Tag Archives: pre-marriage

CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

6 Jul

The Summary of Sermon by Ps. Djohan Handojo at Bethany International Sevice on Sunday, 2 July 2017.

CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

Pastor Djohan recently attended a conference at Wittenburg in Germany where the Reformation started by Martin Luther. 

The conference discussed how to bring the Gospel for every person and challenges in sharing it. The gospel brings freedom and transforms life. 

In sharing the gospel today, we faced several challenges :-

 1. Ideology 

People do not believe in God. 40% of the people in the Western world become atheist. They do not find God important in their lives.
2. Secularism  

People look into the world and there is less emphasis of God in the society. In South East Asia, many people still have strong faith in God. We still find Christian schools, many Church services in the malls and hotels.

3. Moral 

Today sexual disorder is considered normal and acceptable especially in the western world. The government in America and other western countries legalized the same-sex marriage. Even the schools are teaching it and educate the right to develop love and feelings beyond the gender which is gender disorientation.

(
James 1: 2-3) The world is constantly under temptation by the devil. Only the kingdom of God is unshakeable. 

We are dealing with self centeredness. People have the tendency to become self centered. Some of us struggle with sin but Jesus is waiting for us to come back when we have gone astray in the world. 
(2 Corinthians 5: 17-18) We are the new creation in Christ. It is important for us to walk in Christ every day. God will see us in a different way, God will see Christ who has redeemed us and see us as a new man or new woman in Christ.

When we are still living in the old self, the devil can attack us. When we live as a new man in Christ, the
devil cannot attack us. However, we can live a victorious life because God is in us.

(1 Corinthians 6 : 2 – 3)  For us as believers, one day, we will reign and rule with Jesus. We will judge the world and the fallen angels. 

Now, the Holy Spirit is in the world but one day the Holy Spirit will be taken away from the world. The world will turn into chaos.
(John 6:54- 55) Whoever eat of my flesh and drink of my blood remains in me, have the salvation and eternal life.

CRISIS

22 Mar

Luke 6:20-26

20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Today’s Inspiration

Do you remember when our nation was hit by crisis several years ago? The conditions were really though: many companies and business went bankrupt. Rich people suddenly become poor. The stock market fall to the doom. The exchange rate of rupiah towards other foreign currency came up. Social and economy impacts were really heavy because of that crisis.

What kind of teachings that we can receive from that occasion? Yes, financial crisis leads us to an understanding that financial assets are very fragile. The financial conditions are very fragile towards changes. There are no certain things. The exchange rate will always change. The stock market fluctuates every hour. The price of essential needs are also changing following all of those changes earlier.

Lord Jesus emphasised on this when He warned the rich so that they will not be satisfied. They were trying to fins the satisfaction of their lives by gathering riches, but actually their riches will not stand long. Crisis, accidents, foolishness, fire, and theft can wipe away all of our riches unexpectedly. Tragically, there are a lot of people who sacrifice their eternal lives for chasing the mortal riches. How sad this is! People are willing to spend and waste their time and energy for something that is mortal.

The condition of our nation’s economy always fluctuates uncertainly. There will be nobody that can guarantee its stability. When we only rely on our material abundance, we will always be panicked and worried because we are afraid to lose things. To rely on material riches is a foolishness that will destroy us. On the contrary, in every circumstance, rely on the Lord. Relying on Him will make us to live a calm life and a life that is full of hope. Even when we need to face crisis, the Lord will give us the strength to gain something for our lives to move on. He knows that we need all of those things, and He will fulfil them all for us.

Today’s Reflection

  1. What are you relying on in this life? To answer this, think about the next question: which one worries you; there is not enough money for tomorrow or displeasing the Lord by violating your wife?
  2. How the real form of relying on the Lord is can be visible in your daily life?

Today’s Action

Rely on the Lord not just for the major events of your life, but also for all the little things.

