Tag Archives: Jesus

Max Lucado – Face to Face With Our Past

Max Lucado

All of us at one time or another come face to face with our past. And it’s always an awkward encounter.  When our sins catch up with us we can do one of two things: run or wrestle.

Many choose to run. They brush it off with a shrug of rationalization. “I was a victim of circumstances.”  Or, “It was his fault.” The problem with this escape is it’s no escape at all. It’s only a shallow camouflage.

The best way to deal with our past is to roll up our sleeves, and face it head on. No more buck-passing or scapegoating.  No more glossing over or covering up.  No more games.

We need a confrontation with our Master, eyeball to eyeball, and be reminded that left alone we fall. If you wonder if you’ve gone too long to change, take courage. No man is too bad for God!

From God Came Near

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Happy New Year

Ravi Z

Is happiness really attainable? It is a question many have sought to answer—debated in philosophy halls, whispered about at slumber parties, promised in innumerable marketing campaigns—and particularly at the turn of a new year. Our countless approaches to pursuing happiness are as diverse as our many definitions of the word. But what if the attainability of happiness is intimately connected to our answer to another question? Namely, what is the source of your greatest enjoyment in life? In other words, could there be a connection between your worldview and your capacity to experience happiness?

In a significant study, Armand Nicholi, professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University, compared the life and work of Sigmund Freud to that of C.S. Lewis.(1) Each cultural giant was recognized for the remarkable accuracy with which he observed human emotion and experience. And yet, each man defined and experienced happiness in strikingly different manners, through radically different worldviews.

Freud’s experience and understanding of happiness emerged as fundamental to his materialist understanding of the world. He observed happiness to be “a problem of satisfying a person’s instinctual wishes.”(2) Consequently, the possibility of attaining happiness was met with pessimism.  Freud recognized that the human appetite is never fully satisfied. His observation is not without merit. Happiness, defined in such terms, is problematic, if at the same time, the goal is to achieve a lasting happiness. Money may be able to achieve one instinctual wish, and yet instinctual wishes ebb and flow with perpetually changing appetites. The average U.S. citizen’s buying power has doubled during the last four decades, yet studies report that the average American is not any happier, but in fact, less happy than reported in studies conducted forty years earlier. Sadly, Freud’s life itself reflected his definition of happiness. His letters were increasingly filled with pessimism and depression, even mentioning drug use as the only effective mood-lifter he could find.

What makes C.S. Lewis a fascinating point of comparison is that like Freud, he too, was intensely pessimistic about the possibilities of happiness early in life. And yet as emphasized by many biographers and close friends, his life was profoundly transformed in his early thirties, following a dramatic shift in worldview. Through a worldview far different than one of materialism, Lewis reasoned, “What does not satisfy when we find it, must not be the thing we were desiring.”(3) Happiness, for Lewis, could not ultimately be met in the material. As he found himself approaching a worldview shaped by something beyond the material, Lewis first thought he was coming to a place, an idea, and found instead that he came to a Person, one within the material world and also beyond and behind it. In fact, it was the surprise of finding a person that first redefined the notion of happiness for him—happiness from within this source of joy that marked his life even during times of pain and loss.

In this new year of potential promise, ultimate sources of happiness may be as worth considering as each possible option or hopeful resolution. The psalmist writes of a creator as a source within and beyond the material, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” There may well be a connection between our capacity for happiness and our understanding of life. In the Christian view, Christ stands in flesh and blood calling you nearer that your joy may be transformed by a present and enduring love.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Armand Nicholi, The Question of God, (The Free Press:  New York, 2002).

(2) Ibid., 100.

(3) C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim’s Regress, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1992), 123.

 

Alistair Begg – Exult and Rejoice

Alistair Begg

We will exult and rejoice in you.

Song of Songs 1:4

We will be glad and rejoice in You. We will not open the gates of the year to the sorrowful notes of the organ, but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy and the high-sounding cymbals of gladness. “O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”1

We, the called and faithful and chosen, will drive away our griefs and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles; we with joy will magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which You dwell will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus.

