The good news of Christmas – Christ got a body

1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body have you prepared for me;

6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings

you have taken no pleasure.

7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

In these blessed words of God lie the essence of the Christmas story. Not only that God came in flesh (“God with us”) but that God came to do something wonderful for us.

That Christ himself became the ultimate offering for our sins cannot be missed if one is to know the true meaning of the birth of Jesus. The good news of Christmas is that in Christ alone our fatal flaws are consumed and done away with. By the body of Jesus and the Father’s love for sinners demonstrated by his crushing of Jesus’ physical body, sin and it’s consequences are done forever.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

The gospel promises given here should cause all who trust in Jesus Christ to have unspeakable joy for what God has done. Our helpless and hopeless state of sinfulness and resulting death has been transformed into blessed confidence and life that springs from our thankful hearts like a well of life giving water. Never again will God remember our sins because Christ got a body and gave it so we sinners can live forever as God’s own purchased possessions.

Merry Christmas!


Joy to the World!

The announcement of Jesus’ birth was focused on joy.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,


“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10-14)

The joy of the Lord is not defined or constrained by happenings. It is happiness that depends on what happens. The events of our lives determine to a large degree whether or not we will be happy. But joy comes from God, its source is not of this world, but from resting in Christ and knowing him.

In the gospel of John chapter 15 Jesus is speaking to the people. It’s the very familiar talk about the vine and the branches. It is the teaching that just as a branch has no life of its own apart from the vine, and can produce no fruit of its own apart from the life-giving, fruit producing vine, so it is with those who are in Christ. He ended that beautiful teaching about how those of us who follow him should also depend completely on him by saying the following.

           “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)

God sent and Christ came for your joy! Because of what Christ has done and is doing for sinful, ungodly people, there is great Joy. Those of us who have peace with God and know the peace of God can have joy running over, not only at Christmas but even in the darkest moments of our existence. I observe a brother here in the city where I live who has battled cancer for many years. Again and again he gets a bit of good news and a lot of bad news from the doctors. Amazingly, it never seems to dampen his joy! I have read of brave souls who were burned at the stake because they refused to deny their faith in Jesus. As the flames lept up around them with fury they raise their arms in praise to God. Now that is JOY!

If you lack joy in your life, run to Jesus!

From my home and my heart, “Joy to the World!” Merry CHRISTmas!


Christmas eve thoughts

Today, Christmas eve 2008, has been a wonderful day. I arose at 5:30 a.m. and drove across town for a weekly Bible study. Several men and I meet at 6:30 a.m. every Wednesday to fellowship, pray, and be challenged from the Word of God. Every week I am blessed by being with those good men whose lives encourage me to be all I can be for God.

I came back home and had a very long nap in my king size Lazy Boy recliner. (How appropriate is the name “Lazy Boy” for my chair?) In the afternoon Carol and I did some last minute Christmas shopping and then went across the river to a Christmas eve service at First Baptist West Monroe. It was a candle light service and we worshiped in song and taking the Lord’s Supper together. It was a warm, inspiring worship experience.

The pastor, John Avant, told us briefly about his visit with Dr. Billy Graham yesterday the 23rd. He traveled to Billy Graham’s home in NorthCarolina, (just a few miles from my family home) with the president of Chic Fillet. He spoke with passion and joy about singing carols for the beloved evangelist who is confined to his bed. Dr. Graham is 90 years old and still an encouragement to all who come into his path. He will soon be gone and there will not be another who will preach the gospel of Christ to so many millions as he.

Last night, my daughter Kelly and her family joined us for food, fun, and exchanging gifts. The boys were excited about bedroom shoes, bath robes, and lazer tag. They played ping pong on their new table, a gift from their grandparents. They are such a joy. Kelly is a gifted, beautiful, funny wife, mom, teacher and mentor to her students. Our son in law Jorgen (pronounced “yawn”) owns and operates an Ace hardware store, a Maggy Moo’s Ice Cream store in the mall, and is also very active in a marketing company. Nine year old twins, Corbin and Kevin, and their older brother Jorgen III who is 12, keep mom, dad, and us grandparents very busy indeed.

We just watched a Christmas special on Fox News channel from Saddleback church and Rick Warren and then the Fox and friends crew had a nice Christmas program too. In today’s politically correct world, what a refreshing thing for the number one news network to actually read scripture and talk about Christ coming to save sinners from their sins! I applaud them for doing so.

Tomorrow we will drive to Keller, Texas to my son’s house where we will celebrate Christmas with him, his wife and daughters. My son Jason recruits doctors for temporary assignments and his wife Trina is a speech pathologist for the Keller school system. They have three daughters, Kelsie 16, Adysen8, and Allie who is 7. Each is unique and precious and we love them very, very much and look forward to spending time with them.

Both of our kids and their spouses are devout followers of the Christ and are active in their churches and leading their children to be people of God. I have much to be thankful for this Christmas season.

