"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Garry H. Fricker
The Measurement of Love
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
How do you measure love? If you ask the hymn writer to describe the love of God, he would tell you that:
“The love of God is greater far, than any tongue could ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.
Could we with ink the oceans fill
and were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade.
To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
though stretched from sky to sky.”
( ‘The Love of God’ – Frederick M. Lehman )
You can’t measure love in pounds and ounces, nor grams and kilograms. You can’t determine its bounds by feet and yards nor centimetres and meters. You can’t paint its portrait in bright and vivid colours nor put it in a container to save for a rainy day. Thus according to scientific methods of discovery, it doesn’t exist.
Don’t tell that to young lovers; nor to the old grandparents who’ve survived years of married life; nor the folk in between who have found committed and faithful friendship and companionship.
How then do you measure love? You can describe it as emotion, pleasure, peace, commitment, sacrifice and many other words.
It seems to me that we ought to measure love by what we do and what we are willing to do without. We ought to measure it by what we give and what we are willing to give up.
1. At least that’s the way we measure the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” (John 3:16) That’s loving measured by giving.
2. Then Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) (KJV) That’s love measured by obedience.
3. Then Jesus also said, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) That’s love measured in willingness to give up one of our greatest privileges in order to benefit someone else.
Too often, we want to calculate the measure of love by how much pleasure we enjoy or by things that make us happy. We are all mixed up in the values that are important. Now I know that will not make a lot of people excited but the fact remains that true love costs us something. Anything less than that standard is cheap emotion. How do we show true love?
Seeing What God Sees
“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!” John 4: 35
Jesus said this to His followers who had just finished some business in town and now were busy filling their stomachs. That sounds like the routine of the average person today. I’ve seen them on the buses, freeways and in restaurants. They’re not out of the ordinary people; just average citizens. The truth is, our waking hours are taken up with a lot of stuff that, too soon, fills up a 24 hour day. Jesus advice was, “Take time to see the real needs of people,” at least that’s my interpretation of that verse. There are other things that we should be doing in order to please the Father. We need to consider the state of those without Christ who are hopelessly lost but are busily making a life for themselves with no consideration for their greatest need. It’s interesting that Jesus does not place the responsibility upon the lost to find their way themselves. He challenges His followers, “You, open up your eyes!”
Jesus saw the multitudes with compassion. He went to them and they found Him. There never was a question about Jesus concern. He knew they were lost and they needed a Saviour. That’s the reason why He left heavens comfort and glory to come to this world. He came to seek and to save the lost. That was the decision of the Wisdom of God. The lost must be found, at any cost. And what a cost!!! But the job is not completed. The lost still must be found. The truth is, they can be found everywhere but we need to open our eyes to see the opportunities of bringing the lost back to life. Jesus said, “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) I suppose if you could choose a certain passage of the Bible that was just yours, you may not choose this one. The fact that we have been chosen and commissioned to do the same kind of stuff that Jesus did is absolutely astounding. That God would consider that we could be trusted with the same kind of work that Jesus did is also amazing. Until the task of reaching all the lost with the message of Gods love is completed, we all have a job to do.
Let me suggest some things that we must “see” in order to complete the project that is so close to the heart of God.
1. Pray for the lost. ( Some of them are in our own families, our neighbours, and around the world in the field endeavours of missions.) Pray by name and location in a specific way.
2. Watch for opportunities to share compassion and concern with those around you. ( no words spoken yet )
3. Let your life be an example of your faith. Be patient, loving, honest and pure.
4. Give verbal expression to the questions that people ask about what makes you tick. ( Why are you like you are? )
We, who have come to know Jesus, need to be on the frontline of life giving clear demonstration to those around us.
The Surprise of a Lifetime
“… in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52
We had just ordered our lunch in a crowded restaurant where people were no farther than three feet away. I saw it coming. My friend, across the table, wound up for a sneeze. It was going to be a belly shaker. I was ready, but I was sure that no one else was prepared for what happened next. It wasn’t a little achooo. It was a great roar that shook our table and resounded through the whole restaurant. A little boy in a high-chair across the aisle from us jumped and his head spun around, like an owls, startled by the sound. For a split second everything in the room came to a sudden silence as eyes swivelled to our direction. We all laughed; some for the humour of it and one because of embarrassment.
Don’t be caught by surprise! The Bible says, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) I know that will be an exciting day. It is difficult to explain the emotions and feelings of all that will hear that call. For the Believer, it will be a moment of tremendous exhilaration as an instant transformation lifts our earthly bodies into the presence of the King of kings to enter into eternity and the abundance of blessing that the Lord has reserved for that very special moment. For others it will be a time of sorrow because of the loss of loved ones and the realization of the loss of a great opportunity to be caught up with Jesus. To all who remain here on earth, there will be a recognition of a dramatic change in the activities of the world as a great leader takes control and begins to operate his powerful program to destroy all remembrance of God in the world. The time will be called “The Tribulation the Great One.” The Old Testament refers to it as, “How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob…” (Jeremiah 30:7) Uninhibited evil will take the place of truth and righteousness. Terrible persecution will fall on any who speak of the Lord and who challenge the works and authority of the anti-christ.
Don’t be caught by surprise! The Bible gives enough information to let us know of His soon return. To those who are prepared, the transition will be a joyful experience as, finally, all the sicknesses, aches and pains, problems and frustrations, sorrow and sadness, hurts and misunderstandings will drop away, never to return again. Our loved ones who have ‘passed away’ will be a part of the great celebration of life. The promise of Jesus that He would go to prepare a place for us will be fulfilled. We shall move into the inheritance of the love of God as we share the beauty of “His house” for the rest of timeless eternity. What a day that will be!! The signs are all around us. It’s time to live in the expectation that Jesus could return today.
They Are Everywhere
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
The lost are lost! That’s not profound, at all. The Bible makes it clear that our generation, as well as so many others before, have no hope of peace with God and hope for the future unless the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness is shared and received. There are many problems involved in that kind of situation as we look at the world around us. Let me tell you a few of them.
1. The lost don’t even know they are lost. Well, some have come to the end of their tether and realize their hopelessness but don’t have any solution to change their condition. Some have tried drugs and alcohol. Others have tried to busy themselves with activities and pleasures so they don’t have to think about it. Some belong to clubs or societies to do good deeds but that’s not the answer. Some have discovered that money and many friends just do not satisfy the ache and longing of their hearts. There’s a pain out there that bandages and medicines will not relieve. Each presumes that everyone is the same as they are, because we all have problems. Unless someone tells them that there is a solution to their condition with a provision for the “forever future” they will continue to live lost. That brings me to the next problem.
2. What if no one is willing to tell the lost that there is someone who loves them and has been searching for them for a long time? The lost will never be able to find their way without someone showing how to find that new direction. That was the reason of the commission that Jesus gave to His disciples. “Go,” was His command. Simply put, that is an expression of His concern for the lost and was intended to be the constraining impulse for every believer. We are all called to be witnesses that in basic terms tell what the Lord has done for each of us. Let me tell you, personally, that if you know some theology, forget it for witnessing purposes! Let your friendship and concern become the main instruments to convey the story of what Jesus did inside your life. This generation needs to see the practical side of your faith and not just the religious theories that have become “ho-hum” pat answers that don’t bring encouragement to the souls of men.
3. Keep your faith up to date. Grow in God yourself. Read His Word and spend time in prayer. A real, living experience with the Lord is the best “bait” to attract the lost. The Word says, “Let your light so shine before men…” If the fire has gone out, or has grown dim, that’s not a very attractive experience for anyone who is ‘in the dark’ about faith in God. We all need to understand the seriousness of the situation of the lost and hear the heartbeat of the Master who came to give His life to redeem them.
