Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Great Christmas Rescue

A Christmas Story The happiest person is not someone who received a wonderful present on Christmas Day, but someone who after days in an open boat, or after hours in a crippled airplane, or after minutes in a burning building, is RESCUED!

We are thrilled when we read the rescue of miners or mountain climbers or a child who has fallen deep into a well. What irony when a soldier risks his life to save a buddy, only to have this buddy refuse help, claiming that he can solve his own problem. And then he dies!

The greatest rescue operation of all time began on the first Christmas Day, yet many of us refuse to be rescued! We are confident that we can solve our own problems. We deny that we are in danger.

But man's danger is fantastically great:

  • the 'ordinary' dangers of sickness, accident, war, poverty, and death
  • striving for the wrong goals in life
  • misplaced self-confidence and uawareness of the spiritual world
  • the lack of realization that he is destined to live forever - in unspeakable sorrow or in unspeakable joy.

In fact, man's danger is so great that the infinite God had to become man in order to rescue man. No one else could have done it! God became man in the person of the baby Jesus. That is why Christmas is so important.
    You see, man has sinned. Now sin is not some minor weakness that can be cured by a few good intentions, or a few good works, or even a few prayers and other religious activities. No, our sin is a rebellion against God; a selling of ourselves to the devil; a total pollution of our wills and minds and souls.

    The only rescue from this pit of degradation is by someone taking the punishment due us and also having the power to clean up our innermost being.

    This someone is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the sinless Son of God, and only He can bear the infinite anger of God against all sin. Jesus sends His Spirit into the lives of all who come to Him to cleanse them from every impurity.

    The proof of God's amazing love is this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are 'in' Christ Jesus. For the new spiritual principle of life 'in' Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.

    This rescue however must be accepted. We must confess our sin, ask for God's forgiveness, and accept the only way of salvation: faith in Jesus Christ.

    If we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straight forward - He forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.

    For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him should not be lost, but should have eternal life.

    What a wonderful salvation from a horrible condition! This is why we can now rejoice and celebrate Merry Christmas with joy and thanksgiving!

    Adapted from tract by Faith, Prayer & Tract League, Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Gracefully Yours: Ten Principles to Being Considerate

    Being ConsiderateWe face inconsiderate people every day, people who jump queues, people who leave things along narrow pathways, people who occupy more than their share of space in single seats within subway trains, and people who are seemingly oblivious to the existence of others or their surroundings. These are just some of the many expressions of selfishness, and if we have committed such acts at one time or other, it is not surprising.

    The Cambridge Advanced Dictionary defines the word 'selfish' as someone who only thinks of his or her own advantage without regard for others. We may at times not be aware we acted selfishly, but this is no excuse for failing to consider others first. The Bible teaches:

    Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Philippians 2:3 NAS)

    We must therefore cultivate gracefulness in order to minimize selfishness. In this article, the author proposes ten steps in which we can achieve this goal.

    The first step is to always consider others first (Philippians 2:3). For example, we can give way to others who are getting out of the subway train before we push our way in. We can avoid accidents by not standing near escalators and by not placing obstacles such as trolley or prams at narrow pathways. We can lend a hand to help the handicap or at least give way to them. We can do much more when we consider others' welfare more important than ours.

    Second, in every of our action, think whether it will hurt others or put them in disadvantaged positions (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1)? For example, in telling our workplace supervisors about certain actions of others, do we deliberately create a better position or an unfair advantage for ourselves at the expense of others? Do we take leave to avoid carrying out some duties, imposing on others to cover our work?

    Third, when making plans for actions, do we put God in our plans and consider how to help others (Luke 14:28-30; Matthew 7:24, 26)? For example, if we are building a public facility, do we provide conveniences for the handicap or consider for people who are less privileged?

    Fourth, quit non-etiquette behavior such as those viewed as deviancy, undesirable, or distasteful (Matthew 5:48; Romans 8:12-13; 1 Peter 14-16). For example, turning the radio up loud on public transport or at public places, blowing noses or spitting, desiring gifts not meant for us, or accumulating massive food on the plate during buffet meals.

    Fifth, acquire good and ethical practices from others, including from people of other cultures (2 Timothy 1:17). For example, clearing our own waste after eating, returning unused packets of spices to the food suppliers, and giving up seats to people needing it more.

    Sixth, learn to give. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). A goodwill performed reaps manifold returns (2 Corinthians 9:6). Pay it forward and we will experience the incomprehensible joy of helping others.

    Seventh, do not do anything from selfishness or conceit (Philippians 2:3), always thinking to exercise our rights or assuming ourselves as more deserving than others.

    Eighth, do not be too calculative or expect reciprocal returns from others (Luke 6:35).

    Ninth, do not expect a hundred percent quality in everything, be it services, products, or relationships. There is no perfection on earth (Philippians 1:6). Understanding this will help us not to expect beyond the ability of Man or to act without consideration for others.

    Tenth, be considerate in all things because we want to, not because we have to, or because we are told to. Do it from the heart (Matthew 6:1; Luke 6:45).

    The way to eliminate selfishness is to work towards gracefulness. We know our purpose on earth is not to accumulate material wealth but to do the will of God (Ephesians 1:11-12). We must therefore learn to live our lives gracefully, and stamp out selfishness completely.