sight to the blind,  healed crippled bodies and raised people from the dead. He exercised the power of God because he was the Son of God, very God of very God. He gathered twelve men to be his disciples. With them he declared the gospel in Judea, Galilee, Samaria, the east side of the Jordan, and north of Galilee. He assured those who heard him that if they believed in him they would be forgiven of their sins, and live with him in heaven. Thousands of people came to see and hear him. The higher classes were jealous and fearful of him. They crucified him to get him out of their way. He was buried. On the third day, he was raised from the dead, appeared to his disciples and to many others.

He was the most famous man ever to live. Tens of millions have believed in him, and have been transformed as the result of that belief. Our lives are better due to his teachings. We have much to celebrate when we remember the teachings of the Bible, the example of Jesus, salvation, regeneration, and making our home with him in Heaven.

Merry Christmas!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

CHRISTMAS IS NEAR

The Greatest Gift…

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We see wonderful Christmas decorations as we drive around town. If you listen to KUSC-FM, at this time of year, you are listening to great Christmas music. The Christmas season is properly a time of joy. It is also a time for families and dinners and gifts. It is our celebration of the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem. A devout young woman named Mary was appointed by God to be the mother of the Savior. She must have been unbelievably stunned when the angel Gabriel told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.

“In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus….And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no husband….And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word and the angel departed from her. (From Luke 1:26-38)

Mary did not say to the Angel Gabriel that he had come to the wrong town and was speaking to the wrong woman. She accepted God’s will for her life! Perhaps, it was easier than we think, because she knew many of the Old Testament passages that spoke of a coming Messiah:

God spoke to Moses:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed.” Deuteronomy 18:15

“…But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

We gather in our churches to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We read the passages that pertain to his birth. We sing the glorious hymns of Christmas. We offer our thanks to God. There are a lot of things that we can do, but we must remember that the great gift in Christmas is Jesus Christ. The first Christmas gifts were given by the Magi to our Savior and his family.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

PRINCE OF PEACE

manger_scene

“For to us a child is born; to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6,7

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

The word “peace” is used more than 320 times in the Bible. That puts it in the category of very important. The Christmas season elevates the reality and value of peace. We properly associate promises of peace with the advent of our Savior.

An angel appeared to shepherds in the field at the time of Jesus’ birth:

 “And suddenly there was 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!” ~Luke 2:13,14

Almost all of us prefer peace. We do not want trouble. We don’t like arguments. We don’t want to be robbed. We want to avoid physical harm. We do not want to lose members of our family and our friends due to violence. We dread the destruction and devastation of war. The people of Isis and Boko Haram do not want peace. They find war and killing delicious. They believe it to be their calling. They are servants of the devil. Jesus Christ gives us peace in many ways:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ~John 14:27

In Jesus Christ we find peace of mind because we know that we are here for a purpose. God wants us to be his children, and to belong to him forever. Though we go astray and disobey him, he teaches us through the scriptures and redeems us in Jesus Christ. At times when I am troubled or hear from someone that he or she is troubled, I suggest, begin reading in the Psalms. Of course, we must read the New Testament, that tells us in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ we may be forgiven of our sins and set on a new path. If we do not have peace, we need to draw closer to our Savior.

In Jesus Christ we can find peace in our family, and among our associates.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:2,3

“So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”  ~Matthew 7:14

In Jesus Christ peace is possible among nations thanks to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of our Savior. Unfortunately we have tyrants who have no regard for God and his teachings. When Christ comes, he will bring permanent peace.

“All of the ends of the earth shall remember and shall turn to the Lord; and all of the families of the nations shall worship him. For dominion belongs to the Lord. And he rules over the nations.” ~Psalm 22:27,28

When we struggle with ourselves, in our families, and among others, let us turn to Jesus Christ who is our friend, our Savior, and our eternal future. The Christmas Season is appropriately a time of joy!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

SHOULD WE TAKE CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS?

Xmas Tree at the Grove in LA

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Thanksgiving is past and the four weeks of Advent have begun. We look forward to celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior on December 25—the day that Christians have chosen to worship and celebrate our Lord’s birthday for at least 1700 years.

Christmas has become a festival of grand proportions, with the idea of giving to our Savior and living for him—turned by many into celebrations that are pagan and offensive. While they came at a time later than the birth of Jesus, the Magi traveled for perhaps a thousand miles to give gifts to our Lord—and, thus, have inspired us in the giving of gifts not only to our Savior, but also to one another. For some it is just one more holiday to eat, drink, and be merry. There should be joy in the celebration of Christmas. We should not begrudge that to anyone. But those of us who believe in the Lord should remember that it is indeed the birth of our Lord that we celebrate, and not our own birthday. [Yes, I acknowledge that for one out of every 365 people, it will be their birthday!]

Some of the ways that Christmas is celebrated have gotten out of hand, and are not in harmony with worship and rejoicing in our Savior. But this should not deter us from recognizing that this is a season for us to sing great hymns and songs and that the story of the advent of Jesus Christ is tremendously dramatic and marvelous. In it we see the hand of God and the gift of salvation that he brings to all who will acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. With that understanding as the background, it is appropriate for us to celebrate in our Churches and in our homes and to send greetings to family and friends. The true joy comes when our attention is focused on the grandeur and goodness of our God.

We regret that some are offended at the celebration of the birth of our Lord. They wish that we would be quiet and even silent. Some are so perturbed and offended that they seek by rules and legislation to forbid any public signs of celebrating Christmas. On the one hand, we should be respectful of those who disagree with us. On the other hand, we should not be ashamed of our belief and faith. On our coins and currency we read, “In God we trust”. The houses of Congress and the Supreme Court open their sessions with prayer. Read the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and the signers appealed to the authority of God. The solid rock of the laws and authority of God was a foundation on which our nation was built.

If we forget and deny that truth, the structure on which our nation is built will crumble. Those who founded our nation understood that we are dependent upon God and his purposes. Let us not be deterred by those who say they are offended, nor by those who attempt to rewrite our history. If we follow them, we will find ourselves shipwrecked. We should stand for our right to affirm what we believe, but we should do that in the spirit of the teachings of scripture:

James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.”

We do not seek to deny the followers of other religions or beliefs the celebration of their festivals—neither should they deny us that right. Have a wonderful Advent and a Merry Christmas!

 

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs. ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!