Lest the Stones Cry Out
“Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 150:6
I’m glad that the Word does tell me that those words will be fulfilled someday when, “.. every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10, 11)
It’s very unfortunate that ‘how we worship’ has become such an issue throughout history. If you recall, the very first murder recorded in history was committed following a worship service. History will remind us that many have died for similar reasons and so called religious leaders have often been to blame. The Psalmist sends out a clarion call to everyone who has breath to rise in worship of the Creator and Lord of our lives. You may be aware that there are many different ways to worship the Lord. Some of the methods we don’t do but others practice so freely. I need to recognize that God sees us as individuals and often the expressions of the heart will be according to our personality and character. I heard a song leader say, on one occasion, “If you haven’t worked up a sweat, you haven’t worshipped.” He then proceeded to work up a sweat. I’m pretty confident that those who lacked ‘sweat’ were just as precious in Gods sight and that the worship from the heart was sincere and acceptable to God. I know that God can read our minds and that He knows our thoughts from afar off. However, I do note that almost all the scriptures that speak of praising the Lord carry an some expression of physical action. Clapping the hands, raising the hands, speaking, singing, shouting with a loud voice, falling down, kneeling, jumping and leaping, etc. are all scriptural forms of praising and acknowledging our gratitude and Gods faithfulness.
I don’t think that worship should be debatable. I think we need to do it and to give as much expression to our praise as we possibly can. Let the scriptural rule guide us that we do not offend our brother by selfish and ridiculous actions. The Word teaches concerning the function of the ‘Gifts’ and I believe all expressions of service for God, “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) Let common sense rule because the Holy Spirit is a God of order and harmony and would not want anything to distract from the purpose of our Worship. Let Jesus be lifted up! Let His glory be recognized! Let Gods people be a reflection of Who God is! Elegance should not always be an issue but let the world recognize that our interests are not to show ourselves but to praise the One who loves us and who died for us. Let me repeat what I’ve already said, we shouldn’t have to discuss how to praise – we should praise the Lord. Jesus said, “I tell you, if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:4) I may not have a great voice but I think I am able to give better expression of worship than the stones. Let’s worship with all our heart!
How About Your Heart?
“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Matthew 15:11
I have to take my car in this week for the air-care testing. They will run it through a number of tests to see if the exhaust will meet their standards for clean air. I don’t understand all that they do once the hose is connected to the exhaust pipe because I have to step out of the car and remain in a small room until they are through putting my ‘baby’ through whatever they do. I’ve noticed that they don’t care, at all, what the outside of my car looks like. The truth is it needs springs, new shocks and struts, the paint has been worn off in some places and there’s a small dent in the left rear fender. The windshield washer sends a spray over the top to the car behind me but a little bit of the washer fluid does what it’s supposed to do so that’s alright with me. Some may call my car an old wreck but it still serves it’s purpose in getting me to and from work and around to the chores that are necessary for the ministry. I would never take it on a long trip because I’m not so sure that it would make it there and back. However, when the proficient inspectors check out my car they are only interested in what comes out of the car not what it looks like. They sincerely believe that what comes out tells them how efficient the inside is working. You see, we often judge people by the outward appearance because we believe that first impressions will determine where we go with our relationship. We can be fooled by a beautiful ‘bod’ and make our assessments of an individual based on how well they are groomed and dressed.
However, I do know Someone who looks first on the inside and then deals with the outside because that is where the important issues of life come from. As a matter of fact He told a great man of God, “The Lord does not look at the things a man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) It is not my intention to take over His job and attempt to assess the real condition of those around me. I think it is important to know that I, personally, face daily checks from the Lord. He is interested in keeping my life sane, healthy and growing on the inside, in the heart, so that whatever this vessel does will show the good stuff of a life of faith and confidence in God. Some believe that the real ‘engine’ of life is located above the shoulders. If I understand Gods Word, the real ‘engine’ of the believer is located just a little below the shoulders. God does use our intellect as well as other talents and the abilities He gives us, but the primary source of spiritual direction comes from the heart.
Soooo – how is your heart? Have you failed any tests lately? Do you know that the Chief Inspector has a ‘call back’ process that will put us through the test again?
“O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvellous things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
It’s all going to be over before too long. That’s not intended to be a prophecy of doom and gloom because it’s going to be a very exciting event. I have been given some pretty clear clues as to what the future holds when it’s all over here. For those who read their Bible, we should be getting ready for the wonderful change that is about to happen. Perhaps it’s hard for us to imagine what kind of transformations will occur when what we know, today, is all changed. We may not understand all the details of what awaits us; that’s because we have a limited capacity to comprehend the magnitude of Gods love. It’s His desire to reward the faithful and to transform us from the weaknesses and frailties of the human body, as we know it today, into something glorious and beautiful beyond our greatest dreams. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) That sounds like a challenge of comprehension to me.
Dream your biggest dreams; imagine your greatest imaginations of the beauty, glory and majesty of what could be; all of that is still far inferior to what God has prepared for those who put their trust in Him. To top it all off, we’ll see the Lord in all His splendour as the Creator and Ruler of all the universe. We will understand why the angels worship together and cry, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
We may admire His creation from our present perspective as we appreciate the mountain scenes and golden sunsets because God has done a wonderful job in making this place for our earthly habitation. But it was all designed for temporary purposes. What He’s making in heaven for us is going to last for timeless eternity and will always represent the ingenuity, grace and beauty of a God Who gives Himself in love. I don’t believe we will ever be bored as each moment of our existence will reveal the unsearchable riches of His inventive mind. Add to that the fact that His main purpose of creation was to build a relationship with each of us. What an awesome place heaven will be.
Let me remind you, heaven and the full rewards that are offered do not come to us automatically. They come by choice; your choice. Choose to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you can be assured that you will be a part of Gods ‘eternal’ program. To refuse to make that choice is also a choice you can make. However, your choice will be to not enter the place of Gods eternal presence with all His rich rewards and what a tragedy that would be.
Make your choice today. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” ( John 14:3 )
Getting In Shape
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
Fitness is fashionable these days. One of the rising business ventures that is reaching out to our generation, focusing on young adults and young marrieds, is the fitness gyms. Pictures of how we ought to appear in public and especially in swim wear, show images of fatless, muscular, trim and happy people who have made it through the gruelling paces of civilian drill sergeants. Diet programs are part of the rage to keep in shape. They offer “GREAT” deals that promise success in weight reduction to help you reach your goals. I know, for sure, that I will never look like the guys I’ve seen jogging on treadmills on TV commercials but they would have me believe that this is the product that would change my life like it changed theirs. “Give me a break!”
Now, honestly, I believe that we need to exercise personal discipline in our lives as good stewards of Gods creation and that my body may not be glamorous but it is one of the means that God uses to reach out to the lost and I need to do my best to be a good representative of His presence. That reminds me that Gods word does speak to these kinds of issues. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Physical training is of some value.” (1 Timothy 2:8) But the verse just before that speaks in a similar fashion but upon a different issue. Hear his advise: “Train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 2:7) I’m not sure that we apply the same kind of energy in our spiritual life that seems to be demanded of our physical being. It may be that we have no photographs of what a godly person looks like so we don’t have an image to challenge our energy.
