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ROBERT LEWIS WAS GEORGE WASHINGTON’S PRIVATE SECRETARY. DURING THE FIRST PART OF THE PRESIDENCY, HE SAID THAT HE ACCIDENTALLY WITNESSED WASHINGTON’S PRIVATE DEVOTIONS, BOTH MORNING AND EVENING. HE SAW HIM IN A KNEELING POSTURE, WITH AN OPEN BIBLE BEFORE HIM; AND HE SAID THAT HE BELIEVED SUCH WAS HIS DAILY PRACTICE. HIS CUSTOM WAS TO GO TO HIS LIBRARY AT 4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING FOR DEVOTIONS.
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In 1994, two Christian missionaries answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics in a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage.
It was nearing Christmas and they decided to tell them the story of Christmas. It would be the first time these children had heard the story of the birth of Christ. They told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.
When the story was finished, they gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins that they had brought with them since no coloured paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt which the missionaries had also brought with them.
It was all going smoothly until one of the missionaries sat down at a table to help a 6 year old boy named Misha. He had finished his manger. When the missionary looked at the little boy’s manger, she was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, she called for the translator to ask Misha why there were two babies in the manger.
Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, Misha began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately until he came to the part where Mary put the baby
Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending. He said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
"But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.'
"So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him--for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.
There is a rather poignant Christmas story about a little girl who watched her mother & dad getting ready for Christmas. To her, it seemed that dad was preoccupied with burdens & bundles, & mom was concerned about parties & presents, & they just had no time for her.
She felt that she was being shoved aside. In fact, it seemed to her that she was always being told, "Would you please get out of the way?"
So one night in December she knelt beside her bed & prayed this prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, please forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us."
SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE VIRGIN BIRTH
A group of Bible scholars have unanimously agreed that Jesus had a human father, but they are uncertain who it was. Thus, according to these scholars, Jesus was not born of a virgin, was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, was and is not literally the Son of God, but is in the same category with other great religious leaders who were conceived and born in the usual manner. The article states that the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke are fictitious. The church fabricated the story about the virgin birth of Jesus in order to give Him more status, according to these scholars.
The seminar admits there is some uncertainty concerning who the father of Jesus was. Some say Joseph, some say Mary was raped, but none are willing to accept the biblical narrative at face value. The biblical account of Mary’s miraculous conception by the power of the Holy Spirit is dismissed by these scholars as a theological statement having no historical validity.
A poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy showed a wide variation in beli...
In a sermon, Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke of a conversation with a circus trapeze artist. The performer admitted the net underneath was there to keep them from breaking their necks, but added, "The net also keeps us from falling. Imagine there is no net. We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall. If there wasn’t a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do. But because there’s a net, we dare to make turns, and once I made three turns -- thanks to the net!"
Ortiz makes this observation: "We have security in God. When we are sure in his arms, we dare to attempt big things for God. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us if we fall."
In 1849 a wagon train was traveling through Death Valley to follow the gold rush into California. As this particular wagon train trudged through Death Valley, the hottest place in California, they looked ahead and saw a sheet of water they all believed was Owen’s Lake. But it was just a mirage created by the intense heat, and the harder their pressed on to make it to the water, the more frustrated they became. The foundation for many people’s spiritual journey is no more real than that mirage. Some people base their entire spiritual lives on illusions whether it’s the psychic friends network or astrology, whether it’s some strange teacher like David Koresh or some new claim to have special insight into the future .
Ridgecrest is a large Baptist-run assembly ground, nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. All summer long, every year, thousands of Christians come to Ridgecrest for training, inspiration, Bible study, and challenge.
A few years ago, during a conference, people began to notice a man hanging around the grounds. He did not look like he had just stepped out of your typical Sunday School class. His clothes were tattered and torn; they looked like something even the Salvation Army would throw away. His face had not been visited by a razor for a long time. His shoes could best be described by the title of Hymn No. 2 in the book – “Holy, Holy, Holy”! And worst of all, there was the BO. You know about BO? Let’s just say that when you got close, you did not get a whiff of Chanel No. 5. This young man was clearly “not one of us”, not the kind of person you normally see at Christian campgrounds.
What did he do? Not much, really. He did not approach anyone. He did not harass anybody. He did not ask for money. He mostly just hung around. When chapel services were held, he would walk across the front and sit down. When classes were under way, he would lie down on the grassy slopes nearby. And when meals were being served, he would stand on the dining hall porch, not far from the long lines of people clutching their meal tickets. No begging, no demands, just standing around.
At the end of the week they announced that there would be a special speaker for the closing service, and that he would speak on the theme, “Inasmuch as you have not done it unto one of the least of these, you have not done it unto me.” They promised that the audience would truly remember this message. The hymns were sung, the prayers were prayed, the choir sang, and the special speaker approached the podium. Who do you think was that special speaker? Who brought that memorable message?
That scruffy young man! That hangaround bum with the worn-out clothing, the messy beard, and the offensive BO! It turns out that he was a young pastor who had been asked to play a part by the organizers of the conference. And his message stung as he said to the crowd, “No one tried to include me in anything. No one asked me if I needed help. No one invited me to the dining hall. No one sat down to listen to my story. A few put religious tracts into my hand. One or two pulled out a dollar bill and gave it to me. But most of you turned your eyes and pretended not to see me. My appearance offended you, and you left me out.”
Appearances are deceiving. He looked like a beggar and a bum, but he was a pastor. (Please don’t anyone say that’s all the same thing!).
EVANS ON THE VIRGIN BIRTH
Dr. William Evans, who pastored College Church from 1906-1909, was an unusually accomplished man. He had the entire King James Version of the Bible memorized as well as the New Testament of the American Standard Version. Dr. Evans also authored over fifty books. His son, Louis, became one of the best-known preachers in America and for many years pastored the eminent First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.
When Dr. William Evans retired, he moved to Hollywood to be near his son, and when Louis was away he would substitute for him. One unforgettable Sunday Dr. William, as he was affectionately called, spoke on the virgin birth. All were amazed when he raised his Bible and tore out the pages that narrate the birth of the Lord. As the tattered scraps floated down toward the congregation, he shouted, "If we can’t believe in the virgin birth, let’s tear it out of the Bible!" And then as he drove home his point, he tore out the resurrection chapters, then the miracle narratives, then anythin...
Brian La Croix
Listen to this quote from Ray Stedman –
“….notice that a major point of this parable is to give us a clue to the way that the enemy works most successfully. It is by imitation, by counterfeit. How simple it would be if evil people would only look evil. Wouldn’t that help a lot? If hypocrites would only snarl and growl a little bit it would help so much. But they always look so pleasant. They always talk so sweetly. They are such nice people, and that is why we go along with their ideas. We cannot believe that such nice people could be so far wrong. And, unless we use the Word of God to evaluate their teachings, we can be deceived by the niceness of people who are imitation, counterfeit apostles, as the Word of God calls them.” (From the sermon, THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS HARVEST, by Ray C. Stedman)
"When there is a hill to climb, don't think that waiting will make it any smaller."