The special privilege God meant as a tool for witness, they [the Israelite's] were to be a channel and you know what happened don’t you? Instead of them seeing themselves as a witness, instead of them seeing the difference as a way to reach people, instead of them standing up and saying, I’m different and consequently the world is going to say what’s the difference and I can tell them that God has made me different. Instead of that it became an excuse for carnal, selfish, self-glorification and pride.
It can happen with us too. We’re to be different aren’t we? We’re to be completely different than the rest of the world. We’re to walk a different walk, talk a different talk, think a different way. Read later in Ephesians and you’ll find out we are to walk not as the Gentiles walked, not as the heathen walk in the vanity of their mind. We are to walk in love. We are to walk in light. We are to walk in wisdom. We
are to walk in the spirit. Our conversation, our manner of life, our walk is to be totally different than the rest of the world. And that it is to be different because want them to take note of us. First of all, and secondly, God wants to keep us separated so different that we can’t mingle with them. It’s the same two things again. And hopefully the world will see the difference and we’ll say to them it’s Jesus Christ
that made the difference and here’s how He can make a difference in your life. And that’s exactly what Israel should have done. Instead of doing that, Israel became proud, loved the difference, celebrated the difference, became proud about the difference, and elevated themselves as if they were better than everybody else.
And I hate to think about it, but I think it’s even possible that that’s happening in Christianity or could happen. Where Christianity forms some sort of an elite that think they’re better than everybody else. And instead of really being a channel to reach the world, we become an isolated little group of people with our own little lingo and our own little deal and our own little code and our own little bumper stickers and our own little radio stations and TV stations and our own books and our own everything, and it’s us for, no more, shut the door, you know. ~ John McArthur, teaching on Ephesians 2: 11-12
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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 guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those 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.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2: 1-20
“Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”
“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.”
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised, sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us, we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love!
“God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!”
~Annie J. Flint, 1919
HT: Grace Gems
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us! God is love.”
(1 John 4:16)
The sweeter the truth–the more backward we often are to receive and believe it. Therefore it must be presented to us again and again. What is more pleasant, than the fact that “God is love”?
Yet so quickly we doubt it, or forget it, or fail to realize it. Therefore the Gospel presents it to us again and again, and in almost every possible form. Twice within the scope of a few verses, John tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).
Belief in this portrayal of God lies at the root of our holiness, happiness, and peace. To the extent that we believe that “God is love”–we will . . .
consecrate ourselves to His service,
enjoy peace in our consciences,
and be happy in His ways.
God loves us, and therefore He planned our salvation, sending His one and only Son to take away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself. He also sent His Holy Spirit to teach us our need of Christ and lead us to Him. And, finally, He has put His blessed Word in our hands so that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope.
God loves us–and therefore He . . .
strips us, and
He will not let us live satisfied without Himself.
God is love–therefore He has provided an atonement for all our sins. His justice is satisfied, and Heaven is prepared for us!
Yes, though we were sinners by nature, and deeply feel it–though we are not all that we wish to be, and deeply deplore it–yet God loves us!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, who in His love and in His pity has redeemed me!
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins!”
(1 John 4:10)
~James Smith, “Comfort for Christians!”
HT: Grace Gems
A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all
circumstances would always say “My king, do not be discouraged, because
everything God does is perfect. He makes no mistakes!”
One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king.
His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty from
losing a finger.
Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman
asked “Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost
The slave replied: “My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you
that God is good, and he knows why these things happened. What God does is
perfect. He is never wrong!”
Outraged by the response, the King ordered the slave arrested.
Later, the King left for another hunt, this time alone. He was captured by
savages who engaged in human sacrifices.
On the altar and ready to sacrifice the nobleman, the savages discovered
that their victim did not have one of his fingers. According to them, only a
whole person with all his/her parts intact could be offered to the gods. The
King without a finger was deemed an abominable sacrifice for their gods. So
they released the King.
Upon his return to the palace, the King authorized the release of his slave.
He received the slave affectionately and said to him, “My dear, God was
really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a
single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: if God is so good, why
did he allow me to put you in jail?”
The slave answered, “My King, if I had gone with you on this hunt, I would
have been sacrificed instead because I have no missing finger. Remember
everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong. He made you keep me in
jail so I would not be with you on the hunt.”
[With the coming election and momentous choice for our nation as to the
future direction of America, we need a reminder that, "Everything God does
is perfect. He makes no mistakes."]
“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.”
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part” Luke 10:39, 42
Let not the many trifles of time affect, distract, and bewilder you; but let the one thing needful be the constant object of pursuit and desire. Live at the feet of Jesus–and you are safe.
Seek, above all things, to enjoy Jesus–and you will be happy.
Aim in all things to glorify Jesus–and you will be holy.
Look daily for the coming of Jesus–and you will be consistent.
Seek to . . .
obey Him, and
O Jesus! manifest Yourself to me; draw me to Your feet, and keep me there!
~James Smith, ‘The Pastor’s Morning Visit’
HT: Grace Gems
It is astonishing that such a worm should be
so favored with discoveries of His beauty–whom
glorified saints and angels gaze with ineffable
delight. But, after all, I know not a thousandth
part of what He is, and what I have in Him.
Surely Christ is all!
How little, how verily nothing, am I.
Oh! that my lips, my life, and every action–
might speak His praise and glorify His name,
who is a Heaven to me!
~Ruth Bryan, ‘Gleanings from the Inner Life”
HT: Grace Gems