Archive | December, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

19 Dec

FamilyPicture

From our family to yours, the Corbins wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!  I will not resume blogging until early January 2015 in order to take a couple of weeks to devote to family and planning for 2015.  Thanks for reading this blog. Your feedback and affirmation is a great blessing to me. Since I have had a number of people ask me recently, I will be preaching at Lakeside each Sunday during the Christmas/New Years season – December 21, December 28, and January 4.   Join us at 8:00 or 10:30 a.m. each Sunday.

Grief during the Christmas season

16 Dec

As I write these words, a precious family is due to arrive at our church facilities in about an hour for a visitation and memorial service.  To lose a loved one is painful no matter the time of year, but when it happens so close to Christmas that seems to heighten the pain for years to come.  What is described in the famous song as “the most wonderful time of the year” is anything but that for these families who endure grief at Christmastime. When a person passes away in the immediate days before and after Christmas, it’s easy for many friends and family to be “out of pocket” with holiday travel and not able to respond as they normally would.  Please allow me to share a few of my personal thoughts about grief during the Christmas season…

1)  Remember that life & death do not stop for Christmas.  I have seen people pass away on Christmas morning. I have seen families spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day at the bedside of terminal ill family members.  The ICU waiting rooms at hospitals are just as crowded as they are the rest of the year.

2)  The “firsts” are a particularly difficult part of the grief process.  The first Christmas after a person passes away can be unbearable for the family.  Probably every one of us knows some family who is dreading Christmas day because it will be the first Christmas without their loved one.

3)  Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone.   Call someone you know is grieving this Christmas.  You don’t know what to say?  Just tell them you prayed for them today and wanted to give them a call. Write a hand written card.  Don’t be afraid to mention the person who has passed away; they are certainly on the heart of the grieving.  You do not make their grief worse by mentioning them.  Go visit someone who is at the bedside of a dying loved one. Find someone to reach to.

4)  Practical help is a great expression of love.  For the family who is spending days in the ICU waiting room, gift cards to restaurants near the hospital are tremendously appreciated and a practical blessing.  Maybe they are stressed because circumstances have prevented them from doing any Christmas shopping. An hour to just talk over coffee could be the best Christmas gift someone receives.

5)  Prayer is powerful.  It’s easy to say “we are praying for you” as we go through the line at the funeral home.  Actually remembering to pray for them is another matter. Take the time to specifically pray for the grieving this Christmas.

God keeps His word

12 Dec

God keeps His word. Every time. No exceptions. Did you know that is one of the great themes of the Christmas story we are all familiar with?  It all begins during a crisis in Judah that took place over 700 years before Christ was born. King Ahaz is ruling in Judah and he receives word of a crisis.  Two kings have joined forces and they are preparing to drive south and invade Judah.  The situation is dire. King Ahaz is terrified. You can read all about this episode in the first few verses of Isaiah 7. Certainly, it’s dire for King Ahaz’s immediate future, but there are even larger issues at stake: the family line of David ruling God’s people. If Ahaz dies, the family line dies.  If the family line of David dies and there is no descendant of David on the throne, then God has not kept His word because He specifically promised that David’s rule would be forever through his descendants.  It was in this situation that God gave one of the most famous promises in the Bible…

Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:13–14, NKJV)

God reassures King Ahaz that He will absolutely keep His word through the miraculous birth of a child who would be called Immanuel – which means “God with us.”  Over and over again in the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is described as a descendant of David who will continue the Davidic dynasty forever.  Now, fast forward over 700 years to the very first verse in the New Testament…

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1, NKJV)

The New Testament opens with the statement that Jesus Christ is a descendant of King David.  Then Matthew spends the first 17 verses of the Gospel tracing Jesus’ family lineage through Joseph.  Matthew does all of this to prove that Jesus had the lineage of the Messiah. Beginning with Matthew 1:18 the attention turns to the description of the events of Jesus’ birth. Guess which Old Testament verse is quoted right in the middle of that?

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”” (Matthew 1:22–23, NKJV)

That’s right. Matthew directly quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show that Jesus’ birth is the ultimate fulfillment of that promise God made over 700 years ago.  It’s like the Gospel narrative is screaming out in bold “God keeps His word!!”  While there are many great truths and applications we gain from the Christmas story in the Bible, this one is often overlooked.  Don’t overlook it any more.  If you are entering this Christmas season with doubt and uncertainty, the simple Christmas story is proof that God always keeps His word. If you are reading this and you are not a believer, then you can give your life to Christ, not matter your background or degree of guilt. This is true because God always keeps His word.  Merry Christmas!

Living between the Advents

5 Dec

Many Christian churches observe what is called Advent on the Sundays leading up to Christmas.  The term “advent” has Latin roots and simply means “coming.”  It refers to the coming of Christ.  As early as the fourth century, Christian churches were designating a period of time leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  It began as a time of fasting, but by the Middle Ages, the Advent season had become largely standardized into four Sundays.  This is why we refer to “the second Sunday of Advent,” etc. In addition to the Advent emphasis in the Sunday worship services, many Christians prepare an Advent wreath at their home or follow some type of Advent devotional.

The churches I have served in have been Southern Baptist churches, and many Baptists traditionally haven’t emphasized the Advent season nearly as much as their Methodist or Presbyterian friends. However, I do believe it is healthy this time of year to look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth. Advent can be a great way to cut through the busyness and materialism of this time of year and focus on Christ.

Advent helps us look forward to our celebration of the birth of Christ.  That’s the first advent.  However, there will be a second advent on a day in the future when Christ returns.  Christ’s first advent came in a manger in Bethlehem, but His second advent will come in power and glory as He splits the eastern sky and stands on the Mount of Olives.  Christ’s first advent brought our salvation, and His second advent will bring it to its eternal conclusion.  Christ’s first advent broke the penalty of sin over all who will place their faith in Christ, but Christ’s second advent will break the power and presence of sin – ridding the world of all its effects.

We live our lives between two advents – two “comings” of Christ. On December 25, we celebrate the first advent, and we live faithfully and hopefully looking forward to the second advent. Glory to God in the highest!  Praise Him!  Maranatha!