Obviously, the word “train” expresses a need to apply discipline in order to form good habits that will help us to be godly. There are certain exercises that help us to grow up in God and to become sensitive to spiritual matters. The problem is that there are no scales nor measuring tapes that can help us to know if we are reaching certain goals. However, I believe that when we apply ourselves, seriously, to knowing God we will notice the change in our own lives. We need to determine that we will not just be lazy, content, out-of-shape believers but will be striving to be stronger in our faith and more faithful in our service for godly purposes. There is a training recipe for developing ourselves into being the kind of people that God wants us to be but it requires decision and discipline.
You have probably heard these keys to spiritual success many times before but let me remind ‘us.’
1. Above all, let’s begin to pray earnestly and more. Let’s worship with more energy and spend time in the presence of God more devotedly.
2. Let’s spend time reading His word and hearing His message.
3. Let’s encourage one another as we serve God together
4. Let’s not neglect the coming together opportunities each week.
5. Let’s learn that Gods promise is “give and you will receive.”
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11
The Bible tells many stories of heroes whose trust in God and their actions of faith have been an inspiration through the centuries. Their stories are told and re-told through the early Bible lessons of childhood until the very mention of their names brings to life the vivid details of their accomplishments. They faced Giants, walked through fire, slept with lions, called down fire from heaven, faced overwhelming odds, sang with loud voices before the battle and were fed by ravens in the wilderness. Each of them is deserving of the recognition of their confidence in a Mighty God. However, I’m sure that after we make a list of the names when know that the true list is far from complete. There were many more whose names are not recorded but whose confidence in God was just as real as the famous ones we recognize.
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of “others,” “some” and “still others” (Hebrews 11:35, 36) In the book of Revelation there is a notable group of un-named people who are recognized for special acts of bravery and commitment to trust God through all circumstances; “they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
Obviously, these are not cowards who run from the battle. They are not people of selfish ambition nor interested in self-preservation. These are people who would not compromise their faith under any circumstance. They are true martyrs who lived their lives completely surrendered to God. History tells some of their stories. They faced trials and persecutions that would make most brave men tremble. When it came time to make a choice to deny Jesus and live or to continue to honour and serve the Lord and die, to them there was no choice. Jesus was their absolute Lord and they would sooner give up their lives than to deny the One Who gave Himself to die on an old rugged cross.
We have been told that there has been more martyrs in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries put together. We live in such freedom and liberty that we forget there are other parts of the world where, to name the name of Jesus is to face the sure sentence of death. Just as we honoured, on Remembrance day, those who gave their lives for our freedoms we should acknowledge the faithfulness of the “unknown soldiers of the faith” of past generations. As a Church, we are blessed. We inherit the freedoms and liberties of worship that have cost others their lives. Let’s not forget, there are saints around the world who count it all joy to suffer for Christ. They are not fools. They have purposed in their hearts that no matter what influences come against them, turning their back on Jesus is not a part of their life-style. Maybe we need to have our ‘comfort zones’ shaken a little to show us what we are made of.
God / Man
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5
The Prophets of the Old Testament spoke of the coming of a special person to be known as the Messiah more than 700 years before Jesus was born. (Isaiah 7:14) That was centuries before the angels appeared to Mary and Joseph in the small town of Nazareth and later, to the Shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. Then the special star appeared in the east and shone brilliantly over the stable behind the Inn in Bethlehem that guided the ‘Wise Men’ to the manger where the baby lay. There was excitement in many parts of Israel in those days. Groups of people heard and saw the marvellous activities that suddenly brought some anticipation to the depressed hearts of a new ‘thing’ that was going on in the nation. It was Simeon and then Anna, in the Temple, who without explanation could proclaim the fulfillment of the Promise of God that was wrapped up in the baby’s blanket held in Mary’s arms. The long-awaited Saviour/Deliverer had arrived on the world scene into the home of a humble Carpenter. He would be the One who would bring Peace into the world and into the hearts of Believers. He would be the Conquering Liberator who would bring freedom from the oppressions of the Prince of Invaders who had subjugated mankind since the days in Eden. He would become the King of kings and Lord of lords (Isaiah 9:6, 7) to rule the world in righteousness. His was to be the responsibility to restore a right relationship between God and man. His works would replace the heart of stone under the Old Testament Law to a heart with feelings and spiritual sensitivity under a time of Grace.
The world was unaware that the manger Boy would be all these things, in His time. Many had expectations that He would be born in the palace of Jerusalem into a Royal family of privilege. Preconceived ideas saw Him as a Champion on a white mule, leading great armies of deliverance. Who could have understood that Gods ways were sooo different from the concepts of those of the theological spiritual leaders of the day? Their imaginations dreamed of a ruler, greater than Solomon who would develop a new “Golden Age” to the nation.
The way He came left the people “looking for another.” Jesus purposed to come in a humble fashion, to taste the lowliness of mankind and to lift them up to understand how important they were to God. At the same time the ‘Carpenters son’, taught the teachers. His superior authority put fear into the hearts of the Rulers of the Temple and of the Land. He could span the whole spectrum of mankind and be their equal. That’s what truly indicates His interest in all of us. During the Christmas season, we celebrate His coming and the love He showed to all of us. He is still the King of kings though we see Him in the manger scene. He is still the Lord of lords in spite of the fact that He had no palace nor worldly wealth.
Elijah Has Come
“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Matthew 3:3
They had learned their bible lessons well. They believed that the foretold Messiah had come and was now standing before them. But they felt that they had missed one of the important details that had been a part of their early scripture training to indicate the coming of the Messiah. “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” (Matthew 17:10) They were thinking of the prophecy from the last book of the Old Testament. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:6) Their question was simply, “How is it that you came before Elijah?” Jesus responds, “I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13)
It is unlikely that John and Jesus spent much time together. When Jesus went to the Jordan River, John did not recognize that Jesus was the Lord until he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon Him. Yet Jesus knew that John was His forerunner; that John had a special calling to point people back to repentance and to serve God. John was the first voice of Divine authority to bring an end to the long 400 years of silence. He became the messenger to announce the arrival of the Saviour of the world.
John stood alone in His ministry. The religious leaders were stuck in their formalities and fearful of the political authorities of their time, but not John. He preached like he had a fire in his bones. His tabernacle was the open air in desert places. He was not concerned with the styles of the day nor the formalities of the Temple. He didn’t provide candles, images, pews nor altars. There was no assurance of shelter from neither the sun nor rain at his gathering places. He didn’t offer a system of pick-up and drop-offs to assure that his congregation was there on time. He had no sponsoring society to cover his costs. His diet was an indication of the simplicity of his life-style. Yet multitudes came from great distances to hear the passion of his message and the courage of his convictions. This was a man, sent from God. He told it like it was. He was bold. His message was clear. He was aware of those who would become his adversaries but he didn’t soften his message one bit when he saw them in the crowds.. I imagine him preaching with a bony index finger raised for emphasis and a powerful voice that thundered with conviction. This was a man who lived for God. He was prepared to lay his life on the line for the proclamation of the truth and the announcement of the coming of the King of Israel. He died as a young man around 30 years of age.
Jesus called him the greatest of the prophets. Clearly, the Spirit that indwelt Elijah was also resting upon this man. He was called to serve at any cost and he proved faithful.
Enjoying the Gift
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalms 16:11
We all like to receive gifts. I am sure you realize that the greatest gift that was ever given was the One the Father gave in His Only Son. There is no question that there is absolutely nothing that can compare in value and endurance to that wonderful, heavenly present. But there is another thing that comes along with that gift that adds worth to the thoughts of the Father for our good. Through His Son, we have access into the Presence of a living, loving God. Prayer is the gift that goes on fulfilling His High purpose of bringing humanity into a committed relationship with Himself. You see, Jesus made it clear that when He left this world that He would not leave us alone. Listen carefully, in our loneliness, we are never alone. The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing the living presence of the Lord so very real to our hearts and minds through concerted prayer. When we open our hearts, through prayer, we invite the Lord to come near to us; and He does! If you ever wanted to know the Lord in a deeper and more personal way, the method is through prayer.
