Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking a break during the Christmas holidays. My next posting of a daily devotional will be January 3, 2011. Dotse and I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas filled with the joy and peace that only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can bring. Also, we pray that 2011 will be the best year of your life.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Virgin Will Conceive

Chuckle: (church bulletin blooper): "The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, 'Break Forth Into Joy.'"

Quote: "Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from (within) it. He did not evolve out of history; He came into history from the outside." --Oswald Chambers

A VIRGIN WILL CONCEIVE

"Look! A virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him 'Immanuel,' (which means) God is with us" (Isaiah 7:14b NLT). "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 NLT).

It's important for believers to have an appreciation for God's plan to send his Son into the world to live among us and to pay the price for our sins through his shed blood. Our passage was written some 800 years before Jesus' birth. This gives great credence to the fact that all Scripture is inspired of God and written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Belief in the virgin birth of Jesus is a cornerstone of our Christian faith. The term "virgin" in our text is the translation of a Hebrew word which describes a young woman who is unmarried even though she is sexually mature and of the age to be married. This young woman was destined to bear a son to be named Immanuel which means "God with us." Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show fulfillment of this prophecy and identifies the virgin as Mary who bore a son, Immanuel the Christ.

God's people were experiencing dark and difficult times when Isaiah foretold Jesus' birth, as they were at the time of his actual birth. The coming Messiah would be the light of the world even in the darkest of times. The Holy Spirit being his Father, and the titles given him in Isaiah 9:6 allude to the deity of the Son to be born of a virgin. With Jesus birth came a message of hope foretold by Isaiah, and the establishment of his eternal kingdom in the hearts of people. He came as the redeemer of all people to deliver them out of the bondage of sin and the consequences thereof.

It is absolutely mind-boggling when we try to fully grasp the magnitude of God's love, mercy, and grace revealed in the Christmas story -- the story of the birth and ministry of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! "God gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9b-11 NIV).

God made one of the most complex and mind-boggling events in history so simple that even the common man could have enough understanding to stand amazed and rejoice in them. Let's take the time this Christmas to thank God for the gift of his love and the gift of his Son. And let's do so with great rejoicing!

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Time Had Come

Chuckle: "Four stages of life: You believe in Santa Claus. You don't believe in Santa Claus. You are Santa Claus. You look like Santa Claus."

Quote: “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” --James Hudson Taylor

THE TIME HAD COME

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (children). Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians 4:4-7 NIV).

Have you ever thought about how God selected the exact time for Jesus to be born and to live here on earth? Have you considered the perfect nature of God's timing in his master plan for our redemption? The coming of the Messiah was promised in the Old Testament; and for centuries the Jews looked forward to his coming and wondered when he would appear. Listen to Max Lucado:

"It all happened in a most remarkable moment . . . a moment like no other. . . . God became a man. Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. The omnipotent, in one instant, became flesh and blood. The one who was larger than the universe became a microscopic embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God had come near."

Paul, looking back on that event, said, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son." Jesus came only when the time was perfect and according to God's master plan. When that time had come, God's Son changed our relationship with God forever. He came "that we might receive the full rights of sons and heirs of God's through Christ." I think it accurate to say this passage describes the living God making a sovereign decision out of his love and mercy toward mankind.

God sent his preexistent Son into the world to eventually suffer and die in our stead for our sins. No single event in human history has had the impact on individuals and entire civilizations as that one birth in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. Human history is measured from before (b.c.) or after (a.d.) Christ. His coming into the world changed everything, made everything right and fulfilled God's eternal plan.

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.' When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'" (Luke 2:13-15 NIV). The significance of Christ's birth cannot be fully understood and appreciated until he lives in your heart and life as Savior and Lord.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Season To Be Still

Chuckle: "Time may be a great healer, but it is a lousy beautician."

Quote: "I hope your Christmas has a little touch of eternity in among the rush and pitter and all. It always seems such a mixture of this world and the next -- but that after all is the idea!" --Evelyn Underhill

THE SEASON TO BE STILL

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

My November 30th devotional dealt with handling stress during the Christmas holidays. I ran across the following by Holly Gerth and wanted to share it with you.

"Tis the season to be busy. There are gifts to buy, meals to make, trips to take, decorations to be hung, songs to be sung, places to go, people to see… It's December 1st and I'm already tired. Anyone else?

I read the words... 'Be still and know that I am God.' Psalm 46:10. But how can I be still when there's so much going on? Of course, the first answer is to simplify my life.Yet the kind of stillness God is talking about isn't just about my circumstances. It's about being still on the inside.

'I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother.' Psalm 131:2. What is a weaned child like? One that has learned to stop asking for more, more, more and instead simply rests in the arms of love, love, love.

My hurry and stress come from that want of more. I want to do more, be more, pack more in to these few short days. Then it seems God whispers to my heart, 'Enough. You are enough. You have enough. In the middle of the busy, make a quiet place inside and stay with me. My love is what you really need.'

I settle, quiet down, breathe a sigh of relief. The miracle of Christmas? God came for us so we could come to Him. Even (especially) in the busy, broken, chaos of our lives. 'Tis the season to be still.'"

Love, Jerry & Dotse