Because of Christmas, the life of a rebellious teenager on a path to destruction was saved.
A liar, cheat, thief, and vandal, arrogant and profane, this searching person was dramatically transformed. Only the love and forgiveness of Christ can change a deceiver into a person of integrity who freely gives of his time, resources and services to help others instead of hurting them. Only Jesus can take someone from hitchhiking across the country, hostile toward God, to traveling throughout the world proclaiming Him; or inspire someone voted least likely to succeed in motivating multitudes to reach their maximum potential.
Why would any reasonable person oppose the message of Christ’s birth?
Open your New Testament to the book of Luke and learn all about Jesus’ coming. Then continue through the book of John to discover who this Jesus is. Christ just may become the joy and passion of your life as He has come to be in mine. Merry Christmas!
No one wants his name disgraced. A bad name is a curse, while a good name is a blessing. People live and die to protect their name, testimony and the reputation of their family. Likewise, the Lord defends the honor of His name:
I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).
While many today attempt to silence or profane the name of the LORD, we as believers should acknowledge and reverence His name in both words and deeds.
• The third Commandment is: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). First Chronicles 17:24 tells us His name should be “magnified forever.”
• David said to Goliath: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). Solomon built the house (Temple) for the name of the LORD (1 Kings 8:20). Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in the name of the LORD (1 Kings 18:20-39).
• The Psalms frequently mention the name of the LORD. A few examples follow:
I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High (7:17).
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (20:7).
From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised (113:3).
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD (118:26).
Our help is in the name of the LORD (124:8).
• Proverbs 18:10 tells us that “The name of the LORD is a strong tower.” Micah 4:5 states: “We will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”
• Psalm 23, which you have probably read or recited many times, says: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse 3). The Lord’s Prayer starts out: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).
• Jesus told His disciples to ask of the Father in His name (John 15:16; 16:23-27). The Apostle John tells us that his Gospel and the miracles of Jesus he recorded were “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
• Acts 2:21 promises: “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Acts 4:12 tells us there is salvation only in the name of Jesus for “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
• The Apostle Peter said to the crippled man: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).
• At Damascus and Jerusalem the Apostle Paul was speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28). Paul said to the slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18).
• Colossians 3:17 exhorts: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” James 5:14 instructs: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
His Name the Only One
In every way possible we as believers should respect and reverence the name of the Lord – just as we hope our children will honor our name! We must also trust in, pray in and be witnesses in the name of the Lord.
Ask yourself one crucial question:
Do my words and behavior honor or dishonor the name of the Lord? One day the profanity and blasphemy of God’s name will cease. The day is rapidly approaching when:
The LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zechariah 14:9).
The following poem was written by Bruce Miller, a childhood friend of Bill Rudge. His dramatic conversion gave him the desire to lead others to Jesus. He currently serves in a prison ministry and was able to minister in Haiti and India when Bill opened doors for him to go.
It’s called the “Great Commission,”
Just who’s supposed to go?
You’ll find the answer on your knees
If you really want to know.
The harvest has been ready,
And the fields are very ripe;
Pray to the Lord for laborers,
Willing to share the light.
It seems today, and always has,
The ones that go are few;
It’s written in the book of Luke
In chapter ten, verse two.
Some say, “I’m just too busy,”
Or, “The timing isn’t right.”
Lift your eyes; look around;
The harvest is already white.
When you see Jesus face to face,
And He asks, “What did you do?”
I hope and pray your answer is,
“I labored, Lord, for you.”
The Great Commission is, and should be, the priority of the Church and every believer in Christ. It is not an option but rather a command. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus did not ask the disciples to go; Jesus commanded they go unto the utter most parts of the earth (see Acts1:8). In Luke 10:2, Jesus told the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers, and then in verse three, He sent them into the harvest fields.
