There is a reason a picture is worth a thousand words: our abilities to describe things are pretty limited. You know this if you have ever tried to describe a piece of outdated technology to a younger person or attempted to describe a scene for a blind person.
But our words and concepts truly fall short when it comes to describing Christ's unsurpassed gift.
The Creator became creation because He loved us.
A King served His rebellious peasants because He loved us.
A Lion offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb because He loved us.
What kind of love is that? Does any language even have a word that encompasses that mind-blowing degree of devotion?
We try, but our words and even our punctuation (!) cannot capture the grandeur of this overwhelming and scandalous love.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be call children of God!" -- 1 John 3:1
I have diagnosed more people with COVID than I care to remember or recount. Many hear the news that they have COVID as though they are receiving a death sentence. They see themselves as death men walking -- awaiting the inevitable outcome.
This may or may not be accurate, but what is true is that every member of the human race carries in themselves a death sentence. Everyone breathing today is a dead man walking. Not merely in a physical sense -- thought physical death should awaken us to the reality of looming spiritual destruction -- but in a spiritual sense.
The wages of sin (rebellion against God and His law) is death (Romans 6:23) and all have sinned (Romans 3:23). And without a doubt, these wages include physical death, but the true problem is that this death is also spiritual. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). The body dies once (Hebrews 9:27). But the soul dies forever, separated from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
And that is the true death sentence -- but thanks be to God for His indescribable gift: Jesus.
This year instead of making a New Year's Resolution for 2022, I am going to ask God to do whatever He wants in 2022. Instead of writing a bucket list for 2022, I am going to look back on 2021 and write a "backwards bucket list". I am going to remember and thank God for all He has allowed me to do and accomplish this past year.
And, Lord, if 2021 was Yours -- let 2022 be doubly so.
Christmas is one clause of God's covenant with us. A very special clause that demonstrated just how serious God was about fulfilling His end of the bargain -- no matter the cost.
Some of the contracts I signed last month -- I signed with a lot to lose. Some of the contracts I signed with nothing to lose.
When we trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we lose a lot.
We lose our old master: self. We leave behind our slavery to sin. We shed our hopelessness (Ephesians 2:11). We give up our allegiance to the world. We don't have to serve fear anymore, because death is not our final destination. And we lose the right to say "I want".
But, when we follow Christ, we gain everything:
* Peace with God forever
* Purpose that is eternal
* The Presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives
* The promise of being fruitful
* And pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11)!
I have been signing a lot of contracts recently (way more than I would like). Some of the contracts I had to return unsigned -- because I couldn't keep up my end of the deal.
God does not have this problem. He never comes across situations where He says, "Oh, now I can't be with you." There is never a time period where He thinks, "I just need one more week -- then I will be your refuge." And He never "just doesn't feel like it today"
Some of the contracts I signed after making adjustments to them.
God doesn't have a contract with us. Contracts are made because, inherently, the two parties are untrustworthy. They may flake out and not come through. They may do things that cause friction and disagreement.
There is no reason for a contract between us and God, because we wouldn't be able to keep it. And God knows this -- so He gave to us His covenant, based on His perfect, unchanging character. We enter that covenant by believing in Jesus as the Only Way to peace with God. And we stay in that covenant by the grace and forgiveness of our Lord.
Have you ever met those people who pick certain parts of the Bible to believe. . . .and some parts not to?
They make me laugh (and kind of feel like this horny toad).
If the Bible is just another book -- ignore it. It's crazy! Have you ever seen a talking donkey? (Shrek does not count :0) Or ravens who bring fast food? How about a prophet using a fish as a taxi? Or a virgin having a baby?
But if the Bible is what it says it is -- it was written by God (2 Timothy 3:16). To edit God's Word is not to say, "I know better than God", but rather: "I am God."
Good luck with that.
"I am the Lord...and My glory I will not give to another..." -- Isaiah 42:8
This three story wall in Chaco Canyon is about 1000 years old -- give or take. It is an amazing feat of engineering given the building material (not to mention the sandy terrain). How is it that we are so easily impressed by the things men do and make and so indifferent to God's works? The universe is just a little bigger than this wall. The brain just a little more intricate. And Christmas is just a bit more incomprehensible.
Day 1: Lord, let them truly know the hope of Your calling. (Ephesians 1:18).
Day 2: Savior, help them grasp of the riches of their inheritance in You. (Ephesians 1:18)
Day 3: Father, allow them to glimpse the greatness of Your power on our behalf. (Ephesians 1:19)
Day 4: God, remind them that their Advocate sits at Your right hand and they are absolutely secure. (Ephesians 1:20)
Day 5: Creator, may they trust You, who sees all. (Ephesians 1:21)
Day 6: Messiah, humble their hearts to submit themselves to You -- the head of the church. (Ephesians 1:22)
Day 7: Jesus, please plant them in Your church and fill them with Your Spirit. (Ephesians 1:23)
Prayers for Week 3
Day 1: May you experience the Holy Spirit today. (Ephesians 1:14)
Day 2: May your faith in Christ Jesus be strengthened. (Ephesians 1:15)
Day 3: May your love for the family of God flourish. (Ephesians 1:15)
Day 4: May you be inspired to pray for and support others. (Ephesians 1:16)
Day 5: May God bless you with a spirit of wisdom. (Ephesians 1:17)
Day 6: May you see the revelation in knowledge of Christ. (Ephesians 1:17)
Day 7: May your spiritual eyes be opened. (Ephesians 1:18)
Jesus' disciples teach us a lot about ourselves and our interactions with God:
First, we tend to focus on the wrong things.
Second, our requests and questions often reveal just how out of touch we are with God's plans.
Third, God is still always patient with us and desiring to hear from us -- no matter how obtuse we may be.
When we pray, we are not trying to impress God -- that will never happen; we are only trying to meet with God -- and that has already happened:
Jesus, God the Son, came to earth as a Man, walked with day laborers, ate with sinners, taught women, and loved His disciples to the end.
On the cross, Christ took on Himself the punishment of tax collectors, prostitutes, Pharisees, you and me and purchased for those who believe and follow Him entrance into heaven.
Through Jesus we are invited to meet with God, today, this moment, and forever.
Ps. Praying Through Ephesians Week 3, next week :0)
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.