…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
Who doesn’t like being on a victorious team? Victory is something we all want to experience. In fact, I have never met anyone who would choose defeat over victory. Human nature strives for victory. The late Paul “Bear” Bryant, award-winning coach at the University of Alabama, said, “The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”
Are we willing to endure the training and the vigor’s that will lead us to victory?
What is the greatest and most costly battle ever to take place? Who was the victor, and what was the reward?
The greatest battle ever fought was between good and evil. This great battle took place at Golgotha—also known as Mount Calvary—a rugged hill outside the walled city of Jerusalem.
Jesus Christ was Victor, paying the cost with His blood. The reward was the salvation of human souls.
Jesus had spent three years with 12 chosen men—His disciples. He had walked with them across the plains and through the valleys. He had sailed with them upon the waters. He’d sat with them on the mountains and taught them many things, including this: “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19).
This was the very purpose of Jesus’ birth into our world. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. This is why the word Christmas starts with the word Christ.
Jesus gave his disciples a glimpse of what was to happen, but they did not comprehend that the Man they believed to be their King could ever fall into the brutal hands of mere men. They were focused on the Friend they called Master—the One who preached salvation and a coming kingdom, the One whom they believed to be the promised Messiah.
Jesus willingly died on the cross to identify with all those searching for truth. Are you among them? Have you heard what Jesus has said to you from the cross? You were there. I was there. Oh, it’s true that we hadn’t been born yet, but our sins were present that day. It wasn’t just the soldiers, thieves, religious leaders, and passersby who took part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Our sins also nailed Him to the tree.
When Jesus hung on the cross, a great unseen cosmic battle raged in the heavens. And in the end Christ triumphed over all the forces of evil and death and hell, giving us the greatest of all hope—eternal forgiveness.
Though the cross repels, it also attracts. It possesses a magnetic quality. Once you have been to the cross, you will never be the same. The greatest vision of sin is at the cross, where we also see the greatest vision of love.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
This is what Christmas is all about.
If you hear Him speaking to you today, ask Him to forgive you.
Ask Him to come into your life and make you a brand new person.
The one He created you to be when He brought you into this world.
He will do it. He’s just waiting for you. Ask Him now…
I just love Christmas and all the trimmings. The lights, smell of good food, and the presents under the tree. It’s the season of joy, family and friends gathering together and just enjoying each other. That’s what I love about this holiday season. It’s a time of the year that you see things happen, that only happen around Christmastime.
But it’s hard to think that there are a lot of people who don’t have this kind of Christmas. I know that there are thousands of great organizations out there that are all about helping and giving to people like these, but I think that we have a tendency to really not see nor feel what this really means. It’s one thing, to reach into my pocket, and throw in a couple of dollars into the kettle of the person, who’s standing outside the store ringing that bell, but it’s an entirely different thing when it means me having to get out of my comfort zone, and step into the world of one who is lacking or just all alone.
You see, that is really giving when I have to give of myself, and my time, for the sake of someone else’s needs. Putting myself, my wants, my needs, and my desires all aside, for the opportunity to help lighten the load that someone else is carrying.
It’s always easy to talk about doing this, but when it comes right down to really doing it, I mean getting down into someone else’s world and feeling what they feel, and experiencing what they are experiencing, getting dirty and doing whatever I can to help them with that heavy load that they’re carrying…well that’s not always an easy jump to make.
You see I don’t want to break out of my routine for the holidays. My family and I have always done things in a certain way each year, and I feel that I would be rocking the cart of our family tradition, if I invited them to our Christmas celebration. I mean they aren’t really the kind of people that we hang around with, and what would my family think if I invited them over to our Christmas dinner?
I know that they don’t have that much, and they are in a tough place financially right now, but it’s kind of their own fault. I mean he hasn’t always been good with his money and I think she might have some issues as well.
I am speaking fictitiously, but have you ever caught yourself thinking like that? I know that I have at times, and it’s always just been an excuse that I use when I feel God prompting me to help someone out, or to step outside of my comfort area, and take care of a need that I know I can help out in.
Isn’t that what Jesus did?
He stepped way out of His comfort area, and came down into this muck and dirty planet will call earth, and lived right here with us. He took on the kind of life that we live, except He was without sin.
1John 3:5 “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
The dirt that we live in everyday had no effect on Him. At anytime He could have said, “I’m out of here, I don’t want to do this anymore,” but He didn’t. He stayed… as a matter of fact He stayed all the way to the end, and when it came time for the bill to be paid, He paid it. You and I couldn’t pay it, so He took the payment that we all had, and He paid it completely. He paid it with His own life, that’s how much He loves you and me.
