Friday, December 24, 2010

WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?

What might happen to us and within us and among us if we were indeed to prepare our hearts and follow the star and leave our flocks and our fields and make haste to Bethlehem to see this thing which has come to pass? What might we see and what might we hear and what might we come to believe that would change everything for us forever?

We might begin to believe that the Light will indeed shine in the darkness and that the darkness will never overcome it. We might begin to know in our hearts that no darkness that we find ourselves in is too dark for us after all, that the One who made us will come searching for us again and again, choosing to come and be among us, choosing to share in that darkness and to burst it apart with light and life and hope and love . . . .

We might begin to believe that indeed love has gotten loose on earth somehow -- not just any love but the one true Love -- the Love that has the power to change us all, the Love that has brought us into being and has now brought Love itself into being in the person of this baby in a manger.

We might begin to believe that the sharing in and the sharing of that Love, however and wherever we can, in ways great and small, is the only thing worth doing while we are here. And that all of our lives must be ordered around that one true necessity.

-- Robert Benson in The Night of the Child (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2001)


#2681

Thursday, December 23, 2010

AMONG THE ANIMALS

A young woman about to give birth and her husband seek hospitality and find it, not among human society, but in a cave with cattle. After the Child is born and has a time of intimacy with His mother, He is presented in the animals' feeding trough. He is greeted by lowing sounds and warm breath from gentle muzzles.

And as the invisible forces of the universe commune with the visible, those humans who are in harmony with Creation -- the earth, sheep, plant life; the heavens, stars, planets, cosmic life -- come to this cave singing praise and thanksgiving to the God of infinite courtesy.

-- Susan Mangam, S.T.R. in "Sing to the Lord a New Song" from The Weavings Reader, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2680

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A HOPELESS MUDDLE?

Christmas has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion. The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the din of shopping malls and freeway traffic. The soberness of the Incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season. Blinking colored lights somehow have some connection to the star of Bethlehem.

-- John F. MacArthur Jr. in The Incarnation of the Triune God


#2679

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GOD'S GIFT OF LOVE

Perhaps the most amazing response to God's gift [of love in Jesus Christ] is our reluctance to accept it. We want it. But on our terms. For some odd reason, we feel better if we earn it. So we create religious hoops and hop through them -- making God a trainer, us His pets, and religion a circus.

-- Max Lucado in In the Eye of the Storm


#2678

Monday, December 20, 2010

DRAWN TO CHRIST

The Lord's chief desire is to reveal Himself to you and, in order for Him to do that, He gives you abundant [prevenient] grace. The Lord gives you the experience of enjoying His presence. He touches you, and His touch is so delightful that, more than ever, you are drawn inwardly to Him.

-- Jeanne Guyon


#2677

Friday, December 17, 2010

THAT CHRISTMAS GIFT

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If God had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
When you want to talk, He'll listen.
He could live anywhere in the universe and He chose your heart.
And that Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem?
Face it friend, He's crazy about you!

-- Max Lucado


#2676

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WE NEED JOY

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

We hunger for joy. "Satisfy us in the morning," writes the psalmist -- but not with more money or power or applause. "Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90:14)

Joyful people make us come alive.

When the book of the law was read to the people in Nehemiah's day, they were overwhelmed by inadequacy and guilt. Nehemiah gave to them and us a remarkable statement: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) We know we love joy, but we often forget the power of joy. Joy gives us the strength to resist temptation. It brings the ability to persevere. Joy is the Velcro that makes relationships stick. Joy gives us energy to love. A person who brings joy to us is an oasis in a desert land. We don't just need air and food and water. We need joy.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THE SINGLE GREATEST GIFT

When I was in my early twenties and a student at Trinity College, my professor Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian delivered lessons that inspired me, convicted me, and compelled me to action. To a group of us who were leading a high school ministry at the time, Dr. B said, "Throughout the course of your life, you're going to give your life to something. You will. All people do. They give their lives to pleasure or to possessions, to the attainment of popularity or to the acquisition of more power. But always to something."

"True followers of Christ who really get it right," he said, "give themselves to people. Most importantly, they give themselves to pointing people to faith in Christ. That is the highest and best use of a human life -- to have it serve as a signpost that points people toward God." Dr. B summed up my entire belief system with a brilliant flash of insight: if you really believe in the redeeming and transforming power of God's presence in a person's life, then the single greatest gift you can give someone is an explanation of how to be rightly connected to Him.

Let me say it again: the single greatest gift you can give someone is an introduction of the God who asked His Son to go the unthinkable distance to redeem them.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


#2674

Monday, December 13, 2010

GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'" (Luke 2:10-11 NIV)

Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.

