Here is information that is timely and informative. Read it carefully and follow the guidance contained therein if you face a bout with the virus that causes COVID-19. This is a publication from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPSonline.org)
I assume Christian parents (and grandparents) desire to win their children to Christ and train them to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. With that said, our good intentions must translate into consistent leadership, example, and teaching at home, at church, and yes—at school.
Fighting the battle for your children starts in the home. Ideally, Christian homes should be a haven from this world. A place where children do not encounter the ungodly culture lurking just outside the home. However, with the advent of technology parents must be proactive at home. Otherwise, children can be exposed to course entertainment and the consistent conversation of ungodly peers via social media.
Here are a few things to remember:
Be wise with the use of smartphones. Families these days often invest in phones for personal reasons, but they must be monitored. If you cannot keep up with these subtle intrusions into your child’s life, then don’t provide one until they can earn money to buy one and pay their own phone bill. By then they should be old enough to stay out of trouble with it.
In general parents must chaperone children while online. Websites of various kinds can introduce young eyes and minds to things no adult should see, much less a child.
Also, regarding home life daily Bible reading and prayer as a family is so important. Parents who consistently work at spending this time with their children are communicating that Christ is important to them and a walk with the Lord is a priority.
I could go on with this discussion, but for now let me simply direct you to a helpful resource at Focus on the Family sure to spawn ideas on how to keep Christ foremost in the minds of your children.
Fighting the battle for your children includes a faithful church life. Local churches all do things a bit different, but don’t worry about style over substance. The main thing to instill in the heart of your child is a love for the house of God.
The local church is really about developing the discipline of denying self to participate in the cause of Christ. Train your children to love the house of God, not a program the church has to offer. Sure, we all want to be encouraged when we attend church. However, church can never be a recreation center. That’s not the purpose.
Participating in corporate worship, learning to care for fellow members of the body of Christ, and working together to win others to Christ must be the focus. These things must be taught, especially as children transition to the teen years. Learning to attend church when we don’t “feel like it” is a discipline our children need to learn.
Fighting the battle for our children most certainly includes separating them from the public school system if possible. Why?
Well, passionate Christian leaders have written whole books on the subject. But in a nutshell, we need to separate our children from the world and UNTO Christ.
Our government run schools simply DO NOT teach children to fear the Lord. They do not train children to pursue the will of God. Instead, God, Christ, and His word has no place in the 13 year education of our youth (nearly 15,000 hour exposure).
How is this acceptable to Christian families? And why do we think our children will avoid learning the ways of the world when they are exposed to them day after day in a humanistic, godless educational setting?
Practically every day I come across a new article about what our children face in the public school system. The situation is desperate if you hope to raise children to be disciples of Jesus Christ. If it is in your power to make a change, then do it.
I encourage you to revisit my website for the short article on “Why We Need the Private Christian School.” I also encourage you to scroll through the IN THE NEWS section of my website for a glance at just some of the stories related to our public school system. Among the links posted to important subjects, eight are related to our schools and education.
Remember, fighting the battle for our children is worth all the effort. After all, they are the priceless gift of God entrusted to us so we can love them, train them, and guide them to Christ. At the end of the day winning them to Christ is our greatest reward. God bless.
Below are thoughts taken from a recent sermon on this subject. We all face burdens in life and we need encouragement as we deal with those difficulties.
May the Spirit of the Lord speak into your life as you meditate on these thoughts is my prayer.
It is my desire to share a word of encouragement in this message connected to the burden of opposition; the burden of personal struggles; and the burden of physical decline.
Let me remind you it is the common experience of believers to face problems in this life. No one is exempt. Seasons of struggle arise seemingly from nowhere. The peace of still waters can suddenly be turned into a raging sea of persecution and associated affliction, personal struggles, or the physical decline of sickness and aging.
May I prophesy to you and say with all the authority of God’s word: “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” And furthermore, “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Hear me today: we face our battles and carry our burdens, but we trust in the Lord and we seek the Lord. AND THE LORD WILL NOT FORSAKE THEM THAT SEEK HIM!
Brother Walt Mills penned a song a few years ago and the chorus simply says:
Well, I’ve got a feeling everything’s gonna be alright
Yea, I’ve got a feeling everything’s gonna be alright, be alright, be alright.
Perhaps many of you remember some of the words in a song made popular by the McKamey’s entitled, “The God on the Mountain is Still God in the Valley.” Part of the words say:
Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain. And you've got peace of mind. Like you've never known.
But then things change and you’re down in the valley. Don't lose hope for your never alone.
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong He'll make them right.
Said another way, God will prove faithful and he will not forsake those who seek him!
Look with me now at our text in Psalm 55:16-23:
16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.
You will notice verse 22 which says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
As I studied in preparation for this message, I discovered an interesting insight into the word burden found in this passage. The Hebrew word for “burden” is only used here in the entire Old Testament and it literally means gift or portion. The point is the difficulty faced is assigned or given to us by the Lord. It becomes our portion. We could say the Lord permitted the burden, or problem.
Our response to such difficulties introduced into our life is probably like David who says earlier in this chapter, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
However, the Lord does not allow us to run. He takes us through the fire. Our appropriate response is to cast our burden on the Lord and trust him to sustain us. The apostle Peter says it this way when he declares to the church, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
We come now to the first point I want to leave you with, namely that all believers will face the burden of opposition. I should point out the tone with which David writes in Psalm 55 indicates he is referencing his experience detailed in 2 Samuel chapter 15. In that chapter the Bible documents the rebellion of Absalom against his own father, David. Verse 31 of that chapter says:
“And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” Thus, David says in verses 20 and 21 of our text . . . (reread 20-21).
