Bethel Baptist Church

"For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:36

The Beacon

IS THE INCARNATION OF IMMANUEL ANOTHER NAME FOR CHRISTMAS?

Christmas joy and meaning are not found in Wal-Mart, Target, or any of the other big box stores. Created in God’s image to walk with Him, our eternal souls cannot be satisfied with plastic and electronic toys, but only with the eternal values, the never-ending abundant life, found only by faith in Christ. Free salvation in Christ is God’s gift to you when you accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Outside of Jesus, is only a world of lies and illusions where the greedy, “Pant after the dust of the earth” (Amos 2:7).

Scripture reveals that the baby born in Bethlehem and the Carpenter from Nazareth are Immanuel, God with us. His name, Jesus, means Jehovah the Savior. Both Christ, and Messiah, mean The Anointed One. Three men who are anointed in the Old Testament are Prophet, Priest and King. Not only do all three men picture Christ, but He is our beloved Prophet, heavenly High Priest and glorious King.

Gift-giving solutions
Trying to find gifts for certain people — or letting others know what you want — can be quite challenging. After all, most of us don’t need anything.

Realizing that the best gifts aren’t material items offers a new perspective on giving and receiving. Consider these insights from author Charles Swindoll: “Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone ‘I love you.’ Give something away — anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.”

The Christmas grump
Uncle Bill had the reputation of being a curmudgeon. He always seemed to have something to grumble about. Bill’s friends and family were used to his demeanor and usually took it with a grain of salt. One year, while Bill’s relatives were decorating for Christmas, his young nephew wondered aloud, “Do you think Uncle Bill will put up a negativity scene again this year?”

REMEMBER THE PRISONERS
praying as though we are in prison with the mistreated

For many people the month of November introduces the best time of the year … Thanksgiving Day, leading to the Christmas season. During this time we annually give thanks to our God for His many blessings to us. He has poured out His favor in material blessings in a rare display of grace. Our standard of living is only seen in a few other countries on the earth. In the neighborhood grocery store, we can choose between 40 different kinds of cereal and a dozen different brands of ice cream and whatever kind of meat we desire at the moment.

More important than the material blessings are the spiritual graces God has given to us in this country. We have Bibles in multiple versions and some of the best Bible teachers in the world on the radio every day. We have local Bible book stores to sell us books that will help us understand the Bible on a deep level. On the one hand, we should praise God for His blessings, which He has generously poured out on us. But on the other hand, we must not let our ease harden us toward the needs of our brothers and sisters in other lands. November is the month in which we especially remember the Christian community which is being persecuted, every day, in places that are hostile to Christ.

HOW IS GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL WISDOM MICRO-MANAGING MY LIFE?

Some people say that God has no plan at all. Others believe that God has a very general plan for their lives. There is a third group of Christians who believe that God has an exact plan and that His plan extends to the smallest detail in the life of a Christian. Am I the master of my own life or am I fitting myself into God’s great Master Plan for His eternal glory and for my eternal happiness? What do you believe? What does God’s Holy Word say?

Before looking at Scripture, consider these questions: Do you make plans? Are they in detail? Do parents have exact plans for the training of their children? Does it take detailed planning to run a home, drive a car, go to school or work at your job? Does God plan any less than we do? Is it possible for God to plan and control all the great events in general, if He does not plan the smallest events in particular? Does the Bible give evidence that God has an exact point by point plan for each of His children? Did God know my name and write it in the Lamb’s book of life “from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 17:8)?

“Look forward and be hopeful, look backward and be thankful, look down and be helpful, look up and be humble.”
—Unknown

Always thankful
Martin Rinkart, a German Lutheran minister, wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” in 1636. At the time, the Thirty Years’ War was ravaging central Europe, claiming millions of lives. Rinkart served as pastor in Eilenburg, a walled town that became a crowded refuge for starving fugitives. Although Rinkart was struggling to provide for his own family, he opened his own home to people in need.

After the plague entered Eilenburg, Rinkart conducted up to 50 funerals a day — including services for his wife and the only other two pastors in town. Amid the despair, he wrote many hymns, including “Now Thank We All Our God.” Originally intended as a table prayer, it’s now sung at Thanksgiving to remember God’s “countless gifts of love” — even during hardships.