VIDEO Deck the Halls With Decorations

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
Revelation 22:13

 Recommended Reading: Isaiah 44:6

Most Christians are familiar with the “fish” symbol that appears on bumper stickers, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, and elsewhere. The fish originated as a Christogram—a Christian monogram, or Chrismon. It emerged as a form of Christian decoration in churches, tombs, and “graffiti.” The Greek word for “fish” is ichthus, and those letters were used to represent the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior. Many other Chrismons have arisen since then: the Chi-Rho symbol, the IHS symbol, the ICXC symbol, the Alpha Omega symbol, and many others.

Decorations have always been a part of the Christian tradition and celebration. We use lights and a “Bethlehem” star on our trees and outside on our houses, colorful wrapping paper for our presents, and green and red decorations throughout our homes. Some people decorate their vehicles and workplaces. Chrismon trees have even become popular: evergreens decorated with white lights and Chrismon symbols cut out of white styrofoam or cardboard.

Christmas is a celebration! And celebrations demand decorations. Whatever kind of decorations you choose, let them reflect the reason for the Christmas season.

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Listen: Christmas Worship: A compilation of praise-filled renditions of Christmas classics. 
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Come, Lord Jesus! | Revelation 22

Who Are You Wearing?

I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you. Zechariah 3:4

The Argentine women’s basketball team came to their tournament game wearing the wrong uniforms. Their navy blue jerseys were too similar to Colombia’s dark blue jerseys, and as the visiting team they should have worn white. With no time to find replacement uniforms and change, they had to forfeit the game. In the future, Argentina will surely double-check what they’re wearing.

In the time of the prophet Zechariah, God showed him a vision in which the high priest Joshua came before God wearing smelly, filthy clothes. Satan sneered and pointed. He’s disqualified! Game over! But there was time to change. God rebuked Satan and told His angel to remove Joshua’s grubby garments. He turned to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you” (Zechariah 3:4).

We came into this world wearing the stench of Adam’s sin, which we layer over with sin of our own. If we stay in our filthy clothes, we’ll lose the game of life. If we become disgusted with our sin and turn to Jesus, He’ll dress us from head to toe with Himself and His righteousness. It’s time to check, Who are we wearing?

The final stanza of the hymn “The Solid Rock” explains how we win. “When He shall come with trumpet sound, / Oh, may I then in Him be found; / Dressed in His righteousness alone, / Faultless to stand before the throne.”

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who are you wearing? Are you trusting in your own goodness or Jesus? Which do you want God and others to notice?

Jesus, thank You for providing the way for my sin to be removed and for Your righteousness to cover me.

Persevering Through Silence

Job 23

There are times in life when we can identify with Job’s frustration at God’s silence—when we long to hear from the Lord but our petitions go unanswered. Then, feeling unsure of what to do, we think, Should I just give up on prayer? Am I to assume that if the Lord doesn’t come to my aid, I should take matters into my own hands? We might even feel tempted to become consumed with anger toward God. 

Though these are normal responses, we should reject all three possibilities. Scripture teaches us to persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1) and depend fully on the Lord for our needs instead of looking to ourselves (Phil. 4:19). This means we can safely submit to God and trust Him in our trials (James 1:2-4).

The story of Job also offers encouragement—it reminds us that even if the Lord is silent, He knows the way we take, and after He has tried us, we shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10). In the meantime, we’re to hold fast to God’s path and wisdom. The more we treasure His Word, the more closely we’ll follow Him in obedience (Job 23:11-12).

Like Job, we don’t know all that the Lord is doing in heaven, but He is always working on our behalf. Be encouraged by these truths today, and keep persevering in prayer. 

Science of True and False

“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

It is significant that the first reference to “science” in the Bible is in connection with the tree of the “science” of good and evil. The English word “science” comes from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge.” In both Old and New Testaments, “science” and “knowledge” translate the same Greek and Hebrew words respectively. Science—properly speaking—is what we know, not naturalistic speculation (as in evolutionary “science”). Adam and Eve knew a great deal about God and His creation, and all of it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31); they did not need to have a knowledge of evil, and God warned them against it (2:17).

But they partook of the evil tree anyway, and therewith evil knowledge entered the hearts and minds of mankind. Throughout the long ages since, true science has been of great good in the world and false science has wrought great harm. The apostle Paul has warned us against it: “Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). In the context of the times, Paul was specifically warning against the evolutionary pantheism of the gnostic philosophers.

In contrast, the final climactic reference in the Bible to knowledge is Peter’s exhortation to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), and in Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Therefore, let us resolve to eschew the knowledge of evil and grow in the knowledge of Christ! HMM

Not Yet, In “Due Time”

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. —Job 23:10

God has said He will exalt you in due time, but remember, He is referring to His time and not yours!

Some of you are actually in a fiery furnace right now. You are in a special kind of spiritual testing. The pastor may not know it and others may not know it, but you have been praying and asking the Lord: “Why don’t You get me out of this?”

In God’s plan it is not yet “due time.” When you have come through the fire, God will get you out and there will not be any smell of smoke on your garment and you will not have been harmed.

The only harm that can come will be from your insistence that God must get you out sooner than He plans.

The Lord has promised to exalt you in due time and He has always kept His promises to His people.

As children of God, we can always afford to wait. A saint of God does not have to be concerned about time when he is in the will of God.   ICH116-117

Lord, I pray this morning for anyone who is “actually in a fiery furnace right now.” Give great grace to endure until the “due time” when You bring release and exaltation. Amen.

Holy Spirit—Holy Way

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. —Psalm 25:10

The third point is: Let’s walk in righteousness. The grace of God that bringeth salvation also teaches the heart that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.

There you have the three dimensions of life. Soberly—that is me. Righteously—that is my fellowman. Godly—that is God.

Let us not make the mistake of thinking we can be spiritual and not be good. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking we can walk with the Holy Ghost and go a wrong or a dirty or an unrighteous way, for how can two walk together except they be agreed?

He is the Holy Spirit, and if I walk an unholy way, how can I fellowship with Him? HTB054-055

No matter how men deny and resist, the Bible teaches that the purification of the heart is the work of God….John states that it is while “we walk in the light,” “[having] fellowship one with another,” that then “the blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). SAN020

There Goes the Neighborhood!

John 1:14

What a diverse and fascinating neighborhood we occupy on planet Earth in our little corner of the galaxy! Tribes and tongues and peoples and nations. This kind of wonderful diversity, this colorful mosaic of peoples and cultures, has moved much closer to home these days.

Sometimes people get nervous when a strange looking family from somewhere unfamiliar moves into the neighborhood. Who are they? Where did they come from? What are they really like? What do they believe? Someone fearful of change may mutter, “there goes the neighborhood!”

At Christmas, God came to us as a human person. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message). He became part of our story. Part of our community.

He was born among us. He played in our streets. He worked there and laughed there. He was tempted and He taught there. We watched Him grow and get to know His neighbors—loving them with all their differences, caring for them, giving Himself to them in friendship and finally dying for them.

We saw the radiant glory of God in Him shining through His very human-ness. It made our hearts sing for sheer joy. It means our human story can never be the same again. Having seen Him, anything is possible.

God has moved into our neighborhood. And all the dark forces of ignorance, prejudice, violence and fear are sent scurrying for the cover of night. “The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out” (John 1:5 The Message).

And the neighborhood? All its dark alleyways and dead end streets of despair must yield to the light of His presence. “There goes the neighborhood!”

Christmas has come for you, for me and for all in our dark and weary world. Light and promise are everywhere.

Paul A. Rader, Young Salvationist