This year has been wonderful. Carol and I have had lots of opportunities for ministry through her work with WFRRelief and our Grief Share ministry. Carol, my beautiful and amazing wife, has spoken to women’s groups, leads a Heart to Home group, teaches the Bible, does the public praying for her chorus group and sings with the chorus and her quartet Sweet Harmony. On one Saturday recently they sang at 6 different places. What a delight to have such a talented and gracious wife.

I have had the wonderful blessing of joining God in His redemptive work. God has honored His word and I was blessed to have a part in reaping the harvest. For this and every opportunity to lead others to Him, or to help them more fully trust Him, I am humbled and grateful. It is far, far more than I deserve.

Christ is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. If I have another day, another week, month, or many more years to live on this earth I pray that I will continue, as weak and frail as I am, to follow Him where ever He leads.

I expect 2009 to be a great year. It, like all the years of my almost 63, will be full of problems, difficulties, hardships, and disappointments, but through it all, whether alive or dead, I will be a victor in Jesus.

I am humbled by what God can do with an average country boy with lots of warts and bumps spiritually, but who though oft times stumbling, and sometimes falling, continues to follow, and has for over 45 years.

In the last few days I have had visitors to Grace Digest from several countries around the world and from many states. I am amazed. Soon Carol and I will begin our 5th year of facilitating Grief Share groups for those who have lost loved ones. And, there are many who need to be loved, encouraged, prayed for, and many, many folks must hear about this Christ child who has provided eternal life for everyone who will trust Him.

May God bless you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

His peace,

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, celebrating a wonderful story, wise men following a star, gifts from afar, and a virgin giving birth in a cattle stall. A Holy child conceived by the Holy Ghost. His name was “God with us”. God became a man! ….But it was not enough!

If the story had ended there, or even if it had ended with the child growing up to be a great teacher and doing mighty works for God on behalf of the less fortunate, it would just be another story of a great and good man. But it did not end there.

This man came not only to live a perfect life but to die as a perfect sacrifice, a substitute for every man, fully satisfying
God the Father’s just demands. Tens of thousands of volumes have been written about his death on the cross. ……But it was not enough.

If the story had ended there, it would have been a great story, unique among all the stories of men ever told. God had come in flesh and paid for the transgressions of men every where and now God the Father could freely forgive men their sins and not compromise his holiness and justice. ……But it was not enough.

This innocent God-man had committed no crime but was executed on a Roman cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. And on the third day, just as he had predicted, He arose from the dead. He was alive! He had been glorified! His body was now fit not only for planet earth but heaven as well. Sin had been defeated. The devil and hell had been openly laid bare and also defeated. And, even death, the greatest enemy of mankind had itself died. Death, hell, and the grave would no longer be victors over those who know the Life.

Solely because of Christ’s life and work, both in living and dying and rising again, God could now forgive the sins of anyone who would trust the Christ of God and walk with Him. …But it was not enough!

Not enough you ask? Yes, to forgive sins was not enough. Because God cold wipe the slate clean, forgiving all your past sins, but there is a problem. You will sin again. Yes, just as every man since Adam, all of us sin. Even the best, most sincere Christian, still lives in a sin tainted body
a body that desires what God does not approve. And each of us has an ego that wants to be polished and protected every day. So if forgiveness is not enough what could God possibly do more?

God, the righteous judge of the universe, would declare wicked sinners “righteous” based on Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. ….That is quite enough!

The great Apostle Paul gave some reasons why he was not ashamed of the good news about Jesus. He said it is the dynamite of God unto salvation for everyone and that in that powerful story “the righteousness of God is revealed”. What is this “righteousness of God”? It is the person, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because of the babe of Bethlehem, God takes away sin from wicked sinners and puts it to the credit of Jesus. But He doesn’t stop there. He also takes the righteousness of Jesus and credits it to the account of the sinner. So every man, woman, and boy and girl who puts their trust in the claims of the good news about Jesus and obeys it’s demands is made righteous.

Only perfect people are fit for living in the very presence of God in heaven or in the new earth. Only the completely pure can abide in His holy presence. God seeks after wicked sinners and based solely upon Christ he chooses them to be His own, He draws them to Himself by the work of the Holy Spirit. He convinces, convicts, and converts them by making them righteous as He is righteous, holy as he is holy, and finally, immortal as He is immortal.

This is what Christmas is all about. The beauty of that night long ago is only understood by the beatings Jesus took for you and me. The expensive gifts given to the holy child are only appreciated when we understand what the greatest gift is, the blood of Christ.

The babe, the body, the blood, the bounty, the beauty of holiness, freely given to all, and for all, who will turn from their own way and follow Jesus in simple child like trust.

Religion…is not enough. Acts of kindness…is not enough. Being a committed member of a church…is not enough. Only Jesus Christ himself is enough. He is the only hope, He is righteousness, He is life, is He yours?

See what God has given! Merry Christmas!