GOD INTRUDES

By David C. McCasland
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. —Galatians 4:4

During this Christmas season, it’s good to keep a firm grip on the reality of Easter. While the two events are celebrated at different times and in very different ways, they are both integral parts of God’s initiative in His grand plan of salvation.

Peter Larson wrote: “Despite our efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’”

James Edwards echoes this theme in his book The Divine Intruder: “[God] breaks into this world, even when He is unexpected and unwelcome. God joins us in our weakest and worst moments. There is a Divine Intruder among us.”

The stable in Bethlehem and the cross of Calvary remind us that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son . . . to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).

The Lord did not wait for an invitation to enter our world. Clothed with humanity, He lived as our teacher, died as our sacrifice, and rose from the grave as our Savior.

Christmas is coming—and so is Easter.

This joyous season of the year
Should prompt us to recall
That Jesus’ death on Calvary
Provides new life for all.  —Sper

Jesus’ earthly life is framed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

THROUGH THE EYES OF FAITH

By Herbert Vander Lugt
Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, . . . for my eyes have seen Your salvation. —Luke 2:29-30

What a touching scene—an aged man holding the baby Jesus in his arms and praising God! (Lk. 2:27-32). Simeon had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die till he had seen the promised Messiah, and he came into the temple at the very moment that Joseph and Mary entered with the baby Jesus.

I once felt that Simeon was more blessed than I am because he had the privilege of actually touching Jesus, but I must believe without seeing or touching Him. Now I realize that he too had to exercise faith. After all, he was holding in his arms an infant born to a couple he had never met before. His assurance came through the witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart, and we must depend on that same witness today.

Near the end of our Lord’s time on earth, when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29). We too, through the eyes of faith, can know Christ in a close, personal way.

As we celebrate Christmas, let’s pause to look at the Lord through eyes of faith. When we do, we will be able to lift our voice in praise to God.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King. —Anon.

Man says that seeing is believing, but God says that believing is seeing.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

A SEASON OF RENEWAL

By David C. McCasland

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31

A survey showed that 84 percent of people in the United States want a less materialistic holiday season. I suspect the same is true of people in many other countries. But when all roads seem to lead to the shopping malls, what is the pathway toward a more spiritual and meaningful celebration of Christ’s birth?

Some church leaders are suggesting that we put more attention on the observance of Advent, the 4-week period before Christmas. Instead of filling those days with activity and ending up physically and spiritually depleted, we need to recall that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Even with a busy calendar of school and church programs, and family obligations, we can still carve out time to “wait on the Lord” and to concentrate on the true meaning of this season. We can determine to make the most of our times of daily Bible reading and prayer, and to give people priority over things.

As we take time to focus on Christ’s birth and to strengthen our relationship with Him, this time of year can become a season of renewal instead of exhaustion.

Take time this Christmastide to go
A little way apart,
And with the hands of prayer prepare
The house that is your heart. —Anon.

A Christless Christmas is like a counterfeit dollar.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

GET PROVERBIAL

By David C. Egner
He who is slow to wrath has great understanding. —Proverbs 14:29

I first saw the car in my rearview mirror, weaving in and out of traffic. It zoomed by, cut me off, passed two cars on the right, zipped back into the left lane, roared past two trucks, and cut sharply to the right before disappearing from view.

I had an impulse to chase the car down and yell at the driver. I even rehearsed what I would say to him.

How are we to deal with a bad driver who threatens our safety? What should we do when an obnoxious customer storms into our office and demands immediate service?

Experts advise us to “get philosophical” by repeating common-sense sayings to help keep our cool. But believers in Jesus Christ have an even better option. We can “get proverbial.” We can turn to the book of Proverbs for wisdom to handle people who behave foolishly. “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident” (14:16). “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (v.29).

The next time an irritating person barges into your life, ask the Holy Spirit to help you get proverbial. Remember, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly . . . . But the prudent are crowned with knowledge” (vv.17-18).

