Tag Archives: Peace

Joyce Meyer – God Wants You to Show Mercy to Others

Joyce meyer

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.—Matthew 6:14–15 NLT

Why is it so hard to completely ignore offenses? Even when we do overlook offenses, we want to mention the fact that we overlooked them so the people who offend us do not think they can treat us improperly and get away with it—it is a type of self-protection. But God wants us to trust Him to protect us as well as to heal us from every hurt and emotional wound, every day.

I wonder how weary we would be at the end of each day if God mentioned every tiny thing we did wrong. He does deal with us, but I am quite sure He also overlooks a lot of things. If people are corrected too much, it can discourage them and break their spirits. We should form a habit of dealing only with what God Himself prompts us to address, not just everything we feel like confronting or every little thing that bothers us.

I am the type of person who is not inclined to let anybody get away with anything. I don’t like feeling someone is taking advantage of me, partially because I was abused in my childhood and partially because I am human, and none of us embrace disrespect. In the past, I was quick to tell everyone his or her faults, but I have learned that is not pleasing to God. Just as we want others to give us mercy, we must give it to them. We reap what we sow—nothing more or less. God may even withhold His mercy from us if we are unwilling to give mercy to others.

Jesus said He gives us power even to “trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]” (Luke 10:19). He promised that nothing will harm us in any way. If we have power over the enemy, surely we can overlook the offenses of others.

Trust in Him: Are you able to overlook offenses—painful or simply obnoxious ones—completely? God has given you the ability to forgive and show mercy to everyone who offends you, and He wants you to trust Him to heal you from every hurt, every day.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Things Through Faith

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“And so [Jesus] did only a few great miracles there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).

It was my first visit to Nazareth, and through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I found myself enjoying lunch with one of the city’s prominent leaders. As we talked together in the crowded dining room our conversation turned to Jesus Christ, and ultimately this gentleman bowed his head and began to pray aloud, inviting Christ to be his Savior and Lord.

The change seemed to be immediate and dramatic, and follow-up has proven that God did meet him and change his life. During the course of our conversation, he indicated that what I had shared with him was a new truth. Though he was religious and active in his church, he never had been told that he should receive Christ.

Upon further exploration, I found that, in the entire community of Nazareth, there were but a few in those days who understood the truth of the living Christ indwelling the believer. I was amazed!

Nazareth was the town in which our Lord had spent approximately thirty years of His life. The son of a carpenter, He had walked those winding streets, living, loving and laughing with other young children as they were growing up. He left the town when He entered His public ministry, and went on to perform mighty miracles, die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead – and He changed the whole course of history. But 2,000 years have passed since then, and there is still little evidence of the influence of Jesus in the lives of the people of Nazareth.

Then I remembered that it was said of our Lord, He could do no mighty things in Nazareth because of their unbelief. That seems to be true in more than just that city today. Even though there are a billion and a half professing followers of Christ throughout the world, the majority seem to be practical atheists.

And so, our Lord cannot do mighty things in Nazareth, or throughout the world, because of unbelief. The key to releasing His power to accomplish revolutionary, supernatural things in the world – and in individual lives – is faith. “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, KJV). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, KJV).

Bible Reading: Mark 6:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that Jesus Christ lives within me in all of His supernatural power, waiting to accomplish great and mighty things through me, I will trust and obey Him for a life that is characterized by the supernatural, and I will encourage others to do the same.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Praise Epidemic

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Now that Christmas has past and all the shopping is over, you might be saying with Peter in today’s verse, “I have no silver and gold.” But notice the next phase, and ask: “What do I have?”

I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.

Acts 3:6

In Christ, you have so much: eternal life (Romans 6:23), forgiveness and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30), grace and peace (Romans 1:7), triumph (II Corinthians 2:14), faith and love (I Timothy 1:14), and knowledge of God’s glory (II Corinthians 4:6). You also have the gift of being a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17), the reality of Christ in you (II Corinthians 13:5) and of being a child of God (Galatians 3:26). You’re given equal social standing (Galatians 3:28) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), closeness to God (Ephesians 2:13) and a holy calling (II Timothy 1:9).

