IF Jesus is anything, He must be everything.

“Faith in Jesus is more than a match for worldly trials, temptations, unbelief, and overcomes them all. The same absorbing principle shines in the faithful service of God; with an enthusiastic love for Jesus, difficulties are surmounted, sacrifices become pleasure, sufferings are honors.” – Charles Spurgeon

“There are Two”

Life is a journey that offers two roads. It is “either/or” rather than “both/and.” There are two perceptions of reality: the supernatural and the natural. There are two conflicting kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. There are two entry points: the wide gate leading to destruction and the narrow gate leading to life.

While the World leads more to the “both/and,” scripture tells us that we must choose one. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matt. 6:24

We say the words He is our everything but is He?
GFJ

Will You Open?

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PART 1

In each of us figuratively speaking we all have the same number of apartments. Each room senses affection, sentiment and so forth. But there is an apartment in our soul house that many never open; remains locked up. Usually the best apartments are the ones neglected because of the price for the space, but Jesus already paid that price. The best apartments have a glorious outlook that takes your breath away, that stand up to sun and air, from whose windows one may look clear across Jordan and see the fields and hills of the Promised Land, into this room men seldom go into.

They choose rather to live in that part of the soul house that looks into the backyard, where nothing but rubbish is gathered and the fence that seems to high to jump over as troubles cascade down from the room that you choose to live in, many men live in this room, instead of visiting the best apartment of the house.

EVERYDAY IS AN INVITATION

To open. Like a plate from a buffet line we hold to much stuff, we fit everything and anything that looks good on it, we make space even when there is none. We walk to our table hoping that our over loaded plate doesn’t fall, we dodge to the left, then to the right as we perform this dance around others. Sometimes we get to the table without an incident but at times the overloaded plate falls to the ground as then others stop and stare as we hurry to pick the remaining pieces up off the floor and dispose of it. What looked so good is now waste.

That stuff is what is causing us to not open that door that He eagerly awaits for us to open. Are we pursuing what makes us feel complete or are we pursuing what has already made us complete?

 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Martha had the same problem, her plate was overloaded. It was heaping with distractions. While Mary just sat, her heart open as Jesus began to fill her with the Word of God, Martha who was more worried about needing help in the kitchen rather than her sit and listen to Jesus was upset because of the tasks that she had to complete. The important things that we think are important is not necessarily important.

The hinges of the door creak as its being opened. Fragrance that was present has now vanished as the tear stained floor is now covered with dust and the walls have become dull, days have passed and the memories that you once had in this room is all that is left. Only now Jesus awaits you on the other side of the door asking you to “come in and sit at my table”

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The Sin That Nailed Him There.

This is sin, to reject Jesus, to declare he is nothing but a delusional or deceitful man. And this was the condition of our heart, when filled with unbelief, we rejected God, his Son, and his sacrifice. We have screamed, “Crucify him!” with our unfaithfulness and disobedience. We have said with the crowd, “He is not our King!” “He is not our Messiah!” “Let his blood be on us!”
But God, being rich in mercy and being patient with us, his chosen people, “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of this crucified Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And being alive by faith in him, we cling to the cross on which our Savior died. It is by his precious blood that we are forgiven and freed from sin and its consequences.
– Marshall Segal (desiringgod.com)

Fan or Follower? Part 3

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Part 3
“Diversify”

“Diversify your walk in Me”

An afternoon dinner party a few months back at my sisters house. Enjoying the time off and not trying to think about anything even ministry (which is hard to block out). Having a good time that I needed, relaxing, away from work, away from it all. I try sometimes my best; not to be an absent mind from God, but to leave the “deadlines” that I set for my blogsite and messages that I constantly critique. When all of a sudden, God spoke “Diversify your walk in Me”.

I immediately Googled the word “diversify”, I knew that it had came from the word divide. Here’s what I got.
Diversifychange, expand, transform, alter, spread out, branch out

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HHMM? What God? Have I messed up somewhere? I immediately asked God to turn the spot light on in my heart to see if there were anything that did not line up with His Word. I heard nothing back, nor did I feel conviction. On the drive home, I began to think about that more, “Diversify your walk in Me.”

