December 25

Today's Bible Reading
     II Chronicles 30
     Revelation 16
     Zachariah  12:1-13:1
     John 15
            “Greater love hath no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)
                        SING lullaby! Hush, do not wake the infant King,
                        Soon comes the cross, the nails, the piercing.
                        Then, in the grave at last repining, SING lullaby!
            In the best Christmas stories, is the story of a man on the Cross. A biography does not usually start with the birth and early life of its subject; in fact, when it is time to honor historical figures, we have a day set aside for them on our calendars. We don't think about them as babies. We don't keep pictures of a cuddly Abe Lincoln in a log cabin where he was born in Kentucky. In the story of Jesus, also, we must continue reading until we have finished reading the entire account. With Jesus,the rest of the story is the best of the story. The virgin birth was the first historical step toward the Cross; in fact, one theologian praised the combination of His birth and His death in this graphic sentence:  ''Theologicallyand spiritually, it is as if Jesus was born in a tomb." Just as Bethlehem, the place of His birth in Jerusalem, and the place of his death are less than 10 miles apart, so His birth and His death are very closely connected.
            Charles Dickens illustrated the truth of Christ's death for men and their sins when he allowed Sydney Carton to die in the place of Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities. All the sympathy in the world could not have kept Darnay from the guillotine once the revolutionaries had marked them for death. His only way out was through the death of a substitute. Even so, Christ died as a substitute for sinners.
            When Jesus was born, He came into fallen humanity, cursed by sin and, though He was personally free from both the sin and the curse, He took both the sin and the curse on Himself, and passed down in to death itself. We cannot now properly celebrate Christmas without realizing the Cross in the midst of it all.
            Jesus not only came to us, but He also came for us. The word ''for'' must be translated carefully here. It is a word of sympathy.It is also a word of substitution.  Jesus died, ''the Just in place of the unjust, that He might bring us to God."  (I Peter 3:18)
            So, it is true that ''greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends." As you celebrate His birth, remember He was born to die.
            As you pray for own beloved nation, pray for the U.S. prison population, which now numbers more than 3 million Americans in jail. Noother democratic nation has such a high rate.  More than half the prison population is Afro-American. Approximately 400,000 were sentenced for drug related offenses.  Pray for ministries such as Prison Fellowship International, which seeks to minister to them, win them to Christ, and rehabilitate them in society.
            ''To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge, to find the will of God is the greatest discovery, and to do the will of God is the greatest achievement."
George W. Truett