Good Tidings of Great Joy this Christmas
Don’t forget the greatest gift of all this Christmas, and it’s from God!
It’s so easy to forget the reason for this special time of year; take a moment to consider the meaning of the birth of God’s Son coming to the earth in the little town of Bethlehem.
Remember how no one had room for Mary and Joseph when they arrived in the town; the folk of Bethlehem were too busy with their own lives. We are pretty busy too, but have you got room for Jesus this Christmas? Join us in reading a short piece from the bible: Luke, chapter 2 v1-21. The prophet Isaiah in chapter 7v14 predicted this birth centuries before – you might wish to read that too.
We have a special message to each and everyone of you that in a world of uncertainty that we may accept the ‘good tidings of great joy’ and believe on Jesus as the Saviour of mankind. He took our place by dying on the Cross in Jerusalem. It’s as if a judge says to a guilty convict: ‘You’re free, I will take your punishment!’ What joy & change for the guilty!
God’s gift is free & for you.
‘To answer before listening – that is folly…’
To serve others effectively, you must be attuned to what they need. What keeps us from doing that? Assumption. A lady in an airport lounge bought a packet of biscuits and sat down to read the newspaper. She heard a rustling noise and looked up to see the man beside her helping himself to the biscuits. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took one herself, hoping he’d get the message. Then she heard more rustling. She couldn’t believe it. The man was helping himself to another biscuit! There was only one left! She watched in disbelief as he broke the remaining biscuit in two, pushed half across to her, popped the other half in his mouth, and left. She was still furious when her flight was announced. Imagine how she felt when she opened her handbag to get her ticket out—and found her unopened packet of biscuits! Now be honest, didn’t you assume the stranger was helping himself to her biscuits? Of course you did, and that tells you a lot about yourself! Too often we’re guilty of making assumptions about people and once you put someone in a box, it’s hard to think of them any other way. Do you agree?? Every time a good tailor sees a client, he takes new measurements. He never assumes they’re the same size as they were the last time. That’s a good policy. Never make assumptions about someone’s background, profession, race, gender, age, nationality, politics, faith, or other factors. Once you do, you stop paying attention and miss clues that can help you to know what they really need.
Corrie ten Boom said, ‘If you look within, you’ll feel depressed, if you look without you’ll be distressed, but if you look to Christ, you’ll be at rest.’
Worth a ponder!
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.’
Do these three characteristics above mark you?
Jesus spent much of His ministry tearing down barriers and building bridges. He did it through acts of love such as washing the feet of those who would fail and betray Him, eating with a tax collector everybody in town despised, and giving hope to a fallen woman that society condemned. The Bible says, ‘Peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness’ (James 3:18 NLT). Words of peace are like seeds. They don’t produce fruit overnight, but slowly and silently they work their way to the surface, changing hearts, minds, attitudes and futures. Doctor Robert Oppenheimer, the noted physicist who masterminded the first atomic bomb, was asked by a congressional committee if there was any defence against it. Addressing a hushed audience he replied, ‘Yes—peace!’ Now, if peace can defuse an atomic bomb, think what it can do in the lives of the people you come in contact with! Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.’ Every day you’ll meet frightened, despairing, lonely, angry people who need a word of peace. Do you have one? Solomon offers us three ways to calm strife, defuse a tense situation, and get a better result: 1)Patience. ‘A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel’ (Proverbs 15:18 NIV). 2) Self-control. ‘Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city’ (Proverbs 16:32 NIV). 3) Wisdom. ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offence’ (Proverbs 19:11 NIV).
From UCB – For other daily devotions click here
Is there a situation at work or church where people have started arguing instead of working together? Pray that they will see beyond their differences and work together. Have you let your frustrations distract you from what God has asked you to do? Ask God to help you let go and move forward – point to read – Matthew 4v19
From UCB Prayer Today.
Dear reader, are you a gambler? This may seem like an odd question, perhaps even a rude one! However, you may never have bought a lottery ticket, put down money on a horse, or set foot in a casino, and can still be a gambler. You may never have risked your money, but are you risking something of incomparably greater value: your never-dying soul?
