VIDEO A Christmas Letter – Christmas Letter Slide Show

A Christmas Letter

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father. John 1:14

Every Christmas, a friend of mine writes a long letter to his wife, reviewing the events of the year and dreaming about the future. He always tells her how much he loves her, and why. He also writes a letter to each of his daughters. His words of love make an unforgettable Christmas present.

We could say that the original Christmas love letter was Jesus, the Word made flesh. John highlights this truth in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In ancient philosophy, the Greek for Word, logos, suggested a divine mind or order that unites reality, but John expands the definition to reveal the Word as a person: Jesus, the Son of God who was “with God in the beginning” (v. 2). This Word, the Father’s “one and only Son,” “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (v. 14). Through Jesus the Word, God reveals Himself perfectly.

Theologians have grappled with this beautiful mystery for centuries. However much we may not understand, we can be certain that Jesus as the Word gives light to our dark world (v. 9). If we believe in Him, we can experience the gift of being God’s beloved children (v. 12).

Jesus, God’s love letter to us, has come and made His home among us. Now that’s an amazing Christmas gift!

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Word of God, and You bring light into my life. May I shine forth Your goodness and grace and bring You honor.

How can you share the amazing gift of Jesus with others today?

By Amy Boucher Pye 

INSIGHT

In this account of Jesus’s life, John the disciple notes the supreme irony: the Creator visits His creation, and His creation does not recognize Him (John 1:10). More than that, God’s chosen people reject their Messiah: “He came to that which was his own [Israel], but his own did not receive him” (v. 11). It would seem, then, that Jesus’s visit to our planet was not a success. But many did believe, and John emphasizes, “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (vv. 12–13).

Tim Gustafson


 A Christmas Letter Slide Show

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How Jesus Changed The World Forever

A critical fact no one mentions on New Year’s Eve

“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

– Acts 3:20-21

It’s a funny thing about the way the entire world tracks time.

Every person in every nation knows what year it is right now. They’re all, like it or not, to one degree or another, on the same calendar.

Something very dramatic and life-changing must have happened about 2,019 years ago that made people take notice. It had to have been rather spectacular and amazing for all nations and all people to adopt this new calendar.

Not surprisingly, there have been some feeble protests against keeping time this way.

When the bloody French Revolution took place, its leadership declared 1792 to be “Year One,” overriding the Christian calendar.

North Korea, an isolated, totalitarian country led by a series of madmen who rule like “gods,” build weapons of mass destruction and starve their people, have on various occasions tried to persuade the rest of the world that time really began when the first of its dynasty of rulers, Kim Il-sung, was born April 15, 1912.

When the bloodthirsty communist revolutionary Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, murdering millions in the process, the leadership declared it to be “Year Zero,” much as the French revolutionary leaders had done in 1792.

Let’s just say such efforts have been … in vain.

If you are reading this today, you undoubtedly know why, in a few days, most of the world will be marking the beginning of a new year – 2019. But don’t take for granted that the world knows why – and whose birth is responsible.

That “something” that happened about that time was that Jesus was born. The Savior of the world, the Messiah, the Son of God, came into the world – and life was never the same again.

He came as a baby born of a virgin, fulfilling hundreds of Hebrew prophecies about the coming Redeemer. He lived approximately 33 years in Israel and never traveled beyond Egypt and what we call Syria, Lebanon and Jordan today. He taught that the Hebrew Scriptures were God-breathed, true and valid.

He healed the sick, raised the dead, was crucified, rose on the third day and foretold that He would come again as a conquering King of kings, establishing an everlasting Kingdom of pure justice, righteousness and peace.

Since then, there have been efforts to portray Him as:

  • simply a great teacher who told magnificent parables;
  • a lunatic who happened to be at the right place at the right time to captivate billions of followers;
  • the leader of a group of “Bronze Age peasants in a backwater called Israel”;
  • a magician or sorcerer;
  • a misunderstood socialist and advocate for the poor and downtrodden;
  • a revolutionary zealot;
  • merely another in a long line of Hebrew prophets.

A few even insist, despite the overwhelming and well-documented historical record, that He never even existed.

Despite efforts to conceal the nature of his unique, world-changing and calendar-changing life, such as the use of terms like C.E. (common era) and B.C.E. (before the common era), almost every educated person knows it was Jesus who reset mankind’s clock. The original terms used to divide time were A.D. (abbreviating the Latin “Anno Domini” or “in the year of our Lord”) and B.C. (“Before Christ” – “Christ” being Greek for the Messiah).

