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Christmas Eve Devotion and Inspiration

 

Christmas Eve is a great time. Everything is done and we’re waiting for Christmas. 

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The Spirit of God testifies to and confirms the simple, but almighty, security of the life that “is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul continually brought this out in his New Testament letters. We talk as if living a sanctified life were the most uncertain and insecure thing we could do. Yet it is the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live without God. For one who is born again, it is easier to live in a right-standing relationship with God than it is to go wrong, provided we heed God’s warnings and “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7).

When we think of being delivered from sin, being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and “walk[ing] in the light,” we picture the peak of a great mountain. We see it as very high and wonderful, but we say, “Oh, I could never live up there!” However, when we do get there through God’s grace, we find it is not a mountain peak at all, but a plateau with plenty of room to live and to grow. “You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip” (Psalm 18:36).

When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him. If you see Him when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:27), I defy you to worry. It is virtually impossible to doubt when He is there. Every time you are in personal contact with Jesus, His words are real to you. “My peace I give to you…” (John 14:27)— a peace which brings an unconstrained confidence and covers you completely, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. “…your life is hidden with Christ in God,” and the peace of Jesus Christ that cannot be disturbed has been imparted to you.

Lasting Peace

Our Daily Bread

On Christmas Eve 1914, during the First World War, the guns fell silent along a 30-mile stretch of the Western Front. Soldiers peered cautiously over the tops of trenches while a few emerged to repair their positions and bury the dead. As darkness fell, some German troops set out lanterns and sang Christmas carols. Men on the British side applauded and shouted greetings.

The next day, German, French, and British troops met in no man’s land to shake hands, share food, and exchange gifts. It was a brief respite from war that soon ended when the artillery and machine guns roared to life again. But no one who experienced “The Christmas Truce,” as it became known, would ever forget how it felt and how it fueled their longing for lasting peace.

In Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah we read, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). By His death on the cross, Jesus removed the “no man’s land” between us and God. “For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).

In Jesus we can find lasting peace with God and harmony with each other. This is the life-changing message of Christmas!

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!” —Wesley
Only in Christ can true peace be realized.

Insight

Unity is a common theme in the New Testament writings of Paul. Jesus has brought us peace with God and therefore we should also be at peace with each other. In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about peace between Jew and Gentile. Despite the centuries-old separation of the two groups, God in Christ Jesus has “broken down the middle wall of separation” (v.14). In the temple there was a wall beyond which Gentiles could not pass; it formed the boundary of “the court of the Gentiles.” However, Jesus has removed the barriers between God and us and between us and others. Now we all are “members of the household of God” (v.19).

 

Streams in the Desert

He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching.—Gen 24:63

We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe,” as someone has said, “in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.” Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.

“Reverie,” it has been said, “is the Sunday of the mind.” Let us often in these days give our mind a “Sunday,” in which it will do no manner of work but simply lie still, and look upward, and spread itself out before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, to be soaked and moistened with the dews of Heaven. Let there be intervals when we shall do nothing, think nothing, plan nothing, but just lay ourselves on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”

Time so spent is not lost time. The fisherman cannot be said to be losing time when he is mending his nets, nor the mower when he takes a few minutes to sharpen his scythe at the top of the ridge. City men cannot do better than follow the example of Isaac, and, as often as they can, get away from the fret and fever of life into fields. Wearied with the heat and din, the noise and bustle, communion with nature is very grateful; it will have a calming, healing influence. A walk through the fields, a saunter by the seashore or across the daisy-sprinkled meadows, will purge your life from sordidness, and make the heart beat with new joy and hope.

“The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
… Out in the fields with God.”

Chistmas Eve

BELLS ACROSS THE SNOW

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
’Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

—Frances Ridley Havergal

GOD’S REFRESHMENT BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

“The journey is too great for thee” (1 King 19:7).

And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was–under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.” Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness.

“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.

“Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without an asking if I may,
Without ever trying to trust and pray?

“Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did a mother deny you
needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?

“Did she let you want when you could not ask?
Did she set her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms,
And then guard your slumber against alarms?

“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see,
The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,
When over-wrought nature has quite given way:

“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,
As you used to do on a mother’s breast,
He knows all about it–the dear Lord knows,
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;

“Without even asking if you may,
God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer,
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.

“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,
And He knows, too, the limits’ of poor weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,

“When He bade them sleep and take their rest,
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed–
You’ve given your life up to Him to keep,
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

– See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/gods-refreshment#sthash.MbjMAT6R.dpuf

Christ Is Our Hope and Salvation

 

Our Hope and our salvation will be born in a manger

  • No Room in the InnMother and ChildThe Birth of Jesus
  • Baby Jesus in the MangerNo Room in the InnGod's Gift
  • Birth of JesusMary, Joseph, and Baby JesusRejoicing below the Star of Jesus
  • Birth of ChristBirth of Christ Mary and Joseph At Inn
  • Holy NightMadonna and ChildMadonna and Child

 

Sharing in the Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ always forces a decision of our will. Have I accepted God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ? Do I have even the slightest interest in the death of Jesus? Do I want to be identified with His death— to be completely dead to all interest in sin, worldliness, and self? Do I long to be so closely identified with Jesus that I am of no value for anything except Him and His purposes? The great privilege of discipleship is that I can commit myself under the banner of His Cross, and that means death to sin. You must get alone with Jesus and either decide to tell Him that you do not want sin to die out in you, or that at any cost you want to be identified with His death. When you act in confident faith in what our Lord did on the cross, a supernatural identification with His death takes place immediately. And you will come to know through a higher knowledge that your old life was “crucified with Him” (Romans 6:6). The proof that your old life is dead, having been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), is the amazing ease with which the life of God in you now enables you to obey the voice of Jesus Christ.

Every once in a while our Lord gives us a glimpse of what we would be like if it were not for Him. This is a confirmation of what He said— “…without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). That is why the underlying foundation of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus. We mistake the joy of our first introduction into God’s kingdom as His purpose for getting us there. Yet God’s purpose in getting us into His kingdom is that we may realize all that identification with Jesus Christ means.

 

DECEMBER 23, 2014

From: Crosswalk

I Didn’t Have The Courage
RENEE SWOPE

“The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD…” 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV)

I didn’t want to go first. As much as I knew God wanted me to trust Him, I didn’t have the courage.

It was June 1989. I had given my life to Christ six months earlier and was on a college youth retreat. While reading my Bible one day, I sensed God wanted me to share my story. First with my large youth group, and then with others in the coming weeks. Not just the happy parts of my story; but also the hidden, redeemed-by-His grace parts.

I didn’t want to tell people the hard parts of my story, especially not my struggles with depression and anxiety. Yet I knew God wanted me to share the reasons behind the life-changing hope I’d found in Christ.

I wish I could say I gave my story freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, to use for His glory. Just like King David and his leaders gave their gifts to build a temple for the Lord, as we see in today’s key verse, 1 Chronicles 29:9, I wish I could say my heart responded with a courageous “Yes!”

But that’s not what happened and here’s why:

I couldn’t see the why behind God’s will. Why would God want me to share my story? How could my story help people? Their smiles and seemingly happy-go-lucky Christian lives convinced me they were doing fine. I assumed their problems were minor and their need for Jesus was minimal compared to mine.

I didn’t realize pride had blocked my perspective. I thought I was afraid to share my story, but I’m pretty sure pride was the problem. Sadly, I was more concerned with what people thought about me than what they thought about God. Clinging to the details of my story like priceless jewels, I would not give my brokenness to use for others’ good or for His glory.

I didn’t have the courage to go first. I had never heard Christians share their emotional and spiritual struggles. And I did not want to be the first. What if depression and anxiety were topics under a secret “things we don’t talk about” category I hadn’t been told about? That would be awkward. Maybe if someone else went first, then I’d go next.