And so David prayed, “turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” In his prayer David cast this unavoidable “portion” dealt to him on the Lord. He cast this burden on the Lord, trusting the Lord to turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
David prayed, but David also endured a season of difficulty. He fled from Jerusalem for his life and was temporarily displaced from his throne. Right here is an important lesson in our struggles: we lay hold of God in prayer and as we wait for an answer the season of difficulty can seem like a season of silence from the Lord. However, the Lord sustains us while we wait upon him.
Take note, while David was on the run he said the Lord shall never allow the righteous to be moved. It was during the season of great opposition David said in his heart, “But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; BUT I WILL TRUST IN THEE.”
Indeed, those words found fulfillment in the life of David’s rebellious son Absalom who died a young man. He did not live out half his days.
Our opposition today is not identical to David’s, however, listen to these words from Philippians chapter one: “For unto you it is given (here is our burden) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe upon him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
It is likely we are facing a new season of opposition in America. The burden of opposition to the name of Christ and the cause of Christ is ours to bear. It is given to us not only to believe upon the Lord Jesus, but to also suffer for his sake. Just know this: if we are called to carry such a burden, we will cast it on the Lord and he shall sustain us!
Now let me add two simple thoughts today and I am done:
In this life we face many personal burdens, or personal struggles. The Bible teaches us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” While we all face the common burden of persecution, we do not all face the same personal struggles. May I ask you this: are you fulfilling the law of Christ to love one another as he has loved us?
Will you make yourself available to come along side a fallen brother or sister? Will you make it your business to come along side a fellow believer who is struggling under a spiritual burden? Will you put your shoulder under the weight of
that burden and help them carry it?
Friends, we must function as the body of Christ and when one member suffers the whole body suffers. Let's be a source of encouragement to one another and help bear one another’s burdens.
And finally, we all will face the burden of physical decline as we journey toward home. Paul said it this way in the book of 2nd Corinthians:
1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
We groan and we are burdened in this house we live in, but there is a day coming when this mortal will put on immortality! Praise his name!
Are you ready for the day of physical decline? Are you ready to ultimately leave this world or are you troubled at the thought of dying?
David said in Psalm 38, “mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”
I’m glad when we were dying under the weight of our sin a Savior came from heaven and put his shoulder under our cross and carried it to a hill called Calvary. As the famous hymn says,
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Christ has purchased your forgiveness at the cross! If you come to him, he will lift the burden of guilt and shame, washing you in his own precious blood. If you cry out to him he will save you and set you free. Amen.
Text of Pastor Rusty sermon delivered on January 31, 2021
I received a word of encouragement from a dear sister in the Lord this past week and in her comments, she asked a good question. She said, “We know the nation’s crisis, we know we have trouble on all sides, and we are living in turmoil with not much stability.” She pointed out that both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump have their crowds and there seems to be a lot of animosity between those two crowds.
She wants to know what we are able to do to try to get back on the path. I think her reference to the path means how can we return to a civil national life that is not characterized by strife and anger.
I must say, I do not have a brief, tidy answer to that question. In fact, I think the nation is in the grip of a great spiritual struggle. This new struggle is against an ungodly elitism manifesting in every high place of authority in the nation. An ugly elitism destined to foster tyranny over the American people in such a way freedom of conscience and the freedom to live one’s life per the dictates of personal faith is destroyed.
The struggle is further defined by a deep desire on the part of millions of Americans for economic freedom. The average American does not despise the accumulation of wealth, however, when those with privilege want to change the rules as to limit or make impossible the upward mobility of the average person a simmering resentment is set in motion. Ultimately, the pot on the stove is going to boil over.
I think we can safely discern we have entered a critical point in our nation’s history. The ungodly elites of the nation have already made their move to destroy what is left of a free America. The struggle will either end with the nation under the rule of those who call evil good, and good evil, or the gracious hand of the God of our fathers will push back this oppression granting us a stay from national demise.
I must warn you. The battle is going to intensify. The church in America will either rise to the challenge by way of personal revival, or future generations will live under the flag of an enemy. The only way for America to experience a rebirth of freedom is for the godly to experience revival.
A revival will rouse us from capitulation to the ungodly. It will put us in the prayer closet. It will compel us to stand for righteousness regardless of persecution. It will empower us to speak the truth and share the gospel. The one thing every Christian can do today to help our nation back to the right path is to experience personal revival.
My advice to every professed believer in Jesus Christ is to seek the Lord. It is time for a new day of obedience to Christ. Live for Christ. When the ungodly elites of the nation challenge our convictions do not budge an inch. The Bible says to be strong in the Lord and having done all to stand, STAND! Our stand for Christ is resistance against the onslaught of evil.
Personally, I think the push back against the advances of ungodly elitism is just beginning. We can overcome the threat of oppression and see the hand of God deliver us from unheard of tyranny in America if we rededicate ourselves to Christ and stand for him in this battle. The Lord can look on an obedient church with favor. He can avenge his people, but where is the prayer.
Look with me now at our text today from Luke 18:1-8:
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Please look again at verse one of our text. I want you to first notice the purpose for which Jesus gave the parable. Jesus says, “Men ought always to pray and not faint, or lose heart.” Let that sink into your thinking.
As we study upon this statement it is helpful to understand there is more than one kind of prayer. For example, a prayer for a personal need like food or clothing is different from a prayer for relief or justice. One may be answered more quickly than the other. In the case of crying out for justice a season of prayer is a necessity as there are obstacles in the way of answered prayer. A breakthrough can occur, but as Jesus illustrates such a blessing requires persistent prayer.
