Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Re-post From Anne Cetas of Our Daily Bread

Canceled Christmas

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
We felt as if our Christmas was being canceled last year. Actually, our flight to see family in Missouri was canceled due to snow. It’s been our tradition for quite a few years to celebrate Christmas with them, so we were greatly disappointed when we only got as far as Minnesota and had to return home to Michigan.
On Sunday, in a message we would have missed, our pastor spoke about expectations for Christmas. He caught my attention when he said, “If our expectations for Christmas are gifts and time with family, we have set our expectations too low. Those are enjoyable and things we’re thankful for, but Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Christ and His redemption.”
Simeon and Anna celebrated the coming of Jesus and His salvation when Joseph and Mary brought Him to the temple as a baby (Luke 2:25-38). Simeon, a man who was told by the Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah, declared: “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (v.30). When Anna, a widow who served God, saw Jesus, she “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (v.38).
We may experience disappointments or heartache during the Christmas season, but Jesus and His salvation always give us reason to celebrate.
How wonderful that we on Christmas morn
Though centuries have passed since Christ was born,
May worship still the Living Lord of men,
Our Savior, Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem. —Hutchings
Jesus is always the reason to celebrate.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Re-post From Philip Yancey of Our Daily Bread

A New Force

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
When Matteo Ricci went to China in the 16th century, he took samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it. They readily accepted portraits of Mary holding the baby Jesus, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had come to be executed, his audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They couldn’t worship a crucified God.
As I thumb through my Christmas cards, I realize that we do much the same thing. In our celebrations and observances, we may not think about how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.
In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, only one person—the old man Simeon—seems to grasp the mysterious nature of what God has set in motion. “This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against,” he told Mary, and then he made the prediction that a sword would pierce her own soul (2:34-35).
Simeon knew that though on the surface little had changed—Herod still ruled, Roman troops still occupied Israel—underneath, everything had changed. God’s promised redemption had arrived.
The cradle without the cross misses the true meaning of Christ’s birth.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Re-post From C. P. Hia of Our Daily Bread

Lasting Rewards

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina held the record of 18 Olympic medals. She won them in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics. The 48-year-old record was surpassed when Michael Phelps swam for his 19th gold in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay in the 2012 London Games. “[Latynina] kind of got lost in history,” the publisher of the International Gymnast magazine said. When the Soviet Union broke up, “we had forgotten about her.”
Paul, the apostle, reminds us that sometimes hard work is forgotten. Athletes subject their bodies to great discipline as they train to win perishable medals for their effort (1 Cor. 9:25). But it is not just that the medals are perishable. Over time, people’s memory of those achievements dim and fade. If athletes can sacrifice so much to achieve rewards on the earth, rewards that will eventually be forgotten, how much more effort should followers of Christ exert to gain an imperishable crown? (1 Tim. 4:8).
Athletes’ sacrifice and determination are rewarded with medals, trophies, and money. But even greater, our Father in heaven rewards the discipline of His children (Luke 19:17).
God will never forget our service done out of love for Him who first loved us.
I thank You, Lord, for the opportunities to use
the gifts You have given me for Your service today.
Help me to do so in obedience, expecting nothing
more than Your “well done” as reward.
Sacrifice for the kingdom is never without reward.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Re-post From David C. McCasland of Our Daily Bread

Costume Or Uniform?

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Eunice McGarrahan gave an inspiring talk on Christian discipleship in which she said, “A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.”
Her comment sparked memories of my first day in US Army basic training when we were each given a box and ordered to put all our civilian clothes in it. The box was mailed to our home address. Every day after that, the uniform we put on reminded us that we had entered a period of disciplined training designed to change our attitudes and actions.
“Cast off the works of darkness,” the apostle Paul told the followers of Jesus living in Rome, “and . . . put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). He followed this with the command to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (v.14). The goal of this “casting off” and “putting on” was a new identity and transformed living (v.13).
When we choose to follow Christ as our Lord, He begins the process of making us more like Him each day. It is not a matter of pretending to be what we aren’t but of becoming more and more what we are in Christ.
O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. —Chisholm
Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Re-post From Anne Cetas of Our Daily Bread

A Giving Competition

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
A television commercial I enjoy at Christmastime shows two neighbors in a friendly competition with each other to see who can spread the most Christmas cheer. Each keeps an eye on the other as he decorates his house and trees with lights. Then each upgrades his own property to look better than the other’s. They then start competing over who can give the most extravagantly to other neighbors, running around cheerfully sharing gifts.
God’s people aren’t in a competition to see who can give the most, but we are called to be “ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). The apostle Paul instructed the church at Corinth: “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
At Christmastime, as we share gifts with others, we remember the generosity of God toward us—He gave us His Son. Ray Stedman said, “Jesus set aside His riches and entered into His creation in a state of poverty in order to enrich us all by His grace.”
No gift-giving could ever compete with the Lord’s extravagance. We thank God for the indescribable gift of Jesus! (v.15).
No gift is greater than the gift of Christ Himself.

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