Today’s Word

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” [Luke 6:24, NIV]

[Taken from Today’s Word: Recharge by Ps. Djohan Handojo]

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GROWING IN ONENESS

16 Jan

GROWING IN ONENESS by Mitch Temple

It takes work to grow in oneness, but the reward is definitely worth it.

It takes work to grow in oneness. On a torn envelope, Sarah finds the following note left on the kitchen table one morning: “Sarah, I know you said you would like to spend time with me. I agree that we’ve really grown apart lately. I think we need to spend more time together, and I know you were looking forward to relaxing for a couple of evenings. Well, you get your wish. The boss called and said I have to work tonight.

“By the way, would you mind ironing my golf shorts when you get home? I have a tournament tomorrow. Oh, before I forget, tomorrow night the guys are coming over to watch the game. You don’t mind, do you? And something else — I’m leaving on business to San Diego Monday. I’ll be gone the rest of the week.”

If Sarah is like most wives, she’s thinking, How in the world does this goofball think we’re going to get close if he’s always gone or having someone over?

She’s right; healthy relationships don’t just evolve, they’re nurtured.

Suppose Jesus had taken the attitude that closeness would “just happen” with his disciples. “Okay,” He might say. “I have called you guys to be apostles. You have left everything to follow Me. But I have a lot of stress on Me; I have to save the world! So My ‘alone time’ is very important. Your job is to take the Gospel to the whole world, but I really think you can handle this without Me. I’ll spend Saturdays with you, but the rest of the time you’re on your own.”

Is that how Jesus became “one” with His disciples? No. He understood the value of spending time with them, talking, teaching, dining, and experiencing happy and challenging moments together. There were times when Jesus needed to be alone, but He understood the value of being with His followers, too. In the end, He gave His life for them and they gave theirs for Him — the ultimate testimony of oneness.

Togetherness: Making It Work

If you’re struggling with the challenges of togetherness, here’s help.

If you find yourself struggling with the challenges of togetherness, here are some simple suggestions.

Remember who brought you together. God has united the two of you for a reason. It’s no accident. He calls you to become one (Genesis 2:24), to honor one another (Ephesians 5:22-33), to love one another (I Corinthians 13), and to remain together until death separates you (Matthew 19:9).

Change the way you think. You’re still an individual. But God has called you to leave your father and mother and unite with your spouse. That means making changes in your thinking (you belong to someone else now) as well as your behavior (you don’t act like a single person anymore). Changing the way you think can change the way you feel. Start thinking like a married person, and you’ll probably begin to feel like one.

Educate yourself about God’s desire for unity in your marriage. Read Bible passages that emphasize the importance of oneness and unity (John 17; 1 Corinthians 7). Personalize them by inserting your name and the name of your spouse. Pray that God will show you any attitudes and actions that stand in the way of oneness. Stop focusing on your mate’s mistakes, and start working on unity by changing yourself.

Learn from others. Ask couples you know who have strong marriages how they moved from independence to interdependence. What mindsets and habits did they adopt that worked for them?

If you asked that of Bill and Ruth, here’s what they might tell you.

Bill was independent. So was Ruth. For the first three years of their marriage things were so rocky that both felt they’d made a mistake in getting married. They developed separate interests and friendships, spent little time with each other, grew apart, and even considered divorce. But because of their church background, they felt they had to stay together.

Things changed on their third anniversary. They made a commitment to each other: No matter what, they would learn how to connect and develop intimacy. They began studying the Bible and praying together, and attended every marriage conference they could find. They made spending time together a hobby; where you saw one, you’d see the other. They took up golf and skiing. For the next 20 years they would have at least one date a week.

Recently Bill and Ruth went to another marriage retreat — where they were voted Most Dedicated Couple. Their switch from aloneness to togetherness hadn’t just happened. They’d intentionally drawn closer and stuck with that commitment.

They’d probably tell you that intentional intimacy is an investment that always pays off — and they’d be right.

