Archive for December, 2011

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRISTMAS

“While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth” (Luke 2:7).
No other birth in history has carried the significance of this birth.  Hope was birthed that night in Bethlehem.  The incarnational God, God in the flesh, reached into our broken and wounded world; to sit where we sit; experience what we experience.  In times of desperation, when tempted to cry, “Why doesn’t God do something?” we do well to remember that He has.  He has come into the darkness of our world to be the light of eternal hope; to remind us again and again that God is still at work; birthing new possibilities out of our present circumstances.

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INCIDENTAL GIFTS

“After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.  Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
They were truly wise.  While we most often think of the Magi in connection with the gifts they offered, the greater wisdom is seen in the giving of themselves.  Of the two verbs in this passage, “worshiped” and “presented”, that they worshiped is the most significant.  The gifts of the wise men were incidental.  The highlight is that they gave themselves to the King of kings.

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CHRISTMAS TIME

“But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…” (Galatians 4:4).

While most scholars place the birth of Jesus between 7 B.C. and 2 B.C., the church has never been certain of the specific date of Jesus’ birth. The fourth century saw Western Christianity adapt December 25 as the designated day to celebrate the birth of Christ while Eastern Christianity embraced January 6. Others still, because of the differences in the Gregorian and Julian calendar, celebrate Christmas on January 7. Whatever the date might have been, what we know for certain regarding the birth of Jesus was that, providentially, the fulness of time had come. The time was just right for the Messiah to come into the world. It was a Divinely appointed moment in history.

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BEING BEFORE DOING

“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “You shall do witnessing.”  He said, “You shall be My witnesses.”  Doing is a product of being.  When it comes to witnessing and evangelism, what is of utmost importance is being one before doing the work of one.  Of first importance as followers of Jesus is to live obediently; that the fruit of the Spirit is borne out in such a way as to make the life of faith contagious and appealing.  Emerson said it well:  “What you are speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”

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HOT OR COLD/IN OR OUT

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

I followed the lead of my one cousin who dared to dive headlong into the cold waters of my grandparents spring-fed tank.  The youngest cousin stayed out completely, declaring the waters too cold to be enjoyable.  Another waded in up to her waist, teeth chattering, refusing to go any further.  Being half in and half out is a miserable place to be.  Yet, many professing believers find themselves in that very position of precariousness.  They are lukewarm, indifferent, detached, unconcerned, and uninvolved in the work of God.  Be one or the other–hot or cold, in or out, light or dark.  Nothing is more miserable than half in and half out.

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AN ENTHUSIASTIC FAITH

“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:15).

Most have in mind a picture of Jesus that is without biblical basis.  He is envisioned as being somber; lacking in passion.  Thus, many are surprised to discover that scripture portrays Jesus as a man of great zeal for the things of God; an enthusiastic faith.  Might it, then, compel us to embrace, live, and portray our faith with the same vitality and dynamism as did Jesus.  A consuming faith is a compelling faith.

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RELIGIOUS GRUMBLING

“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:2)

That Jesus received sinners means he welcomed them.  He opened wide the door of his heart and welcomed them as friends.  It was indicative of his redeeming nature and the heart of God.  Religious people, on the other hand, grumble against, point fingers at, and accuse sinners.  It makes them feel better about themselves.  As the church, the body of Christ, our role isn’t that of a religious gate-keeper for qualified saints, but a people who open the door to sinners and say, “Welcome.”

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