Looking for That Blessed Hope: Part 1 - By Gene Lawley - https://www.raptureready.com/2022/12/21/looking-for-that-blessed-hope-part-1-by-gene-lawley/
In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking, such as, “I hope I get what I want for Christmas” kind of hope. In Titus 2:12-13, Paul writes to Titus, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
In Luke’s gospel in chapter 21, he relates Jesus’ account of growing end-time difficulties and tribulations, then He says, “When these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption draws near” (verse 28). Then He tells a parable of the blossoming of the fig tree, which pictures the restoration of Israel to a nation. That occurred on May 14, 1948, and signaled the beginning of the end times of this age. Bible believers have been looking up for their redemption much more intensely in the years since.
The Blessed Hope is Jesus, and that “hope is an anchor of the soul and is both sure and steadfast, which enters into that which is within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).
When Jesus breathed His last on the cross, major things happened in Jerusalem that day. An earth-shaking earthquake rocked the city, and while the Jews were sacrificing their Passover lamb, the Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of mankind. That gift was made ready to be received by “whosoever will.”
In the temple, the heavy veil sealing off the “Holy Place” was torn from top to bottom, and the empty “Holy Place” was open to the world. A few weeks later, the Holy Place became the hearts of mankind when they individually received Christ into their lives. This happened at the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 6:17, we are told, “those who belong to the Lord have become one spirit with Him.” That Blessed Hope became intensely personal, as Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
But what kind of hope is this Blessed Hope? As indicated above, it is the Hebrews 6:19 kind of hope, an “anchor of the soul.” Romans 8:24-25 tells us how that hope is different than wishful thinking: “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
This is when faith enters the picture. Several places in the Scriptures, it is said, “the just shall live by faith,” and Hebrews 10:38 adds this admonition: “But if any man draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” And Hebrews 11:6 brings it to a very personal thing: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him.”
So let’s talk about “that Blessed Hope.” One of the promises Jesus made in the presence of His disciples and forward to all believers when He ended the Great Commission is at the end of Matthew 28:20: “‘and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Meaning “so be it.”)
I ask the question, “What happens then; does He go away and leave us alone?” No, it is the end of the age, and all of the believers go to be with Him.
Another promise He made is in John 14:2-3: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (Read this over several times.)
One of the false beliefs prominent now is that there is no pre-tribulation taking out of the world of the believers (the Rapture). Try to fit this promise into Revelation 19, where the prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus is reported. It does not fit.
Lately, I have been drawn to Proverbs 3:5 for the glaring truth of how easily one can forget the foundational truths of the Word of God and turn to one’s own understanding. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Many false doctrines have risen because of that diversion.
As we consider the coming of that Blessed Hope, we must think of the timing and the conditions in the world. When Paul began to pinpoint the timing of that event in connection with events in the world, he wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
It seems obvious that he is intending to reveal future events that are about this pre-tribulation event now called the “Rapture.”
He then announces, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
This is the “abomination of desolation” of the Daniel 9:27 prophecy and is done at the halfway point of the coming seven-year tribulation. The description of that event is precise and is not at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 A.D.
Back again to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, we are told of the spiritual warfare, the “falling away,” and the restraining efforts of righteousness in those coming last days. That One who restrains the evil one until it is the time for the end can only be the Spirit of God in the born-again believers who are in the world. Verses 6-7 tell us how it will happen: “And now you know what is restraining, that he [the evil one] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
Incidentally, some early students of the Bible, perhaps trying to prove their marvelous intelligence, have claimed that the second letter to the Thessalonians was not written by Paul. I just looked at the letter again and noted how Paul began the greetings with his name and two others with him. Then, at the end of the letter, chapter 3, verse 17, he makes a personal salutation: “The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle, so I write.”
Perhaps this is what some latch onto today to deny the fact of the Rapture detailed in that letter. As I pointed out in Proverbs 3:5, turning to one’s own understanding that is based on what the Puritans and early writers believed cannot replace the Word of God fixed in a heart that is solely trusting the Lord. This is how a denial of the Rapture gets promoted as truth and great correlated passages of the Scriptures are ignored as irrelevant and meaningless. It is an appropriate continuity from his first letter.
