Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Year

Another year is dawning!
Dear Master, let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee.

Another year of leaning;
Upon Thy loving breast,
Of ever-deepening trustfulness--
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress;
Another year of praise;
Another year of proving
Thy presence "all the days."

Another year of service,
Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning!
Dear Master, let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven,
Another year for Thee!

--F.R. Havergal

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are You Born Again?

Changed from an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly! This transformation that takes place in nature is a good illustration of what happens when a person experiences the new birth.

New Birth Is Needed

In God's eyes, our natural state is unattractive, too, since we are born in sin and formed in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). As we grow, we continue to live after the desires of the flesh and mind (Ephesians 2:3). This is opposed to God's purpose in creating us, and shows our need to be made new creatures in Christ Jesus. Only the new birth can give us new desires and a new life. The caterpillar does not become a butterfly by education, religion, or self-effort. Likewise, it is only by the miraculous metamorphosis of new birth that your life and mine can be made beautiful to God.

New Birth Is From God

John 1:12,13 state the facts of the new birth: "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the [children] of God, even to them that believe on His Name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Only those born of a certain man have the right to be recognized as the children of that man. So only those who are born of God have the right to be recognized as the children of God. Thus it is that those who receive Christ as Saviour and Lord become children of God. To receive Christ is to have true repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How Are We Born Again?

John 3:5 tells how we receive the new birth--"water and the Spirit." What the water signifies is plainly told in Ephesians 5:26. The water is the Word of God--the gospel of Christ preached to sinners like you and me--which, by the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit, produces the new birth. (See also 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18.)

When Are We Born Again?

John 20:31 gives us the time of the new birth: "and that believing ye might have life through His Name." It is immediately upon believing that we receive life eternal. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

You Must Be Born Again

Nothing that we can do will enable us to "see" or "enter the kingdom of God." For this, the Lord Jesus says, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

Without the new birth, we have no life toward God. By being "born again" through faith in the Lord Jesus, we receive everlasting life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Without the new birth, we are "condemned already" (John 3:18). By being born again, we are freed from judgment (John 5:24). If you are to be eternally saved, it is absolutely necessary for you, dear reader, to be born again.

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

From MWTB

George Whitefield's Text--John 3:3

George Whitefield's (1714-1770) zeal for evangelization carried him across the Atlantic between Great Britain and America thirteen times. He passed back and forth between the two continents as though they were a pair of rural villages at a time when travel was a very dangerous undertaking.

It was at Oxford University when he was a young man of twenty-one that he was marvelously delivered from a life of debauchery and evil associations. This is what he has to say about that time: "God was pleased at length to remove my heavy load and to enable me, by a living faith, to lay hold on His dear Son. And oh! with what joy was I filled when the weight of sin left me and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God broke in upon my disconsolate soul!" In his ecstasy he wrote to all his relatives: "I have found that there is such a thing as the new birth."

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" was Whitefield's text on both sides of the Atlantic. In season and out of season, in public and in private, he ceaselessly proclaimed that message. He felt that he was sent into the world to call the attention of men to that one mandatory truth. He made the doctrine of the new birth his universal message because he found that it met a universal need, preaching more than three hundred times from this memorable and striking passage.

"Born again." What does it mean? It means, if it means anything, that the miracle of Creation's morning may be reenacted: a man may be made all over again. He may be changed root and branch; the very fiber and fabric of his manhood may be transfigured.

I cannot explain the creation of the universe; but, for all that, here is the universe! I cannot explain the mystery of birth; but what does it matter? here is the child! I cannot explain the truth that, darting like a flash of lightning into the soul of that Oxford student, transforms his whole life; but here is George Whitefield!

Whitefield's powerful, melodic voice is legendary. On one occasion he preached--without any means of amplification--to a crowd in Glasgow, Scotland, numbering nearly 100,000. His voice is said to have resembled an organ, a flute, and a harp all playing at the same time! His evangelistic ministry continued for more than thirty years resulting in revivals which swept England and America in the 1700's. He preached over 18,000 sermons to multitudes on village greens, street corners, fairs, festivals, in open fields and in churches that were so full he had difficulty reaching the pulpit. His message that men might be remade, regenerated, born again by faith in Christ, caused thousands, including eminent preachers, poets and philanthropists, to commit their lives to Christ.

"I am now fifty-five years of age," he said in one of his final addresses, "and I am more than ever convinced that the truth of the new birth is a revelation from God Himself, and that without it you can never be saved."

"Why, Mr. Whitefield," inquired a friend one day, "why do you so often preach on 'Ye must be born again?'"

"Because," replied Mr. Whitefield, looking solemnly into the face of his questioner, "Ye must be born again!"

--Adapted from Life Verses, Vol. 3, by F.W. Boreham

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him

by Art Arruda

This is a short Christmas eCard that my daughter and I made some 12 years ago. Ah, twelve years... where did the time go? As I get older I realize how fast this life passes by. The good Word is right when it says:

"What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." James 4:14

When I think of Jesus, how He put aside the glory He had with His Father to be born a helpless baby, how He lived a perfect life, and because of His great love, how He died in my place for my sins, I can only say with the hymn writer:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;


Someday, this One who came the first time as a little baby will come again in power to judge the world. Life is short, but if you're reading this it's not too late to do what the Lord said in His own words:

The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" -Mark 1:15

If you have done this, then rejoice and come let us adore Him!
May the Lord bless you and yours this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

6-Part Harmony

by Frank Turk

This ia a "best of" which I composed about 4 years ago for the Christmas day service at our church -- a harmony of the texts which directly speak to the birth of Christ. I think it's useful to get a more-robust picture of what we're talking about at Christmas, which is not just a historical event but the purpose of all of history: God's working out His plan to save sinners.

It still needs some work; there's more that could be said from Scripture. But this is what we are going to celebrate -- those of us who are Christians.

I have a post for Christmas day, too, but I didn't even edit that. And it was written by a Methodist. You're welcome, and good tidings of great joy to you as you prepare to make straight the way of the Lord.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Wise Men


How many there were, we are not told, but the Wise Men who came from the East to Jerusalem after the birth of Jesus Christ stand today as monuments of faith. Though living in a land of idolatry, their true scientific occupation with the starry heavens, coupled with the truth they had learned, led them to the Saviour. The gifts they brought show the reality of their acknowledgment of Him as Lord and King.

The simple yet profound, clear yet concise account in the Word gives a remarkable example for us today. Notice the prospect, path, purpose, and protection of these wise men in relation to the One with whom we all have to do.

Their Prospect

The unusual appearance of a "star" they had never seen in the heavens, and the divine prophecy preserved in the writing of Moses in Numbers 24:17 regarding it, convinced these Magi that the King of Israel was born! Accepting the twofold testimony of Creation and the Word led them to this certain conclusion. Faith instilled in them a desire to see the King. This became their cherished prospect and started them on the journey that fulfilled their desire. What a contrast to the Scribes who knew the letter of the law, and could tell that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, yet had no desire to see Him and honor Him as their Saviour and King! Reader, do you have a longing in your heart for Him?

