Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wed Dec 25th Todays News

As it is Christmas Day, regular columnists haven't posted. Yesterday's editorial focused on criticism of the church. Todays is about Jesus of Nazareth. This blog is secular and welcomes people of all religious persuasions, or none. This writer is a Christian and believes that Jesus was Christ, the son of God. I have embraced two decisions before coming to that conclusion. The first was to accept that God was possible, which at age eighteen, being raised by devout atheists, was a big leap. I had known the straw dogs which are often drawn to demolish the plausibility of a concept such as God. God, as I'd thought before I accepted the possibility, was not only not possible, but absurd. If God could do anything, could he build a bridge so vast he couldn't leap across it? If he couldn't leap across it, he wasn't God, if he couldn't build it he wasn't God, ergo, God could not exist as it is not possible to satisfy both conjectures. Clearly, if God were to exist, he would not be capable of all things. But the mistake of my thinking, I later came to believe, was that my construction of God was what was not possible. If God exists, he is clearly not what I was portraying Him as being. What is the world like without God? Is it any different? Why would God make the world the way he did if he had existed? I accepted that God was possible only after I admitted he was different to what I had constructed him as being.
The second decision took twenty five years for me. It was to accept that the resurrection was real. I had thought it inspired by an army of devout believers and hucksters. But, for some reason, it is natural for a person to be religious, and those that don't tend to suffer. The accounts of the gospels and contemporaneous sources are compelling for me that the resurrection happened .. a group of late teen, early twenties men and women who were not well educated did not deceive the best learners of the age. The authorities could have challenged assertions but chose not to. If one accepts the resurrection happened, and that God is possible .. there is debate in Christian circles as to how to worship God, but there is unanimity of thought too .. Jesus was God, and he died for a purpose, and he resurrected. What that means for you, is only something you and the Lord know. Maybe he wasn't born on this precise Day. Maybe he wasn't thirty three years old when he was crucified. But, what does it mean? Merry Christmas. 
Special thanks to birthday girl Chih Yun, who founded, with her husband, David, the Jesus Family Centre in Cabramatta over twenty years ago. Thanks to her choice to open a church for Chinese peoples living in Sydney, the church has grown to embrace peoples of all nationalities and ethnicities. They accepted me on Christmas Day in 2007. I had become a recluse, besieged by some very bad people. But her family gave me a home. 
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Hatches
Happy birthday and many happy returns Smail Cehic, Tina, Chih Yun and Jesus of Nazareth. Born on this day, across the years, along with

Matches
Despatches
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Holly Sarah Nguyen
Misinformation and lies can strain families and relationships all the way to the grave. It takes real courage to give the truth and live the truth. That means going out of your way to see that it is correct and doing repair work when wrong. I know we each do not see things the same. We can make amends and someone can still be unsatisfied. Only do what you can from the well of a good heart, let the rest play out.
John Tran It is so true, and especially around this time of the year where family gets together.. it hurts more because it's family who can perpetuate misinformation and ill feelings. But I always turn to my wife and say "remember how when we met, we wanted a loving family ever since we grew up surrounded by the ones that let us down, this just reminds us to raise our kids by good example" 
=
Sometimes we feel unappreciated and alone as if we do not matter. It is key to try to remember feelings are not always accurate and they can be challenged. We are not prisoners of our thoughts. We can change them to be more realistic and less emotional... ((((Hugs)))) My Christmas wish to you is that we may know peace, serenity, and calmness from the start of the day til the end and may it begin again the following day.. Merry Christmas!!!  
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James Calore
Decisions, decisions...

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Immediate gratification .. easy to understand - ed
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Walt Whitman
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
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The Doctor is about to regenerate! Today's shirt honors the legacy of Matt Smith. Look now
The 11th Hour
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Zaya Toma
How Do You Explain Jesus Christ?

“A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father’s shop. He has no formal education. He owns no property of any kind. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father’s shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside. Walking from place to place preaching all the while even though he is in no way an ordained minister he never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most.

He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing—the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place so he is interred in a borrowed tomb.

End of story? No, this uneducated, propertyless young man who preached on street corners for only three years who left no written word has for 2000 years had a greater effect on the entire world than all the rulers, kings and emperors, all the conquerors, the generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who ever lived—all put together. How do we explain that?