Let me tell you a couple of other things about this wonderful gift of prayer.
1. Prayer can become a love language where pray-ers express their adoration and praise to a very Special Friend for the many blessings that He shares each day. Like a conversation between two very close friends, prayer can be the channel where we express our innermost concerns and emotions because we know that our Friend will be faithfully listening. It’s under that kind of circumstance that we know He will guard all confidences and listen to the real needs of our heart. No one else could offer us that kind of personal interest and security.
2. Prayer becomes a life-line for communication with the One Who can change every circumstance. We all face difficult situations, from time to time, that seem beyond our ability to resolve. But God can do anything! I am sure there are more miracles that occur each day than we could ever dream of because God hears the cry of a heart that reaches out to Him for His intervention. He is the supplier of all our needs.
3. Prayer is an equipping process that strengthens the heart and mind of the believer as he faces the attacks of the enemy. There is a special, personal, spiritual enduement that God gives to those who “wait on Him” that no other exercise could offer. It’s an enrichment of faith to be able to tackle the onslaught of the personal conflicts that come to us. God cares about every detail of our lives and has promised that we would be more than conquerors as we put our trust in Him.
We need to be people of prayer because we are called to be people of faith. The Word reminds us to, “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
The End Of The Silence
“Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God.” Luke 2:28
“There was also a prophetess, Anna…” Luke 2:36
There was a long period of Divine silence in the recorded history of the Jewish nation and the Temple worship. Approximately 400 years went by during which the nation of Israel fought its enemies and suffered terrible humiliation at the hands of the occupying forces of Greece and Rome. There was no prophetic voice spoken to the nation during that period of time. It was a period of spiritual dryness and famine. When you consider the faithfulness of God in the history of Israel you have to believe that those dark hours were important to show the people the shallowness of life without God. Could you imagine the demands that repetitiously going through frigid formalities must have laid upon people. There can’t be anything more disconcerting than to go through the formalities of religion without having a personal experience with God. It is true that there is something comfortable about being familiar with the ceremonies and rituals each time of worship but there does come a time when none of that satisfies any longer.
That moment arrived as some of the Senior citizens began to spend more time at the altars in soul searching penitence to call on God for the “Consolation of Israel.” That was not an emotion they were seeking; He was a person. Both Anna and Simeon felt the urgency of prayer on behalf of Gods people.
I don’t know if my assessment is accurate but I wonder why it took so long for someone to realize that the Nation needed a visitation from God and that someone would rise to the challenge and begin a personal campaign, to the Throne room of God, in prayer. God heard in heaven and as far as Simeon was concerned, the coming of Jesus was a direct answer to the prayer and longing of his heart. (Luke 2:29)
We delight today in the fact that Jesus came into the world as a baby, born in a manger, to be the Saviour of the world. Let me remind you that it may not be His intention to take away all of your problems but without question He is available to be with you and give wisdom, strength and whatever else is necessary to help you be an overcomer through the trials and tests that come to all of us. He does not want you to be alone in the dark hours of life, ever again. He came into the world to be the light of the world. The Old Testament prophet foretold that, “The people in darkness have seen a great light.” John said, “In him was life and that life was the light of men.” Jesus has come. He is the Saviour of the World and He’s prepared to enter into your life to make the difference in you. Don’t wait! Don’t hesitate! Invite Him to share His wonderful loving Presence with you today.
The Promised One
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law." Galatians 4:4
He came to a world that anticipated His arrival but still His coming was relatively unnoticed. Prophets foretold His advent and announced the place where He would be born. The Spirit of God moved upon the hearts of some of the elderly in preparation of His arrival at the same time the world was walking through it’s darkest hours of history and people cried out for relief to a God Who had been faithful in the past. But is spite of that, the One foretold, the expected One arrived unexpectedly. How could that be?
1. There was the Shepherd crowd that represented the poorer people of this world. They were the first to receive the message. They came to rejoice at the sight of the Miracle birth.
2. Then we are told, Eastern Wise men followed a star to find the baby in the manger. They were obviously wealthy leaders who represented the more affluent side of life. They came to worship from afar because they knew that this was Gods doing.
3. The next important group of people that figure into the Christmas story is the bitter, jealous King Herod who was taken up with His own selfish ends. He did not care for the people and viewed any Divine visit as an imposition upon his schedule, his authority and a challenge to his freedom to be the man he wanted to be. He did not want to have anything to do with knowing God and His purposes. No man; no god should interfere with his plans. He made the decree that all children under the age of two years should be eliminated because one of them could undermine his position as Ruler of the Jews. Can you imagine that, afterwards, in that region there were no babies, no children under two years of age? For two years there would be no grade 1 or 2 in the school system.
4. There was one more important group that decided that they didn’t want to get involved. The Shepherds told their story to many. The report was, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the Shepherds said to them.” But there was no recorded report of any action taken by the people who heard that amazing and wonderful story. The same star that the Wise men saw from the east was shining on the people of the region yet no one took the initiative to investigate the reason of such an amazing sight. Many were totally ignorant of the arrival of the baby in a manger; or else they made the decision to admire the star and ignore the fact that it was designed to give direction to the place where they could find the Saviour.
It’s an interesting thing; wherever Jesus is spoken about, you’ll find some people that rejoice, some will worship, some will get angry and some will just ignore Him although they see the evidences as to Who He is, all around them.
This is a season to make some choices. As for me, I want to worship Him.
Given, The Unexpected
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15
Right after Mary received the announcement that she was going to be the Mother of the Messiah, she went to visit her beloved cousin Elizabeth to share the awesome news with her. For a young lady, thought to be in her early teen years, all these happenings must have felt like a dream bordering on a nightmare. I can only imagine the questions that must have raced through her youthful mind as she weighed the impossibility of the situation and “what will people think?” When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped inside of her. (Mothers would understand this better than anyone else.) John the Baptist, yet unborn, had to respond to the arrival of the Mother of the One who would bring Salvation to the world.
John would not live to see the fulfillment of the work that God was about to do through Jesus but even before he was born, John could express his great joy at the coming of the Saviour. Together with her cousin, Mary remembered, with great delight, that the people of Israel had been waiting and praying for the arrival of their Saviour for centuries. “The desired of all nations,” (Haggai 2:9) was to be the promised Deliverer who would free Israel from the enemies. Most people believed that he would be born in the palace of the Kings or appear on the scene as a triumphant warrior, victorious from the battlefield.
But Mary had a different version of the story. Her experience was not born out of the academia, the dreams of religious leaders nor from the surmising of Jewish philosophers. By way of an angelic messenger she had received the word straight from the Throne room of God. She was to be the virgin Mother and Jesus was to be born, through miraculous circumstances, by way of Bethlehem, into the home of a Carpenter from the insignificant northern town of Nazareth. This was no wealthy, renowned, or royal family and this was not the palatial estate of a King. What was happening was totally unexpected. There were clues throughout the prophecies of the great sages of history that were intended to prepare the people for His arrival but the whole matter caught a generation completely off guard. Mary posed the question, “How will this be?” The angels reply was simple. “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
There couldn’t possibly have been a more giant step than the one that Jesus took to leave the splendour of heaven with the adoration of the hosts of angels, to be born in a cattle’s feeding trough. God was about to do something that would be the talk of the nations for eternity. The Lord of heaven became a baby to become the man who would take away the sin of the world.
