Introduction Here He Comes!

Introduction to Here He Comes

Here He Comes!

By

Ronald Christian

Advent Messages To Prepare For Christ's Coming In New Ways To Our Hearts and Lives

Introduction

If you wanted to communicate with someone of a different language, how would you try to communicate, if you could not use the vehicle of a common language? You probably would use a lot of so-called 'body language'. You might smile at the other person, or make a gentle bow to him, or use your hands to produce certain shapes or to point in certain directions. Perhaps you might, amidst your frustration, try to communicate through lip movements.

How does the infinite God communicate to finite man? The Bible says that God's ways and thoughts are higher than man's ways and thoughts, as high as the heavens are above the earth! So, how could God possibly communicate to puny creatures like man?

If God could not speak verbally to mankind, how would God communicate to mankind? What kind of so-called 'body language' do you think God might use in an attempt to get His message across to mankind?

God could try to communicate to mankind through Nature. Indeed, God does communicate to mankind through Nature. Listen to the Psalmist: "The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of His craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world." (Psalms 19:1-3, Living Bible)

God could try to communicate to mankind through man's conscience. God communicates a sense of 'right and wrong' even to those who are so-called heathen or pagan people. Romans 2:12 and following says, "He (God) will punish sin wherever it is found. He will punish the heathen when they sin, even though they never had God's written laws, for down in their hearts they know right from wrong. God's laws are written within them; their own conscience accuses them, or sometimes excuses them." (Living Bible)

Another way that God sought to communicate to mankind was through the Mosaic Law, written on tables of stone (Ten Commandments) when Moses was on top of Mount Sinai.

God further sought to communicate His ways and will through the God-inspired words and personalities of the Old Testament Prophets. No one can deny that God's communication to mankind through the great prophets was most wonderful. The ethical and moral teachings of he prophets are relevant to every age.

But as good and as helpful as God's methods of communication are through the wonders of Nature, through the dictates of conscience, through the commands of the Old Testament Laws, and through the ethical teachings of the Old Testament prophets, we must

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acknowledge that all of these forms of divine communication are less than adequate. These forms of communication are rather like the communication of 'body language' between two persons of different races, neither of whom understands the verbal language of the other person! 'Body language' is helpful, but 'body language' without verbal communication is inadequate and sometimes misleading!

How could God communicate best to mankind? If God could come to earth and use mankind's verbal language! A daring idea! How could God possibly 'speak' man's language? Only if God could become a real human and learn to speak real human language! And that is what God did! "Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets (in visions, dreams, and even face to face), telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God's Son shines out with God's glory, and all that God's Son is and does mark him as God." (Hebrews 1:1-3, Living Bible)

"Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God." (Colossians 1:15 a, Living Bible) Just as a verbal word gives expression to a person's thought, so Jesus is God's thoughts and purposes and plans and will. Jesus is God's clearest communication to mankind, for Jesus is God's very Word! God no longer has to communicate through so-called 'body language' – i.e., through Nature and through Conscience and through the Law and through the Prophets. Jesus has come, and Jesus is God's direct communication to mankind!

Not only did Jesus – God's direct communication to mankind – make clear to a sinful race that God loves them in spite of their sin, but Jesus made it possible for mankind to be reconciled to God! "For God wanted all of himself to be in his Son. It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him – all things in heaven and on earth – for Christ's death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood." (Colossians 1:19-20, Living Bible)

"Christ became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And some of us have seen his glory – the glory of the Son of the Heavenly Father." (John 1:14, Living Bible) Notes E. Stanley Jones, "This verse the 'Word became flesh" – is the Great Divide. In all other religions it is Word became word – a philosophy, a moralism, a system, a technique, but for all time and all men everywhere, 'the Word became flesh' – the Idea became Fact.. .. The Christian faith is not just a little better than other faiths – a little more moral, more free from contradictory elements, more lofty in its conceptions. It is that, but it is more – it is different in kind. Religions are man's search for God. The Gospel is God's search for man. Therefore, there are many religions, but only one Gospel Religions are the Word become word; the Gospel is the Word become flesh." (The Word Became Flesh; E. Stanley Jones; page 5,8)

