Paul the Apostle in his epistles often used athletic metaphors to help explain spiritual truths to the readers. He spoke of boxing in I Corinthians 9:26, wrestling in Ephesians 6:12, fighting in II Timothy 4:7. Paul's favorite much-repeated metaphor was FOOTRACE, which he used in Acts 20:24, Romans 9:16, I Corinthians 9:24-26, Galatians 2:2 & 5:7. In Philippians 3:12-21, he reveals one of the greatest characteristics of his life, he understood he was in a Race of Life! He knew he had been given a christian race to run, his race was to win a prize and at the finish line his prize would be Christ, Himself! Paul lived with one primary goal of life and that goal was an upward and high call from God. He lived each step of life with that goal in mind. Every step of life must be toward Christ. For Paul every decision, purchase, relationship, thought, needed to fit into his primary goal and if it didn’t he understood it would affect how he ran this race which was set before him and there would be a possibility that he would not finish this race in the fashion that the Lord would be pleased with.
Paul was not only a participant in his own race but he became a coach to all believers running their particular races. The Holy Spirit gave Paul some RULES for SPIRITUAL ATHLETES which he shares in Philippians 3:12:-16. I would like remind myself of these rules today and encourage each reader as well to run by the rules in order for each of us to finish our races and not end up on the sidelines.
RULES FOR SPIRITUAL ATHLETES
I. NEVER CEASE TO IMPROVE ! ( 3:12 )
Paul understood that the Christian life is a lifetime process of growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord. Paul knew he was not perfect and his pursuit in the flesh for perfection was in vain and his pursuit in the Spirit would be a process. It was clear to him that what he was seeking was perfection (Christlikeness), and every step he took should help him become more like Jesus but that would never be complete till he left this world and was then made completely perfect in glorification. The Apostle Paul was undoubtedly the most committed, dedicated, spiritually mature christian who ever lived yet he confesses that he has not attained perfection 30 years after his salvation experience! God uses Paul to teach us “ perfection in this life will always be a goal (for the believer ) never an achievement in this life”. The Christian must never stop running the race toward the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus as long as they have breath. So every day lets get up and join the race again to become more and more like Jesus. Follow after this ONE thing! Give this your MAXIMUM EFFORT 24/7!
II. ALWAYS STAY FOCUSED! (3:13)
Every runner in a race knows they must fix their eyes ahead of them. Those who watch the crowd, look at their feet, glance backwards are likely to fall. Maximum effort must also have focused concentration on a point ahead. Pauls says, “ this one thing I do”. Many dabble in a lot of things and accomplish very little and succeed in nothing. Verse 13 teaches us that we must “ forget things behind and reach forth to things ahead”. To STRETCH every spiritual muscle! Distractions are the enemy of success in life. It is like texting while driving or looking in the rear view mirror constantly. These bad habits will take you out of the race pretty fast and often permanently. The spiritual athlete must say focused on Christlikeness.
III. HAVE A PROPER MOTIVATION! (3:14)
The motivation is to win the race, cross the finish line, finish the race. The race is often not fun, it will be painful at times and is exhausting. But the finish line is what it is all about. PRESS ON is the heart of this passage. I PRESS is in the present tense and suggests we are to continuously, constantly run. We are running to the prize and not lose the prize. We will have opponents and obstacles in this race. What is our ONE consuming passion of life? Why do we get up every day? For Paul it was a passion to know more of Christ so he could become more like Christ! It wasn’t food, job, career, friend, family, pleasure, recreation a vacation. Everything the spiritual athlete does must come under the authority of the HIGH CALLING of God in CHRIST JESUS upon our lives. EVERYTHING must fit into the goal of becoming like Jesus! The proper motivation is a HEAVENLY MOTIVATION not an earthly one.
IV. RUN YOUR OWN RACE! (3:15)
Paul addressed the issue of others in the Philippian church who were teaching that you could become totally Christlike in this life. They taught that perfection was possible in this life and the result of such fales teaching was people ceased attempting to become like Christ. They were SPIRITUALLY SIDELINED! Paul encourages them to continue running their own races, and he actually uses sarcasm with those who teach the possibility of complete perfection this side of heaven. Paul exhorts the believers to have THIS MIND- to continually think you are not perfect, you need to keep running at maximum effort, your OWN RACE because you know by experience you have not attained perfection yet. Be a BIBLICAL THINKER as you run your personal race we each run the race according to God’s gifting us, assigning us a particular race, giving us allowed times and abilities.