From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Source:www.focusonthefamily.com

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TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS – PART 2

25 Dec

TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS by Jonathan Parnell

Part 2

(Continued)

6) Tell it slant

Some extended family contexts may be so far from spiritual that we need to till the soil of conversation before making many direct spiritual claims. It’s not that the statements aren’t true or desperately needed, but that our audience may not yet be ready to hear it. The gospel may seem so foreign that wisdom would have us take another approach. One strategy is to “tell it slant,” to borrow from the poem of the same name — to get at the gospel from an angle.

“If your family has a long history of negativity and sarcasm,” writes Newman, “the intermediate step of speaking positively about a good meal or a great film may pave the way for ‘blinding’ talk of God’s grace and mercy” (67). Don’t “blind” them by rushing to say loads more than they’re ready for. As Emily Dickinson says, “The truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind.”

7) Be real about the gospel

As we dialogue with family about the gospel, let’s not default to quoting Bible verses that don’t really answer the questions being asked. Let’s take up the gospel in its accompanying worldview and engage their questions as much as possible in the terms in which they asked them. Newman says, “We need to find ways to articulate the internally consistent logic of the gospel’s claims and not resort to anti-intellectual punch lines like, ‘The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.’”

Yes, let’s do quote Bible when appropriate — we are Christians owing ultimately to revelation, not to reason. But let’s not make the Bible into an excuse for not really engaging with their queries in all their difficulty. (And let’s not be afraid to say we don’t know when we don’t!)

8) Consider the conversational context

Context matters. It doesn’t have to be face to face across the table to be significant. “Many people told me their best conversations occurred in a car — where both people faced forward, rather than toward each other,” says Newman. “Perhaps the indirect eye contact posed less of a threat” (91). Maybe even sofas and recliners during a Thanksgiving Day football game, if the volume’s not ridiculous. Be mindful of the context, and seek to make yourself available for conversation while at family gatherings, rather than retreating always into activities or situations that are not conducive to substantive talk.

9) Know your particular family situation. In some families, the gospel has been spoken time and again in the past to hard hearts, perhaps there has been a lack of grace in the speaking, and what is most needed is some unexpected relational rebuilding. Or maybe you’ve built and built and built the relationship and have never (or only rarely) clearly spoken the message of the gospel.

Let’s think and pray ahead of time as to what the need of hour is in our family, and as the gathering approaches pray toward what little steps we might take. And then let’s trust Jesus to give us the grace our hearts need, whether it’s grace for humbling ourselves enough to connect relationally or whether it’s courage enough to speak with grace and clarity.

10) Be hopeful

God loves to convert the people we think are the least likely. Jesus is able to melt the hardest of hearts. Some who finished their lives among the greatest saints started as the worst of sinners.

Realistically, there could have been some cousin of the apostle Paul sitting around some prayer meeting centuries ago telling his fellow believers, “Hey, would you guys pray for my cousin Saul? I can’t think of anyone more lost. He hunts down followers of The Way and arrests them. Just last week, he was the guy who stood guard over the clothes of the people who killed our brother Stephen.” (53)

With God, all things are possible. Jesus has a history of conquering those most hostile to him. We have great reason to have great hope about gospel advance in our families, despite how dire and dark it may seem.

When We Fail

And when we fail — not if, but when — the place to return is Calvary’s tree. Our solace in failing to adequately share the gospel is the very gospel we seek to share. It is good to ache over our failures to love our families in gospel word and deed. But let’s not miss that as we reflect on our failures, we have all the more reason to marvel at God’s love for us.

Be astonished that his love is so lavish that he does not fail to love us, like we fail to love him and our families, and that he does so despite our recurrent flops in representing him well to our kin.

Source: http://www.desiringgod.com

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TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS – PART 1

24 Dec

TEN WAYS TO BRING THE GOSPEL HOME THIS CHRISTMAS by Jonathan Parnell

Part 1

Tis’ the most wonderful time of the year . . . and it’s a unique opportunity to give the good news of Jesus to your unbelieving family.

Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home, is a resource meant to equip Christians in how to talk about the gospel in their closest relationships. Because of the book’s relevance in this season, Crossway is currently offering a free download.

Christmas with Family Who Don’t Know Jesus

David Mathis recently extracted some practical ideas from the book in connection to all the family gatherings accustomed to the holidays. Here are those ten points again, or in his words, “a few thoughts from a fellow bungler to help us think ahead and pray about how we might grow in being proxies for the gospel, in word and deed, among our families.”

1) Pray ahead

Begin praying for your part in gospel advance among extended family several days before gathering. And let’s not just pray for changes in them, but also pray for the needed heart changes in us — whether it’s for love or courage or patience or kindness or fresh hope, or all of the above.

2) Listen and ask questions

Listen, listen, listen. Perhaps more good evangelism than we realize starts not with speaking but with good listening. Getting to know someone well, and specifically applying the gospel to them, is huge in witness. Relationship matters.

Ask questions to draw them out. People like to talk about themselves — and we should capitalize on this. And most people only enjoy talking about themselves for so long. At some point, they’ll ask us questions. And that’s our golden chance to speak, upon request.

One of the best times to tell the gospel with clarity and particularity is when someone has just asked us a question. They want to hear from us. So let’s share ourselves, and Jesus in us. Not artificially, but in genuine answer to their asking about our lives. And remember it’s a conversation. Be careful not to rabbit on for too long, but try to keep a sense of equilibrium in the dialogue.

3) Raise the gospel flag early

Let’s not wait to get to know them “well enough” to start clearly identifying with Jesus. Depending on how extended our family is, or how long it’s been since we married in, they may already plainly know that we are Christians. But if they don’t know that, or don’t know how important Jesus is to our everyday lives, we should realize now that there isn’t any good strategy in being coy about such vital information. It will backfire. Even if we don’t put on the evangelistic full-court press right away (which is not typically advised), wisdom is to identify with Jesus early and often, and articulate the gospel with clarity (and kindness) as soon as possible.

No one’s impressed to discover years into a relationship that we’ve withheld from them the most important things in our lives.

4) Take the long view and cultivate patience

With family especially, we should consider the long arc. Randy Newman is not afraid to say to Christians in general, “You need a longer-term perspective when it comes to family.” Chances are we do. And so he challenges us to think in terms of an alphabet chart, seeing our family members positioned at some point from letters A to Z. These 26 steps/letters along the way from distant unbelief (A) to great nearness to Jesus (Z) and fledgling faith help us remember that evangelism is usually a process, and often a long one.

It is helpful to recognize that not everyone is near the end of the alphabet waiting for our pointed gospel pitch to tip them into the kingdom. Frequently there is much spadework to be done. Without losing the sense of urgency, let’s consider how we can move them a letter, or two or three, at a time and not jerk them toward Z in a way that may actually make them regress.

5) Beware the self-righteous older brother in you

For those who grew up in nonbelieving or in shallow or nominal Christian families, it can be too easy to slide into playing the role of the self-righteous older brother when we return to be around our families. Let’s ask God that he would enable us to speak with humility and patience and grace. Let’s remember that we’re sinners daily in need of his grace, and not gallop through the family gathering on our high horse as if we’ve arrived or just came back from the third heaven. Newman’s advice: “use the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ far more than ‘you’” (65).

To be continued

Source : http://www.desiringgod.com

Merry-Christmas

WHO IS THAT BABY? – PART 2

21 Dec

WHO IS THAT BABY? by Dr Ray Pritchard

Part 2

(Continued)

He is the Radiance of God’s Glory

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3). The word for radiance was used for sunlight streaming from the sun. Jesus is the blazing radiance of the glory of God. What sunlight is to the sun, Jesus is to God. It would be easier to try to separate sunlight from the sun than to separate the Son from God.

