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THE PROMISE OF PEACE
A professor stood before his class and boasted, “The Bible is false. It cannot be believed. It says, ‘Peace and goodwill toward men.’ History cannot account for a time when there were no wars!”
Disturbed, Arthur went to his pastor and related the incident. Calmly, his pastor said, “Art, that’s not what the angels said. They said, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.’”
Politicians speak of peace through treaties and boundaries, threats and sanctions, wars and rumors of wars. But that is not the peace that God speaks of in His Word. His Word speaks of a peace that comes through salvation and surrender to the Prince of Peace. It is a peace that comes from the new heart that He implants within us. It is a peace that Christians enjoy when we open the door to our hearts and allow Him to come in and rule our lives.
The peace that Scripture speaks of will never come from a non-peaceful source. It is a peace that comes through the risen Christ and has its source in God Himself.
We cannot find peace in a turbulent, war-torn world until we make peace with God through Jesus Christ. Only when we go to Him in humility and with faith, trust, and surrender, repent and ask for His forgiveness will He grant us His peace.
Prayer: We pray, Father for Your peace – a peace that comes from the God of all comfort Who gives us His peace that assures us of His presence in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
CAN YOU SEE HIM NOW?
It was the very first Christmas that Jo Ann’s church had a Nativity scene on the front lawn. Working anxiously, she kept arranging, then rearranging, the figures to make certain they could all be seen.
Finally, she sent her friend, Alice, to the edge of the lawn and asked, “How do they look?”
“Fine, they are all O.K.,” came the answer.
Suddenly Jo Ann began to rearrange them once again. “What are you doing? I said they were fine,” said Alice grumpily.
“Yes, I heard what you said,” responded Jo Ann. “But I just want to make sure that Jesus is visible so all of the people can see Him!”
Often Santa gets more attention than our Savior does during these Holy Days. Children anxiously stand in line waiting their turn to ask for gifts and have their picture taken with him. Rarely, however, do children pose at the manger to have a picture taken with the Baby Jesus. Could it be that He is not visible to most people at Christmas? Do we make any effort at all to make Him visible? Is He lost in the pile of gifts? Is He hidden behind the tree?
Matthew wrote about a group of shepherds who said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem…and see this wonderful thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.”
This “wonderful thing,” Jesus, is what the world needs to see. Let’s be certain He is always visible – especially in our lives!
Prayer: Lord, may we not allow Your Son to be hidden or to be placed behind the “false idols” that so many worship at Christmas. May we make Him visible! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
A GIFT FOR ETERNITY
Timothy did well in his first semester at college. A sense of excitement was building in the family as the day approached when he would be home for Christmas. His mother wanted to make it a special event, one he would remember for years to come.
“Let’s give Timothy a wristwatch for Christmas,” she said. “He’s done so well and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work.”
“But,” protested his father, “what happened to that crush proof, waterproof, shockproof, scratchproof watch we gave him when he left for college?”
“He can’t find it,” said his mother.
In giving us the gift of His Son, God gave us Someone Who will be with us forever. A Gift that will be with us until the end of our lives and throughout eternity. An indestructible, unchanging, all-powerful, and ever-present Presence.
Jesus promised: “be sure of this – I am with you always and everywhere, even to the end of the age.”
Some would ask, “What does it mean that He will be with us? Did he not leave His disciples when He ascended into heaven?” No, He didn’t.
When He left them physically, He sent the Holy Spirit to be His presence with them personally. We know He was called “Immanuel – God with us” when He was born. We know He is with us now through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: It’s easy, Father, to lose sight of You and Your messages at this time of the year. But help us to pause, pray frequently and sense Your presence within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Chris was sitting in Santa’s lap and going over a long list of presents that he wanted for Christmas. “I want a bicycle,” he said, “and I also want a wagon, a chemistry set, a telescope, an electric train, a football, a Kindle FIRE, and a pair of rollerblades.”
“That’s a long list,” said Santa. “I’ll have to check carefully to see if you were a good boy.”
After thinking for a moment Chris said, “Don’t bother, Santa, I’ll just settle for the rollerblades.”
Not many of us would be able to “pass” a really thorough investigation to discover if we were worthy of receiving a long list of gifts. We’d probably be like Chris and settle very quickly for very little. Nor would many of us want to have someone investigate our lives and then decide if we deserved a gift or not. We would be quite anxious – if not completely frightened.
But God is so very different. He knows everything there is to know about us and still offers us the most precious gift He has: His Son.
“Now, no one is likely to die for a good person,” said Paul, “though someone might be willing to die for someone who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Christ: the source of eternal life.
There you have it. It is not about whether or not we are good or deserving of eternal life through Him. It is because of God’s great love that we can have the gift of eternal life!
Prayer: May we realize during this season, our Father, the great Gift we have because of Your love. May Your Son be our main interest and attraction this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 5:5-11 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
HOW TO GAIN UNDERSTANDING
James the Fifth of Scotland ruled his subjects quite differently than other rulers did. Historians say that he would often lay aside his royal robes, put on the clothes of an ordinary man, work as they worked and live as they lived. His disguise allowed him to move freely among his people without being recognized.
He did this, we are told, to gain an understanding of their needs and problems, sorrows and difficulties. Then, when he returned to his throne, he would have a clearer insight of his subjects and was better able to rule over them with compassion and care.
That is what Jesus, the King of kings, did. He laid aside His glory. Paul writing of this said, “Though he was God, He did not demand and cling to His right as God. He made himself nothing, He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form!”
It is common for most of us to be selfish and express our pride by “demanding our rights!” We want what we think is “rightfully” ours for any number of reasons. We believe that we have earned something or deserve something and therefore demand something!
