An Irish Toast

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.


Should A Christian Put Up A Christmas Tree?

Have you ever met a Christian who refused to display a Christmas tree in his house because he believed it to be a pagan tradition? I have. The use of the trees does have pagan roots, but Gary DeMar shares with us here why it is OK to display them:

Just because pagans might have used trees to worship their gods does not mean that we can’t use them to teach us something about God who has given us the “indescribable gift” of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15). The Christmas tree is an evergreen that reminds us that we have “eternal life” in Jesus Christ (John 6:40). The shape of the tree reminds us that we are “born from above” (John 3:3). The needles on the branches remind us that Jesus was “pierced through for our transgression” (Isa. 53:5). The lights hung on the tree remind us that Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and through Him we are to be “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). The objects we hang on the tree remind us that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Instead of condemning the setting up of the Christmas tree as some practice brought into our homes from the pagan cold, it should remind us that God promises us “the right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14). If the Bible tells us “to go to the ant . . . to observe her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6), certainly we can learn similar things from God’s other good creations, even trees.

Article: http://samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/should-a-christian-put-up-a-christmas-tree/


VOM–USA Prayer Update for December 11, 2009

The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com
“On his knees the believer is invincible.” C H Spurgeon
As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:11

SOMALIA — Christian Martyred — Compass News Direct

Matthew 5: 6-10
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Members of the extremist Islamic group al Shabaab, executed 23-year-old Christian convert, Mumin Abdikarim Yusuf, and his body was discovered in Mogadishu's Yaqshid district, according to Compass Direct News. On Oct. 28, al Shababb members detained Yusuf and searched his home for Christian materials, after a 15-year-old Muslim boy accused Yusuf of trying to convert him to Christianity. While interrogating Yusuf about other Somali Christians, the extremists knocked out all of Yusuf's front teeth and broke several of his fingers. They then shot him twice in the head and dumped his body on an empty residential street. Since it is unknown whether Yusuf revealed information about other Christians while he was tortured, the underground Christians who knew him have relocated for their safety. Yusuf's Muslim family members are also in danger, as extremists have accused them of failing to report his conversion. The Voice of the Martyrs supports persecuted Christians through a project to assist evangelists and encourage converts from Islam. Pray for all those mourning the death of this brother in the Lord. Pray for safety for the relocated believers. Pray that Yusuf's faithful witness will be a testimony to his Muslim family members and that they will turn to Jesus for their salvation.

INDIA — Three Churches Attacked in Tamil Nadu — VOM Sources

Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Three church buildings in India’s Southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, were attacked, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. On Nov. 29, a bomb exploded at a church in Thammathukonam, badly damaging the building's wall. Later that day, a statue of St. Francis Xavier church was desecrated by extremists in Konamkade while the local congregation was preparing for an Advent procession. Meanwhile, the next day, a group of Hindu extremists broke the windows of a church building in Sulur and threw stones inside. A bag containing a container of petrol, a diesel can and cotton scraps was later found, suggesting that the attackers intended to set the building on fire. Pray that Christians in Tamil Nadu will not give in to fear over these attacks but continue to be bold witnesses for Jesus. Pray that the perpetrators of this violence will be brought to justice.

KAZAKSTAN — Update: Christian Facing Deportation Again — Forum 18 News

2 Timothy 3: 10-12
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

A German-born believer who was recently prosecuted in Akmola Region, Kazakhstan for taking part in religious worship without state registration is again facing deportation, according to Forum 18 News. In October, Viktor Leven successfully appealed the deportation order, but the Regional Court reinstated the deportation on Nov. 26. Leven stated he may be forced to leave the country at any time. Pray that Leven will not be deported and separated from his wife and six children, the youngest of who is just three weeks old. Pray for endurance for other believers facing similar challenges in Kazakhstan.

Add the PrisonerAlert.com application on Facebook by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/prisoneralert/

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Jesus Foretells the Future

Matthew 24, also Mark 13 (NLT)

1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]”

4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.[b] 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations[c] will hear it; and then the end will come.

15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[d] standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) 16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.

23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man[e] comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.[f]

29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[g]

30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.[h] 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world[i]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

32 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation[j] will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.[k] Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

45 “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 46 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48 But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ 49 and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 50 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, 51 and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


A Much-needed Gift of Peace

By Charles F. Stanley
Bible Study: Because Christ Came
Sermon: The Prince Of Peace

Once, before a speaking engagement, a staff member and I were sharing a meal at a restaurant on the West Coast. The young woman waiting on us appeared to be in her twenties. During the meal, I posed this question to her: “If you could ask God for anything, what would it be?”

Without any hesitation she said, “I’d ask for peace.” A big tear made its way down her face as she told us about the death of her beloved grandmother a few days before.

In sharing her story, she explained that no one in her family believed in God, and neither did she. Our waitress had not consciously rejected the Lord—she had never heard about Him. All she knew was the deep restlessness within her. The young lady had no understanding about how to resolve that inner turmoil, or even what lay at its root. Like many people, she went from day to day without having much purpose or meaning in her life.

