I delight in the Christmas Season. I adorn my home with all manner of things; Christmas trees, garlands, and some wonderful Christmas decorations. I even dress our dogs in Christmas attire!
About this time of year, we start to think about what we are going to give our family and friends. Many of you would have already done all your shopping and even have the gifts under the tree. Your children would have already let you know what they want, and you may have already given hints to your loved ones about what you would like too.
But it’s also time to seriously consider what you will give Jesus this year. He has a Christmas list – and YOU are on it! It’s HIS birthday and He knows what He wants from you. He’s not interested in anything in the stores but He wants what you’ve got in your heart. You may have things in your heart that you have hidden close to yourself for many seasons and many reasons. It’s time to give these things over to Jesus.
Jesus is Life and whatever He has, He brings to life; even the dreams that you thought were dead, the desires that you thought were no longer possible. Give them to Jesus this Christmas and watch how He brings new life to these things. Then you will be able to sing:
Oh what a wonderful child
So lowly meek and mild
New life, new hope, new joy He brings
Won’t you listen to the angels sing
Glory, glory, glory
To the New Born King!
John 10:10 I have come that you may have life and life more abundantly.
We celebrate Jesus’ first coming at Christmas, but we also can celebrate the fact that He is coming again!
Tony and I and our two daughters lived on the island of Singapore for four years. On occasion we would take a cable car to a smaller island called Sentosa. The cable car travels along a strong cable which is securely fastened high above the ground between two grand towers; one in Singapore and the other on Sentosa.
This scene illustrates something of eternal significance for me. There are two major events on God’s calendar which give Christians purpose and direction for their lives. One is the First Coming of Jesus and the other is the Second Coming of Jesus
When we accept Jesus as our personal Saviour our lives, pictured by the cable, are lifted up from the ground and fastened to the first tower – the first coming of Jesus and the redemptive work for which He came. But without the second tower to attach to the cable of our lives begins to go downward and we live only for the here and now.
The Second tower is the Second coming of Jesus. The purpose of our lives must be fastened and suspended between the consciousnesses of these two events. Having our lives firmly secured to both of these towers gives us a strong starting point, but also a definite and glorious finish. Knowing where we are headed affects everything in your life on a daily basis.
This Christmas, as you rejoice in Jesus’ first coming, remember that He is coming again. Fix your sights on that event and your whole life will have renewed purpose and a glorious destination!
Jesus is coming again!
Revelation 22:20 Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
In Australia, we love to do ‘tea’ or, as they say here, “have a cuppa”. If you made tea today you managed the water in a tea cup. You poured in just enough water, added the tea and held it in your hand as you drank. You were able to put it into you in a manageable way.
In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is likened to water and his operation in your prayer life can be manageable just like that. You hold him and contain him in a manageable way. But there is more water to be had than can just fit in a tea cup.
You can put water in the sink to wash dishes in a manageable measure. You couldn’t wash dishes in a tea cup.
A bathtub provides a manageable amount of water. More than a sink – you can put your whole body in a bathtub. Then, in a swimming pool, other people can join you and you can have lots of water but its still water in a confined area.
When Tony and I moved with our girls to Australia we stayed in a hotel across from the beach. I saw something I had never seen in Colorado or even in Italy or anywhere for that matter.
I saw lots of people out in the water – a huge body of water – the ocean! They were out on surf boards. They had used a little of their strength to get out there but they were just sitting… waiting. Then, something they could not manage came their way.
You can manage water in a cup, a sink, bathtub or a pool but you cannot manage the ocean! You cannot manage the waves that come, but you can surf on them!
You cannot surf in a teacup, bath or even a pool but you can ride on the waves of the ocean. In the ocean you don’t carry the water, the water carries you!
God is preparing the Body of Christ for something bigger than you or I can manage. We ask for more and we get more of Him – enough of God to fill a sink, or even a swimming pool. But there is more! There is enough of God to be unmanageable! There is water to swim in!
Our hearts witness to the season we are in – the prelude to the coming of Jesus. In this season there is more to be had of God than we could ever manage. There is a place in prayer where, instead of carrying prayer, prayer carries us!
Here’s an old song we used to sing:
The mercy of God is an ocean divine, a boundless and fathomless flood
Launch out in the deep, cut away the shore line
And be lost in the fullness of God.
But many Alas! Only stand on the shore and gaze on the ocean so wide,
They never have ventured it’s depths to explore,
Or to launch on the fathomless tide.
And others just venture away from the land, and linger so near to the shore
That the surf and the slime that beat over the strand,
Dash o’er them in floods ever-more.
Oh, let us launch out on this ocean so broad, where flood of salvation o’er flow
Oh, let us be lost in the mercy of God,
Till the depths of His fullness we know.