If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is not some grimy, blurry image of the Almighty. He isn’t the sun peeking through the clouds. He is the blazing, magnificent revelation of God himself. Jesus is a clear picture of God. He radiates the glory of God. Theologians have a word for this. They say the Son is “co-essential” with the Father. That means the Father and the Son share the same essence. The Father is God and the Son is God.

He is the Exact Representation of God’s Nature

“The exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). The phrase “exact representation” comes from the Greek word charakter, from which we get the English word “character.” Jesus shares in the character of God. This word was used for the impression made by an engraving tool when it was stamped into metal in order to make a coin. The image on the coin was precisely the image on the engraving tool. So Jesus is stamped with the image of God. This is why Saint Athanasius declared, “Jesus whom I know as my Redeemer cannot be less than God.”

He is the “radiance of God’s glory” and the “exact representation of his being.” These two expressions taken together are a powerful statement of the Son’s full deity. Theologians refer to Jesus as the “only-begotten.” That term means “one-and-only.” We can truly say that not only is Jesus the Son of God, he is also God the Son. When we see Jesus Christ, we have seen as much of God as it is possible for us to see.

He is the Sustainer of All Things

“Sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). A recent issue of U.S. News and World Report says that the United States will soon launch a space station into orbit in an attempt to define gravity. That’s an interesting thought. We’ve known what gravity is for hundreds of years, but we don’t know how it works and we really don’t know what it is or where it comes from. There is a vast movement in science today seeking to discover what makes the universe hold together. What is the power behind the power behind the power? What is the Ultimate Force in the universe? Our text makes clear that the answer is not a what but a who. What makes the universe hold together? Jesus Christ is the power behind all power. He holds the universe in place by his powerful word.

Note that this is a present tense. Even now Jesus is “sustaining” the whole universe. All things hold together in him and for him and by him. His power is greater than nuclear power and his force is mightier than the mystical Force of the Star Wars movies. His might is mightier than the might of all the mighty men on earth.

Think of it. Were he to say the word, Oak Park would be no more. Just a word and we would all perish. Do you realize that if Jesus stopped thinking about you, you would cease to exist? You owe your next breath to the fact that Jesus Christ is thinking about you. He sustains you so that you can breathe. Without him, you would not be reading these words.

It is ironic to consider that even atheists must use the power he provides to deny his very existence. They shoot their cannons of unbelief on the ground he has provided. The atheists owe their existence to the One they so vigorously deny.

Jesus is the nucleus of creation and “the glue of the galaxies.”

He is our Savior

“After he had provided purification for sins” (Hebrews 1:3). The King James version adds the words “by himself” after the word “he” and I think it is correct. Note the tense. It is “had provided,” not “will provide” or “is providing.” He died once for all time. His death on the cross was the complete payment for our sins. That is why he cried out, “It is finished.” He purged us from our sins. I was dirty … he was clean. He become dirty … that I might be made clean. I’m never going to face purgatory because he purged me from my sins. I’ve been purged from my sins through his death. My “purgatory” happened 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross.

This means that all efforts at self-reformation as a means of salvation are doomed to failure. You can clean yourself up if you like, but it will not help you gain merit with God. It is only by Jesus’ atoning death that we are forgiven by God. To add anything else to the work of Christ is nothing less than blasphemy. Biblical salvation means trusting Jesus Christ so completely that if his death is not enough to take you to heaven, you aren’t going to go there.

Jesus died that he might save us. This is why the angel declared in Luke 2:11 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” In these pluralistic days when the world wants to water down what we believe, let us declare the truth very plainly. Jesus is not a good way to heaven or the best way to heaven. He is the only way to heaven.

He is now seated at God’s Right Hand

“He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3). He sat down when he returned to heaven because his work was done. Nothing can be added to the work Christ accomplished on the cross. When it comes to salvation, there is no room for self-cleansing, for penance, or for human merit. God is fully satisfied with the sacrifice of his Son. Nothing can ever be added to the merit of his blood. Until you come to the end of your striving and trust in him, you can never be saved. Until you are satisfied with what Jesus has done, you are still in your sins.