The Gift, A Saviour
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Long before the world was made and everything that was created was brought into existence, a plan was formulated in the heart of God. That plan included the creation of creatures who would be designed with a capacity to resemble their Creator. And so, after the world and all other things were created, man was formed in the hand and by the breath of God. Man was given wisdom and authority to represent God here on earth and everything that was made on the earth was to be subject to him. He was the boss by Gods appointment. Because every man was given the ability to choose, it was necessary that God step back to allow the exercise of that free will. Of course, God was concerned that the right things be done but, at the same time, man had to make His own decisions. He was not made as a mechanical robot that responds to programmed commands. Nor was he like the animals that respond to trained habits. Man was to be different. He would have to reason and make choices that he decided what would be the right thing to do.
We know “the rest of the story.” But God already knew what man was going to do and part of His plan was to send His Son from heaven to earth to demonstrate the purpose that God had in mind when He designed man. Jesus became the full expression of the will and purpose of God living in a human body, just like yours and mine. Born in a manger in Bethlehem, He ate, slept, walked, talked, worked in the same world that we all live in, but He did nothing that would be an offence to God. In the words of Pilates wife, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man.” (Matthew 27:19) There was no fault found in him.
We may say that no one is perfect but, of course, the exception is Jesus. When all is said and done, Jesus is the perfect example of all of Gods expectations for man from the beginning of creation. We have all failed to live up to His standard. If Gods plan was to succeed He would have to devise a way to give all of mankind an opportunity for a new start. That’s what Christmas is all about. Jesus is not just an example but He also is the purchase price for all the failures we have ever lived. God gave His Son to become the substitute for every one of us. He took upon Himself all the things that we have done that have marred the image and likeness of the Creator. In exchange, He gives us the perfection of Who He is. But the key to the whole transaction is that we believe that this is true and personally invite Jesus Christ into our hearts. Now that is what Christmas is all about. It’s an opportunity for a new beginning and Jesus is the answer and Wise men still seek Him.
Christmas is An Expression of Gods Love
“When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things that we have done, but because of His mercy…” Titus 3:4, 5
Love has always been the bottom line of Gods dealings with us. Whatever else is said and done in our experiences and circumstances God always adds His, “I love you.” It’s an unchanging principle.
Problems and trials don’t necessarily go away because of that abiding principle. But the fact that I am loved by the Creator of all things, who has promised to never leave me nor forsake me, gives me confidence and courage to keep on trusting because He has loving purposes for my life.
This time of the year has become the most celebrated and busy time on the average persons agenda. Besides all the added hours of shopping and purchasing gifts, there are more parties and festivities happening in December than during the rest of the year combined. But, you’re probably aware, that this time of the year is when more people commit suicide than at any other period of the calendar. What a paradox!
But let me remind us that the true sentiment of the season is not in doing something to bring an impostor happiness through inebriated joy but rather accepting the gift of God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s what Christmas is all about. His love is not a one time act, celebrated in December, but rather an enduring commitment to care and provide something very special throughout time and eternity. His Son’s coming to earth was but the beginning of a new opportunity to return to God and establish a life of true value. That is real reason to celebrate.
The real purpose of our festivities is to acknowledge that we believe that Jesus came as God’s gift to mankind and with deep gratitude we have accepted the loving expression of God who gave us His Son. We do appreciate and celebrate the fact that Jesus came into the world for two particular reasons:
1. He came to demonstrate the love of the Father and
2. to deal with our problems because of sin.
What a wonderful love! What an answer to the real needs of all mankind!
Let me ask you to pledge yourself afresh this month to trust Him more than ever before. He did come to make a difference in our lives. Inviting Him to be a part of the celebrations of the season is a giant step toward strengthening that loving relationship with the Lord. Let’s be careful that this time of the year doesn’t become burdensome and tedious. We do have something to rejoice about as we remember the coming of the Saviour of the world, born in a manger in Bethlehem.
The Greatest Life Changer
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14
“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son.” (John 3:16) The greatest Being who ever existed, loved with the greatest love ever known, so that He could give the greatest gift that anyone could receive in His One and Only Son.
Jesus knew that when He left heaven He would need to accept the limitations that every one of us lives with each day. He had known no limitations on anything, before He came to earth at Bethlehem. He was free to go anywhere He wished to go and free to do whatever He wanted to do yet He never knew weariness. In the Heavenlies His audience of angelic beings proclaimed His worthiness in constant and sincere devotion.
The Creator of all things laid those special privileges aside and became like the creature that He had made. He became subject to our limitations and tasted life as we live it. He grew weary, knew hunger, felt the pain of false accusations and couldn’t be in all places at the same time. His home, no longer the ivory palaces of glory but now the confines of a poor carpenters dwelling and often under a borrowed tree in an orchard just outside of town. The streets were no longer paved with gold as He had been accustomed to but now His feet would be dirtied by the dust on the paths and sometimes made uncomfortable by a painful pebble in His sandals. Often His audience held self-righteous, religious pirates who sought to scuttle His teaching and preaching by their scepticism, criticism and unbelief.
Life, as we know it, was a great change for Him. But then, none of this was a surprise to Him. He knew that it had to be this way. He had willingly chosen to be like us; to face temptations, trials and tests like us and then to be the Saviour of mankind. Like us in His mortal frame but always like God in His Spirit. It was necessary that He be the champion of every fallen man to take on the god of this world in a battle to release us from his bondage. He could taste death because He was a man. He could rise from the dead again because He is God. He could submit to the satanically inspired torture and pain that would lead to His death and take back all the power and authority that the enemy ever claimed as his own.
The Fathers gift has unending value. He goes on giving and goes on living that we might enjoy His love each day and eventually throughout eternity. I don’t know any gift like that in the shopping mall, do you?
Try Following A Star
“Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
Have you ever followed a star? Sailors who have crossed the oceans used to use the celestial bodies as their guides and could calculate their location on the dark waters by the position of the stars. (Today, man made stars mark their position electronically with pin-point accuracy.)
The Wise-men who came from the east, on their ships of the desert, followed the starry trail from their homelands to the bedside of the baby born in a manger, in Bethlehem. They came to pay reverence and to worship the One who was to be the King of Israel.
I’m sure we don’t fully understand the difficulties that they faced to complete their journey across rivers, mountains and deserts, ‘camping’ out each night. They gave up the comforts of their homes and their personal interests to explore the significance of the Star. From their far away lands they arrived to be a part of the miracle story that has touched our hearts, through the generations, that the Fathers gift of Love came to be the Saviour of all mankind.
The saying, “Wise men still seek Him,” reminds us that we all can be a part of the miracle story of the birth of Jesus. The star that guides us to Him may not be the one in the sky but in the message that is repeated at this time of the year. We wonder how something as obvious as the Star of Bethlehem was not understood as being Gods direction to finding His Son. How many had looked into the heavens at the brightness of the midnight sky and didn’t realize that it was a sign that Jesus had been born?
Are Santa, Rudolph and Frosty inventions designed to cloud our spiritual understanding of the true story of Christmas? How many today, are missing the message of the Season because they are caught up in their own plans and programs in spite of the fact that there would be no Christmas if there was no Saviour? Then, what is the purpose of Gods gift to us if we are not willing to receive Him? Obviously, God is willing to extend His love towards us whether we are willing to accept Him or not.
