What are you doing??
When you meet a friend you'll probably say, "What are you doing for Christmas this year?" And if they ask you, you’re maybe not sure – it's still some days away yet! You have some plans made, or maybe you haven't, but somehow you’re looking forward to it when it comes.
What are you getting?
When you meet the children, it's more likely you will ask, "What are you getting for Christmas this year?" Maybe you will blink or gasp when the answer comes back! You've maybe never heard of it. Maybe you think, "Surely not that!" But that's their world, not yours.
What are you thinking about?
Here's another question: "What are you thinking about this Christmas?" Or it could be, "Who are you thinking about this Christmas?"
Naturally and properly we think about our friends and our families. Christmas is a special time to get together. "Home for Christmas" has a lovely sound about it.
We will surely think about others as well - the homeless, the friendless, the sick, the poor - and go beyond thinking to help if we can.
Who are you thinking about?
What about the One who gave His name to Christmas? Will you take time to think about Him?
This season reminds us yet again that "Christ Jesus came into the world". That's what history tells us, and that's what the Bible tells us, and then it adds that He came "to save sinners". We read that this is a "faithful fact" and worth accepting (1 Timothy 1.15). Many people the world over have accepted the fact that they are sinners and found how they can be saved by accepting Him.
To save us from the problem and plight and penalty of our sins He came to Bethlehem and then went to Calvary and died on a cross. He gave up His sinless life in sacrifice to God for our sinfulness, so that we might receive eternal life, the greatest gift of all.
Have you thought about this?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3.16).God loved and He gave – His best, His only Son.
If we believe we will have – the best, everlasting life.
But if we don't we won't – we will perish in our sins.
So the message is believe God's Word, come to Jesus Christ God's Son, trust in Him, and receive everlasting life now.
We would keep them if we could - those bright, warm summer days! But soon the daylight shortens, temperatures drop, flowers fade and wither, holidays are a memory... it's all over so quickly!
Isn't life like that? We would like to keep its good days (and forget its bad ones), slow down its passing, recapture missed opportunities, postpone the effects of ageing... but we can't! And, like summer, it's all over so quickly too.
What is your life?
The Bible says, "What is your life? It is even a vapour (a steam cloud), that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away" (James 4.14). It's not very long at its longest - but it's very important, and we can't live it over again. For the Bible also says, "It is appointed unto men (everyone) once to die, but after this the judgement" (Hebrews 9.27).
What comes next?
God gave us our lives, and He also gives each of us the opportunity to prepare for what comes next. For something does come next - the most important thing comes next, for it lasts for ever. It is heaven with Christ or hell without Him - and the choice of destination is yours.
Our sins will keep us out of heaven, but the good news of the gospel is that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15.3). If you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Saviour, all your sins will be forgiven. If you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ He will make sure that you will be in heaven; for He also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14.6).
The best day of your life?
Do you remember what was the best day of your summer? The most memorable day of your life will be the day when you decided to trust Christ to save you from your sins - the day you started on the way to heaven.
Don't postpone that day - you could keep putting it off until your life is over - and it's too late then. Don't be like those who had to say, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jeremiah 8.20).
Why Does Easter Change Every Year?
The date of Easter changes
Some years Easter is at the end of March, other years it’s well through April, and it can be any weekend in between. It is decided by the date of the first full moon after the spring equinox (which is March 21st every year).
But what is special about a full moon in spring? It marks the time when Jesus Christ, the Son of God was crucified probably in the year 30 AD. It fell on the date of the Jewish Passover. This festival was always at the first full moon after springtime began.
Sometimes the moon will be full very soon after March 21st and that makes Easter early. Other years, if there’s just been a full moon, it can be up to four weeks until it’s full again, and Easter will be late.
By the light of the full moon the Lord Jesus was betrayed into the hands of His enemies, and crucified the next day. Amazingly, after three days He rose from the dead on what we now call Easter Sunday.
Absolutely nothing like this has happened before or since - and nothing so important. That is why it has been deliberately commemorated in these changing Easter dates down all the years ever since.
The message of Easter does not change
But some things have not changed. One thing is the sinfulness of man. The other thing is the love of God. These two came together when Jesus died.