The book of Isaiah mentions people who turned away from God and worshipped false gods, Gad and Meni. Those names can be interpreted as ‘Fortune’ and ‘Fate’. There are many people today who still worship fortune and fate, people who gamble with their souls. Are you betting on the fact that there is no God, that there is no life after death? Perhaps you think the odds are favourable, that the risk is worth taking. The sober fact of the matter is that if you trust in fate and fortune and despise the Saviour, then you’ll lose all. There can be no other outcome. The prophet Elijah addressed a question to the Israelites: “How long do ye halt between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18 v 21). Dear reader, are you lingering in indecision? If so, then you’re gambling with your soul. As has been already written in an excellent gospel tract, there is no neutral ground. You are either lost or you are saved, there is no in-between state.
Now, we live in a turbulent world. There is uncertainty all around. People are more risk-averse, financially speaking, since the global financial crisis. However, still people are taking risks with the matter of their soul salvation, halting between two opinions. Don’t let this be a matter of uncertainty for you, dear reader! There’s certainty in Jesus. The Bible records the words of a man who was in no doubt about Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” are the words of John the Baptist as he sees the Saviour approaching (John 1 v 29). Now, there is certainty! There’s no risk in trusting in Jesus. Make Him your Certainty today!
David served God’s purpose in his generation – Acts 13v36 He was a man after Gods heart, fulfilling Gods purposes on earth. You do the eternal & timeless (God’s purpose) in a contempory and timely way (in your generation). Neither past nor future generations can serve Gods purpose in this generation. Only we can. Like Esther, God created you ‘for such a time as this’. God is still looking for people to use ‘ The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order the strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.’ Will you serve God’s purpose in your generation? One day history will close, but eternity will go on forever.
Extract from Day 40 – What on earth am I here for? – Rich Warren.
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
Are you feeling very low in spirit or tired in body today? Maybe the buffeting you have been enduring has exhausted you. The Lord has good news for you. He says eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it even entered into the heart of man the wonderful things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
You can believe the lies of the devil, who is saying to you that you’re a failure, a loser, and that you will never about to anything. But Jesus said ‘ It is finished’ and He meant it. He has done the job and completed the task. Victory is ours.
Think about this question today: how big is God? The answer is very simple. God is as big as you allow Him to be.
– an excerpt from “A Farmer’s Year” by Angus Buchan – written for May 2nd.
This passage of scripture is such a beautiful example of the attitude Christ showed towards people in his pathway here – and the attitude He still has towards us today. It is a passage of great hope.
Jesus was the only one present, completely righteous and holy, without sin, who could have stoned the woman caught in adultery, and yet he says “neither do I condemn thee”.
He doesn’t say that what she has done is okay – because sin is never okay – but he shows an attitude of grace and forgiveness. He simply asks her to “go and sin no more”. Later he says to the Pharisees “Ye judge according to the flesh, I judge no one” (v15). I find this so appealing, so beautiful, because Jesus knew full-well when he said those words that he was going to suffer greatly for the likes of this woman.
He knew he would be stripped to his waist, beaten, bruised, bloodied, spat upon, mocked, nailed to a cross and hung to die as a spectacle before men, for people like this woman, and yet he could still say “neither do I condemn thee”. And that is still his attitude today towards you and I. It is wonderfully illustrative of how He loves you, is for you and desires to bless you, no matter who you are, and what your history is.
And yet it also challenges us as to our attitude to those around us. How do we treat those going on a wayward path, or maybe just in a difficult situation? Do we point the finger, judge and condemn? Do we spread rumours and gossip about them? Or do we draw alongside them, put a hand on their shoulder, and love them despite their failures and foibles? Isn’t that what the Good Samaritan did? Isn’t that what Jesus did and does today?
At the end of the day we all are messy people with messy lives – which is why we need a Saviour! We could all find ourselves in the position of the woman in John 8, so if we see someone else there will we help them out and pick them up, or will we cast stones from a safe distance?
First published in The Wee Leaflet, February 2014.