Quick Thought – Sunday, January 1, 2017 (New Year’s Day)

Read

John 8:1-11

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:10-11

Reflect

She was dirty, half-naked and ashamed. Taken from her home in the middle of the day, several angry men shouted horrible things at her as they dragged her through the streets. With hatred in their eyes, hearts and voices, they threw her at the teacher’s feet.

Of course, they technically did have a point. The woman had broken the law – numerous times, in fact, and practically every day for as long as she could remember. In fact, some of the men who were now shouting at her were actually customers, and good ones at that. But today, they seemed to have a point to make, and they were willing to use her to make it.

These men had burst into her home and caught her in the act with one of their own. Even while they violently grabbed her and tossed her barely clothed into the street, they told their friend to just walk away. Apparently, the crime only pertained to a woman today.

And so, “dangerous criminal” in hand, they made their way to the famed teacher who was now in town and cast her at him like one might discard a piece of garbage. And then they challenged him – “Teacher, do we uphold the law of Moses and kill this woman, or do we let her live?”

They had hoped to catch Jesus in a no-win situation – either he agrees to kill the woman, and so disappoint his “love, joy and peace” followers, or he agrees to let her live, and thereby is just as guilty as she is by association.

Most of us know the rest of the story – that Jesus challenged them to go ahead with the stoning, but that only the ones who hadn’t sinned were allowed to do the stoning. And that the men were so convicted in their hearts that they simply dropped their rocks and walked away.

But what happened next is the most wonderful part of the story. Jesus and the woman are left standing together, and Jesus looks her in the eyes and says, “Who is left to accuse you?” She looks around and says, “No one, Lord.” To which Jesus replies, “Well, I don’t accuse you either. Go and sin no more.”

That’s our challenge this New Year’s Day. To begin again. To take stock of where we’ve faltered in our lives and make the determination to never go there again. People get caught up in New Year’s Resolutions, as though mustering some special will on this day will have a lasting effect. Instead, we need to see that each of us is left standing alone with the Lord, and that He’s challenging us to, “Go and sin no more.”

He’s not condemning us, and in spite of what the world may say, His is the only opinion that truly matters. In 2016, take the Lord’s hand and accept His forgiveness. Don’t simply resolve to do things differently. Follow the Lord’s lead and let his love lead you into new and better ways today, and throughout the New Year.

Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Thursday, December 22, 2016

3 Days Until Christmas!

A Christmas StorySong: “Welcome to Our World,” by Chris Rice
Christmas Album: “Christmas,” by Mannheim Steamroller
Christmas DVD: “A Christmas Story”
Netflix Movie: “Serendipity”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Miracle on 34th Street (1959 TV version)”
Feeln Movie: “A Season for Miracles”
On TV:
• “A Christmas Carol,” 5:30 p.m., AMC
• “On the 12th Day of Christmas,” 6 p.m, Hallmark
• “Elf,” 6:45 p.m., FreeForm
• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Idaho vs. Colorado State, Boise, Idaho, 7 p.m., ESPN
• “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” 7 p.m., DisneyXD
• “Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” 7:25 p.m., Starz
• “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m, ABC
• “Terry Crews Saves Christmas,” 8 p.m., CW
• “Deck the Halls,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “Home Alone: The Holiday Heist,” 8 p.m., Disney
• “My Christmas Love,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Holiday Affair,” 8 p.m., TCM
• NFL Football: N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m., NBC
• “Jingle All the Way,” 8:55 p.m., FreeForm
• “Remember the Night,” 9:45 p.m., TCM
• “I’m Not Ready for Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Christmas Carol (1951),” 11:30 p.m., TCM
Recipe
: Roasted Chestnut Sausage Dressing

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Luke 2:8-15

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 those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:13-14

Reflect

From the beginning of creation, God knew how things would turn out. He could see to the end of time, and so He was fully aware that mankind would need a Savior – His Son, Jesus Christ. So Christmas Day was something that was in the works for thousands of years, a day that all of Heaven was anticipating.