Point 1. Be Set Apart

Was I being serious in my walk with Christ at the time? We all say that we could improve on this but our number one problem to this is the word complaceny. If we are to be set apart, one cannot be complacent, it would defeat the term of being set apart, that would be like someone saying that they are going to workout seven days a week a couple of hours but yet eating a Snicker’s as they do so, it’s got protein, right? That’s the problem we always have the excuse of what our complaceny problem is good for. The Snicker’s, the protein, helps build muscle? No, but how much muscle? Not enough grams to make any difference, it’s got more junk than good. Instead of drinking the right protein, such as whey protein, we always go for the stuff that taste better, resulting in less performance. Spiritually speaking, yielding no fruit. But we do what we want to do. It’s human nature, right? WRONG. We must die daily, shedding our identity by dying to the flesh.

Point 2. Standing Still

There will be obstacles and situations that come our way as we question God as if we don’t think He is doing it the right way. Three years ago I had looked at what God had done in my ministry and the church’s that I had preached at and thought to myself, what happened? Was it laziness, complacency? My pastor had told me that God was going to use me in the local churches, and he was right, a month later I was getting calls, held a Revival, and so forth.

It all changed when I had gotten a promotion at my job a few years back that I had been wanting for a long time, the call’s to preach slowly declined. The promotion, I looked at it as a blessing. On the other hand, it hurt me inside, I was constantly thinking that God was done with me, he had seen that I wasn’t cut out for it. Was that a lie that I had believed? Why yes, God doesn’t make mistakes nor does He call someone to do His will without the proper gifts that He has gaven that person. Nor, does He call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I had been putting myself in the driver seat by not allowing God to use me when He was calling out to me. See how easy it is? I was looking at another option, like going to college and getting a degree in marketing and advertising. I prayed that evening that God would show me, tell me what is next, I was at my breaking point.

An hour before service started I had prayed, I knew God would answer me somehow, someway. I was at the alter for a simple alter call that the congregation came up for, I was the last one to leave that alter. Hoping, waiting, speculating an answer. A dear friend of mine who is also in the ministry, had came up behind me as I was knelt down and God began to speak to me “I am not done with you, there are doors that I will open, but at this time I am preparing you before you walk through those doors.” What a relief, I needed conformation, and God delivered.

{We constantly should be on the move, all the time, letting Him perfect our faith as we walk by faith, not standing still but running with all that is within us} “Run with endurance the race that is set before us”. – Hebrews 12:1

I was standing still. Waiting on Him when all that He was doing was waiting on me. We walk by faith not stand by it, we are scared of what’s in front of us if we don’t visibly see it. That’s where faith overcomes this “fear” We must work out faith by taking action. Or like me in this situation, we begin to stand still on the sidelines becoming a fan instead of a follower.

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be ready stay

1 PETER 1:13-19

STUDY OF 1 PETER 1:13-19

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:13-19

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” meaning to prepare for work or action.

Everyday is another opportunity to give, share, and live out the Salvation that we have in Christ, Peter said it best in Acts 3:6 ” …Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you…” while the world is looking for worldly possessions to cure their problems, there is a promise that was made to each individual if they call out to Jesus (Romans 10:9) and carry their cross (Luke 14:27) they will be saved, not a doubt or maybe but will be saved from the damnation of the second death, which is Hell. To strive toward the prize ( “I press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14) may we set our focus on Him & Him alone in all that we do to please Him and not man.

“…be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”)

As the traveller, the racer, the warrior for Christ, we must be watchful against all spiritual dangers. ” be sober-minded; be watchful. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8.

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be holy in all manner of conversation.

“…As obedient children’s not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.”

Why visit the same place that which you were called out of the instant you called on Christ when He delivered you out of the snare that was set before you? ” like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” – Proverbs 26:11 ” … No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62. The past is the past, it no longer speaks because the blood speaks and says “its dead!” As God has given us a free will in life just as Eve took the bite of the apple, which determined their fate when Adam chose to give in as well, wanting to know the knowledge of God; the enemy who has many disguises slithered into the garden and spoke a lie. we too can determine our fate for what we indulge in that is not of God; everyday is a choice.