John proclaimed that "the true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. .. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father." (John 1:9, John1:14)

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God created all things good, but man marred the perfect design of God. Through his willful disobedience, man plunged himself into the abyss of sin, corruption, and misery. Man became alienated from his Creator. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6: 5)

The story is told of a naturalist who viewed a procession of ants carrying pebbles to build an ant hill. To the naturalist, the ants seemed to be moving to and fro in great confusion, with little organization. With keen interest the observer watched and wished that he could communicate to the ants so that they would know how to move in an organized method to carry their pebbles. Wishing that he could alleviate them of their confusion, the naturalist suddenly realized that he could communicate to the ants only if he himself would become an ant.

God looked down and viewed man's rebellion, moral depravity, confusion, and ignorance, and realized that He could only save mankind if He became a man!

The Incarnate Word was fully God. Paul declared, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2: 9) Jesus' disciples, who knew Him most intimately in various circumstances, declared Christ as sinless. Peter wrote that Jesus "Did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2: 22) John declared that "in him is no sin." (1 John 3:5) It is very significant for a Jew to declare a man as sinless. Basic to Jewish thought and theology is the doctrine of the universality of sin. Jesus stood the test of the critical Jewish eye, and was declared as uniquely sinless.

The Incarnate Word was fully man. Paul wrote that Jesus "took upon Him the form a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:7)

The writer of the Hebrews vividly described the purpose of the Incarnation. "Forasmuch then as the children (humans) are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." (Hebrews 2: 14-18)

"You know how full of love and kindness our Lord was: though He was so very rich, yet to help you, he became so very poor, so that by being poor He could make you rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9, Living Bible)

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Jesus came out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe – all because of His great love for a fallen race of people! He who was invested with the full powers of divinity, He who was co-eternal and co-equal with the Father and the Spirit – this powerful, eternal Christ became a lowly human!

Says Bishop Sheen about Jesus' humility and earthly poverty, as compared to his eternal glory: "In the filthiest place in the world, purity was born. He who later was to be slaughtered by men, acting like beasts, was born among beasts. He who would call himself the living bread, descended from heaven, was laid in a manger, literally a place to eat … There was no room in the inn, but there was room in the stable … The stable was the last place that the world would have looked for Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it. No worldly mind would have suspected that He who makes the sun warm the earth, would one day have need of an ox and an ass to warm him with their breath. That he, who, in the language of Scriptures, could stop the turning about of our tourists, would have his birth place dictated by an imperial census. That he who clothed the fields with grass, would himself be naked. That he, from whose hands came planets and worlds, would one day have tiny arms that would not be long enough to touch the heads of the cattle. That the feet that trod the everlasting hills, would be too weak to walk. That the Eternal Word would be dumb. That omnipotence would be wrapped in swaddling clothes. That salvation would lie in a manager. That the bird which built the nest, would be hatched therein. No one would have ever suspected that God coming to this earth would be so helpless. And that is precisely why so many miss him."

It is tragic that so many people "miss the Christ"! Even at Christmas Time, when everyone should be especially conscious of the coming of God to planet Earth, so many are preoccupied with the temporary and shallow concerns of "Holiday Celebrations" – filled with material pursuits and self-seeking pleasures.

This is a book on the Advent of Christ – God becoming a Man in order to seek and to save a fallen race of people. These messages were first delivered to the precious parishioners of the First Free Methodist Church in Fort Collins, Colorado – sometimes more than once- during the more than 25 years that I served as pastor of this one local church (1967 – 1994). Because the book is divided into thirteen chapters, the layout of the book is designed in such a way that it can easily be used for an adult Sunday School course. The individual chapters contain enough content, and yet are short enough in length, that they could also well serve as material for small midweek study groups within a local Church. There are thought – provoking questions listed at the end of each chapter, to provide class participants an opportunity to review and to discuss the main content of each chapter. Teens, as well as adults, could well profit from the study of these Advent messages – for these messages have ever relevant and contemporary applications in the lives of teens as well as in the lives of adults. After all, because Jesus was fully Human as well as fully Divine (the God-Man), Jesus went through the normal stages of human development – infancy, childhood, adolescence, manhood. No one understands the challenges and pressures and temptations and changes which human beings go through like Jesus of Nazareth.

