IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Marley's Chains – Pete Garcia - https://www.rev310.net/post/marley-s-chains
“MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Author’s Note: My intent is not to sound "preachy" in this, or self-righteous. I apply this as much to myself as I would anyone else. I use the collective "we" and "our," speaking to the community of Christians writ large, not to any particular group. Having said that I have copied four sections from Dicken’s immortal classic, A Christmas Carol for context into this brief. You’ll note the quote by the change in font and subtitle. I have little doubt you've seen some movie adaption of the story, however, if you’ve never read it, I highly encourage it. I have no doubt as to the godly impact against materialism this story has had on western civilization these past 178 years. Let us begin.
Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands.
“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?” Scrooge trembled more and more…
…Seven years dead,” mused Scrooge. “And travelling all the time!”
“The whole time,” said the Ghost. “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”
“You travel fast?” said Scrooge.
“On the wings of the wind,” replied the Ghost.
“You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years,” said Scrooge.
The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.
“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.
Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Should the Lord tarry another day, or should He call us home early, our lives are marked by opportunity after opportunity to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. We are called to be salt and light to a world shrouded in death and darkness. Yet, so many sit on the sidelines of life studiously contemplating their own bellybuttons as would a child wholly transfixed by its curious nature.
By that, I mean that most people are myopic by nature and seemingly fixated only on their own affairs to ever notice the suffering and misery of those around them.
We sit in plush churches on Sunday morning, wondering why the jails are filled to capacity. We look at the addicts on the street and wonder why so many chose to self-medicate. The reason why the jails are full and why the world runs on drugs is because the world is a vicious and cruel place and tramples underfoot all it can in the short, meager lives we live.
But because the world is so vicious and cruel, is the very reason why so many retreat into their own lives hiding away from the world. They (we) don’t often want to get mixed up with other people’s problems, because to do so, would subject us to making their problems, our own. There are the legal and financial ramifications which these days, unfairly target the 'Good Samaritan.' There are the very real threats to life, liberty, and property that come with being helpful. There is the unwanted and completely biased media attention (i.e., Kyle Rittenhouse for example), and the potential long-term ramifications of forever being marked (and used) as the good Samaritan.
But hideaway we cannot. We cannot ignore the plights of those around us. To whatever sphere of influence God has put you in, use those gifts and talents God has graciously given you, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. You don't need to carry an AR-15 into a riot to do good, but if that is what you are called to do, then you answer to God, not man. Either way, we cannot say 'we should not be bothered with so and so’s problems because we have our own. We cannot be bothered with such and such things, because I am limited in time and money.
I tell you in all truth, mankind is our business and we worship a God who is boundless in resources, and limitless in mercy. If we but pray and ask our Father, on their behalf, to intercede, and to give us the opportunities to serve, God will open those doors in ways you and I could not imagine. And in so doing, we are storing up riches in heaven, where neither rust nor moth destroys, nor thieves steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (from Matthew 6:19-21)
The Ghost of Christmas Past
“My time grows short,” observed the Spirit. “Quick!”
This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he could see, but it produced an immediate effect.
For again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now; a man in the prime of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“It matters little,” she said, softly. “To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.”
“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined.
“A golden one.”
When reading through the Old Testament, I would often find myself mockingly asking, how could those Israelites be so stupid to replace God almighty, for the Golden Calf, Asherah, or Baal?
And yet, do we modern, educated, and sophisticated peoples not do the exact same thing? If we were honest, we would ask, what idols do we place in our own lives that displaces God’s rightful role as the centerpiece of our faith?
Is it trust in money (mammon)? Is it faith in our job or title? Is it in a spouse? Is it a football or sports team? Is it a political party or a leader? Perhaps we place our faith in our own righteousness or religiosity. We are all guilty of committing idolatry at one time or another, myself included.