He sat down at the “right hand” of God. This is the place of highest honor. Jesus sits today at God’s right hand because it is the highest honor God could give his Son. If there were another crown, he would wear it. If there were another honor, he would have it. But the “right hand” of God the Father is the highest honor in the universe. That’s where Jesus is today.

We may therefore say with confidence that Jesus is at the very center of the universe. He is Lord and he is King. He is where God is. We all want an inside source, a friend in high places, someone who can help us when we are in trouble. Sometimes reporters talk about a “highly-placed source” who gave them certain information. The higher the source, the closer you come to the seat of power. Since the Son is at the Father’s right hand, we have a friend in heaven who dwells eternally at the throne of God. When we pray, we are talking to One who is at the very center of all things.

Even now Jesus reigns from heaven. Even now he reigns over the devil. He reigns over the elements of nature. He reigns over the past, the present and the future. He reigns over cancer and heart attacks and over death itself. Someday soon he will return to the earth and reign visibly from David’s throne in Jerusalem.

God has given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). Today we confess this by faith. One day the whole universe will bow-willingly or unwillingly-to openly declare that Jesus is Lord.

Who is that Baby? Let us heed the answer of our text. He is …

The Heir of All Things.

The Creator of the Universe.

The Radiance of God’s Glory.

The Exact Representation of God’s Nature.

The Sustainer of All Things. Our Savior.

Now Seated at God’s Right Hand.

That’s who Jesus is. That’s the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. This is the true identity of the baby born to Mary that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

To the architect he is the chief cornerstone.

To the banker he is the hidden treasure.

To the baker he is the living bread.

To the builder he is the sure foundation.

To the doctor he is the great physician.

To the educator he is the master teacher.

To the farmer he is the Lord of the harvest.

To the florist he is the lily of the valley.

To the geologist he is the rock of ages.

But who is Jesus to you? Do you know him? Do you know this Jesus? Is he your Savior?

This week a friend sent me an e-mail containing the following poem. It seems to summarize some of the truths we’ve talked about in this message:

The Word of God became flesh.

The Son of God became man.

The Lord of All became a servant.

The Righteous One was made sin.

The Eternal One tasted death.

The Risen One now lives in men.

The Seated One is coming again.

As we come to the close, let me encourage you to think carefully about who Jesus really is. You don’t have to take my word for it. Check it out for yourself! This is far too important an issue to decide lightly. And you don’t have to believe what I am saying just because I said it. Take the time to check things out. Read the New Testament. Make up your own mind. But whatever you do, don’t be casual about Christ. What you believe about the Babe of Bethlehem is a life and death matter with eternal implications.

In just a few days Christmas will be here. Then all too soon we will launch into another busy year. Before you take down the ornaments and put away the Christmas music for another year, take time to discover who Jesus really is. Don’t walk away from the manger this year without coming to grips with the tiny baby who sleeps there. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why was he born? And what difference does his coming make to you? Find out if what the angels said is true. And if it is true, make this a time to get to know him better. There is no more important quest in all the universe! If you will truly seek to know God, you will eventually be led by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ.

All that God has to say to us can be wrapped up in one word: “Jesus.” And not just any Jesus, but only the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the New Testament. He alone is the Lord from heaven. He alone can save us. All that God has for you and me is wrapped up in his Son. No matter what difficulties we face or the decisions we must make, in the end God leads us back to that simple one-word answer: “Jesus.”

In an interview with David Frost that was broadcast on PBS, Billy Graham said he hoped the last word he uttered before dying was simply this: “Jesus.” We can’t do any better than that.

Our Father, we thank you for the Lord of Glory. We do not have words to set forth the wonder of the coming of the Son of Man. We stand amazed that the eternal God should enter our world as a helpless baby in order that one day he might die to set us free from our sins. We thank you for it. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. Thank you for dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Loving Father, grant that our hearts might be filled with joy this Christmas season. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior, Amen.

