CRITICISM

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

“Be advised to consider what others say of you and improve it to this end, to know whether you do not live in some way of sin…And though the imputation may seem to us to be very groundless and we think that they, in charging us so, are influenced by no good spirit; yet if we act prudently, we shall take so much notice of it as to make an occasion of examining ourselves … it is most imprudent as well as most unchristian, to take it amiss, and resent it, when we are thus told of our faults: we should rather rejoice in it, that we are shown our spots … we should improve what our enemies say of us. If they from an ill spirit reproach and revile us to our faces, we should consider it, so far as to reflect inward upon ourselves and inquire whether it not be so, as they charge us … they are likely to fix on real faults, they are likely to fall upon us where we are weakest and most defective.” (“The Necessity of Self Examination”)

CRAZY ABOUT CHRISTMAS?

Samuel A CainAnd suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14 ESV)

Do you know someone who is crazy about Christmas? I bet you do. Many Americans have lost their ability to think rationally when it comes to Christmas. Materialism is rampant everywhere during this season of the year. How else would you explain 200 – 300 people waiting outside a store at 4:00 AM in the freezing cold for an early opening sale? Once the doors are open, the scene is like finding yourself in the middle of a reindeer stampede. The shoppers push and trample over anything or anyone in their way. They sometimes grab items out of other shoppers’ hands or carts and curses proliferate from their mouths.

Christmas revelers go to great lengths in order to decorate their homes with all the familiar symbols of a secular Christmas. They turn their front yards into extravagant light shows to attract attention and win the approval of others. Then, they borrow money to pay for it all. Their goal is to live a crazy fantasy for a short time each year which, in reality, has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas. The story of the birth of Jesus Christ is particularly a story of love. Christmas is all about love; a love that restores our relationship with God. Continue reading

AFRAID OF FALLING?

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

In the next place, I would cheer those readers who have walked in the way of God, and yet are afraid of falling. Why should you be afraid? What should make you fear? What should make you suppose that you shall ever be allowed to fall away, while Jesus Christ lives at the right hand of God to make intercession for you? All the power of the Lord Jesus Christ is pledged upon your behalf. He has undertaken to care for all the flock that God the Father has committed into His hand. He will care for it. He has cared for it. He went to the cross for it. He died for it. He is ever at the right hand of God, and has not ceased to care for it. Every member of that flock–the weakest, the feeblest member of that flock–is equally dear to the Lord and Savior, and none shall pluck the least of Christ’s sheep out of God’s hand. Can you stop the tides of the sea, and make them not rise at your command? Can you make the waters stay when the tide begins to fall? Can you prevent the sun in heaven going down in the west, or prevent the same sun from rising tomorrow morning in the east? You cannot do it: the thing is impossible And all the power of devils, all the power of the world, and all the enemies of the Christian, shall not be able to pluck out of the hand of Jesus Christ one single soul who has been brought by the Spirit’s teaching to true union with Christ, and for whom Jesus Christ intercedes. The days of Christ’s weakness have passed away. He was “crucified through weakness,” and was weak on our account when He went to the cross. The days of His weakness are over: the days of His power have begun. Pilate shall no more condemn Him: He shall come to condemn Pilate. All power is His in heaven and earth, and all that power is engaged on behalf of His believing people.

CHILDREN AND THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

Samuel A CainFor to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 ESV)

Christmas is a good time to share the Word of God with your children. Of course, as we see in Deuteronomy 11, every day and every moment is, in general, a good time to do this. So, what are your children learning about the Christ of Christmas this year? What are you teaching them? Is there more talk in your home about Santa Claus than Jesus? Continue reading

PROVIDENCE

John FlavelJohn Flavel:

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

All the dark, intricate, puzzling providences at which we were sometimes so offended…we shall [one day] see to be to us, as the difficult passage through the wilderness was to Israel, “the right way to the city of habitation”.

COMFORTABLE UNBELIEVERS

Christ and ChristmasCharles R. Biggs:

No one should ever be too comfortable with the truths of Scripture any time of the year! I think it is important for the truths of Scripture to keep believers all uncomfortably ever-depending upon Jesus Christ alone for our righteousness throughout the year (one of the purposes of gospel preaching). I especially think it is good for unbelieving friends and relatives to be uncomfortable this time of year when we celebrate God becoming flesh in order to save those who believe. When unbelievers become comfortable this time of year, it is time to ask ourselves as the Church whether we are speaking and proclaiming the gospel in clear, pointed, penetrating ways as Jesus, John, and Paul preached it. (“An Uncomfortable Christmas Card for Unbelievers Comfortable at Christmas”)

 

CHURCH MEMBERS

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“We need to have a Church in which all the members do something, in which all do all they can, in which all are always doing all they can—for this is what our Lord deserves to have from a living, loving people bought with His precious blood! If He has saved me, I will serve Him forever and ever. And whatever lies in my power to do for His Glory, that shall be my delight to do, and to do at once!” (1892, Sermon #2275)

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