Mr. Scrooge’s idol was not just money but in the fear of poverty, which was the necessary fuel to flame the fire of his love of money. As the old saying goes, the one thing the rich and the poor never have enough of is money. Having been poor and wealthy, I can say honestly that it is as strong a desire as any, to not want to be poor again. But this goes directly against the spirit of contentment that we are instructed to have in this life, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves, that we should be content in the Lord. What does Scripture say?
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:9-11
The Ghost of Christmas Present
“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”
“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.” From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. “Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing.
No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. “Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.
“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end!”
“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.
“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”
The bell struck twelve. Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.
There is no haunting picture in all of this story, as the two wretched children which represent mankind’s own orphaned children; Ignorance and Want. Perhaps there are two fallen angels in the ranks of the demonic hierarchy, as mentioned in the Seven Princes of Hell Theory (based upon the dubious Roman Catholic teachings on the seven deadly sins), who are assigned these two particular positions. If so, then they are adequately and appropriately noted. Both are to be avoided, and both ignorance and want (coveteousness) are explicitly warned against.
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19
A growing number of Christians (and pseudo-Christians) are willfully wallowing in spiritual and biblical ignorance like the pigs in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Some even pride themselves in willful ignorance making claims that seeking knowledge is antithetical to having faith. Yet, of the two, I believe ignorance to be much more dangerous. One can know they are being envious (Cain for example against his brother Abel). But ignorance blinds even the knowledge about what envy is. Not only is ignorance dangerous, but spiritual ignorance evolves naturally from ignorance to heresy, from heresy to apostasy, and then on toward spiritual death even though God is longsuffering with us.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.
“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.
“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”
The finger still was there.
“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!”
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
“Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!”
The kind hand trembled. “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him. Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.
Oh, were man granted heaven’s perspective? Such short lives we lead. Such wasted time. Wasted on wine, women (or men), on pleasures, and on business. Wasted not just on the frivolous pursuit of pleasure, but on making a name for ourselves in a world that is already slated for fiery destruction.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13
Would we hearken beyond Marley’s advice, not to just make mankind our business through charity and service, but also to the saving of souls? The saving of souls must be our primary concern so that eternal damnation would not be the final destination for friends and family, even neighbors and strangers. We must warn them that there is no rest in the grave, no peaceful sleep, but death, quickly followed by endless turmoil, torture, separation, and hopelessness without Christ; where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not. (Mark 9:44)
Should the Lord tarry another day, let us not waste one second more of not sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let us not be found guilty of hoarding so precious a gift, but in taking the Master’s coin (as the parable says), and investing it; Investing it in the lives of our fellow man. Life is too short to move through it either ignorantly, greedily, or carelessly.
While there is fictitious imagery borne out in this story with chains and padlocks, and unforgiven ghosts wander endlessly about the earth forever in bondage to their regrets; there is also truth in it.
The Bible clearly states that a man is appointed once to die, and then the judgment (Heb. 9:27). For the Christian, who was judged at the Cross, he or she awaits the Bema Judgment. This is where we will be judged, not for our sins (which were dealt with at the Cross), but what we did with the gifts and callings from God. Our works will be tested by fire, not to determine salvation, but for reward. Those rewards are what we cast back at the feet of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3, 2 Cor. 5)
For the unredeemed who do not have received the free gift of salvation, the Great White Throne Judgment awaits them. (Rev. 20:11-14) These will be judged by their works and sin, and will each be found wanting, no matter how pious or religious they were in life. If their names are not found in the Lamb's Book of Life, then they are told the most horrifying words ever uttered in any language-
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41
While the ghostly chains and wanderings of the unredeemed in A Christmas Carol are meant as symbolism, the regret and grief they represent are very literal. If you die in your sins, separated from God because you refused the Son Jesus Christ, then you will pay for your own sins for all eternity in the lake of fire. In that fiery lake, which burns forever and ever without end, the flame burning the flesh will not sear as hot as the flame of regret searing the conscious of those who chose to be there.
Thus the question remains, will you bear your own chains into eternity, or will you be set free by the Son of Man?
