Book Preview: 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger: December 14 (Morning)

Book Preview: This is an excerpt from the book 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger, written by Shane Johnson.

A great devotional to pick up for December!


December 14 – Morning

“And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Christmas, for the world, has so much to do with receiving; but Christmas, for the Christian, has everything to do with giving. “When they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts unto Him,” the Scripture records. “What am I giving for Christmas this year,” should be the first question on our hearts, not, “What am I getting?”

The frankincense brought by the wise men from the East was an act of worship, an acknowledgement of His deity. Frankincense in ancient times was offered on altars in worship to the gods. The fact that these men had brought incense to the Babe indicates that, in their minds, He was the divine One.

Incense in the Old Testament was intricately involved with the offerings of the altar. The holy incense of the Tabernacle, which was not permitted for private use, was concocted by the perfumer and reserved for the sole purpose of worship (Ex. 30:37). Anyone who dared to use it for themselves was cut off from the people.

Likewise, in Leviticus, it was written that if anyone offered a grain offering to the Lord “…[he shall] put frankincense thereon” (Lev. 2:1). Had these wise men from the East unwittingly laid frankincense upon the sacrifice? Mary and Joseph, who were familiar with the Old Testament offerings, may have faintly understood these things.

Indeed, the infant would ultimately give Himself for us, “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Eph. 5:2). That incense would be burned at the cross and would ascend into the throne room of God, bringing pleasure to His nostrils. Like Noah’s altar of old, after the Flood, God would smell a soothing aroma arising from the cross, causing Him to say in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake…” (Gen. 8:21). The ultimate fulfillment of Noah’s offering found its counterpart at the cross. Let us send up offerings of
incense this Christmas through the praises of our lips to the One who came down to die.

The cross was cruel and bleak and dark
Beneath that flood of rage,
But Thy dear cross became our Ark
And brought us through unscathed.

We were like Cain, lost fugitives,
Young rebel Absaloms.
Thou gave Thy soul that we might live
In New Jerusalem.

Jesus, Thy great vast love sublime
Swells our poor paltry hearts.
In all Thy ways Thy beauty shines.
How good, how kind Thou art


“If you want to seriously meditate on the great truths of what really happened just over 2000 years ago, and how it shook both heaven and earth, forever, you will not be disappointed with any page of this fresh and rich devotional book written by a man I have come to respect very much.

Shane Johnson has provided us with two meditations for each day of December, predominantly with a focus on the Incarnation – God becoming a man, in real though sinless human flesh – to help us not only understand the plan of God, but to motivate us to worship and serve Him. The last few days in the book shift the focus away from the “Christmas” theme, as Shane points to a new year of putting this renewal of adoration into practice, by first addressing what we really believe.” – From the Introduction by Peter Bolton

 

Book Preview: 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger: December 8 (Night)

Book Preview: This is an excerpt from the book 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger, written by Shane Johnson.

A great devotional to pick up for December!


December 8 – Night

“Unto us a Son is given…” Isaiah 9:6

Bethlehem was not His beginning. The Eternal Son had no beginning. “In the beginning was the Word” is a truth that precedes Genesis 1:1, though written long after (John 1:1). Isaiah wrote “unto us a child is born” to mark His entrance into time as the humble babe of Bethlehem, but the balance of this verse is “unto us a Son is given,” which indicates that He was ever the Eternal Son. He was indeed born but He was never created.

Hebrews chapter 1 celebrates the truth that the Son always was. To the Son He says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” and “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands” (Heb. 1:8,10). The Son always was, always is, and always will be. As long as there has been a Father, there has been a Son.

That the Son of God would be a Child, now that was something new. Just think of it: the Eternal Son assumes the rags of our humanity for a time, becoming weaker and lower than the angels He created, in order to clothe us with His own immortality in His own righteousness. Hallelujah! Praise be to the Eternal Son! He had not given this kind of aid to angels, but He did give aid to the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:17). He did not become an angel in order to die for angels. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).

