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On this Christmas Day, Worship the Gift

Posted on December 25, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

What do you remember most about Christmas as a child?

I recall the excitement of putting up the Christmas tree. When the tree was decorated, I knew Christmas was near. Daddy would go into the field behind our house and cut down a cedar tree. Then mom would critique his choice. That generally would lead to an argument.

Daddy was a perfectionist and as I recall, painfully slow. It seemingly took him forever to affix the stand to the bottom of the tree. And then came the lights. You know, one light goes out and they all go out. What devious individual came up with that design? I wonder how many family arguments have resulted from those frustrating lights?

Finally, it was time to decorate the tree. Mom and Dad kept all the ornaments in a wooden crate.

Neatly packed away in the box were fragile Christmas balls made out of thin glass (probably designed by the same guy who invented the lights). I knew I was growing up when Daddy finally permitted me to hang one on the tree. That privilege was quickly relinquished when I dropped the ball, and it crashed into a million pieces.

The tree trimming adventure always concluded with Daddy climbing the ladder and attaching a star to the top of the tree. Then he plugged in the lights. Finally. The fruit of our labor in all its shining glory. It was uniquely ours, crafted by the personal touch of a family. All the fussing, criticizing, and arguing were replaced with joy and laughter.

More important than the tree itself, was what was placed under the tree. Gifts! There’s something so special about receiving gifts when you are a child. Heaven forbid if it was clothes. I wanted toys!

Over the years I have received many Christmas gifts. Some I remember but most are forgotten. Even those gifts that were supposed to keep on giving don’t work anymore or have long since been thrown away. That is, except for one.

The greatest Christmas gift I ever received will be with me for all eternity. This incredible gift came from God. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…” But this gift of unconditional and sacrificial love was not just given to me. It is available to all who receive it. (John 1:12)

Inside the eternal gift package is everything needed to sustain you through this life on earth and all of eternity. “… and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This gift never goes out of style or becomes obsolete. It never loses power or wears out, never fails or disappoints. And it can never be stolen or destroyed. Always reliable and completely trustworthy.

This amazing gift was given on the first Christmas day nearly 2000 years ago. It is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus.

Have you received the gift? If not, accept Him today by asking Jesus to be Lord of your life. If you have received Him, then that is cause for thanksgiving and praise.

On this Christmas Day, take time to acknowledge the greatest gift you have ever received. Worship the Gift!

For more on this topic, check out this article: The More You Learn about Jesus – the Better He Gets

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

Lessons Learned from Christ's Nativity

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The Greatest Against All Odds Story of All Time

Posted on December 21, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

I love against-all-odds stories. You can’t help but feel encouraged when you see people successfully overcoming life’s toughest obstacles. Such stories give us hope and remind us we can make it even though the odds are stacked against us.

A few inspirational movies come to mind. Hoosiers, Rudy, Bagger Vance, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I still get teary-eyed when Clarence gets his wings. No doubt, you also have your favorites. But my all-time favorite story is found in the New Testament.

Since I was a child, I have loved the Biblical account of the birth of Christ. Talk about rags to riches and overcoming impossibilities. There is no more magnificent story in all of man’s history than the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus literally overcame the worst this world has to offer to become King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

My love for this story began with my grandmother. She read it to me every Christmas, so many times in fact, I had it memorized by the time I was ten.

As a young man, one of my first jobs was as a choir director, and I vividly recall my first children’s choir production that was based on the Christmas story.

When my boys were growing up, we always began Christmas Eve by reading the story of Jesus’ birth. I never grow tired of hearing, reading, and telling the greatest story of all time.

Into the most humble of circumstances came the holy birth. God did not choose a majestic major city for the birth of His Son but selected a seemingly insignificant little town.

The scene is not a hospital delivery room, a special birthing room, a home, or even an inn. Jesus was born in a barn and placed in a feed trough. His earthly parents were not wealthy aristocrats but poor commoners.