The original Christmas day was designed with you in mind. It’s a day to commemorate the arrival of Gods Heavenly gift to mankind. At some time in everyone’s life, we each need to have a personal experience with Jesus Christ. During these days we celebrate, in drama and in song, the fact that we have heard the message and have received Him into our lives. Whether you see a star or hear the message sounded out from speakers in Churches and Malls, it is a time for us to welcome the Saviour into our lives. If you have never done that before, how about doing that right now and celebrate the ‘Real Reason of the Season.’
Worshipping the Gift
“Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” Matthew 2:8
It wasn’t the star that drew the weary Shepherds to make their midnight journey to Bethlehem. It was the message of the Angels with their joyful announcement of the birth of the Saviour. It wasn’t the Angels that drew the Wisemen from their comforts in the East, through deserts and across rivers to the manger in Bethlehem. It was the star that shone brightly in the Western sky that beckoned them to seek out the one Who would be born the King of Israel. There were special messengers that prepared a reception for the arrival of the King of kings. Then I wonder, why were there so few that were interested enough to make the effort to seek out the Saviour after such heavenly demonstrations?
But then, is it possible that we have heard the message again and again and have not responded? Could it be that God has even done miraculous things to catch our attention but, for one reason or another, we have not understood or have deliberately put off a personal encounter with Jesus Christ?
What a shame! What a wasted opportunity! Did the Inn Keeper live with regrets that he did not ‘make’ room for Jesus. He must have heard about Him in later years of His ministry. Was the stable turned into an old-fashioned tourist trap as added income for the one who blew the opportunity to have the baby born in his house instead of the manger? Why didn’t Herod follow the Wisemen and render homage to the King of kings? He missed the opportunity of a lifetime to join the Eastern Strangers who followed the star to where the Baby lay.
Listen carefully. There are lots of voices that call for our attention in celebration during these days, but there are none so important as the ones that call us to humble worship of the Lord Jesus. At this time of the year, we have many reminders that Jesus came into this world through a miraculous process to bring “Peace on earth, good will to all men.” He is the Gift of Gods wonderful love to our world. Jesus came of His own accord, to become a physical demonstration of the Father. He still seeks for the hearts of men and women who will acknowledge that He is their Saviour. Someone has said, “Wise men still seek Him.”
At Christmas, we celebrate His coming. Don’t miss the opportunity to lift your voice and hearts with in praise. He is a wonderful Saviour!
Miracles of Christmas
“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Matthew 2:19
If you don’t believe in Miracles, then you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. As far as miracles go on a scale of 1 to 10, the Christmas story is an 11. All that was involved in bringing to birth the little baby that was laid in a manger in a barn in the city of Bethlehem, is far beyond our ability to comprehend. It’s a marvellous story of the Love of God reaching out to a dark world and sharing His very presence with us.
Let me list some of the details and some questions:
- there were the Angelic conversations with Mary and then with Joseph
- there was the mysterious conception; that a virgin would become a Mother.
- before John the Baptist was born he leaped in his mothers womb for joy when Mary came to visit
- How did Elizabeth know that Mary was going to be the Mother of the Lord?
- When Zechariahs son was to be born how did he know that his son would be the forerunner announcing the arrival of the Saviour of the world, who was Mary’s son?
- Prophecies foretold that the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem but Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, over 120 kilometres to the North. How could they arrange to get a pregnant Mother from that far away to the prophetic place of birth?
- What really persuaded the Shepherds to leave their flocks to the perils of the darkness of night to seek a newborn child in the crowded city of Bethlehem? Who would think to look for a baby boy, born in a barn?
- Who were these guys from the east that followed ‘a star?’ How did the star lead them from some far eastern country to the correct address, pin pointing the place where the Mother and Child were resting? From where did these travelers get their information, so precisely?
- Why did Joseph call this baby, ‘Jesus?’ (which means ‘Jehovah is Salvation’)
- How did two old timers, Anna and Simeon, know that Jesus was the promised Deliverer?
- But what amazes me most of all is, how does God fit into the body of a little baby boy? And why
would the Father send His One and Only Son to this world?
It’s all a marvellous mass of miracles that demonstrates the kindness of God. And the story is still being told and sung after nearly 2000 years! ! It has to be a God thing!!
Reason to Celebrate
“We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2
There’s a song in the air but some of the excitement of this season has been created for purely commercial reasons. To some business men, it’s the season to make the big bucks because people are willing to part with their money easily in kind expressions of love during these days. But behind all the tinsel and hype the real reason for the season is still alive and well.
We rejoice, with the heavenly angels, that the Father in heaven would be willing to grant us the Gift of His own dear Son. What a wonderful present He is to all mankind. Though generations have come and gone since His arrival, each Christmas season reminds us that He is still available to those who seek Him.
We bow low, with the humble shepherds who the first visitors to see the baby born in the barn and acknowledged the presence of God, come to earth as a babe in a manger. Apart from the family, they were the first to be made aware of the arrival of the Divine visitor through the Angelic praises that shattered their calm, watchful midnight hours.
We give, as did the Wise men from the east, our worship and pledge of loyalty to the One who always was and always will be “The King of kings and Lord of lords.” He alone is worthy of our adoration, praise and the gifts of our worship. We return with our gifts of love as we celebrate His coming.
We are encouraged with the prophecies of Zechariah, John the Baptists father, who joyfully proclaimed the fulfillment of Old Testament announcements concerning the arrival of the Messiah, born into the household of David. Gods Word is true and will continue to be fulfilled.
We admire the faith of old Simeon and Anna who cuddled the baby Jesus in their arms, the answer to their hearts desires and intercessions. Rest could now overtake these warriors of prayer at the fulfillment of their greatest dreams. Their hope was rewarded as will ours at the return of the Son of God.
We tremble to realize that just as Herod feared and despised the arrival of Someone as wonderful as Jesus our world, blind to the gift of God, would sooner choose to think of Santa, Frosty and Rudolph and reject the Gift of God to this world. How easy it can be to be caught in the rush of activity that is all around us and neglect to acknowledge the real purpose of the season.
Let’s keep our focus during these wonderful days. We sincerely celebrate Jesus coming into our world to be our Saviour.
Our hopes reach beyond the Christmas festivities into the anticipation of His return. May He find His Church, watching and waiting in preparedness for His Divine appointment.
He Always Gives His Best
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
I can imagine that if you are like me and are going to give something away, you probably wouldn’t choose your very best. When I went to school I didn’t mind sharing a sandwich with my buddy but the dessert (cookies, cake or pie) was all mine. You’d have to fight to get that from me. Whenever we’ve given clothes to the ‘Thrift Store,’ it’s usually been pretty good stuff but not the best. The best, I keep in the closet where it is kept dry and in relatively good shape. I have a way to reason my actions, if you’re interested. I say, “Well if God allowed me to have it I should keep it for myself and take good care of it.” I’m sure you’d agree with me on that one, right? Well let me tell you about One who gave His very best, and He does that all the time.
But let me take you back many centuries in time. God told His people that at a certain time, they were to take a perfect little lamb from their flock. There were to be no spots on its coat. No disfigurement in its body, even the way it bleated was to be perfect. The lamb was to be the best that could be found. It was to be brought into the home and live with the family for four days so that it could be checked out completely to see if there was any fault in the way it walked, ran, jumped, slept, cried, ate and all that stuff. Only if the owner was completely satisfied that this was a perfect little lamb, could it be offered to God as a sacrifice for himself and his family.
That’s what God did. He chose His best, His one and only Son, sent Him to earth where He was observed for three and a half years of public ministry. He was tested to the limit to see if there was any flaw in His character but in the words of one who judged Him, “I find no fault in Him.” (John 19:4) His most severe critics tried to create ways to belittle Him or to catch Him in a compromising situation, but they failed. He lived under circumstances and in situations very similar to ours, yet He never committed a sin. He always did what pleased His Father.