Unless He really was what He said he was.”—Ronald Reagan
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www.washingtonpost.com
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Until I opened the package, the Maltesers was an excellent percussive instrument. Creating a beautiful (ahem) Din. The Jesus Culture CD is awesome too.
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This is why we can't have nice things? - ed
John Tran ...Yep, the trouble with guns is that it takes little skill to kill. So therefore there is little thought involved in training how to use a gun. He could've easily yell out "identify yourself or I will shoot". But a nervous person with a deadly weapon can't think straight.
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<Yet despite all the evidence morons still keep electing these left wing Socialist alliance cretins.>
mrcltd.org.au
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israeltheviewfromhere.blogspot.com
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israeltheviewfromhere.blogspot.se
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I want to wish you a merry Christmas. Special thanks to Stephanie Ann,Mandy McleanJohn Tran for their support with Bolt report and everywhere else. Special shout out to Timothy Ly, who took me to Jess Family Centre on Christmas 2007 .. you have a gift, mate and the Lord has blessed you. And many thanks to her, for whom I dream that He might make me young. I see in her the promise of new life .. ed
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www.jihadwatch.org
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<My father told me the Red Cross is corrupt and he is gone over 50 years. This video certainly has proved him right.>

http://youtu.be/ar3Hr77gUQ0
You'd think that that kind of aid was hard to mess up. I used to give to Medicine San Frantiere for that reason. But they do mess up badly .. they are compromised by evil people too. - ed
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www.frontpagemag.com
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www.jta.org
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www.timesofisrael.com
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Via Jack DeLowe
http://jcpa.org/why-israel-opposes-international-forces-in-the-jordan-valley/
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calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.se
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www.israpundit.com
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www.israelnationalnews.com
Pollard is not a bargaining chip, but evil people use him as one. I want him released now. An impost may be placed on that, so be it. But, I wouldn't honour any bargain .. there is no honour here. He needs to be free now. If terrorists are released, release them. Then kill them. - ed
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What evil spirit possessed Moshe Dayan to give up Har Habayit/The Temple Mount?

http://youtu.be/7l1ol69rRxo
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www.algemeiner.com
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israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com
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unitycoalitionforisrael.org
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.. there is a specific reason for what is happening .. and it isn't because of Israel. What has happened is the US has voted in a weak President .. he might agree with what is happening, but it is still an erosion of his power. - ed===
www.algemeiner.com
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www.algemeiner.com
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www.washingtonpost.com
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www.imra.org.il
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palwatch.org
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While walking in the Shuk, the outdoor open market, I was recruited for a spicy prayer quorum. This miyan happens every day and is probably the best smelling gathering of Jewish men before God since the second Temple. May the merit of the afternoon prayer allow these Persian merchants to provide the spices for the Third Temple as well...
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<The Catholic Church, chose to be blind to the Nazis Genocide ::: Now choosing to be blind to its own Christian genocide while :: Crucifying Israel with hate ..>
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<Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has overseen the transfer of up to $250 million a year to Hamas, and particularly to its governing apparatus in Gaza. I wonder if Iran is giving his a discount on oil purchases .. to help Hamas>
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G'day fellow freedom fighter,

I wish you and your family & loved ones, a very Merry, Safe, Happy and Holy Christmas and an enormously successful and prosperous 2014.
Thank you for your support of my work throughout 2013 and for your honest feedback. I love the critiques as much as the kudos, you help me to grow.

Godspeed
Zeg

Freelance Editorial Cartoonist/Caricaturist
0414293765

www.facebook.com/zegtoons

Blog: http://zegsyd.blogspot.com.au/

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Virtual Ride on Jerusalem’s Light Rail!
Enjoy the ride in the holiest city in the world!!!
16-days
See footage of a real war from one of the Israeli soldiers who took his video camera into Lebanon. See some of the humanity, the challenges and the hardships that you never see in the news or the headlines.
The Red Cross crosses Israel!!!
Click here to watch: The Red Cross crosses Israel!!!
Is there any international organization not biased against Israel? How sad!

We Were in a Movie Festival!!!