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One dare not sentimentalize the birth of Jesus – saying endearing words about "the sweet little Jesus" in the manger of Bethlehem. For Jesus was born to live sacrificially, and to die a substitutionary death. Jesus was born to die, therefore the Birth of Jesus dare not be isolated as a sentimental event. His sacrificial life and His substitutionary death must always be looked at, along with His miraculous and heart-warming birth if we are ever to understand the true significance of Jesus' total identification with the fallen human race.

Jesus was God; therefore we know that God cares for us when we sorrow. In fact, God shares our sorrows. God knows what it is to suffer loss.

An embittered father whose son had died, asked a minister, "Where was God when my son died?" Replied the minister, "The same place He was when His own son died." God suffered the loss of His own Son, so he can share the heartache of every person who loses a loved one.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song; 
As the burdens press, and the cares distress 
And the way grows weary and long? 
Does Jesus care when my way is dark 
With a nameless dread and fear? 
As the daylight fades into deep night shades 
Does He care enough to be near? 
Does Jesus care when I've said 'good-bye' 
To the dearest on earth to me, 
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks 
Is it aught to Him? Does He see? 
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares, 
His heart is touched with my grief: 
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, 
I know my Saviour cares.

Of Christ, it is written, "Surely he hath borne our grief's, and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:4 a)

The sorrow and sufferings of life are many and varied, but Jesus' life shows us that God is involved in all of them. Take a look at Jesus' involvement with suffering humanity. "The poor mother of Nain, crying as if her heart would break as she stumbled after the pathetic little procession going out to bury her only son – Christ could not bear it. The leper, the innocent, once joyful life struck down by that slow, dreadful living death – Christ could not bear it. 'I will: be thou clean.' The great mass of attractive, lovable men and women caught in the toils of sins that spoilt their lives, and temptations they could not break, and wild regrets that were a misery – Christ could not bear it. And so He died to

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free them. And so we can say today, in those most moving words of our hymn, 'Jesus, Thou art all compassion'.

'Jesus, Thou art all compassion, 
Pure, unbounded love Thou art; 
Visit us with Thy salvation, 
Enter every trembling heart.' 

"But the greatest thing of all is this, that when you see this compassionate Christ, you are seeing God." (The Gates of New Life, Stewart; page 197)

There is never a sorrow that He doth not share, nor a woe that He does not feel. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Picture Jesus as He made His way into the desert to contemplate, following the beheading of His cousin John. Follow Him to the grave side of His dear friend Lazarus, and listen to His deep moans and sobbing in the midst of Lazarus' broken-hearted sisters, Mary and Martha. God is not only identified with us in our sorrows, but He is also identified with us in our sins.

An artist once created a most unusual painting of Jesus on the cross. The body stood out in sharp relief against a darkened background. But as one gazed at the painting, a second figure seemed to appear among the shadows. It was as if God could be seen behind the figures of Jesus. The nails that went through the hands of Jesus went into the hands of God. The nail that fastened the feet of Jesus held fast the feet of God. The crown of thorns was somehow on God's head, too. The artist had made clear his conception that it is through the experience of Calvary that we look into the eternal heart of God. What we see during those hours of torture is a picture of God's suffering, outgoing love.

It is not only Jesus but God himself who forever identifies with us. There is an infinite concern at the center of the universe for man, whether he be in joy or in pain. It enables one to say, "If I ascend to heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, thou art there." (Psalms 139: 8)

Jesus was called a 'Friend of Sinners' . Think of the people whom Jesus befriended: the despised Woman of Samaria, Zacchaeus the Thief, Mary Magdalene the woman of ill fame, the demon possessed man called Legion, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector Matthew who became one of Jesus' disciples and writer of one of the Gospels.