John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends”…
I was having breakfast with four business associates of mine, the other day, and when the bill came around, one of the guys took the bill and paid for everyone’s meal. That was a very nice think to do, and we all thanked him for that, but I could have paid for my own bill. I had the money, but in the case of my sins, I can’t pay the price for that because I don’t have what it takes. No one has the means to do that…the price is way to high.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God came into our world so that He could pay your way to come into His. That’s His gift to you and me, and to all of humankind. He’s just waiting for you to come and open the present that He has laid out for you today. Open it by asking Him to forgive you, and when you do that, he will not only have your free ticket to come and live with Him for all eternity, but He will also come and live inside of you right now, and start getting you ready to be with Him.
To learn more of God’s incredible gift to you and me, click on “My Christmas Gift From God”
Perhaps you might know someone or you just might happen to maybe see the same person everyday as you commute back and forth to work. They might be in a situation that is not very good, but if God is telling you to stop and talk to them, or maybe go beyond that point that is going to put you out of your comfort area, remember what God did for you. Listen to what God is asking you to do, and help someone out.
Did you know that there are certain chemicals that are released in our bodies whenever we give or do acts of kindness towards others? Try it out for yourself. Help someone out with anything, it doesn’t have to be something big, and see if you don’t feel better after you’re done. You have to have the right attitude, that you are doing this only because you can, and you are getting nothing in return…don’t even tell anyone else about what you’ve done, because that means you would be getting the accolades from everyone you tell. God sees and He knows what you did.
Maybe you can only help them carry that heavy burden for just a short while, and maybe you can’t really take it off of them or out-of-the-way, that’s OK. Do what you can. Jesus said…
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
You are never really a fully emotionally mature person, until you can give of yourself and of your time, and put yourself in the back burner of life, so that you can help someone else out, without ever asking or receiving anything in return…when you can do this, you have really done something.
Matthew 25:38-40 “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.”
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will open God’s gift to you, and then go out and help someone else open theirs.
I wish you and your families a very blessed and Merry Christmas.
May God bless you all.
In our society today Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. We get dressed up in different costumes and walk around to houses and ask for, and receive candy from people.
There is a history to Halloween, that I won’t get into in this post but to say that, Halloween goes back to the eve of All Saints Day, observed with traditional games and customs. The word comes from medieval England’s All Hallows’ Eve. However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back instead to Celtic practices associated with November 1st, the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of foods and sweets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid demonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of Celtic influence today, such as the United States.
Now every Halloween we will see at least one person who will be dressed up as the devil. They will have the normal devil costume with the red suit, tail, horns, and pitch fork. I’ve often wondered, where we get that image from? How many of us really believe that the devil, the enemy of God and anything that is righteous, really looks like that? Do You? You would be surprised at the answers people will give you on this.
We just have to go to the truth, God’s Word, to see what and who the devil really is.
His first entrance onto the pages of scripture is in Genesis 3:1-5. Right from the beginning, and the book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, we see that Satan is questioning God and the truth of what He says. He puts doubt into the heart of Eve, that God can’t really be trusted, that He really doesn’t have your best interest in mind when He tells you something. He puts that doubt into Eve that God is holding back from you what is good and beneficial, and therefore He can’t be trusted. Listen and read this to yourself over a couple of times and see the subtlety that the devil uses and still uses on us today.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
“you will be like God,” is literally, “you will become a god or become a god unto yourself.
Also notice the word crafty, because that’s the word that God uses to describe the character of the devil, crafty. It means cunning in a very subtle way, deceitful in a very deceptive way, that is the devil…that is Satan. Do you really think that he would dress up like a guy in a red suit with horns and a pitch fork? Do you really think that he would want to stand out and be easily identified by you or me? No, he is full of cunning and deception, and his objective is to fill you with doubt and deception as to who God really is, and to pull you and me as far away from the truth of God and His word as he can.
Listen to how Jesus described the devil as He was having a discussion with the religious rulers of Israel. These were men who prided themselves on their study and knowledge of God from the old testament.
“They answered him, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus replied, “If you are Abraham’s children, you would be doing the deeds of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! You people are doing the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Jesus, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself.” Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching. You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me. Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.” John 8:39-47
Jesus was asking them, why don’t you believe me when I am telling you the truth, and the reason was because their real father was the devil himself and they would naturally do the things of their father, it’s who they are. Jesus told them that you are just portraying the character and nature of your father, the devil, and he has always been a liar, in fact he can’t ever tell the truth because the truth is not in him.