This country needs Jesus. What time, talents and resources can you combine with all you have in Christ to honor God and reach out to others? Write them down and pray about them. Ask God to show you new ways He can use you in the coming year. Then pray, too, for an epidemic of praise to the Heavenly Father as you and fellow Christians reach out in love.

Recommended Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10

 

Greg Laurie – A Pivotal Moment in Church History

greglaurie

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” —Acts 10:28

A pivotal moment arrived in the spread of the gospel by the early church with the conversion of a man named Cornelius. His conversion was significant because Cornelius was not a Jew, but a Gentile.

For us living today in the melting pot called the United States of America, that doesn’t mean a lot. But it did mean a lot to the first-century Jew. Despite the fact that Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, that really wasn’t happening. Christianity was running the risk of becoming a sect of Judaism.

But that all changed when God impacted one man, and that man was Simon Peter. Peter was pretty much like any other Jew living in his time. He was proud of his heritage, and I don’t mean that in a critical way.

The Jews of this time, however, wanted nothing to do with non-Jews, or Gentiles. So God wanted to redirect the early church to go to the non-Jews and bring them the message of the gospel. And the Lord did that through Peter.

Acts 10 tells us that while Peter was waiting for lunch one day in Joppa, he went up on the housetop to pray. Then he fell into a trance and saw the sky open, while something resembling a sheet was lowered that contained all kinds of unclean animals. Then a voice said, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” (verse 13).

This wasn’t about food as much as it was about people. God was saying: “Peter, time to leave your comfort zone and reach a whole new group of people—the Gentiles.”

Soon after, Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and his relatives and friends, and they believed. Peter obeyed God and left his comfort zone, and it changed church history.

 

 

Max Lucado – Divine Warnings

Max Lucado

Warnings.  Red lights in life that signal us of impending danger. They exist in all parts of life. Sirens scream as a marriage starts to sour; alarms blare when a faith weakens.

We usually know when trouble is just around the corner. Christians who’ve fallen away felt the fire waning long before it went out.  Unwanted pregnancies or explosions of anger are usually the result of a history of ignoring warnings about an impending fire.

Are your senses numb? Are your eyes trained to turn and roll when they should pause and observe?  One-night stands.  Dust-covered Bibles.  Careless choice of companions.  Denial of Christ.

Proverbs 19:27 says, “Cease listening to [My] instruction and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

Divine warnings.  Inspired by God; tested by time. Heed them and safety is yours to enjoy!

From God Came Near

Charles Stanley – The Promise of Christ’s Return

Charles Stanley

John 14:1-3

The return of Jesus Christ—a vital part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity—was foretold by prophets, affirmed by angels, and discussed by Jesus and Paul. In fact, more Old Testament passages are devoted to Christ’s second coming than to His first. And in the New Testament, the Lord mentions His return more often than His death.

The second coming of Christ will be the Devil’s final defeat. God prophesied Satan’s end when He told the serpent, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel”(Gen. 3:15). Satan appeared to have won a tremendous victory when Jesus was crucified. But the Resurrection dealt the Enemy a lethal blow by proving Golgotha to be but a “bruised heel.” Christ’s return will seal the Devil’s fate because God has promised to remake the earth. When He is finished, we’ll live in a world as perfect as the Lord intended before Adam and Eve tainted Eden with sin.

The Father wants us excited and hopeful about Jesus’ return because that event is the culmination of His plan for humanity. Many centuries of Christians spreading the gospel are leading to the moment when all who choose to serve God will be gathered together on a new earth. To keep our hope alive, He has told us what to expect.

Although we don’t know the day or hour of the second coming, Jesus Christ’s final biblical prophecy reminds us to live and evangelize with a sense of urgency: “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20).

