Where’s the Baby? (Isaiah 7:14)

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Two women who were dressed in their finest were having lunch together in a very exclusive restaurant. A friend saw them and came over to their table to greet them. “What’s the special occasion?” she asked. One of the women said, “We’re having a birthday party for the baby in our family. He’s 2 years old today.” “But, where is the baby?” the friend asked. The child’s mothered, “Oh, I dropped him off my mother’s house. She’s taking care of him until the party’s over. It wouldn’t have been any fun with him along.”

How ridiculous! A birthday celebration for a child who wasn’t welcome at his own party? Yet, when you stop to think about it, that’s no more foolish than going through the Christmas season, with all of its festivities, without remembering the One whose birth we are supposed to be honoring.

And that’s the way many people celebrate Christmas. In all the busynessthe party-going, gift-shopping, and family gatheringsthe One whose birthday they are commemorating is almost completely forgotten.

As you move into this holiday season, in all of your good times with family and friends, make sure you don’t leave out the Lord Jesus. Give Him the honor He deserves. – Richard W. De Haan

Among the tinsel, trees, and toys

Are many signs of Christmas joy,

But where’s the Christ, whom God sent down,

Who laid aside His throne and crown? – Hess

There is always the danger of keeping Christmas and losing Christ. – Ironside

  • December 14, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread
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Forgotten in the Gifts (John 3:16)

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In Western culture, the Christmas season is a time for revelry of gift-giving. A world-famous department store annually issues a catalog of gifts of value beyond extravagance. One of them was a $10 million zeppelin – a 230-foot-long, 50-foot wide airship capable of flying for 24 hours without refueling.

A gift like that seems unbelievably ostentatious – especially when we compare it to the lowly manger where God sent the gift of His Son. All too often, in the midst of our exchange of presents, God’s gift is forgotten.

We can avoid this negligence by remembering to give from our heart. We can be inspired by love and gratitude not only for our loved ones but especially for the Supreme Giver of all good gifts – our heavenly Father.

Even the smallest, least expensive gifts can take our memories back to Bethlehem, where God gave to the world His love gift of infinite value, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). With each present we give and receive, we can say from our heart, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). – Vernon C. Grounds

As they offered gifts most rare

At that manger rude and bare,

So may we with holy joy,

Pure and free from sin’s alloy,

All our costly treasures bring

Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King. – Dix

The most important part of Christmas is the first six letters.

  • December 7, Vol. 12B, Our Daily Bread

The Meaning of Christmas (John 1:14)

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Each year it seems that Christ’s birth is acknowledged less and less during the Christmas season. An editorial in a British newspaper stated, “Christ has been detached from Christmas, and the season is now apparently just a time for being kind and ensuring that no one is lonely.

We have a magnificent opportunity to spread the good news that Jesus is the reason for the season. Here are three perspectives on the true meaning of Christmas to share with others:

  • Christmas is a birthday celebration, honoring Jesus. God’s Son took on human flesh and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
  • Jesus came for our sake. He was born to die on a cross for our sins, and He was resurrected to give us forgiveness and eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
  • We can urge people to respond to Jesus with faith, accepting His offer of salvation (John 1:12; 3:16).

This time of the year is more than just a season to be kind. Christmas is about Jesus – the real reason for the season. So let’s take the opportunity to tell others the miraculous story of Jesus, God’s Son. And let’s pray that many, like the wise men who came to worship the promised Savior (Matthew 2:1-2), will seek Him and find Him this year. – Joanie Yoder

When we look beyond the manger

To the cross of Calvary,

We will know the reason of Christmas

Brings such joy to you and me. – D. De Haan

Bethlehem’s stable was the first step in God’s journey of love to the cross.

  • December 12, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

The Big News (Isaiah 9:6)

 

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In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting then “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.”

Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news – man had flown!

Many people today make a similar mistake when they hear the word Christmas. They don’t think of Jesus and His miraculous birth. Instead, they think of family gatherings, festive meals, decorations, and gifts. To them, Christmas brings nostalgia and memories of childhood.

Now, all this celebration isn’t wrong. But if that’s all that Christmas means to us, we are missing its true significance. The real meaning of this special day is summed up in the words of the angel to the shepherds on that night long ago: “I bring you good tiding 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). – Richard De Haan

One day has left its mark in time

For all mankind to see;

It is the day when Christ was born –

That day made history. – D. De Haan

Don’t celebrate Christmas without the Guest of honor.

  • December 10, Vol. 12B, Our Daily Bread

What Shall I Give You? (1 Kings 3:5)

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I’ve been told that three-wish stories” occur in almost every culture, all following a similar theme. A benefactor appears and offers to grant three wishes to an unsuspecting beneficiary. The fact that the stories so often occur suggests we all want something we cannot get on our own.

There’s even a “wish story” in the Bible. It happened one night when the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you? (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for anything – riches, honor, fame, or power. But he asked for none of these things. He requested “an understanding heart” (v. 9), or a “hearing heart,” a humble heart to listen and learn from God’s Word. The young, inexperienced king, weighed down with the responsibilities of ruling a vast nation, needed the Lord’s wisdom to govern well.

Am I that wise? If God spoke to me directly and asked what He could do for me, what would I ask for? Would I ask for health, wealth, youth, power, or prestige? Or would I ask for wisdom, holiness, and love? Would I be wise or foolish?

Suppose God asked you what He could give to you. What would you ask for? – David Roper

True wisdom is in leaning

On Jesus Christ, our Lord;

True wisdom is in trusting

His own life-giving Word. – Anon.

God’s wisdom is given to those who humbly ask Him for it.

  • December 9, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

Refuse Idolatry (Exodus 20:4)

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Years ago, Life magazine carried on its cover an artist’s rendering of God as an old man with long white hair and stern facial features. Charles Hodge said, “Idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images.”

Any visual portrayal of deity can be dangerous. No created thing can convey God’s true and complete character. That’s why God commanded Israel not to make any image or likeness of anything in heaven or on earth as an object of worship. Such images dishonor God because they distort His glory, and this can lead to sin.

Theologian J. I. Packer suggests that the people of Israel intended to worship Jehovah when Aaron made the golden calf. He says they were using the bull-image as a reminder of God’s great might in delivering them from Egypt. But strength is just one aspect of His character. The calf showed nothing of His holiness. Thus, the people turned the “feast to the Lord” into a wild, sensual party (Exodus 32:5-8).

To worship an image or picture of any Person of the Trinity is idolatry and veils God’s glory. It leads us astray. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). – Dennis J. De Haan

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,

Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;

All praise we would render – O help us to see

‘Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee! – Smith

God made us in His image but we cannot make Him in ours.

  • September 12, 1994, Our Daily Bread

How to be Sure of Heaven

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In a world of deceit and disillusionment, there is one thing of which you can be absolutely certain a confirmed reservation in heaven. Here’s how to be sure:

ADMIT your sin to God and recognize your inability to save yourself.

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
  • Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us (Titus 3:5).

BELIEVE that God loves you and Christ died in your place.

  • For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)
  • Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

CALL on the Lord Jesus to save you, and receive Him as your personal Savior.

  • For whoever call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
  • As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

If you sincerely acknowledged your need of salvation and put your trust in Christ, you can be sure of heaven. With your future in heaven secure, you can now make the most of your time on earth. Declare your faith to others and nurture your new life through prayer and Bible reading. As you do, you will experience the joy of living for your Savior, Jesus Christ. – Clair Hess

  • Our Daily Bread, Vol. 1