V. KEEP RUNNING YOUR RACE! (3:16)
Paul gives one more rule - let us walk. The word walk in this verse is in the (continuous tense) and is used for living one step at a time. LET US KEEP WALKING, LIVING, PARTICIPATING in the RACE of LIFE. Keep attempting to become like Jesus until you see Jesus! Don’t retire from this at age 48, 62, 70 ! RUN TO THE FINISH! NEVER QUIT! PRESS ON ! We so often give up to soon. We don’t finish because we give up. We are to endure in this race and persevere. Don’t give in to pain, laziness, pleasure, opposition, obstacles, age, fatigue, sickness, nothing! Keep your passion no matter your age. Keep your fire for God. DIE CLIMBING! You may have to pace your race! You may need to adjust your race but never stop running your race till Christ comes for you in death or rapture. Then you will receive your TOTAL PERFECTION, your CHRISTLIKENESS and you will have FOUGHT YOUR FIGHT, FINISHED YOUR COURSE , KEPT YOUR FAITH! YOU WILL HAVE BEEN A SUCCESSFUL SPIRITUAL ATHLETE, one who hears the words WELL DONE!
I wanted to share a few more AMAZING GRACE STORIES this week. God is moving in powerful ways here at Liberty Baptist Church in Sweetser, In. My purpose in sharing these stories is not to bring glory to man but to God and to encourage others by seeing that our Lord is building His kingdom here and around the world. God is graciously working through the lives of His children.
AMAZING GRACE STORIES!
What's Your Story?
Today we received a call from a mother who lives in another state. She shared that her adult son has been attending Liberty Baptist Church for several weeks and that he called to tell her how the Lord has been working in his life powerfully since he has been attending. This mother was so excited to thank our church for the ministry the people of Liberty have been extending to her son and his wife. She said she and her husband have been praying intently now for several years that this would take place. They were so thrilled that the Lord was answering their prayers through His ministry here at Liberty. That is another AMAZING GRACE STORY!
What's Your Story?
Debrina Vanness is a young lady who rode on the bus and attended Liberty Baptist Church as a child and teenager. For several years she stopped attending but just a few months ago she came back to church with her children and that Sunday evening the Lord spoke to her in a powerful way and she rededicated her life to the Lord. Since that time she has been faithful to attendance and has actually began serving in the bus ministry. Debrina works at a care facility and was helping a 101 year old who was bedridden. The lady expressed she was very afraid to die. Debrina began to share the gospel with her and asked if she would like to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior. She shook her head yes and Debrina lead her in a prayer of salvation. The lady squeezed Debrina's hand as she prayed and a strong peace entered the room. The family of this lady had been stnding out in the hall and as they entered the sweet peace as well and they were thankful for Debrina helping in such a way. After Debrina's shift ended she went home and about 5 hours after this event she was contacted and told that the 101 year old lady had died. BUT in reality she was still alive and will be forever! Five hours left in life and still God had AMAZING GRACE for her. What an AMAZING GRACE STORY!
What's Your Story?
This past Sunday the message theme was from Ephesians 2:1-10. The focus was GOD'S GRACE IT REALLY IS AMAZING! During the invitation five people raised their hand letting us know they had just prayed to repent and receive Jesus as Savior. This reminds us of the how the Lord will work when we preach the gospel of grace. It is God's amazing gracious work among us! We have already been in contact with several of these people and will contact the others in the next day or so in an attempt to begin to disciple them. But the cool thing is one of these men actually called the church and asked to meet with a pastor so he can LEARN HOW TO LIVE FOR JESUS! That shows evidence that there is a INWARD POSSESSION OF AN OUTWARD PROFESSION. What an AMAZING GRACE STORY!
This week on our church web sight, we've added a new page entitled SHARE YOUR STORY. We are asking our congregation to share stories about how the Lord is working in their lives and the lives of others with whom they are connecting. All of us love a good and positive story, especially one that reveals the power and grace of our Lord as He works mightily in the lives of people in bringing them to salvation and abundant living.
You will be able to share your stories for others to be uplifted and the Lord to be glorified. There is so much bad news --let's help get some good news out as well. These stories can be about a multitude of things where God has worked in the lives of people. It is easy to do. Just go to the “ Connect” page and click on SHARE YOUR STORY and share what God is doing in and around you! Be mindful of those you share about, you may want to ask permission before sharing names.
I have shared two short stories that have been submitted and will soon be shared on our new sight.
What's Your Story?