Of Jesus it is said, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

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One Solitary Life …

He was born in an obscure village. 
He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. 
He then became an itinerant preacher. 
He never held an office. 
He never had a family or owned a house. 
He didn't go to college. 
He had no credentials but himself .. 
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today, 
He is the central figure of the human race. 
All the armies that ever marched, 
and all the navies that ever sailed, 
all the parliaments that ever sat, 
and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected 
the life of man on this earth as much as that ... 

One Solitary Life.

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REIGN OF CHRIST

All glory to God in the sky 
And peace upon earth to be restored; 
Jesus, exalted on high 
Appear our omnipotent Lord! 
Who, meanly in Bethlehem born, 
Didst stoop to redeem a lost race 
Once more to thy creatures return 
And reign in thy kingdom of grace! 
When thou in our flesh didst appear, 
All nature acknowledged thy birth; 
Arose the acceptable year 
And heaven was opened on earth; 
Receiving its Lord from above, 
The world was united to bless 
The Giver of concord and love, 
The Prince and Author of peace. 
would'st thou again be made known, 
Again in thy Spirit descend, 
And set up, in each of thine own, 
A kingdom that never shall end! 
Thou only art able to bless, 
And make the glad nations obey, 
And bid the dire enmity cease, 
And bow the whole world to thy sway. 
Come then to thy servants again, 
Who long thy appearing to know: 
Thy quiet and peaceable reign 
In mercy establish below; 
All sorrow before thee shall fly, 
And anger and hatred be 0'er; 
And envy and malice shall die 
And discord afflict us no more 

by Charles Wesley

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Explore Biblical Truths

Explore Biblical Truths

Chapter Two

Explore Biblical Truths
Crave Spiritual Milk 25 The Bible Is God's Blueprint For Our Lives 33
Crave Strong Meat 27 Increasing Your Love For God's Word 35
Devoted To … The Apostles' Teaching 29 God's Keeping Power Through His Word 37
What Is In The Bible? 31 Discussion Questions 39

1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-14;

1 Peter 2:1-3

Crave Spiritual Milk

Not all memories of being a soldier are fond ones. While I was stationed in Korea, the only eggs and milk I and my fellow soldiers had were powdered. Later, in Japan, we had fresh eggs and milk. I remember, as we disembarked, we were told that milk was available. It was 1:00 a.m., and we waited in a line that was at least a city block long, to enjoy a small glass of milk. These luxuries lasted only two months, before returning to Korea, where we were again served powdered eggs and milk.

Peter admonished Christians to desire the 'sincere milk of the Word'. There are 13 words for 'desire' in the Greek language (the original language of the New Testament). The one which God inspired Peter to use was 'to desire earnestly', or 'to long for'. David wrote in Psalm 42:1, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." (NIV)

Spiritual nourishment comes from God's Word. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) If we are to grow spiritually, we must be in God's Word. This requires a deep desire for the Bible. God's Word is pure and free from all evil admixture. We receive a spiritual life from Christian literature and music, but our best nourishment comes from God's Word (Bible).

How would you answer the following questions?

  • Would you stand in a long line at 1:00 a.m. to be able to read God's Word (i.e., to enjoy the 'milk of the Word')?

  • Would you be satisfied with 'spiritual powdered milk', if you had tasted that God's Word is good?

A new believer needs the 'pure milk of the Word'. But if a person, who has been a Christian for a long time, continues to consume only the 'milk' of the Word (and little or no 'meat' of the Word) he simply manifests that he is still a 'baby Christian'! (Hebrews 5:12-13, Living Bible)

"Heavenly Father, bring a thirst to my soul for the sincere 'milk of the Word', and help me to grow quickly in the Christian life so that soon I can enjoy the 'meat of the Word'.

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With God's help, I will read the Bible faithfully, with an open heart and mind to the Holy Spirit. I will make every effort to obey the Word of God!

