VIDEO It Begins With the Mind – Theology of Christmas

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 2:5

It was a nineteenth-century Englishman, Charles Colton, who left us this oft-quoted aphorism: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” While flattery is not a biblical goal, wisdom and success are. And the apostle Paul knew that young Christians could gain wisdom quickly by having good models: the apostles (Philippians 4:9) and Christ Himself (Philippians 2:5).

What was it that Christians were to imitate? In Christ, it was His humility of mind and heart. In the apostles, it was their minds that were centered on things that were true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Jesus humbled Himself by leaving heaven and coming to earth as a man. So, Paul’s exhortation is obvious: We should humble ourselves and serve one another just as Christ did. But it all begins in the mind. When we consider (think about) what Christ did in order to serve us…such understanding motivates us to imitate Him. Paul exhorted the Roman Christians to renew their minds as a way of discerning the will of God: Christ-likeness (Romans 12:2).

Fill your mind daily with the Word of God in order that your life might become an imitation of His.


The Theology of Christmas (Philippians 2:5-11)

Gifts from Above

Today's Devotional

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23

 

According to an old story, a man named Nicholas (born in ad 270) heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.

When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the Father, who out of love and compassion sent to earth the greatest gift, His Son, through a miraculous birth. According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son whom they would call Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (1:23).

As lovely as Nicholas’s gift was, how much more amazing is the gift of Jesus. He left heaven to become a man, died and rose again, and is God living with us. He brings us comfort when we’re hurting and sad; He encourages us when we feel downhearted; He reveals the truth to us when we might be deceived.

By: Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How can you give the gift of Jesus today? How does His presence lead you to share your resources of time, wisdom, and love with others?

Jesus, thank You for the way You left Your Father to be born in humble circumstances. May I never take for granted Your presence in my life.

To learn more about the birth of Jesus, visit bit.ly/2R7FD4f.

Reaching Closed Minds

Acts 26:1-20

Do you know someone whose mind is closed to the gospel? That describes a lot of people, and we often find it discouraging that despite our prayers for them, they can’t see their need for the Savior.

Responses to the gospel vary. Some people are quick to respond in faith while others resist. Those who reject Christ may respond with polite indifference, or they could be aggressively antagonistic toward those who speak of Him. At times we might wonder if God’s message of salvation can penetrate those whose minds are shut.

The answer is yes, and the proof is in Acts 9:1-18—the story about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (later known as the apostle Paul). Saul was a devout Pharisee who professed faith in God the Father but rejected Jesus as God the Son. Hating all those who followed the Messiah, Saul went to great lengths to persecute believers and coerce them to recant their faith in Christ.

But Saul was no match for the omnipotent God. The Holy Spirit convicted this violent man of his sin, gave him an awareness of his own need for salvation, and revealed that Jesus was the only Savior. Then Saul’s spiritually blind eyes were opened.

Today the Holy Spirit is still working to bring men and women under conviction. He uses believers’ lives and testimonies to reveal the truth about Jesus to those with closed minds and hard hearts. If you are currently trying to reach someone like this, be encouraged and continue to pray for that person’s salvation. Then rest in God’s ability to save.

And My Chains Fell Off

“But 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 2:9)

The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s great hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” compares Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison with a sinner’s deliverance from bondage to sin. “Peter was sleeping, . . . bound with two chains. . . . And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: . . . And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him . . . follow me” (Acts 12:6-8).

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light:
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

The Bible teaches that before being delivered, “ye were the servants of sin [i.e., in bondage to sin], but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). We were powerless to gain freedom on our own.

But “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), bringing freedom and life. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “And you, being dead in your sins . . . hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). If He has done all this for us, how can we do less than follow Him? JDM

Those Faultfinders

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

—2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Nowhere else in the entire New Testament is the humanity of the great apostle [Paul] seen so clearly as when he staggers under the cruel attacks of the anti-Paul bloc in the Corinthian church. His sufferings are there the most poignant and nearest to the sufferings of Christ because they are inward and of the soul. For always the soul can suffer as the body cannot….

But from Paul and his afflictions we may learn much truth, some of it depressing and some altogether elevating and wonderful. We may learn, for instance, that malice needs nothing to live on; it can feed on itself A contentious spirit will find something to quarrel about. A faultfinder will find occasion to accuse a Christian even if his life is as chaste as an icicle and pure as snow. A man of ill will does not hesitate to attack, even if the object of his hatred be a prophet or the very Son of God Himself If John comes fasting, he says he has a devil; if Christ comes eating and drinking, he says He is a winebibber and a glutton. Good men are made to appear evil by the simple trick of dredging up from his own heart the evil that is there and attributing it to them.   WTA078-080

Deliver me from faultfinders and those of a contentious spirit. Silence them for Your glory. Amen.

 

Casting all your care upon Him

Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.—1 Peter 5:7.

 

How gentle God’s commands!

How kind His precepts are!

Come, cast your burdens on the Lord,

And trust His constant care,

His goodness stands approved

Down to the present day,

I’ll drop my burden at His feet,

And bear a song away.

Phillip Doddridge.

 

She was not accustomed in these days to meet troubles, small or great, with the small stock of strength her mind or body could afford. She had acquired, by long habit, the power of putting them from her until she could take them into the presence of her Lord, and there, in secret, commune with Him of all that was in her heart.

Sarah W. Stephen.

 

The Lord calls for our burdens, would not have us wrestle with them ourselves, but roll them over on Him. Now, the desires that are breathed forth in prayer are, as it were, the very unloading of the heart; each request that goes forth, carries out somewhat of the burden with it, and lays it on God. Tell Him what are your desires, and leave them there with Him, and so you are sure to be rid of all further disquieting care of them.

Robert Leighton.

 

“Through” And Not Engulfed

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isa. 43:2

Bridge there is none: we must go through the waters, and feel the rush of the rivers. The presence of God in the flood is better than a ferry-boat. Tried we must be, but triumphant we shall be; for Jehovah Himself, who is mightier than many waters, shall be with us. Whenever else He may be away from His people, the Lord will surely be with them in difficulties and dangers. The sorrows of life may rise to an extraordinary height, but the Lord is equal to every occasion.

The enemies of God can put in our way dangers of their own making, namely, persecutions and cruel mockings, which are like a burning fiery furnace. What then? We shall walk through the fires. God being with us, we shall not be burned; nay, not even the smell of fire shall remain upon us.

Oh, the wonderful security of the heaven-born and heaven-bound pilgrim! Floods cannot drown him, nor fires burn him. Thy presence, O Lord, is the protection of thy saints from the varied perils of the road. Behold, in faith I commit myself unto thee, and my spirit enters into rest.