It is clear from the parable Jesus gives us persistent asking is the only reason the widow experienced a breakthrough. We must not miss this lesson. There are situations that demand we lay hold of God in prayer until we have the blessing. Remember, Jesus is encouraging such prayer. He says men ought always to pray and not lose heart. Obviously, the only reason we lose heart is because the desired blessing has not manifested after some time of praying.
At that point in the battle, we must not lose heart, or faint. We must not resign our self to defeat. Instead, the intensity of our prayers should increase. The unjust judge in the parable relented and granted the widow justice because she would not quit. Her continual coming wearied the man and finally he just wanted to get rid of her. So, he gave her justice.
Jesus immediately proceeds to draw a contrast between the unjust character of the judge with the obvious good character of God. Jesus so much as says if an unjust judge will finally come around, shall not a good God who is altogether ready to hear prayer avenge his own people which cry day and night unto him?
Furthermore, by virtue of the nature of the situation the Lord knows he must bear long with us as we lay hold of him, but that is no bother to the Lord. He is pleased when we lay hold of him in prayer. Persistent prayer does not bother the Lord.
Rather it is the lack of prayer that bothers the Lord.
Do you remember the experience of Jacob when he talked with the Lord the night before he was to meet his brother Esau? Jacob was distraught about facing Esau whom he thought was still plotting for his death.
And so the Bible says, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Like Jacob why don’t we lay hold of God until the blessing comes? Why don’t we prove the Lord’s teaching in Luke 18? Instead of trying to figure everything out, why don’t we just “cry out” day and night until we are avenged by our God?
May the Lord teach us by experience the lesson of prevailing prayer. There are blessings to be secured if we pray and do not faint.
At the beginning of a new year many people think about improving their overall health. Taking care of our body is of interest because we desire to live strong, productive lives. Often the big issue is losing weight and getting in better shape, or perhaps overcoming various bad habits known to contribute to declining health over time.
While the generic goal of improving one’s health for a better quality of life is commendable, Christians have a more serious motivation. The Bible reveals the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:9-20). Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 3:17 says, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Wow! This is an eye-opening statement.
In his commentary Matthew Henry writes, “Every Christian is a living temple of the living God. God dwelt in the Jewish temple, took possession of it, and resided in it, by that glorious cloud that was the token of his presence with that people. So Christ by his Spirit dwells in all true believers.
The temple was devoted and consecrated to God, and set apart from every common to a holy use, to the immediate service of God. So all Christians are separated from common uses, and set apart for God and his service. They are sacred to him-a very good argument this against all fleshly lusts, and all doctrines that give countenance to them.
If we are the temples of God, we must do nothing that shall alienate ourselves from him, or corrupt and pollute ourselves, and thereby unfit ourselves for his use; and we must hearken to no doctrine nor doctor that would seduce us to any such practices. Note, Christians are holy by profession, and should be pure and clean both in heart and conversation. We should heartily abhor, and carefully avoid, what will defile God's temple, and prostitute what ought to be sacred to him.”
Therefore, on a personal level, believers are to keep their temple holy. If choices are made to defile the temple (for example through immorality as described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-20), then a believer invites the discipline of God which manifests in both the natural results of sin against the body and the withholding of God’s gracious favor whereupon the reckless believer finds no place of healing.
My advice to you is to begin treating your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 3:7-8 adds light to this subject. This passage says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”
The bigger goal for every believer in a new year is the pursuit of holy living. Improving your health begins by departing from evil! Such behavior shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones. For the believer, temple maintenance begins with holy living.
The next point to be made in pursuit of taking care of your body has to do with the care of the inner man. Consider these verses on the subject:
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
It is an established fact of medicine that prolonged anxiety, despondency, and depression cause a variety of illnesses in the body. These problems are issues of the heart (the immaterial nature of man; our spirit/soul). Our spiritual life has the potential of effecting our physical health. We need a spiritual remedy for anxiety, despondency, and depression. That remedy is found in a growing walk with the Lord.
I would remind you of the words of our Lord found in John 10:10. In this verse Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The abundant life of which Christ speaks is first connected to the inner life. We need peace with God, and we need the joy of His salvation. We need the settled hope only found in a growing personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once the Lord is our shepherd, he will lead us beside still waters and cause us to lie down in green pastures. We will find rest for our souls (Psalm 23; Matthew 11:28-30). We find in Christ the answer to our anxiety, worry, and fears. In Christ we find our hope and joy. He alone has the power to calm the troubled waters of our soul.
Learning to yield to him as we cast our care upon him (Phil. 4:6-7) is part of the antidote for anxiety. Learning to trust him with our life (Matthew 6:25-34) is the other part. In prayer we exchange our cares for his peace that passes understanding. Rising from the place of prayer we walk in confident faith in the One who takes our burdens (Psalm 55:22) and assures us he will provide for every need. Learn to spend appropriate time with the Lord in prayer and he will grant grace to relieve your anxieties. He will replace your fears with faith and a restful confidence in him.
Such a prayer life contributes to a joyful inner life. Remember, we need a merry heart that does good like a medicine. A low spirit effects overall health, so we need to cultivate a merry heart. Since our prayer life deals with the cares of the heart it naturally cultivates inner joy. A sense of joy blossoms as we experience a release from the cares weighing upon the heart.
Remember this simple statement: happiness is the Lord! Meditate on him in prayer and learn to make him the center of your life through-out your day. Let the Lord himself be your joy! Meditate on the Lord and be thankful. Find your contentment in him. Rejoice in his salvation daily and let your hope in Christ sooth the soul.