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Our new production, Joy of Israel, was screened at the Jewish Film Festival in Jerusalem on Dec. 5th, the last night of Chanukah!!!
We at 12Tribe Films are excited to introduce to you the 3rd episode of our newest production - the Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller Episode #3 - Holy Hebron and Sweet Hebron Hills! Never before has the beauty of Israel been showcased for the world to see in reality TV format with the mission of educating, exciting and connecting people to Israel. This new series will reshape the entire image of living in Israel into one that is exciting, inspiring, and beautiful.
Don't miss watching this fascinating new Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller episode. Click here to watch and be inspired!
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FEATURED VIDEOS

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Click here to watch:NEVER AGAIN!
Must-Watch- This might be the most powerful clip you ever see.
Eugene
International law is on Israel's side. Watch the video to understand why!
This must be one of the best video presentations that clearly explains international law and the legal case for Israel and Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria. Definitely watch this to have a better understanding of international law so you can talk about Israel's situation intelligently with others.
***
Jamie - Bar
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Don't miss this best seller! 
Click here to purchase this special gift.
This gripping page-turner takes historical fiction to a new level as it explores the life of one of the most significant and enigmatic leaders in world history: Herod the Great. From the corridors of power in Jerusalem and Rome to the farms and fields of the simple folk trying to survive in turbulent times, you will get a real sense of time and place from one of the most important chapters in hostory. You will also meet all the most significan characters form that time, including the Caesars, Jerusalem's High Priest and Sages, Anthony and Cleopatra, and more. But behind it all is Herod. Herod the proud. Herod the builder. Herod the muderer. Herod the Roman puppet. Herod the schemer. Herod the Great.
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Counting Down The Top Ten Israel Videos of The Year!

Screen-Shot-2013-10-17-at-2.17.56-PM
This video is worth watching over and over again, I just get the chills every time I watch it!
Click here to watch: The Breakthrough To Jerusalem
***
Screen-Shot-2013-11-12-at-7.28.07-AM
Video #9!
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See the Ancient Village of Itri, in the Judean Hills!
This virtual tour is so cool! Itri is an ancient Judean village that was destroyed during the Bar Kochba Revolt against the Romans nearly 1900 years ago (132 -136 CE). It was a village of extremely pious Jews that has a large synagogue, four mikvas, and one of the most well-preseved winepresses from the period of the Second Temple. The village is off the beaten tourist path, quite near the valley where David fought Goliath in the western Judean foothills.
Happy Holidays from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu
A special message to all of the Christian lovers of Israel from our Israeli Prime Minister, from a snowy white Jerusalem :)
Why Israel Opposes International Forces in the Jordan Valley
Obama and Kerry in pressuring Israel to give away the Jordan Valley, is suicide for Israel!

We Were in a Movie Festival!!!

joi 3 vid pic
Our new production, Joy of Israel, was screened at the Jewish Film Festival in Jerusalem on Dec. 5th, the last night of Chanukah!!!
We at 12Tribe Films are excited to introduce to you the 3rd episode of our newest production - the Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller Episode #3 - Holy Hebron and Sweet Hebron Hills! Never before has the beauty of Israel been showcased for the world to see in reality TV format with the mission of educating, exciting and connecting people to Israel. This new series will reshape the entire image of living in Israel into one that is exciting, inspiring, and beautiful.
Don't miss watching this fascinating new Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller episode. Click here to watch and be inspired!
joi logogs
***
Breaking News Videos - box-3
Thank you for caring about Israel. Here is a new tool we have developed for people like you to stay up-to-date with important videos with the latest news in Israel. Sign Up Here!