A young mother of two was invited to Liberty a few weeks ago by one of her coworkers who attends Liberty. On her third Sunday of attending, she sought a pastor out after the service and said, "I would be ashamed to die and see the Lord." At that moment, she was led in a prayer of repentance of sin and acceptance of the Lord's gracious gift of salvation. She is now beginning a discipleship program and her life has been changed forever. Keep inviting others to church. God's Word is powerful.
What's Your Story?
Two weeks ago a young wife and mother received Christ as her Savior. She has been in church the last three Sundays. She and her husband came to the Midweek meal last Thursday and attended an elective class. She has begun Liberty’s new believer's discipleship Bible Study . She has decided to follow the Lord in believer's baptism next Sunday. Praise God for the Power of the Gospel. Let’s keep sharing the gospel because it is the POWER of GOD!
I suspect that after reading these two short stories that you have been encouraged as a christian and church member. I am sure that the Lord has been glorified and that each of us have been reminded that we are each a part of the GREAT STORY our Lord is writing for all eternity. What a day it will be when we see how all our stories were linked together for the Glory of God.
Ephesians 2:7 “ That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Reasons for Scripture Memorization
Committing to our memory is beneficial in every arena of life. It is especially important for the follower of Christ to regularly work at storing up God’s Word in our hearts and minds.
It definitely requires much effort and time to accomplish such but all the effort will pay off in both earthly and eternal dividends. Following are a few reasons we need to memorize the Holy Scriptures today for tomorrow!
I. It will assure victory over temptation.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). Remember that Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations by proclaiming, “It is written” (Matthew 4:1–11). When you are tempted to sin, you will be empowered to do the same if you’ve memorized empowering Bible passages. The Holy Spirit will bring to mind the Scriptures you have stored in your heart, working like the “sword of the Spirit” to defeat evil; this sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
II. It will reveal God’s will in our life.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Whenever you are faced with a choice—big or small—you can know that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind Scriptures that will help lead you in the way God wants you to go. The Holy Spirit will never lead you contrary to the Word of God. The Word of God is His will for you—so do everything possible to fill your mind with Scripture.
III. It will provide help during trials.
“Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). Often in our busy lives things happen that are very difficult and we are not in a place that we can sit down and read our Bibles. Sometimes when we’re hurting, tired, offended, discouraged, it can be very easy to dwell on our difficulties and very hard to pick up our Bibles and read them. So often we have heard our Lord speak to us through the Word which we have stored up for such a time when we didn't even have the strength or the desire to read our Bibles. Think about the joy it is to help bring to a friend, co-worker, even a stranger a Word from God by spontaneously speaking His beloved promises, for his or her exact need, from your heart!
IV. It will enable to learn & live God’s Word and lead others to God.
“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness” (1 Peter 3:15). Sometimes our witnessing opportunities take place at moments we least expect them. When others ask us for reasons for our inward hope. We can be prepared to answer their questions immediately because we have memorized the truths of God’s holy word. Past preparation makes all the difference in our present opportunities.
V. It will sustain focus on God, developing a deep relationship.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). The Word of God changes us in every way. Every moment we spend in God’s Word is another moment in communion with God. As we spend time with God we become more like Him. What better thing to do than to prayerfully focus on a Scripture, to focus on the mind of God, and solidify His Word, His will, and His heart into ours?
THE GOSPEL TO ALL PEOPLE AND ALL GENERATIONS
I received a wonderful message from a mother yesterday. She shared how her 9 year old daughter came to her after church this past Sunday evening. We had just preached a message on the Blood and Bread of Christ and had received the Lords Table. After hearing the message and seeing the testimony of God’s people declaring what they believed this precious child had tears in her eyes and asked her mother if she could be saved. Her mother shared with her the Roman Road plan of salvation that was shared with her by Judy Frank many years ago at one of our Children's Camps when this mother herself was saved. Her mother rode our buses to church as a child. After hearing the plan of salvation and repeating it back to her mother as she wanted to prove that she understood the gospel. Her daughter repented of her sinfulness and received Jesus into her life being saved by grace through faith at around 10:30pm on Sunday and now is asking to be baptized as she wants to obey and follow her Lord!
Some Lessons and Questions
1. The cross, the gospel, the blood of Jesus is the power unto salvation.
2. Thank God the church doors were open, and there were those who sought to be in attendance particularly this young mother with her children. Even on a Sunday evening! Our schedules are so busy with so many options. We must remember the importance of assembly. eternity is at stake!
