Why Christmas is Important

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There was once a man who didn’t believe in God and he didn’t hesitate to let others know that he felt religion and religious holidays, like Christmas, were a lot of childish fairy tales. He said that religion was a crutch for people who were too stupid to figure things out for themselves or too fearful to live by their own strength. If God were real He sure wouldn’t do some of the dumb things people said He did.

His wife, however, did believe in God and was always quick to say that she was born again. She raised their children to also have faith in God despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him, as always to come, but he refused. “What a lot of nonsense!” he said. “Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!” So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

While they were gone, the wind and snow grew stronger until it was a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire. He knew his wife would not venture back on the road till the storm abated and he knew there were good snow tires on their SUV. So, nothing to do except enjoy the peaceful evening.

Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn’t see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window.

In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn’t go on. They were lost and stranded by this storm. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm.

So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away.

He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on. Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

“Why don’t they follow me?!” he exclaimed. “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?” He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. “If only I were a goose, then I could lead them,” he said out loud. Then he had an idea.

He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it.

His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn–and one by one the other geese followed it to safety. He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: “If only I were a goose, then I could save them!”

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. “Why would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!” Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese, blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized.

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: “Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!”

 

25 Danger Signals for Christians

1. When prayer is no longer the most essential part of your life;

2. When you stop pursuing Biblical truth, and think that you have enough knowledge concerning eternal things;

3. When mastered biblical truth is just head knowledge instead of heart application;

4. When your passion for eternal things does not come as often and has lost its excitement;

5. When you take no joy in Church ministry;

6. When you are embarrassed to directly talk about spiritual things;

7. When sports, relaxation and entertainment play a significant and necessary role in your life;

8. When you tolerate the sins of your body and mind to the point that they no longer enrage you;

9. When pursuing the holiness of Christ is no longer dominant in your life and mind;

10. When your mind is occupied with how to acquire money and commodities;

11. When you can easily sing spiritual songs or say spiritual words without being moved by them;

12. When you hear the Name of the Lord is misused, spiritual concern being made fun of, and truth about eternity being rudely trampled, yet you are not angry, nor do you feel compelled to take action;

13. When you tolerate watching a movies with corrupted themes or reading immoral works;

14.  When you are indifferent to unhealthy relationships with your brothers and sisters;

15. When you use trivial excuses to try to escape spiritual responsibilities and opportunities;

16. When you are indifferent to your lack of spiritual ability, and cease to pursue power from above;

17. When you start to use “The lord will understand” and“He will remember that we are but dust” as excuses for your sins and laziness;

18. When the music in your soul and the song in your heart have gone completely silent;

19. When you are joyfully conforming yourself to the world’s life style, thereby reflecting your spiritual decay;

20. When you do little or nothing about the injustice and misery surrounding you;

21. When you are indifferent to the backwards spiritual movement of your church because the word of God is not preached with power;

22. When you are willing to cheat;

23 When you fail to see spiritual decay in the world;

24. When you become self-righteous, and think that you abound in grace and mercy, and constantly praise your own godliness.

25. When you no longer have tears because your hardened and cold spirit find no way to release your tears.

Source: Living Water

How do you discern a false teacher / false prophet?

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.

Source :GotQuestions.org

Are You Lukewarm?

1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go. Isaiah 29:13

2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so, After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? 1 Chronicles 21:24, Luke 21:1-4

3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. Luke 6:26, Revelation 3:1, Matthew 23:5-7 4.

4: Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. John 10:10, Romans 6:1-2.

5. Lukewarm people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. James 1:22, James 4:17, Matthew 21:28-31

6. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. Matthew 10:32-33

7. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. Luke 18:11-12

8. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives, their money, and their thoughts, but he isn’t allowed to control their lives. Luke 9:57-62

9. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; its only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. Matthew 22:37-38

10. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love for others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is a little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, who kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. Matthew 5:43-47, Luke 14:12-14

11. Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. Luke 18:21-25

12. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation. Rarely, if ever do they intently consider the life to come. Philippians 3:18-20

13. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. Matthew 25:34, 40, Isaiah 58:6-7

14. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without requiring too much of them. 1 Chronicles 29:14, Matthew 13:44-46

15. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them sacrificing and risking for God. Matthew 10:28

16. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.

17. Luke warm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them—they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live—they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. Luke 12:16-21

18. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Matthew 23:25-28, Luke 14:34-35

Source:Francis Chan

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Do we receive mansions in heaven?

A bible from 1859.
The night before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that He would be leaving them and that they could not go with Him (John 13:33). Peter asked where He was going and why they couldn’t go with Him, and Jesus assured them that they would follow Him eventually (John 13:36-37). Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

This saying of Jesus has confused many because of the King James Version’s rendering of the words “house” and “mansions.” The Greek word translated “house” means “an abode,” literally or figuratively, and, by implication, “a family.” The word translated “mansions” or “rooms” means literally “the act of staying or residing.” So, putting the Greek together, Jesus is saying that in God’s home (heaven) there will be many people in the family of God all abiding together. Within God’s heavenly house, Christians will live in the presence of the Lord. This is quite different from the idea of rows of mansions on streets of gold, which is the image many people have of what Jesus was saying.

So in conclusion,Jesus Christ prepares a place in heaven for His own, those who have come to Him in faith, and the Holy Spirit prepares the redeemed on earth for their place in heaven. Revelation 7:9 tells us that there will be a “great multitude in heaven that no one could number” all standing before the throne. Here, again, the imagery is of multitudes together, not living separately in different mansions.

Sources :Extracts from gotquestions.org

Amazing Bible Facts

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

Here are some amazing facts about the Bible

  • The Bible was written by around forty different people from different backgrounds, from kings, prophets, and writers to fishermen, shepherds, and prisoners
  • The Bible was written during a period of 1,600 years. That’s about forty generations
  • The first division into chapters was made in 1238 due to which The Bible contains   1189 chapters consisting of about 31,102 verses.
  • The longest book in the Bible is Psalms and the shortest is 3 John
  • The Bible is the most sold and most translated book in the world  and the most shoplifted.The Bible, or parts of it, is available in 2,508 different languages
  • The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 while the longest verse is Esther 8:9
  • The Bible was printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg (pictured above) who invented the “type  mold” for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.
  • The entire New Testament as we know it today, was canonized before the year 375 A.D. The Old Testament had previously been canonized long before the advent of Christ.
  • The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek
  • Almost all biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century.  If Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D., then that means that the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years.
  • There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, the next highest is 643 copies of Homer(Iliad)
  • In addition to the Greek copies there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages.  The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in Qumran contain some of the oldest fragments and manuscripts of the Old Testament and are called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times
  • The Bible today is the best-selling book ever and 50 bibles are sold every minute.