“… But as he which hath called you is holy, so be holy in all matter of conversation. Because it is written, be holy: for I am holy.

The incarnate God, who stepped down from His holy habitation to dwell with mankind, to live a sinless life so that He could be offered up as a sacrifice; a spotless lamb without blemish or wrinkle so that we may have life and life abundantly. Holiness is the desire and duty of every Christian. Without holiness there is no purity and where no purity there lyes a vessel that is corrupted in which cannot be used of God.

“…And if you call on the father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every mans work, pass the time sojourning here in fear  “

Since Salvation is not through good works of man, only by grace, through faith in Jesus, most religious organizations are working themselves to death. The Mormon’s who have followed one man’s lie of salvation attained through works ” beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – Matt. 7:15. salvation is both obtained and maintained by grace (sanctification). Not LAW! We are free from the law. We are to please God, not man.

The conversation between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Mt 19:16-26 should forevermore settle the question of salvation by works. The young ruler asked Jesus, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Jesus explained that salvation being awarded for our personal goodness would entail loving others to the same degree as we love ourselves. Can anyone truly claim to have met this condition? In the case of the rich man, satisfaction of the condition required that he sell all he had and give it to the poor. Even the disciples of Jesus found themselves under conviction after hearing of this rigorous standard of goodness, and they responded by asking, Who then can be saved? The Lord’s response unequivocally settles the issue of salvation by works for all eternity: With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. The works system is a self-destructive means of salvation when applied to depraved man.

“…forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers”

The high call for godly living makes sense in light of the price that was paid for our redemption. We weren’t saved by the precious blood of Jesus to then live as if we were garbage.  Peter describes a justification by law way of thinking as vain conversations. It seems to have an aim – gaining merit before God by works – but it is in fact vain because it cannot succeed.

 “…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 

 Peter here speaks in reference to the completely sinless character of Jesus. If He was not without blemish and without spot, He would not have been qualified to be our Redeemer.

 

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“For He is Good”

Nothing can satisfy the entire man but the Lord’s love, and the Lord’s own self. To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in His love, and be fully assured of union with Him this is all in all. Dear reader, you need not try other forms of life in order to see whether they are better than the Christian’s: if you roam the world around, you will see no sights like a sight of the Saviour’s face; if you could have all the comforts of life, if you lost your Saviour, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, you would find it a paradise; should you live in obscurity, or die with famine, you will yet be satisfied with favor, and full of the goodness of the Lord. – Charles Spurgeon

God’s love for humanity cannot be understood in the mind of those who has already accepted Him only by looking at the Cross. Henry Ward Beecher describes it best. ” Love in the soul is like perfume in the garments. Heat cannot melt it nor cold freeze it, nor the winds blow it away going forth or coming home, it scatters itself but is not wasted; it is forever going but never gone. And the love of God shed abroad in the soul surpasses all fragrance, in inexhaustible diffusiveness.

Are you infatuated with His love?

2 Chronicles 5:13,14
13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.”

I find myself in question for those who don’t allow for God to embellish them in His presence. Is it because of a trial that has overtook your life so that we place your our trumpet on the ground? It’s only when we raise our voice to the Heaven’s when we find the room filled with His glory.

You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. – Job 10:12

The Right Kind of Sacrifice

1st key in allowing God to have full potential for Him to Work in your life is to surrender.

>Surrender

Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“Against”

– In a war there is an opposing force that is trying to win as much as you are.

Every soldier in war was to carry a white handkerchief or a white material in case they were ever in a situation that they could not get out of.

– When was the last time you were in a situation that you couldn’t get out of? Did you win by yourself?

– We are the only soldiers who win by losing, by giving up, by raising our hands and saying “I can’t do this”

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Genesis 4: 3-7

“In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

– “It’s not what we surrender but it”s how we bring it to Him.”

We are beginning to see the effects of sin in the earliest days of the human race. God is warning Cain that if he does not surrender the right kind of offering there will be a desire that will be waiting for him.

> Abel chose the right sacrifice, a living, breathing animal to God.