This season, let us be thankful and celebrate the graciousness of God the Father. Who, by sending forth His Son, would leave the unimaginable splendor and glories of heaven, to be born in the manger as the lowly Son of Man so that salvation might come to all mankind.
Merry Christmas and Maranatha!
Signs For the Shepherds – Bill Perkins – www.compass.org
More to the Christmas Story
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
The birth of Jesus is a story most of us know well. Joseph and Mary, who was nine months pregnant, had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for a census.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, they found there was no room for them at the inn. The have no choice but to stay behind the inn with the animals. Mary goes into labor, has her baby and places Him in a manger.
One of the things you learn when you go to Israel is that our American conception of a “manger” is not very accurate. It certainly wasn’t cute and wooden.
A “manger” was a “feeding trough” and they were always carved out of stone.
They didn’t make them out of wood because food and water would cause them to rot. We see these feeding troughs all over Israel (see picture of a stone manger).
But something most people miss about the Christmas story are some hidden gems in this verse:
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
We’ve written before about Jesus being born in Bethlehem in the middle of all those sheep being born and raised for the Jewish Temple sacrifices. Jesus was even referred to by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God.”
That would have been quite a statement to the Jews whose lives revolved around sacrificing tens of thousands of lambs each year to cover their sins.
But to the shepherds in the fields, why did the angel of the Lord say the baby “wrapped in cloths” would be a sign? As it turns out, it was a HUGE sign!
In the time of Christ, during the birthing season, Levitical Priests would be sent from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to watch over the birthing process to make sure the sheep were born without any defects.
On the edge of the fields surrounding Bethlehem, where most of those sheep were being born, there was a two-story stone tower called the Migdal Eder tower.
Israeli archeologists recently found this tower. The picture is of the recent archeological excavation.
This tower is mentioned in the Book of Micah regarding the announcement of the birth of the Messiah.
“As for you, tower of the flock, Hill of the daughter of Zion, To you it will come—Even the former dominion will come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” Mic. 4:8
In plain English this is saying that the Messiah will be revealed from the Migdal Eder—“the tower of the flock.”
The priests would climb the tower and look out over all the flocks to see any signs a sheep was about to give birth. Sheep usually get fidgety, paw the ground and/or separate themselves from the flock just before birthing a lamb.
When the signs were noticed, they would bring the sheep to the tower’s ground floor where it would give birth in a ceremonially clean area.
When the the lamb was born, and if it was without blemish, it was immediately wrapped in strips of cloth made from old priestly underwear.
The purpose was to make sure the lamb would stay unblemished. The priest would then put the lamb in a manger to keep it safe from getting trampled.
So when the angel of the Lord told the shepherds in the field that the Savior had been born and the “sign” was He would be wrapped in the same cloths as the sacrificial sheep and placed in a manger, they would have immediately understood the significance of the “sign.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke 2:15
It’s obvious that the shepherds knew exactly where to go with only limited info—they headed to the birthing tower where they found Joseph and Mary with Jesus lying where newly born sacrificial sheep would lie.
And, of course, don’t miss the fact that the first clothes Jesus wore were the clothes of a priest!
So when you hear the Christmas story this year, we hope you have the chance to share, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.”
A Son is Given - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas is the time of year when credit cards are maxed out because we have a need to give gifts to friends and family. We want the people who matter to us to know that we care about them. Here’s a question: Can you remember what gifts you were given last Christmas? Most of the gifts that are exchanged are items that will be out-grown, worn out, broken, or obsolete within a short time. Remember a few years ago when Tickle Me Elmo was the most popular gift to give? Did you ever give or receive a Pet Rock as a gift? It’s hard to resist fads, but by next year there will be another “must have” gift. With all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, baking, and partying it’s easy to forget that Christmas is the time to stop and recognize what we really should celebrate. We celebrate because 2,000 years ago (more or less) God gave the greatest gift of all…His son. “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given...” Isaiah 9:6a. This was a prophecy of Isaiah many, many years before Christ was born, but it foretold of a human child born, but God’s only begotten Son being given.