We do not need to be cast down in spirit regardless of the difficulties in life. Our hope in Christ is the anchor of our soul. The Bible says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalms 42:11).
Remember, taking care of the inner life is a key to good temple maintenance.
Next, we need to strive for consistency in several practical areas of life. Physical examinations, exercise, diet, and proper sleep are important elements of temple maintenance.
A common benefit of a physical exam is the detection of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be controlled through a combination of diet and medicine. Controlling high blood pressure helps avoid damage to the body later in life. Thus, it is wise for younger adults to have annual checkups to catch health issues long before they can work significant damage to the body.
Physical examinations have a way of calling attention to bad habits defiling our bodies. If we are unwilling to identify these habits and avoid them, then we are inviting a shorter life directly connected to God’s discipline.
I cannot speak at length about exercise, diet, and sleep except to point out a few obvious things. It is widely known that a brisk twenty-minute walk four times per week has good health benefits. This is a minimum and needs to happen! Regarding diet if we simply drink plenty of water daily and avoid overeating anything, we are making a big contribution to temple maintenance. Also, adding good sleep before midnight is a good habit that fosters better health.
Here are a few concluding thoughts from Scripture to encourage our hearts:
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee (Prov. 3:1-2) . . . Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).
Big Tech Tyranny, Tony Perkin's Warning About Public Schools, Biden Signs Divisive Transgender Executive Order
I encourage you to check out the links I posted to the stories mentioned in the title of this blog.
First, Buck Sexton writes, “While many people on the Right saw the digital purge coming, the ferocity of the ambush has been a shock… The major tech companies – specifically Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter – have become absolutely brazen in their partisan assaults. Whereas they used to pretend that right-of-center views were mysteriously censored or banished by accident, it seems now they are outright telling America, “We decide what you can say.”
Big Tech will ruin America if they are not broken up. The power these companies weld is now openly destroying free speech in the country. Be sure to read the full article. Could you imagine if the government told us we could not drive on an interstate highway if we held to conservative values and opinions? Well, in effect this is exactly what the big boys at Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are saying about “internet traffic.”
They can shut down anyone who holds to an opinion that does not suite their leftist ideology. This is akin to living in China if such behavior is allowed in America.
Next, I beg every parent and grandparent to read two articles by Tony Perkins (The Woke Has Gone for Broke and We Have to Stop Pretending Public Schools Are Not Bad) concerning the appalling condition of our public schools. We desperately need to remove our children from schools dominated by leftist propaganda. The situation under Mr. Biden is only going to get worse. Do the research for yourself, but please do not pretend your school is exempt. Let’s get focused on raising our children in a godly academic atmosphere that trains them in the fear of the Lord and challenges them in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, Mr. Biden showed pitiful leadership right out of the gate on his first day in office by signing an Executive Order that basically means “boys who identify as girls must be allowed to compete in the girls’ athletic competitions, men who identify as women must be allowed in women-only spaces, health care plans must pay for gender transition procedures, and doctors and hospitals must perform them” (Ryan Anderson/The Daily Signal).
It is sad to see this mindset in the highest office in the land. We must pray fervently for grace to stand against wickedness in high places. Our courts are going to be busy to say the least. We must call upon the Lord for his favor in the courts lest tyranny and ungodliness prevail. I suggest you re-read Ephesians 6:10-20 and gear up for the battle.
The Bible says in Jeremiah chapter six, verse 16: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
Please note the admonition to "ask for the old paths" found in this verse. My friend, we need to seek the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in them. In so doing we shall find rest for our souls in the New Year.
There are several initial observations we should take note of from our text. First, Jeremiah the prophet is quoting the Lord. Jeremiah’s message is not his own. His calling as a prophet of God required him to deliver the Word of God to the people.
It is interesting to note when God called Jeremiah, he told the Lord he could not speak. He told the Lord he was nothing more than a child. Jeremiah shrunk back from the thought of standing before his nation or any other group of people to speak for the Lord.
But the Lord said unto him, “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched Jeremiah’s mouth and the Lord said unto him, “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”
And so Jeremiah accepted the call of God to carry the Word of God to the people. Our text is an example of Jeremiah speaking the word God put in his mouth. And so Jeremiah says, “thus saith the Lord.”
I must warn you today. It is a grave mistake to ignore the Word of God. When the Word of God is proclaimed, we are declaring “thus saith the Lord.” Only the foolish and short-sighted and unbelieving continue on their frivolous way upon hearing the Word of the living God! Don’t be among them my friend.
Next, the text contains a very specific admonition from the Lord. It is the Lord who instructs us to “ask for the old paths.” Not new paths, but old paths! I must warn you today of a common temptation that wields great power over rising generations. It is the temptation to depart from the old paths as Satan casts them in a bad light.
He does so by insisting the old paths are not the sole way to truth. In fact, he will insist the old paths are just the dogmatic proclamations of bigoted fanatics. Satan howls with disdain against the idea everyone must travel the old paths. He clamors for new paths that supposedly lead to a better world.
But alas my friend, his new world is a world without God. He promises greater light, but only increases darkness. He promises new paths that produce greater freedom, but the naïve discover too late the new paths are a web of deceptive bondage that drags the soul down to the depths of hell!
My friend, we need the old paths of the Lord in this New Year. David said, “Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.” Indeed, that needs to be our prayer as well. Let us “ask for the old paths” wherein is the good way and let us walk in them and we shall find rest for our souls.
Notice again that we should “ask for the old paths” because therein lies the “good way.” The old paths are good because they lead to the fear of the Lord and because they are the paths of righteousness.
