Christ

The Cold

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As Christians, we have the opportunity every day to pay it forward to those who are lost in this world by giving them a glimpse of Christ through our kindness.  We were each given a gift when Jesus hung on the cross and died for our sins; and every time we demonstrate His love to someone, we not only bless them, we also bless our Lord and Savior.

Let us eagerly search for ways to bless those that God places in our path with the ultimate aim of glorifying our Heavenly Father.

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”  John Calvin

Portions of commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, November 18.

The Reason

She gave birth to a son,

a male child,

who will rule all the nations

with an iron scepter.

And her child was snatched up to God

and to His throne.

Revelation 12:5

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Many people go through the motions of the holidays, buying gifts, baking cookies, and sending Christmas cards; but after it is all said and done, they are left with a longing in their heart, a vast emptiness that was not filled by all the merriment of the season.  December becomes a month in which credit cards and stress levels are maxed out.  And though precious memories are made on Christmas morning, there is no lasting meaning for the celebration.

For Christians however, Christmas is a time to celebrate and rejoice that Jesus came down in the form of a baby and brought salvation to an undeserving world.  Today, focus your thoughts on the only true and lasting meaning of Christmas, that Christ came down from heaven to bring us gifts that remain even after the day is over: hope, peace, and love.

Wishing each of you the merriest Christmas this year!

 

Portions of commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, December 25.

Treasure

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The first battle between faith and reason took place in the Garden of Eden.  Spurred on by the serpent’s lies, Eve began to look at her situation from a purely logical perspective and decided that God was cheating her out of something good.  Her faith faltered as “reasonable” thoughts of self-interest filled her mind (Gen. 3:4-6).

I am not saying that the way of faith is never logical, but if we operate only on the basis of reason, a conflict with the Lord is inevitable.  That is because His instructions and actions don’t always appear reasonable from a human perspective.  Although Isaiah 55:8-9 describes God’s thoughts and ways as higher than man’s, some people believe they know better than He does.

Paul emphasizes this by pointing out that God’s choices can come across as illogical by the world’s standards-His message of salvation seems foolish, and His messengers appear weak and unimpressive (1 Corin. 1:20-21).  In an age that thrives on recognition, admiration, and importance, a person who believes the Bible is considered a weakling in need of a religious crutch to cope with life.  But God’s Word explains the paradox:  Recognizing their helplessness, believers lean on Christ so He can raise them to stand with Him in righteousness.

That day in Eden, sin and self-importance entered the human heart.  But all the worldly wisdom that fuels our pride is nullified by God.  He is looking not for great and impressive people but for weak, humble servants who can boast only in Christ.  The Savior alone is their strength and wisdom.

That is a believer’s great treasure.

 

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, December 3, 2016.

Still Speaking

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Although the plan of salvation was a mystery to those of the time of Jesus and prior, it has been revealed.  We stand at a point in history where we have the testimony of the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the nature of God’s salvation in Christ has been clearly revealed in the pages of the New Testament.  God kept his promise in the past-Jesus, God’s Messiah, died to bring salvation to his people-and Christ will keep his promise to come again.

“God has gone to great lengths to put His truth into written form and protect it down through the ages so we could spend eternity with Him.”  Charles Stanley

Portions of commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, Nov 21.

Hope

-On the narrow road-

hope

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched

and that is burning with fire;

to darkness, gloom, and storm;

to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words

that those who heard it begged that no further 

word be spoken to them,

because they could not bear what was commanded;

“If even an animal touches the mountain,

it must be stoned.”

Hebrews 12:18-20

 

There is a great contrast in the way people approached God under the old covenant and how people approach God under the new covenant.  When God established the old covenant on Mount Sinai, the people experienced the terror of God.  The Israelites saw God’s awesome power demonstrated; they had to stand at a distance from the mountain.  Only Moses was allowed to go up the mountain when he received the Ten Commandments.  Under the new covenant, because of what Christ has done, Christians can enter directly into the presence of God without fear.  Christ has made it possible to commune intimately with God the Father because he has secured the forgiveness of sin for anyone who chooses to follow Him.  Let us come boldly before God on the basis of Christ’s shed blood.

 

 

Commentary from: The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament-October 30, Tyndale, 2003.

Love

-On the narrow road-

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When you hear or read the term “Church” do you think of one role, or two?  We use that term here in the US typically to mean a building where followers of Christ meet to worship God and fellowship, together.  This is not actually Christ’s church, but a meeting of a portion of that church, in a building usually.  There you will actually find a mixture of Christians and non-Christians.  Christ’s church is very large, and they are spread out over the face of the earth!

I can’t know the heart of another, but I observe a lack of love in ‘meetings’ of Christians.  I see a tendency to look as far as the immediate ‘circle’, but not too far outside that group of friends.  I may be seeing the behavior of the non-Christians though, and not true followers.  I even see neglect of new people coming to visit, often, when they don’t look like everyone else.  Do you see it also?  Or is it just my imagination?  Be generous, especially with your heart-a generous spirit will see need as opportunity.  Even though the world is cold, can Christ’s followers be cold also?  No, we cannot.

If our English word “neighbor” had stuck to its etymological roots, determining who our neighbor is might have been a bit easier.  “Neighbor” is derived from a German word that was a compound made up of “near” and “dweller, especially a farmer.”  In other words, in centuries-ago Germany, a nahgabur was someone, likely another farmer, whom you knew because he lived near you.

But when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He established a definition even older than Europe’s Middle Ages.  Your neighbor is not someone who necessarily lives near you, nor does it have to be someone with whom you are acquainted.  According to Jesus in Luke 10:25-37, my neighbor is any person who has a need that I am able to meet.  Jesus made the point in His parable that the man the Good Samaritan helped was a stranger-not a “near-dweller.”  Yet the Samaritan assumed the responsibility for doing everything he could to help.

Today we think of neighbors as those who live on our street or in our neighborhood.  Yet, using Jesus’ definition, we have many more neighbors than those.  We need to broaden the boundaries of our neighborhood to include the whole world.

“If my heart is right with God, every human being is my neighbor.”  Oswald Chambers

The entire law is summed up in a single command:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14

But it must not be like that among you.

On the contrary, whoever wants to be great among you

must be your servant,

and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.

Mark 10:43-44

Commentary (paragraphs 3-5) from David Jeremiah Pathways Devotional, October 28.