To us that Son was given. To us that child was born. Which of the angels can say, “He died for me?” “Redemption,”
“forgiveness,” and “propitiation” are words angels do not understand. To be an ambassador of God is a privilege an
archangel might envy. Let us fully rejoice in the gift of the Son this Christmas season.

Mighty Eternal Son
You breached space-time, entered a womb,
then buried Your steel into our flesh,
to suit Yourself in our costume.

Tissued, weakly Son of Man
You ambushed death inside a tomb.
Dead, You budded with new life
waiting there until You bloomed.


“If you want to seriously meditate on the great truths of what really happened just over 2000 years ago, and how it shook both heaven and earth, forever, you will not be disappointed with any page of this fresh and rich devotional book written by a man I have come to respect very much.

Shane Johnson has provided us with two meditations for each day of December, predominantly with a focus on the Incarnation – God becoming a man, in real though sinless human flesh – to help us not only understand the plan of God, but to motivate us to worship and serve Him. The last few days in the book shift the focus away from the “Christmas” theme, as Shane points to a new year of putting this renewal of adoration into practice, by first addressing what we really believe.” – From the Introduction by Peter Bolton

 

What If….?

What If Jesus Meant What He Said?

Just arrived! Check this great book out!

What if Jesus’ words were never intended to fit into your existing lifestyle? What if they were meant to change everything? What if Jesus never wanted merely part of your life? What if He wants everything?

Instead of offering easy answers, these pages ask difficult questions, leading the reader on a journey with life-altering implications.

If Jesus meant what He said, how might His words affect our relationships, investments, speech, perspectives, discipleship, spiritual disciplines, and every other aspect of life?  What if the only balanced Christian life is all-out surrender to Jesus Christ?

 

A New Book by Alexander Strauch

Paul’s Vision for the Deacons: Assisting the Elders with the Care of God’s Church

Alexander Strauch has served in the leadership and teaching ministry of Littleton Bible Chapel (near Denver, Colorado) for nearly 50 years. As a gifted teacher and a church elder with extensive practical experience, Mr. Strauch has taught in more than 25 countries and has helped thousands of churches worldwide through his expository writing ministry. He is the author of Biblical Eldership, Men and Women: Equal Yet Different, The Hospitality Commands, Agape Leadership, Meetings that Work, Leading with Love, Love or Die and If You Bite & Devour One Another. These books have been translated into over 30 languages. In recent years, he has also made an impact on churches around the world through the ministry of BiblicalEldership.com.

Check out his new book Paul’s Vision for the Deacons: Assisting the Elders with the Care of God’s Church today!

Book Review: Fisher of Men

Fisher of Men: Sharing God’s Word With Sailors at Glasgow Docks

By: Sam Laughlin

“This inspiring book relates how one man, with the heart of a true evangelist, reached out to seafarers from around the world on the many ships docked at Glasgow. In the Foreword, Alan Gamble tells how Sam Laughlin “of Ulster stock … spent most of his working life in the Clyde shipyards.” After his retirement at 65, he continued to visit the docks on a regular basis for 16 years. Together with his wife Wilma they opened their hearts and their home, welcoming strangers from all corners of the globe. Alan Gamble states that “God’s work today needs many more servants like Sam.”

The Introduction sets the scene, with Sam driving through the empty Glasgow city streets early one Christmas morning to visit the ships. This was his yearly custom, and “the ships that were in dock welcomed [him] with open arms.” Each seaman received a bag containing biscuits, a hand-knitted hat, a calendar, and a New Testament. Christian literature in their own language was also included where possible.

During his many visits to the docks as Port Missionary, with permission from Clyde Port Authority, hundreds of men and women were brought under the influence of the Gospel, and many visited Sam and Wilma’s home for supper after responding to his invitation to hear the Gospel preached on a Sunday evening at the Gospel Hall in Linthouse.

The book is divided into short chapters, with titles such as “Fire in the Galley”, “The Brave Aberdonian”, and “The Bottle Thrower”, and includes many illustrations and photographs, enabling the reader to enter into the atmosphere of Sam’s experiences, and the colourful characters that he encountered on the ships over the years.”