FEATURED VIDEOS

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 4.14.03 PM
Click here to watch:NEVER AGAIN!
Must-Watch- This might be the most powerful clip you ever see.
Eugene
International law is on Israel's side. Watch the video to understand why!
This must be one of the best video presentations that clearly explains international law and the legal case for Israel and Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria. Definitely watch this to have a better understanding of international law so you can talk about Israel's situation intelligently with others.
***
Jamie - Bar
Herod-The-Man-Who-Had-To-Be-King-A-Novel-Paperback_large
Don't miss this best seller! 
Click here to purchase this special gift.
This gripping page-turner takes historical fiction to a new level as it explores the life of one of the most significant and enigmatic leaders in world history: Herod the Great. From the corridors of power in Jerusalem and Rome to the farms and fields of the simple folk trying to survive in turbulent times, you will get a real sense of time and place from one of the most important chapters in hostory. You will also meet all the most significan characters form that time, including the Caesars, Jerusalem's High Priest and Sages, Anthony and Cleopatra, and more. But behind it all is Herod. Herod the proud. Herod the builder. Herod the muderer. Herod the Roman puppet. Herod the schemer. Herod the Great.
donate_now_narrow
IsraelVideoNetwork.com, run by 12Tribe Films, is developing the next generation of Israel activists using online video and social networking.
Join our mission - Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to help us grow our network to reach hundreds of thousands of people to make a difference for Israel.
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On behalf of all of us here at the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

May the New Year bring joy, prosperity, good health... and a return to liberty in Australia! 

To mark this occasion, I would like to invite you to watch the below video starring the ATA team - I think you'll enjoy it!

Merry Christmas From The Australian Taxpayers' Alliance!
Watch the Video
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Looking forward to working with you in the New Year,


Tim Andrews
Executive Director
Australian Taxpayers' Alliance

PS: To those of you celebrating Christmas on January 7th, Happy St Herman's Day! :)

 
                  
Copyright © 2013 Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, All rights reserved.
Supporting the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
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Merry Christmas from the entire Saddleback Church family! May the next year of ministry be filled with God's rich blessings!
December 24, 2013
View this email in your browser
Merry Christmas, from the Saddleback Church family to you, your family, and your team!
3 Characteristics of an Effective Purpose Statement
Saddleback’s purpose statement has been quietly guiding much of our decision-making for nearly three decades. Our purpose statement is:

To bring people to Jesus and membership in his family, develop them to Christlike maturity, and equip them for their ministry in the church and their life mission in the world in order to magnify God’s name.

That statement captures the five purposes God has given the church. Though the five purposes are the same for every church, each church must decide how to articulate those purposes in a way that shapes the culture of the church, but there are at least three characteristics of an effective purpose statement.
   
And in case you missed Pastor Rick's article last week...
How Your Church Can PASTOR Your Guests This Christmas

Foyer Secrets Revealed (Sorry Pastors!)

By Greg Stier
   

7 Keys to Taking Back a City from Evil

By Kenny Luck
   

How to Have an Affair (And Ruin Everything)

By Kurt Bubna
   

What's Right About Megachurches?

By Phil Cooke
   
Follow @RickWarren on Twitter


The most dangerous temptations, most difficult challenges, and most discouraging attacks come from success, not failure.
Copyright © 2013 Saddleback Church, All rights reserved. 
Thanks for opting into Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox at pastors.com. 
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Michelle Malkin by Jensen Sutta 3
Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
Hi everyone! Here's the MichelleMalkin.com newsletter for December 24th. Enjoy!

From the Right Side of the Web

Michelle's Top Tweets

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And ... Our Hate Tweet of the Day

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Not everyone is cheerful this time of year.
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December 25Christmas Day (Gregorian calendar); Quaid-e-Azam Day (Pakistan)
Mikhail Gorbachev
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Events[edit]

Births[edit]

Deaths[edit]


Holidays and observances[edit]

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“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:16-20 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"For your sakes he became poor."
2 Corinthians 8:9
The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless he had imparted to us of his own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had he remained upon his throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving his salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to his sinning brethren of his own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of his fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe his people in his own garments, or he cannot admit them into his palace of glory; and he must wash them in his own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of his fellowship.
O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus "became poor" that he might lift you up into communion with himself.

Evening

"The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Isaiah 40:5
We anticipate the happy day when the whole world shall be converted to Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when Romanism shall be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed shall wane, never again to cast its baleful rays upon the nations; when kings shall bow down before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call their Redeemer blessed. Some despair of this. They look upon the world as a vessel breaking up and going to pieces, never to float again. We know that the world and all that is therein is one day to be burnt up, and afterwards we look for new heavens and for a new earth; but we cannot read our Bibles without the conviction that--
"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does his successive journeys run."
We are not discouraged by the length of his delays; we are not disheartened by the long period which he allots to the church in which to struggle with little success and much defeat. We believe that God will never suffer this world, which has once seen Christ's blood shed upon it, to be always the devil's stronghold. Christ came hither to deliver this world from the detested sway of the powers of darkness. What a shout shall that be when men and angels shall unite to cry "Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!" What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with him, doing their little in his name and by his strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter wherein to lose is to lose and to be lost forever. On whose side are you?
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Today's reading: Habakkuk 1-3, Revelation 15 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Habakkuk 1-3

1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
Habakkuk’s Complaint
2 How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted....

