A Friend called Jesus…

Hebrews 4:13-16 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

A Friend called Jesus!

The song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” resonates with so many of us because we all need a friend who can empathize with us in every circumstance. Jesus walked among the people whom He died to save in order to relate to individuals and to make those individuals realize that they could approach Him. Joseph Scriven learned he could share his heart with a Savior who knew on a personal level exactly what Scriven was facing. In 1857, Scriven wrote “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Many Christians know by heart the famous first verse, but few are aware of the powerful words in the second verse: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful-who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Scriven knew the legitimacy of Christ’s friendship. He knew Christ had suffered, so it was easy for Scriven’s friendship with Christ to deepen when, the night before his scheduled wedding, Scriven’s fiancée drowned.

Scriven in his grief left Ireland for Canada. There, his great hymn itself was born out of anguish. The hymn was a part of a letter that he sent to his ill mother back in Ireland. He simply was reminding her how to get in touch with an old Friend.

Have you made Jesus your Friend?

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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CHRISTmas Love…

John 3:16a “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

CHRISTmas Love

Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations: extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet I still found myself exhausted, unable to fully appreciate the precious family moments, and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s Winter Pageant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early and found a seat in the cafeteria. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment, songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So when my son’s class rose to sing “Christmas Love” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, who were adorned in fuzzy mittens and red sweaters, with bright stocking caps on their heads. Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas” a child would hold up the letter “C.” Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly we noticed her, a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down. She was unaware that reversed, her letter “M” appeared as a “W.”

The audience of first- through sixth-graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, and she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.”

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience, and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos there was a purpose for our festivities.

When the last letter was held high, the message read clear:

“CHRISTWAS LOVE” (“CHRIST WAS AND IS LOVE”)

AMEN…………………

– Author Unknown

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John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus at your Birthday Party…

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Jesus at your Birthday Party….

Amid all the amusement and theme parks clustered in Orlando, Florida, there’s one that is pretty distinctive. It’s a Holy Land theme park that attempts to bring some of the scenes and the stories of the Bible to life. Our daughter and son-in-law were there not long ago with our two grandsons. And the kids, who are pretty up on their Bible stories, really enjoyed walking through those stories and meeting some of the characters (actually, people portraying some of those characters). The one that impressed our then two-year-old grandson the most was Jesus. A man portraying Jesus stood in the middle of the small crowd and He spoke some of the very stories that Jesus told in the Bible. But then came the moment our little guy will not soon forget. Jesus came over and picked Him up, just like Jesus did with the children when He was here. The next day Mom and our little guy were talking about his upcoming third birthday party, and suddenly out of the blue, he said, “I want Jesus at my birthday party.”

That’s a great idea: Jesus at your birthday party. Talk about a guest of honor! Actually, when it comes to the most important birthday of all, there’s no physical or spiritual birthday without Jesus. And if there’s no spiritual birthday, there’s no life. Eternal life, that is. The most important birthday of all is the day you get born into God’s family. You say, “Isn’t everyone God’s child?” Not unless they’ve been born spiritually into the family of the Heavenly Father. They’re His creation, but they’re only His child by birth.

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Obviously, Birth One was the day you were born into your parents’ family. No birthday, no life. Jesus is talking here about Birth Two – the day you actually begin to belong to God. No spiritual birthday, no eternal life. Without being “born again” Jesus said you cannot enter God’s heaven. Because heaven is only for family – God’s family. Anyone can be in God’s family, no matter what their religion or their background, but not everyone is, because they’ve never been born again. In fact according to Mat 7:13, 14 most will never enter God’s family.

Mat 7:13,14 “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in that way: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”

So how does one have that spiritual birthday?

Recognize you are a sinner and what the consequences to sin are and your need for a Savior.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

It’s all about what you do with Jesus. Why? Because the only way to be in God’s family is to take care of what keeps you from being one of His kids, and that’s called sin. He’s an all-holy, totally perfect God. You and I have turned our back on Him by sinning. Even with a lot of religion in our lives to give us a sense of being okay we are destined to eternal death. You see, only those who are ‘born again’ have eternal life. Being religious is called false security. We’ve used the mouth He gave us to hurt people, to lie and to swear. We’ve used the hands and eyes and ears He gave us to touch and explore what we never should have touched. We’ve hurt most the people we love most, we’ve lusted, we’ve boasted and we’ve been selfish. All that sin has to be paid for, but Jesus died as our substitute paying for it.