If we are saved and serving, we can say with John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

 

Our Daily Bread — Be Present

Our Daily Bread

Job 2:3-13

They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. —Job 2:13

After 20 children and 6 staff members were murdered in a Connecticut school, the entire nation was stunned that such a horrific thing could happen. Everyone focused on the tragedy and the questions surrounding it: What kind of person would do such a thing, and why? How can we prevent it from happening again? How can we help the survivors? Amid the chaos, an unlikely group moved in and made a difference.

From Chicago came dogs— specially trained golden retrievers that offered nothing except affection. Dogs don’t speak; they simply offer their presence. Children traumatized by the violence opened up to them, expressing fears and emotions they had not spoken to any adult. Tim Hetzner of Lutheran Church Charities said, “The biggest part of their training is just learning to be quiet.”

As we learn from the book of Job, people in grief do not always need words. Sometimes they need someone to sit silently with them, to listen when they need to speak, and to hug them when their sorrow turns to sobs.

God may not intervene to change circumstances and He may not explain suffering, but He comforts us through the presence of other believers (Col. 4:8). —Julie Ackerman Link

He’s with us in the valley,

Amid the darkest night

He tells us in our sorrow;

Faith will give way to sight. —D. DeHaan

Listening may be the most loving and Christlike thing you do today.

Bible in a year: Haggai 1-2; Revelation 17

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Context

Ravi Z

The first Christmas narratives remind the enquiring mind that what took place in those days had a context. As a college student in the early 1980′s, I was once challenged by a contemporary who said that the story of the Bible was written by someone under the influence of substances. Coming from one who was especially immersed in Marxian thought, it was logical to interpret the charge as an off- shoot of the Marxian conclusion that religion was the “opium of the masses.”

When Matthew wrote his second chapter, he opened the section with some very important words. The context was being laid out. Had he been covering the section in a classroom talk, he would have pointed to a globe or to a map as he said, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea…” (Matthew 2:1). In that one statement Matthew conclusively identified the location of God’s activity in relation to the earth. Geography lovers may cheer for that clarity. Matthew then proceeded to make the context even clearer as he approached another realm of study. He entered the worldview of history as he said, “during the time of King Herod” (Matthew 2:1). In Matthew’s understanding, the activity of God during that first Christmas was firmly placed within a context of time, space, and matter. My contemporary, and others holding his Marxian persuasion, would do well to recognize that Matthew’s point is precisely that the story did not happen in the “suspended animation of someone’s imagination.”

Interpreters of biblical texts similarly do well in remembering the principle that “a text without its context can be a pretext.” Think about this. What if Matthew had started his record without his referrals to history and geography in that first Christmas narrative? Imagine he had told us that since it was all about wise men, he was leaving the details to our “wise guesses.” Or what if his narrative began something like, “and it came to pass that wise men came from ‘who knows where’ to some place in the direction of the East…”? Are we not grateful for the unchangeable references of time and space that the narrative affords us?

For over a decade, my wife and I have had the privilege of knowing the pastor of a church in Montoursville Pennsylvania. Over the years, I have heard much of this church in Montoursville. Yet as one who had never actually seen it, I could only rely on pictures and spoken or written words to understand their context. How would it have helped me as I traveled from India to be at this church if the pastor had only told me, “Arun, you are welcome to our church, which is somewhere out there. Just walk about the U.S. and hopefully you’ll get there”?  To reach this context I needed clear guidance.

Similarly, when it came to seeking after the King, the wise men had their guidance. While writing the narrative, the writer had his as well. And while reading the text, we modern readers have ours. The context is always important, and to be guided rightly to it is critical. Montoursville is thus no longer a spot on a map to me. It is a place I have entered.

