Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Original St. Nicholas Embodied the True Spirit of Christmas

Pastor Mike Franzone

In 280 A.D., in a small town called Patara in Asia Minor, a child named Nicholas was born. His parents were known far and wide and were of considerable wealth. But tragedy came early, for in a horrible epidemic, the young lad lost both his parents. The small boy became an orphan, albeit a wealthy one. Before their untimely death, his parents had bestowed on him a unique gift – the gift of faith. The little boy was sent to Myra to live, and he had a life full of sacrifice and love. He devoted himself to serving God and others in the spirit of Jesus.

As the young man grew, so did his faith. Nicholas had become so like Jesus that when the town needed a bishop, he was elected. The bishop gave much of his wealth to the poor. Stories about his kindness and generosity spread. It was reported that he once saved three girls from a life of degradation by giving each a bag of gold to be used as a dowry to obtain a husband. Many times he would disguise himself and give gifts to poor village children. It seemed there was a special place in his heart for children. They brought such great joy into his life.

He was imprisoned for his faith by Emperor Diocletian, and then released by Emperor Constantine. Even in the midst of persecution and imprisonment, he always shared his meager provisions with the inmates. He believed that giving to the needy was the same as giving to Jesus. After his release he continued his work of giving hope to those in need. In time, he spent his entire inheritance. He died in the year 314. His body later was moved to Italy, where his remains are to this day.

The story of Nicholas has spread around the world. There are more churches named after St. Nicholas than any other person in history. But people have done some strange things to him. The poet Clement Moore gave him a red nose and eight tiny reindeer. Thomas Nast, the illustrator, made him big and fat and even gave him a red suit trimmed with fur. Others have given him names like Belsnick, Kriss Kringle and Santa Claus.

But what is really important to remember during this season is that young Nicholas had the mind of Christ. He did not exploit his privilege but laid it aside. He possessed a servant’s heart and a gentle self-less love that touched the world. The humility of Nicholas has provided us with an example to follow.

Keep this simple message of Christmas with you all throughout the new year: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

This post was written by Pastor Mike Franzone.
Mike works in the Health Initiatives Department at Christian Care Ministry.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Battle in the Mind

by Andrew Wommack

Matthew 21:21 "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done."

Jesus makes it very clear that we must have faith and doubt not. Every believer has faith, but most believers also have an abundance of doubt that negates their faith. It is when we purify our faith and only believe, that victory comes.

Every Christian is at war. There is a perpetual struggle against Satan and his kingdom where there are no "leaves" or "discharges." Our enemy goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Those who resist the devil will see him flee (Jas. 4:7). The only ones whom he devours are those who don't actively fight against him.

The mind is the battlefield where thoughts and reasonings that are contrary to God's Word, need to be captured and submitted to Christ, our Commander.

Just as enemy soldiers are captured in war, so rebel thoughts must be taken captive and made to submit to Christ. Our battle against the devil takes place right between our ears. The spiritual weapons given to us are designed for the express purpose of taking EVERY thought captive and making them obedient to Christ. Keeping our minds completely stayed upon the Lord is an obtainable goal.

These weapons of ours are for the casting down of two things: Imaginations; and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Both of these areas are dealing with the mind. Focus on the good in every area of your life. Failure to recognize God's blessings in every day living will cause care and anxiety. Recognizing God's hand in even the smallest thing will cause peace and keep our hearts and minds following hard after the Lord.

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The Amazing, Intuitive Empathy of Dogs

by Dr. Jessica Vogelsan

Dogs not only make us laugh and keep us company, they often serve as sources of strength during emotionally challenging times. Read Dr. V‘s insightful post now!

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