For many scores of years, America has been the target of evildoers with the intent to destroy the nation’s sovereignty and replace it with a New World Order. Why America, the USA? Topple that citadel of liberty and freedom, and the whole world will fall. Therefore, we are the generation seeing that happen, for the Scriptures do not show a dominating USA in the world at the end of the age. God’s plan is to allow that evil one, the Antichrist, to show himself for seven years, then his judgment of being cast alive into the lake of fire.
What will be the economic and social conditions in the world as this falling away is progressing? Luke reports on this in Luke 17:26-30: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 19 tell of those prior situations.)
The revealing of the Son of Man will be as Paul described it in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (How does this mesh with John 14:2-3 quoted earlier? It also compares exactly with John 11:25-26.)
It is clear that John Darby and the vision of a teenager named Margaret back in the early 1800s are not the sources of the Rapture of the church doctrine, but the Holy Scriptures tell it like it is!
Finally, we are “looking for that Blessed Hope” to appear in the sky with a shout and the trumpet of God sounding; then, in the “twinkling of an eye,” believers will meet Him there in transformed immortal bodies to be with Him forever and ever! (There’s more following in Part 2.)
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Modern Tyrants And King Herod: An Evil Thirst For Power And The Oppression Of People – By Dean Dwyer - https://harbingersdaily.com/modern-tyrants-and-king-herod-an-evil-thirst-for-power-and-the-oppression-of-people/
As we reflect on the birth of our Saviour, we focus so much on the marvelous news of His birth that we often forget that there was a man who ruthlessly sought His death when He was just a child. Of course, I am referring to Herod. Now, there were several men in the New Testament referred to as “Herod”, so for the benefit of context, let us ensure we are speaking of the right one. All of the Herods were part of a dynasty – partly hereditary and partly as an appointed line of Idumean rulers over Israel during the days of the Roman Empire. Unlike the kings of Israel past, the Herods were appointed by the Roman emperors and the senate. The first of the Herods is often known as “Herod the Great,” and he is the man we speak of.
When the wise men asked him, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2), this was an unintentional challenge to Herod’s reign. Jesus was born King in the sense that He was from David’s line and thus King by birthright. Herod, however, was neither a full Jew nor a descendant of David and therefore was not genuinely qualified to reign as a king. Herod was troubled by reports of the birth of a legitimate claimant to his throne and, since he was a paranoid man who was prone to delusional fits of rage, the people of Jerusalem were afraid of his reaction to the proclamation of a newborn king.
To enact his plan to rid the land of this challenge to his throne, he tried to enlist the wise men to reveal the whereabouts of Jesus. When they were divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod, Herod became exceedingly angry and ordered the death of all male children from two years and under in Bethlehem and all its districts. Jewish historians would argue that Herod had moments of genuine concern for the country, but his actions in opposing the promised Messiah demonstrate he was a man of terror, murder and evil, particularly when his authority was challenged. This view is supported by the fact that Herod had his wife’s brother Aristobulus (the high priest) drowned in a swimming pool; he put to death 46 members of the Sanhedrin; he killed his mother-in-law; he killed his wife Mariamne and he killed two of his sons. Augustus Caesar is reported to have said, “It is better to be Herod’s dog than one of his children.” Yes, tyrants who have their power challenged often resort to evil means in order to preserve their position, power and prosperity.
In our modern day, we have seen leaders arise in various countries who have displayed a concerning thirst for the centralization of power and the oppression of people. The obvious example is China. But in Victoria, Australia, we have also seen the period of the COVID-pandemic give rise to a man who showed no respect for dissenting views and cruelly crushed opposition from peaceful protestors. That man is the Premier of Victoria: Daniel Andrews. While Daniel Andrews is not yet fully on par with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, the similarities are too obvious to ignore. Both have been utterly callous and dismissive of the very basics of humanity, such as freedom and human rights. Both have ruled over the harshest and longest lockdowns in the world. Both have a deep-rooted contempt for Christianity and both are power-hungry.
To the surprise of many throughout Australia, Victorians recently re-elected Daniel Andrews. It showed that they prefer tyranny over liberty, corruption over integrity and dystopian nightmares over an efficient and productive society. Coincidentally, on the same weekend, large crowds in China were moving in the opposite direction. The immediate cause of their anger and willingness to lose their lives while taking to the streets was a foolish Covid restriction that prevented a fire from being extinguished in an apartment building in Urumqi (the regional capital of Xinjiang Provence in western China) where at least ten people died and nine others were injured. Not since the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 have we seen such large-scale protests like this, and we all remember the brutal and bloody suppression of that freedom movement.
