Monday, December 17, 2012

December 18, 2012

"Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Luke 1:18-20
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month." Luke 1:34-36

Have you ever noticed how most people find it easier to believe bad news than to believe good news?
When Zachariah and Mary were presented with some of the best news ever shared, they questioned it. Understandable - but not acceptable.
However, it is encouraging to notice how Gabriel responded in each case. He gave them evidence! And I believe he did so because he understood that they wanted to believe but they weren't used to such good news! so, he helped them!
In Zachariah's case, he struck him dumb, so he could not speak. At first glance it looked like a judgment, but I believe it was evidence. I think it was for Zachariah's benefit. How better to believe a supernatural report than to see something supernatural happen?
For Mary, the angel gave her two proofs, a longer-term proof - pregnancy; and a shorter term proof - her formerly barren cousin, Elizabeth's pregnancy.
Here's the good news I get from both of these examples, God not only asks to have faith, He gives it to us! When He knows we really want to believe He will give us evidence to believe. I like that! I need that!
Now on my part, I need to work on my faith until I find it easier to believe good news from God, from His Word, and by His Spirit. I must condition my faith to expect good things from the Hand of God and to know that He will also turn the bad news into good in His time! That is my part! But I can even count on His grace to help me there! And I can condition my heart and mind and spirit by saturating them in the Word of God.
So this is the good news of Christmas - for those who believe and those who are wanting to believe more - there really is only good news! There is immediate good news and there is ultimate good news! That is the God we serve! Christmas is the evidence!

December 17, 2012

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! " Philippians 2:5-8

Everyone who has ever struggled in a relationship should be thankful for Christmas!
I guess that would include about all of us! I know people who do relationships better than others but I don't know anyone who hasn't struggled with a spouse or a parent or a sibling or a co-worker or a neighbor or someone!
There is a simple reason why we struggle with relationships - SIN! That's right, sin! Sin, as in selfishness. Sin as in self-seeking! Sin as in selfish ambition. When sin rules in your heart and mind, you are a user not a lover. When sin rules in your heart and mind, you are separated from God and God is love. Sin not only brings separation it brings isolation, it brings alienation, it brings humiliation, it brings degradation, and it brings complications.
Christmas reminds us of how much God desires to be in relationship with you and me! He literally moved Heaven and earth to remove the barriers that separated us and Him. I'm not sure any of us will ever understand why He loves us that much, but the "good news of great joy" is that He does love us and Christmas proves it.
There has never been a great or more damaging relationship breech than the one that separated God and man. Only God could bridge that gap and Jesus became that bridge! Because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit He was born sinless and lived His life in perfect obedience. That allowed Him to bear the guilt and penalty of our sins!
Relationship with God is now possible through Christ! Once you enter into relationship with God, healthy relationships with others becomes possible!
As Christmas 2012 draws near, is there a relationship or two that needs some healing? I understand it takes two to heal a relationship (actually it takes three), but with God's help and with Christ's example, you can begin the healing! If Christmas can bridge the gap between God and you, is there any relationship that can't be healed?
Christmas says, "No!" What will you say?

December 16, 2012

"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."Philippians 2:7-9
I remain captivated by this rich portion of Scripture. Paul is revealing some radical concepts about the love of God and how it should impact the way you and I should love.
For centuries there has been much speculation about the Anti-Christ, who he might be and when he would appear. That will continue until it actually happens and will probably catch most of us by surprise. But, in this Scripture we see the "anti-human" nature of Christ. He WAS essentially God, but became incarnate in human flesh.
It was this mystical union of God and man that made it possible for us to be delivered from sin. Jesus possessed the very thing that led to original sin - He was God. Lucifer was not God but tried to be and sinned. Adam was not God but wanted to be and sinned. Since that original sin our human nature has been contaminated with this desire to be like God. It is a rebellious nature. It is an attempt to escape accountability. It is a desire to do whatever we desire and face no consequences.
Jesus had that in His position as the Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity. He could have clung to that. We would have! But He surrendered it and humbled Himself to become obedient to death. Because of His super-human, sinless nature, He was uniquely able to deliver us from our sins. Jesus, the Second Adam, was able to undo what Adam had done!
That is good news of great joy!