~ This book review was originally published by Believer’s Magazine (February 2017), written by Alan Cameron.

BOOK PREVIEW: 31 DAYS AT BETHLEHEM’S TREASURE VOL 2: DECEMBER 1

Book Preview: This is an excerpt from the book 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Treasure (Vol.2) written by Shane Johnson.

A great devotional to pick up before December 1!



December 1 – Morning

“Behold, I come, in the scroll of the book it is written of Me.” Psalm 40:7, NKJV

In 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped out of a lunar modular and placed a human foot for the first time ever on the moon. He went down in history as saying, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” Never before had mankind reached such a milestone in space exploration. For the first time ever we had breached the lunar world. We had come a long, long way.

God had come a long way, too. Stepping out of His own lunar module called Mary’s womb, after taking His first look at planet Earth, He too could say, “That’s one small step for God, one infant step, but one giant leap for mankind.” That one small step jumped the galaxies in order to breach one giant divide. Timely and eternal, small and colossal, that one infant step provided the only Mediator for all mankind. That “one small child in a land of a thousand” bridged a chasm so vast no mere human being could ever have hoped to cross it alone. That one small step forever forged a union of fragile humanity with iron divinity, creating a God-Man who would totally obliterate the sins of this world. “Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary” (At Calvary, William Reed Newell).

But that first manger step was only the beginning of a long journey that lay ahead of Him. After a brief stay in Bethlehem, the little Saviour travelled to Egypt to escape the first of the hostilities He faced on this planet, for the power hungry Herod killed every infant in Bethlehem in a vain attempt to kill Him. Then for thirty years He lived in Nazareth working as a humble carpenter, though He was the architect of the whole planet. He served in the local synagogue in appearance as a worshipper, but in reality the object of their worship. Lastly, His journey took Him through the streets and hamlets of Galilee, unknown to men but known and adored by all heaven. At the end of the line, He eventually came to Judea and to Jerusalem where He would be crucified. His visit to planet Earth would indeed be a hostile one.

Yet that first peaceful night, when the angels of heaven told the shepherds of His soft, soft landing, it was just the beginning. Just as Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon’s surface declaring the beginning of space exploration, so too the Saviour planted His flag on planet Earth, declaring He would one day redeem it in His own time. And His banner over us was love.

One tiny step is all He took
but O the gulf He spanned!
For us He donned those peasant rags
and left Immanuel’s Land.

Book Review: Tell me more about the Holy Spirit

Tell me more about… The Holy Spirit

By: Jack Hay

“This is the fifth book in the Tell me more about … series, prepared for young believers who are seeking to learn the fundamentals of “the faith … once delivered unto the saints” (Jude v 3). The writer is conscious of his diverse readership, so “complicated sentences and difficult words” are noticeably absent.

The book has four chapters – The Holy Spirit and His Work; The Holy Spirit and the Believer; The Holy Spirit and the Church; and The Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Tongues and other Miraculous Signs. These are important aspects of truth relating to the Holy Spirit that believers must grasp if they are to make progress in their understanding of the Bible, and are to appreciate the great blessings into which they have been brought. Each of the chapters concludes with a helpful summary of key points, and guidance as to further study. The author begins chapter 1 with a consideration of the word ‘trinity’; a word that Unitarian writers oppose so vehemently. He emphasises that that “there is one God” (1 Tim 2.5), and outlines the Scriptural revelation of three Persons without reverting to ancient creeds, with which few readers would be familiar.

Tell me more about the Holy Spirit also includes clear statements about other areas of controversy such as the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit. The author distinguishes Biblical terms that are often confused, such as the baptism in the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, and speaking with tongues. Clarity is a marked feature of this helpful publication.”

~ This book review was originally published by Believer’s Magazine (January 2017), written by Tom Wilson.

Book Preview: 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger: December 1

Book Preview: This is an excerpt from the book 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger, written by Shane Johnson.

A great devotional to pick up before December 1!