As we all know at this time of human life, a living sacrifice was not yet demanded. But as we look closer into what Abel and Cain brought to God, there begins to be more about it than what meets the eye. For instance, Abel brought to the Lord an animal. Think of the times if you have ever had a pet or had lived on a farm or better yet if you have had neither of these experiences in your life of raising an animal or having a pet. Just go back to that time and try to put yourself in Abel’s shoes. Where your animals were precious; it wasn’t like today’s society of where you could go to a grocery store and purchase what you want.

{He took what he didn’t want to kill.}

Hebrews 11:4

“By faith Abel offered up a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”

It’s not easy surrendering what we think is precious or the pet sin that God tries to shake out of our life, it’s only by human instinct to keep what we don’t need. Sometimes we give up and let God have it, and most times we don’t. God instructs us that “we must rule over it.” But how?

– Cain shortly finds out that the sacrifice was not what was brought, but how it was brought.

> Cain chose the easy route, produce. It’s clear that this was an “easy” sacrifice to God but as we read on, Cain soon finds out…

“God was looking on the heart the attitude of the worshiper-rather than at the specifics of his offering. Even in worship man is capable of deviant behavior and attitudes.” – “Preacher’s Commentary”

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– We have a responsibility to learn to depend on Him. As we grow older we are to mature in Christ.

So…

1] where does your help come from?

2 ] Is your sacrifice given to God, is it by faith?

2 ] Who is it that is strengthening you?

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

It is when we rely on self for the strength when we fall out-of-place and that the potential is clouded with obstacles.

Mark 12:41-44

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

God is wanting us to depend on Him more and more, as these year’s pass there will be tribulations on this Earth. The sooner we learn to give what needs to be given the more we will understand the promise of God.

 

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The Christmas Story

The Christmas Carol

By Dr. John R. Rice

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. “Luke 2:4-7.

How many beautiful Christmas carols or hymns there are! Charles Wesley wrote, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and we sing it to the music by Felix Mendelssohn. Martin Luther wrote, “Away in a Manger,” words and music. Isaac Watts wrote, “Joy to the World,” with music by George F. Handel. The famous Episcopal preacher, Phillips Brooks, wrote the words for “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” There are a number of others that rejoice the heart and make melody at Christmastime by Christians. We suppose the newest Christian Christmas song is my own little song, “Jesus, Baby Jesus.

“Silent Night” was written by a Catholic priest, Joseph Mohr, pastor in the Austrian Alps in a little town of Oberndorf. It was Christmas Eve, 1815, when he meditated on the wonderful story of the birth of Christ and wrote the sweet, simple verses of this song. The next day he took them to the village schoolmaster, an organist, Franz Gruber, who prayerfully put them to music that fits them so quietly and so well. And that night they had the choir sing it for the first time with only guitar accompaniment, since the organ had broken down . Through the years this sweet song drifted out to the world and now millions of people rejoice as they sing

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and Child. Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

The name “Bethlehem” means house of bread. It is some six miles south and a little west of Jerusalem on the way toward Hebron. It was the home of David and of Boat and Ruth before him. Micah 5:2 prophesied that the Saviour would be born there: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

So when Caesar at Rome decreed that all must go to their families’ ancestral homes to report for taxation, Joseph and Mary, his virgin wife, heavy with child, came from Nazareth, nearly a hundred miles north in the province of Galilee. They came to Bethlehem because they were of the house and lineage of David. The little town was crowded. There was no room in the inn, and they were given a place in the stable and there Mary brought forth her firstborn son, the Lord Jesus. Now they show a cave as the birthplace of the Saviour and over it is built the Church of the Nativity and another church beside it. However, no one knows for sure exactly where Jesus was born. Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, selected this cave as the birthplace of Christ but it was way over three centuries after His birth. The area had been ravished by war a number of times and there may have been not a single house remaining that anybody could know Jesus was ever there. So she selected a cave. Over it was built the Church of the Nativity.

I think the dear Lord does not want us worshiping a place so He did not let it be settled surely, either the place of the birth of Jesus or the house in which He lived in Nazareth or the place of crucifixion or the tomb in which He was buried. All that is left a little unsure lest men should worship as an idol a mere place when the Lord wants us to worship the Saviour Himself. I have been many times in that cave and there we sing, “Silent Night,” and speak of the birth of Christ. At least it represents the place where Jesus was born, whether it is the exact place or not.

