VIDEO Christmas in a Nutshell

Top Chrétien
Apr 19, 2010

Admit it, you’ve given some terrible gifts. There’s someone who has never given a bad gift, though…GOD! For Christmas, however, He gave us something no one could’ve imagined. This video illustrates the miracle of Christmas in a fun and poignant way.

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Pressing On Toward The Goal

I press on toward the goal to win the prize. Philippians 3:14

As I walked past an outside wall of the office building where I work, I was amazed to see a beautiful flower growing up through a crack between concrete slabs covering the ground. Despite its deprived circumstance, the plant had found a foothold, rooted itself in the dry crevice, and was flourishing. Later, I noticed that an air-conditioning unit located directly above the plant dropped water on it throughout the day. While its surroundings were hostile, the plant received the help it needed from the water above.

Growing in the Christian life can sometimes be difficult, but when we persevere with Christ, barriers are surmountable. Our circumstances may be unfavorable and discouragement may seem like an obstacle. Yet if we press on in our relationship with the Lord, we can flourish like that lone plant. This was the experience of the apostle Paul. Despite the severe hardships and challenges he faced (2 Corinthians 11:23–27), he wouldn’t give up. “I . . . take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” he wrote. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Philippians 3:12, 14).

This is a day that You have made, Father. Thank You that You’ll be near me in whatever I face today.

Paul realized he could do all things through the Lord who strengthened him (4:13), and so can we as we press on with the help of One who gives us strength.

This is a day that You have made, Father. Thank You that You’ll be near me in whatever I face today.

God provides the strength we need to persevere and grow.

By Lawrence Darmani 

INSIGHT

Today’s reading contains the most personal statement Paul makes in his letters. In the preceding verses (vv. 4–6), he unpacks his Jewish heritage, religious training, and great zeal for Judaism. The startling candor comes in verse 8 when, reflecting on what had defined his life prior to encountering Christ on the Damascus Road, he writes, “I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Garbage—that’s strong! All the things that had driven him to persecute and kill were now counted worthless compared to the value of Christ. This speaks to the extraordinary value of relationship and rescue over religion and ritual. And that relationship with God through Christ is the strength that fuels our hearts in all the seasons of life—whether good or bad.

For more, check out the Discovery Series booklet Following Jesus: Relationship or Religion? at discoveryseries.org/q0215.

Bill Crowder

At The Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:14-16

Almighty God is righteous and just. Romans 3:23 tells us that all people have sinned and are inadequate to be in His presence. As a result of His wrath against sin, we were doomed to eternal separation from Him.

But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. In His love and mercy, God sent His Son to walk among us. Jesus experienced the hardship and temptation common to all people, yet He never sinned. The Savior chose to die a gruesome death in our place, paying the penalty for our wrongs.

There is no deeper love, Scripture tells us, than a man who gives up his life for a friend (John 15:13). Jesus went further—dying for us while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:10). In fact, He would have sacrificed Himself even if you were the only person ever to exist.

Promising forgiveness and eternal life, Christ asks sinful man to believe and follow Him. When we trust in Jesus, we are adopted as God’s children and receive His indwelling Spirit, who blesses abundantly with joy, peace, and guidance. Always welcome before the throne of grace, believers have access to converse with the Father at any time. He promises to hear and respond to our seeking, repentant hearts. And Jesus intercedes for us, praying on our behalf.

We don’t deserve the Lord’s invitation to have an intimate relationship with Him. Yet in His grace, He’s loving and compassionate toward us. What a privilege to be able to approach the King’s throne, knowing He listens, understands, and cares. Rest in God’s love, and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.

Seeking Worshippers

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:23)

Here is an amazing revelation—that the omnipotent God of creation should actually be seeking those among His creatures who would freely come to love and worship Him! How could He possibly have to seek anything?

Yet, Jesus said He does! In some inscrutable way, it satisfies the infinite heart of God when we respond to His sacrificial love in gratitude and worship.