December 1 – Morning

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah…” Micah 5:2

Why did the Lord choose Bethlehem to birth His Son? Why not Jerusalem, the nation’s capital, or Shechem, or Jericho, or any of the other famous cities of Israel? One reason is because Bethlehem bears the signature of God. God has always bypassed the rich, the famous and the powerful of this world in favour of the meek. He has hidden Himself from the wise and prudent and has chosen to reveal Himself to babes (Matt. 11:25).

Palestine was a despised nation in the eyes of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ’s advent. Christ did not march into our world a Roman, nor set Himself up as a cultured Greek. Jesus Christ was born a Jew, despised, enslaved, unrecognized and weak. Bethlehem was “little” among the thousands of potential cities of Judah in which Messiah could have been born. Yet God chose this very place to be the black velvety cloth against which He could display His rarest diamond.

You and I are also “little” among the thousands of rich and powerful of this world, yet the Saviour chooses to dwell in us. Marvelous is the thought: He has decided to display His mighty power in these earthen vessels, these jars of clay, in order that His power and excellence might clearly be known (2 Cor. 4:7). He forsook the palace for the stable. He bypassed the kings and nobles, and instead invited the despised shepherds to witness His birth. He refused to call the chief priests and Pharisees as His disciples but chose instead unlearned fishermen and former tax collectors to be among His twelve. That is why He has chosen you and me. God has not chosen the wise, the mighty and the noble to display His glory, but has chosen “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27).

You want to be great? Then shrink yourself small.
To look a little like the Son,
Relinquish everything, give up all.
Take as your pedestal a manger stall
And of the world’s fame take none.

When He came here he erased his face,
And let His massive name be killed.
Alexander (the Great) did a little kingdom make
But next to Christ he seems ungreat.
Jesus’ name is the smallest and greatest still.


“If you want to seriously meditate on the great truths of what really happened just over 2000 years ago, and how it shook both heaven and earth, forever, you will not be disappointed with any page of this fresh and rich devotional book written by a man I have come to respect very much.

Shane Johnson has provided us with two meditations for each day of December, predominantly with a focus on the Incarnation – God becoming a man, in real though sinless human flesh – to help us not only understand the plan of God, but to motivate us to worship and serve Him. The last few days in the book shift the focus away from the “Christmas” theme, as Shane points to a new year of putting this renewal of adoration into practice, by first addressing what we really believe.” – From the Introduction by Peter Bolton

 

Book Review: By This Conquer

By This Conquer: Studies In The Epistle to the Philippians

By: Andrew Borland

By This Conquer continues Ritchie’s Classic Reprint series. Subtitled ‘Studies in the Epistle to the Philippians’, it is a verse-by-verse commentary that will prove helpful to a wide age range of readers. The name Andrew Borland was associated with Believer’s Magazine for more than three decades, and he was Editor of the Magazine for most of that period. All who remember his editorial precision will not be disappointed by his elegant prose in By This Conquer. The clarity of his writing will also be appreciated by a wider 21st century readership.

In his Foreword, the author modestly suggests that this book contains “nothing new”; he claims to leave that to “more scholarly and more original thinkers”. Yet his exposition of Philippians is much more than a re-working of other writers’ interpretations, and he parts company with many in his approach to Philippians 3.11-12. His defence of Christ’s Person, as presented in Philippians 2, is trenchant. He states clearly his defence of both the Lord’s deity and His humanity and, in so doing, he opposes emphatically those who try to have one foot in the camp that would dare to present ‘a fallible Christ’, and the other in a more fundamentalist camp. He strips aside their veneer of reverence to Christ to expose their desire to have “a non-miraculous Jesus … that leads to a purely legendary Christ.”

The chapters of By This Conquer were originally published in a monthly magazine, so every verse is not covered in the same level of detail. Many younger readers will be encouraged by the brevity of the chapters – 30 chapters are covered in 232 pages. By This Conquer is a good choice for Ritchie’s Classic Reprint Series. To those familiar with his writing, it is Andrew Borland at his best. To others who never heard him preach, or who may not have had opportunity to read his articles or books, By This Conquer will provide an introduction to an author who proved helpful to many in past generations.”

~ This review was originally published in the Believer’s Magazine (January 2017), written by Tom Wilson.