I didn’t share my story that weekend or in the 10 years that followed.

I didn’t have courageous willingness like King David. But eventually I became like his leaders and like the people who saw their example and “rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD …” 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV).

You see, God brought women into my life who followed His lead even when they didn’t understand the why behind His will. Women who recognized pride’s ability to block our perspective and keep us from God’s best.

Women who were willing to go first, which gave me the courage to go next.

Through my church, speakers at women’s conferences and here at Proverbs 31 Ministries, God has surrounded me with women who give Jesus full access to their lives and their stories because they trust Jesus more than their fears.

God uses women who are willing to go first — to give others courage to go next.

I want to be that kind of woman. A woman who is willing to say, “I’ll trust Jesus even when it’s hard. I’ll let my guard down so you can see Christ working in me. I’ll be brave so you know you can be, too. Watch, I’ll go first.”

Why? Because He’s worth it and you’re worth it. We’re worth it, friend. We’re worth the work it takes to follow Christ with all of our hearts and willingly give Him all we’ve got.

Let’s do it. Are you with me? I’ll go first.

 

Streams In The Desert

12/23/2014

The Lord’s angelic messenger came back again, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, for otherwise you won’t be able to make the journey.”—1 Kgs 19:7
And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was—under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.” Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness.
“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray, 
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way. 
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed, 
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
“Will God forgive me, do you suppose, 
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes, 
Without an asking if I may, 
Without ever trying to trust and pray?
“Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart, 
When language to you was an unknown art, 
Did a mother deny you needed rest, 
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
“Did she let you want when you could not ask? 
Did she set her child an unequal task? 
Or did she cradle you in her arms, 
And then guard your slumber against alarms?
“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see, 
The unconscious yearnings of infancy. 
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray, 
When over-wrought nature has quite given way:
“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest, 
As you used to do on a mother’s breast, 
He knows all about it—the dear Lord knows, 
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;
“Without even asking if you may, 
God knows when His child is too tired to pray. 
He judges not solely by uttered prayer, 
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.
“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust, 
And He knows, too, the limits’ of poor weak dust. 
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ, 
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,
“When He bade them sleep and take their rest, 
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed—
You’ve given your life up to Him to keep, 
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Friend, go up higher.”
Luke 14:10

When first the life of grace begins in the soul, we do indeed draw near to God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul conscious of guilt, and humbled thereby, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is cast to the earth by a sense of the grandeur of Jehovah, in whose presence it stands. With unfeigned bashfulness it takes the lowest room.

But, in after life, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never forget the solemnity of his position, and will never lose that holy awe which must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can create or can destroy; yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it becomes a holy reverence, and no more an overshadowing dread. He is called up higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking amid the splendours of Deity, and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim, with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will, reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of love, of goodness, and of mercy, he will realize rather the covenant character of God than his absolute Deity. He will see in God rather his goodness than his greatness, and more of his love than of his majesty. Then will the soul, bowing still as humbly as aforetime, enjoy a more sacred liberty of intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it will be sustained by the refreshing consciousness of being in the presence of boundless mercy and infinite love, and by the realization of acceptance “in the Beloved.” Thus the believer is bidden to come up higher, and is enabled to exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God, and drawing near to him in holy confidence, saying, “Abba, Father.”

“So may we go from strength to strength,

And daily grow in grace,

Till in thine image raised at length,

We see thee face to face.”

Evening

“The night also is thine.”
Psalm 74:16

Yes, Lord, thou dost not abdicate thy throne when the sun goeth down, nor dost thou leave the world all through these long wintry nights to be the prey of evil; thine eyes watch us as the stars, and thine arms surround us as the zodiac belts the sky. The dews of kindly sleep and all the influences of the moon are in thy hand, and the alarms and solemnities of night are equally with thee. This is very sweet to me when watching through the midnight hours, or tossing to and fro in anguish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun: may my Lord make me to be a favoured partaker in them.