These paths show us the way of life itself. Sadly the Lord says of the children of Israel in the book of Isaiah, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walks in a way that was not good, AFTER THEIR OWN THOUGHTS” (Isaiah 65:2).
In like manner, there are many in our day doing exactly what the children of Israel did those many years ago. They walk after “their own thoughts.”
Let me say it this way: if you are not walking in the old paths, that is, if you are not following the Word of God, then you are following after the thoughts of mere men. The old paths speak of the Word of God.
Those who refuse to ask for the old paths are choosing rather to follow the words of mere men. Unfortunately, the words of unbelieving men carry far more weight in America today than does the Word of God. We have strayed from the old paths. For example:
Isn’t it true that our nation was not always a nation overrun with idolatry?
Isn’t it true that our nation once honored God, Christ, and His Word in our schools?
Isn’t it true that our nation once embraced the basic definition of marriage as one man for one woman for a life time?
Isn’t it true that our nation did not always allow no fault divorce?
Isn’t it true that our nation once held the expectation that men and women would marry before having children?
Isn’t it true that the proliferation of pornography was once unheard of in our nation?
Isn’t it true that the murder of the unborn child was unthinkable at one time in our nation?
My friends, we have forsaken the old paths and our nation has embraced a supposed new progressive way of thinking. But the new paths are nothing more than the old lies of Satan himself. And the ways that seem right to the unregenerate minds of modern day Americans will at the end prove to be the ways of death.
Listen to these words from Jeremiah and let me apply the last verse of this reading to our own nation:
“1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
2 And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely.
3 O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God.
5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.
7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses” (Jeremiah 5:1-7).
America is guilty of the same unfaithfulness found in verse 7. As the Lord continues to allow material prosperity in America (I have feed them to the full), what has she done to the Lord in return? She has been unfaithful and rebelled against the Lord.
Now let me show you one final thing in our text. Jeremiah preached in a day when the dark clouds of God’s impending judgment could be seen off on the horizon. Jeremiah would live through the heartbreak of that judgment.
He saw his nation ravaged by a foreign power. He saw many of his people die. He watched as his nation lost her sovereignty and her freedom. Jeremiah says in the book of Lamentations, “mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.” His heart was broken.
The devastation was overwhelming. But know this, at the heart of Jeremiah’s message to the people was a very real invitation. In spite of their backslidings the Lord said to the people in our text, “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths.”
In effect, the people to whom Jeremiah ministered stood at a crossroad. They could either continue down the path of rebellion, or they could ask for the old paths. That is, they could repent and travel the old paths again. The Lord implores them to “ask for the old paths!”
Then the Lord proceeds to give a powerful promise declaring, “and ye shall find rest for your soul.”
The invitation was real. The promise was real. Instead of judgment, the nation could enjoy “rest.”
However, the people said “we will not walk therein.” The decision to refuse the old paths finally brought judgment upon the people.
In this New Year will you choose the old paths? Or do you believe the Bible is out of date and no longer relevant in our day?
I must say that the old paths are quite narrow. The old paths reject the idolatry of multiculturalism. They reject the lie of marco-evolution. They reject the pagan concept of millions of years. They reject the lie mankind is basically good in his nature, and they reject the lie of universal salvation apart from the blood of Christ.
You see, the old paths bring you to the knowledge of the Creator/Redeemer, the only true God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The old paths teach you to respect the authority of God’s Word.
The old paths lead you by the way of the cross of Calvary and on to a borrowed, empty tomb. The old paths will lead you to an altar of personal repentance where you can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your soul!
Sunday Sermon delivered on 12/06/20
I am speaking today on the subject, “God Sent His Only Begotten Son into the World.”
It is interesting to note the apostle John expounds upon the birth of Christ in the first chapter of his gospel. In so doing he clearly sets forth the theology central to Christianity. He sets forth the magnificent person of Jesus, the Christ, the unique Son of the living God.
While Matthew and Luke record the earthly details of the birth of Christ, John begins in heaven itself. He does not discuss Mary, or Joseph, or the manger, or the heavenly hosts, or the shepherds, or even the wise men from the East. Rather, his inspired text takes us immediately into heaven and eternity past. He says in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John expands upon verse one as he goes on to say, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Thus, John reveals the eternal Word was made flesh, that is, he took to himself human nature. This miracle occurred the moment of the virgin conception whereupon Mary was found with child of the Holy Ghost. This taking of human nature by the eternal Word is what we commonly refer to as the incarnation.
John’s teaching makes it abundantly clear the child Mary gave birth to was Immanuel, God with us. In particular, he identifies the distinct personality within the Godhead who came to dwell among us in the person of Jesus the Christ. The eternal Word (another title for the eternal Son) came to us in the person of Jesus.
Brother John MacArthur calls our attention to this essential truth with these words, “If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words,
these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!”
Now I come to the text for this message from 1 John 4:9 which says, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
The apostle John states in our text, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
The wonder of Christmas is contained in John’s statement, “God sent his only begotten Son into the world.” John repeatedly states in his gospel that the Father “sent the Son.”
For example, Jesus states in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Again, we read in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Numerous times in John’s gospel it is said that the Father sent his Son into the world. The point is this: the eternal Word (the eternally begotten Son of God) was sent to accomplish his Father’s will. The Son “came down from heaven.” The virgin conception clothed him with a human nature. While he remained intrinsically God as a member of the Triune Godhead, the incarnation veiled the glory he had with the Father before the world began (John 17:5).
Elsewhere Scripture states it pleased the Father that in him (Jesus) should all the fullness of the Godhead dwell in bodily form. In the book of Colossians, the Word of God reveals “it pleased the Father that in him (Jesus, the Christ) should all fullness dwell . . . For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 1:19; 2:9).
