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A Christmas Reflection from Alistair Begg

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christmas-nativityWarmest Christmas Greetings!

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1-2).

“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
-Matthew 2:9-11

The visit of the Magi is a familiar Christmas card scene. These men have been the subject of mystery, intrigue and speculation throughout the centuries. Who were they? What compelled them to travel so far? And what caused them to be so assured of what they would find? Matthew does not provide answers. Many years have elapsed since Daniel’s vision of the son of man and his everlasting dominion (Dan. 7). We can imagine the scholars examining this ancient prophecy and searching for its fulfillment. Remember the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. We are not told how many visitors came. In fact the absence of detail is striking.

The Magi provide a picture of men and women in every generation being drawn to a consideration of the Christ. Each of us knows friends who are familiar with the Christmas narrative but have never bowed down before Jesus as Savior, Lord and King. Sinclair Ferguson reminds us that, “only through the eyes of humility can we accept a Savior in a borrowed stable, in a borrowed manger, on a borrowed cross, laid in a borrowed tomb.” This is the miracle of grace. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble (Luke 1:51-52).

It is important to keep this in mind as we invite family, friends, and neighbors to our Christmas events. Our hope and prayer is that their eyes will be opened to see that the child in the manger is the Lord of heaven who has come seeking to save the lost. What a privilege to sing the angels’ song and to tell of the real peace that Jesus brings.

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Michael Youssef on God Keeping His Word

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night-sky-stars

Imagine looking up at the evening sky in the desert, somewhere in the Middle East, thousands of years ago. Think of all the brilliant stars you would have seen without the ambient lights of modern civilization. That’s the type of night sky Abraham would have seen when God told him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).

Read Genesis 12:1-9. God made Abraham some amazing promises: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). But despite these great promises, the difficult reality for Abraham was that he was old, and his wife Sarah, barren. How could he possibly count the stars when all the odds were against him?

God wants us to take Him at His word, even when our circumstances tell us otherwise.

In those days, Abraham did not have a Bible. He did not have a small group or discipleship program. He did not have a church. He did not have a preacher. All he had was the word of the Almighty God, calling him as He calls each of us: “Come and follow Me. Leave your life of sin. Now trust My word, and believe My promises.” 

God wants us to take Him at His word, even when our circumstances tell us otherwise. You may have been burned by the broken promises of a loved one, but God never goes back on His word. You can trust Him when He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28); “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9); “I am working for your good” (see Romans 8:28).

We, like Abraham, are waiting for all of God’s promises to be fulfilled. They are already ours, but like our spiritual father whom God called to the promised land those many years ago, we must contend in faith. We must continue to count stars, even when we see none. After all, God has given us His word, and that is enough.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your incredible promises found in Your Word. May my heart delight in them and my mind recall them in every situation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

“Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).

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Alistair Begg on Finding Peace in Christ

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The fruit of thAlistair Begg 3e Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27

During these summer months, we’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit here at Parkside and most recently, explored the nature of peace. We were both helped and challenged by Paul’s instruction to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

It’s not unusual to come across people who tell us that they’re stressed out. I recently Googled the American Institute of Stress and found an exhaustive list of potential remedies for anxiety. Included among them are acupuncture, aromatherapy, listening to music, volunteer work, keeping a daily journal, laughter, nutritional supplements, and playing with pets. The website goes on to explain that the best way to reduce stress, however, is to avoid it altogether! Suggestions for accomplishing this include getting enough sleep, eating a proper diet, avoiding excess caffeine, and taking time out to relax.

In light of all of this, we might expect our culture to be marked by a peculiar sense of tranquility. Which of course, it is not.

Thankfully, the Gospel gives us a real and permanent solution to fear and worry. There is only one source of lasting peace; and it is not found in a philosophy, or through physical therapy, or by engaging in an activity, but it is found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, the debt for sin has been settled once and for all. Our past is forgiven. Our present standing is in grace. Our future is not in question. The passions and desires of this world no longer dictate our joy.

Paul’s counsel here is good to remember when we find ourselves slipping into a state of apprehension and fear. Living out the Gospel means that we relinquish daily burdens to God by praying with supplication and thanksgiving. While our prayers may not always be answered according to our desires, we can trust that God loves us, provides what’s best for us, and, as Paul assures, grants peace beyond understanding.

Along the lines of living out the Gospel, our resource this month is titled Lessons For Life: The Collection. It comes on a USB drive and addresses Gospel-centered insights for everyday life. This compilation of messages was originally presented to college students and covers biblical instruction on issues like friendship, jealously, making the most of every opportunity, temptation, and trusting God in every situation. The messages can easily be downloaded and the USB drive then shared.

By now, you’re familiar with how much care and attention we give to the resources we select so that you benefit from the material. Let me encourage you to request your copy.

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Upcoming Highlights for Truth for Life with Alistair Begg

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thankfulliving_podcast_mp3_store_web

Thankful Living

November 29-December 13
Scripture: Selected

“God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” This is a call and response that is familiar to many of us, but how often do we stop to consider what it really means that God is good even when our circumstances are difficult? Our lives should reflect our trust in the character of God as our actions and attitudes are characterized by genuine thankfulness.

In this series of Thanksgiving holiday messages, Alistair Begg examines what it means to be truly thankful. It is more than keeping lists of the good things that we enjoy, and it can’t be produced by our own effort or resolve. Genuine thankfulness flows from a heart that has found contentment by resting in the providence of God. It is produced by the Spirit of God as we respond with transformed minds, wills, and hearts to the unchanging goodness of our Father, who works in all circumstances to accomplish His will for our good.

Listen to this series

historymysterydivinity_podcast_mp3_store_webHistory, Mystery, Divinity

December 15-23
Scripture: Luke 1

In communicating the incarnation of Christ, the gospel writers were very clear on certain key points. They were writing history, events that really happened and not legends or fables, yet those events held a deep mystery that could not be explained by natural means. The reason for this paradox is plain: the One coming to redeem the world was God Himself, divinity in the form of a human baby. In this series, Alistair Begg focuses on the principles of history, mystery, and divinity to explore Luke’s account of those who first heard about the Savior’s coming. As we observe the faith and obedience of Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Mary, we are challenged to praise God for His goodness and receive His gift of salvation.

Listen to this series

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