The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes his saints, and overrules the shades and dews of midnight for his people’s highest good. We believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, “I create light and I create darkness; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Gloomy seasons of religious indifference and social sin are not exempted from the divine purpose. When the altars of truth are defiled, and the ways of God forsaken, the Lord’s servants weep with bitter sorrow, but they may not despair, for the darkest eras are governed by the Lord, and shall come to their end at his bidding. What may seem defeat to us may be victory to him.

“Though enwrapt in gloomy night,

We perceive no ray of light;

Since the Lord himself is here,

‘Tis not meet that we should fear.”

Christmas Wrappings

 

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Christmas Wrappings

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The Drawing of the Father

From: Utmost.org

When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself. But will I commit, placing myself completely and absolutely on God, and be willing to act solely on what He says? If I will, I will find that I am grounded on reality as certain as God’s throne.

In preaching the gospel, always focus on the matter of the will. Belief must come from the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to a persuasive or powerful argument. I must deliberately step out, placing my faith in God and in His truth. And I must place no confidence in my own works, but only in God. Trusting in my own mental understanding becomes a hindrance to complete trust in God. I must be willing to ignore and leave my feelings behind. I mustwill to believe. But this can never be accomplished without my forceful, determined effort to separate myself from my old ways of looking at things. I must surrender myself completely to God.

Everyone has been created with the ability to reach out beyond his own grasp. But it is God who draws me, and my relationship to Him in the first place is an inner, personal one, not an intellectual one. I come into the relationship through the miracle of God and through my own will to believe. Then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transformation in my life.

Our Daily Bread, source

At our house some Christmas events are the same each year. Among them is my wife Martie’s appeal to the kids and grandkids as they attack their gifts: “Save the paper, we can use it next year!” Martie loves to give nice gifts, but she also appreciates the wrapping. Presentation is part of the beauty of the gift.

It makes me think of the wrapping Christ chose when He came as a redemptive gift to rescue us from our sinful selves. Jesus could have wrapped Himself in a mind-boggling show of power, lighting up the sky with His presence in a celestial show of glory. Instead, in a beautiful reversal of Genesis 1:26, He chose to wrap Himself “in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7).

So why is this wrapping so important? Because, being like us, He is no stranger to our struggles. He experienced deep loneliness and the betrayal of a dear friend. He was publicly shamed, misunderstood, and falsely accused. In short, He feels our pain. As a result, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

When you think of the gift of Jesus this Christmas, remember to keep the “wrapping” in mind!

Lord, thank You for wrapping Yourself in our
likeness! Remind us that You understand our
struggles and that we can confidently take advantage
of the mercy and grace You offer to make us victorious.
Don’t disregard the wrapping of the best Christmas gift of all.

Insight

Philippians 2:5-11 is perhaps the greatest declaration of Christ’s deity and humanity in the Bible. In His incarnation, Jesus did not replace His deity with humanity, but added humanity to His deity; He did not cease to be God, but surrendered the independent use of His divine powers and the right to manifest His own glory as God. Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed that the Father would restore to Him the glory He had with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). Jesus’ prayer was answered when the Father “highly exalted Him and [gave] Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Today’s Devotions

From; Through the Bible

Morning

December 22

Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NIV) 17“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.19But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Ezekiel was called to be a prophet to the people of Judah in exile in Babylon. His calling is similar to that of the prophet Isaiah. He saw a vision of the glory of God several times. He described the same beings that fly about the throne and gave a little more detail than Isaiah did. The descriptions are fascinating. You can read them in the first three chapters of Ezekiel. Try reading it in several translations. We will all see the same thing one day, for we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of God.

Over and over God told Ezekiel that the people would not listen, but that was not to be his concern. He had to tell them anyway. God even told him that if he was sent as a missionary, those people would listen, but not this stubborn people of Judah. Some pastors wonder if they have the same calling. Our ministry is not about numbers. It is about obedience to God! There will be those that do hear, even if the vast majority does not. All are given a chance to hear and are then accountable to God with what they did with what they heard.

In our passage today, God gave Ezekiel an extra incentive to speak out what God had spoken to him. If we do not speak when God tells us to, we are the ones accountable to God for the blood of the wicked. It is obedience to God for that man to hear, as it is obedience to God for us to speak the words He commands us to speak.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be faithful to speak what You command us to speak.

Evening

December 22

Jude 1:3-4 (NIV) 3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude is a one-chapter letter of warning. Jesus had given the church the mission of spreading the Gospel to the world. As it began to do so, Satan counterattacked from several different angles. He brought about physical persecution. This only seemed to strengthen the conviction of believers. The deaths of martyrs inspired others to give their lives to Christ. The other attack came from within. Prominent men gained positions of authority in the church, but they did not continue teaching the apostles’ doctrine. By flattery and deception they influenced some in the church to hear their deceptive schemes.

This attack continues to this day. It is not always easy to spot because of the subtlety of these men. There is nearly always some form of immorality or financial gain involved. Paul, Peter and John also warned the churches about these deceivers.

It is not that they deny who Jesus is, for that would be too obvious. They deny His lordship over their lives. The fruit of their life gives them away. They draw people to themselves and not the Lord Jesus Christ. If you were to hear them speak, you would come away thinking of the man and not Jesus Christ. Jude is telling us that we must contend for the faith. Stand up to these deceivers. Expose them. Point out where they err from Scripture. Do not fear them. Point people back to Jesus.

Consider: Credentials and positions are not a guarantee of the lordship of Christ in that leader. By their fruits you will know them.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2014

From: Closed Doors, Open Windows

The Greatest Gift of All

This post is not what it appears on the surface…Please keep reading…

By now most of my friends and family know that we did not send out our annual Christmas letter…and only a very few cards to some who don’t have email or do Facebook.  And many of you also know that I had a hard time getting myself into the proper spirit for Christmas shopping, etc.
But if you have been following along the past week or so, you also will know that God came through, and He met me in my deepest place of sorrow, and gave me the strength and courage to choose JOY!

I am happy to report that after two long, grueling days of shopping and gift wrapping…I am feeling much better prepared to face this week and truly enjoy Christmas!  Thank you all for your prayers and words of support and comfort. You have blessed me with your love and wisdom, and I thank God for you.

Today has been a wonderful day of Sabbath Rest.  We had our

morning worship service here in our home, and the lesson today was taken from Matthew 13:45-46, which says:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Not exactly an Advent or Christmas message for this fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday before Christmas.  At least not at first glance.  But as the message unfolded, we were asked to imagine ourselves as a person who had been captured and held prisoner, chained to others and forced to walk many days in the hot desert, back in the days of the Roman Government, which was in power at the time of Jesus’ birth. Instead of food we were given very little water and a detestable watered down broth of some kind, just barely enough to keep us alive. As our horrendous journey continued, we were not permitted to speak or cry, and if one did, he would be severely punished by many lashes of the whip.
After many days we finally arrived in a city, where the slave auction was held. One by one we watched our traveling companions be auctioned off to the highest bidder, to be purchased as a slave to cruel taskmasters who would make the previous journey seem like a vacation.
Suddenly it was my turn on the auction block. I was forced to stand before the bidders, my clothes were tattered and torn and filthy. I had not eaten or bathed in many days. My hair was matted and dirty, my body was bleeding from the many lashes I had endured. Weak, weary, and fearful, I tried to stay conscious as the bargaining and bidding began for my life. As I struggled to stand, listening to the jeers and jests of those around me shouting all manner of ugly and disgusting insults regarding my appearance, there was One bidder who stepped forward, and with a commanding voice He spoke His bid loud and clear above all the others.  The amount that He shouted out caused all the other slave traders to stop and turn around and look.  They began to question among themselves, “Who can this be? Why would He wantthis worthless prisoner…the one who looks completely beaten and defeated…the one who probably couldn’t do a day’s work no matter how hard she’s whipped?  And what is that He said? He’s giving all that He has to purchase this piece of human refuse! Who IS He?
And who can this person be who has such value in His eyes?”
 