On the cross at Calvary He died to take the penalty of human sin, for the Bible tells us that "the wages of sin is death" . He died so that we could be forgiven. If not forgiven, we would be condemned for ever.
At the cross God was showing how much He loved us by giving His own Son to pay that terrible price for our sin. Another Bible verse says "God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" .
This wonderful message of Easter has not changed. God loves each one of us and wants to save us from our sins. Jesus Christ died to make it possible for you to be saved today.
But He also rose again. He actually defeated death and came out of His grave in mighty power. Because He is alive today He can be your Saviour now.
If He had remained dead He could not do anything for us. Dead people are powerless. But He is alive, and says the Bible, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” .
It can change us
This great unchanging message of Easter can change us. Or rather the One who died and rose again that first Easter – He can change us, but only if we are willing to be changed!
The change is deep seated. It’s not just trying to be better. It’s repenting, turning away from your sin and all the misery it brings, and actually accepting the Lord Jesus as your own Saviour. By trusting Him today you can obtain salvation from sin and find real peace with God .
Bible verses quoted:
1. Romans 6.23
2. Romans 5.8
3. Hebrews 7.25
4. Romans 5.1
Christmas - Time for Giving
As children we saw Christmas more as a time for getting than giving. But there is no getting without someone giving and someone spending, sometimes spending quite a lot. The shops and stores make sure we get the spending message! We're coaxed into spending a bit extra to keep everyone happy and have a good time.
Many people all over the world believe that Christmas has something to do with God giving, and with Christ's birth at Bethlehem. The Bible tells us that Jesus was God's gift to meet man’s special need. John 3.16 states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Choosing the gift
Most of us find choosing Christmas gifts is a problem. We don't want our friends to be disappointed with their presents, to think we don't care about them.
The gift that God gave was carefully chosen. He gave what we needed most. The Bible says that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6.23). The sins we all commit lead to death and separation from God. But He offers us eternal life and a future home with Him in heaven - what we need more than anything else. He offers it to us as a gift.
Presenting the gift
Many gifts are carefully and tastefully wrapped up to make them as attractive as possible. Have you noticed how attractive God made His gift?
He did not send a mighty angel or a strange alien spirit to bring His gift to us. That could have been very frightening! He sent His own Son, in human form, like one of us. He was a real man, living among ordinary people in the land of Israel, and dying on a cross on a hill near Jerusalem. Why? Because He loved us so much. This is what another Bible verse states: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4.10).
Accepting the giftYou won't expect your friends to pay for what you give them! They will receive your gift and (hopefully!) say thank you. You paid for the gift; they get it free.
In just the same way you can’t pay to get eternal life or do anything to earn it. You will never obtain it by religion or ceremony. God Himself paid the price - a price we never could pay. It was all paid for when "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15.3). He died so that we might live! This greatest of all gifts is offered to you freely.
Will you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour, asking God to forgive your sins because Jesus died for you? You must do this for yourself. It is a personal matter between God and you. Remember, whosoever - that is each individual - who believes in Him will receive everlasting life.
Refusing the gift?
A gift becomes yours only when you accept it. It might be bought, wrapped up, and sent, but unless you receive it, it will lie in the pile of 'unclaimed gifts' or be 'returned to the sender'.
God's gift is available to you now - the greatest and best gift ever - the very thing you need most for this life and the next. But to make it yours you will have to claim it. Don't ignore it or refuse it. Salvation from sin and obtaining eternal life doesn't just happen unless you want it to.
Admit your need.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
By faith receive Him into your heart and life, and you will receive the best gift ever given.
Are you travelling again soon? On business, or holidays in new places far away or somewhere nearer home? Day trips even? Special places like coasts and hills call us back time and again.
Different lengths of journeys, different types of transport - from planes or ships to buses or bikes maybe! However we get there, the important thing is to arrive safely. Whether it is wearisome or pleasant, the journey is a necessary part of the holiday!
For holidays it's all about deciding where to go, searching brochures or the internet to find out what the place is like, paying for it all, doing the packing and finally away you go for those days or weeks you’ve planned for.
You would agree that to leave holiday destinations to chance would be most unusual and even silly! Have you met anyone who has not made plans or otherwise prepared for where they are going?