ADDITIONAL PROVERBS TO CONSIDER:
A man of understanding holds his peace (11:12).
A fool’s wrath is known at once (12:16).
He who guards his mouth preserves his life (13:3).

He who loses his temper finds trouble.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

COMPLETE HONESTY

By Albert Lee

Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. —Acts 5:4

Ask the friends and families of six people buried in a collapsed subway tunnel about complete honesty. Their loved ones’ rescue was delayed for hours when the contractor didn’t report the disaster to the authorities immediately. Instead, the company sealed the site and confiscated cell phones. It wasn’t an outright lie, but it was a cover-up. This dishonest act showed disregard for life.

In the book of Acts, God gave us a sobering example of how He views dishonesty (4:32–5:11). Some believers had sold their land and shared all the proceeds with the church. Ananias and Sapphira decided to do likewise. But the couple kept some money back despite declaring that they had given the whole amount. Expecting commendation, they were struck dead instead.

Was their punishment too harsh? After all, their “slight” lie wasn’t life-threatening. “Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain,” warns Proverbs 25:14. The apostle Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (Acts 5:3), adding, “You have not lied to men, but to God” (v.4).

If we are completely honest with ourselves, can we say that we are completely honest before God

Lord, by Your Spirit grant that we
In word and deed may honest be;
All falsehood we would cast aside—
From You, O Lord, we cannot hide.  —D. De Haan

There are no degrees of honesty.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

FOR EXAMPLE

By Mart De Haan

Shepherd the flock of God . . . [by] being examples to the flock. —1 Peter 5:2-3

A mother cheetah brought a live gazelle fawn to her 5-month-old cubs and released it. After the cubs made several unsuccessful attacks, the mama cheetah intervened and showed them how to “catch dinner.”

I observed a similar technique used by a life insurance salesman. After he told me about the benefits of a particular policy, he shared how much coverage he had for his own family. His words took on new meaning because he demonstrated by his own example how to insure a family adequately.

If we want to teach others the art of knowing God and serving Him, we can’t overemphasize the importance and the power of example. That’s how Christ and His apostles communicated the same message. Their obedience to God was seen in flesh-and-blood terms that were easily understood.

Leadership by example is contagious. When Paul mentioned the Thessalonians, who had become “followers of us and of the Lord,” he said that they also “became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7).

Leadership is more than something that automatically goes with an official title like Dad, Mom, Pastor, or Teacher. Those who want to lead and help others must first of all be good examples.

All in vain is splendid preaching
And the noble things we say;
All our talk is wasted teaching
If we do not lead the way. —Anon.

You cannot teach what you do not know, nor lead where you do not go.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

WAITING


By David H. Roper

Make haste to help me, O Lord! —Psalm 70:1

Make haste to help me, O Lord!” the psalmist David prayed (Ps. 70:1). Like him, we don’t like to wait. We dislike the long lines at super-market checkout counters, and the traffic jams downtown and around shopping malls. We hate to wait at the bank or at a restaurant.

And then there are the harder waits: a childless couple waiting for a child; a single person waiting for marriage; an addict waiting for deliverance; a spouse waiting for a kind and gentle word; a worried patient waiting for a diagnosis from a doctor.

What we wait for, however, is far less important than what God is doing while we wait. In such times He works in us to develop those hard-to-achieve spiritual virtues of meekness, kindness, and patience with others. But more important, we learn to lean on God alone and to “rejoice and be glad” in Him (v.4).

F. B. Meyer said, “What a chapter might be written of God’s delays! It is the mystery of the art of educating human spirits to the finest temper of which they are capable. What searchings of heart, what analyzings of motives, what testings of the Word of God, what upliftings of soul. . . . All these are associated with those weary days of waiting, which are, nevertheless, big with spiritual destiny.”

Be still, My child, and know that I am God!
Wait thou patiently—I know the path you trod.
So falter not, nor fear, nor think to run and hide,
For I, thy hope and strength, am waiting by thy side. —Hein

God stretches our patience to enlarge our soul.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC