If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, “I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else,” then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.
Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.
Christmas Morning Memories
By: Pauline Hylton
I don’t know what you’re doing for Christmas. The Saturday before, Tom and I are traveling to Atlanta to spend a few days with my daughter and her family. We will eat good food, play some games, take long walks and even longer naps.
But on Christmas morning, I hope we will carry on a tradition that has warmed my heart for decades. You see, my parents served as officers in The Salvation Army. So, the Christmas season flew by.
But Christmas morning was different. It began with a hearty breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs, and bacon. After that, we gathered in the living room around the decorated tree. Underneath the tree rested paper bags with writing in them. There were pillowcases filled up and tied with a ribbon, along with a smattering of wrapped packages. The reason for the tacky presents stemmed from the fact we were so busy serving others, we had no time to shop and wrap presents for ourselves.
It didn’t bother me.
Before we opened any gift, my father opened his King James Bible to Luke 2. Either he would read, or he would assign one of us to read. The story never grew old. Each year, it felt like a breath of fresh air to me. Then he would light a single white candle and we would all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
Yeah, I know it’s corny. But it was priceless—like the sweet song of redemption.
Tears almost always came to my eyes. As a teenager, my tears came from a grateful heart because of time spent with family. As I grew older, it deepened.
Now, it is worship. Galatians 4:4-5 states this:
“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.”
The best present of all came wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. This present won’t rust, doesn’t have payments, and lasts forever.
It’s a no-brainer.
Perhaps you have never embraced this child who became a man to purchase eternal life for mankind. My prayer is that this season you will.
Take a look at these powerful words from the book of Isaiah 9:6-7:
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
This child is not like any other. God became man and dwelt among us.
I can tell you right now what my favorite part of Christmas 2018 will be. Sure, I’ll bask in spending time with my grandson and my kids. But then my eyes will tear up as we light a candle and sing a simple song.
The sweet song of redemption.
I pray you can hear it, too.
|December 14, 2018
Fall at His Feet
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18 (NIV)
People aren’t afraid of babies. Now, it might be intimidating to think of caring for a baby, but just meeting a baby isn’t a very terrifying experience to the average person.
Babies are cute, small and helpless. They don’t pose any danger. How amazing that Jesus entered our world as a little baby! Jesus’ mode of arrival reveals God the Father’s humility, kindness and approachability.
The Bible introduces us to Jesus, the baby. This is the beautiful portrait of the Christmas season. But let’s also remember the Bible describes Jesus as the exalted Son of Man whose eyes are as a flame of fire, whose mouth has a two-edged sword, and whose face is like the sun in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:14,16) That’s a much more intimidating picture!
The elderly Apostle John saw this almighty God while exiled on the tiny island of Patmos. If the saying “Best Friends Forever” existed back then, John might have used it to describe his relationship with Jesus. Among the Lord’s 12 disciples, He had an inner circle of three (Peter, James and John). John described himself in his Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23b). Clearly, he had a deep relationship with the Savior.
When John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, he heard God’s voice like a trumpet and saw his master and best friend, Jesus.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17a).
What an impression God made on John! Here’s a disciple who had walked and talked with Jesus, yet when John sees Jesus in all His splendor and glory, he is undone. He is terrified and falls down like a dead man. Pay attention to what Jesus does next.
“Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid’” (Revelation 1:17b).
Jesus didn’t flex His divine muscles and shout with a thunderous voice to heighten fright in John’s heart. He did the opposite. He spoke kindly and placed His hand on John to strengthen him. He chose words of comfort that you can find in the Bible hundreds of times: “Do not be afraid.”
What’s causing you fear today? Allow Jesus’ words to John to bring you comfort and courage. You don’t have to be afraid of any challenge facing you because of who God is. He said:
“I am the First and the Last” (v. 17). He is divine and eternal.
“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” (v. 18). John had witnessed Jesus’ gruesome crucifixion. There is no hurt on earth that God does not understand. But because of the resurrection, death has been beaten once and for all.
“I hold the keys of death and Hades” (v. 18). God has sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world. He opens and shuts doors that no one else can. Jesus possesses the key to the kingdom of God and the entrance into eternal life.
So when you see the baby Jesus depicted this season, rejoice and be glad! God came down in the least intimidating way — as a baby. But also remember, He shall return as the ultimate victor over the devil and death. We will fall at His feet in worship. God is all powerful and hallelujah, He is on our side!
Lord Jesus, I humble myself before You. Who am I that You should love me? Thank You for coming as a baby. You will return as King. Help me remember Your extraordinary power and honor You as Lord over my life this Christmas season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.