Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did You See The Star?

Good Monday Morning to you!!!

I have some news I must share with you. It is my sad duty to report to you that this is the last Monday Morning With Pastor Vic you will receive this year. I know how devastated you must surely be, but take heart --- next week Monday Morning continues into 2011. Please control your emotions and let us get on with the serious stuff.

Did you have a nice Christmas? Did you get all the presents you wanted and were you able to stuff yourself with homemade fudge and chocolate chip cookies? Did you get to see the face of a child as he wandered sleepy-eyed into the room where hours earlier Santa had visited and had generously opened his magical sack of every toy conceivable? Did you look outside and see the star shining? Wait a minute preacher, what star? Once again, as at that first Christmas, the star came and nobody noticed.

Is the star of Bethlehem still in the heavens, and is it still shining? Possibly it is, but I’m not an astronomer, so I do not know. As a student of theology, my answer would be “No, it is no longer there.” Just as God prepared a special fish to house Jonah for three days and three nights, He also prepared a star to point the way to the place where the new born baby Messiah was lying. This was not the first time God used a celestial display to guide someone. In Exodus chapter thirteen we read where God sent a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to lead the children of Israel. The two pillars, the whale, the star; these things are called revelators - they reveal something. That something was a route: the route to the will of God. It was God’s will that the wise men found the young Jesus. By following His revelator, what we refer to as the star of Bethlehem, they found the will of God for their lives. God’s will was for these men to find the Messiah. It is God’s will for people today to find the Messiah, the Christ as well. The trouble is, that even at the time of hearing Christmas carols being played on the radio, and over the speakers of many department stores, people miss it. They are so busy with buying, wrapping, and exchanging gifts, and baking, serving, and gorging on treats, that just outside their window the star shines, but nobody sees it.

God has a revelator for you but you must watch and listen for It. That “It,” is none other than the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said of Him that He would, “… guide [us] into all truth.” (John 16:13) During this triune holiday season, we now have two down, and one to go. God does not want you to NOT enjoy the time with family and friends, but He also does not want you to miss out on a word from Him. Moses told his rather large flock to, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” Sometime in the midst of all the busyness, we need to just stop, look out the window, and search for the star. It’s there shining as bright as ever, but you will miss it if you do not look for it. The wise men were looking for the star. Are you looking for it?

Whatever plans you have for the New Year’s celebration, by all means stay safe. I want to visit with you again next week. To you and yours, have a happy and a Christ filled New Year. from the entire Cooper family now scattered from Arizona, to Nebraska, to Ohio, to Florida.

I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Remembrance from Christmas Past

Good Monday Morning To You!!!!

Merry Christmas to you. I like the smell of Christmas. As I write this, our house smells like gingerbread. Miss Bessie is baking gingerbread cakes to go into fruit baskets our church, Friendship Harmony, is delivering to our shut in folk. We hope to make their Christmas a little brighter by letting them know we love them and that they are not forgotten. What is your favorite Christmas smell? Is it freshly cut evergreen? Artificial trees are nice, and are a real convenience, but the smell of a real Christmas tree brings about warm memories of Christmases past.

One past Christmas I remember quite well. We lived in Elmwood Place, a little village tucked safely inside the borders of Cincinnati. The year was somewhere around 1963. I was nine years old at that time. My bedroom door opened out into the living room; there was no door-knob. I decided to turn out the lights, hide in my bedroom, and catch Santa in the act. I told my parents of my plan, so it was agreed we’d all hide in my room and peek through where a knob should have been. We must have been in that room for two hours or better, spying on Santa. My mom would occasionally say that Santa was pretty smart and would not likely be caught. I was persistent, and mom and dad were patient. I didn’t realize until years later that the best gift I received that year was not under the tree, but was hiding out with me in that bedroom peeking out the keyhole. Thanks mom and dad --- that was a great Christmas.

Do you have time for one other Christmas from Pastor Vic? For as long as I remember, our family celebration began at 6:00pm on December 24th. I guess that’s the Hebrew in me coming out (if indeed there is any). At 6:00 we were ready to, “let the fun begin.” Every year my mom would slow us down and say, “not until we read the Christmas story.” We had, and still have, a Christmas story book that had the section from Luke’s Gospel about the account of Christ’s birth. Not one gift was touched until that story was read. I remember one year I asked if I could read the story. Mom and Dad agreed, so I read, skipping forward as I went. Somehow we had to speed things along, after all, the presents were waiting. Mom let me finish then she said something like, “That was nice, now lets read it again so we can hear the entire story.” I learned that day that you do not want to try to pull the wool over Sunday School attending Southern Baptist parents.

In the spirit of the season, and to slow hectic times down a bit, lets read the story again. I do not know your favorite translation, so allow me to use the King James Version. Call me a traditionalist if you must, but to me, the KJV’s account has a certain beauty about it surpassed by none other.

Luke Chapter 2
Augustus enrolls all the Roman Empire
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
An angel announces it to shepherds
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

There mom, the whole thing this time, no cheating. From the entire Cooper Family, which is now splashed all over these United States, Merry Christ- filled Christmas, and may your New Year be filled with the blessings of hope, health, and happiness. I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.


Monday, December 13, 2010

God's Greatest Gift! ! !

Good Monday Morning To You!

I hope you have had a tremendous week. I sure have. I’m starting to feel pretty good and my cardiology visit this past Wednesday went very well. I do not have to see Dr. Towe again for at least 6 months. They put me on a new medicine and said I’d have to take that for one year. It is to help the body grow a coating over the stints so they are not rejected. I didn’t know they could be since they are non-living material, but I’m told they can. The medication is called Plavix and the doctor really stressed, “do not run out of these and take them faithfully.” I wish I could stock a year’s supply just to be sure. However, Medco Pharmacy said they would send them as needed, so I’ll let them keep them stocked. Anyway, I’m thankful to the LORD that I’m living when I am. If this were 50 years ago, I would not have survived.
I’m also sure that 50 years from now, our current treatments will be outdated, but I’m thankful that medical technology is where it is.

Yesterday was another great day here at Friendship Harmony Baptist. I can’t wait for you winter visitors who are coming down after Christmas to get here and experience this Church. You talk about the presence of God….. In Sunday School, we continue to look at Jewish festivals and holidays. Yesterday we looked at Purim found in the ninth chapter of the book of Esther. Christian, these Jewish festivals should be important to you; they were to Jesus. He celebrated them. Ask your Pastor if he would consider doing a series of messages on the major and minor holidays. You will be blessed by them and so will he as he studies and prepares. We have now examined Hanukah and Purim, both minor holidays. They are not considered minor because of a lesser significance, but because they are not in the list of seven convocations God gave Israel to observe in Leviticus chapter twenty three. In 2011, Purim will begin at 6:00pm on March 20 and run for two days.

In the worship hour, I preached the message, “God’s Greatest Promise.” In my opinion, and I stress it is just my opinion, God’s greatest promise was given to us by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14,15 which reads, “ Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Butter and honey is what the plain folk ate; it was nothing fancy. The angel announced the Child could be found lying in a manger; plain folk, nothing fancy, yet He was Israel’s long expected Deliverer, their Messiah --- their King.
Below is the outline I used to deliver this message. Feel free to use it in your personal Bible study. You preachers and teachers are free to adapt it to fit your needs and use it to God’s glory.

God’s Greatest Promise
Isaiah 7:10-16
By Victor Cooper

Intro: God’s greatest promise was that a child would be born. Nothing great about that; it happens every seven seconds somewhere in the world. What made it so great was that the promised Son was His Son, and His name would Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.”

I. The promise was great for Israel.
A. Isaiah told Ahaz that both Israel and Judah were going into captivity.
B. Humanly speaking this spelled their end.
C. However, God had made a covenant with David. ( 2 Samuel 7)
1. God promised the lineage of David would be an eternal line.
2. If Israel and Judah were to be captured, a deliverer would be needed.
D. Isaiah said a Deliverer would come. Isaiah 7:14 is that promise.
II. Ahaz rejected Isaiah’s words and Israel would reject her Messiah.
A. Messiah means, “anointed one.”
1. The next logical question should be, “Anointed to do what?”
2. He was anointed to be the King; the Deliverer.
A. In Israel and Judah, the king was the anointed one, i.e. a messiah.

B. The Jews were looking for a full grown warrior-king to appear on the scene and deliver them from foreign subjugation.
C. Isaiah 7:10-16 told them to expect a Child; a Son. They were, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
1. It isn’t like this was a veiled prophecy, Isaiah could have not have been more clear.
2. The angel announced it in Luke 2:10-12. The angel, too, could have not been more clear.

III. The promise is great for Jew and Gentile in our day.
A. The promised Son came, “… to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
1. Paul tells me it was for me. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
2. That same verse tells you the promise was also for you.
3. The greatness of the promise is not that it is a promise, but that it is your promise. Is it?

