Friday, December 28, 2012

Precious Things

Precious Things

Through this wonderful Christmas season I hope you have considered what is truly precious in your life. There are some attributes written about God in His Word that are counted as, “precious” and relationships that we, as believer’s, should deem as “precious” to bring Glory and Honor to Him who deserves the highest praise.

Psalms 49:8

(For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) No money on earth can redeem a person, nor give a ransom to God for their soul. The redemption of a man’s soul (that is, their person from the grave), is precious, and it ceaseth forever.  The attempt to redeem a soul with money must remain a failure, for death comes and wealth cannot influence him. No price could secure for any man that he should still live forever and not see corruption. No amount of money or any other protocol can save a soul from eternal death. Without first acknowledging the costly price the Lord Jesus Christ paid on the cross for sin, repenting of that sin and putting their faith and trust in Him, no man can escape the sting of death (I Corinthians 15:50-58).

Psalms 116:15

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. The Lord watches over the dying  saints beds, He smooths their pillows, sustains their hearts, and receives their souls. Those who are redeemed with His precious blood are so dear to God that even their deaths are precious to Him. If we have walked before Him in the land of the living, we need not fear to die before Him when the hour of our departure is at hand.

Psalms 126:6

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. This is a psalm of conversion which contains a song, a prayer and a promise. There must be sowing before reaping and what men sow they will reap. When a man's heart is so stirred that he weeps over the sins of others, tears of earnestness result in tears of repentance. Winners of souls are first weepers for souls. The sowing may be with sorrow, but the reaping will be with rejoicing and joy.

Psalms 139:17

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! To think the God of this universe should think upon us is a believer's joy. We should think upon God's thoughts of us with delight; and the more of them the better. The worth of His thoughts towards us are as treasured jewels to us who are so poor and needy. What joyful exuberance should fill our hearts to think God is returning love for love, thought for thought, to those of us who are so impoverished and needful.

1 Peter 2:6-7

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 

Christ is called a stone metaphorically to typify His strength and to teach his servants that He is their protection and security, the foundation on which they are built. Jesus Christ is the very foundation-stone of all our hopes and happiness. He imparts the true knowledge of God allowing access to the Father, and by Him we are made partakers of all spiritual blessings. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious. Christ may be rejected by an ungrateful world, yet He is favored of God, and precious in His significance i.e. (the quality of being worthy of attention; important). Christ is the crown and honor of a true Christian and we who believe in Him will never be ashamed but will praise and worship Him for ever."

2 Peter 1:4

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 

This precious faith is truly a gift of God, through the working of the Spirit, who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. The preciousness of faith, as well as our obtaining it, is through the righteousness of Christ and not by works which we have done. The promised blessings of the gospel are very precious and those who receive these promises are freed from the bondage of sin. 

Thoughts: How precious is one soul to the heart of God that He would show such grace to fallen man. No price can be put upon a dying saint nor on one who is bearing precious seed while weeping for repentance over sin. What a precious treasure we possess in His innumerable thoughts towards us and for those who believe, He is a most precious gift. May we never forget our most precious things; He who is our foundation, our strength, our hope, and our security in the life to come. With all these things we know we are loved and precious in His sight.

Friday, December 21, 2012

God's Gifts

God’s Gifts
James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Where did the tradition of giving begin? It began at Creation with God! The gifts we give are imperfect, often with wrong motivation, always defective, and temporary. Good and perfect gifts only come from God, from the Father of Lights. The universe itself, as it came from God’s creative hand was good and perfect. God Himself pronounced it very good. God began with a good and perfect creation and He has maintained that standard. 

The custom of giving gifts is a worldwide practice. It finds its greatest expression at Christmas time, when the wise men in Matthew 2 and the joyful tidings of the angels in Luke 2 echo in millions of families around the world. People share the joy of giving at this time even if the “Reason for the season” is not known in that family.

Giving is a strong theme in scripture. The words “give”, “giving”, “gift”, and like words appear at least 2100 times. The very first appearance is in connection with light. God gave lights in the heavens to shine on the earth. He created the lights, He is the Father of Lights. He gave us light to enjoy His wondrous creation. When Christ was born the shepherds saw the glory shining (Luke 2:9), the wise men saw His star (Matthew 2:2), and John testified the True Light had come (John 1:9). Today the remembering of Christ’s birth is marked by an abundance of lights. Even the Jew’s festival of Hanukkah is called by them the “festival of lights.”

