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Posts Tagged ‘incarnation’

Choose Joy

December 21st, 2017

Joy is both a gift and a choice. Choose joy.

“You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you to,

“Choose Joy.”

“Merry Christmas!” Such is the all too familiar greeting, but “merry,” seems an underwhelming emotion when referring to the Eternal God coming into our world. “Joyous Christmas,” seems more appropriate to the Advent season. Open your heart and home to be overwhelmed this Advent season by a sublime joy that Peter described this way, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

Inexpressible and glorious joy is the proper response to the Savior. The experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and unequaled sacrifice deserve no less. As the angel announced to the shepherds that first Christmas, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS. The good news is the same now as then, as is the promise.

However, Heaven’s joy did not originate on that first Christmas. The Incarnation simply dramatized the eternal purpose of the Father for all His creation to know inexpressible, glorious joy. Creation is described as the time when, “the morning stars sang together and all the Angels shouted for joy.” Job 38:7 NIV. That same eternal joy will fill your heart as you stand before God, “Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy.” Read Jude 24-25 NKJV. Joyfully celebrating Christmas provides your opportunity to experience His inexpressible and glorious joy every day.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Great joy is yours but never automatic. Joy is a gift God gives; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy; mature joy until the emotion becomes a disposition abounding from spiritual resources. Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me . . My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV. You have His joy, completely.

Choose joy. Share the joy. If you are silent or unclear about your joy at Christmas, why would, or should, the world be drawn at other times to the truth you tell. Consider this. Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share its joy with others. But a joy-filled message is not credible when coming from a joyless messenger. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you can’t keep something that you won’t share, and others will not believe something they do not see. When you give joy, you gain joy. That states a spiritual principle that also applies to inexpressible and glorious joy, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV.

Share the joy of Christmas every day, to every person, and in every imaginable way. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Invite, include, involve, converse, welcome, laugh, love, express life, and always be real. Celebrate joyously and without apology. Incarnate the joy of His incarnation, and the timeless message an unbelieving world cannot resist. The message of Christmas remains forever unchanged, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NKJV. Christmas offers every reason and opportunity to choose joy.

Today, I pray for you to discover the inexpressible, enduring joy found only in the Savior.

Christian Communications 2017

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Christmas Wonder

December 16th, 2014

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 NIV.

Christmas holds both the mystery of the Child and the majesty of the Christ.

This Advent, my thoughts and comments are about “Christmas wonder.”

Life presents moments that pique your curiosity until you just must know more. Some of those are coincidental; a few, but more than you might realize, are providential. I regret any time I was too busy to notice moments of divine providence. I am grateful for every time I allowed God to interrupt my plans with His opportunities. Such instances can change your course and shape your life in unexpected ways.

Christmas should be one of those times. On the first Christmas, the eternal and almighty God personally came into our world at an unexpected time (after 400 years of Heaven’s silence), to an unlikely place (to a stable, not a palace), and in an unimaginable manner (in a natural process possible only by supernatural means). The Creator became as His creation; the Eternal became subject to mortality; the Omnipotent became conventional.

Christmas holds both the mystery of the Child and the majesty of the Christ, presenting questions only God and faith can adequately answer. The Apostle Paul described the Incarnation to Timothy, his young protégé, “Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ appeared in the flesh and was shown to be righteous.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NLT. Peter simply wrote, “[We] were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 NIV.

I love the Christmas story as told by Luke. Read Luke 2:1-20. Angels fill the Judean night with praise and pronouncements to humble shepherds routinely busy about their drab and daily life. Leaving their flocks, the shepherds hurried to find this One of whom the Angels sang. Of course, the shepherds told Mary and Joseph their story, as they later, “spread the word that had been told them about this child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.” People’s “wonder” is variously translated as, “amazed, marveled, or astonished.” Christmas should arouse wonder and amazement.

Mary’s response provides my thoughts and comments today; “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 NIV. What a model of spiritual life for you and me. Mary “treasured and pondered in her heart” the words and workings of God. Spiritual discovery originates in the heart, then engages the mind for understanding and the will for appropriate action. Generations earlier, Solomon gave strong counsel, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.” Read Proverbs 4:21-27 NKJV.

