Curling Up with the Good Book

All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16

The small country of Iceland is a nation of readers. In fact, it’s reported that each year this nation publishes and reads more books per person than any other country. On Christmas Eve, it’s a tradition for Icelanders to give books to family and friends and then read long into the night. This tradition dates back to World War II, when imports were restricted but paper was cheap. Icelandic publishers began flooding the market with new titles in late fall. Now a catalog of the country’s new releases is sent to every Icelandic home in mid-November. This tradition is known as the Christmas Book Flood.

We can be thankful God blessed so many with the ability to craft a good story and to educate, inspire, or motivate others through their words. There’s nothing like a good book! The best-selling book of all, the Bible, was composed by many authors who wrote in poetry and prose—some great stories, some not so—but all of it inspired. As the apostle Paul reminded Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” and equipping God’s people “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Reading the Bible convicts, inspires, and helps us to live for Him—and guides us into the truth (2:15).

In our reading, let’s not forget to find time to curl up with the greatest book of all, the Bible.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

What have you read lately that helped you learn more about or draw closer to God? What helps you to spend time in Scripture?

God, thank You for inspiring creativity in the authors of “many books.” I’m especially thankful for Your Book.

To learn more about the book God wrote to us, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF105.

The Source of Peace

John 15:5-8

Did you know God offers serenity of heart to all believers? The Holy Spirit, who lives inside every follower of Jesus, can keep peace flowing like sap from a vine to its branches. But sadly, this internal wellspring of calm is overlooked by many Christians because of several false assumptions.

Some wrongly think that peace is the result of perfect conditions, but this world is broken. That means we will never achieve an ideal existence on this earth, and its circumstances cannot yield serenity.

Others believe peace must be requested from God, who seems far away in the heavens. But the union between the Lord and His followers is intimate. Tranquility is available to us immediately from Christ because He lives within us.

The Living Bible paraphrase captures how our relationship with Jesus should look: “And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him” (Col. 2:6-7).

Serenity is a direct result of a relationship with Jesus Christ. No outside situation can tamper with that connection—we partake of Jesus’ abundant life through His Holy Spirit.

Mind Control

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:17-18)

A question that troubles many Christians is why most highly educated leaders in science and other fields—even theologians—seem to find it so difficult to believe the Bible and the gospel of Christ. The answer is in the words of our text: They are “alienated from the life of God” because of self-induced ignorance. It is not that they can’t understand, but that they won’t understand! They “walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened…because of the blindness of their heart.” They don’t want to believe in their hearts, therefore they seek an excuse not to believe in their minds. They are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8).

The sad truth is that Satan himself controls their minds. They may be ever so intelligent in secular matters, but the gospel, with all its comprehensive and beautiful simplicity, remains hidden to them. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Is there a remedy? Yes. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). In this verse, the word “thought” is the same as “mind.” The weapons of truth, of prayer, of love, and of the Spirit can capture even such minds as these! HMM

Heartache or Happiness

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing —James 1:2-4

From the trials and triumphs of Paul, we gather, too, that happiness is really not indispensable to a Christian. There are many ills worse than heartaches. It is scarcely too much to say that prolonged happiness may actually weaken us, especially if we insist upon being happy as the Jews insisted upon flesh in the wilderness. In so doing, we may try to avoid those spiritual responsibilities which would in the nature of them bring a certain measure of heaviness and affliction to the soul.

The best thing is neither to seek nor seek to avoid troubles but to follow Christ and take the bitter with the sweet as it may come. Whether we are happy or unhappy at any given time is not important. That we be in the will of God is all that matters. We may safely leave with Him the incident of heartache or happiness. He will know how much we need of either or both.   WTA080

Lord, may I indeed be “in the will of God” today. I’ll “leave with [You] the incident of heartache or happiness.” I can trust You to decide wisely. Amen.

Cultivate His Presence

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee. —Joshua 1:9

Point six: Cultivate the art of recognizing the presence of the Spirit everywhere. Get acquainted with the Holy Ghost and then begin to cultivate His presence. When you wake in the morning, in place of burying your head behind the Tribune, couldn’t you get in just a few thoughts of God while you eat your grapefruit?

Remember, cultivating the Holy Ghost’s acquaintance is a job. It is something you do, and yet it is so easy and delightful….Is this for ministers? This is for ministers, certainly. Is it for housewives? Yes, housewives, and clerks…and students. If you will thus see it and thus believe it and thus surrender to it, there won’t be a secular stone in the pavement. There won’t be a common, profane deed that you will ever do.

The most menial task can become a priestly ministration when the Holy Ghost takes over and Christ becomes your all in all. HTB057-058

The sanctified life [is] God-centered….Ennui is impossible with a soul full of the Holy Ghost….God is seen and felt in everything. SAN089

The Anonymous Innkeeper

Luke 2:6-7

This apologia shall be undisguised from the beginning. It is a plea for the

re-evaluation of a man who has been unjustly condemned by preachers at Christmastime. I mean the Bethlehem innkeeper.

Our foregathers have draped around the innocent proprietor a shroud of innuendo that is libelous. The “no room in the inn” text has been overworked by hard-pressed pulpiteers frantically searching for a Yule topic, who chastise the innkeeper for deliberately closing his doors to Deity.

In no verse is there suggestion of a brusque refusal of admission. When the young couple arrived, the inn was already filled with dusty, tired travelers. They, too, had journeyed long miles to have their names placed in Caesar’s census book. But then, as now, the rule was “first come, first served.” There was no means by which a traveler could “wire ahead” for a room reservation.

Isn’t that fair enough? Can we quarrel with such a policy? Suppose the innkeeper had knocked on the door of a slumbering traveler about midnight to report that a travel-weary young couple had arrived. Wouldn’t he please vacate in favor of the newcomers?

Keep in mind the fact that the innkeeper did not know that the young woman was the Virgin Mary. Had the innkeeper known, surely there was enough chivalry alive to have provided the most comfortable pallet in the house for this divine Child.

Apparently he and his spouse sensed the situation. They saw the look of expectant motherhood in the face of a sweet woman. They did not urge that the couple continue to some distant hostelry. Rather, the innkeeper thought of the stable freshly cleaned for the cattle. There were the mangers and the bedding of fragrant new-mown hay. Here at least would be shelter and protection. The very thing in an emergency.

Follow the record to Luke 2:16. Shepherds came, and “found the Babe lying in a manger.” Water would have been fetched for bathing. Oh, lovely gesture of sympathy! Blessed are the innkeepers who provide needed shelter.

Salute, then, the sympathetic innkeepers, and all their kith and kin. They are among all who merit the beatitude of the background.

To the Bethlehem innkeeper we make our apology and pay our respects this Christmastide. Some day we shall know his name, for he, at life’s beginning, provided a manger for the little Lord Jesus.

P. L. DeBevoise, The War Cry