3. Rejoicing that the gospel was proclaimed before Judy's generation, to Judy’s generation, to this mothers generation and her child's generation.
4. What are you doing to share the gospel?
5. What priorities are you leading your children into?
6. Encouragements to those who reach out with the gospel. Bus Workers, Sunday school teachers, awana workers, junior church workers, personal soul winners, parents, friends and so many more. Please remain faithful to sharing the Gospel, it is the solution to all the problems in this world.
7. If you are not actively sharing the gospel will you decide today to begin doing so?
8. We must remember it takes child like faith to be saved!
9. Praise to the Lord who loves children, adults, seniors, male, female, rich, poor, all races, all nationalities. He loves all the world! And He is mighty to save.
10. The Lord God uses the preaching of the Word of God. It is the power unto salvation!
" For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is the power of God" 1st Corinthians 1:18
Break The Stranglehold of Fear & Worry!
There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1st John 4:18
We all know what it’s like to be strangled by worry and fear. Fear teams up with its good friend, worry. More often than less these two work together in an attempt to bring misery to our lives. Fear brings worry or worry brings fear, troubling our minds with thoughts and tying our stomach with knots. The result is paralysis of our faith.
Fact is, modern medical research has proved that worry can actually cause physical sickness. It can break down your resistance to disease. It also can affect our nervous and digestive systems. Research also tells us these two partners can cause heart issues and disease. Worry and Fear is at root for emotional and mental sickness as well, and of course they affect our spiritual health. Excessive worry can really mess up your life.
We all know what it is like to have fear concerning some things. Fears concerning our marriage, children, finances, health, friendships and even our security of salvation. Far too often we are fearful of the wrong things in life. At the same time, we are not afraid of the right things in life--particularly our fearing the Lord. We don’t fear God like we should. Yet the Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
To fear God doesn’t mean trembling in terror 24 hours a day before Him. Rather, the proper fear of God is reverencing Him. It is respecting God for who He is and trusting Him in all our decisions and actions. When we fear the Lord correctly we will fear displeasing Him more than fearing anyone or anything else. When we sin, it is not the fear of what God will do to us. Rather, it’s the fear of what we have done to Him and it is that fear that will help us practice holiness before Him.
The life changing truth is that when we fear God we will fear nothing else and no one else. On the other hand, if you don’t fear God, you fear everything and everyone.
Jesus said- “Fear not I am with thee I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”. We must remember He has told us over and over again to not be afraid. Why- because He is with us. He is our light, He is our salvation, our strength. He is our life. With that in mind whom should we fear?
If you are filled with fear and worry resist them by asking the Lord to rebuke them. Bow your knees right now and ask Him to give you strength for life and faith to replace fear and worry.
Those who have left the greatest impact on our world usually had one thing in common:
People of impact are willing to do things that most people are unwilling to do. They have become people of great self discipline!
1. Impact people train their temperaments.
They live by their Bible based conviction not their emotions. They live by faith not feelings. People who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it accomplish most of what gets done in the world!
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28
2. Impact people tame their tongues.
They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths. They understand the tongue is a mighty power for both good and evil. They understand the Lord gave them two ears and one tongue not two tongues and one ear. Wise people listen more than they speak.
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life. Proverbs 13:3
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. James 3:2
3. Impact people tend their touchiness.
How fast can you be offended? How soon do you lose your temper? Unfortunately, a lot of potential influence can be cut short by having a short fuse.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Proverbs 16:32
4. Impact people track their time.
If you don’t determine how you will spend your time, you can be sure that others will decide for you. The key to eternal success is to only be answerable to ONE MASTER calendar- JESUS. You’ll have to become a great steward of time to be successful in life.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Colossians 4:5
5. Impact people trace their treasure.
They learn to live on less than what they make, and they invest the difference into savings, investments and give to causes that matter to God. Causes like the Lord’s church, missions, gospel sharing ministries, sharing with others in need. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went!
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. Proverbs 10:4
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
6. Impact people transform their temple.
They understand clearly that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. They develop habits in their eating,exercise and rest that supplies energy to their physical life. They also seek the mind of Christ which brings mental health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1st Corinthians 6:19-20
Where do you need to develop self-control?
The disciplines we establish today will determine our Impact tomorrow.
But it takes more than just willpower to produce lasting self-control. It takes a power greater than our own. It takes the power of God.
The more we accept God’s control over your life, the more self-control he gives to us. The more self control- the more eternal impact on our family, communities, churches the world.
Does Your Temple Need Cleaning?