It is certainly within God’s power to have popped into the world fully grown and ready to take over the duties of the Messiah. The Old Testament is full of instances when The Angel of the Lord would appear to men. For example, it was “the Angel of the LORD” who found Hagar when she was running away from Sarai (Genesis chapter 16), the Angel of the LORD stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis chapter 22), and it was the angel of the LORD who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. These are a few examples of times when Jesus appeared to people before His birth in Bethlehem. God’s ways are not our ways; His ways are higher than our ways. In order to redeem what Adam lost, He had to be human…a near kinsman to humans. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:16-17. In order to accomplish this, God in the person of the Holy Spirit, came upon Mary, a virgin, and she became pregnant. Jesus’ father could not be human, because that would have tainted His blood with the same sin nature that plagues all of mankind. Genetically, a father passes to his son certain traits. These traits would have disqualified Jesus from shedding His blood to take away our sin. Because Mary was human, so was Jesus. Because the Holy Spirit is God, so was Jesus. He was born fully human, but fully God. The prophet Isaiah had a lot to say about the coming Messiah, and he told of signs to look for. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. As with so many Hebrew names, Immanuel describes the person. Immanuel means “God with us” and that describes Jesus. The name “Jesus” also is descriptive. It means “Jehovah is salvation”. Truly Jesus, was God with us, and is forever our salvation.
Many sons have been born since Eve gave birth to Cain, who was born after Adam sinned. Adam and Eve must have been heartbroken when they saw the ugliness of sin manifest when Cain killed his brother Abel. God had clearly told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17. Adam did eat that fruit. Eve had a chat with Satan, and ate the fruit. Then she convinced Adam to eat it too. If only they had obeyed God. God knows so much more than we do, and when He says don’t do something, our sin nature convinces us that God is only trying to stop us from having fun. If we would listen to and obey God we wouldn’t have murders or lies or homosexuality or any of the other sins that separate us from God. We can never heal that separation by our own efforts. Only God can. Which is why He entered His creation as a helpless baby…a baby like any other baby, but unlike any other baby, His father was God. It was the plan of salvation that was devised by God long before Adam sinned.
There are many “pictures” in the Old Testament which reveal God’s plan, and Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is one of those pictures. We know the story of Abraham and Sarah. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations, but when his wife, Sarah, was long past childbearing age and Abraham himself was very old, they still hadn’t had children. So, they “helped” God by Abraham impregnating Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the promised son. Years later, Sarah did become pregnant, just as God had promised. Isaac was that son of promise. One day, Abraham was tested by God “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Genesis 22:2. Abraham obeyed. Isaac was not a child, but an adult who went willingly with Abraham. Can you imagine the heartache Abraham suffered as they travelled on a three-day journey to the place God had directed him to? God never requires human blood as a sacrifice, so this seems unusual. When the altar was ready, Isaac had a question and Abraham had an answer. “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Genesis 22:7. Good question, Isaac! God wants us to be a living sacrifice to Him, meaning we submit to His will in spite of our selfish desires. Abraham knew Isaac was the son of promise, so he knew that somehow God wouldn’t allow Isaac to die. “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8. Notice the words Abraham chose… God will provide himself a lamb. And so, He did. As Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, the Angel of the LORD stopped him and Abraham saw a ram stuck in a thicket which God had provided for the sacrifice. More than that, it was on this hill that, many centuries later, God truly provided Himself as the sacrificial lamb…the only begotten Son of God allowed Himself to be sacrificed on a cross. He shed His blood for to take away the sin of the world.
