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).


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."


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


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.


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."


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).


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!


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)


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...