But you probably know some people who appear to give little attention to life's journey and don't think about its destination. Some say they don’t know where they are going. Others tell you they think that they are going nowhere! But really, are we not all going somewhere?
If you get your holiday destination wrong you can try again another time. But for life it's different - you do it only once. For some, the journey of life is long, even very long, for others it's short, even very short, and there's no standing still. It’s vital to get it right.
Information about life's destinations is readily available, as is advice about travelling life's road and getting there. An old authority on this subject, which is still very much up to date, is the guide book called the Bible. Over centuries, many people the world over have found from its pages the way to live well and the ability to die in peace, assured of the right destination.
Before Jesus died, promising to rise again from the dead and return to heaven, He said He was going to prepare a place there for all who wanted to join Him. He described its glory and desirability. It is eternal life to all who decide to take the narrow way which He showed. In addition to showing the way, even better He offers to take you there. He said, "I am the way."
Have you thought about this? Our sins will keep us out of heaven. The Lord Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty for our sins so that God could forgive us. Turning from your sin and putting your trust in Him is the best kind of planning and preparation to make for your journey out of this world. In fact it is the only preparation that is effective to get you to that wonderful destination which He promised in heaven.
And those who accept Him as life's guide discover that He can also put right what is wrong with us here and now. He won’t sidetrack you or mislead you.
Creation or Evolution?
How did we get here? Where do we go from here?By R W Cargill BSc, PhD
The fact is we are here! - in a universe rich in variety and beauty; and living! - in a body of amazing structure, function and detail. The more that is discovered about the tiny living cell, or about the vast universe, the more the wonder of it increases - and the more we find out what we don’t know!
Do you ever wonder how it all came about? - how we got here? That’s a very interesting question, and an important one too.
You might say that the question has been answered - it was evolution. It just happened by chance and change over millions of years. Everybody, or nearly everybody, believes in evolution.
Well, here are 10 things about evolution we’re not often told. Each of them is true and can be verified.
- Evolution is a theory, it is not a fact. Scientific theories are deduced from facts and observations which do not change. Theories very often have to be changed in the light of new information. Evolution theory starts with some facts and observations, makes certain assumptions, uses projections or extrapolations, then draws conclusions. Some scientists (and others) claim that evolution explains the origin and complexity of the natural world, but there are many who disagree with this. This is because the assumptions and extrapolations might not be valid. The same facts and observations can lead to quite different conclusions. Evolution theory, in spite of many changes to it over the years, still contains flaws, gaps, and unwarranted suppositions. More seriously, it is contradicted by several scientific facts and theories which are described next. Because of this, many scientists do not accept this theory.
- The Laws of Thermodynamics are probably the most fundamental of all the laws of science. They destroy the proposals of evolution.
The First Law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. We all know that we cannot get energy from nothing. So where did the (huge amount of) energy in the Big Bang come from? Besides, explosions do not 'make' things, they destroy things don't they?
The Second Law states that structures and systems naturally left to themselves over periods of time become more disordered and chaotic ('entropy' increases). This is everyday experience - things become untidy or rot and rust and break down when just left alone. Simple systems do not by themselves become more complex and organised, yet this is what evolution requires from its beginning and throughout.
- Statistics show that the probability of even a simple structure (e.g. a protein) coming into being by random events (by accident) is so small as to be practically impossible! And the more complex the structure, the more the odds stack up against it. What used to be regarded as simple cells are actually very complex. "Climbing Mount Improbable" is a nice phrase, but even by a stage at a time it is too high and too steep. Sliding down is much more probable!
- The law of Biogenesis states that life does not (cannot) arise from non-living matter. Life from non-life has never been observed. The only place it is said to have happened is somewhere sometime long ago when the first life form appeared. No one observed it. Evolution says it just happened. This law says it didn’t!
- The laws of Genetics clearly show that each species has fixed boundaries. Within individual species there is change and diversification. In response to conditions or constraints, certain animals, birds, insects, etc. do evolve, as new characteristics are passed on to offspring. This is evolution within defined species and is an observed fact. But evolution of one species into another one has never been observed. Faster rabbits escape from predators like foxes, and the fittest survive, but they never become hares or greyhounds. They remain rabbits. Each species is unique and different from every other species because the genes of each are different and unique. Genes can be altered by mutation, but almost all mutations are detrimental to the species, producing features which would hinder survival.