Joseph Pipa, Jr. speaking of Jesus said, “These two simple phrases - "sent forth" and "born of a woman" - sum up the mystery of the incarnation. The eternal Son of God was sent into the world through a process of taking a human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. As a result, he was one person existing with two distinct natures. Luther captured the mystery in his advent hymn, "All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord":
Once did the skies before thee bow;
A virgin's arms contain thee now:
Angels who did in thee rejoice
Now listen for thine infant voice.
Look again into the Bethlehem manger. The helpless child lying there wrapped
in swaddling clothes was heaven’s child. Although he was God from all eternity past, he humbled himself. He made himself of no reputation, took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7).
But why—why did our Creator humble himself in this way?
The Bible says in the book of Hebrews that “he was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death . . . that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).
This passage in Hebrews goes on to say, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
The latter part of Hebrews 2:14 reaches back to the beginning of earth history. You may recall in the Garden of Eden God promised Adam and Eve that in time the promised Seed of the Woman would “bruise the head of the serpent” (Genesis 3:15). However, in the process of doing so he would suffer a “heel wound.” This language spoke of the future death of Christ and the victory he would win over Satan on our behalf.
My friends, God sent his only begotten Son into the world to free us from the power of death and bring the promise of eternal life. To do so required his death as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. Thus, he took upon himself human nature to die as the great sacrifice for our sin.
Think about this for a moment: the Son of God stepped down from his throne with a passion to free you from bondage to sin and death.
The Scripture reveals Jesus understood the Father prepared for him a body to be offered in sacrifice for sin. Hebrews chapter ten says, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering you did not want (in other words the Son understood that the Father could never be satisfied by the offerings made under the Old Covenant), but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast found no pleasure. Then said I (the Son is speaking), Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”
This means Jesus understood his great sacrifice was necessary to fully propitiate the Divine wrath against sin. He fully understood his death on our behalf was necessary to reconcile us to God.
Consequently, “for the joy that was set before him” he endured the cross. (Heb. 12:2). With joy he looked beyond the cross knowing his sacrificial death would purchase freedom for a world held in slavery to sin and death. Moved by a passionate desire to save us from our sins, he took upon himself human nature for the suffering of death. Do you fully understand this?
In light of the Savior’s deep desire to deliver his own from the power of Satan, the message of the angel to the shepherds that holy night should fill our hearts with overflowing joy: “for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!”
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him!”
That we might live through him! How glorious this is! And all we need do is receive the gift of God’s love.
I finish now with these familiar words from the gospel of St. John:
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13).
Do you believe upon his name? I believe it breaks the heart of God when any man rejects his love manifested through the gift of his Son.
And how do men reject that love? Many refuse to accept the overwhelming testimony of Holy Scripture that Jesus is the Son of God. All who refuse to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God are rejecting the love of God in Christ.
It matters not if you are Jew or Gentile. Nor does it matter what tradition you grew up in. Once confronted by the witness of the Word through the work of the Spirit you have a decision to make. Perhaps you must give up a misdirected loyalty that denies Jesus as the unique Son of God, God come in the flesh for your salvation. Or perhaps you must once for all turn your back on the love of the world as it pulls your heart away from the Savior.
But know this—you are making a decision. And your decision will seal your eternal fate. Will you be among those who refuse to receive the gift of salvation? He came unto his own and most of them rejected him, but are you any different?
Those who say Jesus was “a son of God” refusing to confess him as the Lord who came down from heaven are tragically lost!
Those who say he was only a prophet are likewise in denial of his unique person. As John says in his first epistle, “he that denies the Son, the same has not the Father.” However, John declares, “whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.”
As well, those who strip Christ of his Deity and proceed to set him up as some spiritual guru who came to show us the way to some kind of “Christ consciousness” are in terrible spiritual darkness! Unless you repent and turn from such folly soon you will slip into outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I beg you! Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ! Give up your idols. Give up the wicked imaginations of a rebellious heart and bow the knee to the Son of God. He is the only Savior of the world who came down from heaven to redeem you by the work of his cross and by the power of an endless life! It is time to turn. It is time to bow at his feet and cry out for mercy and grace.
Hear me: Jesus Christ will save you. He will forgive you. He will deliver you from darkness. He will wash you in his own precious blood. He will raise you out of death and into life. If you will come to him, he will under no circumstance cast you out. He will not reject you. But you must confess he is the Son of God. You must confess he is the Lord who came for your salvation.
I leave you with the words of the apostle John who said, “And we know that the Son of God is come . . . and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Hear our text one more time: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
Sunday sermon delivered on 11/29/2020
Please open your Bible to the OT book of Isaiah and turn to chapter seven. I begin today with a reading of verses one through sixteen as I share a message entitled, “A Sign to Israel and the World.” Isaiah 7:1-16.
I pause to remind you of the importance of Israel in the sovereign plans of the living God. The Lord’s eternal plan to bring a Savior into the world of necessity included his plans to form a nation through whom the Savior would come. Israel is that nation and is pictured in Revelation chapter twelve as the woman who brought forth a man child, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron.
I remind you also the Scripture refers to the one true, living God as “the holy One of Israel” or “the God of Israel” some 233 times with two of those references in the New Testament. The God of our salvation is the God of Israel.
Upon the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.”
Indeed, blessed be the Lord God of Israel who raised up a Savior for both Israel and the world as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began!
Now may we read the text from Isaiah 7:1-16 . . .