Launch out into the deep, Oh let the shoreline go
Launch out, launch out in the ocean divine,
Out where the full tides flow!
Albert B. Simpson (1843-1919)
Ezekiel 47:5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.
It’s impossible to live without the opportunity to be offended. But, is it possible to develop an ‘Un-offendable Heart’?
Where does offence begin? Well, the seed of offence began in the beginning.
Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden when they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could have eaten of the Tree of Life and they weren’t forbidden to do that, but eating from the forbidden tree their eyes were open to good and evil.
So often, we make determinations of good and evil in people instead of determining life. In making those determinations, we want God to deal with those who offend us with justice. We want justice from God for those who hurt us. But, should it ever happen that we offend someone, we want mercy from God. Of course, we didn’t mean to hurt anyone!
Offence can be just like ‘a fence’. Offence will keep you locked in and will impact how you view life, people and even yourself!
Jesus said that offences will come; it’s impossible that they won’t come! (Luke 17:1) Offence can trip you up, fence you in and make you miserable. Offence will stop the blessings of God from being manifest in your life. But if you know what to do when offences come, you can actually use these stumbling blocks to build a step up. A step will help you rise up and come higher in God.
But how can you turn offences into a blessing? Well, the best antidote to offence is love!
Jesus was the best example of how to deal with offence. When they crucified him, he could have called out for justice and rightly so. He was tried, sentenced and crucified unjustly. But no! He called for mercy for those who treated him so unjustly. He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34).
What an amazing example of love! He said that they didn’t know what they were doing! Most people, who offend you, don’t really realise what they have done. We can be just like Jesus because the love of God is in our hearts!
If we use Life to make a love determination, not make a determination based on the knowledge of good and evil, we know that love – God’s love – will never fail and will develop in you an Un-offendable Heart.
Life is like this. Each day just keeps on coming at you and everything just keeps demanding more of you.
Near my grandmother’s house in Colorado there was a beautiful little river that came down from the mountains. In the springtime, as the snow began to melt in the mountains, it would run really high.
I was talking to the Lord one day about my own life and all the things that were demanding of me. Things were just coming at me and there seemed to be no reprieve. Then He reminded me of this river.
He asked me “What would happen if you were to take out a cup of water from that river?”
I thought “There wouldn’t be any indication that anything were taken out of the river.”
Then He said “But what if you were to take out a whole bathtub of water? Would there be any deficiency in that river; any lessening of that river downstream; any sign that anything were taken out?”
Actually not! It’s not being taken out of a pool, but out of a river – a constant flow. As much as you take out, more is coming down!
I’m telling you what! As much as life demands that you keep giving out; as much as you keep giving and doing and producing, if you just keep receiving from His grace and His truth there will be no lack in what needs to come through your life to other people.
If you’ll just take time to receive from Jesus, you don’t have to worry so much about having enough to give. You need to quit trying to put out and just take time to receive. Just as Jesus was full of Grace and Truth, we too were designed to be filled with His Grace and Truth. When your vessel is filled with His Grace and Truth, others will see it and partake of it. Then it’s not you putting out yourself, but Jesus giving through you!
John 1:16-17 GNB
Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.
God gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
When you come to God, you come into His gates with some things that you are thankful for. Then you come into His courts with praise. You tell Him how wonderful He is. But you can do all that and not even be in the Throne Room; the place of God’s presence.
You can thank Him, praise Him and love Him and still not be actually in His presence. You have to get into the Holy of Holies to access God. In the Old Testament Tabernacle, to get into the Holy of Holies, you had to go by way of the altar.
It’s like going to the doctor’s office and only sitting in the waiting room. Someone says, ‘Did you go to the doctor’s?’ and you say, ‘Yes, I did’. And you did! But you didn’t even get to see the doctor! To get all the doctor has for you, you have to get past the waiting room.
Where you get God’s help is in His Throne Room, the place of His presence. And to get there, you have to go by way of the altar where Jesus’ blood was shed. We get access to the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God through the blood.
But what does the blood do? It cleanses our conscience so we can come boldly into His presence without fear or doubt. With a clean conscience, we know we have the right to be in God’s presence.
So allow Jesus’ blood to purge you. And thank Him for the blood since we cannot get past the gates without the blood. We draw near to God by the blood. We come boldly before the Throne of God to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The Greek philosopher and physicist, Archimedes once said “Give me a place to stand and I will move the world”. He understood the physical principle of the lever. Using this principle makes it possible to move an enormously heavy load with a small amount of physical exertion. However, it is only possible provided you have a lever that is ridged enough and you are sufficient distance from the load to be moved.
This also illustrates a dynamic spiritual principle. In prayer, huge obstacles can be moved if we know the right place to stand – in a place far above the load and using a lever which is unbending and sturdy. There is no higher place from which to pray than the Throne of God. There is no stronger force to move situations than the Word of God. The completed work of Jesus Christ gives us the authority as well as the position to speak inspired words to move mountains and affect the world.
