What Does God Want for Christmas?

It’s Christmas time… And while you were busy buying gifts for others, did you stop to think about what God wanted for Christmas? The answer is found in Proverbs 23:26, where God says, “My son, give me your heart.” How much of your heart? Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 – quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”

What keeps us from doing so? You could perhaps answer this in several ways depending on either your perspective or your theological bias, but it could be answered with one three-letter word. Sin. Sin keeps us from loving God as we should, and even perhaps as we want (see Romans 7:15,17).

The general attitude towards sin is fascinating. I was reminded of this during a recent tangle with ill-health. It occurred to me that when we fight illness or disease, there’s nothing we won’t do to beat the disease. People submit themselves to chemotherapy – which in some cases can be brutal – and to radiation, which in certain cases can also be very harsh. People will choose amputation in order to beat disease. In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie elected to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. She did not have breast cancer, but had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer due to possessing a certain defective gene. The decision may have saved her life. And it may not. But because there was a chance – statistically, a good chance – that the surgery could save her from a life-threatening disease, she opted to have her breasts removed. A major, absolutely momentous decision.

Some people battling disease will follow stringent diets, will choose strange natural remedies (not that all natural remedies are strange), they’ll fast, travel to the furthest corners of the Earth, spend vast sums of money… all in an attempt to beat disease.

Now think with me of this clear parallel. While people – rightly – put everything they have into the fight against all manner of terrible illnesses, how much energy is put into the fight against sin? Sin is the deadliest disease known to humanity. It won’t only cost you your life in this world, but it will cost you eternal life. Not even a stroke or tuberculosis or diabetes will do that. But where’s the energy, the fervor, in the fight against sin?

Where are the think tanks assembled, the great minds studying how sin is best beaten? Where are the institutes, the research centers? What resources are committed to this? (One could argue that the church is a resource committed to this fight, which would represent a big investment. Others argue it isn’t doing an especially effective job.) Where are the people traveling the world, investing their resources, searching the internet, doing everything they possibly can so that they defeat sin rather than being defeated by it?

Yes, such people exist. But for the most part, sin is taken extraordinarily lightly, even though there is no question it will overtake the vast majority of people in the world, and possibly even in the church. Is there an urgency about this deadly disease? You might remember when AIDS became big news. People were terrified by it. Basketballers refused to take the court with Magic Johnson for fear of contracting this (misunderstood at the time) disease. And the world swept into high gear in a fight against AIDS, which while not having found a cure has resulted in vastly improved treatments.

What would the world and the church be like – what would my heart be like – if we fought sin like we fight disease? Before Jesus returns He’ll have a people waiting for Him who have learned to hate sin, to shun sin, and to embrace Him fully and completely. Be that person this Christmas time, the person whose heart is totally yielded to Christ.

Sin cannot dwell where Christ dwells. If you will surrender to Him now, and allow Him to work “in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13), you’ll see the grace of God consume you and transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2).

Thank God, we already have the answer for the battle with sin, or self, or however you’d like to describe the battle. Jesus is that answer. Give Him your heart – or allow Him to take it – and you’ll soon see that He is able to keep you from falling, and give you power and victory in the place of failure and defeat.

Give God your heart, and He will give you Jesus, grace, salvation, forgiveness.
Everlasting life.

“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15).

Costa Rica: Countdown

Prayers Needed: It Is Written Team to Preach in 11 Cities Across Costa Rica Starting Tomorrow!

This year is shaping up to be one of the busiest in It Is Written’s history. On the heels of powerful meetings in Southern Mexico, the ministry team is headed to Costa Rica today to hold 11 series across the country—including the capital city of San Jose.

From Feb. 22 – March 2, It Is Written staff members and a team of dedicated volunteers will preach in cities such as Hatillo, Pavas, San Pedro, Leon XIII, Monte de los Olivos, Los Guido – Desamparados, Jose Maria Zeledon, Dimension Profetica, Cartago, Heredia and San Ramon.

Costa Rica, a country slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia, is located between Nicaragua and Panama, and is home to 4.3 million people. All across this beautiful land, people are searching for the hope that can only be found in Jesus.

This series is being held in coordination with It Is Written’s Spanish ministry, Escrito Esta, and this effort is part of It Is Written’s evangelism push for the year.

“This is a really exciting project. We’re privileged to be partnering with some very committed Christians who are serious about making a huge impact on their country. We’re going to see God do great things!” said It Is Written Speaker/Director John Bradshaw.

The event speakers will include Pastor Bradshaw, Victor Pires, Olan Thomas, Yves Monnier, Royce Williams, Edwin Bravatti, Paul Hawks, Rob Kearbey, John Casillas, Dr. Charles Wilkens, Alan Swope and Wanda Vaz, and translation by Escrito Esta Speaker/Director Robert Costa and others.

Please pray for this team as hearts are opened in this country. The pre-work efforts have been strong, and the team is praying that many people will make a decision for Christ in the coming days!

 

Almost Time

Revelation Today Dayton is just two days away from starting. Please keep this event in your prayers.

Paris: Baptisms

A huge 2-hour baptismal service just ended in Paris. Here’s John with a quick update about this very joyful event. Watch it and be blessed.

Paris: At the Pantheon

On our way home from tonight’s powerful Le Grand Espoir meeting we stopped at the Pantheon. Watch John’s exciting report. Matthew 24:14 is being fulfilled right before our eyes.

Paris: Château de Versailles

From the Palace of Versailles: Here’s John’s insight on Lucifer’s desire to be the king of the universe. Very interesting…