Couched in this message to King Ahaz, the king of Judah at that time, is the famous prophecy concerning the future birth of Immanuel. Verse 14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” We will come back to this verse in a few minutes, but first a review of the historical setting in which the Lord gave this mighty prophetic word is necessary.
Ahaz was of the house of David and reigned in the Southern Kingdom of Israel following his father, Jotham. To place some emphasis upon the house of David bear with me a moment while I read the names of the Kings who reigned over the Southern Kingdom of Israel leading up to King Ahaz.
Of course, King Saul was Israel’s first king, and he was followed by David. Most of you are probably familiar with the covenant God made with King David. The Lord determined that he would send the Savior through the house of David. By the Lord’s design, the promised Messiah would be a physical descendent of David.
So, let us pick up again. Following David, King Solomon ruled the nation. And as you may recall, following Solomon’s reign the nation was troubled by a civil war. The war divided the nation into a Northern and Southern Kingdom. The house of David reigned over the Southern Kingdom. Rehoboam was the first to do so. Succeeding sons of the various Kings proceeded to reign as follows: Abijah—Asa—Jehoshaphat—Jehoram—Ahaziah—Joash—Amaziah—Uzziah—Jotham—and then King Ahaz.
Unfortunately, King Ahaz was an ungodly king. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 Kings 16 states, “But he [Ahaz] walked in the way of the kings of Israel (the Northern Kingdom), yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.”
So, Ahaz practiced sordid idolatry. He did not honor the Lord at all. Any reference he makes to the Lord should be understood in the context of just placating the prophet. He pretends to be pious when in fact he is practicing open rebellion against the Lord.
Of course, the Lord was very patient with the house of David. Despite the behavior of Ahaz, the Lord sent his prophet with good news for the king. Rezin King of Syria and Pekah King of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) would not prevail against Ahaz.
Note verses one and two again . . .
So, the Lord sent Isaiah and his son to King Ahaz to say that the plans of those two men to capture Jerusalem and overrun the Southern Kingdom would not stand and would not come to pass (v7).
Now look with me at verse 9 again . . . If you will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. This was the Lord’s way of saying to Ahaz, “you must trust me, and you must not look for help from another nation (whether Egypt or otherwise).”
Now look again at verse 10 and 11 . . .
This is interesting. In his grace the Lord extends to Ahaz the opportunity to ask for a sign that he would deliver the King from the impending threat. In context, it seems to me the Lord is doing so because Ahaz is not a man of faith. He really was not walking with the Lord and he had no personal confidence in the Lord. The Lord knew he needed some confirmation, and in his grace, he offers it. I should quickly add that by design the Lord is setting the table for the great prophetic word found in verse 14.
You see, it may seem at first glance the famous prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 comes out of nowhere as the Lord deals with this king. However, the Lord uses the occasion to draw special attention to the central focus of his relationship with the house of David--namely that the Messiah would come through the house of David.
Consequently, the Lord proceeds to reveal in unmistakable terms the Messiah, coming through the house of David, would have no earthly father. This unique and most unusual circumstance would serve as a sign to the nation and to the world.
Now look again at the response of King Ahaz in verse 12 . . .
This response was deceitful. King Ahaz responded this way because he did not want to be bothered with the Lord! How do I know? Look again at verse 13 . . .
The Lord knew exactly what was in the heart of this King and he was not pleased. His false piety veiled his unbelief, and it wearied the Lord!
However, the Lord uses this occasion to say to Ahaz and to the whole house of David, and for that matter the whole world, I am going to give you a sign anyway. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
It was over 700 years later when this great sign appeared during a quiet night in a little town called Bethlehem as a young virgin girl named Mary gave birth to heaven’s child. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
About the time the little baby Jesus was settled from his birth and nestled warmly in the humble garment of his swaddling clothes heaven could not contain itself any longer. In the fields just outside Bethlehem suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds as they kept their flocks by night. They came with news of the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 as the angel said,
“Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Please carefully take note of the exact wording of the angel’s announcement. The angel said a Savior was born who is CHRIST THE LORD. The infant child asleep in that manger was “the Lord!” This is Immanuel. This is God with us. The fruit of the virgin’s womb is the God-man. This is the Son of the living God and it pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness of the Godhead dwell in bodily form. This is the eternal Son made a little lower than the angels in the sense that he took upon himself human nature in the person of Jesus the Christ. This is God’s perfect lamb. Is it any wonder heaven could not contain itself?
Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Hear me today: Christmas remains a sign to the entire world. All men everywhere need to take heed to this sign. God has in these last days spoken to us by his Son. Yes, a virgin did conceive miraculously and proceeded to give birth to the only begotten Son of God. Do you believe this good news?
Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ the unique Son of the living God? Do you believe he is Immanuel? Do you understand that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself? Do you believe Jesus came for your salvation?
I close with the words of Isaiah 7:9 one more time: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” God required King Ahaz to believe his word. Likewise, God requires that you believe the word spoken concerning his Son. The birth of Christ remains a sign for the whole world.
Long ago on the night of our Savior’s birth the angel said to the shepherds abiding in the field, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” What a glorious announcement the angel brought to the shepherds that night.
The occasion of our Lord’s birth was cause for great joy because the Father’s unspeakable gift had come into the world. The passing of many years since the time of his humble entrance into our world has not served to lessen the joy of reflecting upon the first advent of Christ. Each Christmas season serves to remind us the eternal Word participated in our humanity living among us in the person of Jesus the Christ. His birth forever remains good tidings of great joy! We should rejoice he was born for our salvation. Truly his birth is still cause for great joy to all people!