Their Path

The Word of God directed the Wise Men to Jesus. It is no different today. The Scriptures bear witness to Him who came, died, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven. Faith in the prophecy of Numbers 24 led these Wise Men to Jerusalem. Then, further revelation from Micah 5 led them to Bethlehem where they found the Child Jesus. The revelation of the Bible always leads to Christ. Faith follows this path and reaps the rewards. The result for the Wise Men was that "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." And today the result is the same for all "wise" men who accept God's testimony and thus come to a personal acquaintance with the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Of this, Peter writes: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). Is my reader one whose path of faith has brought him to such joy?

Their Purpose

Finally reaching the house where the young Child is, their purpose is achieved. Bringing out of their treasures--gold, frankincense and myrrh--they lay all at His feet and worship HIM! There is divine significance in all their gifts, as Scripture bears witness. The gold speaks of the glory and righteousness that is His as the Son of God. The frankincense is the fragrance of the perfect, sinless life He lived here in a world of opposition as the willing, obedient Servant who came to do the Father's will. The myrrh suggests the sweet savor of His life laid down in death to satisfy a holy God about the question of sin, becoming the divine Substitute for all who accept Him by faith. Gratitude for such a Saviour fills the heart to overflowing as His glories and virtues occupy the soul, and worship ascends to Him! Is my reader a worshipper of the Lord Jesus?

Their Protection

The faithful allegiance to the King of kings on the part of the Wise Men brought upon them the wrath of Herod. But God, whom they honored, took up their cause and warned them to return home another way. The God who is Saviour is also Protector. Each one who trusts in Him becomes the object of His loving care, as Peter says "He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). The Wise Men knew the blessed reality of this, and so today, all who are truly "wise" will find Christ to be both the wisdom and power of God on their behalf.

Let us be "wise," then, and follow these faithful witnesses! Let us receive the revelation of Him who is the Word become flesh and be led to behold, by faith, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. Let it be true of each reader as it was of the blind man in John 9. In answer to the Lord's question: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" he replied, "Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him."

--D.T.J.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Disturbing Christmas

by C.J. Mahaney

The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it’s equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas.

During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death.

Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God.

Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992).

In part, Smith wrote... continue reading here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Making

by J. R. Miller, 1910

INTRODUCTION

To those everywhere who desire to let the love of Christ have its way in them; to those who are ready also to forget themselves and to make happiness for others; to those who want to do something to make the world brighter and sweeter, and a better place to live in—these pages are cheerfully dedicated.

"Life is an education in love." Hugh Black

Learning to love is a long lesson. It takes all of the longest life to learn it. The most inveterate obstacle in mastering the lesson—is SELF, which persists with an energy which nothing but divine grace can overcome! When no longer we seek our own, in any of our relations with others—we have learned to love. Until then we still need to stay in Christ's school.

"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men on whom His favor rests." Luke 2:14

There were two parts in the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born. The first part, was an outburst of praise to God. "Glory to God in the highest!" God should always be put first. He should be first in our hearts, first in our love, first in our worship, first in our trust. It was fitting that the first note of the angels' song, should be to God. The great blessing of that night, was God's unspeakable gift to men, and to God—the highest honor should be raised. "Glory to God!" Before we begin our rejoicing at the Christmas time—we should bow reverently before God and praise him.

The second part of the angels' song, referred to the meaning of Christmas to this world, to the blessings it would bring to His people, to the change and transformation it would work. "On earth peace, good-will toward men."

We always have a part in making our own blessings. A friend wishes us a happy birthday. The wish is sincere and there is a great heart of love back of it. But nothing will come of it—unless we take it and make it real in our won life. God has most loving thoughts for us. He is always planning good for us. Yet God puts his good things into our hearts—only through our personal acceptance and appropriation of them by faith, and our assimilation of them in our conduct and character by obedience.

Christmas as a day in the calendar comes in its season, whatever our response may be. God sends it, like his sunshine and his rain, on the evil and the good, on the just and the unjust. But Christmas in its divine meaning will become real to us—only as it reenacts itself in our own experience.

Christmas is the gladdest of all the Christian festivals. It brings a great joy to all the earth. It is for all men. There is scarcely a home so lowly, in such neglect and poverty—but the Christmas spirit touches it with some little brightness, and the Christmas love carries into it a little breath of warmth, a thought of gentleness and kindness. There is scarcely a life so desolate, so cut off from companionships, so without the blessing of human love—but Christmas finds it with some tenderness, some sense of kinship and fellowship, some word of sympathy and cheer, some token of thought, something to brighten the dreariness, and soften the hardness. The day makes nearly every little child in the land happier. It is observed in nearly every home. Think of the millions of dollars that are spent in preparation, in buying gifts—from the simplest toys among the poor, to the most costly presents among the rich. There is no need to plead for the observance of Christmas. But there would seem to be need for serious thought about the real meaning of the day; and the way to make it—so as to get the most we can from it.

How did the world come to have a Christmas? God gave it to us. It was his gift. The story is told in the New Testament. There is one great verse which tells how it came: "God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish—but have everlasting life." Christmas thus began in the heart of God. The world did not ask for it—it was God's own thought. We love—because he first loved us. All the love that warms and brightens this old earth—was kindled from the one heavenly lamp that was lighted the first Christmas night. The Child that was born that first Christmas—was the Son of God. God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son.

Think of the beginning... continue reading here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Comfort of Emmanuel

On October 1st, 1934, a group of people were taken captive by the Chinese Red Army. Among them were the missionaries Rudolf Bosshardt and his wife, as well as Arnolis Hayman, his wife and two of their children, and another missionary named Grace Emblen.

After the first eleven days, all of the prisoners had been released except for Mr. Hayman and Mr. Bosshardt, who were detained for a large ransom. Little did anyone know that they would each be held for more than a year, joining their captors as they fled on a 6,000 mile journey across China known as "The Long March." Of the estimated 100,000 soldiers who started the march, more than half lost their lives in the fighting, bombing, mountains, rivers, hunger, illness, and extreme conditions they faced along the way.

Through this great trial, the captured missionaries never lost sight of the One who promised "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). Even after hearing of the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam, missionaries who had been taken captive by other communist forces at the same time, they were content to say "Not my will, but Thine be done," remembering the words of the Psalmist quoted by the apostle Paul: "For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Romans 8:36).

In the middle of December, 1934, Hayman and Bosshardt decided to attempt an escape. For three days they tasted freedom, but were eventually recaptured. Bound and confined--each to a corner in the same small room with only straw for a bed and bricks for pillows, they were not even allowed to speak. On Christmas Eve they stood trial as spies and escapees. They would later be sentenced to death.

As Christmas morning dawned, a one-word message of hope and cheer came to Mr. Bosshardt's mind--Emmanuel! In his own words, at the thought of that Name "the day brightened and the walls widened." He longed to share this joy with his friend, but feared the guards, who were under strict orders not to let them communicate. Then an idea came to him. Using the straw, he formed each letter of his message until the whole Name was visible. Bosshardt writes, "Knowing we should be imprisoned no longer than He would allow, we rejoiced in tribulation. Joy broke over us and sweet relief. God was with us."