The tragedy has fanned broader calls to ease China’s harsh regimen of Covid tests, urban lockdowns and limits on movement nearly three years into the pandemic. For much of that time many accepted such controls as the price for avoiding the widespread illness and deaths that the United States, India and other countries endured, but public patience has eroded this year as other nations returned to something akin to normal even as Covid infections continued. The biggest protest appeared to be in Shanghai where hundreds of people, mostly in their twenties, gathered at an intersection to grieve the dead with candles and signs. Many there and elsewhere held sheets of blank white paper over their heads or faces in mournful defiance (note: in China, white is associated with death).
The main thing being chanted by the protesters was, “we want freedom.” Meanwhile, in Victoria, it appeared the opposite was true – Victorians were more than happy to accept more state control, more corruption and more unaccountable Big Government. In recognizing the danger of losing their freedom for good, it seems the Chinese were waking up at precisely the same time Victorians were going back to sleep! But although the people of these two examples are now looking at things differently in their respective regions, it appears the issue of religious freedom remains the same at a leadership level – neither leader wants Christianity to be freely practiced under them. For example, in Victoria, any parent or pastor who simply discusses with or prays for someone unhappy with their sexual attraction can be imprisoned for up to ten years!
Of course, many of us have been sounding the alarm about these things for years. We have not just warned about ugly and diabolical tyrannies that we find in places like Communist China, we have also warned about how the West is quickly following suit, and leading the way is Victoria
Can here be any greater contrast? Victorians are pleased to vote back in their Communist sympathizing leader while liberty-loving Chinese protesters are facing certain arrest, imprisonment, torture and death to be rid of theirs as they stand up for freedom.
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Horrifying Pestilences Are Starting To Run Wild All Over The Globe - by Michael Snyder - http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/horrifying-pestilences-are-starting-to-run-wild-all-over-the-globe/
How many millions have to die before people start to realize what is happening? For years, I have been persistently warning that we would soon enter an era of great pestilences, and now it is here. Sadly, what we have witnessed over the past few years is just the tip of the iceberg. At this point we have been perfectly primed for future pandemics because vast numbers of people all over the planet are now running around with compromised immune systems. That means that diseases will now be able to spread even more easily, and this is a trend that we have already started to see all throughout 2022.
Strep A is the latest illness to run wild in the western world. The number of children being admitted to the hospital with Strep A is way above normal in the U.S., and this appears to particularly be true in the western half of the country…
A deadly wave of Strep A infections in children looks set to take off in the US — weeks after the UK was hit by a spate of deaths.
At least two children have died in Colorado after suffering the normally-mild illness, and pediatric hospitals in five states — Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Washington and West Virginia — are reporting much higher levels of admissions than usual.
At the country’s largest pediatric hospital in Texas, doctors are already handling four times more Strep A patients than last year.
But this has not been a typical Strep A outbreak.
In fact, hospitals are reporting that children are coming in with very strange symptoms that are not usually associated with Strep A at all…
One of the largest children’s hospitals in Missouri is seeing an influx of children with bizarre Strep A symptoms – as the outbreak continues to spread in the US.
Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital has had seven children in recent weeks come in with symptoms like a ‘stuck’ eye, lumps behind the ear and trouble swallowing – which led to drooling.
Doctors were initially perplexed by the cases – but further testing found each child was suffering from Strep A. The normally-mild bacterial infection is causing a spate of hospitalizations across the US, UK and Europe.
So what is going on?
Is this a new form of Strep A that is more severe than we have ever seen before?
Right now there is so much that we do not know.
But what we do know is that Strep A is also spreading like wildfire in the UK and elsewhere.
This is an outbreak that we will want to keep a very close eye on, because it could end up killing a lot of kids.
Meanwhile, a “mystery disease” that causes “bleeding from the mouth and nose” has erupted in Afghanistan…
An unknown pathogen has infected more than 80 people and killed two children in the Afghan province of Zabul, Taliban authorities said. The disease causes intense fever and bleeding from the mouth and nose.
Taliban public health chief Abdul Hakim Hakimi said that clinics in the Shahjoy district of the province have seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people suffering from the “suspicious” disease in recent weeks, Afghanistan’s Hasht-e Subh Daily reported on Tuesday.
Hopefully this illness will be able to be contained in Afghanistan, because it sounds like it is really bad.
