The Costliest Gift of All

THE COSTLIEST GIFT OF ALL!

by Lorraine Lorenz

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 – NIV)

In a few days time it will be Christmas – that special time of year when the very atmosphere seems to change around us!  True, it has been commercialized and people tend to be over busy and to rush around, shutting out its real meaning.

But there’s more to Christmas season – there is something deep within our hearts, especially as children of God, something that speaks intimately and softly within.  Something, or rather Someone reassures us that what happened long ago at the very first Christmas, changed the world forever!

For on that first Christmas day(*) God came down to us in the guise of the baby boy born to the virgin Mary, a young Jewish girl from Nazareth, who was pledged to be married to Joseph.

No fuss, no glaring news headlines or any announcement, except that given by the Angel to the shepherds – God the Son arrived silently and had only a manger for His bed!  The Father’s wondrous gift was given, yet no human of any high repute knew anything about it!

There was no room in the inns around Bethlehem for this Baby and His earthly parents – no room for His holy birth.  People have no room for Him in their busy but ultimately purposeless lives (unless they open their hearts to Him before it is ever too late).

In John’s Gospel, chapter 1, we read about the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us; the Word, who had been with God from the beginning!  This Word refers to none other but our Lord Jesus – He came from the very bosom of the Father.

The Father loved us so much that He gave His most precious possession to die so that we might live eternally with Him!

Is God’s Gift, given at Bethlehem, you most precious Possession today?

[Used with permission from the Daily Devotional book, “Amber’s Story, Walking Back into the Light” by Lorraine Lorenz.  Obtainable from Amazon]

And the “Tree” referred to here is the Cross on which Jesus died for us!
My comment about Christmas Day:
(*) Christmas Day is not the actual day that the Lord Jesus Christ was born.   It is thought that it could have been earlier, possibly during autumn months, as Shepherds were out in the fields and not likely to have been snow-covered fields.  There are various suggestions as to why 25th of December was chosen as a date to celebrate His birth.  However, the date is not important.  The important thing to remember is that Christ was born, He was born of a virgin, He was born in Bethlehem, He was born as the Scriptures foretold, and the reason He came was to die in our place so that we can have eternal life.  He took our sins on the cross of Calvary.  He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.  But remember, you need to recognize Him as the Saviour of the world, repent of your sins (for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God) and invite Him to be your personal Lord and Saviour.
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Christmas … Future

I have been particularly blessed today listening to John MacArthur’s message, geared for the Christmas season.

The first coming of Christ was a veiled coming, as Wesley so clearly describes it:
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!”
His glory and majesty was veiled, but His humanity was unveiled
When He comes again (and He will!), His humanity will be veiled but His glory unveiled!  The whole world will see His glory!

The first time He came, there was no room for Him in the Inn, only a lowly stable and manger.  When He comes again, His glory will fill the whole earth.

When He came the first time, only a few people attended His arrival .   When He returns EVERY eye will see Him!

The first time He came, it was as a helpless baby.  When He comes the second time, He will come as the Sovereign King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the Judge.

Take a few minutes out to listen to this wonderful message

 

Do you need to slow down?

Although this is a somewhat different post to my usual, I thought the poem by David L Weatherford had quite an effective message.

Life is incredibly fast-paced and stressful.   So many people are becoming over-stressed, burnt out, despairing, trapped.   Believe it or not, the Bible gives plenty of advice re priorities AND a balance in one’s life.   One example of where it spells out clearly the need to set aside time to rest a while, is found in Mark 6:31 where it puts it like this:  “Jesus said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while’—for there were many [people who were continually] coming and going, and they could not even find time to eat” (Amplified version)

We do need to take time out, slow down and rest a while.

David Weatherford, a child psychologist and poet, wrote:

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

Poem Used with permission.  If you’d like to see any more of David’s poems, you can visit his site at http://www.davidlweatherford.com/

Should a Christian support or celebrate Halloween?

Should a Christian be supporting or celebrating Halloween?

Regrettably the popularity of Halloween is growing exponentially. Sadly, even many Christians do not appear to see the evil inherent in this custom and have almost tried to “Christianize” it!

There are enough articles out there to tell you what Halloween is all about and there is no question as to where it comes from and that it something a Christian should have nothing to do with. It is totally dark!

The Bible tells us to put away deeds of darkness (Rom.13:12) “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day (of the Lord’s return) has drawn near. So, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

The Bible also tells us that light has nothing in common with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14)

I ask the question again, … is celebrating a dark custom something a child of the Light should be doing? Absolutely not!

So, I urge you, if you are a true Bible-believing Christian, abstain from all appearance of evil. Do not support the practice. Don’t attempt to justify the celebration of this demonic, worldly, commercialized and evil custom. There are no grey areas. A committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should never celebrate or support Halloween.

