Dec 29, 2008
Please take a few minutes to watch this. This video will be an encouragement to you. Enjoy!
Dec 29, 2008
Please take a few minutes to watch this. This video will be an encouragement to you. Enjoy!
To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. Isaiah 9:6
No one can afford the price of war. One website reports 64 nations are currently involved in armed conflicts. When and how will they end? We want peace, but not at the expense of justice.
Jesus was born during a time of “peace,” but it came at the cost of heavy-handed oppression. The Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”) existed only because Rome squashed all dissent.
Seven centuries before that time of relative peace, hostile armies prepared to invade Jerusalem. From the shadow of war, God made a remarkable pronouncement. “On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned,” the prophet declared (Isa. 9:2). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . . Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (vv. 6-7). Matthew tells us that Isaiah’s prophecy found fulfillment in the Christ-child (Matt. 1:22-23; see also Isa. 7:14).
We adore the tiny baby in the manger scene. Yet that helpless babe is also the Lord Almighty, “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Isa. 13:13 nlt). He will one day “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness” (9:7). Such a regime will be no oppressive Pax Romana. It will be the reign of the Prince of Peace.
Father, we can never sufficiently thank You that Your Son came to bring us peace with You through His death and resurrection. Thank You that He will rule in both peace and righteousness.
The Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah.
And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all peoples to Myself. —John 12:32
Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery.
When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.
But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.
The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them.
Defenders of the faith are inclined to be bitter until they learn to walk in the light of the Lord. When you have learned to walk in the light of the Lord, bitterness and contention are impossible. Biblical Psychology
1 Timothy 2:1-8
In today’s reading, Paul is talking about worship and prayer. But he uses them to present an even greater truth: God’s loving desire for us. It can be easy to become complacent in our faith. We may even start to think that we are somehow deserving of God’s love. But God’s love for us—His coming as a man to die for our sins—is about who He is, not who we are.
God desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Salvation involves not only the Lord’s work of deliverance from eternal death but also His endowment of eternal life. When He looks at our hearts, He sees nothing that motivates Him to save us—we have no righteousness or goodness in us.
Instead, our Father chooses to save us because He loves us (Eph. 2:4). His children are trophies of His grace, to which He can point for the benefit of all the generations to come (Eph. 2:7). We human beings are unique in our ability to experience the grace of God.
In living out the Lord’s mercy on us, we also perform His work. Consequently, men and women may see the goodness of God and give glory to Him. That’s why we’re charged with being lights here on earth to reflect our Father (Matt. 5:14).
This week, as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, consider the love He has for you—a reality strong enough to compel Him to die in your place. Everything in the heart of God reaches out to pour love upon humanity—be open to receive it.
“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)
Habakkuk had long been grieved by the apostasy and injustice in Judah. A sensitive man who trusted God completely, he could not understand why God allowed such rampant sin to go unpunished. Knowing God must have a reason for His actions, he asked in faith the question, “Why?” (1:3).
In love God honors Habakkuk’s sincere question, but the answer caused him even greater concern: “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their’s” (v. 6). God intended to use the vicious Babylonians to punish His chosen people (vv. 5-11).
This prompted the prophet’s second question, “How?” How could God use such an evil people to punish the Jews (1:12-2:1)? God patiently explained that Israel’s sins merited captivity, and furthermore that Babylon’s sins would eventually be punished also.
Once Habakkuk knew God’s plan, he did not dispute it. Rather, his concern turned to his people—soon to be in captivity. He was afraid they would lose all knowledge of God in a heathen culture, and he prayed, “O LORD, revive thy work” (3:2; literally “keep alive thy work”). This concern was answered by a majestic appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ (vv. 3-15), through which Habakkuk understood that God would indeed judge His enemies (v. 12) and deliver His people (v. 13).
Habakkuk’s final response? Total submission to God’s sovereign control over all things. He claims that in spite of these overwhelming problems (3:18), “yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” JDM
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. —Psalm 30:5
But there is a limit to man’s ability to live without joy. Even Christ could endure the cross only because of the joy set before Him. The strongest steel breaks if kept too long under unrelieved tension. God knows exactly how much pressure each one of us can take.
He knows how long we can endure the night, so He gives the soul relief, first by welcome glimpses of the morning star and then by the fuller light that harbingers the morning. Slowly you will discover God’s love in your suffering. Your heart will begin to approve the whole thing. You will learn from yourself what all the schools in the world could not teach you—the healing action of faith without supporting pleasure. You will feel and understand the ministry of the night; its power to purify, to detach, to humble, to destroy the fear of death and, what is more important to you at the moment, the fear of life. And you will learn that sometimes pain can do what even joy cannot, such as exposing the vanity of earth’s trifles and filling your heart with longing for the peace of heaven.
Thank You, Father, for the ministry of the night, for the lessons of pain. But thank You, too, that we’re not alone in the night. Thank You for the morning star and the glimpse of the light of morning. Amen.
… Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20
As Christian believers, we must practice living to the glory of God, actually and determinedly, for Paul’s exhortation to “do all to the glory of God” is more than pious idealism!
It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.
The New Testament accepts as a matter of course that in His incarnation our Lord took upon Him a real human body, and no effort is made to steer around the downright implications of such a fact.
The Lord Jesus lived in that body here among men and never once performed a nonsacred act! His presence in human flesh sweeps away forever the evil notion that there is about the human body something innately offensive to the Deity.
God created our bodies, and we do not offend Him by placing the responsibility where it belongs. He is not ashamed of the work of His own hands!
There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination. REVELATION 21:27
When we look closely at this world system and society, we see the terrible and ugly scars of sin. Sin has obscenely scarred and defaced this world, taking away its harmony and symmetry and beauty.
That is the negative picture. Thank God for the positive promise and prospect that heaven is the place of all loveliness, all harmony and beauty.
These are not idle words. If you love beautiful things, you had better stay out of hell, for hell will be the quintessence of all that is morally ugly and obscene. Hell will be the ugliest place in all of creation!
It is a fact that earth lies between all that is ugly in hell and all that is beautiful in heaven. As long as we are living here, we will have to consider the extreme—much that is good and much that is bad!
As believers, we are held firm in the knowledge that the eternal Son came to save us and deliver us to a beautiful heaven and everlasting fellowship with God!
Dear Lord, thank You for the glimpses of Your grace and beauty that You show us in Your creation—a colorful rainbow, a beautiful sunset, afield of wildflowers. They all remind us of the beauty in store for those who have received eternal life.