Source: http://www.keepbelieving.com

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WHO IS THAT BABY? – PART 1

20 Dec

WHO IS THAT BABY? by Dr Ray Pritchard

Part 1

Hebrews 1:1-3

We live in a day when Christmas has become a controversial holiday. If you doubt that statement, just try putting up a manger scene on public property. Or try saying “Merry Christmas” instead of the ubiquitous “Happy Holidays.” Sometimes it seems as if there are more lawsuits than Christmas carols. Every year more and more people get offended by what were once considered innocent displays of Christmas cheer. To be sure, sometimes Christians can be offensive in the way we share our faith, and we do not disagree with those who argue for not subjecting others to unnecessary embarrassment. But at the heart of the matter is this truth: Some people are unhappy with Christmas because they want nothing to do with Jesus Christ. They’ve heard enough and seen enough, and like Ebenezer Scrooge, they say “Bah Humbug!” to the baby who “sleeps in heavenly peace” in the manger.

Alas, some people aren’t happy about Christmas. I wish it were not so, but it is, and there is very little we can do about it. By that I mean that unhappy people are unhappy in themselves and until they change on the inside, nothing we do or say will make much difference. I mention this not to deride anyone or to deny people the right to their unbelief. Certainly unbelief has a long and honored history in America. For that matter, the first Christmas was met with indifference, unbelief, and (in the case of King Herod) outright hostility. So perhaps it is true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are still those who would devalue Jesus Christ by making him simply a good man, a teacher of morality, a religious leader, or perhaps one among many Saviors of the world. The practical effect of this devaluing of Jesus is always the same. If you can reduce Jesus to something less than God in human flesh, then you can put him in a box and forget about him. After all, if he’s just one more ancient teacher of morality, then perhaps his words should be studied in a classroom but they can hardly be taken as definitive, and certainly we don’t need to trouble ourselves with the need to worship an “ancient teacher” or sing songs in honor of his birth.

Back to the Bible

With that in mind, I propose that we revisit the birth of Christ to ask an all-important question: Who is that baby in the manger? On one level, we know who he is. He is Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary. This we know and this we believe and this we proclaim with all other Christians. But that hardly exhausts the answer. Who is that baby? And who is he to us? What is our answer to the postmodern reductionism that turns Jesus into something less than “the Word made flesh?”

It should be clear at the outset that our only reliable source for answering these questions is the Bible, the Word of God. And if we go to the Bible, we quickly discover that it will not allow us to reduce Jesus in any way whatsoever. Who is that Baby? He is truly and completely God. If we disagree with that, then we disagree with God himself.

But is the Bible really so categorically clear on this topic? I answer yes and could prove it to you from 20 different passages. But for this message we will limit ourselves to just one-the majestic opening verses of the epistle to the Hebrews. In just three verses we discover that Jesus is God’s final word to humanity and lest we misunderstand, the writer gives us a sevenfold description of who Jesus really is.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 1:1-3).

He is the Heir of All Things

“Whom he appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). God has appointed Jesus as heir of all things. I understand this from a personal point of view. When my father died in 1974, I found out that my name had been written in his will. That meant that along with my brothers and my mother, I shared in my father’s estate. It also meant that I received a nice black and white checked sports coat he used to wear. I received it because I was an heir to what my father possessed. The same is true for my three sons-Joshua, Mark and Nicholas. They are named in my will. And after I’m gone, they can go through my clothes and take anything they like. It’s fine with me because I’m planning on a new wardrobe when I get to heaven.