The most wonderful benefit of appreciating the matter of context in relation to God’s activity is that we are given permission to see things from our context as well–the context of our environmental issues, our bills, our aches and pains, our relationships, our ambitions, our challenges, our accomplishments, our sins, and our failures. Isn’t it simply special that the first Christmas means God not only studied our context; God actually entered it. On account of this step, there is one who can make the claim to understand us. Our pains, disappointments, joys, questions, and complaints are understood. All because Jesus chose to trade his context for ours!

Might you have a blessed season of discovering the delights of his love, clarity, and understanding. And as you discover, might you also come to mark the world by his truths, knowing well that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to put it out—despite those who still want to chalk the story up to the imagination of the mind.

Arun Andrews is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bangalore, India.

 

Charles Spurgeon – The vanguard and rear guard of the Church

CharlesSpurgeon

“The Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.” Isaiah 52:12

Suggested Further Reading: Ezra 8:21-23 and 31-32

We shall soon launch into another year, and hitherto we have found our years to be years of trouble. We have had mercies, but still we find this house of our pilgrimage is not an abiding city, not a mansion of peace and comfort. Perhaps we are trembling to go forward. Foreseeing trouble, we know not how we shall be able to endure to the end. We are standing here and pausing for a while, sitting down upon the stone of our Ebenezer to rest ourselves, gazing dubiously into the future, saying, “Alas! What shall I do? Surely, I shall one day fall by the hand of the enemy.” Brother, arise, arise; anoint your head, and wash your face, and fast no longer; let this sweet morsel now cheer you; put this cup to your lips, and let your eyes be enlightened: “The Lord Jehovah will go before you.” He has gone before you already. Your future path has all been marked out in the great decrees of his predestination. You shall not tread a step which is not mapped out in the great chart of God’s decree. Your troubles have been already weighed for you in the scales of his love; your labour is already set aside for you to accomplish by the hand of his wisdom. Depend upon it, your:-

“Times of trial and of grief,

Times of triumph and relief,

All shall come and last and end

As shall please your heavenly Friend.”

Remember, you are not a child of chance. If you were, you might indeed fear. You will go nowhere next year except where God shall send you.

For meditation: Fear of the future and fear of the unknown still have to be faced by the believer. But the Christian has the remedy to such fear—a great God who knows the future and who leads the way (Acts 20:22-24; Hebrews 11:8-10).

Sermon no. 230

26 December (1858)

 

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.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; G.C. – Begin with the End

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Have you ever started a book by reading the last chapter? Some book enthusiasts compulsively read the end of a story first, and then start again at the beginning. Most say knowing the ending helps them appreciate the finer details of the story.

The Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father.

Matthew 16:27

Do you know the end of the Bible? In the last chapter of the last book, Jesus is basically saying “Look, I am coming soon and my reward is with me.” He invites those listening to come partake of His free gifts and spend eternity in bliss with Him. And He warns those rejecting Him they are on the edge of an eternity without God’s wonderful presence.

As the end of another year approaches, are you prepared for Christ’s return? If you were to suddenly hear heavenly beings announce the approach of the King of kings, would your heart leap in anticipation of your Savior’s presence, or would fear drive you to dread and retreat? Make no mistake…when the end comes, every nation and every person will confess Jesus Christ as Lord! Pray for America and its leaders – and personally prepare yourself: the end of the book is the beginning of eternity.

Recommended Reading: Revelation 22:12-21

 

Greg Laurie –The Unpopular Truth

greglaurie

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. —1 Timothy 2:5

One of the most often-asked questions regarding the Christian faith goes something like this: “What about the person who has never heard that Jesus is the only way to God? What about the person in the middle of the jungle who has never heard the gospel?” (They are always in a jungle for some unknown reason—or in the desert.)

The teaching that Jesus Christ is the only way to God has never been popular. But maybe it has never been more controversial than it is today. If you want to get someone’s blood boiling, then say that Jesus is the only way to God. The “coexist” bumper sticker on their car will catch fire.