So the Father gave Him for you and me at Calvary. Not second hand stuff but the pure and holy; the best that the Father had, He gave to be our Saviour. Jesus was willing to become the Fathers gift so that by His death on the cross, He would take away all my weaknesses and failures (SIN) and I could have His righteousness and be welcomed into His Fathers house because I’m made perfect through His Son.
The Greatest Wonder of the World
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
There are said to be “Seven Wonders of the World” that are recognized by historians and archaeologists as being phenomenal monuments of beauty and majesty. But I would like to add to the list, the eighth Greatest Wonder of the World that really should be acknowledged as the first and most impressive of all.
I’m speaking of the Wonder of the Amazing Grace that is found in the gift of God through His Son, Jesus. Many of the other ‘Wonders’ have been worn away by the winds and rains of time, as do all the things that man creates. Our works, as beautiful as we possibly can devise will eventually turn to rust and dust. But Gods Grace shines brilliantly through the millennia and never tarnishes nor ever shows signs of wear.
God has always reached out to mankind to lift us above our weaknesses and frailties. He abides faithful even when we deny Him. I heard Dennis Vancooten say, “God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” That’s a summary of the Greatest Wonder of the World.
It’s at this season of the year that we focus our attention on the coming of Jesus as a Baby in the Manger; not to earthly palaces nor kingdoms of mans making. He arrived to an earthly existence just like everybody else. He was born of a humble, young mother, whose youthful dreams were interrupted by His coming. He was significantly insignificant. No one else could have discerned that this baby was any different than the many others brought into the world that day. But this child was Gods gift. He came as a gift to an unwed mother; to a confused betrothed groom; to bewildered parents and family who, together, felt the sting of shame through all these strange happenings. He came as a gift to a universe that possessed little hope at a very dark time in the history of mankind.
Few understood that He came as the “Son of David” to be the Saviour of the world. Simeon believed it. Anna understood it. The Shepherds explored the announcement to know the truth. The ‘Wise men from the East’ discerned it. Herod feared that it could be true. And the rest of us slept through it all just like every other night.
This is the Greatest Wonder of the World, that the Grace of God would be shared with a world that had chosen to walk away from the Creator. This is the season to rejoice, to reconcile and renew our commitment to honour the Lord for His wonderful love for us. It is the season to remember that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. That means every one of us.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10
We should always enjoy attending our Church Christmas Celebrations. It is always a very busy but joyful time of the year as we prepare for the holidays and the ‘Reason of the Season.’ In the midst of the festivities, the hustle and the bustle, we try to make it a time for family and friends, to relax and enjoy each other. After the holidays, we will do the usual complaining that we’ve eaten too much and put on too much weight. But we wouldn’t trade the pleasure of being together, with the laughter, the chatter, the sharing of gifts and being blessed in return.
We really have a lot to be thankful for. The fact that Jesus came into the world to make a difference, is the reason we enjoy what we are celebrating during these days. Add to that the truth that our Country was initially built upon principles that are taught in the Bible and by the instructions and lifestyle of Jesus. We do have many reasons for being grateful that Jesus arrived as a Baby in a manger. I believe one of the reasons that our Country has been designated, “the most desirable nation in the world to live in,” is because of our connection to Godly principles that have come to us through Jesus. Without Him as the centre of our merriment, we are no better than the heathen who believe they are directed in their lives by the position of the stars in the sky or bones on the dusty floor.
We celebrate the message, repeated each year, that Christ came into the world to save us from our sins and to share His wonderful blessings with us. What a joy to know that we join a host of Christians around the world who proclaim anew the arrival of the Saviour of men. We repeat the scenes of the Angels messages to Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds. We watch as our ‘Wise Men’ duplicate the worshipping as did the “Wise Men of old.” Through drama and song we remind ourselves of the wonderful story of Gods love in the giving of His Son.
Think about it! We have a song to sing that angels cannot fully comprehend. We have received pardon from our sin and a privileged title of inheritance as Gods children, because He came. That’s the gift of our Heavenly Father. His Own dear Son. You just can’t beat that.
“Joy to the World.”
The Miracle - God With Us
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14
Talk about miracles! Greater than healing the sick and raising the dead; more dynamic than calming a stormy sea and pulling money out of the fishes mouth; more dramatic than walking on water or passing through closed doors was the fact that God, who controls the vastness of the universes, became an infant. He laid aside the Glory of His essence and the immensity of Who He is, to dwell in the wiggling form of a newborn baby. He willingly became confined to the limitations of the human body and suddenly subject to the effects of time and the expenditure of energy. He became aware of weariness, hunger, loneliness and the feelings of pain and sorrow. This is God. Emmanuel .... God with us.
That’s the amazing story of Christmas and the Greatest miracle of them all. The wonderful thing about it all is that it is true.
That God should take such a giant step from the realm of His Majesty to this world and to our lives as Creator to created, is the story of His marvellous, eternal love reaching into a lost and darkened world. He could have sent a flaming angel to tell the story of His love. He could have created clouds to write across the sky, the description of His interest in our earthly affairs. There wasn’t anyone else who could clearly describe the story of Gods love with the passion of concern for fallen man that God felt, so He chose to come Himself. He bypassed all other means and methods because, of all of creation, there never ever was anything that He was more interested in than you and me. He personally came to share His heart and reveal the purposes of the Father. No other messenger could do what Jesus had planned and came to do. His coming was only the beginning of a journey that would patiently touch the lives of so many and come to the painful experience at Calvary. After all, “He came to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
As much as our celebrations of the season are intended to be joyful, behind the excitement of His arrival to earth was the fact that He knew that His life would have a tragic yet victorious end.
This is the Greatest Miracle of all. It’s amazing because it’s all Gods idea and could only be accomplished by Him. What a wonderful story is the one we celebrate at this time of the year!
The Miracle of His Birth
“Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2
Who has not stood under the awesome canopy of a clear summer nights sky to look for a falling star? You've seen the Big and the Little Dipper somewhere out there among the sparkling diamonds of Gods handiwork. You've got to be amazed at the immensity and beauty of it all. If you know a little about what Astronomers tell us of the magnitude of the distance between each of those shiny dots you’ve got to be impressed with Gods creation. And yet, our God is far bigger and more beautiful than all of that. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hand." (Psalm 19:1)
It was that same sky that attracted the attention of Wise Men so long ago. The stars spoke to them in a guiding language that apparently only they could understand. Their interpretation, obviously inspired by the Spirit of God, told them of a King that would be born. Somehow, they followed the footprints of that special star that led them to the Kings palace in Jerusalem, then to the Word of God and the voice of the Old Testament prophet who told them where they could find the One to be born King of the Jews. They arrived at their destination in Bethlehem to find the satisfaction in the fulfillment of their expectations. A baby had been born in a humble feeding trough and they knew Him to be Christ the King.
What a story! We remember, with great joy, the details of the encounter and pass on the history to our Children in living drama as actors relive each scene. We already know the various chapters of the story from the perspective of the sweet young mother, the sensitive and trusting father to be, the stunned Shepherds, the eager and adoring Wise Men and the ancient expectations of Simeon and Anna. Yet, each year, we are awed anew at the magnificence of Gods wonderful love in sending His precious Son to live among us.