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
How do you approach your cleaning duties? For instance do you constantly clean the inside of your car or do you put it off till it is extremely cluttered and grimy? How about your dishes or your house? Do you daily take care of organizing and cleaning or do you let things get completely out of order and than take on that mountain of laundry, dishes, etc ? Obviously, the best approach would be to take care of things when they are more manageable. Taking care of smaller messes assure that they don’t become BIG messes! And we all know how BIG messes seem to only discourage us and cause us to procrastinate the task of “ cleaning house”.
Jesus knows a few things about cleaning house. He cleansed the temple twice during His ministry. First time was after His first miracle in John 2:18 and the second time was three years later just before He died on the cross for our sin in Matthew 21:17-23. Twice He went into the temple (the house of God) and drove out the money changers. These dishonest merchants were taking advantage of God’s followers and discouraging them from following the pure person of Christ Himself. This stirred up the Lords righteous anger and it motivated Him to CLEAN HOUSE. He sweeps it clean with a WHIP. And we find Him repeating this twice. He knew small messes turn in to big messes which ultimately become unmanageable. So He cleans house again and again!
In this first week of the New Year let me make a practical application.
When we Christians came to Christ in repentance and faith our Lord cleaned our souls and moved into our bodies. He now calls our bodies His temple. But as we live in this dirty and sinful world we allow old sins back into our lives. And if those sins are not daily cleansed they will grow larger and more dominating. Becoming BIG, unmanageable, addictive, out of control issues in our lives.
How is your temple? Have you allowed your house to become a little unkept, not as clean as it once was. Perhaps it has gone some time without a good cleaning and now it is cluttered and in reality dirtier than you ever would have thought it would have become?
Does your temple need cleansing? Are there some things in your life you know shouldn't be there? Some besetting sins that have taken control? Why not deal with them today? If you decide to repent and confess your house has become dirty Jesus will help you clean house! (1st John1:9)
Once you clean house make sure to begin a regiment of regularly keeping the temple cleansed. I am sure you will find it more manageable in the long haul to take care of little messes immediately rather than allowing them to become life threatening!
The Divine Birth Announcement
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . . And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
—Luke 2:8, 10
Each mother and father remember when they announced that they were expecting with a child. And when the baby was born I am sure you remember the first people you called to excitingly proclaim the little ones arrival. You shared with them the weight, length, color of their eyes and hair ( that is if they had hair). You were so proud to tell them the time of birth and every other detail you could think about sharing. And what made this announcement more enjoyable was you were sharing with those you loved and were the closest to you! Those you know would enjoy the news and be just as interested in the happening as you were.
When God sent the angel to announce the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? Don’t you find it interesting to who it was that the first announcement of Christ’s birth was to shepherds.? I would have thought it would have been announced to others before these lowly shepherds. He could have sent Gabriel starting with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel to appear in Caesar’s court and announce, “the only true Savior of the world has arrived, it is not you, you are not God, I AM!”
Gabriel could have taken this first announcement to the religious leaders of that day. Those who had become so vile in religion and so far away from a relationship with God. Can you imagine hearing Gabriel say “Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you say you look for—He is here! Prepare to meet your God!”
To the human mind it would have made sense to make the announcement first to the influential, nobility, government officials, those who had means to get the word out, those who managed people not sheep.
But the Lord was revealing both His mind and heart in His birth announcement. Instead, He first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Through the centuries many of songs, writings and paintings have portrayed these shepherds of the Christmas story in ways that are not biblically and historically accurate. We must understand in that time shepherds lived lowly lives. They were at the low end of social status.
Shepherds were so disrespected and looked down upon that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, they were with the sheep 24 hours a day and that work was smelling and dirty. They were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies, common labors who everybody needed but no-one wanted. The only people lower in social acceptance and status were those suffering from leprosy.
So now we are beginning to see how astounding it really is that the first announcement of the Messiah’s birth was in such a fashion. Our loving Lord decides to announce His birth and share the GOOD NEWS with SHEPHERDS FIRST! In fields, as they were tending sheep, at work, at night, to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary, to the less-regarded.
This biblical fact should give hope to all because in the great reality of truth every human is simply a shepherd. We are made from the dust, born under curse, poor in spirit, outcasts, common, suffering from a leprosy called sin. Some shepherds wear $1000 suits, some live in million dollar homes but the great reality is they are poor, lowly, shepherds as are all humans on this earth. That is all. And the announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth is to every shepherd, in every place, in every moment of time “bringing good tidings of great joy….for unto each shepherd is born a Savior Christ the Lord.”