I believe it is appropriate for us to celebrate the birthday of the most important person ever born. Those of you in the Christian community that think it wrong to celebrate his birthday most certainly would not celebrate the birthday of anyone else, right? If we are not allowed to celebrate the birthday of the most important person in history, then it follows that all birthday celebrations must be avoided. Now, we are not commanded in Scripture to celebrate his birthday, but neither are we forbidden to do so. And although we may not know the exact date of his birth, a traditional date like December 25th has served well.
Surely if there was great excitement about his first Advent it only follows that believers continue to rejoice with good tidings of great joy to this very day. However, with that said, we Christians must be careful to avoid the spirit of the world around us. Many people in the world can celebrate Christmas without one thought about Christ. We must guard our own hearts from the influence of a world that still has no room for Christ. With that said, let me offer a few simple suggestions that may help you celebrate Jesus during this Advent season.
Let me begin today by quoting from John chapter one where the scripture says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1, 14) During advent we should reflect upon the awesome reality that God came to earth in the person of Jesus the Christ.
This is a wonder that both thrills the heart and escapes comprehension. We rejoice at Christmas time, not because we know the exact day of Christ’s birth, rather we celebrate because we know God came to us in the person of His Son. You can make this season a time of rejoicing if you meditate on the gift God gave to you when His Son was born that first Christmas morn.
Next, we should worship and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in our decorations, in our music, and by making His house a priority during the season.
We will see many different decorations throughout our communities during the Christmas season. And in the context of celebrating the joy of the birth of the Savior it can be wonderful. But if His name is not mentioned, or if the manger is nowhere to be seen, then you and I have failed! You and I are a part of the Christian community. It is up to us to provide the lead when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas. Consequently, you and I need to take care that our decorations draw attention to Christ. For example, in the past I have seen an interesting decoration that has Santa Claus kneeling in front of a manger scene. That speaks volumes!
Another important part of our celebration each year is music. Again, there are many Christmas songs, but not all of them honor the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that a happy Christmas song is wrong, but I am saying you cannot enjoy the presence of the Lord in music that says nothing of Jesus Christ. And I will say this without apology: keep Christ in your music and your heart will thrill again and again at the wonder of the birth of God our Savior!
Also, you and I should exalt Christ by making his house our priority. How can Christians celebrate Christ if they get so busy they have no time for church during the Christmas season? I am looking forward to our worship opportunities during this Christmas season. Shouldn’t our children grow up with the tradition of being in church during the Christmas season? And when Christmas Eve or Christmas day happens to fall on our normal days of worship, shouldn’t we simply teach our children the joy of putting Christ first? After all, it is his birthday! If you ever let yourself drift into a state of mind such that church is in the way of your Christmas celebrations, then you have totally lost the meaning of the season.
Next, we should rehearse the history of Christ’s birth to our children and grandchildren. With all due respect, Christmas is not about Frosty the Snowman, or Rudolph the red nose reindeer, or other mythical cartoon figures. Our children need to understand that Jesus is a real person of history. We need to carefully teach them the details of the life of Christ as contained in the Word of God.
If we are not careful, the history of his birth will become trivial to our children. Because they do not know it well, and because there are so many other distractions at this time of year, the real reason for the season will be lost. Instead of giving our children a Christian heritage, they will come to view the season as just a time for another party. Make your Christmas celebration a time of careful instruction for your children. If you do so, it will bring greater joy to your heart as you see your children grow in their faith.
Next, we should make Scripture reading a part of our family gatherings.
This is a tradition we would be wise to establish. A good idea might be to read the story of the birth of Christ before you open gifts on Christmas day and then offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all of God’s goodness, especially for the unspeakable gift of His Son.
By the way, this should be the reason we exchange gifts. The giving of gifts at Christmas should be a celebration of the fact our heavenly Father gave us the gift of His Son. The giving of gifts can be an expression of joy and a celebration of God’s goodness to us through His Son. (You might like to read Esther 9:20-23 for an example of giving gifts in celebration of God’s mercies) This year if you choose to exchange gifts, why not do so with joy and in celebration of God’s unspeakable gift?
Speaking of gifts, that brings me to the next point in this message: We should worship Christ with our giving during the Christmas season. Another aspect of gift giving at Christmas should be this: All of our gift giving during the Christmas season should be done in the spirit of Christ who said, “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.” Those who enjoy Christmas the most are those who learn the joy of giving!
Gift giving can certainly serve the purpose of meeting needs in our own families and in the lives of our neighbors. What joy there is in giving to bless others! And the gift could either meet a legitimate need or simply bless the recipient with a good thing. All giving done during the Christmas season can certainly be done in worship of Christ if done with prayer and with an aim to please him.
But there is another important point here. How strange it is that at Christmas time we would fail to give a special offering to Christ himself. I challenge you to worship Christ in your giving by putting him at the top of your “gift list.” I believe, like the wise men who visited the young Christ child, that we should worship him with gifts from our treasures. Don’t forget this important part of your celebration.
Next, we should celebrate Christmas by touching others with the love of Christ.
What an opportunity the Christmas season provides to reach out to others with the love of Christ. There are many needs in our world. Why not make it your business to help meet the needs of others who are facing difficulties. You may know a single mom who is struggling, or a family facing unusual medical expenses, or a family in transition as the husband is temporarily unemployed. My friends, if we are to truly celebrate Christmas, then we are compelled to model the love of the one born on Christmas day.
And finally, we should celebrate Christmas by sharing the hope that Christmas gives. Can I ask you a question: who are you building a relationship with in the interest of winning them to Christ? There are people all around you that desperately need the hope that can only be found in Christ. Let’s celebrate with great joy by sharing the good tidings of a Savior who can bring peace and healing to a broken heart.
Make merry this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!