We see this also in the experience of the 10 lepers. All 10 had been cleansed of their leprosy, but only one, a Samaritan, returned to give thanks to Jesus. Note the wistfulness in Jesus’ reply to the cleansed leper: “Were there not ten cleansed?” He asked, “But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger” (Luke 17:17-18). The Lord indeed takes note both of the few who truly appreciate Him and also of the many who take His blessings for granted.

In the house of Simon the Pharisee, for example, the Lord Jesus took special note of the woman who washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, anointing them with the precious ointment in her alabaster box. But He also noted that self-righteous, critical Simon had provided no such services at all. Then He said, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).

Whether or not we fully understand, the Lord does seek those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Therefore, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). HMM

O Lord, I will praise thee

Isaiah 5:1-7

In the days of Jotham, as in the reign of Uzziah, the great prophet Isaiah was pouring forth his eloquent utterances. He is the great gospel seer, who spake more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. We will now read three of his prophecies, which he gave forth in the form of songs. The first song describes Israel under the figure of a vineyard, and was, from its form and beauty, well fitted to win the attention of the people.

Isaiah 5:1-7

How much is our condition like that of Israel and Judah! What more could God have done for us? We have the Bible and the ministry of the gospel: as a family we are a garden walled around, and our country is the fruitful field of true religion. What fruit are we yielding? If we are barren, what must we expect? Judgment is always in proportion to privilege misused. May grace be upon us all, that we may bear much fruit unto the Lord our God.

Isaiah 12

Speaking of the coming of the Lord Jesus, the prophet says:—

Isaiah 12:3

What a sweet gospel song. None can sing it but those whose sins have been washed away in the blood of Jesus, and to them it is a rapturous hymn. They are no longer afraid to believe the promises, and to go to the Lord for blessings: the wells are free to the citizens of Zion, and they draw water exultingly.

Isaiah 12:6

It is the delight of saved souls to magnify the Lord; they cannot contain their joy, they shout as those who divide the spoil.

Isaiah 26:1-4

When God has rebuked his peoples enemies, another song shall be on their lips.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Happy are those who are protected and kept in peace by their Omnipotent God. Is there one in our house who does not trust in the Lord? Let us pray that all our minds may be stayed on God.

 

Back In the Beginning

In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

None of us can approach a consideration of the eternal nature and Person of Jesus Christ without sensing and confessing our human inadequacy in the face of the divine revelation.

John, in his gospel, provides a beautiful portrait of the eternal Christ, starting with those stark, incredible words: “In the beginning!” My brethren, that is where we start with the understanding and the revelation of Christianity!

Many others have made a variety of claims but only our Christ is the Christ of God. Certainly it was not Buddha and not Mohammed; not Joseph Smith, not Mrs. Eddy and not Father Divine! All of these and countless others like them had beginnings—but they all had their endings, too.

What an incredible difference! Our Christian life commences with the eternal Son of God. This is our Lord Jesus Christ: the Word who was with the Father in the beginning; the Word who was God; and the Word who is God! This is the only one who can assure us: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me!”

 

Conquest to Victory

“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Rom. 16:20

This promise follows well upon that of yesterday. We are evidently to be conformed to our covenant Head, not only in His being bruised in His heel, but in His conquest of the evil one. Even under our feet is the old dragon to be bruised. The Roman believers were grieved with strife in the church; but their God was “the God of peace,” and gave them rest of soul. The arch-enemy tripped up the feet of the unwary, and deceived the hearts of the simple; but he was to get the worst of it, and to be trodden down by those whom he had troubled. This victory would not come to the people of God through their own skill or power; but God Himself would bruise Satan. Though it would be under their feet, yet the bruising would be of the Lord alone.

Let us bravely tread upon the tempter! Not only inferior spirits, but the Prince of darkness himself must go down before us. In unquestioning confidence in God, let us look for speedy victory. “SHORTLY.” Happy word! Shortly we shall set our foot on the old serpent! What a joy to crush evil! What dishonor to Satan to have his head bruised by human feet! Let us by faith in Jesus tread the tempter down.

 

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