It’s worth noting how seldom this simple fact is mentioned.

When the lighted ball drops in Times Square every New Year’s Eve at midnight, there’s always a lot of chatter. Yet in all the years I have watched that spectacle, I have yet to hear even one celebrity, not one participant braving the cold night air in Manhattan, not one musical guest, not one news commentator, not one host, ever reference what happened so long ago to change our concept of time.

In fact, in the 64 years I have been alive, I’ve never seen anyone in public life make the point I am attempting to drive home today – that Jesus, or Yeshua, as He was known to his Hebrew brethren, is the one and only life in the history of mankind that changed everything – even the way we count the years going by.

Not only that, we also use His earthly life to count the years before He came. We simply do it backwards.

We take all this for granted – followers of Jesus and non-believers alike. In short, I don’t think we do enough to remind the world just how much it’s all about Jesus.

He is, after all, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the King of kings, the Lion of Judah, the Lord, God with Us, The Alpha and the Omega, the Word, the Lamb of God, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Nor do we talk much about the fact that He is coming back and what that will mean to the world.

But, as a journalist, I can’t ignore hard evidence – no matter where it may lead me. And the more I study the prophetic Scriptures of the Holy Bible and look at the condition of our world today, the more convinced I become that we are nearing that time. In fact, I think we are very close.

For just as Jesus’ virgin birth in Bethlehem was foretold by the Hebrew prophets hundreds of years earlier, so, too, was His return to Earth clearly and explicitly predicted. The only question is when.

When would it come?

The most dramatic evidence for His imminent return that our generation has already witnessed was the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. The Jews, God’s chosen people, were, as prophesied, scattered over the whole earth for nearly two millennia beginning shortly after Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection.

Since Jesus’ world-changing return was prophesied to take place in a reborn state of Israel, it could not have happened until the last 70 years.

What will it be like?

The same Bible that predicted His first coming tells us His second coming will mean a glorious period of 1,000 years in which justice, mercy, truth, peace, love and goodwill among people dominates the Earth.

It will be a return to the way God intended men, women and all creation to live in the world. It will be, as the Apostle Peter called it, “the times of restitution of all things.”

The Bible gives us many hints of what this period of time will be like, from many different angles and perspectives. It’s the subject of my book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”

In fact, it is, as Peter suggests, the good news that all of the prophets spoke about since the world began.

Think about that. There’s a common denominator in what all the prophets spoke about. Obviously, they all foreshadow a Savior, a Redeemer, a Messiah. But they also point to a period of time, a global Kingdom to come, in which truth, light, justice and peace prevail.

But where’s the excitement, the anticipation, the hope?

As the clock ticks toward 2019, it’s worth consideration.

His Kingdom is very near. Jesus is coming to rule and reign from Jerusalem over the entire world.

Proclaim it. Believe it. Pray it just like Jesus did in His most famous instruction of the Bible in Matthew 6:9-13: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

This week, as Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth, pray for His Kingdom to come.

What will it be like?

Here are some glimpses:

  • Isaiah 51:3: “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
  • Ezekiel 36:35: “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.”
  • Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

 

https://www.wnd.com/2018/12/how-jesus-changed-the-world-forever/

God Offers Love to the Hurting

John 4:7-27

When do you most need the assurance of God’s love? Isn’t it usually when you are experiencing the deepest pain? If you are suffering rejection, failure, or any circumstance that is testing your faith, you need to know the Lord still cares and will never stop loving you. This is exactly what we see in Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman:

He initiated contact. Much to His disciples’ dismay, Jesus traveled through Samaria to meet this woman. In that day, Jews did not associate with Samaritans and even avoided their region. But God does not adhere to man’s rules or prejudices. He reaches out with a message of hope and new life to anyone who will listen and believe.

He knew her pain and heartache. She must have felt worthless and unloved after being abandoned or divorced by five husbands. We all have emotional baggage that weighs us down and causes pain, and this is often what God uses to draw us to Himself.

He offered forgiveness and love. Jesus drew out the details of her situation so she could recognize her need for a Savior and be receptive to His offer of forgiveness. He understood she lacked love, acceptance, and a sense of value—and a relationship with Him was the only way to fulfill that need.

God sees us as clearly as He saw the Samaritan woman. He knows our sins and hurts and wants to bring us forgiveness and restoration. As we accept His salvation and submit to the Holy Spirit’s transforming work, we’ll have the assurance of His love and care for us.