But not Jesus. He laid aside every right that was rightfully His in order to serve others. As His followers, we are to live as He lived. We must develop an attitude of love and humility, and willingly and sacrificially, serve others as our Lord did!
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for becoming like one of us and for going through everything that we go through. Knowing this enables us to know You do care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 2:5-8 I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
“LOVE WITH SKIN ON IT”
A young man, who grew up in a housing project, having little hope and few goods, heard an evangelist preaching “love” on a street corner. After listening for a few moments, he shouted to the preacher, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I want to see love. I want to feel love. I want to see love with some skin on it!”
That’s Christmas: “God’s love with skin on it.”
Paul wrote, “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body!”
In Jesus, we see Someone bringing love to life – but a very special type of love. It is God’s love. We see this love coming to life when Jesus fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, offering water to a thirsty soul, calming the waves to relieve the fears of experienced fishermen, washing dirty feet, spending time with little children, teaching people the truth that brought meaning and purpose to their lives and finally hanging lifeless from a cross – abandoned and alone.
Jesus is God loving through a human heart, healing with a human hand, walking on errands of mercy with human feet, showing love, grace and mercy to those who would do Him harm.
Jesus is God loving the least, the last and the lost. In Jesus, God showed His love with “skin on it.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to put Your “love in our skin” and take Your love to those in need. May we be as faithful in caring for others as You are in caring for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Joyce fell behind in her Christmas shopping and suddenly realized that she had neglected to purchase cards for her friends. Hurriedly, she ran to the “surprise” section of a large greeting card store and purchased 100 cards with a beautiful scene of a family gathered in front of a glowing fireplace enjoying its warmth.
Returning home she hastily signed each of the cards without reading the message. Several days later she was sitting with her husband reviewing the guest list for a family dinner. She decided to show him the card she had sent to their friends.
After looking at the picture, she opened the card and read the verse to Jason, her husband: “This card is sent to you to say, A lovely gift is on the way!” Quite a surprise!
God gave us a “star” to alert us that His “lovely gift” would be discovered in a manger – His son. All of the books of the Bible describe the Gift that He promised to send, tell us the reason for His gift, and what we can enjoy now and in the life to come because of His gift.
But, as with every gift, there are two parts: one is the giver and the other is the receiver. An angel rejoiced and proclaimed: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That is God the Giver, giving. And, John said, “As many as received Him…to them He gave life.” But that is our choice: the receiver – to accept God’s gift, His Son.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the Gift of life You provided for each of us in Your Son. May we accept Your Gift in faith believing, that He came to save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Initially, He was named Jesus. Now we also call Him Christ.
Jesus was the name given to Him when He was born. It means the same as the Jewish name, Joshua, which literally means God is salvation! So, the message that God sent to Joseph through His angels was, “You shall call Him ‘God is salvation’ for He shall save His people from their sins.” That name, Jesus, tells us all that we need to know because it reveals God’s plan and purpose: God will save humanity through His only begotten Son.
Christ is more than a name. It is a title. It comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed” or “anointed one.” Its meaning is the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. John quoted Andrew in a conversation that he had with his brother Peter. Said Andrew, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).” So the terms Messiah and Christ are titles given to Jesus that assure us that He is the anointed one. Jesus is the One whom God anointed to fulfill the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.
The name Jesus proves that He was human, lived life on our level and faced the same issues and problems that we face. But the title Christ assures us that this One, once called Jesus, can lift us up to God’s level because He is the One whom God anointed to be our Savior.
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for what You did for us through Your Son, our Savior. We rejoice in Your love, mercy and grace that brought our salvation through Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
ARE YOU READY FOR CHRISTMAS?
Hal and Matt, two longtime friends, accidentally met in a department store a few weeks before Christmas. They gave each other a forced smile – as if they were happy to see each other – but wished their meeting was under different circumstances.
“You know,” said Hal, “I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas has become a wrap race.”
“I agree,” replied Matt. “And I’ll tell you something else. I’ve finally discovered the real meaning of the word Yule.”
“Oh,” responded Hal. “What is it? I’d like to know myself.”
“It’s my wife saying in a very convincing voice, ‘You’ll buy me this and then you’ll buy me that!’ I feel like I have no choice but to buy her whatever she asks for,” replied Matt. “Everything seems to be about things.”
It would be a wise investment of our time this Christmas to try to imagine what God might have seen when He looked into the manger. Certainly it was more, much more, than a Baby. Did He see the crowds ridiculing and mocking His Son? Did He turn His head when He saw the “kiss of betrayal” from Judas? Was His mind troubled by the trial that unjustly condemned His Son? Did He weep when He saw Jesus hanging from the cross? Certainly. But let’s not forget to see the smile that was on His face and the peace that flooded into His heart when He saw the empty tomb.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to get ready for Christmas by seeing its sights and sounds through Your eyes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
WHO GETS THE CREDIT?
A Chinese farmer had only one son and one horse. Nothing else in life mattered to him. One night his horse ran away. His neighbors came to console him and said, “What bad luck!”
Later the horse returned and brought twelve wild horses with him. The neighbors, hearing the news, gathered at his home and rejoiced with him saying, “What good luck!”
While taming one of the wild horses, the son fell and severely broke his leg. The neighbors gathered once again and with remorse said, “What bad luck!”
Soon after this, their warlord was engaged in a battle and took all of the able-bodied men to war – except his son. None of the men returned. But the son, who was excused from going to war and was left behind, led a long and productive life.
Was it the Lord or was it luck?
Every event that occurs in our lives is open for our personal interpretation. When the mind of Christ is at work within us, we will see God at work in everything.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize Your presence and power in our lives and see Your hand at work. Open our eyes, minds, and hearts to see You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.