A Child WAS Born! Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9.6

It would have been a rich experience to be sitting with Isaiah when he penned these words. “Unto us … ” Was he thinking, “Me?” What are you thinking as you read these words? “Unto me?” Wrapped up in these words is the totality of God’s love for sin-sick mankind – including you and me. The day He was born is not nearly as important as the truth that He was actually born.

Whatever form it Isaiah acknowledged the reality that God had a Son and His Son was coming into this world to do what only God could do – address the question of sin. Sin in whatever form it appears breaks the heart of God. And His Son was the only perfect sacrifice who was qualified to meet the demands of this Holy God.

His name shall be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” Is there any way that you or I can quantify this word wonderful? Knowing that God is wonderful and having any concept of how wonderful He is are two different concepts. Counsellor – have you ever come to God with a problem He did not understand or did not know how to handle? The answer is an obvious no! He is the Wonderful Counselor. He is without doubt The mighty God. He does not see problems because He is the solution to our problems. That is quite a Christmas present.

The everlasting Father – some reading this have a father who is still alive. Others have already lost their father to death. BUT we have this Everlasting Father. He is not going away – ever. But this Christ is also The Prince of Peace. Does this world need peace? Do the hearts of men need peace? The answer to both questions is yes and Jesus is the Prince of Peace! Merry Christmas! Just my thoughts …

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He Loves Me How Much?

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. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4.9-10

Over the years of ministry I have heard so many people say, “How do I know God loves me?” The answer is found in these verses. Don’t just read these words, but rather absorb them into your heart. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world … ” If one says, “I don’t believe Jesus ever came”, they are denying a fact of history. That must be a conscious choice. Jesus did come into this world and He came to show this sin-sick world that God loves us. The name Emmanuel means “God with us.” This is how John says it: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1.14) In the opening verses of John 1, John had identified Jesus as the Word – the personification of God in human flesh.

When the Word came in the flesh, God was saying in the clearest way possible not just “I love you,,” but “This is how I love you and how much I love you.” And then He said, “Watch what I allow men to do to Him to prove My love for you.” Let your mind move to the cross and hear the sound of each spike being driven in. Watch as the crown of thorns is jammed on His head. Observe the roman soldier as he jabs the spear into the side of Christ. And remember these words: “he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Just my thoughts …

What a Wonderful Gift!

And she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1.21

She = Mary. Mary has been a part of this picture since Genesis 3.15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy see and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Her seed is the seed of the woman, Mary. There has never been another conception or birth like this one. And that’s the way it should be. The angel said to Mary, “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (35) And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon the, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be call the Son of God.” (Luke 1.34-35) The only blood in this baby’s veins was God’s blood – He was the Father. Think about it! Human blood was tainted by sin. The blood shed on the cross needed to be without the taint of sin.

We read in Matthew 1.23: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, ad shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” God chose to enter this world as a baby – a form that made Him vulnerable but acceptable. God chose to be with us so He could save us. Can you imagine the thoughts running through Joseph’s mind as the angel reveals these truths to him? His head must have been spinning, but he believed what he was told and he acted on what he was told. I’m so glad God had all this planned from eternity past to enable you and me to have a Savior. What a wonderful gift at Christmas! Just my thoughts …

What a God! What a Gift! What a Sacrifice!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3.16

Before I had graduated from Bible College, I was called to serve in a church in Arlington, TX. I was the music director (we call them worship leaders today [lol]). Shortly after arriving there, one of the teachers of the 2-year-old children came to me and said, “Bro. Burton, I would like for you to visit my class this Sunday and hear something from my 2 yr. olds.” I said, “I will be there.” When I walked in, she said, “Children, let’s show Bro. Burton what we have learned recently.” And they began reciting John 3.16 – perfectly. Not only was she proud of them, but I was so thankful that they learned this powerful truth at such an early age.

How do we measure the dimensions of the word “so” here in this verse? The love of God for this world was not greater than His love for His Son, but He loved His Son so much and knew that NOTHING else but His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of the law to completely pay for the sins of the world. Such great NEED and such great DEMAND could only come together in the place we call the “place of the skull.” What the Roman government thought they were doing was putting to death someone who kept the multitudes stirred up. But what they were really doing was carrying out God’s plan to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God planned it. The Roman government thought they orchestrated it. God the Son willingly carried it out, and God the Holy Spirit became a reality to believers as a result of it. Oh my dear friend, God GAVE. Have you RECEIVED? Just my thoughts …

Free Grace for the Unworthy Sinner – Me!