1. Christ Born in a Stable

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

It is true that there was no room for them in the inn. Does that seem sad? No, surely that foretold that the Lord Jesus would be a Man of sorrows and He would be acquainted with grief. He came to be abused and rejected as well as to save all who would receive Him. So Jesus is fitly born in a stable. Since He is to be “anointed. . .to preach the gospel to the poor. . .to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,” it is suitable that His coming be announced to ignorant shepherds and not in the palaces of the mighty but to the poor. But remember, this is a glad time. Jesus is born to die on the cross, but, oh, praise the Lord He is born! The shepherds heard the angels say, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” So it is a joyful, happy time. So the song very properly says,

“All is calm, all is bright Round yon virgin mother and Child.”

Mary is in sweet peace and joy over her God-given Son. The Baby sleeps peacefully for He is in God’s care and has entered His earthy mission. Psalm 22:9,10 says, “But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” And that indicates that even the Baby Jesus was someway conscious that He was from God and that His hope was in God His Father. I think I see a bit of a smile upon the face of the sleeping One there in the manger cradle. “Round yon virgin mother and Child,” the song says. Oh, yes, Mary is still a virgin. And the angel had said to Joseph, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 1:20). Ah, yes, this Baby Jesus is the “Seed of the woman” which was promised Eve. This birth of Christ fulfills the promise of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.” Oh, here is Immanuel, God with us in human form. I was shocked the other day looking in a hymnbook and saw that this first verse of “Silent Night,” had been wickedly changed, and the liberal, unbelieving hand that changed that first verse took out “Round yon virgin mother and Child,” and put other words. Oh, but Mary is a virgin and Christ is God in human form.

Jesus, Baby Jesus, of a virgin mother born, Laid in manger cradle, wrapped in swaddling clothes and warm.

Birth cry in a darkened stable, in the inn no room. Jesus, Baby Jesus, Son of God, to share earth’s gloom.

2. Angels Announce Christ’s Birth to the Shepherds

Silent night, holy night, Darkness flies, all is light;

Shepherds hear the angels sing, “Alleluia hail the King!

Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.”

Yes, suddenly the darkness turns bright as day and the Heaven is filled with glory!

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. ” It was the Angel Gabriel who had announced to Mary up in Galilee nine months before that she was to be the mother of the Saviour. We suppose this is the same Angel Gabriel bringing glad news. The “Field of the Shepherds” is not far from Jerusalem, and we suppose it is the same field where the shepherds watched their flocks by night. It may be also the same field of Boat where Ruth, the Moabitish young woman who came back to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi to live under the shelter of God’s wings–and there in the field, perhaps, where Ruth gleaned and got acquainted with Boaz. The announcement is wonderful:

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in, swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”-Luke 2:10-12.

Ah, the Saviour is born! And the angel says they may find Him in the city wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Then suddenly all the heavenly host filled the skies, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The shepherds were told they would find the Baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger,” and they went quickly to find Him. Oh, they believed the story; they were glad to hear it. King Herod heard it and was troubled. The scribes and Pharisees knew where the Saviour should be born and they told Herod it would be in Bethlehem, but they did not heed the glad news brought them by the Wise Men from the east. But these shepherds were so glad to hear it! Oh, whoever reads it, be sure you run to see Jesus and know Him for yourself and go away to tell it gladly as they did.
3. Wise Men From Afar Are Alerted by a Star to Seek Jesus

Silent night, holy night, Guiding Star, lend thy light;

See the eastern wise men bring Gifts and homage to our King!

Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.
The Scripture says, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” They are “wise men.” The term reminds us of the wise men, the magi, in the book of Daniel. And these are from the east, so if we go back some 500 miles or so to the site of ancient Babylon we find, no doubt, the area from which these wise men came.

They said, “We have seen his star in the east.” Note carefully, they did not follow the star, traveling all this way. They had seen the star in the east as a warning, a reminder. But it seems evident they knew from the book of Daniel that the Messiah would come, and that He would be King of the Jews .