Jesus is the only One who can forgive your sin, because He’s the only One who died for it and then rose again to prove He can. He’s the only One who can get you into heaven. Sin requires a pure sacrifice to wash it away and Jesus is the only One who could be that sacrifice.

But you need a birthday – a definite beginning with Him. If you don’t have that, you have no chance of being God’s child. There is only One who can be that Mediator between God the Father and sinners.

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Have you missed your spiritual birthday? Which only comes the day you “believe in” Jesus; which means welcoming Him into your life with total trust in Him for forgiveness of your sins? If you’ve done that, you know you have been ‘born again’. If you don’t know, you probably haven’t. But you can this very day. Just ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and believe on Him.

Today’s date could become the most important day of your life if you make it your Jesus-day – your birthday. The day you receive the most awesome, most expensive birthday present of all – eternal life paid for with the life of God’s Son.

I John 5:11-13 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

How Cold is Sin…

Heb 12:1a “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”

How Cold is Sin…..?

It was Christmas Eve in Korea. An expectant mother walked through the snow to the home of a missionary friend where she knew she could find help. A short way down the road from the mission house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As the young woman stumbled forward, birth pains overcame her. She realized she could go no farther. She crawled under the bridge.

There alone between the trestles she gave birth to a baby boy. She had nothing with her except the heavy padded clothes she was wearing. One by one she removed the pieces of her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son around and around, like a cumbersome cocoon.

Then, finding a discarded piece of burlap, she pulled it over herself, and lay exhausted beside her baby.

The next morning the missionary drove across the bridge in her Jeep to take Christmas basket to a Korean family. On the way back, as she neared the bridge, the Jeep sputtered and died, out of gas. Getting out of the Jeep she started to walk across the bridge, and heard a faint cry beneath her. She crawled under the bridge to investigate.

There she found the tiny baby, warm but hungry, and the young mother frozen to death.

The missionary took the baby home and cared for him. As the boy grew, he often asked his adopted mother to tell him the story of how she had found him.

On Christmas Day, his 12th birthday, he asked the missionary to take him to his mother’s grave. Once there he asked her to wait a distance away while he went to pray. The boy stood beside the grave with bowed head, weeping.

Then he began to disrobe. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy took off his warm clothing, piece by piece, and laid it on his mother’s grave. Surely he won’t take off all his clothing, the missionary thought. He’ll freeze! But the boy stripped himself of everything, putting all his warm clothing on the grave. He knelt naked and shivering in the snow.

As the missionary went to him to help him dress again, she heard him cry out to the mother he never knew: “Were you colder than this for me, my mother?” And he wept bitterly.

When Christ came, He stripped himself of every royal garment and entered into our world of hatred and cold indifference. Why did He do it? Because He saw centuries of broken lives needing a Savior. And then He died as a sacrifice for sins He did not commit. How could this be?

The sin of human hearts. The long history of men making slaves of other men. Centuries of cannibalism and cruelty. Starvation and suffering. The worship of false gods in temples made with hands. War, bloodshed, crime, and greed, those things broke the heart of Christ. But so did we.

Our coldness broke His heart and now it freezes Him out. We complacent Americans who are saved, satisfied, and sitting! We who pray, “Give us compassion for a lost world,” and then “sacrifice” a dollar for missions. We with our elegant homes and brimming garbage cans. We who have the money, knowledge, and manpower to take the gospel to every creature, and yet we don’t. We who say we love the lost, and neglect to tell a lost neighbor about a loving Savior.

Jesus love lies frozen between trestle lips that ought to be warm to speak for Him. Lord, we take off our garments of pride and self-righteousness, glittering but transparently filthy rags that they are, and lay them at Your feet. In our naked need we cry, “Were you colder than this because of us, Lord?” And we weep bitterly, because we know You were.

by Ruth Seamands

Heb 12:1,2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.”

Judge not…Because…

Judge not…Because…

Mat 7:1, 2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

A professor at Loyola University in Chicago writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith.  That was the day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under “S” for strange. . . very strange. Tommy turned out to be the “atheist in residence” in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, “Do you think I’ll ever find God?” I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. “No!” I said very emphatically. “Oh,” he responded, “I thought that was the product you were pushing.”

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, “Tommy! I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!”

He shrugged a little and left my class and my life. I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line — He will find you! At least I thought it was clever. Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful.

Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.  Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

“Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often. I hear you are sick,” I blurted out.

