Archive for December, 2018
“Now when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth” (Luke 2:39).
The things of God cannot be left to children. Even for the Christ child, his parents, Mary and Joseph, took responsibility for the faith development of their family. Tragically, and appallingly, I have heard of parents visiting various churches and trying to find a church home on the basis of their preteen child’s preferences. Can matters of such weight truly be left to the whimsical desires of a child? If Mary and Joseph didn’t think so, maybe we should follow suit.
“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Life becomes tiresome when the routines of each day are performed with no desired end; when work is viewed as a necessary evil; when the obligations of marriage and family are a tedious grind. Many think rest is to be realized in a break from the monotony—a vacation; going out on the town with the “boys,” or a ladies night out. The rest Jesus offers, however, comes not in the absence of work, but work that is done with a sense of mission and purpose—to glorify him. To understand his vocational call is to see the “routines” of everyday life as the very platforms God has given us to glorify him.
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
Among the many paradoxes of our faith is that the greatest life lessons are learned in the worst of experiences. Character isn’t nurtured while sitting in the harbor or sailing only calm seas. Character is forged in the storms of life. We must determine whether our troubling days will be obstacles or opportunities.
“He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land” (Mark 4:1).
The gospels record several occasions when Jesus spoke to crowds numbering in the thousands. Since artificial amplification did not exist, topography, terrain, projection, and the physics of sound made it possible for Jesus to be heard. Through our speech, actions, and attitudes we amplify the reality of the gospel to a world straining to hear a word of hope over the cacophony of despairing lies that daily bombard their eyes and ears.
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
“Back in my day…” is an often heard preface to some denigrating statement about the present generation while arrogantly venerating the past, especially ones own past. Man controls neither time nor the destiny of this world. From a biblical worldview there is no such thing as my day, or your day; there is only God’s day. The Providential certainty is that His days are moving forward and his purposes will be fulfilled. Embrace the journey and look ahead with anticipation. Faith looks through the windshield of life, not the rearview mirror.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne” (Revelation 1:4).
With all the anticipation, it has come and gone. The sentimental blues we all are experiencing reveal that it was more a holiday about family than a holy day about Jesus. Sentiment is an earthly emotion that holds us hostage to former days that will never be again. Exiled to the Isle of Patmos, it would have been easy for John to lament and sing the sentimental blues for a life that once was. Instead, he has a clear vision for the future; the anticipation of what will be; a new heaven and a new earth, where no earthly emotions will ever again take us captive.
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus” (Luke 2:31).
What was a shocking revelation to Mary would become Good News for the world, and a word of salvation for those who believe. While it was the lot of Mary to bear out from her womb the Savior of the world, it is our responsibility to bear him out in our lives for all the world to see. This birth from 2000 years is without meaning until he is born anew in our hearts.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death” (Romans 7:24)?
For many, Christmas is but another reminder of the peace they have never experienced, a joy they do not feel, and the bondage that dominates each day. Above the muffled carols, crumbled wrapping paper, and the mock hilarity of the season, they share daily in the anguished cry of the apostle Paul (7:4). What emerges from under a tree is but a pretense, and offers not even a semblance of the deliverance that only Christ can bring to the hard questions of life.
“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'” (John 8:7).
Into the middle of a crowded court she was deposited by the defenders of the Law of Moses. An adulterer; caught in the very act. The trap has now been set. What will Jesus do? As they persisted, he responded with the most profound insight and, in so doing, provided a timeless caveat for anyone tempted to judge the particular sin of another. Do not miss the fact that as the only sinless one present, he chose not to throw stones but to extend grace.
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
What an enlightening reminder to the church that Jesus wasn’t some kind of religious fuddy-duddy or heavenly kill-joy. That children and the multitudes were drawn to him, at the very least, means there was something attractive and winsome about his personality. Long faces of perpetual gloom and doom are a poor representation of Good News. Have a faith that shines.