This woman represents so many people in our society today. They might not describe the emptiness they feel as a lack of peace. Some would use the words, “I am so lonely.” Others might say, “If only my spouse would love me more, I’d be happy.” Or, “If only I could be successful in my career . . . ” But these are all variations of the same theme: “There is something wrong. I am not happy. I have no peace. What is wrong with me?”

Our society bombards us with messages that supposedly answer this question. If only you were thinner . . . dressed better . . . drove a Jaguar . . . lived in a nicer house . . . made more money . . . The list goes on and on. But none of the “answers” proposed by society can permanently or satisfactorily provide what we desperately crave.

The young waitress had it correct. Most of us feel strongly that we need something more, and the all-encompassing word that describes it well is peace. But you will never experience such tranquility in this life until your relationship with the Lord is right.

A Friendship with Your Creator

The God who controls all things—and who is present in your life whether you acknowledge Him or not—is a God of peace. He designed this world with a plan in mind, and it includes you!

The Lord created humans so they would have a relationship with Him that is characterized by love—His loving them and their loving Him. And through His presence, He would protect and provide for mankind. Only through close friendship with the Creator can anyone receive deep, lasting, abiding peace. This idea is unique to Judeo-Christian thought.

What people sense as “loneliness,” “a deep void,” or “purposelessness” is a type of signal—or indicator—that God has built into man. It is a programmed message that we need Him. Through it, the Designer tells His creation, “Without Me, you will never feel complete. I am the only One who can satisfy your deepest longings. I will be the source of your peace.”

Sudden tragedy or personal loss can show us our need for help, comfort, and guidance. And it is at such a point of need that our kind and loving God often reveals how to know Him in a personal way.

How We can Have Peace with God

Jesus came into our world to live and die as one of us. He was both God and human at the same time—an amazing truth. As a sinless man, Jesus was killed because the religious leaders of His day felt threatened by His claims to be the Savior of the world.

His death wasn’t the end, however. After three days, He was resurrected by the power of God, triumphing over death. Before returning to His Father in heaven (Mark 16:19), Jesus promised the disciples that His presence would remain with them, and He would give them peace (Matt. 28:20; John 20:19).

God wants all of us to ask for His mercy, confess our sins, and trust Him for salvation—that’s the essence of His plan for you and me. It is also the fundamental requirement for experiencing His wonderful, continuous gift of peace.

When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and take control of our lives, He bridges the gap between God and man. Through Him, we have forgiveness (no more shame or guilt because of the past) and the assurance of His presence in our lives. Moreover, we have the opportunity to experience abiding peace—the gift promised to those who follow the Lord.

Adapted from “Finding Peace: God’s Promise of Life Free from Regret, Anxiety, and Fear” (2003).


Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

To Remember: Our God is an awesome God

Matthew 17:19-20 "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?' He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."

Luke 17:5-6 "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' The Lord replied. 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.'"

Jesus gave His disciples the ability to heal people of all sorts of diseases, to prove to men that their message came from God. One man brought a demon-possessed child to the disciples. They should have been able to cast out the demon, but they could not. When Jesus cast out the demon, they asked Him why they had failed. He answered that they didn't have enough faith. If they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could do anything.

A mustard seed is very, very tiny. (Show one if you can). But once planted, it grows into a plant large enough to provide a valuable food and shelter for animals. Jesus said a little faith can have incredible results. Who were the disciples to have faith in? God. And is there anything God can't do? No. Were the disciples actually causing the miracles, or God? God was. The disciples thought casting out a demon was too hard for them. Of course it was. They in themselves didn't have that ability. But can God cast out a demon? Of course. Can God do anything we ask of Him? Absolutely. So when we doubt, we are doubting God's ability. That is an insult to Him.

We don't need a lot of faith - just as much as a mustard seed - to provoke great results - because our God is an awesome God! We must believe in Him and not worry about what we can or can't do. God will not ask us to do more than we can. He wants us to be willing to do His work. He'll provide the rest. James says (5:16-18) "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest."

Will God do everything we ask of Him? Probably not - because we don't always know best and He does. Jesus taught us to pray "Not my will but yours be done." Luke 22:42. God wants what is best for us and will provide it, sometimes against our (misdirected) wishes. James says in 4:3 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures." He also warns that a doubter will not receive his request: "James 1:6-8 "But ask in faith, nothing doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord." Does any of this negate God's ability to do anything? No, He is all powerful.


Psalm 91, oh yh you know what i'm talkin' bout

Psalm 91 (Amplified Version AMP)

1HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Christian symbolism of the 12 Days Of Christmas

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed



How Does God's Grace Work?

1. Grace releases supernatural strength to keep going in the midst of pain, suffering, and loss. The Holy Spirit helps us face adversity.
2. Grace ignites determination to keep going.
3. Grace reminds us that God is always with us.
4. Grace points us toward the Father’s goal in allowing trials. We can be content knowing we are in the center of His will.
5. Grace reminds us that God uses trials to strengthen our faith and deepen intimacy with Him.
6. Grace assures us that the Lord sets limitations on what can happen to His children.
7. Grace gives us faith to believe God will transform tough times into something good.

