Archive for December, 2012
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
Don’t be fooled by swaddling clothes and manger scenes. The peaceful and serene depictions offered by church pageants, accompanied by tunes of Silent Night, fail to capture the chaos and brokenness of this world order into which Christ entered. The Prince of Peace waged and won the war and, thus, we are finally prepared and equipped to do battle.
“And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
While gathering with the saints for corporate worship is a formative discipline expected in the life of every believer, going to church can be deceiving. Worshipping behind stained glass while seated on padded pews can leave the impression that the life of faith is intended to be comfortable; easy; pleasant. The context of both our Savior’s birth and His eventual crucifixion comes to say otherwise. Sometimes there is a very real barnyard stench about life with painful consequences. The promise of Christmas, however, is that there is a resurrection coming.
“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth” (Luke 2:1).
Earthly kings and temporal kingdoms concern themselves with head-counts for the purpose of taxation. The Prince of Peace, who rules over an everlasting Kingdom, focuses on loving relationships for the purpose of salvation. Choose an allegiance that lasts.
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for The Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
The prophet’s almost verbatim declaration from Exodus 15:2 informs his exiled audience that the deliverance (salvation) God has in store is an event of such magnitude that it shall be the equivalent of a second exodus. This deliverance, fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ, fuels our anticipation of yet another exodus that shall be accomplished in the consummation of the ages and the return of Christ.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
It is a time of the year when so many are stressed by the concerns of spending as they seek to give everyone on their list just the right gift. To exchange the stress of playing Santa Claus, one’s attention must turn to the Prince of Peace. The true meaning of Christmas is discovered only as we humble ourselves to the posture of a beggar; that we might receive and reflect upon what the Lord Himself has given.
“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, To turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
While Christmas pageants abound this time of year the pageantry of Christmas is a timeless pursuit. The Author of the story of redemption has, Himself, given you a critical role that is to be passionately played out. Like John the Baptist, you have been cast as a forerunner who, by the way you live, act and speak, bear testimony to the saving mercies of our Lord and prepare the way for others to find Him.
“The Lord has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more” (Zephaniah 3:15)
The Advent season anticipates the intervention of God in an incarnational way. It is the fulfillment of the promises made to the suffering masses that God’s response to human pain isn’t from a distance but is assured by his very presence. His incarnational birth and sacrificial death bears testimony to his favor toward you; that His judgments against you have been removed and the occupying enemies of life have been cleared away.