God only knows who His elect are. If our sons and daughters are numbered among them they will be saved. Not one of God’s chosen ones will perish. Christ will have those whom He has redeemed. In God’s time, He will call His own from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. If some of our children are not chosen of God, they will not be saved. They will not believe. And those who will not believe deserve to perish.
But it is our responsibility to do what we can to bring our families into the family of God. I offer these words of instruction to you who believe, to you who are interested in the immortal souls of your sons and daughters.
1. If you want your family to be saved, see to it that you worship God with your family. If you do not see to it that your children hear the gospel, it is because you do not care for their souls. If you neglected to feed your children, it would be reasonable to assume that you cared nothing for their bodies. And if you do not provide them with the gospel of Christ, both by private instruction and by bringing them to hear the Word preached, it is obvious that you do not care for their souls. You can do nothing that is more positively harmful to your family than to rob them of the ministry of the Word.
2. If you care for the souls of your children you will exercise loving discipline in your home. Eli was a believer. He showed his wicked sons the way of faith and life in Christ. He taught them the gospel. He taught them right from wrong. And he prayed for them. But he was a miserable failure as a father, because he exercised no discipline over them. ‘He restrained them not!’ God told him plainly that the cause of his sons’ death was his lack of’ discipline as a father.
3. If you want your children to follow Christ, let them see that you follow Christ. By all means see to it that your sons and daughters regularly attend the ministry of the gospel. See to it that you pray for them and discipline them. But if your religion is all lip service, they will soon detect your hypocrisy. Set before them an example of love for, faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
– From “Grace for Today” by Don Fortner
2016. It was a tough year for me personally. For the entire year, I had no income at all. All my hopes of going abroad for my studies vaporized before my very eyes and to add to that, I had a near fatal experience. The sickness started sometime in April and I was still struggling with the effects and weaknesses even after 7 months. It was a debilitating year for me. In a sense, I only saw losses in 2016. Yet, there was something unsettling as I was approaching the end of the year.
Every year, I would be looking at the losses I had suffered and the things I had gained; and as the last week of the year approaches, I would be looking forward for that year to end, hoping that the dawn of new year would change everything. And in my heart, there would be always a sense of disappointment over that year. Hopes that vanished in thin air, the promises that were not fulfilled and the wasted opportunities – all these would weigh my heart. And when I lead the year-end worship service, I would be happy for two reasons – that the year is over and the coming year would be a blessing. It has been a long time since I was happy for the year that passed by.
But this year, it was very different. 2016 had to be worst year I had ever faced. In everything, I suffered loss. Yet, when I entered the last days of 2016, there was a divine serenity in my mind. And I was sad that 2016 was coming to an end. And when I led the congregation in worship on December 31st, I realized that I was very happy for the year 2016 – not that it is ending… but that I was very blessed during 2016. When I thanked the Lord with the congregation for 2016, there was a sense of gratitude that I had never felt before in life. Because, in all my losses, I have gained that one thing that mattered – being at the feet of Jesus and knowing Him.
Compared with the previous years, my Bible reading was less in 2016 as I was sick for nearly 4 months and due to an over-enthusiastic medical student, my eye sight was also affected for nearly 3 months. Yet, the Lord spoke to me through those verses I had known before; He spoke in whispers, through songs and through His prophets. In 2016, He made me realize how vile I had been; I was mortified to realize how at the very source, my heart itself was so depraved. The Lord made me realize that the grace He has showed me all these years is more amazing than I could ever fathom. Even at this very moment, if He withdraws His grace, even for a second, my heart would be in a free fall.
And, the Lord has made me realize how great He is. Though I am writing about certain things about my sickness, there is no way, yet, for me to write about my sufferings without breaking down. The suffering was so great. But in midst of all those sufferings, the comfort that the Lord provided me was also infinitely greater. And His deliverances were so simple and gentle, it felt as if I was in a dream – just like Peter felt when he walked out of the prison in Jerusalem.
Most importantly, the Lord made me realize that there is a greater purpose in life… not just for me, but for every single Christian who is saved by the sacrificial blood of the Lamb. In 2016, the Lord made me to know Christ, Him crucified in every believer.
Oh my Father in heaven, I am so grateful for the year 2016. I had lost so many things, but I am filled with joy because I gained the knowledge of Your Son and my Saviour Jesus Christ. May this 2017 bring me closer to Him, so that I know Him, and through Him, know You, my dear Father. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “ – Luke 2:10-11
Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Are you sinner? Is your guilty conscience haunting you? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Friend of sinners.
Are you afraid that your sins are so dark, and you are scared that you are lost forever? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, Who came to save the sinners – even the worst of them.
Are you afraid that you are like a lost sheep, gone astray from the paths of righteousness? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Great Shepherd Who seeks those sheep that are lost.
Are you afraid that your sins are so blatant that everyone knows and are condemning to the eternal fire that is the hell? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Compassionate Judge Who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more.”
Are you afraid that you are unclean and unworthy of God’s kingdom? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Loving Lord, Who stretches His hand and touches you, saying, “I will; be clean.”
“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”
A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.
A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.
Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:
“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”
Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).
“He comes to make His blessing flow,
Far as the curse is found.”
