VIDEO Real Peace on Earth

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! Luke 2:14

At the heart of human aspiration has been the longing for peace. While some rulers have destroyed peace willingly, those affected have longed for a return to peace for their families and communities. It was the longing in Israel as well: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” was the psalmist’s admonition (Psalm 122:6). Gradually, the Messiah was seen as the only One who could restore peace to Israel and Jerusalem.

Such was the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messiah. He would be called “Prince of Peace,” and of His peace “there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). So when the angels appeared to the Bethlehem shepherds, glorifying God for the birth of the Savior, their announcement echoed the prophets’ desire: “On earth peace, goodwill toward men!” The Savior whose birth they announced was the Prince of Peace foretold by the prophet. Jesus came to bring peace to all who would receive Him—along with comfort, joy, and salvation. And He will bring peace to the whole world at His return.

Do you need peace this Christmas season? It is to be found in Jesus: “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

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Gloria | Pastor Jack Graham | Luke 2:14 | Sunday Service

Gentle Speech

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome. 2 Timothy 2:24

I was on Facebook, arguing. Bad move. What made me think I was obligated to “correct” a stranger on a hot topic—especially a divisive one? The results were heated words, hurt feelings (on my part anyway), and a broken opportunity to witness well for Jesus. That’s the sum outcome of “internet anger.” It’s the term for the harsh words flung daily across the blogosphere. As one ethics expert explained, people wrongly conclude that rage “is how public ideas are talked about.”

Paul’s wise advice to Timothy gave the same caution. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:23–24).

Paul’s good counsel, written to Timothy from a Roman prison, was sent to prepare the young pastor for teaching God’s truth. The apostle’s advice is just as timely for us today, especially when the conversation turns to our faith. “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 25).

Speaking kindly to others is part of this challenge, but not just for pastors. For all who love God and seek to tell others about Him, may we speak His truth in love. With every word, the Holy Spirit will help us.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Why is it vital as a believer in Jesus to avoid arguing with others on the internet (and in other contexts)? When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, how does the tone of your comments—your heart—change?

Father God, when I’m speaking to others about Your truth—or other interests—indwell my heart and tongue with Your love.

Read Words Matter: Speaking with Wisdom in an Age of Outrage at DiscoverySeries.org/courses/words-matter.

God’s Provision in Storms

Matthew 14:22-27

Sailing or driving through a storm is scary because obscured vision makes us unsure of our direction and fearful for our safety. This is also true of spiritual storms, in which sudden, unexpected circumstances seem to turn our world upside down.

When the disciples were being battered by gale force winds on the Sea of Galilee, they learned some valuable truths, which can also help us in the midst of our own tempests.

Jesus intercedes for us. While the disciples were struggling through the wind and the waves, Jesus was on the mountain praying. Today He is in heaven, interceding for us (Rom. 8:34). 

Jesus is our protector. He watched over the disciples in the boat, and He does the same for us, ensuring that we encounter nothing outside of His will. 

Jesus is sovereign over all storms. He’s the one who forms them, determines their intensity, guides us through them, and brings them to an end in His perfect time.  

Christ has not abandoned us in our storms but instead is intimately involved, using them for our ultimate benefit. Knowing this, we can respond with trust, dependence, and worship.

The Real Urgency of Salvation

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Perhaps the most deadly sin of the unbeliever is that of procrastination. Satisfied with his current life, he neglects his spiritual need. Even if he understands the gospel and realizes his need of salvation, he still puts off a decision.

But it is always dangerous to count too strongly on tomorrow. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). The sin of procrastination may easily become the sin of negligence, then of indifference, and finally the unforgivable sin of irrevocable rejection and unbelief. “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). This warning was true in the antediluvian world and it is certainly as true today, when we have far more knowledge and evidence of God’s truth and His will than people did in the days of Noah.

“To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Psalm 95:7-8). This warning of the psalmist was considered so important that the writer of Hebrews quoted it three times (Hebrews 3:7-8, 15; 4:7). Such an emphasis suggests there is indeed great danger in resisting God’s call to salvation. There may be another opportunity, but it is presumptuous and dangerous to impose too long on God’s patient mercy.

