Featured Post

The Temple (Part 4)

1 Kings 8:14,  20-21, 25-26 “14 Then the king {Solomon} turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Isra...

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Opportunities to Love

Matthew 11: 20-21

“20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

I used to work at a University in an office with a window that looked out at the University library.  Each day a great number of students, professors, and other people walked by on the sidewalk in front of the library.  

One fall day, a woman and her child were walking by, and the child was following behind her mother, looking up at the colorful leaves on the trees, kicking the leaves that had fallen, shouting with joy.  The mother looked back at her and yelled for her to catch up.   She was late for whatever appointment she was marching to.  

The mother was so intent on the things of life, that she missed the miracle of her daughter, and the miracle of life that her daughter was witnessing.  She missed an opportunity of great love and  joy.

The people of Chorazin and Bethsaida did not understand the miracles that Jesus had performed and that they had witnessed.  They missed an opportunity of knowing the great love and joy of Christ.

One of our great tasks in life is to pay attention to the things that really matter, like  the miracle of life in Christ, and the miracles of love and joy.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Living Our Faith

Matthew 8: 5-10

“5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 

Centurions were the most important soldiers of the Roman army, each commanding 100 men.  They were men of proven leadership skills who had won the respect of the men they led on the battlefield.  The centurion that approached Jesus was such a man.

The Centurion, a man of war, came face to face with God incarnate and he realized, in that instant, who he stood beside.   The Centurion, a leader of men, a man of proven worth in battle, was a man who felt unworthy standing in the presence of the Son of God.  At the same time, he knew that Jesus had the power to heal his servant, just by speaking.

In this Centurion Jesus saw not only a man of faith but a man of love and compassion, who had gone the extra mile for a person who was his servant, and probably his slave.  Most Romans would not have given a second thought to the suffering of such a person.  

Jesus held this Centurion up to His disciples as an example of faith.  Not only did the Centurion believe, he lived that belief.

And that is the faith to which we are called.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, January 29, 2024

Extraordinary Purpose

Luke 6: 12-19

“12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

Jesus chose the Twelve from among his disciples.  He needed an inner circle, a group who knew him intimately, who could tell his story and spread his message.  Jesus knew that his time on earth was nearing its end.  He chose these twelve so that he could write the gospel message on their hearts.

The Greek word for disciple means pupil or learner.  These twelve were to be learners chosen to become teachers and leaders.  The Greek word for Apostle means a person who is sent out.  They were to be sent out as envoys and ambassadors to the faith.

John Wesley once wrote “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”

Christ chose ordinary people for an extraordinary purpose.  They were fisherman and tax collectors, people of ordinary education and social status.  People like you and like me.

With twelve ordinary people empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christ changed the world.

Today, all Christians are called to be examples of Christ’s life and teachings in this world; to offer love where there is hate, peace where there is chaos, and forgiveness where there is retribution and anger.

And that is truly an extraordinary purpose.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Choosing the Good Deed

Mark 3: 1-6

“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”

In this passage Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus’ presence there attracted the attention of the Pharisees and they watched him closely to see if he broke the Sabbath law.

Jesus had the power to help the man with the withered hand, to improve his quality of life, to make him whole.  Not to do so, to turn his back on him even though he could help him, would have been evil.  Jesus had the choice of performing either a good deed or an evil deed.  The good deed would clearly violate the law.  The evil deed would comply with the law.  

So, which of these would the Pharisees prefer that he do on the Sabbath?  Their silence implied that they preferred the evil deed.  Christ chose the good deed. And because of this the Pharisees plotted to kill him.

Choosing the path of love, mercy and forgiveness is the spiritual way, the way of light, the way of Christ.

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Man Beside the Pool

John 5: 6-11

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

The pool that the sick man was lying near was believed to have healing properties.   It was believed that the first people to enter the waters when it began bubbling would regain their health.  The man lying by the pool wanted to get into the healing water of the pool but had no one to help him. 

Jesus asked him an important question, “Do you want to get well?  Instead of answering the question, the man explained the problem that was preventing him from getting into the pool.  I think the man thought that the answer to Jesus’ question was obvious.  He was laying beside a healing pool, yet he was not able to avail himself of its healing properties and no one would help him.  Jesus saw his frustration and his sincere desire to be made well and he healed him.

Do you want to get well?  This is the question we all have to answer.   If we say yes, how badly do we desire it?  Are we willing to do the things necessary to be healed? 

Are we willing to take up our mats and walk?

