Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Gift of Christmas ~ Let Us Worship

I am sure that most of you enjoy receiving presents. In one-way or another, we give and receive different things from one another. Birthday, anniversaries, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, graduation, giving a cold to someone… Each of us were born and that was a present to the family. Some receive gifts well while others feel that it is too much and will not accept them. It may make them embarrassed. It might make them feel pressure to give a present back.

But there is ONE gift and ONE Giver that is way beyond our ability. Our Creator God, the God of the Bible has given us life. He created us. AND He knows all about us. The Scriptures tell us that our days are known by Him and they are even written down in His Book. Those who have put their trust in Him have their Names written down into His Book of Life. Those people have eternal life in His Name. It is a Gift of God. That is a great gift!

It is the time of the season to once again talk about the Gift of Christmas. What was this Gift? How was it given? Who was the Gift for? What can I DO to get the gift? What does it cost me?

The Bible talks about the GREATEST giver of the Greatest Gift of all time in the Person of God’s Son. We will be looking at that on December 17, Christmas Covered Dish Sunday.
For now, let’s look at Isaiah 9: 6
“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
That is a great gift! Luke 2:11-15 11
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace to men on whom His favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Unto You Is Born Today…

Response: The Angels sang His Praise
I find it very interesting that when time for Jesus’ birth to be announced, God, His Heavenly Father made the great announcement by way of His Angles. They had been waiting for this and really did not understand why. They were not the ones to be saved. They had not fallen. They were in the forever presence of the Holy Father.

THE RESPONSE OF THE ANGELS WAS ONE OF PRAISE. They went wild in the Heavens in bringing joy back to the Creator of the Universe. Glory to God in the highest!… as did the shepherds
These were the real outsiders of Hebrew society. Again, I find it wonderfully strange that the Lord of All sought out these men to give them this great message. God entrusted this wonderful message of all time to men who could not even speak at a court case; their testimony was not to be even heard. Yet, God chose the likes of these men with the greatest message of all time. And they too gave praise to God. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Gift of Salvation
Let’s open up this gift. What does it require? How is it given? What strings are attached? Open to ALL who believe and are called. Chances are, if you hear the message, you are being called. God does not desire anyone to die far from Him. His desire is for all people every where to come to know Him and to place their trust in Him.

The Offer Is Now. Found only on The Roman Road!
Roman Road: The Highway to a Relationship with God: The Roman Road was not just an organized way to build highways conjured up from the Roman Empire in the 1st Century. They had a saying back then was: All roads lead to ROME. But all roads do not all lead to God. Some say so, but they are wrong.

The Roman Road is also God’s Plan of Salvation found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. This is known as the Roman Road, the following is a collection of passages that build a beautiful and systematic approach of the Gospel of God’s Grace by and through the Personal Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This causes us to worship and to give Him the Glory that He is due. Follow along with me on this Roman Road.

Roman Road: The Gospel of Grace~ “Follow Me” It is THE Way to Jesus!
1. Romans 1:20-21: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." We must recognize God as the Creator of everything and accept our reserved position in God's creation.
2. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” We must all realize that we are sinners and that we need forgiveness. We are all in the same boat! There is nothing WE can do to change our position, but God has a plan…
3. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Through Jesus, God gave us a way to be saved from our sins. God showed us His love by giving us the potential for life through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He could do this because of the next verse.
4. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If we remain sinners, we will die. However, if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and repent of our sins, we will have eternal life. This is His Plan to save us all! He paid the price for our sin by dying in our place. He went to the Cross for that very reason!
5. Romans 10:9-10That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” This sounds so simple. Can it be true? In can, indeed! Even the Children can understand this great Truth. As adults, we may think there are other ways to get this done BUT there is no other way. So, just confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved! Obey His Word!
6. Romans 10:13 “For whoever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.” This is the Good News! It is called the Gospel. Gospel means Good News! And this plan was set in motion by God Himself. There are no religious formulas or rituals -- Call upon the Name of the Lord and you will be saved!
7. Romans 11:36 "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Determine in your heart to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life today. Receive this Great Gift of Christmas and really accept His Gift of Forgiveness. Now, we can really worship and give Him Thanks!

That is the Roman Road: Are you ready to accept God’s Gift of Salvation? If you truly believe the message of the Bible, and want to accept God’s gift of salvation right now, it's a matter of repenting of your sins and turning the rest of your life over to Jesus Christ. Again, this is not a ritual based on any specific words or prayers, but rather, a willful decision and a sincere step of faith.

8. Romans 10:13 "For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Will you now call upon Jesus to save you from your sin so that you can know God's love and forgiveness?

Pray like this: “Father God, I know that I have broken Your laws and my sins
have separated me from You. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward You. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was raised from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.”

When anyone calls on the Lord in this manner, that one is saved according to the authority of God's Holy Word. If you prayed a prayer of repentance and faith, you are saved! You have God's Word on it.
If you have prayed this prayer to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, why not record your decision to follow Jesus as follows. Often times, a good place to write this would be inside the cover of your Bible:
Believing by faith that God loves me and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sin and arise from the grave to live in me, I, _______, do this day,________, repent of my sin and accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. According to the promise of God in Romans 10:13, I have called upon His
name and have His word for the assurance of my salvation.

"Repent, and let every one of you be Baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)
If you decided to receive Jesus today, welcome to God's family. Now, as a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.
* Get baptized as commanded by Christ. Talk to us…
* Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.
* Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.
* Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you and be a support to them in accountability.
* Attend to a local church where you can worship God.

And Really Worship: O COME LET US ADORE HIM!
To see an example of a Roman Road in Pompeii click on:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How 'they' see us...

It was Saturday evening when I thought of the idea to give the young people at IC something to do in helping them understand the message. I went to my favorite web site for making puzzles and made a handout with 27 words and names that I would use in the sermon that covered the topic of Missionary Era. Names like CT Studd and Charles Spurgeon and words like reaffirming and restoring. The longest was von Zinzendorf! (A prize to the first to tell me who that was!)

One of the young teens finished the puzzle fast and drew me! I am glad I wore a suit on Sunday. Is this how they see me? I wonder how those outside the church see us? Here I am standing behind the Cross. Do people see Jesus?

Interesting that Stephen even drew the reflection on the floor. Another question comes to mind: Do I reflect my Savior that well?

Good job on the sketching, Stephen!