VIDEO I Believe

Dec 23, 2008

I Believe – Natalie Grant. A stirring song which captures the true meaning of Christmas – that God would send His son to save someone like me. This is no fairytale. The baby in the manger was to become to be a willing and perfect sacrifice for my sins. God – in human form – was bruised, beaten and killed – for me. How deserving, therefore, is He of my praise and thanks.

Stones Cry Out

stone wall
I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out. —Luke 19:40

Every year it seems that Christmas becomes more and more commercialized. Even in nations where the majority of people call themselves “Christian,” the season has become more about shopping than worshiping. The pressure to buy gifts and plan elaborate parties makes it increasingly difficult to stay focused on the real meaning of the holiday—the birth of Jesus, God’s only Son, the Savior of the world.

But every holiday I also hear the gospel coming from surprising places —the very places that so commercialize Christmas—shopping malls. When I hear “Joy to the World! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King” ringing from public address systems, I think of the words Jesus said to the Pharisees who told Him to silence the crowds who were praising Him. “If they keep quiet,” Jesus said, “the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40 niv).

At Christmas we hear stones cry out. Even people spiritually dead sing carols written by Christians long dead, reminding us that no matter how hard people try to squelch the real message of Christmas, they will never succeed.

Despite the commercialism that threatens to muddle the message of Christ’s birth, God will make His good news known as “far as the curse is found.” By Julie Ackerman Link

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found. —Watts

Keeping Christ out of Christmas is as futile as holding back the ocean’s tide.

Facing Death

Luke 23:32-43

The thief on the cross—condemned by both God and man—was just hours away from death. But before he took his last breath, something absolutely glorious occurred. The criminal, in the very process of dying, was rescued by Jesus right in front of the mocking crowd. The thief’s name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and all of heaven rejoiced. Jesus promised him a place in paradise in the presence of God.

On those three crosses at Calvary, one robber died in his sin; another man—the Son of Man—died to pay the penalty for sin; and the third, a thief like the first, was redeemed from sin. His sin debt was paid in full, and he became part of God’s family. What evidence do we have that his deathbed conversion was real?

• Change in behavior. Initially, both thieves hurled insults and blasphemies against Jesus (Matt. 27:44). In a total turnaround, the second robber later chastised the first man for his words (Luke 23:40).

• Admission of guilt. The robber publicly acknowledged that he was being justly punished for his wicked deeds (v. 41).

• Expression of faith in the Lord. The man called Jesus by name, acknowledged that He was a king with a kingdom, believed there was life after death, and asked the Savior to rescue him (v. 42).

• Jesus’ promise to the thief. The Lord told him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (v. 43).

Every one of us is just a heartbeat away from dying. Let this sobering thought propel you to examine your life. Are you part of God’s family? Are you living to please Him?

White as Snow

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

In this amazing vision of the everlasting God on His fiery judgment throne, we find one of the six occurrences in the Bible of the fascinating phrase “white as snow.” As the symbol of holiness, pure white finds its clearest natural expression in the beautiful snow, when it has freshly covered the ground.

Twice the phrase is used to describe the cleansing of a guilty sinner by the grace of God. David, after confessing his own sin, prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God. . . . Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:1-2, 7). Then, God promises through His prophet: “Come now, and let us reason together, . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). The cleansing blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, is the only substance that can turn blood-red scarlet into snowy white.

When Christ ascended the Mount of Transfiguration, “his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3), which confirmed to the three disciples that He was the Son of God, even as the voice from heaven had said (Matthew 17:5). At the empty tomb following His resurrection, “the angel of the Lord” also had “raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3). Finally, when John saw Christ in His glorified body, he testified that “his head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14).

It is marvelous that the raiment of the angel of God, the transfigured Christ, and the Ancient of days, as well as the head of Christ in His glory, are all described with the same phrase as the soul of one whose sins are forgiven! HMM

Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou hast also wrought all our works for us

Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou hast also wrought all our works for us.—Isaiah 26:12 (R. V.).

WITH that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell the manna down.
JOHN G. WHITTIER.

PRAY to be calm and quiet and hushed, and that He will vouchsafe you the sense of His blessed Presence; that you may do all things beneath His eye, to sit with Mary calmly at His feet and hear His voice, and then calmly rise and minister to Him. EDWARD B. PUSEY.

Try so to live in the light of God’s love that it becomes a second nature to you, tolerate nothing adverse to it, be continually striving to please Him in all things, take all that He sends patiently; resolve firmly never to commit the smallest deliberate fault, and if, unhappily you are overtaken by any sin, humble yourself, and rise up speedily. You will not be always thinking of God consciously, but all your thoughts will be ruled by Him, His Presence will check useless or evil thoughts, and your heart will be perpetually fixed on Him, ready to do His holy will. JEAN NICOLAS GROU.

The dust shall return to the earth as it was

The dust shall return to the earth as it was. Ecclesiastes 12:7

It is sown in corruption; it is sown in dishonour; it is sown in weakness; it is sown a natural body. — The first man is of the earth, earthy.

Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. — One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure. They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

My flesh … shall rest in hope. — Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. —The Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. —So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44. 1 Corinthians 15:47. Genesis 3:19. Job 21:23,25,26. Psalm 16:9. Job 19:26. Philippians 3:20,21. Psalm 39:4. Psalm 90:12.

With love serve one another

By love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. — Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. — Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. — Be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. — Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

We … that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Galatians 6:1,2. James 5:19,20. 1 Peter 1:22. Romans 13:8. Romans 12:10. 1 Peter 5:5. Romans 15:1.