-- Leon Bloy in Alive Now, May/June 2002, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2672

Friday, December 10, 2010

THE GIFT OF JOY

"The fruit of the Spirit is… joy…" (Galatians 5:22)

We live in a sad world -- a world of despair, depression, lack of fulfillment, and dissatisfaction. Man defines happiness as an attitude of satisfaction and delight based upon present circumstances. He relates happiness to happenings and happenstance. It is something that can't be planned or programmed.

Biblical joy consists of the deep and abiding confidence that all is well regardless of circumstance and difficulty. It is something very different from worldly happiness. Biblical joy is always related to God and belongs to those in Christ. It is the permanent possession of every believer -- not a whimsical delight that comes and goes as chance offers it opportunity.

A good definition of joy is this: it's the flag that flies on the castle of the heart when the King is in residence. Christians can know true and lasting joy.

A Christian's joy is a gift from God to those who believe the gospel, being produced in them by the Holy Spirit as they receive and obey the Word, being mixed with trials with a hope set on future glory.

-- John MacArthur in a sermon entitled "Joy and Godliness: The Epistle of Joy"


#2671

Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE JOY OF THE LORD

"…the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)

Joy was characteristic of the Christian community so long as it was growing, expanding, and creating healthfully. The time came when the Church had ceased to grow, except externally in wealth, power, and prestige; and these are mere outward adornments, or hampering burdens, very likely. They do not imply growth or creativeness. The time came when dogmatism, tyranny, and ignorance strangled the free intellectual activity of the Church, and worldliness destroyed its moral fruitfulness. Then joy spread her wings and flew away. The Christian graces care nothing for names and labels; where the Spirit of the Lord is, there they abide, but not in great Churches that have forgotten Him. How little of joy there is in the character of the religious bigot or fanatic, or in the prudent ecclesiastical statesman! A show of cheerfulness they may cultivate, as they often do; but it is like the crackling of thorns under a pot: we cannot mistake it for the joy of the Lord which is the strength of the true Christian.

-- William R. Inge (1860-1954) in Personal Religion


#2670

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WAITING FOR THE LORD

Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, Are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.

-- Henri Nouwen in Weavings, January 1987, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2669

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UNLIKELY MESSENGERS

In John [the Baptist], the messenger of God's Advent… came in a most unlikely person.

So let us not be surprised if the messengers of God's Advent among us are not the highly visible, duly advertised spokespersons of God and society in our midst. If we want to see signs of God's coming among us, perhaps the persons to seek out are those whose lives quietly but profoundly reveal the fruits of repentance announced by John: fruits of sharing from abundance, fruits of practicing vocations in ethical ways, fruits of translating Sunday words into weekday works.

-- John Indermark in Setting the Christmas Stage (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books. Used with permission.)


#2668

Monday, December 6, 2010

THE GIFT OF INNER PEACE

People try to find happiness, joy and gladness in people, places and things and sooner or later discover that only God is the true source of such inner peace. Counterfeit claims of the path to joy abound. People attempt to fill that "God-shaped-void" with alcohol, drugs, people, power and all kinds of imaginable trinkets but nothing outside the love of God is lasting or even real. They might offer a temporary fix but the long-term solution is acceptance of a loving and caring God.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


#2667

Friday, December 3, 2010

PEACE

In French you say it "paix."
In Spanish you say it "paz."
In Norwegian you say it "fred."
In Hungarian you say it "beke."
At work you say it in a job well done.
At home you say it with smiles and affection.
At church you say it in the words of the tax collector, "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13, NKJV).
With enemies you say it in forgiveness.
With loved ones you also say it in forgiveness.
In your heart, you say it by surrender of all to Jesus Christ.

-- Mike and Amy Nappa in A Heart Like His


#2666

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THE SOLID ROCK

Nineteenth-century hymn writer Edward Mote (1797-1874) wrote the following: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness… On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." If we understand little else on our Advent journey toward Christmas, let's understand that.

There is nothing else that solid, and there is nothing else that real… Through Jesus Christ, we can have a hope that means something.

-- Derek Maul in In My Heart I Carry a Star: Stories of Advent


#2665

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PARTNERS WITH GOD

Eventually, you come to understand something really fundamental and important about God: God will always get done what God wants to get done. And so, the key question for us is simply: will we choose to work with God, or against God?…

Lord knows, in our lives, we often want things to work out our way. Lord knows, we sometimes get angry if our team doesn't win, or if our plans are not the one everyone else adopts. And, sometimes, we may even get angry with God, because we have a vision for how we think things are supposed to be.

But, what if we could learn to simply trust instead? What if we could believe that God can use us for some real good in the world? What if we could learn to follow what God wants from us, instead of fighting against God's plans? I think, if we could do all these things, then God could use us to accomplish far more than if we fight against God's plans and always suggest our own. We could be partners with God in the great things God will still do.

But, whether we decide to do things God's way or not, there is good news: sometimes despite us, God will always get done what God wants to get done; and the only real choice is whether we will choose to work for or against God.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


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