 

Are you limited by your own capacity and strength?

In a recent quiet time I had with the Lord, I was blessed by reading Psalm 1 and Ephesians 2, especially verse 10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”

Good Works … cannot produce salvation (i.o.w. our good works cannot save us) but good works follow on, are subsequent to salvation and form part of the evidence of the God-empowered fruits of salvation.  As with our our salvation, so our good works (following on from salvation) were ordained before time began.   An amazing thought.  He had you and me in mind all the time!

If we think a tall tree covered in foliage.   If one of the branches is cut off it will wither and die.   The only branches that thrive are those connected to the main and flourishing tree.

When we are walking with Christ and connected to Him, many opportunities and blessings we couldn’t begin to imagine become available to us.   So, rather than being limited by our own capacity and strength, we can draw on Christ’s strength and power that He has made available to us.     If we are called by God, He also equips us with what we need for the task – our walk with Him.   We can rely on Him in the same way that Joshua and Moses did.

We need to let go of our own limited expectations and so-called self-sufficiency.

We need to cling to the old rugged cross and draw on all that the Lord has made available to us.   The wonderful thing is that He promises to be with us and IS with us through every season and moment of our lives.

Remember “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

Billy Graham once said: “The greatest barrier to knowing God’s will is simply that we want to run our own lives.  Our problem is that a battle is going on in our hearts – a battle between our wills and God’s will”

Stop trying to do things your way.  Surrender to the Lord Jesus, walk in the light as He is in the light and remember the “joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers…. but … delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do”. (Psalm 1)

A TRIBUTE TO MY DEAREST MOTHER …

A TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER, ZENA ASHTON

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25)

This tribute was written by a very dear friend of mine …

ANOTHER GODLY LIFE

Today’s Scripture verse was the favourite of a dear friend who went to be with the Lord some years ago.  This reading is a tribute to her as she lived her life according to God’s Word.  She trusted Him and advised others never to run away from things but to believe that the Lord would provide.

In other ways too, Zena’s faith in God was clearly visible.  I was always amazed at her hospitality.  If someone needed a bed for the night or needed to stay for a longer period, they were made to feel welcome, even if they were comparative strangers to her.  Most Sundays you would not only find the immediate family at the dining room table, guests were invited to share the meal.

When my own dear mother became too frail to stay alone at home whilst I was at work, she too was welcomed into this Godly home.  I would take her there in the morning and fetch her at the end of the working day.  It was from there that we had to take her to a care home where she lived for just over three months before the Lord called her home.    In spite of working fulltime, Zena found the time to visit her regularly at the care home.

Zena’s goal in life was to share the Lord Jesus Christ with people.  She led Bible studies for her church, and some saw her as their spiritual mother.  An excellent teacher, respected by all in her primary school classes, she was able also to explain God’s Word simply and clearly, so that people could grasp its truth and meaning.

Music was another love in Zena’s life.  She mastered the art of piano playing early in life and later used this gift in the Lord’s service as organist for morning and evening services at the church.

Today would have been Zena’s birthday and I thank God for the memory of her and the way she lived her life to the glory of her Saviour.

A Godly woman “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26)

[This reading is taken from the book “Amber’s Story – Walking back into the Light” by Lorraine Lorenz]

Remember Jesus!

I was listening to an Audible version of Warren W. Wiersbe’s book, “50 People Every Christian Should Know” this morning.   He shared how one truly precious servant of the Lord who had faithfully served the Lord over many years in both preaching and teaching had left this advice to his congregation and students.  His name was Alva Jay McClain (1888-1968)

“You may forget me, that is not a problem.
BUT this is important … 

REMEMBER JESUS CHRIST …
Remember Who He is and you’ll never be ashamed to confess Him before others!
Remember Who He is and you’ll never have doubts about your salvation!”

50The book by Warren Wiersbe is excellent and it has been an amazing blessing learning about these many Christians who have been willing to faithfully proclaim the Truth of God’s Word.   People like Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Fanny Crosby, J. Hudson Taylor, Charles H. Spurgeon,   Frances Ridley Havergal, Dwight L. Moody, C. I. Scofield, R. A. Torrey, G. Campbell Morgan, Amy Carmichael, Oswald Chambers, H. A. Ironside, Alva Jay McClain (as mentioned above), A. W. Tozer and W. E. Sangster, to mention just a few.

Having said that …. and considered all these people and what Jesus meant to them, the message I got from this book is this:

  • Follow Jesus
  • Draw very close to Him
  • Be prayerful, seeking His will and not our own
  • Read and Study His Word
  • Hold to the Truth as in God’s Word (not man’s interpretations)
  • Share the Truth of God’s Word
  • Avoid Modernism
  • Avoid Ritualism
  • Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints

And if you’ve never met Jesus as your Saviour, you need to get to know Him without delay!