This should give each of us “ordinary people” hope. For those who have received this hope through Christ may this season one of great rejoicing and a time of rededicating ourselves to take that hope to the world. For the one who has yet to receive hope through Christ alone may this be the moment for you to bow your head and heart before the Lord in repentance of sin and acceptance of the ONE WHO WAS BORN THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS!
What Can I Give Christ For Christmas ?
True followers of Jesus Christ know the true meaning of Christmas. Yet every year it seems very difficult not to be sucked into the ways the world celebrates the season. How much of our season actually is centered around celebrating Christ? Now that is a question each of who truly loves Jesus must ask ourselves at this time of year.
If we are not careful the activities at this time will crowd out the special opportunity that is availed during this precious month to make CHRIST more centered in our individual life, family life and church life. As we seek to give just the right gifts to those we love may we not forget to GIVE TO THE ONE WHO GAVE ALL HE HAD FOR US!
Let me suggest several gift ideas we can give to our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas! I am certain that as we present our Lord with gifts He deserves He will be well pleased and we will be abundantly blessed within. There is no joy like giving and no greater joy than to give to our Lord!
1. Give Him The Gift Of Your Faith!
The Christmas story teaches us to trust and submit to God’s sovereign plan. Mary, Joseph, Zacharias, the shepherds each teach us the proper response to the coming of the Lord. They trusted in the written prophecies concerning the Messiah’s coming and they trusted in the the God given words of the angel. Mary trusted in the words of Elisabeth as she was filled with the Spirit and proclaimed that Mary would give birth to the Lord! They trusted in the words of Zacharias as he also was filled with the Spirit and proclaimed the LIGHT had come to those who sat in darkness, and that the light was Jesus Christ! On the night of the Lord’s birth there was faith and trust in the hearts of the shepherds as the angel proclaimed “ For unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”. They believed that the Sovereign Savior had come in the fullness of time. They trusted Him by faith. Few things honor God more than our trust. May we give Christ our trust by exercising great faith in His words, His purposes, His calling on our lives. It is “Impossible to please God without faith”, so may we trust Him more and as we do He will receive a gift which brings pleasure to the ONE we love!
For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.—Luke 1:37–38
2. Give Him The Gift Of Loving Others.
Get alone sometime and present your life to God as a gift offered to Him as you choose to yield to the Holy Spirit to actions of love for others. Visit a hospital room or a shut in. Visit a Mission and help serve a dinner and visit with the homeless. Invite a lonely widow or widower to church and better yet invite them to a Christmas meal or function. Call a stop to the Christmas busyness and make time to really love others in tangible ways. After all that is what Christ did on that first Christmas, He came to love us. He came to be born so that He might die on the cross for our sins. There is no greater love than to die for others. May we this Christmas give Christ the gift of our yielding to His control to lead us to others who He wants to love through us.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.—Matthew 25:40
3. Give Him The Gift Of Tangible Items.
Give special Christmas financial gifts to your church, missionaries or the less fortunate. Give Him a gift of time or talent for the new year. After prayer perhaps you may decide to read the Bible daily, to join an organized prayer group, to attend church more faithfully, to begin to serve him in a particular area. Perhaps decide to give an increase in your weekly financial giving, to use your giftedness in His church. To work in the bus ministry , teach a class, visit a widow weekly, sing in the choir, play in the orchestra, wash a church van or a seniors car weekly, you get the idea. What tangible gift could you give that would make Christmas more about Jesus. Either personally or as a family, find a way to give to the Lord or to others in His name this Christmas.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.—Matthew 2:11
4. Give Him The Gift Of Sharing The Gospel.
Christmas presents many opportunities for conversations about the Lord. Whether it be asking a co-worker about their holiday traditions and then sharing yours, or bringing cookies over to your neighbors with an invitation to a special church service where the gospel will be presented, this is a wonderful season to tell others about Christ and why He came. Take this special time to present our Savior with the gift of sharing the Christmas Story with all we come into contact with this season. After all that is the true meaning of the season celebration. Our Lord came to be born of a virgin, He lived a sinless life, He died on the cross to pay for the sins of all people, He was buried in a grave and arose from the dead. And because of that “ Whosoever calls upon Him shall be saved’. “ A Savior was born”. And the Sovereign Savior is coming again. May we rejoice and bring gifts to our Sovereign Savior just as they did that first Christmas Day!
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.—Luke 2:17-18
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.