Throughout the months that followed, until their release, that one word of Divine comfort never left them.

From MWTB

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The "I AM" Son

"I AM the Son of God" (John 10:36).

Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.

As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few weeks, his father received a telegram. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with sadness. The joy of the season would visit his house no longer.

On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. A soldier greeted him with a large package under his arm. "I was a friend of your son," the soldier said. "In fact, I was the one he was rescuing when he died. I have something for you." The old man invited him in and the soldier continued, "I'm an artist and I want you to have this."

As the man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of his son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the son's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier and hung the picture above the fireplace in place of priceless paintings.

During the weeks that followed, as he sat in his chair gazing at his special gift, the man came to realize that his son would live on in his memory through this painting. Soon it became his prized possession, eclipsing his interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored.

The following spring the old man became very ill and passed away. According to his will, all his paintings were to be sold at auction. Art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings.

The auction began with the painting of the man's son. The auctioneer's call, "Who will open the bidding with $100?" was met with deafening silence. No one spoke. From the back of the room one art critic voiced, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Get on with it." More voices echoed in agreement. But the auctioneer replied, "No, we have to sell this one first. Who will bid?"

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. "Will you take ten dollars? That's all I have. I loved the father and his son, and I'd like to have it."

The auctioneer bellowed, "I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" After more silence, he said, "Going once. Going twice. Gone." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on to the real treasures."

But the auctioneer announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone asked, "What about all those masterpieces? They're worth millions." He replied, "According to the man's will, whoever takes the son ... gets it ALL"!

That's the message of the Bible. Whoever takes the Son ... gets it all. Jesus is the "I AM" God. Whoever takes Him as their personal Saviour gets the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, the Door to glory, ... he gets it all in Him who is the "I AM."

--From "The I AM God" by Woodrow Kroll, published by Back to the Bible.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still No Room

Not long ago a professor of psychology in one of our great universities gave a word suggestion quiz to his class of forty students. He instructed them to write the word "Christmas," and all the class did so. "Now," said the professor, "write the first thought that flashes through your mind regarding that day." When the papers were turned in, such answers were given as "tree," "holly," "mistletoe," "presents," "turkey," "holiday," "carols," and "Santa Claus," but not one had written, "the birthday of Jesus."

--Selected

What Christ's Birth Means

To God the Father Christ's Birth meant giving His Son ...
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

To God the Son Christ's Birth meant leaving heaven's glory to become a Servant obedient unto death ...
"Christ Jesus ... being equal with God ... made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:5-8).

To the world Christ's Birth means God provided a Saviour
"I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10,11).

To you Christ's Birth means God offers eternal life as a gift
"The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

From: www.mwtb.org

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Am Come

The seasonal reminder of the incarnation of the Son of God is perhaps best expressed by the words which came from the lips of the Saviour Himself. In the Gospel of John--that inspired portion unique for its revelation of "the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth"--three specific statements declare the authority, purpose, and blessings of His advent into the world His hands had made.

"I AM COME in My Father's Name" (5:43), expresses the authority for His mission. His works bore witness that He was sent by the Father (5:36). His power to bestow life to those to whom He would, so definitely showed His equality with the Father that John writes, "He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him" (5:23). In fact, the "I Am" He often uses in reference to Himself in this Gospel is none other than His Name Jehovah--the Self-Existent One, the eternal "I Am" revealed in the Old Testament. This is confirmed by His New Testament name of "Jesus," which means "Jehovah Saviour." Do you know Him as such?

"I AM COME that they might have life" (10:10) reveals the purpose for which He came. Could there be any nobler motive than that the Son of God should Himself undertake the work which alone could give eternal life to sinful men, dead in trespasses and sins? His immeasurable love is manifested in the character He assumes: "I Am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (10:11). He willingly died as a substitute for sinners and is now risen from the dead. Those who hear His voice and believe on Him become one of His sheep, receive the eternal life He imparts, and follow Him. He says: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead [spiritually dead] shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (5:25). Have you heard His voice, and received His life eternal?

"I AM COME a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness" (12:46) declares the means whereby eternal blessings are received. "Whosoever believeth on Me" makes Him available to all. To believe on Him is to repent of one's sins before God and to trust the death of Jesus, the Saviour, as full payment for those sins. The only condition imposed is faith, or trust, in Him alone. The only way to escape eternal blackness of darkness forever is to simply receive the light of truth which is in Himself alone, and revealed in His precious Word.

But not only has the Saviour declared His authority, purpose and means of appropriating the blessings of His first advent many years ago, He has also proclaimed, "I will come again"! (14:1-3). This promise, made to His own before the Cross, is nearing the time of its certain fulfillment. One is ready for this glorious event, which may take place at any moment, only if he has received the Son of God as his personal Saviour. Have you done so? If not, I urge you to accept Him NOW by simple faith before He comes again ending all opportunity for your salvation. If you do, you will know as never before, not only the true blessedness of the season, but of an eternity of life and light in the Father's house above.

--D.T.J. from Moments With The Book

Jesus, my Saviour to Bethlehem came,
Born in a manger to sorrow and shame;
Oh, it was wonderful! Blest be His Name!
Seeking for me, for me!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Three Elements of Repentance

by John MacArthur

Three Greek words are used in the New Testament to refer to repentance and they illustrate the three sort of elements of repentance. There is the word metanoeo, it's used a number of places. It's used in Luke 11:32; Luke 15 verses 7 and 10. And this word, metanoeo,basically expresses a reversal of your thinking, mental attitude. You change your mind. So that repentance deals with the mind. You have to change your mind about how you view yourself, to see yourself the way you really are, to see yourself the way Scripture says you are, see yourself the way God says you are, to see yourself as fallen and depraved and corrupt from the top of your head to the tip of your toe.

The second word that is used is metamelomaiand that's another Greek word that means repentance. It's used in Matthew 21:29 to 32, only it emphasizes regret and sorrow. Once the mind has grasped the new definition of who I am, there is a consequent motion that goes from the mind to the feelings and emotion kicks in and there is sorrow and there is shame and that's metamelomai.

And there's a third word, epistrephomi[?], that is also the word for repentance. It's used in Luke 17:4; Luke 22:32. And it actually means you change direction in life and that refers to your will. So it starts in your mind and moves to your emotions and it activates your will.

And those are the three elements that are involved in repentance. You change the way you view yourself, you feel remorse and sadness about that and so you turn around and you head in the direction of change. And that's going to put you in the direction of God. And you're going to be like the publican in Luke 18, you're going to be saying, "God, God, my mind understands my wretchedness, my emotions feel it so I can't even lift up my eyes and I'm pounding on my breast and then my will kicks in and cries to You and says, 'I want You to be merciful to me, a sinner.'"

Excerpted from The Gospel: Self-Love or Self-Hate?
Listen or read all 5 messages from the series "Hard To Believe".

Christ The Only Way-R.C. Sproul

Powerful video! A must see!



