Archive for December, 2013
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
As we get ready for a new year, remember the new command: love others as Jesus has loved you.
Do that, and you’ll have a wonderful new year.
Christians find joy in the midst of a hard world because we know that God has saved us. Rejoice and be glad in the Lord.
His coming divided history into two parts: before his time and after his time. The Western world marks the years as B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno domini, Latin for “the year of our Lord”). Some use C.E., meaning “common era,” but the years are still counted from the time when he came.
This new year is 2014 A.D. The calculations are probably off by a few years, but the meaning is still clear: two thousand years ago, something happened that was so important that everything else is measured in relation to that event.
John, the writer of the fourth book of the New Testament, describes it this way: “The Word became flesh.” (John 1:14) The Word, the unique Son of God who was with God and was God and created everything… that Word became a human being. And nothing has been the same since.
Just as his coming marks a division in history, so his person brings everyone to a choice. We believe in him and accept him as Lord. Or we reject him as a fraud. There is no middle ground, no waffling talk of him being a great teacher or a prophet. John writes:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10–13)
He came and many rejected him, just as many reject him today. But all who accepted him, and all who accept him today, receive the right to become a child of God.
Every man’s life is divided into “Before Christ” and “After Christ.” We come to know of him, we learn about him, then we decide. We decide to reject him and all that he stands for. Or we believe in him, and receive all that he has to offer.
It’s a new year. It’s the right time for making a decision. Make this year a true “year of our Lord.”
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2–3)
God didn’t rest because he was tired. He stopped his work to set an example for mankind. We live in a world that admires the workaholic, that prides itself on skipping days off and eschewing vacations.
God says we need rest. At least one day a week. We need that time to focus on him and focus on what’s important.
Work can wait. Rest needs to have a place in our lives.
God is so much greater than we can ever understand. So let him be God. He is much better at it than we are.
“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18)
In Jesus, God was revealing himself to the world in a new way, taking human flesh and living as a man. The Incarnation is a wondrous thing: God with us, the Word made flesh, God the One and Only becoming a man.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Celebrate Jesus today. He is not just the reason for the season, he is the reason for life.
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”” (Luke 1:30–33)
Wow! Read over those words slowly and let them sink in. The angel is speaking to a young girl named Mary. Mary is a virgin. The angel tells her one thing after another, each more amazing.
- You’ve found favor with God. God has noticed you. He’s picked you out as special.
- You will be with child and give birth to a son. You’re a virgin, yet you’re going to have a baby!
- You are going to give him the name Jesus. Jesus means “savior.”
- He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. No ordinary baby. God’s own son.
- He will be king. Israel lived under Roman rule. Herod called himself king, but he didn’t really have that authority. Israel had had no king for a long time. Mary’s baby would be king.
- He will be king forever!
If it was amazing for Mary, it’s just as amazing for us. We too have God’s favor. We too received God’s Son. We too have him as king.
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11)
Jesus came to this earth so we could be restored to a relationship with God. The baby Jesus grew up so he could die on the cross for our sins.
There are many ways to announce an upcoming birth. Rarely is it done before the mother has conceived. Certainly not centuries before it was to happen. And it was odd language. “A child will be born to you.” A child for everyone. Not just a child born into his immediate family, but a child born for mankind.
It was announced again when it happened. Not just the birth of a child, but the birth of a Savior. A child born to mankind. A child born to save us. God’s own son born to a woman. So he could live like us. So he could live among us. He would be unique because he never did the wrong thing, always did the right thing. The devil tried to get him to make wrong choices but he did not. He did, however, experience what it was like to live in a messed-up world.
He was born to fix it. He was born to save us from our bad choices, our sin. He was born to die. The perfect person died for the imperfections of all of us. He paid the price for our sins. And after he died, he rose from the dead. God raised him back to life. He went home to heaven and left his followers here to keep telling this story. Someday he will come back to take those who believe in him home to heaven. So they too will be raised from the dead to live with God forever.
The child who came to die was Jesus. He lives. He invites you to believe.
That is an amazing story. It sounds too good to be true: a Savior born, a Savior died, a Savior raised to life. And then we are invited to do the same: be born again by dying with him so we can live a new life now and forever.
So you really only have to decide one thing. Do you believe in this Jesus?