- Information science shows that information is never created by chance or accident. Rather it is easily destroyed or degraded in that way. Computer programs, CDs, or even diaries aren’t made by accident, but can be degraded without effort! The universe is full of information, some of it coded very efficiently. Where did it come from? And codes need a ‘code reader’ to use the information. Did the code reader just come along at the right time to read the code which somehow was just there?
- The fossil record in the rocks shows a great variety and diversity of organisms with well developed features which are recognised in life forms existing today. The essence of evolution theory is that there must have been many ‘link’ or ‘hybrid’ life forms at all stages of prehistory. Fossils of these have not been found in the rocks although desperately searched for. The "missing links" are still missing! - because they are not there! Also in what are supposed to be the oldest rocks, the proposed really simple fossilised life forms are absent. Those which are found, trilobites, worms, etc., are really complex creatures.
- The age of rocks is calculated from measuring how much of a radioactive element and its product is in them. A radioactive element (e.g., uranium) changes into a stable element (e.g., lead) at a known rate which it is assumed has not altered for millions of years. From this rate, and the relative amounts of these elements in the sample, its age can be calculated. It is also assumed that there was no product (“daughter isotope” e.g., lead) there at the beginning. Now these two assumptions are probably wrong! If they are, then the age of the rocks and their fossils is much less than thousands of millions of years.
- Evolution requires a very long time for it to happen. But such a long time (millions of years?) would actually give more opportunity for degradation and loss of variety to occur at all levels. This degradation (often called loss of biodiversity) is a real ongoing process in our worldwide environment today. Extinction of species over centuries is a well established fact. Evolution of new species is an unproved theory.
- Evolution is not scientific (following the laws of science), nor probable (likely to happen), nor reasonable (making good sense). Everyday experience and common sense requires that everything we encounter has a cause, a designer, and a maker. Right now, the words you are reading, along with the meaning and sentence structure you recognise and use, didn’t come from nothing - they were planned and made so that they could convey information. Shouldn’t that be true about the eye that sees the words and the brain that sifts the information - and every part of you and me, and everything else besides? Nothing is designed, caused, and made by nothing!
So where do we go from here?
Firstly, there is a better theory of origins, and a better explanation for everything, than evolution. This theory is not contradicted by any fact of science. It is not a scientific theory as such, but it is not unscientific to accept it and believe it. It is the theory of special creation, in which you accept (believe in) the existence of an eternal, all-wise and all-powerful Creator, the author and originator of all information, energy and everything else. From that reasonable premise, everything follows logically and in keeping with our everyday experience and observation. Science studies and analyses what the Creator has put in place, but science cannot analyse the Creator because by its very nature science does not have the data for this.
Secondly, in the book we call the Bible, this Creator reveals Himself as the eternal God, who has chosen to tell us something (not everything) about Himself and His work. In this book we can learn the important facts about our origins, and by its light we may choose our destiny. Without its light men stumble in the darkness of human reasoning and faulty theory. Evolution is one example of this, accepted mainly because this alternative does have implications of accountability which many people would find too challenging and awkward. Is this why they prefer the atheism which underpins evolution?
Thirdly, as to where we do go from here, our destiny is not a guess, or a chance to take! We are told about it in the Bible. The Creator God loved mankind so much, that in spite of the well recognised mess we have made of ourselves, family life, national life, even the environment, He had a great rescue plan in place. This mess we have all made is called sin. Its penalty is death, i.e. separation from God - that would be our destiny.
But God loves each one of us so much that He sent into the world His own Son, Jesus Christ, to take away our sin, to change our destiny. To do this, He had to take sin’s penalty upon Himself. He did just that when He died on the cross - for your sin - for you personally, because He loved you. If you put your faith in Him - i.e. trust Him and accept Him as your own Saviour, He will guarantee your future and your destiny - eternal life in heaven.
Here are His own words: "Whoever hears My word, and believes on Him who sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but is passed from death into life" (John 5.24).
Millions of people all over the world have found that this is true. What about you?