Archive for December, 2012
“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.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Human love is directed to the one that is deserving; that will reciprocate; that will be of benefit. In contrast, God’s love is for the unloving; the undeserving; the broken; the sinner; the hungry, the captive; the rejected; the rebellious. In other words, he loves both you and me.
“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
These are the words of Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, spoken in regard to the pregnancies of two women–one a virgin; the other an aged relative beyond the years of child-bearing. Yet, both gave birth to a miracle. Before you counter God’s leading with “I’m too old for that” or “I’ve never done anything like that before” remember that faith calls us out into virgin territories and opportunities we have never given consideration.
“Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
Like the Apostle Paul, and though our afflictions are crippling, we must look beyond our seemingly unanswered prayers to the yet unrealized possibilities of what God is doing. Those who would remain faithful and live with hope become inspiring and trustworthy testimonies of God’s prevailing grace to those currently being shaken.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke1:41).
While both Jesus and John the Baptist are in the wombs of their respective mother’s, Luke offers us the first record of someone responding to Jesus–the unborn John sensing the presence of God’s Anointed. In a world that distracts and dulls, I pray that this season of Advent might bring a recovery of listening and hearing the voice of God’s Spirit; that our hearts might leap with vitality.
“Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Father has designed our heart to serve as the sanctuary our soul. It is a place of solitude where we dwell in peace with Him. Here, He whispers words of life not death, victory not defeat, love not hate, acceptance not rejection, value not diminishment. While the enemy seeks to speak destruction in our ear, we must abide prayerfully in the sanctuary of our heart; guarded by the Father’s peace.
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
The promise of God’s presence, provision, and power; that He is our refuge and strength cannot be realized in the busyness of the day. He will not be relegated to an incidental role in our lives. It’s only in the intentional stilling of our heart that we can possibly contemplate the greater realities that God has in store for us, and better prepare ourselves for His unfolding purposes.