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 15

Seven Angels With Seven Plagues
1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed....”
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COUPLESenewsheader-Bibles-Sep2011

Building Our Relationship

Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
1 Chronicles 22:13
"Marriage is a most remarkable and courageous human act," says Ernest Boyer in A Way in the World (HarperSanFrancisco, 1984). "It's the promise of two human beings to share life together on all levels, physical, economic, and spiritual. It's a promise made despite the certainty of death, the certainty of change, and the uncertainty of everything else. There is nothing else we might choose to do that is quite like this act, nothing so foolish or so profound."
Why do so many of us enter into this "foolish and profound" commitment when we realize that it is such a difficult thing to unify two separate individuals? Why do we assume we will have success when we know that others fail?
Before his death, David shared his vision for building a temple for the Lord with his son Solomon, to whom God had entrusted this sacred task. David had spent countless hours collecting and preparing all of the materials his son would need to build a house worthy of the Lord. Then David told Solomon that if he was careful to observe the laws of the Lord, he would have success.
Likewise we, too, need to take great care in preparing for the construction of a marriage. Marriage is like a temple-a magnificent living, breathing house for the Lord. When we stand at the altar exchanging wedding vows, we're essentially agreeing to erect a temple in which to honor God. By following God's plan for marriage-loving, honoring, and remaining faithful to each other-we will have success in honoring him. When we're strong and courageous, we'll be able to overcome obstacles and persevere.
Sounds easy. But it's not.
When Dan and I were preparing to get married, we spent an entire year budgeting, envisioning, and getting quotes on bands, caterers, cakes and invitations-planning all of the elements that go into making a wedding day a success. Soon after we walked down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs., we realized we would need to apply that same kind of care to building our relationship for a lifetime, not just planning for a day.
Marriages often include struggles. Changes in career aspirations, guilty feelings over past mistakes, conflicts in other relationships-these and a myriad of other situations present many opportunities to be either the afflicted or the comforter within marriage. In these periods the one doing the supporting may begin to think, "I am not being helped by this person, only held back." But because of that foolish, extraordinary vow of marriage, he or she keeps going.
Through the ordinary pains and sharing of day-to-day life, marital love matures into a love that models God's own love for us. It is in this temple we call marriage that God profoundly manifests himself, giving us the tools we need to be successful as husband and wife.
Marian V. Liautaud

Let's Talk

  • How has our love for each other and for God deepened as a result of persevering through struggles in our marriage?
  • Which one of us needs the most help now, and how can the other provide that help?
  • What can we do today to build a strong marriage relationship?
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NIVCouplesbibleToday's reading is from the
NIV Couple's Devotional Bible
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Designed to help you build your relationship on the one foundation you can count on: God’s Word!


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FRB-Christmas-Story-BookCover-SmallReading 19: Jesus Christ is Supreme

Many years after Isaiah and Micah prophesied about Jesus the Messiah, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Colosse to tell them that Jesus was both God and a human being. Paul included this beautiful hymn in praise of the glory and supremacy of Christ.

Colossians 1:15-20
The Supremacy of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Further Study
JUST THE FACTS
  1. Paul said that Jesus Christ is the “firstborn.” (v. 15) Of what is he the firstborn?
  2. What did Jesus Christ create? (v. 16)
  3. Of what is Jesus Christ the head? (v. 18)
LET’S TALK
  1. What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God”? (v. 15)
  2. What do you think Paul meant when he said that in Jesus Christ “all things hold together”? (v. 17)
WHY THIS MATTERS

Jesus was born in a small town and lived among common people like us, but Paul gives us the bigger picture of who Christ really is and what Christ has done for us.