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Call of Matthew

Matthew 9: 9-11

“9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

To us, as well as the Pharisees, Matthew seems like an odd choice to be a disciple of Christ.  He was a hated tax collector.  Jews considered tax collectors to be sinners by virtue of their office.  By collecting taxes, tax collectors collected the money that Rome needed to continue their oppression of Israel.  For this they were considered traitors.  In addition, many tax collectors abused their office and collected many times over the amount that Rome required, and they kept the surplus for themselves.  We do not know if Matthew did this.

When Jesus called Matthew, he called a man who was universally hated in Israel, but Jesus could look past Matthew’s present status into Matthew’s heart and knew what he could become. In Matthew, Jesus found a trusted disciple.  In Jesus, Matthew found love, hope, and redemption.

God’s love is for everyone, even those society deems unworthy.  No one is ever too low, too far down, or too far gone for the hand of God to reach them.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Leper

Luke 5: 12-15

“12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

The leper approached Jesus in humility and faith.  Jesus recognized these qualities and made him clean.  Notice that Jesus healed the leper by touching him.  Jesus did not have to touch him to heal him.  A leper was seen as an untouchable, yet Jesus touched him.  By touching him, according to Jewish law, Jesus was unclean. Yet, Jesus was willing to touch the leper, because He saw His touch as integral to the leper’s healing.

Christian humility is grounded in our faith in Christ and is a quality that we are required to foster and develop. To act with a lack of humility is to fail to incorporate the teachings of Christ in our lives.

Humility enables us to love and touch the untouchable; to seek out and include the least, the last, and the lost in our mission and ministry; to love our enemies; and to turn the other cheek.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5)

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Crowds Surrounding Him

Matthew 4: 23-25

“23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”

Jesus began His ministry in Galilee. There, the crowds began to follow Him.  They followed Him to hear the good news of the kingdom and to be healed.  Christ was to be followed by large crowds much of His ministry.

They followed Him to the lakeside, they followed him into the hills and mountains, they followed him into the wilderness where there was no food or water, they followed him in the cities, they surrounded him during the day and in the night.  Once, the crowd was so thick that people cut a hole in the roof of the house where he was staying so that a person needing to be healed could be lowered to Him.

What is it that we seek from Jesus?  Over two thousand years have passed and the things that Christ offered the Galileans, healing and salvation, are still the things He offers us today.  

Christ is active in this world.  How badly do we want to be near him?

Are we willing to seek Him where He is, no matter the place; to cut a hole in His roof (figuratively speaking) to hear His words and to feel His touch?

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, January 22, 2024

Water into Wine

John 2:1-11

“1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a joyous occasion, a wedding. We have to assume that the people who were getting married were relatives or friends of Jesus.  Jesus’ mother, Mary, was there, and so were all of Jesus’ disciples.

The problem that Jesus resolved was a lack of wine at a celebration.  This was not a miracle of healing, the feeding of thousands in a deserted place, or the calming of a storm.  So why did Jesus do it? 

 Mary, His mother, asked Him to do it.

Running out of wine would have been a social disaster for the families involved with the wedding, and Mary wanted to help them.  She reached out to her son that she knew had within Him the power to help.

No, this miracle was not the healing of a blind man or a paralytic.  But I am sure it caused many to see the abundant power of God, and caused the Disciples to walk with Jesus in a way they never walked before.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Furniture of Jesus

John 1: 35-51

“ 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.”

I have often wondered what the home of Jesus was like.  Since he was probably trained as a carpenter by Joseph, I wonder if his home was not filled with chairs and tables that he and Joseph had built.  Can you imagine breaking bread with Jesus while sitting at a table that his hands had designed and nailed and finished?

The disciples had been told by John the Baptist that Jesus was the Lamb of God, meaning the Messiah.  So they approached Jesus and asked if they could go with him to his home. The disciples of John now became disciples of Jesus.  

Once we recognize who Jesus is we must walk with Him, follow Him home, sit in His chairs, eat at His table and have long conversations with Him into the night.

And, when morning comes, we will find that His hands held and hammered the nails for our salvation.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Wilderness (Part4)

“9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully. 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

The world is big on show and flash.  If something glitters we want it.  If somebody does something big, we want to see it.

The devil tempted Jesus with the big show, the sensational.  But this is not why Jesus was sent into the world.  Time after time in Jesus’ ministry we read that He asked people not to tell others after he healed them.

He did not want people to depend on the miracle for their faith but on His words.  If the miracle took precedence in His ministry then the cross would seem like one more show.

Jesus chose the road that would lead others to salvation...the hard road of faith.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Wilderness (Part 3)

Luke 4:5-8

“5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 

The devil offered Jesus power and authority.  Notice that he claims to have authority over all the kingdoms of the world and that he can give it away to anyone he chooses.  