Jesus must have the crown of our heart’s delight; we will not dishonor our Bridegroom by mourning in His presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies; let us rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will exult and rejoice: two words with one sense, double joy, blessedness upon blessedness.

Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Do not men of grace find their Lord to be the sweetest of incense even now, and what better fragrance have they in heaven itself? We will be glad and rejoice in You. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text.

What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fullness in Him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, You are the present portion of Your people, favor us this year with such a sense of Your preciousness that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in You. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus.

1Psalm 95:1

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – A New Year’s benediction

CharlesSpurgeon

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 21:1-6

Oh, beloved, when you hear of Christ, when you know that this grace comes through Christ, and the calling through Christ, and the glory through Christ, then you say, “Lord, I can believe it now, if it is through Christ.” It is not a hard thing to believe that Christ’s blood was sufficient to purchase every blessing for me. If I go to God’s treasury without Christ, I am afraid to ask for anything, but when Christ is with me I can then ask for everything. For sure I think he deserves it, though I do not. If I can claim his merits then I am not afraid to plead. Is perfection too great a boon for God to give to Christ? No. Is the keeping, the stability, the preservation of the blood-bought ones too great a reward for the terrible agonies and sufferings of the Saviour? No. Then we may with confidence plead, because everything comes through Christ. I would in concluding make this remark. I wish, my brothers and sisters, that during this year you may live nearer to Christ than you have ever done before. Depend upon it, it is when we think much of Christ that we think little of ourselves, little of our troubles, and little of the doubts and fears that surround us. Begin from this day, and may God help you. Never let a single day pass over your head without a visit to the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross of Calvary. And as for some of you who are not saved, and know not the Redeemer, I would to God that this very day you would come to Christ.

For meditation: The New Year may not always be as “Happy” as we would wish, but the Christian is blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) and can look forward to a “Blessed New Year” throughout the problems that may come.

Sermon no. 292

1 January (1860)

 

John MacArthur – The Measure of True Success

John MacArthur

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).

Our society is success oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.

Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle–one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.

That was a high calling, yet judging from Paul’s lifestyle most people would hardly call him successful– having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Cor. 11:23-27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God’s will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). That’s true success! Although we’re not apostles, we’re to follow Paul’s example of faithfulness (1 Cor. 11:1). That’s possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are “saints [holy ones] . . . who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). By God’s grace we’ve trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8-9) and received His righteousness (Phil. 3:9), Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).

What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God’s measure of success. Make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful [servant]” (Matt. 25:21).

Suggestions for Prayer:

•             Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need.

•             Thank Him for His Word, where you learn the principles of godly living.

•             Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of others.

For Further Study:

Read Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10; Titus 2:11-12

•             What is the goal of your salvation?

•             Are you living each day in light of that goal?

 

Joyce Meyer – Mind, Mouth, Moods, and Attitudes

Joyce meyer

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

—LUKE 10:19 KJV

This is typically how your mind, mouth, moods, and attitudes are connected: When you have a negative circumstance, you have a negative thought. Then you say a negative thing about the circumstance, and then your mood begins to sink. Next you get a bad attitude, and you end up with more negative circumstances than you started with.

But you can break this cycle in your life. Did you know that? Luke 10:19 says we have power to “tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (KJV). To tread means “to walk all over, to take steps, to take action, to resist.” You have the power to do these things. When you have a problem, nothing negative will fix it. Keep your mind, mouth, moods, and attitudes positive, and watch God work miracles on your behalf.

Power Thought: In Christ, I have power over negative thinking.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Bible’s No. 1 Promise

dr_bright

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).

As I travel from country to country, I find that millions of people in many countries and cultures are receiving Christ into their lives after hearing about Him for the first time. Millions of others would respond joyfully if they fully understood the truth of John 3:16, the most wonderful promise ever given to man.