To say that God has appointed Jesus heir of all things means that God has given everything to his Son. The deepest oceans. The farthest stars. The darkest corners. The highest mountains. It all belongs to him. Today it doesn’t appear that everything belongs to Jesus because Satan is a squatter who illegally claims the earth as his domain. But in the end Satan will be overthrown and Jesus installed as the rightful king of the universe. This means that when you come to the end of everything, Jesus is there! It may seem from a brief glance at the scoreboard that Satan is winning in the cosmic struggle between good and evil. But as they say in the election business, those are just “partial returns.” When all the votes are counted, those who stand with Jesus will find themselves on the victorious side. As Isaac Watts put it in his great hymn written in 1719, “Jesus shall reign where ’ere the sun, doth its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.”

He is the Creator of the Universe

“Through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus is the agent of creation and the Lord of the epochs of history. At the Father’s command, he brought the universe into being and he wrote the script for the unfolding ages. Through him God made everything. There are really only two choices a person can make as he studies the universe. Either you believe that everything is the result of infinite time plus blind chance or you believe that the universe is the result of God’s divine design. This means that all true science leads back to God. All true biology leads to God. All true botany, all true chemistry, all true physics, all true geology, and all true astronomy leads back to God. The Father delegated to his Son the work of bringing the universe into being and nothing was made except through him.

Think for a moment about these first two great statements. Jesus Christ is the Agent of Creation and the Heir of All Things. He was there at the beginning and he will be there at the end. And he is the Lord of everything in between. Truly he is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator, the Lord, the King.

Everywhere you turn, you run into Jesus. You have to shut your eyes to keep from seeing him! This is why atheism is the most unnatural philosophy in the world. We are made in God’s image, with an inborn desire to know God, and with the knowledge of God streaming in on every side. You have to deliberately reject the truth to become an atheist.

Let’s make this more personal. Not only did the Lord Jesus create the universe, he also created you and me. Psalm 139:14 says that we were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We owe every part of our physical existence to the Lord Jesus Christ. As one simple example, consider the intricacies of your own blood. Leviticus 17:11 declares that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”

Here is a statement made 3500 years ago that scientists now tell us is 100% accurate. Blood is truly the fluid of life. Your blood is made up of cells and plasma. As the blood flows through the heart, it is pumped through arteries, veins and capillaries to every part of your body. The blood delivers oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products. Adults have about 5.3 quarts of blood-almost a gallon and a half. A little over half is plasma, which contains electrolytes, nutrients and vitamins, carbohydrates, cholesterol, hormones, clotting factors, and proteins such as albumin and immunoglobulins which are really antibodies that fight infection. The cellular portion contains red blood cells (carry oxygen from the lungs), white blood cells (fight infection), platelets (help clot the blood so you don’t bleed to death). Plasma (the liquid portion of the blood) is 90% water, yet the 10% of material dissolved in it is absolutely crucial for proper bodily function. These various elements are pumped by the body as directed by the brain to the places where they are needed most. Plasma also contains substances called electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium. These vital chemicals help in such things as fluid balance, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. At the same time the plasma removes waste and sends it to the kidneys and to the lungs. All during this never-ending process, there is pressure from the heart that sends the blood outward and there is pressure inside the vessels produced by proteins in the blood that keep the blood level constant and the pressure rightly adjusted. When you take medication, it is the blood that rushes it along to the place where it is needed.

The blood flows into the right side of the heart and then goes to the lungs where it deposits carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen. From there the blood goes back to the left side of the heart and then out to the various parts of the body. The average adult heart beats 72 times per minute. In the course of one day the heart beats over 100,000 times. In one year the heart beats almost 38 million times, and by the time you are 70 years old it has beat 2.5 billion times! An average heart pumps 1.3 gallons per minute. In other words it pumps 1,900 gallons per day, almost 700,000 gallons per year, or 48 million gallons by the time someone is 70 years old. That’s not bad for a ten-ounce pump!

And this just scratches the surface of what the blood does and how it works. And blood is only one part of your body. How can anyone study the complexity of the human body and think that it all happened by chance? It takes more faith to believe that than to believe that your body was divinely created by God

Jesus is the Lord of your blood. He created it just for you. Every drop comes from him and every drop is precious to him.

To be continued

Source:www.keepbelieving.com

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