VIDEO O Holy Night – Josh Groban

O Holy Night

According to tradition, a Christmas song once brought peace to a battlefield. It happened on Christmas Eve during the Franco-German War (1870–1871) as the two sides faced each other in their trenches.

A French soldier jumped up and began singing “O Holy Night.” The surprised German soldiers did not fire. Instead, one of them stepped forward to sing “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.”

For a brief time at least, peace on earth prevailed and good – will was shared among men whose job it was to kill each other.

Think about the words of “O Holy Night” and see how they can bring hostilities to a halt. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Who knows about the world’s ills better than soldiers who are facing the consequences of war, killing, and death?

“A thrill of hope” is what those men needed in the darkness of that winter night. Hope is what “the dear Savior’s birth” provides. Because of Him the “weary world rejoices.”

Even though we may not be engaged in physical combat, we all face the battles of everyday life. We can let the peace of that holy night—the night of our dear Savior’s birth—reign in our hearts the whole year through. —Dave Branon

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SPIRITUAL WATER

“As a dry land needs rain, I thirst for you.” PSALM 143:6 “The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside … giving eternal life.” JOHN 4:14

Deprive your body of necessary fluid, and your body will tell you. Deprive your soul of spiritual water, and your soul will tell you. Dehydrated hearts send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Growling mastodons of guilt and fear.

You think God wants you to live with these?
Hopelessness.
Sleeplessness.
Loneliness.
Resentment.
Irritability.
Insecurity.
These are warnings. Symptoms of a dryness deep within.

Treat your soul as you treat your thirst. Take a gulp. Imbibe moisture. Flood your heart with a good swallow of water.

Where do you find water for the soul? “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (John 7:37).

from COME THIRSTY

How God Sees the Unbeliever

Ephesians 2:1-5

God’s Word is always true but not always popular. When it runs counter to cultural preferences, the message of the gospel can be uncomfortable to hear and may lead to challenge and confrontation. We need to know biblical truth, including the fact that God sees unbelievers as . . .

• Dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). As newborn babies, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. Spiritual death came to all generations through the first Adam (Rom. 5:12); spiritual life comes only through Jesus, the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45).

• Unable to grasp spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Those who are spiritually dead can’t perceive the things of God. Divine truth can’t penetrate because their “receiver,” or spirit, is dead within them.

• Not part of God’s family (John 1:12). Spiritually, there are only two families in the world: God’s and Satan’s (John 8:44). A person is born into God’s family—or “born again”—by trusting in Christ’s sacrifice and receiving Him as Savior.

• Under wrath (Eph. 2:3). Unbelievers, even kind and loving ones, are under judgment. A sin debt is owed (Rom. 6:23), and it can’t be paid by kind or loving acts of service. Jesus paid on our behalf, and only by trusting in His substitutionary sacrifice can we escape God’s wrath.

Unbelievers are in grave danger, but most do not realize it. The good news is that God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ is still available. Have you reached out for the hand of your Rescuer? If your answer is yes, are you pointing others to the One who wants to rescue them?

O Praise the Lord

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117:1-2)

Psalm 117 is especially noteworthy for two reasons: First, it is the middle chapter of the Bible, and, secondly, it is the shortest chapter in the Bible, consisting of only the two verses cited above. Thus, it is significant and appropriate that its theme be that of universal and everlasting praise. The very purpose of human language is that God might communicate His word to us and that we might respond in praise to Him.

The word “nations” in verse 1 refers specifically to Gentiles, while “people” seems to refer to all tribes of people. Two different Hebrew words for praise are used, so that the verse could be read: “Praise the LORD, all ye Gentile nations; extol him all ye peoples of every tribe.” In any case, the sense of the exhortation is to urge everyone to praise His name.

The Hebrew word translated “merciful kindness” is also rendered as “loving kindness,” or simply “mercy” or “kindness.” Whichever is preferred, the significant point is that it has been great toward us. This word (Hebrew gabar) is not the usual word for “great” but is a very strong word meaning to “triumph” or “prevail.” An example of its use is in the story of the great Flood. “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth” (Genesis 7:19). In fact, it is used four times in this account of the “overwhelmingly mighty” waters of the Flood (Genesis 7:18-20, 24).

In other words, God’s merciful kindness has prevailed over our sin and the awful judgment we deserve in a manner and degree analogous to the way in which the deluge waters prevailed over the ancient evil world. God’s mercy and truth are eternal, and this will be the great theme of our praise throughout all the ages to come. HMM

Anna, a prophetess departed not from the temple

“And there was Anna, a prophetess… which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2:36, 37.)

NO doubt by praying we learn to pray, and the more we pray the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays in fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which availeth much.

Great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must go to work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God.

Jacob’s all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord’s most choice and wonderful prayer with his disciples before His Passion as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.

If a man dreams that he can become mighty in, prayer just as he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elias which shut up heaven and afterwards opened its floodgates, was one of long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh, that Christian men would remember this! Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer.

Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the Church; but it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men. We must pray to pray, and continue in prayer that our prayers may continue. —G. H. Spurgeon.

Yea, thou heardest not – yea, thou knewest not

“Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened.” Isaiah 48:8

It is painful to remember that, in a certain degree, this accusation may be laid at the door of believers, who too often are in a measure spiritually insensible. We may well bewail ourselves that we do not hear the voice of God as we ought, “Yea, thou heardest not.” There are gentle motions of the Holy Spirit in the soul which are unheeded by us: there are whisperings of divine command and of heavenly love which are alike unobserved by our leaden intellects. Alas! we have been carelessly ignorant—”Yea, thou knewest not.” There are matters within which we ought to have seen, corruptions which have made headway unnoticed; sweet affections which are being blighted like flowers in the frost, untended by us; glimpses of the divine face which might be perceived if we did not wall up the windows of our soul. But we “have not known.”

As we think of it we are humbled in the deepest self-abasement. How must we adore the grace of God as we learn from the context that all this folly and ignorance, on our part, was foreknown by God, and, notwithstanding that foreknowledge, He yet has been pleased to deal with us in a way of mercy! Admire the marvellous sovereign grace which could have chosen us in the sight of all this! Wonder at the price that was paid for us when Christ knew what we should be! He who hung upon the cross foresaw us as unbelieving, backsliding, cold of heart, indifferent, careless, lax in prayer, and yet He said, “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour… Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life”! O redemption, how wondrously resplendent dost thou shine when we think how black we are! O Holy Spirit, give us henceforth the hearing ear, the understanding heart!

“Come unto me”

“Come unto me.” Matthew 11:28

The cry of the Christian religion is the gentle word, “Come.” The Jewish law harshly said, “Go, take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; keep them, and thou shalt live.” The law was a dispensation of terror, which drove men before it as with a scourge; the gospel draws with bands of love. Jesus is the good Shepherd going before His sheep, bidding them follow Him, and ever leading them onwards with the sweet word, “Come.” The law repels, the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.

From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the language of Christ to you will be, “Come, come unto me.” As a mother puts out her finger to her little child and woos it to walk by saying, “Come,” even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow Him as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave your way, and clear your path,and you shall hear His animating voice calling you after Him all through life; while in the solemn hour of death, His sweet words with which He shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be— “Come, ye blessed of my Father.”

Nay, further, this is not only Christ’s cry to you, but, if you be a believer, this is your cry to Christ— “Come! come!” You will be longing for His second advent; you will be saying, “Come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus.” You will be panting for nearer and closer communion with Him. As His voice to you is “Come,” your response to Him will be, “Come, Lord, and abide with me. Come, and occupy alone the throne of my heart; reign there without a rival, and consecrate me entirely to Thy service.”