HT: http://crosschurch.net/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Zombies and the Gospel

by Russell D. Moore

Once a year, in the city where I live now, there’s what’s advertised as a “Zombie Walk.” On this night, people (typically young city-dwellers) dress up as the living corpses of horror lore and lumber out about hands-out, moaning as they swarm together through the city streets. A young Christian who happened upon this told me it was the closest thing he conceive of what hell must sound like.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who Made It?

The Apollo 8 space mission in December, 1968, marked the first time that man had flown to the moon. While orbiting the moon, the crew made the famous "Christmas Eve broadcast," a live television and radio event heard by an estimated one billion people. While on the air, the astronauts read part of the account of creation from Genesis chapter one. Each of the three astronauts took turns, starting with Major William Anders reading, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." After Captain James Lovell took his turn, Colonel Frank Borman ended with "And God saw that it was good."

These three were the first men ever to see some of the wonders of the universe, and before a worldwide audience they gave credit to the One who made it all. He was the One who put the planets into their precise orbital motions, without which the calculations guiding the flight from the earth to the moon and back would have been impossible. In fact, Jim Lovell said of the flight to the moon: "We never really saw the moon.... By and large the body that we were rendezvousing with, that was coming from one direction as we were going to another, we never saw. And we took it on faith that the moon would be there."

During the trip back to earth, Bill Anders was asked who was flying the spacecraft. He said, "I think that Issac Newton is doing most of the driving right now." Newton was the first to describe the laws of motion and gravity affecting objects in space.

The story is often told of how Newton had a skilled craftsman build him a scale model of our solar system which was then displayed on a large table in Newton's home. Not only did the excellent workmanship simulate the various sizes of the planets and their relative proximities, but it was also a working model in which everything precisely rotated and orbited when a crank was turned.

One day while Newton was in his study, a friend came by who was a great scientist, but who was also an atheist. Examining the model with enthusiastic admiration, he exclaimed: "My! What an exquisite thing this is! Who made it?" Without looking up from his book, Sir Isaac answered, "Nobody."

Stopping his inspection, the visitor turned and said: "Evidently you misunderstood my question. I asked who made this."

Newton, no doubt enjoying the chance to teach his friend a lesson, replied in a serious tone, "Nobody. What you see here just happened to assume the form it now has."

"You must think I'm a fool!" retorted the visitor. "Of course somebody made it, and he's a genius. I want to know who he is."

Laying his book aside, Newton arose and laid a hand on his friend's shoulder, saying: "This thing is but a puny imitation of a much grander system whose laws you know. I am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and maker. Yet you, as an atheist, profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come into being without either designer or maker!" The atheist was no longer an atheist when he left that day.

God has not only created the sun, moon, and stars--He has created you with a never-dying spirit and soul. The day is coming when our lives on earth will be over and "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). Are you ready to meet your Creator? You will be, if you come to Him as a lost sinner, believing that Jesus Christ "loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16:31)

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:3)

"By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth." (Colossians 1:16)

From www.mwtb.org

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Men Who Found Christmas

One tragedy of the first Christmas is that so many came close to Christmas yet missed it all. There were the political leaders of the time, the innkeeper, Herod, and the religious leaders. But that is only half the story. The shepherds to whom the angels appeared while they were tending their sheep in the fields around Bethlehem found Christmas. And the wise men who saw the Messiah's star came to worship Him.

A Magnificent Contrast

It is hard to imagine a greater contrast than the one between those two groups of people. The shepherds were low. They were despised and mistrusted, and their ability to make off with things that did not belong to them was proverbial. They were not even allowed to bear testimony in a court of law. What about the wise men? Quite obviously they were at the other end of the scale. They were men of influence. We notice that when they came to Jerusalem looking for the one who had been born King of the Jews, they had no trouble gaining admission to Herod's palace. The shepherds would not even have been allowed in the outer courtyard.

I do not know how the story could say more clearly that Christ is for anyone who will have Him and that Christ is for you, whoever you may be. You may be unimportant in the eyes of most people or you may be very important. You may be poor or rich. You may be near Christ or far from Him. None of those things matters, for the simple reason that Jesus did not come to be the Saviour of the rich or poor only, or the wise or foolish only, or any other group of people. He came to be the Saviour of the world, and that includes you!

A Common Experience

The shepherds and wise men were different, yet their experience was similar, and speaks to us today.

First, they each received an announcement of Christ's birth. It was most spectacular in the case of the shepherds, for "the glory of the Lord shone round about them" and an angel spoke to them (Luke 2:9-12). But was the announcement to the magi less significant from their perspective? The star was the kind of thing the wise men dealt with and was therefore well suited to them. Our experience is actually superior to theirs. We have received the Scriptures which are the very Word of God, and are described to us as "a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19).

Second, the shepherds and the wise men each obeyed God's summons. Can we imagine them refusing that unprecedented invitation? Perhaps. The magi lived a great distance from Jerusalem, and might have reasoned: "The way to Jerusalem is long. It would be a lot more convenient if we could just stay here." The shepherds, too, might have refused the invitation: "We are not dressed for the occasion. We have nothing to bring. Who will care for our sheep?" Neither the wise men nor shepherds did that. Instead of making excuses the shepherds said, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us" (Luke 2:15). I wonder if you have been as obedient to God. You know the story of Christmas. You even know the gospel of Jesus' death for sinners. You know the invitation of Christ: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Have you obeyed God's summons?

That leads to the third step in the common experience of the shepherds and wise men. After they had each received the announcement and obeyed God's summons by going to Bethlehem, they found the Saviour. They found that the words of the angel and the message of the star were not misleading. God's Son had been born. The Saviour had come. That is no less true today, though people talk as if it were hard to find Christ. To talk like that is to suggest that God is lost and that it is up to us to find Him. We are the ones who are lost, He is not lost nor is the truth lost! Jesus said, "I am ... the truth" (John 14:6). Jesus is presented in Scripture. If you would find Him, you must search the Scriptures. As you do, pray that God will show you the truth.

--Condensed from The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice. Copyright (c) Linda M. Boice.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian religion lie. "The Word was made flesh" (John 1:14); the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than stare and wriggle and make noises. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

For the Son of God to empty Himself and become poor meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, malice, and misunderstanding; finally, a death that involved agony--spiritual, even more than physical. It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely men. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity--hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory--because Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.

The Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their lives making themselves poor, spending and being spent, giving time, care, and concern to do good to others--and not just their own friends--in whatever way they see a need. There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things He will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives.

--Condensed from Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Copyright (c) Intervarsity Press.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eight Christmas Contrasts

1. Jesus underwent a human birth so that we who believe on Him might have a heavenly birth. (Luke 2:11; John 1:12)

2. Jesus took His place in a manger in a stable, so that we might have heavenly mansions. (Luke 2:7; John 14:2)

3. Jesus became a member of a human family so that we might become members of the family of God. (Matthew 2:11; Galatians 3:26)

4. Jesus made Himself subject to others so that we, through the power of His Spirit at work through us, might be made free. (Luke 2:51; Galatians 5:1)

5. Jesus laid His glory aside so that we might receive glory. (Philippians 2:6,7; 1 Peter 5:4)

6. Jesus became poor so that we might become spiritually rich. (Matthew 8:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9)

7. Jesus was born, to the praise of angels, so that we can we born again, to the praise of angels. (Luke 2:13,14; Luke 15:10)

8. Jesus, who was pursued by an evil and dangerous ruler, went to the cross to destroy a far more evil and dangerous ruler. (Matthew 2:13; Hebrews 2:14)

--Adapted from "The Contrasts of Christmas" by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

XMAS Removing the Reason for the Season

by Henry M. Morris III

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning. — Mark Twain

Sometime during the last century, the word “Xmas” began creeping into public correspondence and advertisements. It was a little thing, hardly noticed by anyone, but it set the stage for a profound movement away from “Christ” in any public discourse.