POINTS OF INTEREST

1:19 In Paul’s day, some people taught that matter--anything you could taste, see or touch--was evil, so the human body was evil. They said a person’s spirit was “trapped” in an evil body and could escape only by some secret knowledge. So they said Jesus couldn’t be both God and man because he lived in a body.
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The Implications of God’s Dominion for Dealing With Pain and Loss

Today's reading: Job 41:11, 34
Nothing belongs to us, not even our selves. Strictly speaking, we do not even own our private feelings and thoughts. The fact that God asserts his absolute ownership at this point in the book is significant for how we understand personal pain or loss. Bitter as this “pill” may be to swallow, we have to acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us a thing. Whether he gives or takes away (see Job 1:21), or even if he allows our bodies or minds to be wracked with pain, we are to praise and adore his name. This is not to say that we are necessarily to thank him for pain or calamity (though this may sometimes be appropriate). But he does expect us to praise him in spite of and through the hard times. What would it mean for us to truly live in the light of God’s absolute ownership, to live out in our daily lives the knowledge that we have been “bought at a price” (cf. Ps 24:1;50:101Co 6:207:23)? And what a price!
Bestselling author Philip Yancey has delved deeply into the “problem” of pain. He addresses the quintessential human question: Where is God when it hurts? Yancey’s final thoughts from his book by the same title:
He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that still, in the midst of a fallen, rebellious world, bears the stamp of His genius and equips us for life on this planet.
He has watched us reflect His image, carving out great works of art, launching mighty adventures, living out this earth in a mixture of pain and pleasure when the two so closely coalesce they sometimes become almost indistinguishable.
He has used pain, even in its grossest forms, to teach us, asking us to let it turn us to Him. He has stooped to conquer …
He has let us cry out and echo Job with louder and harsher fits of anger against Him, blaming Him for a world we spoiled.
He has allied Himself with the poor and suffering, establishing a kingdom tilted in their favor, which the rich and powerful often shun.
He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved …
He is with us now, ministering to us through His Spirit and through members of His body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.
He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day He will unleash them. The world will see one last explosion of pain before the full victory is ushered in. Then, he will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.

Think About It

  • Why do people sometimes feel that God “owes” them something?
  • What is it in human nature that leads people to question God?
  • How is it possible to praise God in and through your pain?

Pray About It

With a friend or in a group, as the body of Christ, lift up each other’s pain and sorrows to God in prayer.
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Today's reading is from theNIV Stewardship Study Bible
by Zondervan


Discover the remarkable privilege we have as stewards of God's design for life through the study of Scripture.


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A Christmas Devotional

EVE

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. - Luke 2:6
On the night before Jesus was born, the shepherds would have seen the night sky the way they had seen it thousands of times before. That was a quiet night, in stark contrast to the following night, when an angel would appear with "the glory of the Lord," announcing the birth of the child-then join with a great company of heavenly beings proclaiming glory and peace.
On the night before Christmas, in the year 1968, three men looked into the night sky also, but from an entirely different perspective. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, the crew of Apollo 8, were further away from the earth than any human had ever been. It was the first time a spacecraft had broken earth's orbit and ventured out one quarter of a million miles to orbit the moon. In an historic broadcast on that Christmas Eve, the astronauts beamed back to earth a video picture of a small blue disk, the earth, and spoke of the "vast loneliness" of space. Then, their voices crackled over the radio: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void; and darkness was over the face of the deep."
There, on that small blue circle, the entire drama of human history has unfolded: the Creation, the Fall, war, exploration, feast and famine, marriage and divorce, birth and death. And to that blue circle God came, at just the right time, to begin to make things right in the human race.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, Christmas Eve is a time when we approach that dividing line in human history, the doorway from BC to AD, the revolution begun by the Son of God's entry into the world. Sometimes you know when you're on the eve of something big (your wedding, moving to a new home, adopting a child), and sometimes you don't. Every Christmas Eve we know we are about to mark the moment when Immanuel came.
So on the night before Christmas, find a quiet moment when you can think about what was about to happen in Bethlehem so many years ago. Think about all the ways you need someone to be your savior-someone who has the strength, the wisdom, the virtue, that you know you cannot come up with on your own.
Prayer for today:
God, thank you that, with millions of other people around the world, I can anticipate and celebrate the moment when you joined yourself to the human race to offer us our only hope for salvation.
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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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