The idea that you would have the audacity to say that Jesus is the only way is, in effect, saying that other religions are not true. That is the way it works itself out, and people don’t like it. It is acceptable if you say that Jesus is a way to God. But when you dare to say that He is the only way, then you can be certain that will have some pushback.

But here is what it comes down to. We have to say what the Bible says, whether it is popular or not. It is not for me to edit the message of the Bible; it is for me, as a Christian, to simply deliver it.

It would be like a doctor’s discovering a very serious problem with a patient’s health, but then being unwilling to say what that problem is, because it might make that patient uncomfortable.

We have to tell people the truth about their real condition, which happens to be sinful, and then seek to save them, which is to point them to Jesus Christ as the only solution.

 

 

Max Lucado – Blind Ambition

Max Lucado

Success at all cost.  Becoming a legend in one’s own time. Climbing the ladder.  King of the mountain.  Top of the heap. We call it blind ambition!

We make heroes out of people who are ambitious.  We hold them up as models for our kids. And rightly so, for this world would be in bad shape without people who dream of touching the heavens. Ambition is a gift in the soul which creates disenchantment with the ordinary.

But left unchecked it becomes an insatiable addiction to power and prestige. The husband who feeds his career with twelve-hour days, the social-conscious mother who never misses a chance to serve on a committee.  “It’s all for a good cause,” she fools herself.

Blind ambition.  Distorted values. God won’t tolerate it. Blind ambition is a giant step away from God and a step closer to catastrophe!

From God Came Near

Charles Stanley – The Shepherds’ Obedience

Charles Stanley

Luke 2:8-20

Since the Savior’s birth was the greatest news of all time, shouldn’t God have announced it to important people like kings and nobles? Instead, He sent His angel make the announcement to insignificant shepherds. They were absolutely awed by what they heard and witnessed—the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. Though their message probably seemed strange to others and could have resulted in ridicule, they wanted everyone to hear the good news.

We must become bold like those shepherds. It’s our job to take the gospel to people who haven’t heard, but many believers lack the courage to share their faith. At times we don’t feel knowledgeable enough, and yet we understand far more than the shepherds did. They had this one experience with angels, but we have the written Word of God available anytime we choose to open it. Don’t let the fear of rejection, embarrassment, or inadequacy keep you from sharing the only message that can change someone’s eternal destiny.

Today you probably won’t get a message from an angel, but through Scripture or by an inaudible “whisper,” God still speaks to those who are humbly listening. The real issue is what we do after hearing from Him.

The shepherds left immediately to find the newborn Messiah—just think what they’d have missed had they refused to leave their sheep! Are you quick to obey God’s instructions? By hesitating, you could miss great opportunities. Ready obedience is the key to experiencing the Lord’s plans for you.

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Christingle

Our Daily Bread

1 John 1:1-7

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. —John 1:9

In the Czech Republic and other places, the Christmas celebration includes “Christingles.” A Christingle is an orange, representing the world, with a candle placed in the top of it to symbolize Christ the light of the world. A red ribbon encircles the orange, symbolizing the blood of Jesus. Four toothpicks with dried fruits are placed through the ribbon into the sides of the orange, representing the fruits of the earth.

This simple visual aid vividly represents the purpose behind Christ’s coming—to bring light into the darkness and to redeem a broken world by shedding His blood.

In John’s account of Christ’s life, the disciple describes Jesus as the Light of the world. He wrote of Christ: “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). Not only did Christ the Light come to penetrate our world’s darkness, but He is also “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v.29).

Think of it! The baby of Bethlehem became the living, risen Christ who has rescued us from our sin. And so John instructs us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). May all who have experienced His rescue find in Jesus the peace of walking in His light. —Bill Crowder

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in Thee tonight. —Brooks

The newborn Christ-child became the Light of the world and the Lamb of God.