Today is the day of salvation. The accepted time is now! “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:29, 31). HMM

Back Side of the Desert

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. —Exodus 3:1

We should quickly review here the kinds of preparation Moses had gone through for his leadership role under God. Reared in Pharaoh’s palace, he had been educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He had the prerequisites for almost any kind of career. In our day a man with his qualifications would be sought for election as a bishop or the president of any of the great church denominations.

Then, too, Moses had a most unusual but highly effective postgraduate course. God took him out of the activity and the noise of Egypt and placed him in the silence of the open spaces. He kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. Tending the sheep, he learned lessons of meditation and observation that he could only have learned in the silence.

Probably more important than anything else, Moses learned to know himself. That knowledge was a part of God’s preparation of the man for his future tasks. We, today, know everything but ourselves. We never really come to know ourselves because we cannot get quiet enough.   MMG070

Lord, I pray for the hurting pastor who is languishing in “the silence of the open spaces.” Encourage him; instruct him; then show Him how You can use him mightily in Your way and in Your time. Amen.

A Preliminary to Daybreak

The Spirit and the bride say, Come….Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. —Revelation 22:17

Maybe you feel in your heart that you just can’t go on as you are, that the level of spirituality to which you know yourself called is way beyond you. If you feel that there is something that you must have or your heart will never be satisfied, that there are levels of spirituality, mystic deeps and heights of spiritual communion, purity and power that you have never known, that there is fruit which you know you should bear and do not, victory which you know you should have and have not—I would say, “Come on,” because God has something for you….

There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner aloneness, an inner place where God brings the seeker, where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church anywhere in the world.

Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind, an emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul, but it is preliminary to the daybreak. O God, bring us, somehow, to the daybreak! HTB046

[W]hen the renewal of the Spirit of God comes to your life…there may be only one term to describe itexploding love. ROL089

The Incorruptible Christinas

2 Corinthians 9:15

It would soon be Christmas again. With what anticipation we had watched the baking of sugared delights, the arrival of the mysterious packages from aunts and uncles, the unpacking of bright decorations that somehow never grew tacky from year to year.

Mother’s gasp of horror upon entering the house and the impact of the ravished apartment struck with horrible suddenness. While we had been at church, someone had broken in and stolen what valuables they could unsheathe, including my mother’s typewriter and my brother’s rented accordion. But to our childish minds, what devastated us was the sight of the tree leaning crazily-wounded and raped of the bright packages that had once adorned it like jewels at the base of a crown.

We were shuffled off to bed and listened long to the subdued voices of the adults before we finally fell asleep. A kind of order was restored. The tree was righted, and the preparations for Christmas resumed. But in my heart, anger moved in like a predatory bird and nestled in stolid silence over my incubating dreams. Our Christmas had been stolen.

On Saturday morning before Christmas my mother dressed to go out. Mother never went away on Saturdays. I recall confronting her with this fact while frowning up at her from the bathroom door. “I’m going to the jail,” she told me quietly. “I’m going to talk to the man who stole our things.” The thief, known to the police, had been apprehended.

My mother scooped me up gently and smoothed back strands of dark hair that shadowed my eyes. “I’m going to tell him that God loves him and that he can be forgiven. I think if he knew that, he’d never want to steal again.”

My angry tears overflowed. “But he stole our Christmas!” “Oh, no, honey,” she said with a shining in her eyes that I remember with more clarity than her words. “No one could do that. Christmas cannot be stolen. It’s here in our hearts where no one can take it away.”

Of course, Christmas came again that year. Somehow mother managed to procure a few small gifts which she lovingly wrapped. There was the same indefinable warmth, the wonder that is Christmas. But in my heart lived a new awareness—a knowledge that I, like the thief, was loved and forgiven. That year I understood that whatever men may try to do to demean or annul this sacred holiday, Christmas cannot, will never be, destroyed. In all its sacred wholeness and light, it is incorruptible.

Marlene Chase, The War Cry