When you feel discouraged and weary, take heart. Your heavenly Father still cares about you. As you remain in close fellowship with Him, God will give you the ability to tackle life’s challenges with divine peace and joy. That’s the power of sustaining grace.

The Riches Of Grace

By Charles F. Stanley
Bible Study: Living By Grace
Sermon: Sustaining Grace

An elderly couple lived modestly for years on their small farm. And though the land was not the best, they always had enough to survive. Eventually they sold the farm to a developer. Working on a hunch, the new owner decided to drill and discovered a supply of oil worth millions of dollars. For years, the couple had lived on untold wealth and never knew what they were missing.

Sadly, that story illustrates how many believers live–unaware of the vast riches they possess in Jesus Christ by grace. Think about what happens the moment a person trusts Him as Savior: that brand-new Christian is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, and from then on has within him the divine Comforter/Guide/Teacher. Salvation also brings justification (full forgiveness) and sanctification (the process of growing in Christ’s likeness).

In Jesus, every believer has an infinite treasury of wisdom, knowledge, and all good things. Do you need strength? The all–powerful God grants energy for any task. Do you lack wisdom? He provides discernment and insight to cut through the fog of confusion. Are you searching for contentment? Divine peace is beyond human understanding.

In Christ, we lack nothing. By grace, His immeasurable love and power are available for every trial, decision, and challenge. Our capacity to experience and enjoy these riches grows as we learn more about our heavenly Father.

The riches of divine grace are eternal. Money can’t buy them, and death can’t take them away. We are redeemed, reconciled, and freed from the law. No longer are we orphans; instead, we’ve been adopted into God’s family—beloved children of the heavenly Father, sealed and set apart for Him (Eph. 4:30). So why do we choose to live like paupers?

Someone might say, “That sounds pretty good, but I don’t feel rich.” We’re talking about wonderful, abundant spiritual blessings, not material prosperity. Feeling rich has nothing to do with our treasure in Christ, which is secure in the One we belong to—and He will never change.

The Bible says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). This is the great exchange, and it’s the way we partake of His riches.

An obvious question comes to mind: If we are so rich and the Lord is so great, why do Christians suffer? Second Corinthians 12:9 promises that God’s grace is sufficient for us and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. The apostle Paul learned there was something far more important to him than reengineered circumstances. He had discovered the sufficiency of God’s grace.

Once when I spoke to a group of ministers, I asked how many of them wanted to know God the way Paul did. Every pastor raised his hand. Then I asked how many were willing to be stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, left for dead, and afflicted in all the ways the apostle suffered. No one raised his hand.

I understand the hesitancy. No one enjoys pain and hurt. But we prove the Lord’s immeasurable grace as we endure dreadful heartache.

The apostle Peter explained how God bestows His abounding resources: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:2-3). Today, you can embrace the fullness of grace and live the abundant life your Lord has planned.

Adapted from Charles F. Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” (1996) and “Into His Presence” (2000).



2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Amplified Bible)

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation


How is Christianity Any Different Than Other Religions?

How is Christianity Any Different Than Other Religions?
By Steven Halter
Staff Writer

CBN.com – A crucial distinctive about Christianity is that God cared enough about humankind to reach down and compassionately provide a way for us to be in a right relationship with Him. In other religions, people vainly attempt to reach God and earn their own salvation by doing good deeds and by refraining from bad behavior.

The problem for those people is that no one can ever be good enough to earn his own salvation. In other words, no one can ever reach God through his own efforts. That is why God made a way for us by sending His Son Jesus to live a holy and sinless life and suffer the payment for our sins. In this way, if we believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him, we are forgiven by God and given new life.

Another critical difference is that in Christianity people can truly have genuine assurance of their salvation. They can be certain that they are going to heaven because their salvation is anchored in what Jesus already did for them. As a result, Christians have peace in their hearts about where they will go when their lives on earth are finished.

In other faiths, people cannot be assured that they will go to heaven because they can never know if they have done enough good works to earn God’s favor or forgiveness. They have to continually try to earn their salvation—even until their last day and dying breath. They cannot experience the restful assurance that God gives those who trust in Jesus Christ.

Do You Want a Relationship with God?

If you want this kind of relationship with God, pray this prayer right now:

Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you took the pain of the cross to give me new life. I ask you to come into my life and to give me your peace and joy. I confess that I am a sinner -- that I have gone my own way and have done wrong. Please forgive me for my sins. I receive you now as my Lord and Savior. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to follow you and to serve you all my life. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, you are now a child of God. The things of your old life have passed away and He has made all things new.

We want to join you in celebrating your new life. Please send us an e-mail to let us know that you prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior. Or you can call our Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. A caring friend is available to talk with you and send you some resources to help you begin your walk with the Lord.