Finally I heard the auctioneer shout, “Sold to the Highest Bidder! Take her away!”  I was expecting to be yanked up and rudely jerked off of the block and dragged along by my chains.  But instead, my Purchaser was kneeling before me, tenderly washing my wounds, removing the chains from my ankles and wrists, holding a cup of water to my lips, lifting me up and carrying me away in His arms. As He lifted me high above my previous tormentors, He gently whispered my name and called me His beloved child. I thought I must have died and gone to heaven, but He said, “You are my precious child…my chosen one…my “Pearl of Great Price!” 

I did not quite understand then what He meant by that…but when the day came that I saw this One hanging on a cross, crucified and dying, I understood.  You see, He did give all that He had for me…He gave His life, so that I might live.  And before He died He told me all that I would need to know so that I could one day join Him.  He said,

“Let not your heart be troubled; 
you believe in God,
believe also in Me.
In My Father’s house are many mansions,
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you to Myself,
that where I am, there you may be also.
And where I go you know,
and the way you know…
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
 
John 14: 1-6 
 
 

You may be asking yourself, “What does this story have to do with Christmas?”  Well, my friend, it has EVERYTHING to do with Christmas!

Why did Jesus come to earth in the first place?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, 
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

Simposious Is Back

 

Simposious Is Back

Apparently, Simposious was a casualty of a cyber attack on Word Press. Thanks to good engineers the site is saved and Back for its readers. Thank you for your patience.

 

Redemption— Creating the Need it Satisfies

From: Utmost.org

The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe…” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The majority of people think of themselves as being completely moral, and have no sense of need for the gospel. It is God who creates this sense of need in a human being, but that person remains totally unaware of his need until God makes Himself evident. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). But God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He wants to withhold something from us, but that is the plan He has established for the way of redemption. Through our asking, God puts His process in motion, creating something in us that was nonexistent until we asked. The inner reality of redemption is that it creates all the time. And as redemption creates the life of God in us, it also creates the things which belong to that life. The only thing that can possibly satisfy the need is what created the need. This is the meaning of redemption— it creates and it satisfies.

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). When we preach our own experiences, people may be interested, but it awakens no real sense of need. But once Jesus Christ is “lifted up,” the Spirit of God creates an awareness of the need for Him. The creative power of the redemption of God works in the souls of men only through the preaching of the gospel. It is never the sharing of personal experiences that saves people, but the truth of redemption. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

 

 

Pictures Reminding Us Of Christs’ Birth

 

download (82)download (83)birth of christ : Jesus Nativity Scene At Birth Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church Completed 1924 San Francisco California  Stock Photobirth of christ : three wise men Stock Photodownload (84)

  • Isaiah 7:14

    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • Luke 1:30-35

    But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
birth of christ : Christmas Crib. Figures of Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on white background.birth of christ : Angel protect a Holy Familydownload (81)
birth of christ : nativitybirth of christ : Bible and Christmas time abstract background in nightdownload (47)
birth of christ : Printbirth of christ : Cartoon nativity scene with holy family download (37)
birth of christ : Christmas Christian nativity scene with baby Jesus in the manger in silhouette, and star of Bethlehembirth of christ : All the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem Stock Photodownload (44)
birth of christ : Vector illustration of the holy family of the nativity or birth of Jesus created as stained glass  Illustrationbirth of christ : Biblical scene - birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. download (45)
birth of christ : Nativity scene is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.birth of christ : Christmas Nativity Scene Stock Photo
birth of christ : christmas globe with nativity scene over blue background. vector Illustrationdownload (45)download (46)
  • Matthew 1:18-25

    This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.