Listen to what Paul said; “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1Corinthians 2:14
It’s only natural that we will follow the character and nature of our parents. Look at your own kids, one will have your patience while the other will have your spouse’s eye for artistic beauty. They will just naturally follow the genes they received from their parents, and so will you and so will I. That’s why Jesus said to another religious leader, Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. That literally means born from above. A second birth must take place. read the rest of chapter three of the gospel of John
There are only two kinds of people in the world today, children of the devil and children of God. You are either on one side or the other. There is no in between, and Jesus defined this to the religious rulers.
A better costume to wear if you want to be dress up as the devil for Halloween this year is to dress as an angel. Yes, I said an angel…“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2Corinthians 11:13-15.
Dress as an angel of light, not just an angel, because that’s what Satan can look like. He’s not parading around as a guy in a red suit, he’s in your church, he’s in your schools, he’s in your government, and he may even be in your family as well. He is a liar and he is cunning and deceptive in everything he does. He wants to keep you from the truth and he wants to keep you from the knowledge of God, and he will do anything he can to accomplish this.
If you’ve never been born from above, if you’ve never asked God to forgive you and come into your life and make you a brand new person, all you have to do is ask Him, and He will do it. His word says so and that is the truth. Click here for the full story.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18.
God’s Word brings us a comforting promise, along with an insightful command as we face a New Year: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
You and I can live this coming year without fear if we apply these four incredibly wonderful truths to our lives and root them deep into our hearts.
The Contentment Of His Provision
Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. First Timothy 6:6-8 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content.” If you know Jesus Christ, you have contentment. If you’ve got clothes on your back, something to eat, and Jesus Christ in your heart, you’re rich!
Do you know why we have fear? Because we think our needs or the needs of someone we love are not going to be met. Or we fear that the things we think are meeting our needs are going to be taken away from us. The deepest need of your heart can only be met in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Companionship Of His Presence
I don’t know what I’m going to face next year. But there’s one thing I know, He will never leave me. Are you a child of God? He will never leave you either. Isn’t that wonderful!
What’s another reason we may fear in the coming year? Because we’re afraid we’re going to have to face something we don’t understand, and we’re going to have to face it alone.
When God’s Word promises that God will never forsake you, it literally means that He will never abandon you. He will not give up on you. We need to practice the presence of the Lord this coming year. When the devil comes and knocks at you heart’s door, you can simply say, “Jesus, please go answer the door.”
The Confidence Of His Promise
We’re going to zero in on a little phrase in our verses in Hebrews, “He hath said.” A promise is no better than the one who makes it. Who says, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”? It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. This is the confidence of His promise.
In the coming year, when you say, “God, I just don’t have the strength.” The omnipotent God will answer, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” When you say, “God, I’m afraid of what is going to happen.” The omnipresent God says, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” And when you say, “God, I don’t know what to do.” The omniscient God will respond, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” He himself hath said it.
The Comfort Of His Protection
Hebrews 13:6 promises, “So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Now, put that with verse five which says, “He hath said.”
Like I said earlier, I don’t know what you’re going to go through this coming year. But I know you can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not fear what man shall do to me.” When you find your contentment, companionship, and confidence in Jesus. Then, you’ll find your comfort and courage in Jesus.
There once lived a farmer who became jaded about Christmas and all things “Christian.”
Late one raw winter night, he sat alone in the house, reading. In the quiet he heard an irregular thumping against the back porch door. He flipped on the light. To his surprise, the birds that had made their nests in a nearby tree were flying against the glass, almost as if knocking to come inside. The limb on which they had built their nest had fallen under the weight of the ice. His heart went out to them.
He pulled on his snow boots and overcoat and pushed open the storm door. Immediately the birds fluttered away. Against knee-deep snow, he made his way out to the barn. He slid open the barn door and wondered how he could get the frightened birds into its warmth and safety.
He built a massive nest out of hay, but they wouldn’t come near. He sprinkled some crackers in a path from their tree toward the barn. But they didn’t follow. He tried to shoo them in, but they only scattered. He even lit a couple of candles inside the barn, hoping the added warmth would draw them. But to the birds, he was only something to be afraid of. He knew nothing of their language and nothing of their world.
He thought, If there were just some way that I could become a bird. If only for a few moments I could communicate to them how much I care, I could get them into the barn and they would be safe and warm.