Only through His indwelling presence can they live supernaturally. The first prerequisite to supernatural living, of course, is life – eternal life, supernatural life from God. I encourage you to meditate often on the content of this God-inspired promise:

God: The omnipotent Creator – loving, sovereign, holy, all-wise, ever-present, compassionate God who flung a hundred billion or more galaxies into space merely by speaking.

So loved: His love is unconditional and inexhaustible.

He gave: a gift that can never be earned by our good works, but can be received only by faith.

His only begotten Son: the most precious, priceless gift ever given – Jesus.

That whosoever: you and I and every person who inhabits the world.

Believeth in Him: believes that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, the one who died on the cross for the sins of all people everywhere and who was raised from the dead.

Should not perish: should not be eternally separated from God. “The Lord…is not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV).

But have everlasting life: not only in heaven, but also on earth, experiencing the supernatural, everlasting life of the indwelling, risen Savior.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11

Today’s Action Point: If I am not already a believer in Christ, I will receive Him into my life as Savior and Lord today. If I am a believer and have not already done so, I will acknowledge His lordship in my life and begin to draw upon His resurrection power as a way of life. As I continue to claim His promise, I am confident that the result will be a full, abundant and supernatural life.

 

Greg Laurie – The Leaning Tower of You

greglaurie

No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 3:11–12

Workers laid the foundation for one of Italy’s most famous structures in 1173, a tower designed to stand next to a cathedral. During construction, however, they discovered the soil was softer than previously thought, and the tower began to sink.

Today the top of that tower is nearly thirteen feet off center. People come from around the world to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and scientists travel to Pisa yearly to measure its slow descent. They calculate that at its current rate of decline, and without taking any countermeasures, it will one day collapse.

Nothing is more important in construction work than making sure you have the foundation right. If you don’t get that correct, then nothing else will matter. It may be more fun to decide what color to paint the rooms and how you will decorate the finished structure, but without a proper foundation, nothing else you do will last long enough to make any difference.

Smart and successful Christians build their lives on the right foundation. Scripture makes it clear that the only foundation possible for a sound spiritual life is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians

3:11). And where do you learn about Jesus? In the Word of God. The Word is truth and it will never lead you astray. If you are building your life on the right foundation, which is Jesus Christ, then you’re also regularly getting into the Word. Only that foundation will stand the test of time.

Don’t become the Leaning Tower of You.

Build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ, as you learn of Him in Scripture and stand straight and tall as the years pass.

 

Max Lucado – The Truth About Life

Max Lucado

Hair transplants, surgery, color in a bottle. All to hide what everyone already knows—we’re getting older.

If you ever want to stall a conversation at a party just say, “How’re you feeling about your approaching death?” It won’t put much life into the conversation.

I have a friend who has cancer.  He’s in remission. A nurse unaware of his condition was asking a question for his medical record.  “Are you presently ill?”  “Well yes, I have cancer,” he said.  She looked at him and asked, “Are you terminal?” He responded, “Yes, aren’t we all?”

You’d think we weren’t, the way the subject is kept hush-hush. Jesus does His best work at such moments. Just when the truth about life sinks in, His truth starts to surface.

The next time you find yourself facing the undeniables of life, whisper His name. He is nearer than you think!

From God Came Near

Our Daily Bread — In His Grip

Our Daily Bread

Romans 8:31-39

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. —Philippians 3:12

When we cross a busy street with small children in tow, we put out our hand and say, “Hold on tight,” and our little ones grasp our hand as tightly as they can. But we would never depend on their grasp. It is our grip on their hand that holds them and keeps them secure. So Paul insists, “Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Or more exactly, “Christ has a grip on me!”

One thing is certain: It is not our grip on God that keeps us safe, but the power of Jesus’ grasp. No one can take us out of His grasp—not the devil, not even ourselves. Once we’re in His hands, He will not let go.