The host of angels had to have been preparing for this day, waiting eagerly to come to Earth to proclaim the King’s birth. And when that day came, it had to have been a true honor to be in the choir that sang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

There are a lot of earthly things that we might say are awe-inspiring and wonderful.


The Grand Canyon
Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights.

A sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

A sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

And there are times that we have heard glorious things that stir our souls, like Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or a more soulful version from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Honestly, nothing we can imagine could possibly compare to the worship provided by the angelic host that first Christmas Eve. (But the good news is that same worship is in store for us one day when we arrive in Heaven.)

The real lesson here is that the first act of Christmas was worship. God sent the angels to worship. They instructed the shepherds to go and worship, and the shepherds did. The wise men traveled hundreds of miles to worship. But today, too many of us worship at a commercial altar each Christmas, and not a spiritual one. On Christmas Eve, stores will be filled with people making last-minute purchases, while churches will have far too many unfilled seats.

Don’t let that be true for you. Make sure your first act of Christmas is worship. Presents are wonderful, and Christmas wouldn’t seem complete without them. But a Christmas centered around gifts is just as empty as the leftover boxes once everything is opened. And a Christmas centered around Jesus is not only fulfilling for that day, but for every one after it as well.

Reflection copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Bowl Prediction: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Idaho vs. Colorado State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Idaho (8-4) vs. Colorado State (7-5), Boise, Idaho, 7 p.m., ESPN
Colorado State -15 – O/U 65

This game comes with a lot of interesting story lines. Neither team fared well against out-of-conference competition, though Colorado State was a bit more competitive in its OOC slate than. Idaho. Against a tougher schedule, the Rams hold a 6.25-point per game scoring advantage for the year; Idaho sits at a negative-1.5 point scoring deficit per game. There’s no doubt that Idaho had a special and surprising season – it’s just that they accomplished it against some very suspect teams. Expect Colorado State to victimize a weak Idaho secondary with an effective passing attack led by QB Nick Stevens, who will frequently target WR Michael Gallup. That will also open up the running game, where the Rams have been extremely effective behind the efforts of RB Izzy Matthews. Idaho might get a boost from playing near home, albeit at Boise State’s home field. But if Colorado State starts rolling with its offense, this one has a chance to get fairly ugly.
Prediction: Colorado State 45, Idaho 24

Copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

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Bowl Prediction: Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs. Wyoming

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5), San Diego, 9 p.m., ESPN
BYU -10 – O/U 57

This historic rivalry hasn’t been played since BYU left the Mountain West in 2010, but some of the bad blood between the two schools still exists. The signs that the game will be close are certainly there. BYU played in seven very close games in the first two months of the season, but the Cougars seemed to hit a stride in their last four games, winning all four comfortably. Of course, most of those opponents were patsies. Wyoming played in eight close games this season, winning five of them. Most recently, the Cowboys pushed San Diego State to the limit in the MWC championship game. Neither team is particularly impressive in the postseason. Wyoming hasn’t been there since 2011, and BYU has lost its bowl games in each of the past three seasons. Most likely, this game will be won or lost on the ground. BYU is starting backup QB Tanner Mangrum, who throws nicely and who has some experience. However, the Cougars have been doing very well on the legs of RB Jamaal Williams, who averages more than 100 yards and a TD per game. Wyoming has its own stellar running back in Brian Hill, whose stats are even better. BYU will likely make the game easy on Mangrum, and since Wyoming’s run defense is worse than poor, it’s even more likely that the Cougars will move the ball effectively with Williams. The Cowboys will keep it close, but the score might actually look closer than the game will probably be.
PredictionBYU 31, Wyoming 24

Copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Thursday, December 21, 2016

