Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 9, 2015

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:1-11

So, what have you done for me lately?

That's the world we live in, isn't it?

How often do you hear someone cry out to God in a desperate moment, "God, why don't you do something?" Maybe you have uttered that question before.

Christmas shouts back the answer, "God did something!"

In fact, God did everything! There is nothing more that He can do that He hasn't already done! He sent His ONLY Son to become a man, born as a baby of a virgin, to become the atoning sin sacrifice for your sins. That is all He CAN do. That is all He needs to do. He undid what the first Adam did. He redeemed us from the sins of our first parents. Through His death and resurrection He made it possible for us to be forgiven from our sins and cleansed from our sin nature. By ascending to His Father and sending the Holy Spirit He made it possible for us to live in spiritual power and purity. And, by fulfilling all these prophecies, He proved that the Word of God is true and reliable for you to live by. It is a life-giving Word.

So, as we approach Christmas God wants to ask, "What have YOU done for me lately."

December 8, 2015

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11

Everything about the events of Christmas make the world a much better place.

Peace on earth is still an illusive dream but it is actually possible now through the Prince of Peace.

But I want to comment on an aspect of the story that would contribute to world peace even for those who are not very spiritual.

A message of Christmas is this: “give up your rights and take up your responsibilities”.

Think about how much of our culture is corrupted by people demanding that their rights be honored without taking responsibility for themselves or toward others. Can you imagine how quickly our culture would improve if Americans embraced this important aspect of the Christmas message?

Obviously, as this verse declares, Christ had more rights and privileges than anyone has ever had or ever will have! But He voluntarily surrendered His rights and advantages to assume the responsibility of becoming the Savior of the world.

But, Mary, also surrendered some rights and accepted a very heavy responsibility. Had she clung to her rights, she could not have known the blessing of bearing the Son of God.

Joseph, also, refused to cling to his rights and surrendered them to take on the awesome responsibility of parenting the Son of God!

What could happen in your life if you chose to focus on your responsibilities and not cling you your rights?

Choosing responsibility over your rights IS difficult because it means you have to give up something that is natural and live up to something that is supernatural. Taking responsibility means DOING right not having rights. That is why it is so powerful – and so rare.

How would it impact your marriage? How about your parenting?

What would it do for you in the workplace?

Can you imagine what it could do for your church?

If Jesus, Mary or Joseph had clung selfishly to their rights rather than commit to their responsibilities there would have been no Christmas.

Is there an area of your life where you are clinging selfishly to your rights and refusing to take responsibility? 

How is that working for you? 

What would happen if you changed?