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Archive for December, 2015

Considering the focal point of the Holiday Season – the birth and meaning of Jesus, the Savior of the world – this time is a season of great joy.

But even for some who fully celebrate the Christmas Event, this still can be a very hard time of year.

What I write for you today is to first acknowledge that this may be the case for you or someone you know – that this is not a time of joy for you but a time of sorrow.

It may be that you or someone you know may dread or even resent this season.

Jesus birth in the manger

For reasons known only to you, the holiday season may involve painful memories – not for what it represents, but due to things that happened which brought you pain – instead of joy.

Others are very lonely.  And there are many more reasons for the difficulty of the holiday season, for some.

Secondly, I write to bring you hope.  This hope may even bring a change for you right now; the message I bring is that powerful (especially if you believe it and meditate on its profound truth).

However, this hope may not change your immediate circumstance.  That is, it will not bring back a loved one you greatly miss – especially during the holidays.

It may not fully remove a deep sorrow of some sort that seems to be more acute during Christmas time.

Prayer

But it is a hope above any and all hopes human beings desire.  And it is a present and eternal hope.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, the most extraordinary day in all of human history is coming.  And it is declared from heaven with infinite joy.  It’s found in Revelation 21:3-4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

The very things that God will remove on the day just described may be some or at least one of the reasons for your sorrow during this season.

Scripture is replete with the truth that God seeks to redeem every single thing which sin has touched and ruined or deeply affected in this life.

Through Jesus, there is eternal redemption – for and from our own sins first – and then for everything this life fails to provide, for too many reasons to go into here.

celtic-cross-images-monasterboice-2

Read Rev. 21:3-4 again.  This passage tells us an extraordinary thing: God knows, God cares and only He has the power and the will to perfectly redeem the pain of this life.

Note that He will wipe every tear away from His people – every tear.  He is intimately acquainted with us and with all of our ways.

He will bring about justice for the believer in Christ.  He will bring perfect healing.

The above passage tells us that when this promised day comes, any and all pain for the believer in Jesus Christ will be completely removed – and forgotten.

Friend, what a tragic thing life would be if there was no hope beyond this life, no redemption, no justice, no righting of wrongs, and no way to live the kind of life we all hope to live.

But the Word of God tells us otherwise.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, thank God right now and for several days for the above passage, and for its timeliness.  Let Him and His words build hope in you – His certain hope.

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you could not receive a better, more personal invitation than from God Himself, speaking directly to you from His Word.

kneeling in prayer

Your sins can be forgiven through Jesus Christ, who was crucified for you, to take your sins upon Himself and be judged in your place.

By yielding your life to Him forever, you will live with this eternal hope.  You can pray the following words with me and be one of those who will receive the promise He gives in the passage we just read.

Pray these words with me: Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your hope.  I have not lived my life for You, but today, that changes.  I can see that You’re here with me now; I know You’re offering me forgiveness, eternal life and redemption.

So I ask You now; take my life – I give it to You. I give You all that I am.  I will live for You all of my days.  Thank You that You have heard my prayer; thank You that You are now the Lord and Savior of my life!

Friend, if you just prayed that prayer, please let me know.  I will try to put you in touch with a group of people who prayed the same or similar thing you just did, so that you can grow as a Christian.

You need mature Christians in a good, healthy church to help you to live as a follower of Jesus.  In the meantime, get a Bible immediately and read the gospel of Luke.  If you don’t have a Bible, you can read it online: https://www.biblegateway.com/

The gospel of Luke (which I’m reading through right now) will tell you so much about Jesus, beginning from His birth and all the way to His crucifixion and resurrection – including His teaching.

Ask God to give you understanding of His Word.  Talk to Him every day.  You belong to Him and He belongs to you.  He will show you love that you have never known!

 

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What really is “the Christmas event”?  Simply put, it is God the Son — from all eternity — coming to earth as Man.

In Latin, this is called the “Incarnation,” or that process whereby Jesus was born and became fully human– His “enfleshment.”

But why would He do this?  Why should He do this?

Jesus birth in the manger

There are many reasons; I will cite but a few here: first, the pagan deities surrounding the Jews (as well as the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses) were immoral, violent, selfish, disinterested in human beings, and fond of displaying their “power” (ironically, given to them by the people who worshiped them) over their subjects.

In dramatic contrast to these deities, in the Incarnation, Jesus demonstrates God’s love, His grace, His service and His mercy to humanity.  Stunning.

Instead of coming to judge us, Jesus came to save us from the poison we all carry — our sin (John 3:16-20) — which alienates us from God and from one another.  We’re painfully reminded of sin’s effects in us and around us, every day.

Second, Jesus came to show, to demonstrate to us how to know God through His own words and actions — all of which were and remain the most stunning, satisfying and challenging teachings and examples ever known to man.

The meaning of His life and teachings can be summed up in one word: redemption.

Jesus came to redeem us from our sin through His death on the cross for us and through His resurrection from the dead on our behalf — a resurrection because He lived an obedient, perfect, sinless life on our behalf — where we all have failed.

In this, He offers us brand-new life.  He offers us His life.  We receive forgiveness and reconciliation with Him.

celtic-cross-images-monasterboice-2

We find out why we were created and what our eternal purpose is.  We are dignified, where sin had disgraced us.

One more glorious thought about this Christmas event — the Incarnation: Jesus identifies with us in every way as Man, but that does not mean He ceased to be God.

Every orthodox creed of the Christian faith (chief among them being the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed) is in full agreement that in the Incarnation, there was no subtraction of deity — only an addition of humanity.

Hence, the creeds teach us what Scripture demonstrates to us throughout: Jesus is one Person with two natures: fully God and fully Man — perfectly united and not mixed.

He never laid aside His deity in the Christmas event; He only laid aside His privileges to deity (the true meaning of the Greek word translated “emptied Himself” in Phil. 2:7), in order to obey the Father in His humanity and suffer for our sins and take our sins upon Himself.

This thought is what ought to cause us to stand in awe of Him, to worship Him, to adore Him, to exchange our sinful lives for His life and to walk with Him as He walked with the Father.

This is the true meaning of the Christmas event.  The Christmas event is not some sweet, sentimental thing — certainly not for Jesus.  It prefigured His violent death and worse, bearing your sin debt and mine.

The Christmas event means very little to you if you do not enter into it with your entire being.  You merely watch it from afar, continue on with your life unaffected by it, and one day, you will miss out on its meaning throughout eternity.

kneeling in prayer

But actually, at this moment, you can enter into this glorious event through a simple prayer, like this: “Lord Jesus, I’m tired of running from You.  I’m weary of carrying my sin.

“There is a vacuum in my heart and it cannot be filled by anything this world has to offer.  I need You.  I need the forgiveness only You can bring, because You are the Only One who died in my place.

“I give You my life; I will live for You alone.  I surrender to You now.  Take my life and use it for Your glory!”

Friend, if you prayed this prayer, please let me know.  Begin to read the gospel of John and ask God to daily reveal Himself to you.  Find a good Bible teaching church you can be part of so that you can grow.  May God bless you greatly, in Jesus’ name!

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