In Daniel 9:25 Daniel had been inspired to write it down, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” And it is interesting that although nearly all the Old Testament is written in Hebrew, certain parts of Daniel, including this part, are written in Chaldaic and so God must have intended that the Scriptures there should be kept in the Chaldean language so they would know about the coming of the Saviour. He is to be a Prince or King and He is to come to Jerusalem. And we are plainly told that it is to be sixty-nine weeks of years from the time Jews were to go back from captivity until the coming of the Saviour. So they took what they knew from the Scriptures and then had a sign from God to verify it and they came.

Later they came to Jerusalem thinking the Saviour, a King, would be born there. There scribes and elders told them, as Herod insisted, that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem six miles away in the city of David and now they came to find it. But how will they find the house? Ah, there is the star. They see it again and it stops over the house where the Child lay and they came in to see the Baby Jesus.

We are told that they opened their treasures and brought forth gold, frankincense and myrrh–gold, no doubt, as a proper tribute for a king and myrrh for the suffering of a Saviour as picturing the spices of His burial, and like the bitter herbs with which the Passover lamb was eaten, and frankincense for worship to God, for Christ is God.

Oh, Wise Men, let us kneel beside you by the manger cradle and to Jesus let us open our treasures and bring all we have to the Lord Jesus.

Wise men came to see Him, having seen His star afar, brought their gifts of precious gold and frankincense and myrrh. Herod heard, was troubled, could not kill the Holy Child. Jesus, Baby Jesus, King and Priest, and Saviour mild.
4. Greater Than the Star Was the Leading From the Scripture

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star, lend thy light;

With the angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.

Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.
There were wonders and marvels to astound the mind and lift up the heart, give a lilt to voices of praise the night Jesus was born. His birth was itself a miracle. It was good news to all people. He is Christ the Saviour.

The angels were miraculously present and it was so important that it seems every angel in Heaven wanted to join in the glad refrain, the chant, of peace on earth.

The star was wonderful, too. Some think it might have been the conjunction of two of the planets in the heavens that made an extra brightness. No, no. This was a special star. Was it like a comet across the sky? Was it like a meteor falling into space? No. In those days before there were any telescopes, they did not have a great many names for heavenly bodies, they did not differentiate between ancient planets and suns and meteors and comets. This star was especially created for this time to announce the Saviour. The Wise Men saw it in the east, and again when they came to Jerusalem they saw the star resting over the house where the Baby Jesus lay. We suppose then that star disappeared having run its course, having made its holy announcement.

But do not miss even a greater marvel than the angels and the star and the divine leading of these Wise Men. They came according to the Scriptures.

Oh, the birth of Jesus was wonderful, but it was foretold and this is the Gospel “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” All the other miracles and manifestations are subject to a divine pattern, a divine schedule written down in the Bible. It was in “the fullness of the time” that Christ came, as we are told in Galatians 4:4. That is, He could not come before and He could not come after–He must fulfill the Scripture, and He did.

So wise men studied the Scriptures yonder in the area of ancient Babylon. Old, old manuscripts and books they studied until they came across what Daniel had prophesied. When they came to Jerusalem, they needed more light. They came as far as they knew how. They came into Jerusalem, but they found now the Scripture said the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem, so they came to Bethlehem. In the east they were to follow the Scriptures but they had a star then to verify their decision and comfort their hearts. Now they follow the Scriptures out to Bethlehem and again God gave the star to give additional light.

Do you not see again, as we sing about the Christmas story, that the virgin birth of Christ is far better than any fairy tales of Santa Claus and reindeer and sleighs? Do you not see that the story of the announcement to the shepherds and the Wise Men coming from the east is far more joy and blessing than the worldly festivities and drunkenness and feasting and revelry? Let us rejoice then in the blessed Word of God this Christmas season.

Jesus, Baby Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, Tempted, poor and suffering no one knows us as He can!

Holy, righteous, blameless, fitting sacrifice complete. By His blood atonement, God and sinners in Him meet.

Now, let us sing again this sweet Christmas song, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” for

“Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.”