4 Days Until Christmas!

Charlie Brown ChristmasSong: “Away in a Manger,” by Nat King Cole
Christmas Album: “The Spirit of Christmas,” by Michael W. Smith and Friends
Christmas DVD: A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Netflix Movie: “The 12 Dates of Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “7th Heaven: Christmas!”
Feeln Movie: “Silver Bells”
On TV:
• “Disney Prep & Landing,” 5:20 p.m., FreeForm
• “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice,” 5:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Four Christmases,” 6 p.m., AMC
• “Love You Like Christmas,” 6 p.m, Hallmark
• “The Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 6:20 p.m., FreeForm
• “The Santa Clause,” 6:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” 7 p.m., USA
• “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas,” 8 p.m., NBC
• “Terry Crews Saves Christmas,” 8 p.m., CW
• “A Christmas Carol (1984),” 8 p.m., AMC
• “Home Alone 3,” 8 p.m., Disney
• “A Heavenly Christmas,” 8 p.m, Hallmark
• “Elf,” 8:55 p.m., FreeForm
• Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs. Wyoming, 9 p.m., ESPN
• “A Christmas Story 2,” 9:30 p.m., CMT
• “Sleigh Bells Ring,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Santa Claus: The Movie,” 10:30 p.m, AMC
Recipe: Eggnog

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Matthew 2:16-18

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Matthew 2:16

Reflect

The coming of Jesus into the world is a sharp dividing line that has forced billions of people to make one simple decision: Do you believe, or not?

And that belief is not like a child’s belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. It’s a belief that requires action – belief in Christ means you have to either follow Him and His ways, or go your own way.

And it’s been that way since the very beginning.

We’ve already read about shepherds who were told in a field that the Savior of the world was born in a stable nearby. And a teenage girl who was told she was miraculously pregnant with that Savior. And a simple carpenter who was told that the girl’s story was true, and that he needed to go ahead and marry her. And all of those people, in spite of the seeming craziness of the story, made a decision of faith to believe what they were told, and follow the ways of the God whose messengers brought that news.

Today’s scripture is skipping ahead a little bit to when Jesus was probably two years old. The wise men arrived in Jerusalem and, when they were taken to King Herod, told him the reason for their visit – they were there to worship the new King of Israel. Herod undoubtedly knew the prophecies. Even if he wasn’t steeped in scripture, he would have been surrounded by educated advisers who were. If he was simply a skeptic, he would have dismissed the claims of the wise men out of hand.

But he also made a fateful decision that shows he believed the prophecies at some level, but thought he could beat God. He sent the wise men on their way, hoping they would lead him to the Christ child, not so he could worship it, but so he could have it killed. The wise men truly were wise – enough so that when they were warned in a dream to get out of Dodge, they did so without saying goodbye to Herod.

And Herod, instead of killing the one child in Bethlehem, killed them all. Every male child two years old or under was slaughtered, just to make sure that Herod covered his bases and got the one he was looking for. Of course, there is no beating God, and He ensured the holy family was well on their way to Egypt by the time Herod took his deadly action.

Herod had the same chance to worship Jesus as did everyone else. He heard the prophecies and was told straight up by the wise men what was going on in Bethlehem. And instead of opening his heart to Jesus, he hardened his heart and did his own thing. And that still goes on every day.

Look around you today. It’s the Christmas season, and people are scurrying everywhere to make last-minute preparations for presents under the tree and delicious treats for Christmas dinner. But as they scurry, do you see lots of signs of faith? Or are most people just zoned in on a Christmas mission, including many who will cut you off on the road or in the line at the store? The opportunity to open our hearts to Jesus this Christmas is right in front of all of us, but so many will miss that opportunity and do our own thing.

Don’t let this wonderful Christmas opportunity get away, only to discover on Christmas morning you’re left with shredded wrapping paper, torn boxes and an empty heart. In these next four days, spend as much time as possible focusing on how you can open your heart and follow Christ to the manger on Christmas.