Mary’s attitude was reverential; Mary “treasured” the Angel’s words that began her journey of obedience and trust, as she embraced the awe-filled story of the shepherds’ angelic visit and pronouncement, just as she would esteem the Wise Men’s journey from afar. She placed high value on all that God said and did and cherished it all in her heart.

Mary’s posture was wonder and worship. Mary “pondered” the Angel’s words. “Ponder” is the process of, “putting one thing with another in considering circumstances.” Mary was deliberate, reflective, and ultimately receptive. Mary’s reasoned response was, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for He has regarded the lowly estate of His maidservant . . for He who is mighty has done great things and holy is His name.”  Read Mary’s joyous Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55.

This Advent, my prayer is that Christmas is released in your heart with fresh wonder and discovery.

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Living Letters

January 24th, 2014

You are a letter from Christ . . written with the Spirit of the living God.” 2 Corinthians 3:3 NIV.

Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, God’s Son and your Savior.

My thoughts and comments today are about “living letters.”

Paul’s appreciative amazement is evident as he wrote, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: God [in Christ] appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believe on in the world, was taken up in glory” 1 Timothy 3:16 NIV. Those words are the clear, expansive description of the Incarnation – God becoming man that every man might be redeemed. God was manifest in the flesh. “Christ, being in very nature of God . . and being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man . .” Read Philippians 2:5-11 NIV. Read Hebrews 1:1-3a NKJV.

John marveled at the wonder of incarnation as he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word . . and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,  full of grace and truth . . No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son . . He has declared Him.” John 1:1/14/18 NKJV. Who would claim to understand the mystery and majesty of the Incarnation, that truth being well beyond our limited comprehension?

But there is much everyday that you do not understand, yet accept as truth. My Dad’s joy was being a pastor as well as a private pilot, before the popularity and affordability of commercial flights. As a young boy, I often accompanied my Dad in his small Cessna without the ability to understand or satisfactorily explain the Law of Aerodynamics. I trusted my Dad’s knowledge and experience. Nor need I intellectually explain the Incarnation of Jesus to the satisfaction of those who choose not to believe. I, for one, choose to believe the Incarnation of Jesus is true, as told in the Word of God.

Truth is more than mere facts or accurate information. Facts can change when circumstances change. Truth remains true, unaffected by past, present, or future circumstances. Truth is a Person, and that person is Jesus Christ, God’s Son and your Savior. Of Himself, Jesus said, “I am . .  the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 NLT. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth.” James 1:18 NKJV.

This is my application of today’s thoughts and comments, and my challenge to you: as God came into our world by the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, God works today in His world to bring lost people from unbelief to faith, as His Word is incarnated in the very lives that have been forever changed by the “grace and truth that came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 NIV. The dictionary also defines “incarnation” as, “a person regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality or idea.” That is meant to describe you, when God’s truth is dwelling in you and faithfully expressed in your speech and conduct.

God’s plan has not changed; God still makes Himself known by incarnating truth, as He did when “the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us.” Paul was clear; “You yourselves are our letter . . known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 NIV. People are looking and listening to know God’s truth radiating from your life.

My prayer for you today is that you be a living letter from God, received and cherished by all.

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Exhilarating Moments

December 27th, 2013

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Matthew 2:10 NLT.

Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “exhilarating moments”

Sitting in a quiet house this morning after Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between this moment and yesterday when this room was filled with our family – kids, spouses, in-laws, grandkids, a great granddaughter, and a great grandson “on the way.” There was cooking, activity, laughter, conversations, busyness, fun and games, and exchanging gifts – with loving appreciation and good will to one and all. It was exhilarating. The gifts under the tree are now opened and gone; the families have departed. Now, the calm and quiet seem deafening.

In the Christmas narrative, Matthew reports the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East. “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Read Matthew 2:1-12. Anticipation, consecration, and finally celebration marked their journey. Who were they? From where did they come? How did they know to follow the mysterious, miraculous star? How long did they journey? What prompted the gifts they gave? But I think of a more important question. How did such miraculous direction from afar and such an exhilarating moment of discovery impact the rest of their lives? Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

“They fell down and worshipped Him. Then they . . gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way.” Matthew 2:11-12 NLT. Inevitably, they returned to the routines and responsibilities of everyday life. Allow me a bit of a writer’s “poetic license” about the words, “They went home another way.” I know that refers to the Magi not retracing their steps to Jerusalem because of God’s warning them about Herod’s evil intent for the child. But for me, the words suggest a practical application: Christmas, the truth of God coming into your world, should be a permanently life-changing experience, not just an exhilarating moment.