We know that this is not true, that only God has this authority, but people fall victim to this lust for power even today, selling their soul for its worldly, temporary benefits. In Mark 8:36, Jesus asked, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  

On the top of a mountain, Satan stood with the Son of God, and waving his arm he asked the Lord to choose between the light or the dark, between the way of the world or the way of the cross.

He chose the light...and the cross.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Wilderness (Part 2)

Luke 4:2b-4

“He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 

Have you ever been hungry?  Really hungry?  Try going 40 days without eating and see how hungry you are at the end of the fast.  Of course, Jesus is divine but, while he was on earth he was also 100% human as well as 100% divine.  This means that He suffered the same kinds of things humans suffered.  So, the fast in the wilderness was real suffering for Him.

It is interesting that Satan waited until the end of the fast to tempt Jesus.  Jesus was at his weakest, physically and mentally when Satan reminded Him of His divinity.  “You have the power to feed yourself at any time.  Do it.  Turn those stones to bread.”

Jesus replied that there is more to life than physical comfort, more to the body than the stomach; there is the spiritual side of life that involves the heart.

Jesus’ ministry was about changing people, not outwardly, but inwardly.  Yes, he healed the sick and fed the hungry, but those things usually proceeded or resulted in an inward change of the affected people.

The touch of Jesus changed people outwardly and most importantly inwardly.

Take His hand. Change your heart.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, January 12, 2024

The Wilderness (Part 1)

Luke 4:1-2a

“1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”

The account of the wilderness journey of Jesus is an account that could only have come from Jesus himself, told by Him to his disciples at some point in His life.  In that regard, this story is unique and sacred.

Jesus was led into the wilderness of Judea by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil.  The Holy Spirit, our advocate, who leads us and guides us into an ever deepening relationship with God, led Christ into temptation in order to prepare Him for His earthly ministry.

Christ’s temptation gives us insight into His humanity as well as His divinity, and shows us His dependence upon God’s word as a source of His power and strength.

As Christ’s ministry began, the forces of evil did their best to draw him into the darkness.  

“But the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) 

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Way

Matthew 3: 13-17

“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

God sent Jesus into the world because he loved the world.  Jesus’ life and teachings were to be a testimony and an example of that love, an example that He asked all of His disciples to follow.  

Jesus began His ministry by asking John the Baptist to baptize Him.  This was an act of love and humility.  Jesus was not baptized for his own sake but for humanity’s.   He was leading the way to salvation, in which repentance is an important step.  He was teaching us by His example.

In His life, Christ would experience temptation, sadness, anger, laughter, joy, suffering, death, and resurrection.  In these things he taught us that love is the common thread.  

Jesus began and ended His ministry as a servant leader.  This is the road He walked.

This is the way of faith and salvation.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

All the Way Home

Luke 2: 41-46

“41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

Have you ever lost or thought you lost your child?  My daughter, Erin, once hid in our dog’s house in the backyard.  I searched everywhere and walked by the doghouse numerous times calling her name before I thought to look inside of it.

So, how did Joseph and Mary lose the Son of God?

Joseph and Mary may have traveled to Jerusalem with a large group.  In such a group, the women would start the day’s journey earlier than the men and the men started later, catching the women’s group in the evening.  So, it is possible that when Mary and Joseph began their journey home, each assumed that Jesus was with the other.  It was not until they were both together in the evening that they discovered He was not with either of them.

After they discovered he was not with them, they returned to Jerusalem and searched for him for three days.  As a parent, I can only imagine the horror, guilt and fear that they felt.  And when you add the fact that their child was the long awaited Messiah, they were probably in a panic.

I can see them in my mind walking on crowded Jerusalem streets shouting Jesus’ name, passing by the temple dozens of times before they thought to look inside.  And there they found him.

Many people, who have found Jesus in their places of worship, think they are traveling life’s road with Jesus when in reality Christ is nowhere in their lives.  He has been left in the temple.

In order for Christ to be in our lives, we can’t leave him in the temple.  We have to walk with him at our side everywhere we go...and all the way home.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Third and Fourth Dreams of Joseph

Matthew 2: 19-23

“19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

The final two dreams of Joseph that we read about are dreams that deal with his return from Egypt to Israel with Mary and the Christ Child.  After each dream, Joseph immediately obeyed the instructions that were given to him.  Joseph trusted God with the lives of his family.

Five days before Herod died, he killed the oldest of his remaining sons and named his younger son Archelaus as the next King. Herod was a brutal tyrant, but Archelaus was worse. God warned Joseph away from Judea and led him to return to Nazareth, where, if you remember, the story began.