From “For Such a Time As This” by Patsy Cameneti
Have you ever been in a tight situation and someone has said, “Well, just praise the Lord”? You could almost get bitter towards God when someone says that. You’re thinking “But why? Why should I praise Him? Would God only bless me according to how much I praise Him?” A god like that would be so egocentric!
Some people have thought that if you could only praise God enough, He will come to help you or you could get something out of Him. That would make God sadistic!
Actually it’s not that way at all with God; God already knows how wonderful He is! God doesn’t need our praise to make Him feel good. No! Praising God is for you!
Praise and worship works like a plug. When you plug yourself into God, you plug into whatever power you need. It gets you in contact with God and whatever He has and whoever He is, becomes yours!
You can plug into the different aspects of God’s person. As you do, you get more and more acquainted with Him, and those wonderful aspects of Him become part of you! You actually build a habitation for God in your very life.
How do you make a habitation for God? You do it with the truth you know about God. Whatever you learn about Him, incorporate that into your praise of Him.
If you need strength, praise Him for being the strong God. If you need patience, praise Him for being always patient and slow to anger. If you feel that you are faithless and weak, plug into His faithfulness and praise Him for being ever faithful.
That’s how to worship Him in spirit and in truth. You worship God according to what you know is true about Him; according to the truth of what He has done for you. And when you add your heart to it, the wonderful aspects of His person are going to permeate your life. That’s when praise and worship is powerful!
John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Do you ever read the Word and find absolutely nothing in it? Maybe you need the help of a Spiritual Geologist. John 14:26
In Oklahoma they have geologists who take soil samples and will tell you that although a piece of ground looks like nothing on the top, underneath there is oil. You can put a nice building on the block, but you’d be smarter to dig because if you do, you’ll strike it rich!
The Holy Spirit is like a spiritual geologist and He will do that with the Word of God. You can have your daily Bible Reading plan and stay with it. And you can underline a few verses and think you got it. But sometimes the Holy Spirit will have you iron on something for a while because you didn’t get it the first time you read it. And He’ll have you read it again because you didn’t get all there is in it.
One thing about the Bible is that it never gets old. You can read it and think you saw it all, then read it again and see something else you didn’t see before. We haven’t seen anything in the Word in comparison to what all there is to be seen!
The Holy Spirit will help you with that. If you dig, you’ll find something far more valuable than gold or oil. While you are reading, be sensitive to Him because sometimes He’ll have you read it over and over. And you could be tempted in your mind to say ‘Well, I’ve read it and that’s all there is to know’, but if He has you read it over and over, do it, because you are digging.
Just because you don’t get anything the first day, think of it like drilling for oil. They don’t just dig for one day; they keep digging until they strike it rich.
It is as real when you strike it rich in the Word as when you strike it rich in oil. You know how the oil comes up and covers everyone’s faces and they’re all black with it. In the same way, something comes up from God’s Word and changes you. But it isn’t black; it makes you absolutely brilliant in His presence.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Aren’t you glad that when you come to God, He doesn’t start pecking away at everything wrong? No, when you come to Him, He gives you rest!
You can tell a person who is in rest. They’re not gritting their teeth and trying to convince themselves that they’re believing God. No, you can tell when you are at rest.
Do you know when you are in bed? Your muscles all relax and instead of holding yourself up, you rest. You know as the day goes on, you get tired but when you are in bed, YOU REST!
You would not rest on a bed that only had three legs, or a bed that you thought might give way to your weight. You would not rest; you would stay awake all night! But the wonderful thing about your bed is that when you get in it, you don’t think about it. You know that bed will hold you up so you can rest.
There’s a kind of rest that happens when you are completely trusting God. It’s that way with faith. You don’t have to hope you’re in it, or pretend you’re in it – you just rest.
There may be a labour to get to the place where you can rest. Before I can put my body to bed, there are some things I need to do. But there comes a certain time in the night when that’s where I’m headed and I do what I have to do to get there!
Hebrews 4 tells us that there is a labour to get into rest. If you’re labouring, then you’re not there yet. When you cease from your own labours that’s when God gets to work.
So, do you want to work or do you want God to work? As soon as God gets to work on your situation, things change. Some things do not need human intervention; they need the hand of God.
Jesus said “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
If there is a heaviness that’s making you weary, come to Jesus and He will give you rest. For you to get rest, He has to give you his Word. If you believe His Word, it puts you in rest. If you believe what the circumstances tell you, you won’t rest. It’s not just knowing the Word that brings rest. You come to Jesus and He gives you His Word. You don’t just come to Jesus once, you come every day and He gives you His Word and He gives you rest – every day!