Quietly and unobtrusively at first, but rising to a crescendo of legal and governmental attacks against Christianity, the words and the symbols of the gospel message are being purged from open expression. More...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Holiday

We hear it so often around this time of year: "Happy Holiday!" "Season's Greetings!" Everyone seems to be in the mood for some kind of festive celebration. Exactly what is the holiday that we are celebrating? Are we allowed to say it? Is it a forbidden word? Are we afraid to say it? Will people be offended if we actually tell them what the holiday is?

What ever happened to Christmas? What ever happened to the Christ of Christmas? Long ago there was no room in the inn. Is there any room for Him in today's celebration? What ever happened to the birth of the Saviour? Has it been a giant mistake that all of our calendars mark His birth as the starting point, and that His birth divides all of this world's history into B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno Domini, in the year of the Lord)?

Should we give up Christmas and abandon it as a holy day? After all, no one wants to mention it anymore, and it seems to have evolved into a meaningless, festive, gift-giving occasion apart from any spiritual significance. If the God of the entire universe, the Maker of heaven and earth, decided to pay a visit to this earth, that is highly significant and worthy of at least a yearly remembrance and thankful celebration! "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14).

Here is the Christmas story according to John, a man who knew Jesus Christ very well: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1-3,14).

John also makes very clear the reason God came to earth as Man. He came on a saving mission: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16,17).

Why did God have to become a man? In order to save sinful men, someone holy would have to die for them. But there is no one holy except God, and God cannot die. Therefore God would have to become a man in order to be able to save mankind. This was made possible through the miracle of the virgin birth. Although God could not die, the God-man (the Lord Jesus Christ) could die and did die for our sins: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him [the Messiah] the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

On that first Christmas night, the angel announced the good news which summarizes the true meaning of Christmas: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10,11).

The Saviour has been born! Do you know Him as your personal Saviour? He died as the sinner's Substitute and He rose again to provide eternal life for all who trust in Him. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). Have you realized your condition as a needy sinner and come to Him, the only Saviour? Jesus said, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

--George Zeller

From MWTB.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Church Within a Yard of Hell



Steve Lawson preaching on 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Watch the full sermon here.

An Early Christmas

I have done my share of grumbling about the way merchandising seems to seek an earlier beginning to the Christmas season every year. But, to be honest, in my own way I'm much worse than the merchant and the advertising guru. I vote for an early Christmas. A very early Christmas

Isaiah

Isaiah would understand what I mean. He was a prophet seven centuries before the birth of our Lord. Isaiah watched his nation go through good times and bad, and with it all, he envisioned an utterly better day. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). And what is this great light? "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Isaiah's vision was of a government with a high God-content, with results that will go far beyond our usual political platforms. Isaiah was reaching into matters of heart and thought.

Micah

Micah was a prophet at roughly the same time as Isaiah. We remember him for the words he spoke and wrote. Especially one verse that still thrills us more than twenty-five centuries later: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

The little town of Bethlehem was uniquely significant to the Jewish people because their most revered king, David, had come from there. But now Micah was promising something far beyond David.

Job

Job didn't celebrate Christmas, but he wanted its benefit, and he wanted it desperately. He lived in the land of Uz, and "was the greatest of all the men of the east" (Job 1:3). Job's greatness was not simply a matter of wealth and community standing. He was a truly fine human being, someone of whom God could say, "There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man" (Job 1:8).

Job seemed to live a charmed life. But suddenly it all changed. In a devastating series of events, Job lost his considerable fortune, his seven sons and three daughters, and his health. It seemed so hopeless to Job that he saw God as his enemy. Then Job turns to his friends, hoping they will understand his predicament with God, since they too are human: "For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both" (Job 9:32,33).

In truth, Job's request is a pretty hopeless one. He wants a very special kind of mediator, someone with enough standing to lay a hand on God, and enough understanding of our human condition to lay a hand on Job. Job was appealing for Christmas, the event that gives us the only One able to lay a hand on God because He is God, and understanding of humanity because he is human.

What About You?

Are you ready for an early Christmas? Do you feel the need of One who will bring light to your dark world? One who has the authority to forgive your sins and the power to make you a new person?

Maybe, like Job, your life has taken a turn you didn't see coming. Perhaps you have lost the possessions, abilities, or relationships that meant the most to you. Let me assure you of one thing: God has not abandoned you! He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you, and earnestly desires you to come to Him: "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

There is nothing we can do in our own efforts to make ourselves clean in God's sight. Jesus has paid the price we could never pay. All we need to do--all we can do--is turn to Him and trust what He has done. Won't you turn to Jesus Christ today? Then, no matter what time of year it is, you will receive the true Gift of Christmas!

"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9,10,13).

--Adapted from Christmas from the Back Side by J. Ellsworth Kalas. Copyright (c) Abingdon Press.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why I’m Ungrateful

by Russell Moore

“If I hear the word ‘Daddy’ again, I’m going to scream!”

I heard myself saying those words. And, in my defense, it was loud around here. I was trying to work on something, and all I could hear were feet pounding down the stairs with four boys competing with one another to tell me one thing after another. I just wanted five minutes of silence.

My vocal chords were still vibrating when an image hit my brain. It was the picture of me, on my face, praying for children. The house was certainly quiet then. And in those years of infertility and miscarriage and seemingly unanswered prayers, I would have given anything to hear steps on that staircase. I feared I would never hear the word “Daddy,” ever, directed to me. Come to think of it, I even wrote a book about the Christian cry of “Abba, Father.”

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

by James McAlister

In an era not so long ago, our country was being ripped asunder by internal turmoils and differences—much as it is today. Yet even in the midst of the darkness of civil war, Abraham Lincoln cast a ray of hope that the nation might once again have "full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

We would do well to review some key thoughts of Lincoln's proclamation of October 3, 1863, which set the precedent for our national Thanksgiving holiday.

"The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God . . . . "Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore . . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience . . . fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

As in Lincoln's day, our nation's deep wounds beg to be healed. Peace, harmony and tranquillity cry for restoration. Our moral compass pleads for calibration.

Perhaps it is time to move our Thanksgiving holiday beyond feasting, fellowship and football. Perhaps it is time to embrace Lincoln's advice to observe a "day of thanksgiving and praise. . . . with an attitude of humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience"?