In China, health officials are dealing with a “thermonuclear” outbreak of COVID. According to one projection, there will soon be 800 million Chinese cases…
CHINA is facing a “thermonuclear” Covid outbreak says one expert, as hospitals and crematoriums start to overflow.
According to one estimate, Covid could spread rapidly until there are 800 million cases in 90 days after the Zero Covid policy of harsh lockdowns was ditched.
Video has emerged showing patients rammed into a hospital sleeping on floors and bodies stored in corridors, in a chilling echo of the when Covid first hit China.
If this is just one of the usual strains of COVID that is currently circulating around the globe, the number of cases should not get anywhere close to 800 million.
So precisely what is going on in China right now?
We are being warned that this new outbreak “could kill up to one million people”, and it is being reported that even now crematoriums are literally running out of space for all the dead bodies that are coming in…
Crematoriums across China said Tuesday they were straining to deal with an influx of bodies, as the country battles a wave of Covid cases that authorities have admitted is impossible to track.
Hospitals are struggling and pharmacy shelves have been stripped bare in the wake of the Chinese government’s sudden decision last month to lift nearly three years of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing.
In Chongqing – a city of 30 million where authorities this week urged people with ‘mild’ Covid symptoms to go to work – one crematorium told AFP they had run out of space to keep bodies.
I am going to be watching developments in China very carefully, because I am not entirely convinced that we are getting the whole story.
On top of everything else, we are being told that the bird flu has become a “worldwide problem” as it continues to spread rapidly across the globe.
Here in the United States, the total death toll has now reached 58 million…
The highly contagious bird flu spread like wildfire across the US poultry stock this year, killing about 58 million birds – the deadliest outbreak in American history, according to US Agriculture Department data.
The bird flu is the main reason why turkey, chicken and eggs have become so absurdly expensive.
If you can believe it, the wholesale price of Midwest large eggs actually hit an all-time record high of $5.36 a dozen this month.
It wasn’t too long ago when I could buy a dozen eggs for 99 cents at the local grocery store.
Things are changing so rapidly now, and none of our lives are ever going to be the same again.
Earlier today, I was saddened to learn that life expectancy in the United States fell once again last year…
The death rate for the U.S. population increased by 5%, cutting life expectancy at birth to 76.4 years in 2021 from 77 years in 2020. The CDC in August released preliminary estimates demonstrating a similar decline. Before the pandemic, in 2019, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 78.8 years. The decline in 2020 was the largest since World War II.
Unfortunately, life expectancy is going to go a lot lower than that as the death rate continues to rise.
Countless numbers of people will die as various plagues and pestilences sweep across our planet in the years ahead.
But most people still don’t understand that conditions have fundamentally changed, and so they continue to expect that life will eventually “return to normal”…
The Amazing Story Of 'Silent Night: The Christmas Truce of 1914' – Jonathon Van Maren - https://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=5802
On Christmas Eve of 1818, in the little Austrian town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, a 31-year-old church organist sat down with a Catholic priest to compose the music to a poem the priest had written. The next day, Franz Gruber and Fr. Joseph Mohr sang Stille Nacht for the first time at Christmas Mass in St. Nicholas Church, with the choir repeating the last two lines of each verse.
The two men did not know it, but they had created what would become the world's best known Christmas carol, a song that would be declared an "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO, a seasonal ballad so ubiquitous that even those who scorn its message would recognize it instantly in the original German: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ..."
Ninety-six years later, hundreds of thousands of freezing men huddled in trenches in Northern France, coming to the realization that the war they had embarked on so enthusiastically would not be over by Christmas as many of them had believed. Despite sporadic fire and the first of what would become four awful years of bloody fighting, all was quiet along vast stretches of the Western Front on the Christmas Eve of 1914.
British soldiers and their German counterparts, bored of battle, had already set up several short, informal truces to collect the dead and swap cigarettes. The stunning slaughters of later years had not yet begun in earnest, and the war seemed somehow stalled for many homesick soldiers.
The leaders of doomed and embattled empires had also begun to realize what their soldiers might face, and it was decided that they should have a splendid Christmas in the icy trenches to lift their spirits. King George V sent a card to every soldier; 460,000 parcels were sent out and 2.5 million letters were delivered.