“Who Will Go?” It is a question intended to stir your heart and mind. After reading my poem, it is my hope you, and myself as well, may respond as Isaiah the prophet did:
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and whowill go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)
One of the hottest topics of discussion several months ago was the Grammy Awards. News headlines were saturated with stories about the weddings that took place, the revealing outfits worn, and a performance that had many people claiming she was promoting witchcraft, demons, magic, and Satanism. While I did not watch the Grammy’s, I believe that what went on merely reflects the mindset of a worldly culture; the declaration of independence from the God of the Bible.
This desire for independence began back in the Garden of Eden. Once Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God, he was able to plant the idea that they no longer needed to look to God to determine what was good and evil (Genesis 3:1-4). In other words, they no longer needed to live under God’s authority: Man can be free from God. This notion of living your life “free” from the God of the Bible is the very spirit that now permeates our culture.
So how do Christians respond to this? Some Christians embrace this culture, ignoring or downplaying any conflicts while being entertained by movies, television shows, and popular musicians openly endorsing and living anti-biblical lifestyles. As one Christian friend said to me, “It is just entertainment and nothing more.”
Other Christians disengage completely from the culture. They stand back awaiting the day when God will finally judge this world and destroy those whom they feel, in their own mind, are not as worthy as they to receive God’s grace and mercy. You will find these people being more preoccupied with endorsing their own political views than with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Both of the above approaches fail to provide a biblical response to our culture. Instead of embracing our secular culture, or completely disengaging from it, we need to follow the example of Christ. What this means is that we do not conform our lives to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but live our lives in such a way that shows our culture how true, personal freedom is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, if we live by the standards of our culture, we really no longer have a unique message to bring to our culture.
The Grammy’s should be a reminder to all of us that this world desperately needs to hear the news that Jesus Christ has come to set the captives free. Let us live out this message in both word and action.
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5, 6).
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).
“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).
Do not think God is sleeping, silent or soft on the sin that is infecting our world. Increasing rebellion and immorality (often expressed as freedom and enlightenment) has not gone unnoticed by the Creator. Throughout history, God has periodically sent judgments to bring individuals and nations to repentance. When they refuse to repent, His judgments intensify.
God, who is long-suffering and not wanting anyone to perish (1 Peter 4), is now storing up His wrath for a day of vengeance and judgment (Revelation 16:19). This day of reckoning will bring even the bravest and most defiant and arrogant of men and women to their knees – either in repentance or judgment.
Don’t be impressed or influenced by today’s society – the day is quickly approaching when the cup of His wrath will reach its fill. Don’t be afraid of the violent and ruthless, for they will be the ones cowering in fear before their just and righteous Creator. The LORD is once again about to enter this world with undeniable power and might. Be certain that you are on the right side – the LORD’s – and living the way you should – honoring Him and abiding by His Word.
There are three things for which I have no regrets. Ironically, they are the same three things for which I have some regrets.
First, for my faith in Christ and relationship with Him. I have no regrets for the many years I have been a committed follower of Jesus Christ. But I do have regrets for the years before I accepted Him and the choices I made, which although they did not destroy me – left their marks.
Second, for the time and relationships I have with my close and extended families. I have no regrets for the wonderful times I have had with my children, grandchildren, other family members and friends. They have blessed me in countless ways. But I do regret not having more time to spend with them. I guess I will have to wait until the Millennium and Eternity, when there will be no time restraints or hindrances for these amazing relationships.
Third, concerning my health. I have no regrets for living a life of discipline concerning nutrition and exercise. But I do regret the many years I was a junk food junkie and abused my body and health in so many ways. I am blessed to have regained my health in my 30s and hope to maintain it until I go to be with the Lord.
Pride – thinking more highly of yourself than you really are; giving glory to yourself rather than the One who deserves it
Pleasure – worldly indulgences and self-gratification
Possessions – lots of “toys” and worldly goods
Power – to influence and control others
Pinnacle – reaching the peak of success
Plunge – appeal and popularity decline
Panic – turning to drugs and alcohol or committing suicide
Passing – all over in this life
This pathetic pattern is repeated over and over in every generation, yet many people “sell their souls” for fleeting fame and passing popularity. Instead of chasing fantasies that fade like the radiance of a rainbow, be wise and live your life for the One who promises abundant life here and now, as well as eternal life.