VIDEO The Hope of Christmas

The Christmas Story
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5

We talk a lot about hope.

We hope the weather will be good for our family vacation. We hope that our favorite team will win the Super Bowl—or at least make it to the big game! We hope that we get just what we want for Christmas.

But for many of us, hope lacks a sense of certainty. It is more like a wish—something that we want to happen but have no way of knowing that it ultimately will. So we keep our fingers crossed and “hope” that everything will go the way we want it to.

The reality is that often life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would. Hope is a fragile commodity. When life is disappointing, our optimism is replaced by feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. Before long we run the risk of becoming cynics who believe that there is nothing in which we can confidently hope.

This was the landscape of life when Jesus entered the world. The prevailing mood of Israel was anything but hope. The once proud nation was now a puppet state of the pagan Roman Empire. The common person lived under the defeating burden of the exaggerated requirements of the religious establishment. Centuries before, they had been promised a deliverer who would restore Israel to its former glory, but it had never happened.

Into this sense of cynical hopelessness, true Hope was born. But the tragedy of that first Christmas was that very few realized the hope that had been introduced. Hope for the forgiveness of sins. Hope for a bright future—forever. Hope for God’s presence and power in daily living. Hope that would enable us to forget the past and set our sights on stuff that doesn’t disappoint. A hope that, because of Jesus, is a certainty and not just another wish to be dashed on the rocks of reality.

I love the honesty of the psalmist who said, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” We’ve all been there. But let’s not stop there. Keep reading! “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). Rejoice that Jesus came to give you something better than the disappointments of life on planet earth. And when by faith you embrace Him and all that He promised, you can have a hope that is no longer a fingers-crossed wish that you harbor in your heart, but rather a confident, courageous optimism that is rooted in the certainty of His Word.

Pin your hopes on Jesus this Christmas—you won’t be disappointed!

YOUR JOURNEY…

– What are you hoping for today? How about tomorrow? Are your hopes rooted in temporal things, or eternal?
– In what way did Jesus bring hope to the world when He arrived?
– In what way does Jesus bring you hope personally? Share the hope. Tell a friend about Him today!

An Intimate Look At The Birth Of Jesus

christmas-for_unto_us_a_child_is_born 1

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas

The Gift

Jesus Simeon Mary Joesph
Most people aren’t naturally wired to say they can die in peace.

One has to experience something profound to mouth those words! But that’s precisely what Simeon said as he held baby Jesus in his arms. He said to God, “Let your servant die in peace” (Luke 2:29).

The righteous man’s response leads to a question: What exactly had Simeon seen Jesus do? The answer: nothing. There’s no indication that Jesus performed a miracle of some kind at His tender age, nor was there a nativity-like chorus of angels overhead. He probably seemed like an ordinary baby, and little more. Yet Simeon said, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people” (Luke 2:30).

So why did Simeon react the way he did? This is explained in part by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. For it was the Spirit that brought Jesus to Simeon and revealed His true identity (the long-awaited Messiah) to the old man (Luke 2:25-26).

What a great reminder that we need the Spirit to help us see Jesus clearly! But, in addition, I think Simeon responded the way he did because he had been faithful his entire life and truly knew God. Luke labeled him as both “righteous and devout,” and being a man of God, he knew that He is good and loving (Luke 2:25). So God’s servant would surely be good and loving as well. Because Simeon trusted the Giver, he was able to see the Gift (Jesus) for what He truly was!

In order for us to recognize God’s good gifts, we need to focus not only on the gift itself, but on the character of the One who gives it. And if we have faith in a good, wise, and powerful Father, then surely we can trust that whatever He gives will be wonderfully good as well!

by Peter W. Chin

Christ’s Peace

John 14:25-28;16:1-7

Have you ever thought about the society into which the Savior was born? We sing “Silent night, holy night,” but such peace and quiet hardly characterized where Jesus lived. Within a couple of years of Christ’s birth, Herod was feeling quite threatened by reports of the Jewish king’s arrival. His reaction was to order the massacre of every boy in Bethlehem who was 2 or younger. But God protected Jesus by warning Joseph to take his family to Egypt (Matt. 2:13-16).

The violent and dangerous conditions in the Roman Empire didn’t improve over time. Poverty and slavery were common, Jewish insurrections were violently crushed, and public crucifixions instilled fear. In Jesus’ last days before dying on the cross, He delivered a rather confusing announcement to His disciples. First He promised to give them His peace and told them not to be troubled or afraid (John 14:27), but then He added that He was leaving them (v. 28), and they would be hated, cast out of the synagogue, and even killed (John 15:18; 16:2).

From these verses, it’s obvious that Christ’s peace is not a product of tranquil circumstances. This is good news because no matter how chaotic our lives may be externally, we can have an internal sense of serenity through the Holy Spirit who lives within each believer. Jesus called Him the Helper who reminds us of His Word.

That’s why our first response in troubling situations should be to read and meditate upon Scripture. Then as we obey Christ’s commands, His life flows through us like sap from the vine to a branch (John 15:1-5, 10). Jesus described this as an abiding relationship. And wherever Christ’s Spirit abides, there His peace will be as well.

Interpreting the Bible

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

One basic reason why so many people seem to have trouble understanding the Bible is that they try to “interpret” it to fit their private opinions. The Greek word for “private” (idios) is related to such English words as “idiom” and “idiosyncrasy,” and this key passage warns us against any exposition of Scripture which is based on the teacher’s pet doctrinal or behavioral prejudices. A reader or hearer of the Word of God whose “heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing” will be unable to “understand” (Matthew 13:15) because he comes with his mind and heart already bound to his own opinions.

The Bible does not need to be “interpreted” at all. In every other New Testament reference to “interpretation,” except the one in our text (which means “explanation” or “exposition”), the meaning is simply “translation.” The Bible does, of course, need to be correctly translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and other national languages, but that is all. God is able to say what He means, and He wants to communicate His authoritative Word to men and women of obedient hearts, who are willing to devote diligent study to all the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14), to obey them (James 1:22), and then teach them to others (2 Timothy 2:2, 24-26) carefully, and clearly, and graciously.

To such students of the Word, the promise is: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:3-5). HMM

Then said the princes of the Phillstines, What do these Hebrews here?

Then said the princes of the Phillstines, What do these Hebrews here? 1 Samuel 29:3

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, … or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

Let not … your good be evil spoken of. — Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Ye are the temple of the living God. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.

Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

1 Peter 4:14,15. Romans 14:16. 1 Peter 2:12. 2 Corinthians 6:14,16,17. 1 Peter 2:9.

There was no room for them in the inn

There was no room for them in the inn.—Luke 2:7.

GOD often would enrich, but finds not where to place His treasure,—nor in hand nor heart a vacant space. RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH.

THE soul, in its highest sense, is a vast capacity for God. It is like a curious chamber added on to being, and somehow involving being, a chamber with elastic and contractile walls, which can be expanded, with God as its guest, illimitably, but which without God shrinks and shrivels until every vestige of the Divine is gone. HENRY DRUMMOND.

All that God desires is to give you His great love, so that it may dwell in you, and be the principle of your life and service j and all that withstands God’s desire and His gift is the want of room for it, and for its free movement, when that room is taken up with yourselves and your little personal interests. WILLIAM BERNARD ULLATHORNE.

By rooting out our selfish desires, even when they appear to touch no one but ourselves, we are preparing a chamber of the soul where the Divine Presence may dwell. ELLEN WATSON.

If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live

If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8:13

Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.

Galatians 5:19, 21-25. Titus 2:11-14.