– Lowell Weller-

NOTES:

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Hebrews 5:12-14; Jeremiah 15:16

Crave Strong Meat

"Fast-food drive-through's" are popular in our society today. Years ago they didn't exist. Food took time to prepare and to cook, even in restaurants. Many Church-goers want 'spiritual fast-food' also. It is easier to sip milk than to chew food. In many churches more time is spent singing than in preaching. While singing is uplifting and an important part of the Sunday morning or Sunday evening service, the preaching of God's Word is of vital importance. The Word causes us to see truth. The read and the preached Word give direction in our lives. The 'meat of the Word' is both convicting and reassuring. The Greek language gives seven words in the New Testament for 'meat'. The one used in Hebrews 5 means nourishment and sustenance. While candy and ice cream taste good, it is meat and potatoes and vegetables which sustain us.

Recently I watched an evangelist on video. Only a part of a Bible verse was used in his sermon. The rest of his message consisted of personal experiences and humorous stories. Although his humor was well received, his 'message' lacked the 'meat of the Word'! It is true that newborn babes in Christ need the 'milk of the Word'. However, if we are to grow into mature Christians, we need the 'strong meat of the Word'. God's desire is for us to Grow Up – to become disciplined and insightful and discerning and mature followers of Christ! 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Corinthians 14:20 tell us that, as believers, we are to "put away childish things" and that we are to become mature believers.

Here are a few suggestions that will guide you as you 'SEARCH the Scriptures'.

S-seriously("The people of Beroea gladly listened to the message, and they searched the Scriptures day by day to check up on Paul and Silas' statements to see if they were really so. " – Acts 17:11; see also 2 Timothy 2:15)

E–earnestly ("I have thought much about your words, and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin." – Psalm 119:11; see also Joshua 1:8)

A-anxiously ("How can a young man stay pure? By reading your Word and following its rules." – Psalm 119:9; see also John 20:31)

R-regularly ("They – believers – delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely." – Psalm 1:2; see also Acts 17:11)

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C-carefully ("Then Jesus quoted them passage after passage from the writings of the prophets, beginning with the book of Genesis and going right on through the Scriptures, explaining what the passages meant and what they . said about himself." – Luke 24:27; see also 2 Timothy 3:16)

H-humbly ("And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. So don't fool yourselves." – James 1:22)

"Lord Jesus, my parents were faithful to aid my physical growth. I invite You to aid my spiritual growth."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God being my helper, I resolve to activate my desire for the 'strong meat of God's Word'!

– Lowell Weller –

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Acts 2:41-47

Devoted To … The Apostles' Teaching

The sponge is a wonderful and amazing creature, and is quite useful after its life is over. The sponge can be glad it is not alive to fulfill its role in a common household, however, especially my household. Our one-year-old child creates some pretty ugly, disgusting messes. But it is nothing that a little water, soap, and sponge cannot clean up. Our trusty sponge soaks up all the milk-sopped toast, the spaghetti sauce and mashed bean combination, and of course, the potato salad watered down with apple juice. Sponges work wonders. They perform their jobs well by soaking up whatever juicy fluid comes their way.

People are like sponges in many ways. We soak up things that come our way. Sometimes those things are good, but unfortunately, sometimes those things are bad. The things that our world offers in many aspects are not good for us. On the big scale, it presents us with a world view that is often at odds with God's way of thinking and acting. On the small scale, there are all kinds of worldly activities that tempt our spirits and seduce our bodies which are detrimental for a healthy life in the Spirit.

God desires us to soak up good things. He wants to bless us by pouring out his grace upon us so that we can live lives that please him. This is not easy because of at least two factors. 1) The world has such a powerful influence. After all, we live in the world. But Jesus told us we are "not of this world" (John 15:19) and a little later he told us of his ability to limit the power of the world, "Fear not, I have overcome the world." (John 15: 33). 2) The world shapes our way of thinking subtly. We do not even notice that we are beginning to think and act less like we are subjects in the kingdom of God, and more like we are rulers in the world.

Luke tells us in Acts 2 of several practices of the 1st century Christians which God used to grace them with his way of thinking and doing, His way of holiness and love. Perhaps one of the most important ways was being devoted to the Apostles' teaching.

Attentiveness to God's way of thinking is necessary to overcome the world's power and to even notice it when it begins to influence us in an unrighteous way.