The results might be surprising—and enduring.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.- 2 Chronicles 7:14

Copyright © 2004 James McAlister. Used by Permission.
www.BulletinInserts.org, a ministry of Christian Communicators Worldwide: www.CCWtoday.org

Manna in the Morning

by Tim Challies

Have you ever stopped to ponder what it might have been like for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, knowing that each day they would completely exhaust their food supply? Have you thought what it would be like knowing that they would go to bed with no food, but that the next day their supplies would be fully and miraculously replenished? It is an interesting, thought, really, and one that is worth considering.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Legalism and Mr. Fearing

by Mark Priestap

Recently, while reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim's Progress to my family, I ran across an insightful character named “Mr. Fearing”. With him I also found one of the clearest descriptions of the effect of legalism I’d ever run across.
He doubted that his acceptance of Christ had made him worthy to claim all the promises of God. Therefore he was afraid he would not be accepted by God. He doubtless believed in a brand of religious legalism—that we must obey law to obtain sufficient grace to become worthy of acceptance.
How true this is for so many of us. Initially we believe in Christ alone for justification, but because our eyes have been opened to our sin, we are deceived into thinking that law-keeping is now necessary to prove that we are worthy of his acceptance, forgetting that it is because of this sin that Christ died in the first place, while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

Continue reading here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sensual Worship — A Sign of Impending Apostasy

By Iain H. Murray

When interest in the churches begins to centre round the visual and the sensual it is commonly a sign of impending apostasy. By ‘sensual’ I mean that which appeals to the senses of man (sight, smell, hearing), as opposed to ‘spirit’, that is, the capacity that belongs to those born of the Spirit of God. Hence the antithesis, ‘sensual, having not the Spirit’ (Jude 19). ‘Sensual’ is also translated ‘natural’ or ‘worldly’; the meaning is the same. It does not take regeneration to give the sensual or the aesthetic a religious appeal to the natural man or woman.

In the Old Testament the people of God were in measure taught by their senses as God imposed the form of worship. As a check against any misuse of that means of teaching no additions to or subtractions from it were allowed. But with the finished work of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, a momentous change took place. The church was raised to the higher privilege of worship in ‘spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). She belongs to the ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (Gal. 4:26).

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are We Thankful?

I recently received a letter from a young brother in Christ which gives food for thought. He quotes Jonah 2:9, "But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving: I will pay that that I vowed. Salvation is of the Lord."
He then goes on to write: "Jonah is thankful in Jonah 2:9, but not in Jonah 4:1, showing how easily we can change our attitudes. In Jonah 2:9, in spite of many discomforts, Jonah was thankful." He then lists several discomforts Jonah had in the fish's belly, and points out the fact that we take many of our blessings--the light and air and freedom we have which Jonah did not have, and yet fail to be thankful for them or even acknowledge they are God's mercies to us! He then asks, "Have we been spared the judgment our sins deserved? If so, how much we have to be thankful for!"

Truly, the greatest of all blessings is the eternal salvation of our souls through our Lord Jesus Christ. He came to earth to die in our place that we might be forgiven of all our sins and possess eternal life by faith in Him. Only thus can we be saved from the judgment to come which we deserve. Are we genuinely thankful for the love which took Him to Calvary to suffer, bleed and die for us?

The spiritual blessing of salvation which God bestows upon all who receive His Son as their Saviour becomes more precious as time goes by. This is quite the opposite of the many material blessings we have which soon deteriorate, or pass away altogether. As one has written: "We thank the Lord for food, clothing and shelter. However, a suit of clothes is not considered precious after it has been worn for 10 years. The food we eat satisfies only for a few hours. But my salvation means more to me now than it did 25 years ago." How true! Let me ask again, Are we thankful for both material and spiritual blessings we possess?

In Colossians 3:15, God says, "Be ye thankful." Isn't it strange that God would have to command us to give thanks? Alas, the callousness of our hearts seems to take all His blessings for granted and hardly ever responds in expressions of gratitude! The Psalmist writes, "Forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). How soon we forget the blessings, but remember instead the few trials and bitter experiences which, if we only viewed them by faith as allowed of Him, would draw forth our thanksgiving even for these!

Another has said, "To be thankful means to be thinkful." Is it not true that if we do think more upon the blessings God has given, our hearts would overflow with thanksgiving and love to Him? I believe that would be the case. And as Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." If our minds are set on "things above," (Col. 3:2), and we "behold the beauty of the Lord" (Psa. 27:4), our hearts will be filled to overflowing and our mouths will speak thanksgiving and praise to Him. Thanksgiving will then become a day by day experience and not merely a one day a year observance.

From Moments With The Book

Have It All or Want It All?

by Jamie Munson

The American Reality

The Rich Fool of Jesus’ parable could be a poster boy for the American Dream. He worked his land, earned a good living, and planned to enjoy the fruits of his labor. But he could also pass for what is too often the American Reality. Ruled by selfishness and greed, he ignored the One who created the land, the One who made it produce a harvest, and the One who numbered his very days.

Continue reading here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Definition of a Watered Down Gospel: "Just Be Nice!"

by Jamin Hubner
The vanity of values continues.

In this case, it continued in an article entitled "Message Fits to a T" on the front page of the Rapid City Journal's section on Religion, published November 13, 2010. What did it say? And how does it demonstrate the continuing promulgation of valueless values?

Let us first refresh our memory.

There are many enemies and threats to the purity, organization, and existence of the Christian faith. There are unbelieving and oppressive governments. The secularism of the university, media, and the arts. False religions, false teachings, and the accuser of faithful Christian leaders. Yes, there's alot of bad stuff "out there."

But far worse, is the tendency of professing Christians to completely neuter the power of the faith by erasing the content of their own message. The greatest threats to God's people come from within, not from outside. Uncomfortable thought, isn't it? But, this at least explains some of the warnings in the New Testament regarding internal corruption (Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:11-14, I Tim. 6:3-4, Titus 2:1). Defending the faith and protecting the faithful is all too easy when we can point to "them" and rest assured about "us." The real challenge comes when those who claim to know God and label themselves as gospel-preachers preach non-gospel. Christless Christianity. No-news "good news." "All foam and no beer."

Continue reading here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Thanksgiving Lesson

by J. R. Miller, 1912

Gladness may not be thanksgiving. It certainly is not all of thanksgiving. One may have a heart bubbling with joy, without a note of thanksgiving. The task of happiness is one to which we should all firmly set ourselves. To be miserable in this glorious world, is most unfit. We should cultivate joyousness. But our present lesson is a larger and deeper one. Thanksgiving implies thought of God. One may be glad all the day—and never think of God. Thanksgiving looks up with every breath, and sees God as Father from whom all blessings come. Thanksgiving is praise. The heart is full of gratitude. Every moment has something in it to inspire love. The lilies made Jesus think of his Father, for it was he who clothed them in beauty. The providence of our lives, if we think rightly of it, is simply God caring for us. Our circumstances may sometimes be hard, our experiences painful, and we may see nothing in them to make us glad. But faith teaches us that God is always good and always kind, whatever the present events may be. We may be thankful, therefore, even when we cannot be glad. Our hearts may be grateful, knowing that good will come to us even out of pain and loss.

