Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 28, 2016

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him 'Emmanuel' which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

There is so much good news that surrounds the Christmas story! It tells us a lot of good things about God and how much He loves us.

In two separate accounts about the coming of Christ the good news is revealed regarding God's desire to be with us. He was to reveal Himself to us. He wants to be known by us. He wants to fellowship with us. Amazing isn't it?

We have always known that God is for us. He created us! The Old Testament is filled with the news that God is for us. It it rife with demonstrations of His power and might on our behalf. There is no way you can read the Old Testament and not conclude that God is for us.

If there is someone you want to be for you it is most certainly God!

The wonder of the Christmas story is how a God Who is for us came to be with us. It happened in a most amazing and wonderfully peculiar way! Only the mind of God could conjure such a perfect plan! All the Gods of the pagans demanded that their adherents somehow measure up to their status. But our God, the true God of the universe, humbled Himself and condescended to us!

More amazing than the fact that He did it is how He did it. God called a teen-aged virgin to be the mother of His Son. This child would have to be conceived by the Holy Spirit so He could be born sinless. Why sinless? Because only a sinless Son could become an atoning sacrifice for sin. Perfect!

God, through the mystery of the incarnation, came to be with us because He was for us!

But the news is even better! The God Who is FOR us came to be WITH us because He wants to be IN us!

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God"  John 1:12

God's desire is for us to receive Him through faith in Jesus so He can fill us with His Spirit and transform our heart and mind. He wants us to deliver us from our spiritual death and darkness and lead us into His life and light! When He does that He tranforms our mind and gives us eternal life.

So here is the wonderful news of the Christmas miracle, the God Who was FOR us, came to be WITH us, so He could be IN us - because He wants us to be WITH Him for eternity!

Christmas is "Emmanuel" - God with us! 

That changes everything! 

Will you let Him change you?

November 27, 2016

"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books." II Peter 1:3-9 (The Message)

There is no reason or no excuse for failing to grow. God has built growth into everything that is healthy and alive. Peter reminds us here that God has sovereignly and supernaturally provided Christ-followers with everything they need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In this series of blogs at the end of this Thanksgiving week I have been examining how growth happens:

1) You must know what to know, then
2) You must grow in what you know, then
3) You must know how to continue to grow!

There are many things you can know and many things to know and many things you'll never know but the one thing you MUST know is Jesus!

Do you know Him?

The purpose of learning is to live better! What's the point of always learning but never applying your knowledge to every day living? Wisdom is the diligent learning of life-giving principles and then using that knowledge to improve your life skills.

Are you living wisely?

When you fully appreciate the importance and necessity of growth you will devise and implement a plan to continue growing!

Do you have one?

If so, stay at it! Since God has placed within you all you need to keep growing through His Spirit intentionally draw deeply from that well!

But if you don't I will recommend one taught to me years ago by none other that John Maxwell, one of the best-known and respected experts on personal growth!
The Plan
1) Make it a practice to personally encourage at least five other people every week! Whether it is a phone call, a tweet, an email, a text or a card via snail mail lift others up along life's way!

2) Read a chapter (at least) in the Bible daily! Billy Graham testifies that he reads one Proverb and three Psalms every day thus reading the Proverbs and the Psalms through every month! Imagine how that could stimulate spiritual growth!

3) Read a chapter a day in a good book! If you read a chapter per day you will read a book a month (at least). Leaders are readers!

4) Pray and journal every day! I have found there is something in the discipline of the empty page that inspires me to pray. The additional benefit is being able to periodically review and be reminded how God has answered prayers!

5) Schedule a day alone with God every month! Take your Bible and a pen and your notebook and listen to God in a quiet secluded spot. Write down what you hear from Him and pray for wisdom to apply it. If you can't do a day make it a half-day. You may just find it to be your best day of the month!

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail! It may be trite but it is true!

Are you planning to grow?