This requires spending time with God's Word and soaking it up like a sponge. Being devoted to the Apostle's teaching means ordering one's life around the Word of God,

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sitting under its authority, letting it ask questions of us, make demands on us, shape the way we think and act, taking it into our heart and bead. We, metaphorically – speaking, must let it soak through the skin into every muscle tissue, vein, artery, capillary, bone and marrow. We need a thorough saturation of the Word of God in our lives. This kind of devotion occurs when we hear the Word taught and preached on Sundays, when we read the Bible each day, when we memorize and meditate on particular verses, and when we spend some time each week deliberately and slowly reflecting on a meaningful passage of the Apostles' Teaching in Scripture.

"I thank you for your Word, O Lord, which grounds me in what is true and good and allows me to see things your way and not my own foolish ways."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am blessed as I delight in the Law of the Lord and as I meditate on it day and night.

– Martin Adamson –

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2 Peter 1:12-21

What Is In The Bible?

The Bible has long been the best seller, most homes have at least one. We sing, "The B- I-B-L-E, yes, that's the book for me." But how many people know what is in it? I don't mean a lock of the baby's hair, a pressed flower from Aunt Matilda's wedding, or a bookmark crocheted by grandma when she was a girl. The Bible is a book; it was meant to be read.

Get acquainted with the Bible. Nearly any kind of story you want, you will find within the sixty-six books which comprise the Old and New Testaments.

A family came to visit us on the Olympic Peninsula. Just before they left, the mother put pajamas on the three boys because she knew they would fall asleep on the trip through the woods and over the water. Then the father asked them what Bible story they wanted to hear. Immediately, one boy stated he wanted a story about frogs. His father recalled and told the story of the frogs: hundreds of frogs, thousands of frogs, millions and millions and millions of frogs, here a frog, there a frog, everywhere a frog, from the book of Exodus. God had sent Moses to go down to Egypt-land and tell old Pharaoh, "Let my people go!" It's an exciting story and it contains worst things than frogs. You ought to read it.

You want to read a story about an orphan girl who became Queen? Read the book of Esther, but beware, her uncle's message to her might smack you between the eyes: "How do you know hut that you were sent to the kingdom/or such an hour as this?" Esther risked her life to save her people, the Jews. Talk about women's liberation? Read about Queen Vashti in the same story who stood up for what she believed and all the king's men were afraid of what their own wives might do if they heard of it.

Do you want to know where we came from? Read Genesis. But you might think you are reading today's newspaper. Do you want to know what is going to happen in the future? Read Revelation. But don't become discouraged; read the last chapter!

The Bible is more than a storybook. It is the Word of God. It tells us that God Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, loved us while we were still in our sin. H tells the story of redemption from sin. God sent His only Son to earth to pay the penalty for sin by dying on the cross for us. The Bible tells of the resurrection and

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Jesus' victory over sin, death and the grave.

Do you want to know how to live your life, pleasing God daily? Read Paul's Epistles. The Epistles are not the apostle's wives; they are letters written to the churches.

Read the Gospels to learn about Jesus, his life, his teaching, and his miracles. The miracles really happened and God still cares about each individual who comes to Him and cries out for help. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me." That is why Jesus came; to show us the way to heaven. The Bible is our guidebook; we should read it and obey it.

"Father, I thank you for the Bible and how reading it can change my life and give me hope."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Bible is God's love story to me. Its message never ceases to move me.

– Laura Drewer –

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Psalm 119:105; John 1:1-18

The Bible Is God's Blueprint For Our Lives

When God created Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden, they were innocent. God came down and walked and talked with them. God told them they could eat from all the trees in the garden except from the tree that was in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were happy as long as they communed with God.

Then they made a mistake; they got in communion with the serpent. The serpent questioned what God had said and planted doubt in Eve's mind. She listened to him and desired what he promised. She and Adam both ate of the fruit of the tree that God had explicitly told them not to eat of.

Psalms 1 warns us today about communicating with the wrong people. First a person just walks along listening to the wicked, then he stands still considering his suggestions, finally he sits down and gets involved.

