Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Start

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
2 Corinthians 5:17

It's the first day of a new year. The old year has passed away and twelve fresh months lie before us. It's a chance, in a way, to begin anew. We resolve to change some aspect of our lives to make us better. For followers of Christ, we became a new person the day we received Him. Through no effort of our own. It is a gift from God and absolutely supernatural. And the longer we walk with Him, the more change for the better we will see in ourselves. All because of Him. 

Friday, December 31, 2010

God's Plans vs. Man's Ambitions

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way."
Matthew 2:10-12

From the time of Jesus' birth there have been those who hate Him and those who love Him.  Herod feared the loss of his kingdom to the hands of the Messiah, and so he plotted to have Him killed. The maji adored Jesus, and journeyed a long distance to worship Him. Herod thought he could use the maji to locate Jesus and carry out his wicked deed, but God protected His Son and rerouted the maji back home, away from the paranoid king. Jesus had a mission to accomplish that would lead to His death, but this was not that time. The Savior must endure the agony of the cross, experience death, and then the glorious resurrection. God's plans cannot be foiled by man's ambitions. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Learn to Share

"And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."
Luke 2:36-38

Anna, descended from one of the twelve tribes, is a woman devoted to God. It seems from the text that the temple is her home. She is more comfortable there, fasting and praying, than anywhere else. When she sees Jesus she immediately gives thanks to the Father. Her passion is to speak of the things of God, and now that she has seen the Redeemer she tells others about Him. God may not call us to spend all of our time in church, like Anna, but He does want us to share the gospel of salvation with those around us. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Promise Fulfilled

"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
         According to Your word; 
    For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 
    Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
         And the glory of Your people Israel."
Luke 2:29-32

Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. Simeon, whom the Bible describes as a "righteous and devout" man, takes the babe in his arms and blesses God. Sometime in his life God had promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died.   Scripture says Simeon came to the temple "in the Spirit". Only the Holy Spirit could reveal the presence of the newborn Messiah to him. We don't know how long Simeon had to wait for the fulfillment of God's promise, but we do know that God came through. He always does. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

God With Us

"And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb."
Luke 2:21

Mary and Joseph's baby is to be named "Jesus". Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means Jehovah is Salvation. An appropriate name for the Son of God; the One who came to save. Jesus is called by many other names as well. God, Messiah, Lord, Master, Savior, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, just to list a few. It's been said there are over 700 titles and names for our Lord in the Bible. One of them, Immanuel, tells us that He is with us -- always present. And if we have received Him as Lord, then His Holy Spirit lives in us and we are never alone. What comfort this truth brings as we journey this earth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Response Required

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Luke 2:15-20

An encounter with Jesus always elicits a response. The shepherds, upon seeing the Christ child in the manger, shared the news of the Savior's birth with others. Then they went back to the fields where they had come from, in an attitude of praise to God; giving Him the glory for what had been revealed to them. Later, during the three years of Jesus' ministry, there would be those who would become His disciples; following Him even to death. Conversely, there would be those who despised Him and would turn away from His message of salvation, even to the point of betrayal. It is no different today. Some people will accept Him, others will reject Him. But either way, a decision is always required.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Great Reconciler

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest; And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Luke 2:9-14

The birth of Jesus Christ is "good news of great joy. . .for all the people".  The Messiah is born to deliver His people from the oppression of sin.  But He is not just the Savior of Israel. He is the Savior of all mankind. There is no one who is outside of His grace. There has never been One like Jesus, nor will there ever be again. He is unique. The only Son of God, born to the glory of the Father, yet existing eternally. The Alpha and the Omega. He left His heavenly home and took on flesh to carry out the plan of redemption, reconciling men to God through His shed blood. 

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