1 Samuel 14:6 – No Restraint to The Lord

1 Samuel 14:6
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And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.

-Jonathan was confident that just he and his armor bearer would be able to defeat the Philistine garrison; for if the Lord was on their side, victory was assured.  The key phrase that I want to focus on is “there is no restraint to the LORD to save”.  As we move into a new year, there are things we’ve asked the Lord for that may yet be unanswered; souls in need of salvation, financial burdens, broken homes, the list goes on and on.  Don’t give up and don’t stop believing.   Remember the truth that led Jonathan to victory, there is no restraint to the Lord to save.  He can answer a need in 2017 just as easily as he could have in 2016 or 1050 BC.

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Deuteronomy 30:19 – Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witness this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live:

Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

-The Lord sets two great choices in front of each of us and our decision will affect our lives for all of eternity.  The choices are simply black or white, Heaven or Hell, God or mammon.   The choice that most of us end up making is the one option that the Lord didn’t provide- the gray, middle ground.  On the Day of Judgment, there won’t be an option for middle ground; to accept Jesus is to escape damnation and to reject Jesus is to embrace everything that is abominable in the sight of the Lord.  The only thing more precious than the choice itself is the Lord’s urging, even pleading with us to choose life.  God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and He doesn’t want to see you go to Hell.  He gave His very, very best to make sure that you didn’t have to.  All that’s left is for you to make a choice; a choice that’s even easier than what flavor of coffee you drink this morning- 1) Life or 2) Death.

John 5:32-34 – The Witness of Men

John 5:32-34
32
There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

-Notice the very important concept that Jesus outlines in verse 34, “I receive not testimony from man”.  God exists above and completely separate from all of creation.  He needs no subjects to claim the title of “King” or any followers in order to be called “Lord”.  As such, He doesn’t rely on the testimony of a mere man to establish His deity.  But, He is willing to accept the witness of man if that’s what it takes for us to be saved.  God is the only person who would never need to show humility, period.  However, the Bible shows us time and again how willing He was to humble Himself for our sakes.  He who was high above man took on the form of man; He who knew no sin became sin; He who was beyond death suffered death.  That’s what the love of God means and that’s what the love of God did for us.

Matthew 26:14-16 – Thirty Pieces

Matthew 26:14-16
14
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

-Judas betrayed the Creator of the universe for 30 pieces of silver.  It doesn’t seem like much money to turn away from God Himself; how much would it take to make you consider such a betrayal?  $1,000?  $1,000,000?  The Bible teaches that a wicked person will transgress for a piece of bread (Proverbs 28:21).  There may have been a time that Judas’ price would have been higher, but the second you decide to relax your standards, you’ll see them get lower and lower all of the time.  If you would sacrifice your relationship with the Lord for nothing less than $1,000,000 today, there will come a day that your price will be $1,000; and finally a day where you will sell out for mere scraps of bread.

Hebrews 11:17-19 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Hebrews 11:17-19
17
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

-“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)  There came a day in Abraham’s life when he was asked by God to make the ultimate sacrifice; the life of his child.  It may seem inconceivable, but remember that this is the same God who visited Abraham before and proved Himself by giving Abraham this very child in the first place with a question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)  Abraham must have repeated these words a hundred times as he walked those final steps and put Isaac on the altar that he himself had to build.  Abraham’s faith was obviously in the right place because he concluded that God was able to bring his son back from the grave (Hebrews 11:19)- even though scripture gives us no indication that Abraham had witnessed such a resurrection before.  None of us may ever be called upon to make such a show of faith, but if Abraham can trust the Lord with the life of his son, certainly we can trust the Lord with our daily trials.

Isaiah 9:6 – Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6
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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

-MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Enjoy the presents and the food (not too much, though); enjoy the fellowship and time to catch up with loved ones; and while you’re knee deep in the chaos and trying to figure out what to do with all of the new stuff you have, don’t forget that God in Heaven sent you a very special Christmas Gift.

Matthew 16:13-20 – Jesus is the Reason

Matthew 16:13-20
13
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

-You can hear the emphasis that Jesus put on His question in verse 15; it is important what people in general think about Jesus, but the most important thing will always be what you think about Him.  Take that mindset into your Christmas holiday; regardless of how many people have turned Christmas into this, that, or the other; no matter how paganized it becomes or how commercialized it becomes, you can still make the choice to celebrate the birth of the Savior this season.

Isaiah 42:8 -God’s Glory

Isaiah 42:8
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I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

-Every year the more God-honoring aspects of Christmas are marginalized; as nativity scenes give way to giant inflatable Santas and Christmas greetings are replaced by “Merry X-mas”, it can be hard to remember what the holiday is all about.  If you took a poll of random children, it’s a safe bet that they could number and maybe even name Santa’s reindeer; but how many could tell why Jesus was born?  Over 7.8 million letters are sent to Santa each year and Santa’s likeness can be found everywhere from Coke cans to shopping malls to television programs.  Santa may seem like a harmless figment of a child’s imagination, but every time a child looks at a Santa decoration in wonder that is a graven image and every letter sent to Santa in good faith is a little bit of glory that the Lord said belongs to Him.  Why feed children a lie when only the truth can make them free? (John 8:32) Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)

Genesis 18:24-26 – By Grace

Genesis 18:24-26
24
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

-Abraham rightly discerned that God in Heaven is the Judge of all the Earth.  2 Timothy 4:1 teaches that the “Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead” and yet there are millions of children (and probably some adults) who believe that Santa Claus is keeping a list and checking it twice; they believe that Santa is judging between naughty and nice.  Santa may seem like a harmless figment of a child’s imagination, but such children grow up thinking that the key to life’s rewards is for your nice deeds to outweigh your naughty ones.  Doing good deeds won’t send you to Hell, but trusting in good deeds sends people to Hell every day.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

James 1:17 – The Great Gift-Bringer

James 1:17
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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

-The Bible makes it clear that every good and perfect gift comes from God in Heaven.  Yet there are millions of children (and probably some adults) who look for Santa Claus to bring gifts come Christmas.  Santa may seem like a harmless figment of a child’s imagination, but why build a child’s hope around a myth when there is a God in Heaven waiting for those very children to come to Him. (Matthew 19:14)  Why feed children a lie when only the truth can make them free? (John 8:32)  Believing in Santa won’t send you to Hell, but believing in Santa can distract you from seeing Jesus and that sends people to Hell every day.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)