We have this assurance: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

Doubly safe: Our Father on one side and our Lord and Savior on the other, clasping us in a viselike grip. These are the hands that shaped the mountains and oceans and flung the stars into space. Nothing in this life or the next “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). —David Roper

Father, I thank You for the nail-pierced hands

that reached out in love and took me by my hand.

You have led me by Your right hand throughout life.

I trust You to hold me and keep me safe to the end.

The One who saved us is the One who keeps us.

Bible in a year: Malachi 1-4; Revelation 22

 

 

Charles Stanley – Putting Off Procrastination

Charles Stanley

Acts 24:24-27

Some people like to say that they are “born procrastinators.” According to Scripture, that is impossible for believers. Procrastination can be a form of bondage in a person’s life, and the Lord, who wants the best for His followers, didn’t design us to be enslaved.

Procrastination has several common causes. The first is an attempt to dodge discomfort. Many people put off taking action because they feel uncomfortable or anxious about the ramifications. In today’s passage, Felix sends Paul away, fearing the apostle’s talk about righteousness, self-control, and judgment.

This can show up in our spiritual life— we sometimes delay Bible reading and meditating because we are afraid God will bring to the surface a matter we need to confront. Then, if such a subject comes up, we often choose to procrastinate about dealing with it. Issues like pride, self-control, or guilt may not be comfortable to face, but dodging them obstructs God’s purpose in our life.

The second cause for putting things off is self-doubt. Those who consider themselves inadequate to complete a task may choose not to begin it. Related to this is another factor: fear of making a mistake or failing in an endeavor can make postponement seem preferable.

Procrastination is no laughing matter, particularly in the spiritual realm since delaying on an assignment from God is the same as disobeying Him. Are you prone to delay? Identify problem areas and the feelings that accompany them. Then confess your tendency, and rely on God’s strength to overcome it.

 

Greg Laurie – Not Duration, But Donation

greglaurie

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1

As one year comes to an end and another one begins, it is a great time to evaluate how we are doing and where we are going. We want to make sure that we are living our lives the way they ought to be lived because for some of us, this may be the last year.

Reflecting on the passing of human life, ethicist Michael Josephson wrote, “Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days. . . . So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? . . . Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.”

The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2). It also reminds us that our times are in God’s hands (see Psalm 31:15). Regarding the length of our lives, Job said to God, “His days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5).

God determines how long we will live—not us. We may be able to improve the quality of our lives through diet and exercise. But the quantity of our lives—that is up to God. So we want to make sure that we are living our lives well.

As Corrie ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

You determine the evening of your life by the morning of it. So start thinking about it. Start charting the course the rest of your life will take.

 

 

Charles Stanley – When God Is Silent

Charles Stanley

John 11:1-6

As Lazarus was dying, his sisters urgently called for Jesus to come. Imagine how their grief must have compounded when He didn’t instantly respond to their request.

God’s silence is difficult to accept. We want Him to leap into action at our call, particularly if we are hurting or afraid. But since He promises to meet our needs, we can be sure that a silence from heaven has purpose.

• Silence grabs our attention. The disciples knew that Jesus could heal, so they must have wondered why He delayed instead of rushing to His friend’s bedside. But the Lord wanted them to witness something even greater: His power over death. They had been confused by His statements about conquering death, and they needed to understand that He could fulfill His own resurrection prophecies (Mark 9:31-32). The miracle at Lazarus’s tomb was part of their preparation.

• Silence teaches us to trust. Mary and Martha sent word of Lazarus’s illness because they anticipated the Lord would heal him. But if that expectation was not met, would their faith waver? Martha answered the question by stating that she believed Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:21-27). The women’s trust was rewarded with a stunning miracle: their brother’s return to life.

At times, the only thing we can hear when we pray is our own breathing. That can be frustrating and frightening. But Scripture says God is always with us, and His silence won’t last forever (Ps. 38:15; Heb. 13:5). Cling to those promises as you seek the purpose behind His silence.