To me, that's the greatest miracle of all. That God, Who is bigger than all things that He has made, would stoop to live in a human frame, among people of feeble abilities, bound by so many limitations, to taste of all the same things that make up my life and yours. It’s awesome. It’s amazing. Don't ever surrender the joy of the season to the hollow tinsel of the commerce and humanism of our day. Keep the excitement alive. Pass on the fact that you don't just celebrate a season, you celebrate the Person who came to make a difference in our lives. May His sweet and precious presence be extra special to you and yours during these days.
“My times are in your hand.” Psalm 31:15
Another year is drawing to a conclusion and with gratitude we give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. He is good. A number of things come to mind at this time, that cause us to make some extra special decisions.
Generally, folks review, through the backward look, what has transpired over the past 12 months and take inventory over the results. Some would find that it wasn’t all good but, then, it wasn’t all bad. The truth is that we’ve learned a lot of lessons through the experiences and have benefited from each adventure both the up times and the down times. We measure our accomplishments and weigh our successes and our failures. Some of our investments may not be measured by the standard of what the world calls successes but remain as unseen seed planted to bear fruit in the future. Some will pause and with fresh commitment will pledge to work more fervently toward a change in habits, routines and relationships in order to better our efforts to do what God wants us to do. That’s the backward look.
Then there’s the forward look. In a matter of days we will have a brand new start, to a brand new year. No one has ever lived those fresh days before. They are special gifts to us. For those who trust in the Lord, that’s a great blessing because we know that He has reserved some very precious promises that are concerned with our future. One that has often brought blessing to us is shared in Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always.” Never forgotten nor forsaken. He’s always available to be the strength of our lives and to help us in times of testing and trial. We can dream and desire for the very best times of our lives and strive to attain the greatest joys of our existence as a hope in the unseen of our tomorrows. The truth is, we don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds the future and we can trust Him.
Then there’s the look forward of anticipation or the upward look. This may be the year that Jesus returns to earth to receive to Himself, those He loves. This has been a message preached and expected through the centuries. Prophets, Angels and the Lord Himself have all foretold that Jesus is coming back again. Although we don’t know the day nor the hour, one day there will be a great surprise as we are caught up to be with the Lord in the air, to ever live with Him. What a time of rejoicing that will be! ! The Spirit of God is preparing the Church for that wonderful moment and His cry is “Even so, Come Lord Jesus!
Times May Change
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
The time of the end is at hand. We all know that, because we’ve checked our calendars and it’s true; this year will soon be history. We’ve all had a part in composing another piece of history through our many activities of this past year. Some will say, “Where has the time gone?” Others will gladly lay this past year and the pains and problems to rest as part of life that doesn’t always have a reason, in the here and now. To each of us, this one thing remains true through every experience in life, ‘We serve an awesome God and He is faithful!’
There is something in that statement that reminds me that there are some ‘unchangeables’ in life that only add to the good that is a part of our Faith. We can be assured that our circumstances will change; perhaps not as quickly as we may desire, but He never changes and He still answers prayer. That of course offers us hope for tomorrow, for although we bid farewell to another fragment of history, our future is bright with the assurance that in our unknown tomorrows, He will never leave us nor forsake us. We have His promises as our guarantee and His word will never fail.
One of the important facts that yet awaits fulfillment in our lives is His pledge to return to receive us to Himself. What impressive thoughts that brings to mind! We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; we shall be like Him for we will see Him as He is. We’ll be transformed and robed in the Glory of the Sons of God. The scriptures say that God, Himself, will wipe away all tears. The tears of pain and sorrow; the tears of remorse and regret; the tears of the pressures of life; the tears caused by the injuries of others. All these situations will fade in the glory of the beauty of His Divine presence. Suddenly, all of the experiences that caused us so much concern will lose their wrenching strength, as together we are captivated by the magnificence of heaven along with the multitudes of the redeemed. Each of the saints through the ages will tell of their experiences with God.
What joy there will be as we view the eminence of Jesus, our loving Lord, Who gave Himself for us! What emotions will be stirred by His awesome presence! What ecstasy will flood our hearts as we are ushered into our inheritance and the loving rewards prepared by our Heavenly Father!
This may be the year that will bring our pilgrim excursion to a conclusion. I’m looking forward to my personal walk with God. It could happen any day.
Signs at the end of another Year
“Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” Matthew 24:33
It’s all coming to an end, anyway. We live each day as though there is an unlimited amount of time that we can draw from. The fact that my hair has turned grey, (what’s left of it), that other things are not what they used to be and this week we move another year closer to the 21st century, should remind us that a great big change is coming.
I would like to announce that Jesus Christ is coming soon. Now that may not be brand new news to you but let it be a reminder that things will not continue as they are. There will be a loud noise in the heavens like the sound of the voice of an archangel and the trumpet call of God will summon us into the Divine presence of our Wonderful Saviour. Now that’s worth celebrating. It could happen before this evening comes to the midnight hour. It could be tomorrow or the next day but the fact remains, Jesus is coming soon.
It’s interesting to hear the world talk about this subject as never before. There is a sense of expectancy as we draw near to the end of another year. Hollywood has issued their version of how things could happen but it’s time that we settled on what the Word of God has to say about it:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27) Check it out! ! We now wear different kinds of clothing but the attitudes of men are the same. Sin abounds and righteousness is ridiculed.
The signs that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24 are as fresh to us as the daily newspaper. Jesus has given us enough warning of His returning that we ought not to be taken by surprise. Things will not continue as they are for long.
As we come to the conclusion of another year, it can serve as a fresh marker for a fresh commitment to invite the Lord to make a difference in our lives in the coming year.
Everyone enjoys the feeling that a brand new Year offers. It’s like a new package of time has been placed within our grasp and we receive it as a special gift from God. Soon there won’t be any more time left. It will all be used up. But while it is today, let’s open our hearts to the Lord and surrender all the rooms and partitions of our lives to Him. The King is Coming and He’s looking for a Church that is without spot or wrinkle. Let’s take this opportunity to draw near to Him and be renewed in His presence.
“Behold I set before you an open door...” Revelation 3:8
An open door, that’s what this New Year is all about. It sometimes appears that the door opens up to a foggy darkness and we can’t discern what lies ahead. That’s alright. The fact that the Lord promises us that He will be with us “through it all,” should be sufficient for us to trust in Him. Most of us wish that we could see farther ahead than the ‘right now’ but that knowledge is reserved for God alone. The future is Gods business. We need to remember that He does all things well and that He does take personal interest in those who are willing to follow Him. He said, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and He delights in His ways.” (Psalm 37:23)
Let me assure you of a number of things as together we enter this New Year:
1. God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have a few lumps and potholes along the way. Nor does that exclude you from the ‘valley of the shadow’ but it definitely means that He will never leave you alone. He’s too much in love with you to not express His concern for every detail that goes into the making of your life. He does care.
2. He has designed us to be a vessel of His glory. He has chosen you because you are who you are. He has given you talents and abilities that no other possesses. There are tasks that He has directed for you to undertake. The Holy Spirit will give you the right kind of gifts, power and anointing that each situation will demand. When He gives us a job to do He also gives us the tools to do that job. But we need to seek Him and trust Him.
3. He has given us hundreds of promises that should bring great joy to our hearts. You see, His promises are like keys that open up the problems that our world faces. Sometimes we need to take those keys and in prayer loose His authority on the difficulties around us. As someone has said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” We need to learn to stand fast against discouragement and depression by speaking out His promises and wash away every bit of defeat. We are Children of the King.
A New Year reminds us that we need to rededicate ourselves to being the kind of people that He wants us to be. Sometimes that means letting go of our own will and plans in order to hear what He has to say to us; but trusting Him is absolutely essential.
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.