If you understand the historical and personal reality of God loving you enough to give His Son and His Son giving Himself to be your Savior, you will not live as you did before such transformative knowledge entered your heart. Because of Christ’s birth, our calendar changed from BC to AD, “Before Christ” to “Anno Domini,” a Latin phrase that means, “Year of our Lord.” His birth changes everything and anyone forever! Christmas is a good time for lasting change. See Romans 6:4 NIV.

Jesus’ birth replaced man’s sinful plight with a spiritual destiny – any man’s history with every man’s possibilities – and man’s abysmal record with a Godly legacy, changing prejudices, temperament, habits, history, regrets, lusts, and vices. “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Phillips. Now that is an exhilarating life.

Christmas Day is past, but Christmas’ exhilarating celebration should not be over. Do you return to the usual, or does Christmas invite a new normal? Life is like that, exhilarating moments followed by the routines and responsibilities of daily life. If you can return contentedly to being who you were, doing what you were doing, and living as you pleased, then what you celebrated may have been a “Happy Holiday,” but was not the “Merry Christmas” God intends for you. Christmas is not a single day; Christmas is Christ born anew and living in your heart every day. See John 17:3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your celebration of Jesus is transformative.

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The Christmas Mystery and Miracle

December 23rd, 2013

“Great is the mystery . . God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV.

No word from God is incredible, if no work of God is impossible.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the Christmas mystery and miracle.”

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, mysterious and miraculous in every aspect. The living, eternal God came into our world – at the most unexpected time, after four hundred silent years; to the most unlikely place, a stable in Bethlehem; in the most unlikely form, a baby. You don’t have to explain the mystery; God invites you to simply embrace the miracle. Paul described this incredible but true Christmas miracle this way, “Without controversy great is the mystery . . God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV.

The heart and reason for Christmas is best expressed in the most familiar of Scriptures, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16-17 NIV. Bethlehem’s cradle foreshadowed Calvary’s cross. Isaiah prophesied, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV. Christmas is when the Father gave us His Son; the Cross is where Jesus gave us Himself as our Savior. See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV.

John described this history-changing moment with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men . . He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him, the world did not recognize Him . . The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Read John 1:1-17 NIV. The “Word” that John describes so eloquently is none other than Jesus, God’s Son. The mystery is that Jesus “became flesh;” the miracle is that He “made His dwelling among us.” Accept the mystery; believe the miracle. Jesus is, “Emmanuel . . God with us!” Matthew 1:23 NIV.

Let me remind you of the already familiar story of how this came about. Read Luke 1:26-38 NLT. An angel appeared with a startling announcement to Mary, a young, devout, not yet married, Jewish girl. Understandably, she is described as, “confused and disturbed,” by the angel’s words. Those would be normative emotions. She had questions because the miracle was wrapped in a mystery.

The angel’s cryptic answer was simple, “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” Luke 1:36-37 AMP. Read again the verse above; the Amplified Bible accurately translates the Greek words used by ancient translators. Simply stated, the Angel assured Mary – and you and me – no word from God should be thought incredible to you, when no work of God is impossible to Him. Incredible, but true! See Isaiah 55:11 NIV.

Jesus is the embodiment of the Word of God and the Word of God is the faithful expression of Jesus.“Search the Scriptures . . which testify of Me.” John 5:39 NKJV. The power of God flows from the word of God, then and now. While Jesus lived among us, He spoke to nature and the wind and waves obeyed; He spoke to disease and sickness departed; He spoke to sin and forgiveness flowed; He spoke to spiritual oppression and demons fled; He spoke to death and life returned. No word from God shall be without power nor impossible of fulfillment – spoken to Mary or to you!

My prayer for you today is that you never fail to see the miracle because of a mystery.

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