There are other specific gifts mentioned in Scripture. The phrase “gift of God” occurs eight times and the plural phrase “gifts of God” occurs once”.

Six New Testament Gifts of God

The Gift of Christ Shown to the Woman at the Well
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” John 4:10.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” Acts 8:18-20.

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

The Gift of Individual Abilities Given to Man
“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper of God, one after this manner, and another after that” 1 Corinthians 7:7. Both singleness and marriage are God’s gracious gifts.

The Gift of  Salvation
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8.

The Gift of Confidence in Love
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:6-7. The threat of Roman persecution was escalating under the leadership of Nero during this time. Our God has already given to believers all the spiritual resources they need for every trial. If man is fearful, it does not come from God. 

All of God’s gifts are good, perfect, and eternal! The plural phrase “gifts of God” stresses this wonderful truth in Romans 11:29 which says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance “or irrevocable. These six gifts will be ours to treasure for all of eternity. The last time giving is mentioned in the Bible is in Revelation 22:12 when Christ gives rewards to His faithful servants. He is the Great Giver at the beginning of time, at the end of time, and for all of eternity.

Thought: This Christmas as we share our gifts and enjoy the beautiful lights, let us remember the Father of Lights, the Great Giver of all good and perfect gifts. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16. After contemplating this great gift and the love that determined it, the only response we can have is one of praise and wonder for our Great Giver! “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15. Throughout this Christmas season think about all of the many gifts of God mentioned in His Word and those He has personally given to you. Make a list of them and praise Him for them!

*Prepared by my daughter-in-law, Jessica Moffitt. I asked Jessica if I could use this lesson for Dianna’s Diary and of course, she said, “Yes!” Thank you, Jessica, for sharing with us the fathomless giving of His matchless grace. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Miraculous Virgin Birth

The Miraculous Virgin Birth
Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-2:1-7

There are some amazing and spectacular births recored in the Word of God. The birth of Isaac is a marvelous story of an women nearly one hundred years old, who was laughing at the thought of being with child then miraculously conceives (Genesis 21). Elizabeth was barren, but through the power of God gave birth to John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said there had yet been no one greater (Matthew 11:11.) But no birth is any more spectacular and miraculous than the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus which surpasses all in knowing it was a divine conception.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:26-33.) 

Mary, a godly young woman who was sensitive and submissive to the Lord’s will wondered how she could conceive without knowing a man after the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would be the mother of “the Son of the Highest.”  Mary never questioned that the angel was sent from God or that what he said was true she only wondered about this miraculous conception.“How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

Joseph, being espoused to Mary, made it a binding marriage and could only be terminated by divorce. Though the betrothed couple were regarded legally as husband and wife, the physical union had not yet taken place. What a good and faithful husband Joseph was to Mary. He had every right to put her away but listened to the angel which came to him in a dream. I am sure no one ever looked at Mary and Joseph the same after they knew of her conception. Even though prophecy was being fulfilled, there were those who would never believe that Mary had done things right. True faith trusts in God even when things appear very perplexing and troublesome.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS (Matthew 1:24,25). The word “know or knew” is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, a mild or indirect expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt. Joseph did not have a sexual relationship with his wife before the Christ Child was born which reinforces the truth of Jesus’ divine conception. The supernatural birth of Jesus is the only way to account for the life that He lived here on earth before sinful men. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means “GOD WITH US” which describes who He is and distinguishes Him above all others. 

It amazes me that our God in His immense greatness and matchless wisdom would orchestrate such a design of life changing events for the world to behold and embrace. God through His prophets had foretold hundreds of years before of the miraculous birth of Christ and “none can stay His hand” (Daniel 4:35). God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19) The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: (Isaiah 14:24). God promised that the Christ Child would come, be born, pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross, raise from the grave, and ascend into Heaven. He fulfilled every prophecy; Oh, praise His Holy name.