God gave us the Bible to reveal Himself to us, to communicate His will to us and to teach us how to live.

The first sentence of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." When our schools teach otherwise, students have no foundation to build their education on. When they are told that the mighty majestic mountains, the microscopic desert flowers and the multitude of stars and planets probably appeared after an explosion, they are left with unanswered questions. Reading the Bible reveals that God is the creator and sustained of every perfect detail in heaven and on earth. The Bible explains that God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. He is our Heavenly Father who loves us, disciplines us, and gives us an abundant life of joy and peace.

John 1:24 states that the glory of God was revealed when God's Son became a man. God's love and compassion for mankind was demonstrated through the teachings, the miracles, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus promised that he would return and take his loved ones to live forever with Him.

Jesus taught what God's will is for all men as he sat on the mountain, as he walked in the way, and as he ate with the disciples. We are to be stewards of God's creation. We

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are to live in favor with God and man. We are to live as Jesus lived: full of compassion, mercy and forgiveness. God's will is that all men should come to believe that Jesus died to pay their penalty for sin, that he rose to have victory over sin and the grave, and that he will return as he promised. God's will is for his followers to share his story as they go into the world and make disciples.

We have the Bible. God's Word which is quick, powerful and sharper than a two edged sword. It judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is not enough to just hear or read, but we are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. (Colossians 3)

"Thank you, Father, for your Word that reveals your love for us through Jesus and shows us how to live according to your will."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will continually read, study and obey your Word that I might not sin against you.

– William Drewer –

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Psalm 119:89-105

Increasing Your Love For God's Word

"Oh, how I love your law!" (Psalm 119:97)

It would take several pages to express my feelings about the Bar Mitzvah service I just attended. According to Jewish tradition, my best friend's son became a man today and has earned the right to publicly read and interpret God's law. The ceremony itself was awesome and inspiring. As I watched this young man speak and sing Hebrew, I could envision Jesus at that age, standing in the Temple before teachers, rabbis, friends and family, participating in the same ritual which has been passed on for centuries, yet only recorded for the last eighteen hundred years.

The experience of sitting in the Temple, which was shaped like a tent to represent the tents in which the Hebrew people lived during their journey to the Promised land, was deeply touching. I never could have imagined the joy which filled that sanctuary. Watching the "ark of the covenant" opened and the scrolls containing the Torah (laws of God) lifted and held as one cuddles a baby, pulled a sting attached to my heart. As this young man paraded around the sanctuary holding the Torah, the congregation would lean over to touch the Torah with their prayer books and quickly kiss the book. To hear him speak on the Scripture chosen for that day filled me with pride and wonder.

The most striking feeling I had was found in observing how these beautiful people love God's Word! I could see it in the smiles on their faces. I could sense it as they excitedly reached out to touch the Torah. I could hear it as they spoke God's Word in the ancient language of Hebrew.

This humbled me. This made me realize how much I have taken God's Word for granted. I was forced to ask myself how much I really loved God's law. Yes, I do love God's Word. His Word is power. His Word brings salvation. But do I love His Word with the same passion I witnessed today? Do I caress my Bible with the awe struck delight of knowing this book contains God's Holy Word?

Perhaps I could not respond in as affirming way as I would have hoped, but I do know one thing is now certain. From this moment on, I will have a new attitude toward God's Word. I long to have that joy in my heart which I witnessed today. "Oh, how I love your law!"

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Sabbat Shalom!

"As the Psalmist, O Lord, let me love Your Word. Let me taste the sweetness of its truth and discover the beauty of its wisdom. In loving Your Word, I will grow ever- increasingly in my love for You. Let Your Word be my delight, my salvation and hope. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will hunger for the Word of God, for it satisfies the deepest cravings of my soul.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Hebrews 10:10-39

God's Keeping Power Through His Word

Waking before dawn is not unusual for me. It is not a preference, but lying awake in the dark hours of the morning occurs quite often. As I lay in bed this morning, a phrase came into my head. I am not going to say I heard the voice of God, but I have no doubt that God gave me these words and the following image.