The world Jesus entered was cruel and dangerous as Rome ruled Israel with an iron fist. In fact, Herod was already inquiring about Jesus’ birth and plotting to kill Him.

The birth of Jesus marks the beginning of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. The greatest powers on earth and the forces of evil could not stop God’s intended purpose. Not Rome, the superpower of the day, nor Satan and his demonic legions. Not the religious hierarchy. Even death couldn’t stop Him. Jesus overcame every evil obstacle this world had to offer and gained victory for all who will receive Him.

Jesus was sent to us on a mission of love. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) He was motivated by love for you and me. Victory was not an option. He looked ahead in history and saw our need. If He didn’t succeed, then we would have no hope. The good news is Jesus accomplished His love mission, and He has gained the eternal victory for us.

Today that baby has ascended to the supreme position of authority. His kingdom is without end. When you give your life to Him, you become a child of the King and heir to the precious promises of the kingdom.

If Jesus could overcome the impossible to seal the deal on God’s salvation plan, isn’t it reasonable to believe He can help you overcome the impossibilities in your life?

His victory assured your victory. His rags to riches story — is your rags to riches story.

You win… against all odds!

For more on this topic, check out this article: Get Out of Your Rut and Get On with Your Life

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

Lessons Learned from Christ's Nativity

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The Miraculous Christmas Sign from God

Posted on December 11, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14

Signs are everywhere. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes providing helpful, sometimes vital information. However, you don’t need a lecture on signs. They are commonplace, and you’ve been dealing with them all your life.

What I do want you to think about is the authority behind the sign. As you travel along a street or highway, you will pass signs that are backed by the authority of government. Violate the instruction on the sign and you’ll soon attract a siren and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror.

A few years ago, a lady in my church wanted to visit her husband who was in a Veterans nursing home near Sylacauga, Alabama. The elderly lady lived alone, and there was no one to take her, so I volunteered. She was most appreciative and bent my ear in gratitude all along the way.

As we neared our destination, I was startled by the appearance of a highway patrol car behind me. “Wonder who he’s after?” I thought, glancing at my speedometer and then to the rapidly approaching vehicle with flashing lights and screeching siren.

“Is there a problem?” said the little lady.

I pulled to the side of the road as my heart dropped into my socks. Rolled down my window and braced myself for the bad news.

“Where you headed in such a hurry?” asked the Alabama Highway Patrol officer.

I thought about playing the sympathy card. Maybe he would give me a break if I told him I was helping a little old lady.

He continued. “Didn’t you see the sign? You were doing 70, and the sign is clearly marked — 50. I’m going to have to write you up.”

“Officer, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been doing that.”

While he wrote the ticket, I thought about that sign. If only I had heeded the warning.

A far more powerful authority has also given us a sign. Hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ, God foretold a sign of the utmost importance.

The sign I missed (failed to obey) cost me money and credibility. To miss God’s sign is to miss life itself. God’s sign would be an incredible miracle, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son.”

The sign of the virgin birth points to God’s plan to save you through the work of His Son, Jesus the Christ. “Immanuel” means “God with us.”

He was with us through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. He IS with us now and forever.

Immanuel taught us through His life, paid for our sin with His death, and gave us victory over the grave through His resurrection. God’s sign points the way to eternal life with Him in His heaven..

This Christmas, I hope you’ll remember the miraculous birth of Jesus is THE sign from God. More than just a sweet little baby in a manger — the birth of Jesus represents “God with us.”

When you accept Him as your Lord and Savior, Jesus takes up residence within you. He becomes “God with you” forever.

As I pulled back onto the highway, the little lady said, “I’m going to pay your ticket.” Of course, I turned down the offer. She wanted to pay the debt I incurred because I broke the law.

I’ve got good news. Out of His love for you, God sent His Son to pay the debt you deserve. Jesus paid your sin penalty by giving His life for you on the cross. Don’t miss God’s sign.

For more on this topic, check out this article: 10 Signs You have been Born Again

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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