Why is Christmas joyous? Because Christ came to forgive us our sins, to die carrying out own death sentence so that we might be freed from it. The problem of sin, which dogged humanity from the beginning of time, was finally solved.
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Every Christmas narrative in the Bible contains the command: Do not be afraid. The angel says it to Joseph, to Mary, to Zachariah.
Don’t be afraid of God. He is loving. The commands of the Old Testament are satisfied in the New Testament through Jesus. Christmas is, in the words of the angel, “good news of great joy” because God is forgiving the sins of all who ask. The gap separating man from God is bridged by the cross. Reconciliation is possible. Perfect love drives out all fear — 1 John 4:18 NIV.
God loves you with a perfect love. All you need to do, as with a Christmas present, is open it.
Natural instinct propels you to fight or flight, to keep your neck above all else.
This is what Esther did. Her uncle was asking her to risk everything to save her people, the Jews, who were decreed death in a rash issue of legislation from a despot. Her knee-jerk reaction: But I could die if I dare to approach the emperor unbeckoned.
Unlike animals, humans can sacrifice themselves for others. A soldier throws himself on a hand grenade to save his buddies. Jesus throws himself onto the cross to save all humanity. The missionary throws himself into the mission field risking Ebola infection.
At some point, looking out for #1 becomes sin.
For some, thrills-seeking is an adrenaline rush, to have brushed with death and escaped unscathed.
A Christian is not called to dare-devil. But he IS called to sacrifice up to his finances, time and even life in order to reach others with the Gospel. To renege is sin.
We tend to think discouragement is a feeling, not a sin.
But because of discouragement, Daniel’s contemporaries let themselves go. Exiled to Babylon, ripped out of their beloved homeland, deprived of hope, there was nothing to live for. With only depression, without a future, without hope, they might as well live it up. They would eat all the king’s delicious food in his service. Who cares that it contaminated them? that it was dedicated to idols? After all, what would be the point of consecrating themselves to God? All was lost in the exile.
But Daniel decided to avoid the unholy food and wine. He continued to consecrate himself to God.
At the end of the day, he never returned to Israel. He spent the rest of his life in exile, as a counselor (slave) to foreign kings. But he made impact for God in foreign lands. The book of Daniel is the account of how God ceased to be for the Jews only. He started being the God of all nations. Jonah, Daniel and Esther are necessary stepping stones to Jesus, who ultimately was and is the Savior of all nations.
While Daniel’s contemporaries lost hope, God was initiating a completely different plan. They couldn’t imagine what God had up His sleeve, so they “let themselves go.”
Daniel is a great example to me.
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David has been amply criticized for being a Peeping Tom. Not hardly anything has been said about Bathsheba taking an outdoor bath in plain view of the king’s palace (only the king had a second story house).
Lust is a sin for both male and female. Tempted and tempters.
It came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon… And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her. — 2 Sam. 11:2,4 KJV.
This one act of impulse threw David’s kingdom into helter skelter. The man full of passion for God became discredited by his passion for a woman. The aftermath was devastating. His son raped a half-sister. Another son conspired against King David and nearly killed him. The shockwaves sounded far and wide.