Thursday, December 18, 2014

Materialism & the Meaning of Christmas


A television interviewer was walking streets of Tokyo at Christmas time.

Much as in America, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan.

The interviewer stopped one young woman on the sidewalk, and
asked, "What is the meaning of Christmas?"

Laughing, she responded, "I don't know. Is that the day that Jesus died?"

There is some truth in her answer.   (Donald Deffner; Seasonal Illustrations)

“How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts! O! 'tis
easier to keep holidays than commandments.” - Benjamin Franklin.

John 1:11-12 (KJV): “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.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CONFESSION


During WWI one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended.

The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give improper friends up. They would give him up.

As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he encountered that he had become a Christian. The soldier went home. Almost immediately--in fact, while he was still on the platform of the suburban station at the end of his return trip--he met a girl whom he had known socially. She was delighted to see him and asked how he was doing. He told her, "The greatest thing that could possibly happen to me has happened." "You're engaged to be married," she exclaimed. "No," he told her. "It's even better than that. I've taken the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior." The girls' expression froze. She mumbled a few polite words and went on her way.

A short time later the new Christian met a young man whom he had known before going into the service. "It's good to see you back," he declared. "We'll have some great parties now that you've returned." "I've just become a Christian," the soldier said. He was thinking, That's two! Again it was a case of a frozen smile and a quick change of conversation.

After this the same circumstances were repeated with a young couple and with two more old friends. By this time word had got around, and soon some of his friends stopped seeing him. He had become peculiar, religious, and - who knows! - they may even have called him crazy! What had he done? Nothing but confess Christ. The same confession that had aligned him with Christ had separated him from those who did not want Jesus Christ as Savior and who, in fact, did not even want to hear about Him. (‘Christ's Call To Discipleship’ - J.M. Boice)

"Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven.” – Jesus (Mat 10:32 GNB)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

PRAYER LIFE


“I do not believe that one can earnestly seek and find the priceless treasure of God's call without a devout prayer life. That is where God speaks.

The purpose of prayer and of God's call in your life is not to make you number one in the world's eyes, but to make him number one in your life.

We must be willing to be outshone while shining for God. We hear very little about being smaller in our own self-estimate.” - Ravi Zacharias.

“Prayer is not over-coming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.” - Martin Luther.

“The secret of praying is praying in secret.” - Leonard Ravenhill.

John 16:24 (ISV): “So far you haven't asked for anything in my name. Keep asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete."

Monday, December 15, 2014

DECISION-MAKING


Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes.

The cobbler asked young Reagan, "Do you want square toes or round toes?"

Unable to decide, Reagan didn't answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days.

Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn't decide, so the shoemaker replied, "Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready."

When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! "This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you," the cobbler said to his indecisive customer.

"I learned right then and there," Reagan said later, "if you don't make your own decisions, someone else will."  (Today in the Word)

"I believe in my soul that there are more at this day being lost for want of decision than for any other thing." - D L Moody.

Psa 119:60 (NHEB): "I will hurry, and not delay, to obey your commandments."

Envy and Greed Will Cost You Everything


There is an old Jewish folktale about a cat that stole a cheese from a market. A dog saw the robbery and wanted some for himself, so he and the cat fought; but there was no victor.

They decided to get the fox to settle their quarrel. The fox proposed they simply divide the cheese. The dog and cat agreed.

After the fox divided the cheese in half, the dog protested that his portion was smaller. The cat agreed, and the fox bit off some of the cat's share.

The cat then protested that his portion was now too small. The fox agreed and took a bite from the dog's portion.

This squabbling went on so long that eventually the fox had eaten all the cheese. - J. Michael Shannon (preaching.com)

The lesson is, there is grace in sharing and when you want to abandon that grace you lose everything.

Luke 12:15 (GW): He told the people, "Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having a lot of material possessions."

A 'GREAT PREACHER' OR 'MY MESSENGER'


Early in his ministry, when he was pastor of the Congregational Church at Rugeley, Campbell Morgan studied hard and preached often.

He was discovering and developing the gift of Bible exposition that later made him the prince of expositors. His preaching made him popular.

One evening, as he sat in his study, he felt God saying to him, "What are you going to be, a preacher or My messenger?"

As Morgan pondered the question, he realized that his desire to become a "great preacher" was hindering his work. For several hours Morgan sat there struggling with God's call and human ambition.

Finally he said, "Thy messenger, my Master - Thine!"

He took the precious outlines of his sermons, messages that he was proud of, and laid them in the fireplace where they burned to ashes. That was when the victory was won.

As the outlines were burning, Morgan prayed: "If Thou wilt give me Thy words to speak, I will utter them from this day forward, adding nothing to them, taking naught away. Thine whole counsel I will declare, so help me God!"  (Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers - W. Wiersby)

"Whatever I say to you in the dark, you must tell in the light. And you must announce from the housetops whatever I have whispered to you." - Jesus (Mat 10:27 CEV)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

LET ME BURN OUT FOR YOU


In his book ‘Facing Loneliness’, J. Oswald Sanders writes, "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache. The millionaire is usually a lonely man & the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience."

Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about.

Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow."

After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You." In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages (Urdu, Persian & Judaeo-Persic). These notable achievements were certainly not passing "shadows."

Mat 5:6 (GNB): "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!"