"Hold on to the Word of God." Nothing more was said, just these simple words. Immediately I knew that the expression had a double meaning. The Word of God is Jesus. The Gospel according to John states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GOD… And the Word became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt among us" John 1:1, John 1:14. The second meaning is in reference to the Bible being the Word of God.

Upon perceiving these words, I saw an image of a man falling from a ledge. I presumed that the man was me. As I was falling, I noticed I was holding a rope in my left hand. It is human instinct, when falling, to release any objects in our hands in order to catch ourselves. But I reminded myself as I was falling, to "hold on to the Word of God." Still holding the rope, I fell into a pit of black mire. Sinking into the pit of dark, thick liquid, I continued to hold onto the rope with my left hand. After a few moments of being unable to move, I suddenly felt a tug on the rope which prompted me to grip it with both hands. In another moment I was being pulled back up to safety.

That rope clearly represented the Word of God. Had I not been holding onto the "rope," I would have plunged into the pit and drowned. Although I am thankful that I could hold on to the "rope," I am even more grateful for the greater truth of this early morning experience. God is on the other side of the rope. We can trust Jesus and God's Holy Word because God is on the other side of His Word.

May I pass on this bit of encouragement to you? Hold on to the Word of God. Cling to Jesus. Hold fast to the truth of His written Word. There may come a time when all there is between you and a life altering experience is His Word. He will uphold you. He will securely pull you to Him. Although we cannot see the other end of the rope, we can hold on to what we do have: His Word. Hold on to the Word of God.

"Heavenly Father, You have given me Your Word and I thank You. I recognize that S-atan and the world would try to pull me away from you, but as long as I hold on to that

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which You have given me, I shall prevail. Do not let me be distracted from Your glory and power, that I may trust You all the days of my life. Jesus, I hold on to You! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God will never let me down. He will always lift me up.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Tell why you think far too many Christians do not have an apparent intense "hunger" for knowledge of God's Word, as revealed by their sporadic reading and study of the Bible?

  2. In terms of Biblical content, how would you distinguish between the "Milk" of the Word and the "Meat" of the Word?

  3. Tell with what degree of conviction you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "Attentiveness to God's way of thinking is necessary to overcome the world's power and to even notice it when it begins to influence us in an unrighteous way." What specifically can you do to become more "attentive" to God's way of thinking? Do you regularly spend time with God's Word and "soaking it up like a sponge"?

  4. Why do you think so many people throughout the world want to own a copy of the Bible, more than any other book? Why do so many people find the Bible to be such an interesting book to read? In "essence", what is the "central message" of the Bible?

  5. In seeking to share God's "Good News" with people throughout the world who have seldom or never read the Bible, how would you "outline" God's "Plan of Salvation"? What "basic information" would you choose to share with an "unenlightened" person regarding the following Christian "concepts" (doctrines)? (a) God's creation of mankind; (b) Man's fall into sin; (c) God's giving of the Old Testament Laws, and the purpose of these Laws (i.e., the ceremonial laws and the moral laws); (d) the Incarnation (i.e., the embodiment of God in human form for 33 years on the earth); (e) the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus; (I) the meaning of repentance and 'saving' faith; (g) God's power to transform human nature; (h) the conditions which God requires of a believer to maintain a "vital" Christian life and an "up-to-date" relationship with God.

  6. Put a "check" by the following statements which best describe your attitude towards the Bible:

    1. __ A "Holy Book" which should be venerated and placed in a visible and prominent location in my home.

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    2. __ An interesting book which contains accounts of ancient history, Jewish poetry, and moral precepts, worthy of being read occasionally.

    3. __ A Book which should be taken "very literally", worthy of being "hallowed" and "worshiped".

    4. __ A Book which is the result of both divine inspiration and human insights, that must be interpreted carefully because of the nature of "progressive revelation" which makes this Book distinctive from all other books.

  7. Share a "dark experience" (a "pit") in your life when you found that the "precious promises of God's Word" brought relief and enlightenment and comfort and encouragement to your troubled heart and mind.

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