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3.23-24

You’ve heard the expression, “I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” That is what we are looking at in these two short verses. The bad news is that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God … ” Although each one of us knows that he is a sinner, if this were the only piece of information we received, there would be no hope. To know that I am a sinner identifies my condition before God, but there is absolutely no indication of where I can turn to remedy my situation. This little phrase, “come short” quite simply means to “miss the mark.” If you and I are standing on the edge of a cliff, and the distance to the other side is only 20 feet, we may reason within ourselves that we can make that jump. But if I jump and only make it 10 feet and you jump and make it 19 feet, guess what? We both missed the mark. My grandfather used to say that “almost” counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The good news is found in v. 24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t you love the ring of the words “justified freely”? God says to us that our condition is hopeless if left up to us, but He is willing to justify us freely – how – “ by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” God says, “I will take care of everything, if you will let me.” This is such wonderful news for us to be able to share with those whom we know who are NOT justified freely by His grace. They just need to know how much God loves them and what He will do FOR them if they will just allow Him to do it. Just my thoughts …

Temptation Leads to Blessing!

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1.12

When I read this opening phrase, I am encouraged to know there is a close link between blessing and temptation. Every person reading this has experienced temptation. James tells us to (1) expect temptation and (2) endure temptation. We find these words in James 1.2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” So what do we learn from these verses? We learn that there will be temptations and there will be many of them. We must not be SURPRISED when temptation comes. We must be able to recognize it and ask God for grace to endure it so we can be an overcomer and not a victim. That is when the blessing comes.

Here is further encouragement to endure temptation: “for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life … ” Notice that it is not “if” he is tried, but “when’ he is tried. When temptations come, keep the end in view … “he shall receive the crown of life … ” God’s reward for those who endure temptation is the crown of life. Think of it, God is going to give us this crown because we were overcomers and not victims. Far too many times believers get weary of the battle with temptation and throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use? I can’t seem to win this battle over this temptation.” “What’s the use?” you ask? The crown of life is the answer to “What’s the use?”.

Here is another wonderful word of encouragement: “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” This crown of life is God’s PROMISE to us, and God always keep His promises. So today, when temptation comes, remember that you are blessed when you endure, and remember the promise of the crown of life. Just my thoughts …

THE Light Is Necessary!

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1.9 – 12

We read these words in John 3.19-20: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” So when John says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world … ”, immediately we realize that there are two categories of people in this world: (1) those who walk in darkness and want to stay there, and (2) those who have chosen to walk in the light because Christ is the Light of the world.

What a paradoxical statement: “10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” As we draw near to the Christmas season, we will begin to hear Christmas carols. One of them says, “No room, only a stable of hay … ” This world system has never had room for God’s Son. But one day that will change. Romans 14.11 tells us: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

I love this next phrase: “12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” All the work of salvation has already been done. The only thing required of us is that we BELIEVE that what God has done through his son Jesus Christ is enough to save us for all eternity. Just my thoughts …

How Are You Walking Today?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.10

Has Satan ever pulled this number on you? “You aren’t worth anything to God. Why would He choose to love you? Just take a look at your PAST. You think God can forgive that?” Sad to say, not only does he try that, but he tries it over and over in order to beat us down.

But look at Paul’s words here: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” WE (you and I) are His workmanship. The work that Christ did on the cross allows God to help us with this “good works” thing. You want to take a look at someone’s past and ask “Can God forgive that?” The apostle Paul had been guilty of persecuting believers and even consenting to their death. Yes, God did forgive that because Christ paid for it.

Usually we connect this verse to the two verse preceding it: “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Friend, everything we have is given to us by God’s grace … even the faith to believe is God’s gift to us.

This last phrase is a great word of encouragement: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What is it that God ordained before time began? He ordained that all those who trust Him and believe in His Son Jesus for salvation should be a walking example to the world because of our good works – works that only God could do THROUGH us. So what is our responsibility in all this? We are to yield to God’s Holy Spirit so that He CAN work in us and through us and manifest these good works of which Paul speaks. Just my thoughts …

 

 

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

A Pretty Good Exchange!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5.21

When you received Christ as your personal savior, did you ever wonder what happened to your sin? Most of us have heard enough preaching to know the answer to that question. But let’s look closely today at what Paul is telling the Corinthians and us in the verse above. He (God) has made him (Christ His Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin FOR us (in our place); and why? He did it so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).

It will be worthwhile for us to grasp the significance of this truth – Christ being made sin for us. When Christ was born, in that Bethlehem manger, He was born to Mary and Joseph as far as the legal heritage was concerned. But Joseph was NOT the real father for we read in Luke 1.34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary knew that this child she carried was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.

This holy child lived a perfect life, went to the cross, and became the only sacrifice that God the Father would accept. While He was on that cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, byt also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.2) He took our sin so that when we received His payment for our sin, we could take His righteousness. Remember Paul’s words: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I am so thankful for this divine transaction that made salvation available to me. I think you are too. Just my thoughts …