 

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – Heavenly worship

CharlesSpurgeon

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:1-3

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 5:6-10

Why is the song said to be a new song? It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now; but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand—or rather, the number typified by that number—will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was—eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, “Are my beloved all safe?” The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message, “Yes, they are.” “Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?” “Yes, O King, they are,” says he. “Shut the gates,” says the Almighty, “they have been open night and day; shut them now.” Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end.

For meditation: The old year is about to be replaced by a new year, but that will soon grow old and fade away. Revelation speaks of the former things passing away (21: 4), and the old serpent being cast out and bound (12: 9 and 20: 2). All that remains is new and remains new throughout eternity—a new song, a new heaven, a new earth, new Jerusalem—all things new (21: 1-5).

Sermon no. 110

28 December (1856)

Charles Stanley – God’s Emphasis on Jesus’ Return

Charles Stanley

Colossians 3:1-4

The idea of eternity is a hard one to grasp. Though it is difficult to wrap the human mind around the concept of endlessness, God wants His children to live with an eternal perspective. So throughout Scripture, He stresses Christ’s second coming to help us think about our life in those terms.

Realizing that Jesus could return at any time keeps the church’s focus right. Paul reminds us to set our minds on heavenly things rather than on the things of earth (Col. 3:2). Though we live in the material world, we’re to consider long-term impact when deciding where to spend our time, money, and energy.

One critically important decision for us involves obeying God’s call to evangelize. Every believer has a personal responsibility to share the gospel with people in his or her sphere of influence (Matt. 28:19). The goal of the church, as well as individual believers, must be to take along as many as possible into eternity. But for that to happen, believers need to get busy sharing the good news before Jesus returns. People won’t come to Christ unless they’ve heard the story of His grace, mercy, and redemption.

The Word of God emphasizes Jesus’return so that believers will live with an eternal mindset. Christ can come back at any time, and when He does, those who have trusted Him as Savior will experience uninterrupted, never-ending life in His presence. In preparation for that day, we must live now with our feet on the ground, our hands busy for God, and our spiritual eyes watching for the Savior’s arrival.

 

Charles Spurgeon – “What have I done?”

CharlesSpurgeon

“What have I done?” Jeremiah 8:6

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 1:3-8

What hast thou done? I hear thee reply, “I have done nothing to save myself; for that was done for me in the eternal covenant, from before the foundation of the world. I have done nothing to make a righteousness for myself, for Christ said, “It is finished;” I have done nothing to procure heaven by my merits, for all that Jesus did for me before I was born.” But say, brother, what hast thou done for him who died to save thy wretched soul? What hast thou done for his church? What hast thou done for the salvation of the world? What has thou done to promote thine own spiritual growth in grace? Ah! I might hit some of you that are true Christians very hard here; but I will leave you with your God. God will chastise his own children. I will, however, put a pointed question. Are there not many Christians now present who cannot recollect that they have been the means of the salvation of one soul during this year? Come, now; turn back. Have you any reason to believe that directly or indirectly you have been made the means this year of the salvation of a soul? I will go further. There are some of you who are old Christians, and I will ask you this question: Have you any reason to believe that ever since you were converted you have ever been the means of the salvation of a soul? It was reckoned in the East, in the times of the patriarchs, to be a disgrace to a woman that she had no children; but what disgrace it is to a Christian to have no spiritual children—to have none born unto God by his instrumentality! And yet there are some of you here that have been spiritually barren, and have never brought one convert to Christ; you have not one star in your crown of glory, and must wear a starless crown in heaven.

For meditation: While the self-righteous makes the fatal mistake of thinking that good deeds lead to salvation, the saved can make the sad mistake of forgetting that salvation is supposed to lead to good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Sermon no. 169

27 December (1857)

 

John MacArthur – The Humiliation of Christ

John MacArthur

“We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless–it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin to life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great Substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to new people, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study:

Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.

