Dec 13, 2008
The real story of Christmas. Music by Michael W. Smith
Dec 13, 2008
The real story of Christmas. Music by Michael W. Smith
You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in prayer is unscriptural. If you ever do wrestle with God, you will be crippled for the rest of your life. If you grab hold of God and wrestle with Him, as Jacob did, simply because He is working in a way that doesn’t meet with your approval, you force Him to put you out of joint (see Genesis 32:24-25). Don’t become a cripple by wrestling with the ways of God, but be someone who wrestles before God with the things of this world, because “we are more than conquerors through Him…” (Romans 8:37). Wrestling before God makes an impact in His kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you, and I am not complete in Christ, my prayer accomplishes nothing. But if I am complete in Christ, my prayer brings victory all the time. Prayer is effective only when there is completeness— “take up the whole armor of God….”
Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28)— to those who remain true to God’s perfect will— His calling in Christ Jesus. God’s permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, “Yes, it is the Lord’s will.” We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength.
Always keep in contact with those books and those people that enlarge your horizon and make it possible for you to stretch yourself mentally. The Moral Foundations of Life, 721 R
FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
In today’s reading, Isaiah prophesied that a Savior would come to atone for the sins of mankind (Isa. 53:5). The Jews were expecting a Messiah, but Jesus didn’t match what they anticipated.
The people imagined a strong ruler who would lead their nation with worldly power, but the Lord was a servant who spent time with outcasts and the lowly. They hoped for a man who would end Israel’s persecution; He died a criminal’s death and warned His followers that they would not be accepted by the world. So it’s no surprise the Jewish people rejected Him. He didn’t fit what they wanted—yet He was so much more than they understood.
All of us will one day stand before God. In our iniquity, we’d be unworthy to remain in His presence. His judgment of sin will be death, an agonizing eternal existence apart from Him. This is why He warned Adam that if he sinned, he would die (Gen. 2:17).
Yet Jesus bore our sin so that whoever trusts in Him can look forward to eternal life (John 3:16). Christ chose to bear our punishment—the Holy One voluntarily dying the death of a criminal so we could live forever in His presence. Jesus was the way that God could satisfy His justice yet love His people (John 14:6).
Jesus’ gift of salvation is free. It requires nothing on our part except the willingness to surrender. Have you accepted His death on the cross as the atonement for your sin? The Redeemer’s death leads to life. He doesn’t guarantee an easy road, but He promises to stay with you always.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
One of the more beautiful metaphors in the Bible, light, is used either metaphorically or literally to stress understanding, knowledge, or truth. When inaccurate interpretations of God’s Word are taught, Isaiah said it is “because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Peter noted that prophetic insight is like “light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).
One of the Lord’s most memorable statements was: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Little wonder, then, that in this majestic psalm centering on the Word of God, this stanza (Psalm 119:105-112) acknowledges the role executed by the Scriptures “as the light that goeth forth” (Hosea 6:5).
The psalmist again mentioned his affliction (v. 107) and that his soul was constantly “in my hand” (Psalm 119:107, a Hebrew idiom for constant danger; see 1 Samuel 28:21). But nonetheless, his instant reaction was to focus on the “righteous judgments” of God and a promise to “not forget thy law” (Psalm 119:109). He begged for the Lord to teach him God’s “judgments” (v. 108) and promised not to err “from thy precepts” (v. 110).
Thus, woven throughout the stanza are the constant paradoxical tensions of supplication for relief from the wicked efforts to “snare” him (see 2 Timothy 2:26) and the confidence that whatever conditions may develop, the written Word of God would provide answers. Those words are “the rejoicing” of his heart (119:111), much like when David sang, “Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD” (Psalm 105:3).
Finally, in the last line of this stanza, the psalmist challenged us to embrace his own commitment to the Word of God as he wrote, “I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end” (Psalm 119:112). HMM III
And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. —Ezekiel 3:16-17
I once heard a brother preach on the fact that the church should be without spot or wrinkle. To get the wrinkles out of a sack, he said, you fill it. To get a wrinkle out of a rug, you lay it down and walk on it. God sometimes fills us, the preacher continued, but sometimes He just puts us flat down so that everyone can walk on us!
King David long ago knew something of the latter method. He wrote, “The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows” (Psalm 129:3). I think David was talking about his enemies. And they must have been wearing hobnail boots!
Ezekiel had just come to this kind of a low-ebbed, humbling experience when God opened the heavens. In effect, God put His hand on him and said, “Now I can use you. I have some words and some plans that I want you to pass onto your country men.”
Lord, whether You fill me or “put me flat down,” I want to befit to be Your servant. Use Your best methods on me, Father, as I submit myself for Your use and Your glory. Amen.
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7
Every human being is in a state of passing from what he was to what he is to be—and this is as true of the Christian as of every other person.
The new birth does not produce the finished product. The new thing that is born of God is as far from completeness as the new baby born into this world an hour ago.
That new human being, the moment he is born, is placed in the hands of powerful molding forces that go far to determine whether he shall be an upright citizen or a criminal. The one hope for him is that he can later choose which forces shall shape him, and by the exercise of his own power of choice he can place himself in the right hands.
It is not otherwise with the Christian. He can fashion himself by placing himself in the hands first of the supreme Artist, God, and then by subjecting himself to such holy influences and such formative powers as shall make him into a man of God.
Or he may foolishly trust himself to unworthy hands and become at last a misshapen and inartistic vessel, of little use to mankind and a poor example of the skill of the heavenly Potter.
The wise Christian will take advantage of every proper means of grace: he has but to cooperate with God in embracing the good. God Himself will do the rest!
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. TITUS 3:7
I do believe in the secret and mysterious working of God in the human breast. I must believe it after finding the forgiving and converting grace of God in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
My father and mother held high human standards, but completely without any thought of God. My parents appeared to be without any spark of desire after God—attitudes that were cold, earthy, profane.
Can you tell me why, then, at the age of seventeen, as a boy surrounded by unbelief— 100 percent—I could find my way to my mother’s attic, kneel on my knees, and give my heart and life in committal to Jesus Christ?
I cannot tell you why. I can only say that I know there is such a thing as the secret workings of God within the human being who has a sensitivity to hear the call of God. In my own case, I do have the testimony that my conversion to Jesus Christ was as real as any man’s conversion has ever been!
My fellow man, if the Spirit of God is still tugging at your heart, thank God—and follow the light!
Lord, most believers know from personal experience about Your “secret workings” within the human heart. I pray today that You will do a work in the heretofore hardened hearts of criminals and terrorists around the world. And may the angels in heaven rejoice at the outcome!