General Douglas Haig--who two years later would earn the nickname 'the Butcher of the Somme' for losing nearly half a million men in the bloody mud--wrote in his diary: "Tomorrow being Xmas day, I ordered no reliefs to be carried out, and troops to be given as easy time as possible." On the other side of No Man's Land, the Germans were given gift boxes, tabletop Christmas trees, and wreaths to add festivity to their frozen barracks. Crown Prince Wilhelm even visited the front.
It was on that Christmas Eve, on the brink of a great world war, that German officer Walter Kirchhoff, a tenor with the Berlin Opera, began to sing: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ..."
He sang it first in German, and then in English: "Silent Night, Holy Night ..." His voice carried in the crisp, clear night. Soon, as Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, put it: "The shooting had stopped and in that silence he sang, and the British knew the song and sang back."
The moment crystallized the collective Christian faith of the men singing in different languages across the frozen mud, their breath puffing white into the cold air. Soldiers with guns pointed at each other, who had tried to kill each other, joined each other in song.
Private Albert Moren of the Second Queen's Regiment recalled that Christmas Eve as "a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere." Historians are still debating precisely what happened next, but some details are beyond dispute. First, Stille Nacht and Silent Night echoed above the Christmas trees and candles glimmering in the darkness, and then someone started singing another Christmas carol.
And then another. One historian described it as a "carol sing-off," a joyous battle fought with praise to the God who had been born of a woman as a little Child to bring peace on earth. "It was impromptu. No one planned it," Weintraub writes.
Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade was there and saw it all. "First the Germans would sing one of their carols, and then we would sing one of ours," he recalled. "Until when we started up 'O come, All Ye Faithful,' the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words 'Adeste Fideles.' And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing--two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war."
The following morning, an extraordinary scene unfolded at some points along the Western Front. German soldiers climbed slowly out of their trenches, holding up signs that read: "You no shoot, we no shoot." At other places, Germans called out "Merry Christmas!" in English to the Brits as they climbed into No Man's Land. Warily, the Brits responded in kind.
Throughout Christmas Day, soldiers exchanged presents, chocolates, cigarettes, and souvenirs. The dead still lying between the trenches were carried off and buried. At some locations, football games were begun (a famous Sainsbury's Christmas ad captured one such moment a century later.) One story even mentions a Brit getting a haircut from his pre-war German barber.
It did not happen everywhere, of course. There were sporadic clashes, and some men in some places got shot going over the top. But two-thirds of the troops--around 100,000 men--took part in the legendary Christmas Truce of 1914. Some participants were as high-ranking as colonels. The generals were livid when they found out what was happening, especially as the truces dragged on for days in some places along the line.
Some soldiers disapproved, too. Twenty-five-year-old Adolf Hitler, then a member of an infantry regiment, chastised his comrades: "Such a thing should not happen in wartime. Have you no sense of German honor?" If the rank and file fraternized with the men they were to face in battle, they might be reluctant to kill them.
The truce was halted and orders given that anyone refusing to fight be punished severely. There was no room for brotherhood at the beginning of a bloodbath. Commanders took measures to quash the excess of goodwill toward all men, and many troops that had met with their enemy counterparts were pulled off the front lines and swapped with soldiers who hadn't been part of the truce.
The following Christmas of 1915, Weintraub wrote that British commanders "ordered a slow, continuing artillery barrage through every daylight hour." After all, if there were no silence, nobody would be able to hear a lone soldier singing "Silent Night."
Since that Christmas Eve and the days that followed over a century ago, the events have been immortalized in literature, film, and song. It seems to be one shining moment of humanity in a useless, years-long massacre: a glowing white moonlit night, carols wafting over barbed wire and mortar holes, and men slowly emerging from fox-holes to talk and laugh and give gifts--before being ordered to take up arms once again. British poet Carol Ann Duffy captured it exquisitely in her 2011 poem "The Christmas Truce." An excerpt:
A Scotsman started to bawl The First Noel
and all joined in,
till the Germans stood, seeing
across the divide,
the sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died.
All night, along the Western Front, they sang, the enemies--
carols, hymns, folk songs, anthems, in German, English, French;
each battalion choired in its grim trench.
So Christmas dawned, wrapped in mist, to open itself
and offer the day like a gift
for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz ...
with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.
[. . .]
And all that marvelous, festive day and night, they came and went,
the officers, the rank and file, their fallen comrades side by side
beneath the makeshift crosses of midwinter graves ...