This is the secret of true thanksgiving. It thinks always of God and praises him for everything. The song never dies out in the heart, however little there may be in the circumstances of life to make us glad. Thanksgiving is a quality of all noble and unselfish life. No man is so unworthy, as he who never cherishes the sentiment of gratitude, who receives life's gifts and favors—and never gives back anything in return for all he gets.

Until we think seriously of it, we do not begin to realize what we are receiving continually from those about us. None may give us money, or do for us things which the world counts gifts or favors, but these are not the best things. Our teachers are ever enriching us by the lessons they give us. Those who require hard tasks of us and severely demand of us the best we can do, are our truest benefactors.

Sometimes we complain of the hardness of our lives, that we have had so little of ease and luxury, that we have had to work so hard, bear so many burdens, and sometimes we let ourselves grow bitter and unthankful as we think of the severity of our experience. But of all times—it has been in these very severities that we have got the richest qualities in our character. If we are living truly, serving God and following Christ, there is no event or experience for which we may not be thankful. Every voice of our lips should be praise. Every day of our years should be a thanksgiving day. He who has learned the Thanksgiving lesson, well has found the secret of a beautiful life.

"Praise is lovely," says the Hebrew Psalmist. Lovely means fit, graceful, pleasing, attractive. Ingratitude is never lovely. The life that is always thankful is winsome, ever a joy to all who know it.

The influence of an ever-praising life on those it touches, is almost divine. The way to make others good—is to be good yourself. The way to diffuse a spirit of thanksgiving—is to be thankful yourself. A complaining spirit makes unhappiness everywhere.

How may we learn this thanksgiving lesson? It comes not merely through a glad natural disposition. There are some favored people who were born cheerful. They have in them a spirit of happiness which nothing ever quenches. They always see the bright side of things. They are naturally optimistic. But the true thanksgiving spirit is more than this. It is something which can take even an unhappy and an ungrateful spirit—and make it new in its sweetness and beauty. It is something which can change discontent and complaining into praise; ingratitude into grateful, joyful trust.

Christian thanksgiving is the life of Christ in the heart, transforming the disposition and the whole character. Thanksgiving must be wrought into the life as a habit—before it can become a fixed and permanent quality. An occasional burst of praise, in the midst of years of complaining, is not what is required. Songs on rare, sunshiny days; and no songs when skies are cloudy—will not make a life of gratitude. The heart must learn to sing always. This lesson is learned only when it becomes a habit which nothing can weaken. We must persist in being thankful. When we can see no reason for praise—we must believe in the divine love and goodness, and sing in the darkness. Thanksgiving has attained its rightful place in us, only when it is part of all our days and dominates all our experiences.

We may call one day in the year Thanksgiving Day, and fill it with song and gladness, remembering all the happy things we have enjoyed, all the pleasant events, all the blessings of our friendships, all our prosperities. But we cannot gather all our year's thanksgivings into any brightest day. We cannot leave today without thanks, and then thank God tomorrow for today and tomorrow both. Today's sunshine will not light tomorrow's skies. Every day must be a thanksgiving day for itself.

HT: www.gracegems.org

The Seeker Sensitive Movement



HT: Truth Matters

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Every Thing Give Thanks

While we look on Thanksgiving Day in the United States as an annual celebration of thanksgiving for the mercies of the closing year, it was really born of man's gratitude toward the Giver of ever good and perfect gift, as recorded in most ancient days.

The Pilgrims came to America in the Mayflower, landing in Massachusetts. They were in search of a land where they would be free to worship the Lord as they desired. After a winter of hardships, when they harvested their first crops, the Pilgrim fathers, through Governor Bradford, proclaimed a Thanksgiving feast October 24, 1621. Under our present government a day of thanksgiving was appointed by President Washington at the request of Congress, upon the occasion of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. Its national celebration in recognition of the year's blessings was first recommended by proclamation of President Lincoln in 1863, and has since been annually observed.

It is a profitable lesson when we learn that we are not the source of our blessings. We are the receivers. All comes from God. It is He who gives us strength and wisdom to obtain each rightfully gotten blessing. The founders of our country realized this.

The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Let us remember that true thankfulness comes not from circumstances, but from the heart.

Jesus once healed ten lepers but only one of them came to thank Him (Luke 17:11-18). Ingratitude was prevalent in Jesus' days on earth just as it is now (2 Tim. 3:12). But that fact does not excuse any true Christian for being unthankful to the Lord for His many blessings and for His sacrifice on the cross to put away his sins. For that we should constantly thank Him!

--E.L.J. from MWTB

Read No Thanksgiving post from last year.

Suffering Does Not Rob You Of Joy—Idolatry Does

by Tullian Tchividjian

A few weeks back I was expounding on Job’s sweeping losses and his response to those losses in chapters 1 and 2. What we learned together was stunning.

Job’s maintained his joy and perspective in a season of suffering because he held onto a robust theology of grace. Job knew that he was not entitled to anything he had—God held the title to everything. He knew that everything he had was on loan from God—he understood he was an owner of nothing and a steward of everything. So he was able to say, “I came with nothing from the womb; I go with nothing to the tomb. God gave me children freely then, He took them to himself again. At last I taste the bitter rod, my wise and ever blessed God” (John Piper). While he loved his health and children and reputation and wealth, he didn’t locate his identity in those things.

This clearly shows that if the foundation of your identity is your things—the thing that makes me who I am is this position, these relationships, having this name, having this money, and so on—then suffering will be pulling you away from the uttermost foundations of your joy, and that will make you mad, bitter, and sad. But if your identity is anchored in Christ, so that you are able to say, “Everything I need I already possess in Him”, then suffering drives you deeper into your source of joy. Suffering, in other words, shows us where we are locating our identity. Suffering reveals what we’re building our life on and what we’re depending on to make life worth living.

Read the complete article here.

HT: Truth Matters

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

True Christianity



by J.C. Ryle, from "What Is Needed?" 1895

(1) True Christianity has always taught the inspiration, sufficiency, and supremacy of Holy Scripture. It has told men that "God's written Word" is the only trustworthy rule of faith and practice in religion; that God requires nothing to be believed that is not in this Word; and that nothing is right which contradicts it. It has never allowed reason, or the voice of the Church, to be placed above, or on a level with Scripture. It has steadily maintained that, however imperfectly we may understand it, the Old Book is meant to be the only standard of life and doctrine.

(2) True Christianity has always taught fully the sinfulness, guilt and corruption of human nature. It has told men, that they are born in sin, deserve God's wrath and condemnation, and are naturally inclined to do evil. It has never allowed that men and women are only weak and pitiable creatures, who can become good when they please, and make their own peace with God. On the contrary, it has steadily declared man's danger and vileness, and his pressing need of a Divine forgiveness and atonement for his sins, a new birth or conversion, and an entire change of heart.

(3) True Christianity has always set before men, the Lord Jesus Christ as the chief object of faith and hope in religion—as the Divine Mediator between God and men, the only source of peace of conscience, and the root of all spiritual life. The main things it has ever insisted on about Christ, are—the atonement for sin He made by His death, His sacrifice on the cross, the complete redemption from guilt and condemnation by His blood, His victory over the grave by His resurrection, His active life of intercession at God's right hand, and the absolute necessity of simple faith in Him. In short, it has made Christ the Alpha and the Omega in Christian theology.