I hope these articles and sermon notes are a blessing to you. I hope they brighten your day and enhance your knowledge of God’s word. If you ever have any Biblical questions you’d like an answer to, please shoot an E-mail my way. Prayer requests are also welcomed. If you are in the area on Christmas Eve, we are having a Christmas Eve service at Friendship Harmony on December 24, sat 6:00pm. Have a good, safe, and healthy week, and I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!

[Late breaking note: We apologize to our subscribers if this edition of “Monday Morning” was late. At 11:10pm Sunday night, we experienced a power outage which lasted well into the night. It wasn’t until just a little past six on Monday morning that we had electricity again and could post. Sometime we find ourselves at the mercy of nature and can do nothing about it. Again, we apologize for any late blog arrivals!]


Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Hanukah???

Good Monday Morning to you!

I hope the past week was healthy and enjoyable for you. I’ll give you a bit of an update on Miss Bessie’s and my health. Bess saw the Doctor last week for her surgery follow-up. As you know, she has had three surgeries in the same area since last March. The Doc said there was “slight improvement.” He reminded her that her recovery would be very slow, and at times quite painful. He gave her a break this week, but wants to see her again next week. As for me, I am feeling a little stronger each day. I see my cardiologist this week, so I’ll update you next Monday. I am told that with heart stints it takes a few weeks to notice vast improvement. As I said, I can already tell there is improvement, and each day is a bit better than the day before. For now, Bess and I both thank you for your prayers.

Yesterday was an awesome day at Friendship Harmony Baptist Church. We began the day by having our first Sunday School class. We had ten attendees including myself. Several more could not attend due to illness. I am teaching the class for now, but in mid January, Bro. Burt Nelson will take over. He is one of the finest teachers I have ever learned from. Burt, a former professor of geography at Central Michigan University, brings a vast knowledge of Scriptures to the table each week. Our Church is so blessed to have him and his lovely wife Chris Ann with us.

For our lesson, I taught the meaning of Hanukah, and the fact that it was celebrated by our Lord Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, it was at Hanukah that our Lord declared the fact that He indeed was the Messiah. This was not coincidental. Nothing Jesus ever did was, or even today is, coincidental. To take you back into Israeli history, the Seleucid King, Antiochus IV, declared himself to be God and committed the abomination by defiling the Jewish Temple. He set up a statue to Zeus inside the Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar. He forbade the Jews to circumcise their eight day old infant boys, declared an end to the daily sacrifices, and forbade anyone from owning, keeping, or reading from the Torah. He also named himself Antiochus Epiphanes [God manifest]. By the use of this name, he was stating that he was God. The Bible tells us in John 10:22, “ And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.” The feast of the dedication is Hanukah, the celebration of throwing out Zeus and all that defiled the Temple and rededicating it to God.

The Jews in John chapter ten knew their history, and they knew exactly what Jesus hasd said. He declared Himself to be God as had Antiochus Epiphanes, and many were not going to have any of it. We are told in John 10:31 “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.” The difference between Jesus and Antiochus is that Antiochus died and remains dead until this very day. Jesus also died and raised from the dead on the third day meaning His claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God, indeed God Himself was a valid claim. Jesus is who He claimed to be and Easter is the proof.

“Preacher,” I can hear someone say, “Why are you talking about Easter, it’s Christmas time.” The reason is simple: if you take Easter out of the picture, all you have remaining is just another birthday. Christmas means nothing without the resurrection of Christ. It was on Hanukah that Jesus proclaimed who He was and is. If Hanukah was important enough for our Lord to celebrate it, and to choose that time to declare that He indeed was God incarnate, (in the flesh) then we as Christians are incomplete in our knowledge if we do not at least learn a bit about this most important Jewish holiday.

To end our day of worship, we celebrated The Lord’s Supper. This is a special time in the life of any believer, and it was the first time we celebrated it together at our new Church, Friendship Harmony. The plan is to observe Communion the first Sunday of each month. Many exciting things are happening at Friendship Harmony. I wish everybody in the world could attend one of our services. You definitely can tell God is in the building whenever this Church meets. Even though we meet in a secular clubhouse, for which we are very grateful, the Spirit of God meets with us and for that we are eternally grateful. I’ve been in services where the Lord’s presence was not felt, and I can assure you it was less exciting than watching grass grow.

If you are in the area, stop by the Church. We are located on Stringfellow Road, just south of mile marker 6 on Pine Island. We are in the Flamingo Bay clubhouse, next door to the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Our Sunday School begins at 9:00, and the Worship service is at 10:00. Come in any time. We will also be having a Christmas Eve service on December 24, at 6:00p.m.

May the Lord bless your upcoming week --- I hope you stay safe, healthy, and warm. As always, I look forward to seeing you again next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.