So, along with Jude, I urge “you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches…”  (Jude 3 & 4)  There is so much deception – don’t fall for it.  The only way you can avoid being deceived is to soak yourself in His Word and obey His Word.  Contend for the faith entrusted to us through God’s Word, the Bible … AND

REMEMBER JESUS – PUT HIM FIRST IN YOUR LIFE AND LIVE FOR HIM …. especially in the light of His soon-return!

 

NOT PERFECT YET!

Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [e]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own (Philippians 3:12)

I am sure you have seen the phrase: “Be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet”.   Very true indeed.

In my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I read that well-known passage in Philippians 3 (Paul writing to Timothy) which says:

“12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Apart from the overall message of this passage, which illustrates the importance of finishing the race rather than necessarily winning the race, never entertaining the possibility of slacking off because of infirmity or old age and committing oneself to finishing strong with whatever strength and abilities one has – until our final breath or when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air and we get our first sight of the Lord Jesus …,  there were some other very encouraging and helpful thoughts I gleaned from this passage.  Let me share them with you now.

Is it possible for anyone to be perfect in this imperfect world we live in?

The thought of being “perfect” can be troubling and challenging when we think of all our imperfections as Christians.   We are still a work in progress, after all…

The word “perfected” or “perfect” as used in the Bible to describe various people, does NOT mean “sinless perfection”.  Only Jesus is perfect and sinless!   In the Old Testament, we read about various Bible characters that were described as “perfect”, “blameless” or “loyal” – they were by no means sinless. For example – Noah, Asa, Hezekiah, Job and David (see footnote below for Bible references to these people).   It is important to be aware that several Greek and Hebrew words are translated as “perfect”, but the thought behind them is either “completeness in all details” or “to reach a goal or achieve a purpose”

I discovered that there are three stages of perfection (as set out in the Scofield Reference Bible):

  1. Positional Perfection
    This is something we have as soon as we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Take a quick look at this verse in Hebrews 10:14:
    For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.”  (NLT)
    For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity].” (Amplified Bible)
  2. Relative Perfection
    This refers to spiritual maturity I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should embrace this point of view. And if you think differently about some issue, God will reveal this to you as well. Nevertheless, we must live up to what we have already attained.… (Philippians 3:15)
    Spiritual maturity is particularly important in relation to
    The will of God Epaphras … prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God (Colossians 4:12)
    Love And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…. (1 John 4:17)
    Holiness Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.(2 Corinthians 7:1)
    PatienceAnd let endurance [patience/perseverance/endurance] have itsperfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:4)
    Every good work Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)Maturity does not come overnight, but is progressive as we saw in 2 Corinthians 7:1 above.   Ephesians 4:12 summarizes this process so beautifully … And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.…”.  Hence one can see the importance of regular Bible study and Bible reading as well as attending a Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church (regrettably many, many churches are no longer Bible believers and are following and teaching a post-modern, emergent church, liberal Gospel … that is, preaching another Jesus, not the Jesus in the Bible).
  3. Ultimate Perfection
    In other words, perfection of soul, spirit, and body. This will only be realized at the time of resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3) or if the Rapture of the Church occurs prior to our dying” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) “… For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” “we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

As the footnote in the Schofield Bible states: “For the Christian nothing short of the moral perfection of God is always the absolute standard of conduct, BUT … Scripture recognizes that Christians do not attain to sinless perfection in this life.

So be encouraged as you meditate on these verses.   We are a work in progressLet us strive to draw ever closer to our Saviour and reflect His beauty in all we do, say and think!

Footnotes
Genesis 6:9, 1 Kings 15:14, 2 Kings 20:3, 1 Chronicles 12:38, Job1:1&8, Psalm 37:37)

Share His Word while you still can …

Speaking just a word for Jesus is so important in these days as we see the day of Christ’s return getting very close!

Sometimes one thinks that what one says is not effective or weak.  BUT …. if you share a word or two or three from HIS Word, the Bible, the Lord will assuredly use it to His glory!

As Dr David Jeremiah shared in his devotional reading a few days ago, “Whenever we read the Bible, quote it, teach it, preach it, publish it, or spread it abroad, it speaks loud and clear.  God’s Word NEVER returns void but accomplishes what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11).   Any old mouthpiece will do – even ours!  You can be confident of HIS POWER whenever you share HIS precepts”  (Turning Point September 2017)

Isaiah 55 verses 10 & 11 state …
10 
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens

    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Be faithful in sharing His Word:  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthinans 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose] (1 Cor. 15:58 Amplified Bible)