The gift that really keeps on giving is Jesus!

From Disgrace to Amazing Grace

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The hymn “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Written by John Newton as a personal poem of conversion, it is sung annually at an estimated 10 million times. It reminds each and every one, that each and every day that God has given us Grace through His Son Jesus that we might turn from our disgrace and embrace the grace which lies in Christ. Enjoy the rest of the reading of the autobiography of John Newton.

According to the Dictionary of American Hymnology, “Amazing Grace” is John Newton’s spiritual autobiography in verse. In 1725, Newton was born in Wapping, a district in London near the Thames. His father was a shipping merchant who was brought up as a Catholic but had Protestant sympathies, and his mother was a devout Independent unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. She had intended Newton to become a clergyman, but she died of tuberculosis when he was six years old. For the next few years, Newton was raised by his emotionally distant stepmother while his father was at sea, and spent some time at a boarding school where he was mistreated. At the age of eleven, he joined his father on a ship as an apprentice; his seagoing career would be marked by headstrong disobedience.

As a youth, Newton began a pattern of coming very close to death, examining his relationship with God, then relapsing into bad habits. As a sailor, he denounced his faith after being influenced by a shipmate who discussed Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, a book by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, with him. In a series of letters he later wrote, “Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the very time when every other comfort was about to fail me.” His disobedience caused him to be pressed into the Royal Navy, and he took advantage of opportunities to overstay his leave and finally deserted to visit Mary “Polly” Catlett, a family friend with whom he had fallen in love. After enduring humiliation for deserting, he managed to get himself traded to a slave ship where he began a career in slave trading.

Newton often openly mocked the captain by creating obscene poems and songs about him that became so popular the crew began to join in. He entered into disagreements with several colleagues that resulted in his being starved almost to death, imprisoned while at sea and chained like the slaves they carried, then outright enslaved and forced to work on a plantation in Sierra Leone near the Sherbro River. After several months he came to think of Sierra Leone as his home, but his father intervened after Newton sent him a letter describing his circumstances, and a ship found him by coincidence. Newton claimed the only reason he left was because of Polly.

While aboard the ship Greyhound, Newton gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men the captain had ever met. In a culture where sailors commonly used oaths and swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery. In March 1748, while the Greyhound was in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the ship that was so rough it swept overboard a crew member who was standing where Newton had been moments before. After hours of the crew emptying water from the ship and expecting to be capsized, Newton and another mate tied themselves to the ship’s pump to keep from being washed overboard, working for several hours. After proposing the measure to the captain, Newton had turned and said, “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!” Newton rested briefly before returning to the deck to steer for the next eleven hours. During his time at the wheel he pondered his divine challenge.

About two weeks later, the battered ship and starving crew landed in Lough Swilly, Ireland. For several weeks before the storm, Newton had been reading The Christian’s Pattern, a summary of the 15th-century The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. The memory of the uttered phrase in a moment of desperation did not leave him; he began to ask if he was worthy of God’s mercy or in any way redeemable as he had not only neglected his faith but directly opposed it, mocking others who showed theirs, deriding and denouncing God as a myth. He came to believe that God had sent him a profound message and had begun to work through him.

Newton’s conversion was not immediate, but he contacted Polly’s family and announced his intentions to marry her. Her parents were hesitant as he was known to be unreliable and impetuous. They knew he was profane, but they allowed him to write to Polly, and he set to begin to submit to authority for her sake. He sought a place on a slave ship bound for Africa, and Newton and his crewmates participated in most of the same activities he had written about before; the only action he was able to free himself from was profanity. After a severe illness his resolve was renewed yet he retained the same attitude about slavery as his contemporaries. Newton continued in the slave trade through several voyages where he sailed up rivers in Africa — now as a captain — procured slaves being offered for sale in larger ports, and subsequently transported slaves to North America. In between voyages, he married Polly in 1750 and he found it more difficult to leave her at the beginning of each trip. After three shipping experiences in the slave trade, Newton was promised a position as a captain on a ship with cargo unrelated to slavery, when at thirty years old, he collapsed and never sailed again. – exerted from autobiographies of John Newton @ wikipedia.com