Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Main Thing

Excerpts from 1 John chapters 3 & 4 - See if you can catch on to the "Main Thing"

(1)How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
(11)This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another
(14)We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
(16)This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us

(7)Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
(8)Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(9)This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
(10)This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
(11)Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(16)God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him

As Steven Curtis Chapman wrote in a song, "It's All About Love."

These verses came into sharp focus for me this morning.  You see, a situation came up in our family and I failed to show this kind of love in that situation.  All of a sudden, these verses, which I have been reading the last two days began to do their convicting work in my life. 

You know that certain groups, clubs, clicks have some kind of i.d. marker - our police, secret service, CIA etc. all have badges or identification to show who they are.  Love is the i.d. of a Christian.  This makes me wonder; how's my "identification?"

As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us never forget what brought Christ to this planet in the first place; Love.  His love for His Father, first, and His love for us, second.  Therefore, let us seek to love each other.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Light Has Dawned...

Re-Post from last year - I wrote this post last year, but God's word is timeless.  If you haven't paused to read through these passages, pause to do so now...and let your mind wander to the first Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, for many reasons.  Among them is the impact I feel spiritually as again, it sinks in the amazing gift of Jesus Christ...fully God, made Himself to become fully human.  Amazing.  One thing that is often over-looked are all of the prophecies that fore-told the coming of Messiah, Emmanuel.  If you haven't already, take some time to mediate on the following Scriptures...

Excerpts from Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

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...Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling:

In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope."

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise."

The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

"See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so will he sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand."

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost."

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor."

"And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs."

"Behold, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more."

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good Reminder

Our church is reading a series of verses together now leading up through Christmas; Tuesday's reading was from Ephesians 4:11-13 -

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

When you simply break down these three verses you arrive at some often missed or overlooked Spiritual Truths.

Truth #1: the Goal is unity!  While this section of Scripture starts with describing our differences; some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, the point is what follows that list - Unity.  Unity in Faith, Unity in Knowledge of Jesus Christ, Unity in Maturity, which results in "attaining the fullness of Christ."  Put simply, to "be like Him."

Truth #2: the reason for the gifts - "to prepare God's people for works of service."  The purpose of the gifts are to help equip and prepare God's flock for service.  To be a Christian is to be a servant.  Jesus modeled this for us when he washed his disciples feast, making it clear once and for all - He set the example for us of a life of service.  Good works that result in thankfulness towards God.  Paul alludes to this in 2 Corinthians 9:11 - "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

"So what?" you might ask...what's the point?  The point is this - as people, humans, our natural tendancy is to focus inward.  Unless we make a conscience choice to think and live outwardly, putting others first in a life of service, we will naturally fall back to our default mindset...a self-centered one.  And yet, God gives us gifts so we can serve others.  This begs the question, what kind of life are you I living?  Strive to use your gift for works of service.