At that moment, as only God would plan it, church bells began to ring in the distance. The farmer suddenly remembered, as he looked at his watch and checked the date, that it was Christmas morning.
At that moment, he grasped the true meaning of Christmas. A man becoming a bird is nothing to be compared to God’s becoming a man. This was what the Savior did—He came to rescue the farmer himself and all humanity from the cold of sin. There in the deep snow on the back porch he fell to his knees, softened his heart, and returned to the Lord his God.
See Philippians 2:6-11.
Ah, the Christmas season. I love this time of year. My favorite time of year. I don’t know what it is but have you noticed that this time of year always invokes different modes and feelings in people. It always seems to bring out the best in people, even if it’s only one time of the year. They’re more charitable, giving and helpful. More people are willing to open up the pocketbook and help out in things that they normally wouldn’t do any other time of the year. I guess that’s one reason why I love Christmas so much.
But why are people so bright cheerful, and giving at this time of year? Why right now? Our economy is not doing well. and people are struggling to make ends meet. It’s just a tough time to be in the giving mood.
I saw a Christmas special the other night, and it was a special rebroadcast of “The Walton’s”. Remember that program? They had all the cast members, much older of course, and they were talking about making and doing the scenes from that special.
The time was during World War ll, and the Walton’s had kind of adopted these two young British kids, who had been separated from their parents during the bombing by the Germans. They were staying with them for awhile, and it showed all the adjusting and making do with what they had, while they were there. The one thing that really grabbed me, was how they didn’t hardly have anything, but they always had something to give to someone else, who had none. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Giving and sharing with those that don’t have anything?
I don’t know if your grand-parents or aunts and uncles, who lived during the great depression, are still around, but you might find it very interesting to ask them to recall some of those times. Maybe share some of their stories with you at this Christmas time.
Those people really struggled financially. Many of them had to move in with other family members and everybody did their part. My wife and I had one of our children and their kids, move in with us for awhile. It was not easy and their big adjustments that had to be taken by all, but we did it to help each other out. Many people are having to do that today.
You see, when times get tough, the tough get going. Something magical happens. You can either go one of two ways. You either sink or swim, but everybody has to be on the same page. Coming together is the only way anyone will make it, and it is a time when you will learn a lot about yourself. All the talk won’t be worth a hill of beans, it’s the actions that will show what your really made of.
It wasn’t just about meeting the physical needs of everyone, there were also feelings and emotions that were riding very high. Imagine having ten to twelve people living in a three bedroom house. Tight quarters and no place to go where you could be by yourself. Everyone had to carry around a lot more patience, understanding, and compassion. You had to learn that your needs were not always going to be first. Could we learn some of that today, and you know, we maybe heading for that again.
It’s easy to be benevolent when I just have to do it for three or four weeks out of the year, but lets see how I do for the next three or four years. We just may be heading for that, and some people are already there now.
Maybe we can learn something more this Christmas then just having a little bit more Christmas cheer. I mean do I really need five TV’s in my house? Is it really all that important for me to get the new IPad, when I already have two computers? There are people living on the street that don’t know where their next meal will come from. Their children are cold and hungry. These are not drunks or drug addicts, they are people with college educations, that had very good jobs and made a very good living. It’s all gone now. Can I give up something so I can help them?
There is a reason that Christmas is spelled with a capital C. It stands for Christ. His name is part of the word Christmas. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. He had nothing. No job, no home, no gold and silver, no IPad’s that He could sell and give, all He had was a perfect sinless life to offer for your ransom and mine.
You see, the reason you and I will taste death, is because of our sin. The penalty for that sin, is death. All of humanity was plunged into Satan’s prison, because of the disobedience of our parents, Adam and Eve, that’s why only a perfect unblemished life could be offered as a payment for our ransom.
One thing that Satan never thought would happen, is that God Himself, would come down to this murky sin filled planet, and pay that ransom, and win our freedom back from Satan.
God came down to this earth in the form of a man, and that man’s name was Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate on Christmas. Maybe that’s why people do good around Christmas because God initiated it by the giving of Himself for you and me.
I don’t care what religion you are, how or even if you celebrate Christmas, weather you say, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”, it doesn’t change the facts of the real story of Christmas. It’s not about a little baby in a manger, but a risen savior, who opened the way to God for you and me. All we have to do…is walk in it.
That’s why Christmas is spelled with a capital C.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever should believe in Him, would not perish, but have ever-lasting life.” John 3:16