Thought: The virgin birth is necessary to the trustworthiness of the gospel records for if the gospel records are wrong concerning the birth of Christ, then everything they say concerning His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension becomes questionable. Obviously Jesus’ conception by the Holy Sprit is a great mystery and to understand such things we will have to await heaven, when we will see our Lord “face to face.” Who else but our Omnipotent God could design and accomplish such a divine plan that brought the King of Glory to earth through a Virgin Birth at the appointed time, in the specified place, with the assigned people. Who else could provided for us a Savior who would take our sins, who knew no sin, upon Himself to sacrificially give to us, eternal life. Oh, what love, and for this He is to be given the highest praise!

Friday, December 7, 2012

What a Mother Taught Her Child

What a MotherTaught Her Child
Proverbs 31 
The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him (Proverbs 31:1.)

Luke 1:46-50
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.   For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.   And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Introduction: As we look at Proverbs 31 and gather some principles about what a mother, must teach her child; we must remember it is the Lord who gives clear direction and discernment to a mother concerning where to place emphasis in instructing her children. A mother must seek the Lord and follow Him closely in order to instruct her children properly.

We see in the very first verse King Lemuel repeating what his mother taught him through the next verses. She took the responsibility to teach him about very important issues of life.  It is not any one else’s (school, church, etc.) to teach your children the ways of life, it is your God-given blessing, so take the responsibility and cherish every moment. Society today will try to impress many false ideas about where your children come from or that they really aren’t special, just a lump of tissue in the womb. It is very important that you teach your child that God created them very special, and created them just for you. Teach them the truth about where they came from.

Psalm 139: 13-14 ~ For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Mary, the soon to be mother of Jesus, a young teen-aged girl, knew the God of Scripture, the God of Israel in a deep personal way. She knew His Word. She understood it. She had studied it. She had laid hold of its promises and its covenants. Those promises filled her thoughts and filled her heart. When she says in Luke 1:48, "All generations shall call me blessed," she is speaking of herself as the recipient, not the giver of blessing. She doesn't say all generations will look to me to bless them. They'll consider me blessed because of what I received.  It is the Lord to whom her soul magnifies in verse 46. It is God my Savior whom her spirit exalts in verse 47. She sings of the great things that God has done, verse 49, on her behalf. She rejoices in the great mercy God has shown her in becoming the mother of the Christ Child.

The key to understanding Mary's praise is in the expression of her great faith. It is an expression of her love for God, her worship of God, her understanding of Scripture and the promises of God.  A young woman in incredible circumstances with immense challenges and difficulties who was nevertheless pouring out worship to the God she knew and the God she believed.

In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel’s training as a child was much like Mary’s. She was an example of a model believer. Mary, only a child herself, magnifies the Lord with her pure life as one who loves God down deep in her heart and who knows the truth about God and who knows her God well. King Lemuel was taught, Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10.)  The king was being taught moral purity. Mary’s moral purity for sure played a  huge part in her being chosen as the mother of Jesus. She was taught the importance of having good character, integrity, and decency. These are key traits in a person’s life and of utmost importance. King Lemuel was taught to live a life honoring to the Lord. Proverbs 31:25 says, Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. He was taught that who you are is more important than what you are or what you possess.  A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1.)

To know Christ as Savior is by far the most important thing we could ever teach our children. We must preach and teach to them the gospel. If we do not teach this to our children, then nothing else we could possible teach them, in all of eternity, really matters. King Lemuel speaks about the Proverbs 31 woman that fears the LORD. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised ( Proverbs 31:30.)  If there is anything in life that we should be passionate about, it is the gospel. We must not only be passionate about sharing the gospel with our children, but we must be passionate about thinking about it, rejoicing in it and living the it before them.

Thought: What an example Mary was to the world.  Yes, she was to be the mother of Jesus, but still one of us, a sinner saved by grace and mercy, overwhelmed with her unworthiness, and willing to obey the Word of God in overflowing praise. Mary teaches us to praise the God of Heaven in humility and in doing so, she was lifted up and blessed beyond measure. Proverbs 31 gives practical, moral and spiritual teaching and Mary knowing Scripture, followed the teaching of Scripture––––may we follow her example. In conclusion, what should a mother teach her children? And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuternomy 6:5-7.) Teach your children to love God and then live the gospel every day before them that they may see whom Christ gave His all for, a sinner like mom.