Bible in a year: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 16

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Person

Ravi Z

“I’m inclined to suspect that there are very few atheists in prison,” writes Richard Dawkins.(1) In his book The God Delusion, the Oxford biologist sets forth the staggering estimation that post-Christian secular societies are far more moral than societies that operate from a religious foundation. He recounts the horrors carried out in the name of God, moving past the monstrosities of the 20th century at the hands of atheist regimes by claiming their atheism had nothing to do with their behavior. When it comes to behaving ethically, he is insistent that believers are worse than atheists.

British statesman Roy Hattersley, himself a fellow atheist, disagrees. In an article published some time after Hurricane Katrina hit U.S. shores, Hattersley makes some observations about the kind of people doing disaster work long after the disaster has been forgotten. “Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs and atheists’ associations—the sort of people who not only scoff at religion’s intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil.”(2) His words are bold, even if strewn with typical condescension. He continues:

“Civilised people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags and—probably most difficult of all—argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment.”

Those who confess the truthfulness of Christianity—and so choose to embody its message—have confounded the world for ages. Throughout the second century there emerged a great number of rumors regarding the curious beliefs and practices of Christians. After all, the leader these people claimed to follow was a criminal executed by Roman authorities. There was thus a great deal of suspicion surrounding the motives and behavior of Christians. Why would anyone follow a man who had been crucified? Why would they choose to die rather than renounce their faith? Why would they treat those who hate them with kindness?

A Greek philosopher and opponent of Christianity named Celsus was particularly convinced that Christians were, in fact, insane. The Nativity story, the Incarnation of God in Christ, among other things, seemed to him completely irrational. “What could be the purpose of such a visit to earth by God? To find out what is taking place among humans? Does He not know everything? Or is it perhaps that He knows, but is incapable of doing anything about evil unless He does it in person?”(3)

Similarly buried under insult, Celsus nonetheless had his finger on the very quality of Christianity that makes Christians as curious as the philosophy they profess:  Their God came in person. In fact, they profess, as Celsus claims, God had to come near; though not because God couldn’t speak to us otherwise nor because God was incapable of touching the world from afar. As a Father who longs to gather his children together, God came near because each child matters. God comes to earth—God comes in person, in body, in flesh—because bodies matter, because the Father longs to be near, because one lost, or one hurting, or one in need was one God would not ignore. Insanely in fact, God comes near enough to lay down his life for each of these reasons.

Christmas is about remembering the one who came in person. It is this God who came near and reordered the world, calling us to see life and each other in startling new ways. It is this God who stepped into an ordinary stable to show us God in the ordinary, who touched the unclean and claimed the untouched, whose broken body is given again and again for broken bodies that we might be whole. Our morality, our countenance, our lives are wrought by his coming among us. In each ordinary moment, forgotten victim, and broken soul and body we see the face of God because God first saw us.

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

(1) Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 229.

(2) Roy Hattersley, “Faith Does Breed Charity,” The Guardian, September 12, 2005.

(3) As quoted by Origen in the apology Against Celsus.

 

Alistair Begg – A Miraculous Conception

Alistair Begg

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Let us today go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi let us see Him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in Him and can sing, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”1

Jesus is God incarnate, our Lord and our Savior, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire Him. Let us notice at the very first glance His miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a son.

he first promise concerned the seed of the woman, not the offspring of the man. Since venturesome woman led the way in the sin that resulted in paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise.

Our Savior, although truly man, was as to His human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that He may be formed in us, the hope of glory.

Do not fail to note His humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “the virgin,” not a princess or prophetess, nor a woman of influence. True, the blood of kings ran in her veins; and her mind was not weak or untaught, for she could sweetly sing a song of praise. Yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she was engaged, and how miserable the accommodation provided for the newborn King!

mmanuel-God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our daily work, in our punishment, in our death, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.