“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It’s a matter of weeks.”

“Can you talk about it, Tom?” I asked.

“Sure, what would you like to know?” he replied.

“What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?”

“Well, it could be worse.”

“Like what?”

“Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.” I began to look through my mental file cabinet under ‘S’ where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

“But what I really came to see you about,” Tom said, “is something you said to me on the last day of class.” (He remembered!) He continued, “I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My clever line. He thought about that a lot!)

“But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that’s when I got serious about locating God.  And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.

Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying.  And then you quit. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn’t really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.'”

“So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.”

“Dad.”

“Yes, what?” he asked without lowering the newspaper.

“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”

“Well, talk.”

“I mean . . . It’s really important.”   The newspaper came down three slow inches. “What is it?”

“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.”

Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.

“The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.”

“It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing — which I had waited so long. Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.”

“Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through. C’mon, I’ll give you three days, three weeks.’ Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour. But the important thing is that He was there. He found me. You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.”

“Tommy,” I practically gasped, “I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: ‘God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’ Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell them.”

“Ooh ….. I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class.”

“Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call.”

In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said.

“I know, Tom.”

“Will you tell them for me? Will you tell the whole world for me?”

“I will, Tom. I’ll tell them. I’ll do my best.”

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven — I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

With thanks,

XXXXXXXXXX

Professor Loyola University in Chicago

Forwarded with corrections

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God’s Mercies are new every day – Give Thanks…

Psalm 118:1 “O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; because His mercy endures forever.”

God’s mercies are new every day – Give Thanks…..

Thanksgiving week is here and for the believer, this time of the year has special meaning. Our Lord said.

Psalm 118:1 “O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; because His mercy endures forever.”

This is one of the hallelujah Psalms that was a part of the Passover celebration. For Israel, this was thanksgiving for deliverance from Egypt and death at the first Passover. All believers are to be marked by a spirit of thankfulness, all the time, not just on Thanksgiving Day.

May I suggest that this Thanksgiving you ought to be thankful that we already have Thanksgiving! Think of the difficulty we would most certainly face today in trying to start a day of national thanksgiving to God for His bountiful blessings like the Pilgrims did in 1621. It might be impossible! And surely would be a political war when you express Who you are giving thanks to.

The first thanksgiving feast was held in a public place and the A.C.L.U. and People for the American way, who consider themselves the self-proclaimed protectors from all things religious, would certainly object. The menu would even present greater conflicts, with so many turkeys, deer and other animals prepared for eating.

The original Thanksgiving holiday lasted three days. Given all these factors and most importantly given Who is our God and what He means to our lives, we ought to first be thankful for all the blessings from God and then be thankful that we have a day set aside in our nation for giving thanks. Based on current state of affairs if we tried to do it over again, we might not succeed.

I trust that your Thanksgiving Day will be a blessed time of reflecting again on the gracious goodness of God and for His mercies that are new every day.

Remember to stop before you dig into that meal and GIVE THANKS!!!!!

I Thes 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing, In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Give Thanks to God…

Proverbs 3:21 “My son, let them not depart from your eyes- Keep sound wisdom and discretion.”

Give Thanks to…

“Shall I thank God at this Thanksgiving and all year long? Why was I born at this particular time in the history of the world? Why was I born in a spotless delivery room in an American hospital instead of a steaming shelter in the dank jungle of the Amazon or a mud hut in Africa? Why did

I have the privilege of going to school with capable instructors while millions around the world, without a school book, sit or squat on a dirt floor listening to a missionary?

“How does it happen that my children are tucked into warm beds at night with clean white sheets while millions of babies in the world will lie in cold rooms, many in their own filth and vomit? Why can I sit down to a warm meal whenever I want to and eat too much when millions will know all of their lives the gnawing pangs of hunger? Do I deserve to share in such wealth? Why me and not other millions?

Why was I born in a land I didn’t build, in a prosperity that I didn’t create and enjoy a freedom that I didn’t establish?

Why am I an American sitting comfortably in my own living room this Thanksgiving rather than an Indian squatting in the dark corner of some infested alley in Calcutta, shivering in the cold, or a Cambodian in the rubble of what used to be my home, or a terrified, running Nicaraguan in the jungle, or wondering if I will be alive for tomorrow in Afghanistan or Syria?

Do I deserve it? By what right do I have it?”

I Peter 2:3 “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

GIVE THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rev. 7:12 “Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.”