John MacArthur – Born to Die

John MacArthur

“We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

At this time of year, it is difficult for us to see Jesus other than as a little baby. We of course know why He came, but we usually focus on His death on the cross at another time of year. But we must never forget that He came to die.

Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made to have two great nails hammered through them. Those little chubby feet were to walk up a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sacred head was made to wear a crown of thorns. His tender body wrapped in swaddling clothes would be pierced by a spear to reveal a broken heart. The death of Christ was no accident; He was born to die.

Jesus died to remove the curse so we could regain our dominion. But to do that, He had to come as a man. Even though in doing so He temporarily became lower than the angels, He accomplished something no angel could: our restoration.

The first and foremost reason for the incarnation is that Christ might taste death on behalf of every man and woman. He came to die in our place–to be our substitute. God had two options: Either let us die and pay for our own sins, or allow a substitute to take our punishment and die in our place. He mercifully chose the latter.

It is vital that we affirm the fact of Christ’s substitutionary death because modern liberal theology claims Jesus died merely as an example, like a martyr dying for some cause. But He died as a substitute for you and me. As a result He freed us to live for and with God. Rejoice that the creator of angels, the Lord of hosts, would become lower than His creation for our sakes.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for His willingness to humble Himself to become a man to save you.

For Further Study:

Read Psalm 22 and note which verses prophesy Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

 

Greg Laurie –Just Another Night in Bethlehem

greglaurie

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things! —Joel 2:21

On the first Christmas Eve, there were no brightly colored lights on anyone’s homes. There were no stockings that had been hung with care or any visions of sugarplums dancing in children’s heads. It was just another night in Bethlehem. The census had gone out—that command by Caesar that everyone was to be taxed. But history was about to change in Bethlehem.

All of Israel was living in a very frightening time historically. They lived under the tyrant King Herod who would execute people at will. In addition, the Jews were living in occupied territory. The Romans had taken control of their country. They were no longer free to do what they wanted and live as they wanted. They wondered if Rome would ever leave. Would the violent rule ever cease? Would their world ever change?

Then suddenly angels appeared to the shepherds and told them not to be afraid; the Messiah had been born.

There is a lot to be afraid of in our unstable, volatile world today. It seems that at every turn, we hear about another horrific tragedy happening in our world. It can cause us to be terrified.

Then there are the personal fears: What if I lose my health? What if I lose a member of my family? What if this happens? What if that happens? A lot of things run through our minds.

Here is the message of the first Christmas—and the message for us this Christmas: Don’t be afraid. . . . I bring you good tidings of great joy.

Ray Stedman wrote, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy.”

Does that describe you? Fear is what Christmas came to remove—and now we can have joy in its place.

 

Charles Stanley – Jesus Christ, Our Messiah

Charles Stanley

Luke 4:16-21

Jesus didn’t go around flaunting His power or greatness. Since He had come to do the Father’s will (John 6:38), redeeming the lost was His priority and purpose. However, the Lord didn’t hide His identity from the world either. When necessary, Jesus clearly identified Himself as the Messiah.

One of Jesus’ most beautiful sermons was given to an audience of one—a woman drawing water from a Samaritan well. After listening to Jesus’ teaching on living water and His prophecies of a change in the way people worshipped God, the woman mentioned the promised Messiah. The Lord replied, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). Her response was to gather as many townsfolk as she could find to listen to this man who knew her life story and offered love and redemption anyway.

When the time came for Jesus to reveal His identity to the priests and religious leaders, He did so by reading the prophecy of Isaiah 61 and then claiming to be its fulfillment (Luke 4:18-21). He announced that He was the One who would preach the gospel to the poor, release the captives, and give sight to the blind. He didn’t use the word “Messiah,” nor did He have to. All Israel knew that Isaiah’s words applied to God’s “Anointed One.”

Some modern thinkers would like to marginalize Jesus as simply a good man with a message of love. But He was the first to proclaim Himself as more than that. He is the virgin-born Son of God, who came to bear the sins of mankind and die on the cross. He is the Messiah.