Thou Art the Real God

“And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.” (2 Kings 19:15) 

Good King Hezekiah was in what seemed a hopeless situation. The mighty armies of the Assyrian empire had been sweeping through the surrounding countries in an orgy of destruction and plunder, and now were at the gates of Jerusalem, demanding its surrender. Grossly outnumbered, the choice seemed either to capitulate or die!

But there was one other choice—Hezekiah could pray! The blasphemous Rabshakeh gloated that none of the gods of the other nations had been able to save them from the Assyrians . . . but that was beside the point. These other gods were mere personifications of natural processes, possibly energized by evil spirits, but all of these had been created in the first place by Hezekiah’s God. “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5). And that was true of Assyria’s gods as well. All ancient pagan religions were evolutionary religions, rejecting the concept of true creation and a true Creator God.

Hezekiah knew the true God who had made heaven and Earth, and he could pray in reliance on His word. God could dispatch and empower just one of His mighty angels in answer to Hezekiah’s believing prayer, and thus destroy the great Assyrian host in a single night! “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: . . . So Sennacherib king of Assyria, departed” (2 Kings 19:35-36).

This God—maker of heaven and Earth—is still on His throne and can still hear and answer the prayers of those who call on His name. HMM

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna

Revelation 2:1-17

Revelation 2:1-3

angel messenger or minister

Revelation 2:1-3

Patient in labour, but impatient of error, the Ephesian church occupied a high position. Would to God that all believers were in as good a condition as the Ephesians were.

Revelation 2:4

Not “lost” it, as some say, as if it were a misfortune and scarcely a fault; but left it, or departed from it. We ought to love Jesus better as we grow older and as we know more of him: to decline in love to him is to do him great dishonour.

Revelation 2:5-6

Probably these were men who preached up licentious freedom under the pretence of spirituality, like certain vicious sects in America. Uncleanness is very hateful to the Lord.

Revelation 2:7

The imagery of this first blessing is taken from Paradise; there was nothing in Eden which grace cannot restore to us.

Revelation 2:8, 9

This church was sorely persecuted, but remained faithful. It has been called “sweet-smelling Smyrna, the poorest and the purest of the seven.”

Revelation 2:11

They may die once, but not twice; they shall inherit life eternal.

Revelation 2:12, 13

This church was faithful to the name of Jesus, yet there were evils within it.

Revelation 2:14-16

Jesus will not tolerate filthiness in a church. He will sooner go to war with it than endure it.

Revelation 2:17

Dr. Cumming says, “This is equivalent to triumphant acquittal. This will appear from Acts 26, where Paul says, ‘I gave my voice against them;’ it is literally, ‘I gave my stone against them;’ that is, I put in the urn a black stone, denoting my vote for their condemnation. Our blessed Lord says, I will put in your urn a white stone; that is, I will pronounce you absolved at the judgment seat, justified and accepted in me.”

 

Revival, Renewal Requirement

Though our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

I hope some of you will agree with me that it is of far greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them!

If we have any spiritual concerns, our most pressing obligation is to do all in our power to obtain a revival that will result in a reformed, revitalized, purified church.

Each generation of Christians is the seed of the next, and degenerate seed is sure to produce a degenerate harvest; not a little better than but worse than the seed from which it sprang. Thus the direction will be down until vigorous, effective means are taken to improve the seed.

Why is it easier to talk about revival than to experience it? Because followers of Christ must become personally and vitally involved in the death and resurrection of Christ. And this requires repentance, prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, detachment from the world, humility, obedience and cross-carrying!

 

Afflictions, But No Broken Bones

“He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken.” Ps. 34:20

This promise by the context is referred to the much afflicted righteous man: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” He may suffer skin-wounds and flesh-wounds, but no great harm shall be done, “not a bone of him shall be broken.”

This is great comfort to a tried child of God, and comfort which I dare accept; for up to this hour I have suffered no real damage from my many afflictions. I have neither lost faith, nor hope, nor love. Nay, so far from losing these bones of character, they have gained in strength and energy. I have more knowledge, more experience, more patience, more stability than I had before the trials came. Not even my joy has been destroyed. Many a bruise have I had by sickness, bereavement, depression, slander, and opposition; but the bruise has healed, and there has been no compound fracture of a bone, not even a simple one. The reason is not far to seek. If we trust in the Lord, He keeps all our bones; and if He keeps them, we may be sure that not one of them is broken.

Come, my heart, do not sorrow. Thou art smarting, but there are no bones broken. Endure hardness, and bid defiance to fear.

 

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