When least expected, Black Bart would appear in the middle of the stagecoach trail, his face concealed under a hood. Brandishing his double-barrel shotgun, he would strike fear into every stagecoach he encountered. During Bart’s reign of terror, he became the most feared desperado of his day. Ironically, when Black Bart was captured, he wasn’t what most people expected. Instead of a young, gun-slinging desperado from Death Valley, they found a middle-age man from Decatur, Illinois, who never once in all his criminal career fired a shot… because he never loaded his gun. There are a lot of people and circumstances that steal the joy out of life. Depression abounds. These joy-stealers will rob us until we realize true joy is found in Jesus Christ and nothing is able to steal Him away. Like Black Bart, these joy-stealers are scary - but powerless unless you give the power to rob you.
Just as pride is the root of so many vices, gratitude is the root of so many virtues. Too many spend their lives hacking away at the branches of sin and never deal with the root. Too many desire virtue to blossom in their home and yet lack a genuine sense of gratitude. You can never be to lavish with your thanksgiving to a worthy God.
For some of us this is the season for maxing out credit cards, fighting with family members, even feeling lonely among all the busyness of shopping and holiday parties. Has this been your Christmas experience?
Many of us know the “Christmas story” but do we really take it in? Do we really understand what it really means? One name for Jesus is Emmanuel which means “God with us”. Jesus came to earth to connect with us, to forgive our sins and bring us peace with God. This is amazing!
In Matthew chapter 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This Christmas, lay down your busyness of trying to impress others and God, come to Him and find your rest. Jesus came to earth for you. To forgive your sins and bring you peace. Believe Him. Enjoy Him. Celebrate Him.
Why do I exist? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Is Easter about colored eggs and bunny rabbits? It isn’t difficult for life to get out of balance. Voices all around ask for and even demand our attention. As a result, our life becomes noisy and even consumed with stuff. Far too many are engaged in social media yet fail in relationships that really matter: your spouse, your children… your God. This Easter, I invite you to consider the One powerful enough to split time in half when He was born creating BC and AD. Consider the One who has changed millions of lives – including my own. Consider the One powerful enough to lay His life down for our sins and then raise it up again. An empty tomb in Jerusalem still proclaims the truth of His Resurrection. On Sunday, April 16th, be our guest for Resurrection Sunday at Centralia Bible Baptist on S. Gold St, or visit us online at Centralia BBC.org.
I don’t know what you would do for $10 million, but I do know what some of your neighbors would do. Most of us like to think of ourselves as good, kind and generous. But, in their book, The Day America Told the Truth, authors, James Patterson and Peter Kim, reveal some shocking statistics on how far some Americans are willing to go for $10 million: 25% Would abandon their entire family; 23% Would become prostitutes for a week or more; 16% Would give up their American citizenship; 7% Would kill a stranger and 3% would put their children up for adoption! What’s going on!? Can we really say we would be better off declaring there is no such thing as right and wrong? A wave of Nihilism is sweeping through American entertainment, it is a movement that says there is no such thing as right, wrong, moral or immoral. Really? How far would you make it as a builder if an inch really meant one foot to you or as a teacher if you taught 5+5=131. It really is helpful if we can identify truth from error. It is not a bad thing, in fact it’s quite helpful. Perhaps it is about time we put our TV remotes down and picked up the Bible to learn more about Jesus Christ declared Himself to be, “The way, the truth, and the life".
In 1809 – 207 years ago, Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; war was shaking nations, blood was flowing. Headline news was not concerned about babies being born – the world was focusing on bigger issues.
But that same year, a physician and his wife named their child Charles Robert Darwin. And, in 1809, the cries of a newborn could be heard in a rugged log cabin in Kentucky. The baby's name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been broadcasts at that time, we would have heard: "The destiny of the world is being shaped on the Austrian battlefield." But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Likewise, roughly 2016 years ago, folks thought the big news was taxation. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all, Jesus Christ. What will you do with the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ? Will you believe this Christmas?
Who is Jesus Christ? Was he a good teacher? A moral man? Was he merely a man? You may find it interesting that the Bible declares, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8) In fact, Jesus said of himself in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am.” Interesting since Abraham lived upon earth thousands of years before Christ. But if Jesus Christ is a good teacher, He must be telling the truth.
Yet there are still people who say, “Jesus was a nice moral teach, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” But as C.S. Lewis said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.” He would either be a lunatic or a liar. Or He is the LORD.
Today’s Truth: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever is still King of kings and Lord of lords.
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“There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold – and she’s buying a stairway to heaven…” but she should have taken a minute to think about it. While these lyrics introduce of one of the most legendary Led Zeppelin songs, can you really buy your way to Heaven? The truth is that money, status, fame and stuff cannot get us into Heaven and these things don’t do much to satisfy people during our earthly journey either.
Another path that does not build a stairway to Heaven is your own good deeds. In fact, Isaiah 64:4 says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” It is true that there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on. Jesus said in Matthew 7, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Since money, status and even good religious deeds cannot satisfy or build a highway to Heaven, then what or who can? Simply Jesus Christ. He was clear when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). As one man put it, Jesus built the only way to Heaven... A bridge with only 3 nails and 2 pieces of wood. Will you trust Him?
It seems that almost every day there is a terrorist bombing, a be-heading and other gruesome events overseas. There’s also violence and unrest in our own country. No doubt, today’s headlines are very disturbing.
Are you feeling anxious? Perhaps you need the peace that passes all understanding. Ask yourself, why was it that the disciples of Jesus Christ no longer feared death?
The Biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. It is unrelated to circumstances. Paul sang in jail and Jesus talked of peace the night before He died in agony. “My peace I give unto you… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).
There is no promise in the Bible that says we won’t face trouble, war, trials, temptation and loss – but something far better is promised. That is perfect peace in the midst of these circumstances through Jesus Christ.
Today's Truth: If a person is going to have the peace of God, they must first make peace with God.
For nearly seventy years, Franz Joseph ruled the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was feared, honored, and greatly respected. But in the end, like all men, he died.
When his funeral procession arrived at the doors of the church in Vienna, they were closed. When they knocked on the door a voice from inside called out, “Who is there?” The leader of the funeral party answered, “His most serene majesty, the Emperor Franz Joseph.” From inside the church the answer came, “I know him not. Who is there?” The next reply was, “The Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary.” Again the words came, “I know him not. Who is there?” This time the answer was different. “A sinful man.” And the door opened.
When the enemies of Jesus wanted to condemn Him, they referred to Him as “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Instead of an insult, that was actually a wonderful description of the life and ministry of Jesus. Are you attempting to reach God by your own power, might and good works? If so, Heavens doors are closed. It is time to lay down self-righteousness and agree with God that you are like the rest of us – a sinner in need of God’s grace.
Today’s Truth: Jesus came to be the Saviour, not for the good and lovely, but for the sinful and defiled – like you and me.
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