Jesus Christ, God incarnate, willingly took on human form to qualify as our Kinsman Redeemer. He was humbly born in a manger as a baby, and He grew up with Joseph as His adoptive father, and Mary as his human mother. He had brothers and sisters, because Joseph and Mary had children, but Jesus was God’s Son, given because God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. That verse is probably the most beloved passage of Scripture; the 23rd Psalm might run it a close second. God showed perfect love to us, when He gave His Son to pay the ransom for our sin. There is no gift more valuable or precious than God’s gift of His Son. God had a plan for the redemption of mankind, a gift of love from our blessed Creator.
We give many gifts at Christmas time, and to be of any use, the gifts we give must be accepted. Have you accepted God’s free Gift of Salvation? The reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate God’s gift of His Son. Remember God’s love and tell someone about salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s gift is free for the asking, but it was very costly for God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. You won’t find this gift wrapped in pretty shiny paper and tied up with ribbons under a Christmas tree. It certainly won’t say it’s from Santa Claus. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. True faith in His death, burial, and resurrection, will bring forgiveness of the sin that separates you from God. Share this gift with others and thank God for His gift by submitting to Him.
Eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge brought death to Adam, Eve, and all of humanity since their sin. Not only the death of separation of soul and body, but the death of eternal separation from God. The Good News is God gave His Son as the final sacrifice to atone for our sin. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,” John 3:17. God wants you to live with Him for eternity. Place your faith in Him now.
One day every knee will bow to Him and He will reign supreme…the King of kings, the Lord of lords “…and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peach there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6b – 7.
God gave His son so that you and I can spend eternity with Him. Accept that gift today and share it with others. Celebrate Jesus every day.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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‘Twas The Plight Before Christmas - By Steve Schmutzer - https://www.raptureready.com/2021/12/19/twas-the-plight-before-christmas-by-steve-schmutzer/
‘Twas the plight before Christmas, and all through the House
all of Congress was showing the brains of a mouse.
COVID masks cluttered their desks without care;
no photo ops meant they could simply stay there.
Fraud and deception poured from the Feds
as ‘Build Back Better’ danced in their heads.
And Joe, with his prompter, was giving us laughs
as he mumbled at random with his typical gaffes.
On the floor, shutdowns became such a chatter,
Aides sprang to their feet to assist in this matter.
There in the chamber, scams swelled in a flash;
they ripped logic apart and threw truth in the trash.
Their talking points needed some polish to claim
their tyrannical plans didn’t deserve any blame.
When, what to discerning minds should appear,
an incompetent Doctor the libs lauded so dear.
With his pattern of lies, and since truth made him grouchy,
I knew in a moment it must be “St. Fauci.”
More dense than a rock, his supporters became,
and he thrilled as he shouted some terms of his fame:
“Now Virus! Now Delta! Now Mandate, Now Passport!
On, Booster! On, Tracker! On, Vaccine and Distort!
To globalist goals! To America’s fall!
Now crush away! Crash away! Smash away all!”
As the left’s agenda came hurtling through the air,
the little ‘expert’ reveled in haughty grandeur there,
So up to the House-top, the wicked plans flew,
all chock full of lies which they all clearly knew.
And then, in that moment, I sensed in my heart
the timing and purpose of each little part.
As I gathered myself and contained my despair,
an image gained focus; I became more aware.
A King on a horse, with crowns on His head,
and his garment was stained a deep bloody red.
He was coming for war, and His mouth had a sword,
He was fierce in His anger, His wrath He had stored.
His eyes – how they burned! His armies, they came!
On His robe and His thigh, there was written a name.
“King of kings, Lord of lords,” His identity clear,
the leaders of earth quaked and trembled in fear.
With the blade of His sword, He will conquer His foes,
He will strike down the nations and save those He chose.
Arrayed in fine linen, snow white at His side,
His armies that followed were known as His Bride.
He was regal and righteous, of glorious might,
and He laughed as the wicked prepared for a fight.
His rule will be just, and His reign will be strong,
He will dash into pieces all those that were wrong.
He’ll speak only a word, that’ll wrap up the fight,
His fury abated, He’ll bring back what’s right.