(4) True Christianity has always honored the Person of God the Holy Spirit, and magnified His work. It has never taught that all professing Christians have the grace of the Spirit in their hearts, as a matter of course—because they are baptized, or because they belong to a Church. It has steadily maintained that the fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of having the Spirit, and that those fruits must be seen! It has always taught, that we must be born of the Spirit, led by the Spirit, sanctified by the Spirit, and feel the operations of the Spirit—and that a close walk with God in the path of His commandments, a life of holiness, love, self-denial, purity, and zeal to do good—are the only satisfactory marks of the Holy Spirit.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rekindling the Gratitude

by John MacArthur

The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful time to heighten your sensitivity to the blessings bestowed by God. Thanksgiving grabs your attention, shakes the cobwebs loose, and reminds you of all God's most precious gifts. That's one reason Thanksgiving has always held such a special place in my heart. It rekindles in me the kind of God-centered gratitude that our Lord demands and deserves—the kind that should readily be on our lips year round.

To help stimulate that kind of deeper gratitude, my family has adopted a Thanksgiving tradition we've found extremely helpful. Each year after our Thanksgiving meal we gather in our living room and simply recite the blessings of God that have touched our lives. One by one we circle the room, each one of us expressing our gratitude to God for His many physical and spiritual blessings.

Allow me to share with you just five blessings that deeply touch me every year and prompt me to thank God. Perhaps it'll catch and you'll be able to rekindle your gratitude!

Continue reading here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Deity of Christ Debate - Part 1

This is a debate that took place on the Jewish Voice Broadcast with James White, Michael Brown vs. Joseph Good and Sir Anthony Buzzard. The actual debate takes place approximately 8 minutes into this video clip.

Friday, November 5, 2010

And There He Prayed by Mack Tomlinson

Personal Disciplines of Private Prayer

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35

There are no short cuts in the Christian life. Jesus had to do what was necessary to maintain his walk with the Father. He felt the need to pray and had to choose to do it.

He had spent the previous night at Peter’s house after the fullest day imaginable. He had begun that Sabbath morning in the temple, teaching and healing a demonized man, then headed to Peter’s house probably for some rest and fellowship with the other men, only to find Peter’s mother-in-law very ill with a fever. The Lord healed her completely, so that she arose and served them.

The day was not finished yet, for as the Sabbath was concluding at sunset, a great number of people from all over town came to the door of the house for help. Both the diseased and the demonized came for healing and deliverance and all went away free and whole.

So by the time the Lord went to sleep that evening at Peter’s house, he must have been drained and somewhat exhausted. If anyone should have slept in, showing up for breakfast at 9:00 a.m., it should be Jesus after such a day.

But when Peter awoke, he could not find the Lord anywhere. Jesus was already gone to begin the new day. He had an appointment he wanted to keep.

He was up before the crack of dawn and had gone to a lonely quiet place to be alone. But he was not alone. He was with his Father. He was alone in the desert, isolated area just praying, long before the day light would reveal his form.

The Lord attached great importance to private prayer by his public teaching and his personal example. We see several things here about Jesus’ prayer life.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Live for Eternity - Paul Washer



Transcript:
No one has ever been able to bare the preaching of the Gospel.
They will either turn against it with a fierceness of an animal or they will be converted.

Throw yourself upon Christ! Trust in Him, trust in Him!

We are not called to build empires!
We are not called to be accepted!
We are called to glorify God!

Eternity!

The day you stand in those granite halls
before the Lord of Glory.

And kings, the greatest men on earth are divided and split and culled.
Some cast into eternal hell, and some invited into eternal glory.
Live for eternity!

These Olympians, how, how majestic they are, but only for a moment.
They start training when they are four and five years old, they never do anything but train until they're twenty two, they run a nine second race for a medal they hang up and that's it!

Cannot, you give equal for eternal things?

There is one there who is infinite in Glory, and you will spend an eternity of eternities tracking Him down and you will never get your arms even around the foothill of his mountain.

I can't live like this anymore, I can't live just reading books, I can't live just reading about revivals and about people who knew somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody who knew you(God).

So many different things you want to know and do and all the books, get out a book on God, this one(points to bible).

For it is, for this we labor and strive because we fixed our hope on the living God.
This is not some martyr thing, in which we uselessly give our lives to nothing, only to be pulverized without hope, no, we serve God and God will honor us. We have fixed our hope on that and that gives us strength... strength.

Oh this life is a vapor, I am fourty-seven, and yesterday I was twenty-one, were did it all go, it is a vapor! While you have strength, preach! I praise God that in his providence as a young man I spent myself in the Andes Mountains, in the jungles of Peru doing what I no longer have the strength to do. While you are a young man, while there is strength in you, labor with all your might, take those stupid video games of yours and crush them under your feet. Throw the TV out the window you were made for greater things then these.

If you are a child of the King nothing on this earth can satisfy you, nothing.

I want the power of God on my life! Then somethings gotta go! I wanna know Him! Then some separation has to occur.

Anything it takes, you have to, literally be before the Lord. "Lord anything it takes! Anything it takes!"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

If I Was The Devil

If I Was The Devil - TheDevilisReal.com from Denton Bible on Vimeo.

Download at TheDevilisReal.com
Tommy Nelson speaking at the Denton Bible Mens conference.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here I Stand!

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." -Martin Luther



See Chris Castaldo's explanation of what happened when Luther was asked to recant before the Diet of Worms in 1521.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Priesthood of Believers

by Peter Leithart

This weekend, Protestants commemorate Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, a call to disputation that marks the symbolic starting point for the Reformation. As Luther slashed through the corruptions of late medieval Catholicism, “priesthood of all believers” rapidly became one of the great slogans of the Reformation.

Every Christian is a cleric, Luther proclaimed in one of his earliest treatises, The Freedom of a Christian, and those who “are now boastfully called popes, bishops, and lords” are in reality “ministers, servants, and stewards, who are to serve the rest in the ministry of the word”—servants of the servants of God. Whether he knew it or not, Luther was ringing the changes on a patristic teaching that had never wholly been lost during the medieval period.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's the Least I Can Do?

by Dane Ortlund @ Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

That's the question we all tend to roll out of bed asking. What's the least I can do here? What's the minimum requirement? What bar do I have to meet, after which I can do what I want to do?

It's the question Peter asked with respect to forgiveness--what's the least number of times I can forgive before finally having the right to stop forgiving? (Matthew 18:21-35)

It's the question the Pharisees asked with respect to marriage--what's the least excuse I can have for divorcing my wife? (Matthew 19:1-12)

It's the question the rich young man asked with respect to morality--what's the least I can do to have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16-22)

C. S. Lewis insightfully writes:

Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. ('A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory [Touchstone 1996], 140).

The alternative?

'But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.' --Matthew 6:33

'. . . how shall he not also with him graciously give us all things?' --Romans 8:32

Taxpaying obedience is miserable. Quit dividing your time between you and God. Kill your self-preservation instinct. Kill it. Galatians 2:20.

Violent all-out surrender is our only rest; our only real, solid joy.