1 Isaiah 9:6

 

Charles Spurgeon – A Christmas question

CharlesSpurgeon

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 2:8-20

Why are we sad? I am looking upon faces just now that appear the very reverse of gloomy, but maybe the smile covers an aching heart. Brother and sister, why are we sad this morning, if unto us a child is born, if unto us a Son is given? Listen to the cry! It is “Harvest home! Harvest home!” See the maidens as they dance, and the young men as they make merry. And why is this mirth? Because they are storing the precious fruits of the earth, they are gathering together into their barns wheat which will soon be consumed. And what, brothers and sisters, have we the bread which endureth to eternal life and are we unhappy? Does the worldling rejoice when his corn is increased, and do we not rejoice when, “Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given?” Listen yonder! What means the firing of the Tower guns? Why all this ringing of bells in the church steeples, as if all London were mad with joy? There is a prince born; therefore there is this salute, and therefore are the bells ringing. Ah, Christians, ring the bells of your hearts, fire the salute of your most joyous songs, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Dance, O my heart, and ring out peals of gladness! Ye drops of blood within my veins, dance every one of you! Oh! All my nerves become harp strings, and let gratitude touch you with angelic fingers! And thou, my tongue, shout—shout to his praise, who hath said to you: “Unto you a child is born, unto you a Son is given.” Wipe that tear away! Come, stop that sighing! Hush your murmuring. What matters your poverty? “Unto you a child is born.” What matters your sickness? “Unto you a Son is given.” What matters your sin? For this child shall take the sin away, and this Son shall wash and make you fit for heaven.

For meditation: God sent his only begotten Son to be born as a child, so that sinners could be born again and become the children of God. The deepest sadness belongs to all who still refuse to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour (John 1:12-13).

Sermon no. 291

25 December (1859)

 

 

John MacArthur – Recovering Man’s Destiny

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).

The ultimate curse of our lost destiny is death. God warned Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die (Gen. 2:17). In the restored kingdom we will be elevated again over a redeemed earth. But the only way that we could ever reign again as kings was to have the curse of sin removed, and the only way to remove it was to pay the penalty of sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23).

There’s just one problem: how can we reign if we are dead? We need to be raised from the dead, but we certainly can’t do that ourselves. That’s why God sent Jesus Christ.

To accomplish this great work for us, Jesus had to become a man. He Himself had to be made “for a little while lower than the angels.” To regain man’s dominion He had to taste death for every man. Christ came to die for us because in His dying He could conquer death.

But He was also raised from the dead: “Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9). How does that help us? “If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (v. 5).

The moment you put your faith in Christ, you are identified with Him. You died with Him on the cross, you were resurrected, and you began to walk in newness of life. You now are a joint heir with Christ in His eternal kingdom.

Christ tasted death for you and me so we could recover our lost destiny. Celebrate that glorious truth as you celebrate His birth today.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Before you do another thing today, praise your heavenly Father for His wonderful plan of salvation.

For Further Study:

Read Isaiah 2:2-4 and 11:6-9 noting the character of our future kingdom.

 

Joyce Meyer – From the Inside Out

Joyce meyer

They tie up heavy loads, hard to bear, and place them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help bear them.—Matthew 23:4

You and I pressure ourselves and other people when we have unrealistic expectations. We often expect more out of people than they are able to give us. Continued pressure on people we are in relationship with will ultimately cause the collapse of that relationship. God does not want us or others to live under this kind of pressure.

I remember the years I furiously tried to change my husband, Dave, and each of our children in different ways. Those were frustrating years, because no matter what I tried, it didn’t work! We cannot change people by pressuring them or by nagging them. Only prayer and God’s love will work.

As humans, all of us require space, or freedom, to be who we are. We want to be accepted and loved as we are. We don’t want people giving us the message, even subtly, that we must change in order to be “in.” I am not saying that we must accept sin and wrong behavior in other people and merely put up with it. I am saying that the way to change is prayer, not pressure! For change to be lasting, it must come from the inside out. Only God can cause that type of heart change.

Lord, I have tried to change loved ones, and it’s always failed. Show me how to pray for them and to release them into Your hands. Amen.