I returned my attention to the woes of these times,
to the lawlessness, lies, and the folly and crimes.
I have a real hope that burns bright in my being,
It is coming for sure despite what we’re seeing.
I therefore exclaim before we all lose our cheer,
“Merry Christmas to all, Christ’s Coming is near!”
Daily Jot: The Farm Chronicles: A Christmas Eve Memory - Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
There are a lot of terrible things going on right now in the world. But we are at the time of the year when we as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We can choose to be impacted by the world around us in its dimly lit arena, or we can choose to let our light so shine. I choose the latter. I want to tell you a little about the Christmas’ that I had growing up on our family farm in Ohio. I was blessed to be born into a horse and cattle farm that has been in our family over 200 years. And Christmas, especially Christmas Eve, was a wonderful time for our family. December 24 was my Dad’s birthday. And my Dad was well loved by his neighbors and friends, so we had a lot going on Christmas Eve.
I remember one special Christmas Eve. I must have been about four years old. The night was falling and the wind and snow were whipping across the barnyard, as we often were victims of the “lake effect” from Lake Erie in the southern most tip of the snow belt. The barn was cold when we turned on the lights and started climbing into the loft and throwing bales of hay down, putting the hay in the mangers, grain in the feed boxes and water in the buckets. Then the horses and cows were gathered in the barnyard, one by one we let them through the door and they automatically went to their stalls or stanchions. The barn warmed up and the animals contently eating was a comforting sound.
We had dinner and went to church. I remember my brother Chuck carried me out of church that night. He was 14 years older than me and we were so very close. He was asking me whether I thought Santa had made it to the farm yet. And I was worried that it was so early on Christmas Eve that he had not–for we celebrated our family Christmas on Christmas Eve with my Dad’s birthday. Then he looked up at the moon and said, “See there…its Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer. Don’t you see them?” He was so convincing that I looked and looked, but couldn’t find them. But Chuck insisted that he had seen Santa Clause. We got home and sure enough there were wonderful presents under the tree.
We had a great family time that year, opening presents and enjoying one another. And afterwards, neighbors and friends started dropping by to wish my Dad happy birthday. Their kids and me were playing with my new farm set, and there was a lot of laughter and fun. Chuck was killed by a drunk driver a few years later. Dad passed in 1989. But the spirit of those two wonderful men lives on here and especially in heaven, and I am reminded of them every Christmas Eve–in the best of times or worst of times, they were the best of men. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is with us in all times. And no matter the condition of the world, we can draw comfort in His promise in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” God Bless you and yours during this season.
Daily Devotion: The Anticipation of Christmas - by Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org
The LORD himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). —Isaiah 7:14
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/the-anticipation-of-christmas/ - Listen
On the first Christmas Eve there were no brightly colored lights on any homes. There were no stockings that had been hung with care and no visions of sugar plums on anyone’s mind. It was just another night in Bethlehem.
But world history was about to change. When Mary and Joseph arrived in town, there was no room in the inn. So the Son of God entered our world in a stable or, most likely, a cave.
Now when parents have a child, especially their first child, they call their loved ones and tell them the weight and length of the baby and the actual time of birth. On the first Christmas, God the Father also made an announcement that His Son had been born.
Whom did He tell? You would think He would have told Caesar that the Son of God had been born. But instead, God directed His message toward shepherds who were out in the fields at night, watching over their flocks.
The angel told them, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10–11 NLT).
So the shepherds went to Bethlehem, where they found Joseph and Mary, and the baby in her arms.
There are a lot of good things about Christmas, of course, but as we anticipate its arrival, let’s realize that Christmas cannot deliver on its promises. I think deep down inside, what we’re really longing for is not Christmas but Christ. I think the anticipation we have for Christmas is a longing for God Himself. And that’s the message of Christmas: Immanuel, God is with us.
FROM THE HEART
Let Us Make the Short Time We have Left,
Count for ALL of Eternity!
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