Reflection copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

5 Days Until Christmas!

The Grinch largeSong: “The First Noel,” by Bryan Duncan
Christmas Album: “Stars of Christmas,” by Various Artists
Christmas DVD: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, animated)
Netflix Movie: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “A Christmas Snow”
Feeln Movie: “Fallen Angel”
On TV:
• “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” 5:35 p.m, FreeForm
• “Deck the Halls,” 6 p.m., AMC
• “My Christmas Love,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN
• “The Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 8 p.m., ABC
• “Michael Bublé Sings and Swings,” 8 p.m., NBC
• “Terry Crews Saves Christmas,” 8 p.m., CW
• “Four Christmases,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “Christmas Cookies,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Shrek the Halls,” 8:30 p.m., ABC
• “The Santa Clause,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “The Year: 2016,” 9 p.m., ABC
• “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come,” 9 p.m., NBC
• “Greatest Holiday Commercial Countdown,” 9 p.m., CW
• “Merry Matrimony,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
Recipe: Christmas Ham

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Luke 2:1-11

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7

Reflect

Every year, one of the most beloved images of Christmas is the manger scene. Tender shepherds admiring from afar. Wise men kneeling to present their gifts. Watchful Joseph keeping an eye on his family. Adoring Mary loving and caring for her new child. And sweet baby Jesus, lying in a manger of fresh hay, while peaceful animals lie nearby.

It’s really quite serene and wonderful. And completely inaccurate.

The truth is that this scene isn’t nearly as romantic as we’ve made it out to be. Yes, I have a manger scene, too, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. But we really should be mindful of the way things really were that first Christmas.

Remember that Bethlehem was a destination for probably thousands of people coming to register for the Roman census. Except that Bethlehem isn’t all that large. It’s no wonder there were no rooms at any of the inns, because there likely weren’t even very many inns. Enterprising innkeepers were probably charging for steps on their staircases. And one such innkeeper remembered he had a stable out back where the Joseph family could stay.

Also remember that a record number of people would have brought with them a record number of animals, a large number of whom would have been lodged in that same stable. And animals are known for two prime functions: eating, and going to the bathroom, but not in a bathroom. This stable would have been overrun by animal waste, which is almost certainly why they chose a manger for baby Jesus’ first bed – it might have been the only clean spot in the place.

So instead of a warm room in a house or a hotel, with a comfortable bed cozy blankets, Jesus got to sleep his first night in a crowded, smelly, waste-ridden stable, surrounded by noisy animals, while sleeping on itchy, scratchy hay. At least they had some extra clothes to wrap him in and keep him warm.

Tonight, as you sleep comfortably in your bed, wrapped in your warm covers, remember what our Lord and Savior had to endure on His first night in the world. He left a throne room of glory to come to the lowest place in the world, simply because He loved you and me, and He wanted to make a way to save us and set us free from sin. And the next time you look at a manger scene, recall the way it really would have been, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the Lord gave up for each of us.

Reflection copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Bowl Prediction: Boca Raton Bowl, Western Kentucky vs. Memphis

Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky (10-3) vs. Memphis (8-4), Boca Raton, Fla., 7 p.m., ESPN
Western Kentucky -6.5 – O/U 80.5

While yesterday’s Miami Beach Bowl was predicted to be (and was) a blowout, this one looks like it could be a very entertaining offensive track meet. Both Western Kentucky and Memphis have high-flying offenses. The Hilltoppers have scored 44 or more points in nine straight games, though at times they’ve also tended to give up a similar amount of points on defense. In the second half of the season, the Tigers have also found offensive potency, but went only 3-3 during that stretch while maintaining a slim 38.2-34.7 scoring edge. Add another wrinkle of Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm moving on to Purdue, leaving the Hilltoppers coached by offensive coordinator Nick Holt for the bowl game. It’s impossible to tell the impact that the coaching switch will have on the team, but if both teams play to their potential, Western Kentucky should have the edge. QB Mike White has a host of offensive weapons that will keep Memphis on its heels all day. Memphis QB Riley Ferguson is also talented but is surrounded by far less depth, and likely won’t have much defensive support to lessen the pressure to score on each possession.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 48, Memphis 41

Copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

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