... beneath the shivering, shy stars
and the pinned moon
and the yawn of History;
the high, bright bullets
which each man later only aimed at the sky.
On a single silent night when all was still and all was bright, before millions were ground to a pulp and empires toppled, Christian Germans and Christian Brits sang together and then climbed out of their trenches to greet each other and celebrate the birth of Christ--before the carnage carried on for four long years.
Some soldiers would remember, for the rest of their lives, that magical moment where another path seemed possible. This Christmas, we should, too.
The Dog Days of Christmas - by Bill Perkins - https://compass.org/the-dog-days-of-christmas/
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen. 1:1
Our adversary must really hate Christmas. After all, the entire world shuts down to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Can’t let that happen. So he’s been working hard for 6000 years to do everything possible to degrade and dilute the meaning of Christmas.
So let’s step back a bit and think about what we’re really celebrating, what the devil is really upset about.
Our human existence all began over six 24-hour days, when God created everything in the universe—the earth, the heavens, the fish, the animals, the stars and you and me—by speaking them into existence.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. Psa. 33:6
God is one huge God. There was nothing and then in six 24-hour days everything we see was spoken into existence via God's mouth.
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. Heb. 11:3
That’s almost impossible to understand from our human mind’s perspective. But simply put: God thought, spoke and ta-da, everything in the universe was immediately in place.
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. Gen. 1:31
After this unimaginably creative creation there was no sin and no death occurring as all was perfect. But we all know what happened next. God had so graciously given us “choice” and we chose poorly. Sin infected the entire human race through Adam and Eve’s transgression.
For as in Adam all die... 1Cor. 15:22a
Because this sin was passed down in the DNA of every human ever born (your DNA was in Adam), we were destined to die apart from God. Our intolerable sin separated us from the perfect Creator God… forever.
But God loved us humans who were the pinnacle of His creation. So He provided a way of escape for us.
…in Christ all will be made alive. 1Cor. 15:22b
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
So the Lord worked it out for us to be redeemed. The cost of that redemption is also hard to fathom. The Creator of the universe had to come from heaven, become flesh, live sinlessly, shed His blood and die in our place. And then defeat death by rising from the dead.
Pastor Jon Courson tells the story of a dream he had where he's flying through the universe with God. God tells him, "See that small planet? I want you to go to that planet and bring peace to the inhabitants."
I looked down at this planet and then told Him, "But, God, that planet is full of large, angry, vicious dogs. They will tear me apart; they will kill me."
God replied, "Yes, Jon, I know. And, by the way, you will go to the planet as a chihuahua."
God then told me, "Oh, and one other thing -- you will remain a chihuahua forever."
Jesus becoming a human was actually worse than any of us becoming a dog, but Courson's point is well made. Jesus had to majorly humble Himself for our sake.
The Creator God loved us so much that He was willing to come to this planet, become a human, die a horrible death... and remain a human forever.
Today, Jesus sits on the throne with arms and legs, ears and eyes, a mouth with expressions, just like you and me. God did it this way so we would be able to relate to Him.
So as you celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, remember the steep price Jesus had to pay for you and me to be saved. He truly loved us beyond what we can comprehend.
For me that puts a lot more oomph in the meaning of “Merry Christmas.”
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us... John 1:14a
Daily Devotion: The First Christmas Story - by Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist —Colossians 1:17
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/the-first-christmas-story/ - Listen
The first Christmas story begins with a tree, but not our kind of Christmas tree. This was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.
God had placed Adam and Eve in a literal paradise. Best of all, the Lord Himself showed up every day to take a walk with His friend Adam. God had given Adam and Eve only one restriction: Stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
But by chapter 3 of Genesis, Adam and Eve are at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit. And they lost their sweet fellowship with God.
Then we come to the first Christmas verse in the Bible, where God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV).
God was saying, “There is One coming to destroy you, Devil. He’s going to crush you.”
Therefore, the Christmas story doesn’t start in Matthew or Luke. It starts in the Old Testament. Jesus has always been there. The Bible tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NKJV).
Before there was a world, before there were planets, before there was light and darkness, before there was matter, before there was anything but the Godhead, there was Jesus, coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with the Father and Holy Spirit.
He was with God. He was God. And then He became an embryo. He did not become identical to us, but He became identified with us. In fact, He could not have identified with us more closely than He did.
FROM THE HEART
Let Us Make the Short Time We have Left,
Count for ALL of Eternity!
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