The story of Mary and Joseph began in Nazareth.  And with their return, their son began his life as a Nazarene, fulfilling another ancient prophecy that said the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.  God did not cause Herod to kill the children of Bethlehem, but God used Herod’s rage to fulfill His will.  

Despite our sins, despite our rejection of Him, despite the chaos and disorder of this world, God’s will…. will prevail.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, January 8, 2024

The Rage of Herod

Matthew 2: 16-16

“16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Herod’s fear upon hearing of the Magi turned to rage when he understood that they had not obeyed him.  He suddenly realized that there were some things that were not within his control.  So he lashed out, using his full authority and power against the innocents in Bethlehem.

In Herod a terrible prophecy was fulfilled, mothers weeping for their children, refusing to be comforted.

In Christ, a wonderful prophecy was unfolding.  "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)

The Son of God yet lived... in Egypt.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Second Dream of Joseph

Matthew 2: 13-15

“13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Joseph’s second dream was a warning from an angel of God to flee the murderous scheme of the King against his child.  No parent wants to hear or even think about their child being in danger.  Joseph’s fear must have been severe when he learned that it was the King of Israel, the most powerful man in Israel, who wanted his child dead.

As in the first dream, Joseph recognized God’s voice in this dream, he believed that his dream was true, and he took immediate action that not only saved the life of Christ but, in all probability, Mary’s life and his as well.

Joseph was a man of faith, who not only believed but who put his faith into action. His life teaches us to trust in God, trust in our faith, and live our faith each day.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Visit

Matthew 2: 11-12

“11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Mary and Joseph are no longer in the stable but are now in a house.  The journey of the Magi from Persia to Bethlehem probably took at least four months.  Joseph could have found employment as a carpenter while Mary tended to her growing child.  

Life was beginning to take on the air of normalcy when suddenly a caravan of camels showed up at their door.  Strange men dressed in strange clothing, speaking a strange language bearing gifts meant for a king, came into their home.

They fell down at the sight of the child and then they opened their treasures.

We worship him still today.  But the only treasure He demands is your faith...and your heart.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Guided by a Star

Matthew 2: 9-10

“9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

The Magi left King Herod after learning that the prophet Micah had prophesied that the birth of the Messiah would take place in Bethlehem. The star that they had seen in the beginning of their journey in Persia, now shone brightly before them, leading them to the birthplace.

We know stars to be fixed objects that do not move and certainly comets do not stop and rest in the sky.  So this star was a light created by God for the special purpose of marking the birthplace of Christ.

A light created by God led the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness. Now God’s light led the Magi to His Son...the light of the world.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Our Hope Rests in the Lord

Matthew 2: 7-8

“7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

King Herod’s secret desire was not to worship the child, but to murder him.  God blessed the world by sending the Christ child into it; the Christ child’s birth was celebrated by the heavenly hosts; and the only emotion that this birth evoked in King Herod was fear, jealousy, and anger.

The worldly powers did not understand God’s gift to the world. 

The world today still does not.  There is a song titled “Peace on Earth” by Casting Crowns whose words are especially relevant:

“And in despair I bowed my head

There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men”

Many people, including believers, are in despair today and have lost hope.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Where is our hope?

Our hope rests in the Lord.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Greater King

Matthew 2: 3-5

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied…

When Herod heard that the Magi were searching for a child they called the “king of the Jews”, he was afraid.  The long awaited Messiah was thought to be a great, earthly ruler who would liberate Israel from their enemies, namely Rome, and Herod was Rome’s puppet ruler.

Herod did not know that God’s Messiah was on earth for a greater purpose than any earthly Messiah could accomplish.  God's Son would not save Israel from her earthly enemies, but would offer the entire world salvation and all people the way to eternal life.

Herod the Great, the rebuilder of the Temple, saw himself as the King of the Jews.

 But the Magi sought another....God’s only Son.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, January 1, 2024

A Light in Heaven

Matthew 2: 1-2

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

It is significant that the birth of Jesus occurred during the reign of a violent, corrupt, insecure, and paranoid tyrant who ruled Israel at the pleasure of Rome and not through the will of the people of Israel.  Herod would go to any length to protect his hold on power, including the murder of his sons and wives.

The people of Israel longed for the promised Messiah.  But the birth of Jesus was more than a local event or even a national event.  People of other countries were interested and informed of His birth, people who were aware of the prophecies and the signs of their fulfillment.

The wise men of the East were such people, willing to set out in search for the Messiah, to follow the star.  

And a light in heaven shone down upon the child who was the light of the world.

Come let us worship the King.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)