May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared.” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Now the men were watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him; and they quickly grasped at this word and said, “Your brother Ben-Hadad.” So he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-Hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. – 1 Kings 20:33 (NKJV)
Ahab was one of the most evil persons mentioned in the Bible. IMHO, only his wife Jezebel was worse than him. Yet, here Ahab did something out of character, it is astonishing.
Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, had been a sworn enemy of Israel for generations. Ben-Hadad being the title of the king of Syria, there were many kings who were fighting constantly with Israel. To avoid their constant invasion, Ahab’s father, Omri, even shifted the capital to Samaria. And when such an enemy was defeated, Ahab showed kindness to him. Called Ben-Hadad as his brother and had him come up into the chariot, a honour indeed.
And we are worshipping the Holy One of Israel. Our Lord Jesus Christ has no traces of evil in Him. HE is all compassionate, merciful and gracious. Then imagine how He would treat those who run to Him for surrender.
Dear friend, the world you believed in may have betrayed you. You may feel defeated and on this day, wondering what you could do. Then, run to Jesus. The King of kings. HE will call you as His brother, His sister. And He will proclaim your name before our Father and His Father. And He will restore your soul. Come to Him. To the true King of Israel.
Most probably, you are familiar with the above painting: one of the most famous paintings ever done by any artist: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, that classic portrayal of Christ and the twelve apostles at the table.
Many students of art history believe that the painting, when first created, was somewhat different from the version which we now see. There was initially, it is believed, an exquisite lace border on the tablecloth. When, immediately upon completion, da Vinci invited a group of art students to view his masterpiece, they were immensely impressed by the delicate design of that lacework. They studied it intensely and praised it highly.
Upon seeing the reaction of these young men, the artist took up a brush, dipped it, and made a few long strokes across the canvas, obliterating the lace. Then, with uncontrollable feeling, he shouted, “Now, you fools, look at the face of Christ!”
There are times in our lives when we see everything else, but the only thing that is most needed is to look towards Jesus – the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Just look towards Him.
1 Peter 1:18-19“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect.”
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The Name above all names. JESUS CHRIST. But He is also, Jesus Christ, Him crucified.
There are instances in our life. We have failed miserably, everyone thought we are out, the very thoughts of those failures make our hearts bitter. But, we did not remain a failure. By the grace of our LORD, we rose again. From those failures, you and I have emerged victorious. The LORD did not let us remain ashamed before the eyes of others. Yet…
There is a mechanism in all of us. A mechanism that blocks those miserable moments out of our memory. We avoid talking about those instances as those memories make our life bitter. We try not to meet people who are associated with those failures. How many times it has happened to us? We are happy with the new life we have, content with the success we are enjoying, yet a mere mention of the place where you had tasted that failure, just an email from someone who knew those failures, something like these that would trigger those memories. Memories that would make all the happiness become painful. Memories that would reopen those hurtful wounds. We try our best not to associate with failures.
But Jesus Christ associated Himself with the Cross. Where He died the most abject death. Where He was ridiculed and taunted. Where even a thief who was dying on another cross made fun of Him. Where Jesus Christ felt so much loneliness in His life.
There are so many things in this world which keeps reminding us of our sins, failures, trespasses and mistakes. When something goes wrong, there are people who are ready to point a finger at us and blame it on those mistakes that we had done long back. But Jesus Christ, Him crucified, is there to remind us that HE has carried all our sins away, that He has taken the punishment for those sins and that He has suffered all the blames for those trespasses.
Flesh. Temptations. Sins. The world today is filled with all these around us. It keeps reminding us how fragile our “holiness” is, how deep down in our hearts, we are all just sinners. But, the LORD Jesus Christ, Him crucified, keeps telling us that He came to redeem us, sinners and He was crucified so that we become righteous in the eyes of the LORD and are saved. Yes, it is a constant remainder that we are saved and have become righteous – because of Jesus Christ, Him crucified.
Curses. Not those cuss words. I am talking about how many people have cursed us, wished that we fail and some have actually prayed earnestly that we don’t succeed. Yet, here we are. As the Psalmist said, “Though they may curse me, You will bless.” (Psa. 109:28) How many times, my dear friend, you were hurt when you heard that others had wished you failure? Remember how many times you were shattered when people close to you have cursed you? But, the LORD still has blessed you. Because of Jesus Christ, Him crucified. Because Jesus Christ became a curse for us, carrying all our curses, and giving us only the blessings. Yes, no matter how much others curse us, you and I will be blessed and we will be a blessing unto others, because of Jesus Christ, Him crucified.
Devil. Satan. Hell. Demons. Black magic. Evil powers. There are so many powers against you and me, the believers. And, there are times when we feel as we are surrounded by impregnable darkness and nothing else. It feels as if all these powers are overpowering us. We feel as if we are completely powerless against those powers. And in those moments, look up and see Him – Jesus Christ, Him crucified. And when you look up at Him, you will see something else too: that, beneath that Cross, the head of the devil is crushed. Yes, dear child of God, whenever you look at Jesus Christ, Him crucified, you also know that He has crushed the devil under His feet. And, even death has been swallowed up in victory.
Yes, the Name of our LORD the Savior is Jesus Christ, Him crucified… may that Name bring all the blessings, peace and victory to us. And may all praise, honor, glory be to His Name, Jesus Christ, Him crucified. Amen.
|Isaiah 53:3-4“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.”
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