Tag Archives: Christmas

1&2 Peter; Too Late

Can you celebrate the birth of Jesus and ignore the fact that He is coming again? He first came as a baby boy, grew to be a man, rocked the world at that time, and continues to rock our world after His death on the cross, and resurrection.

Christmas is not just a birthday. It’s the beginning of the end. Jesus will come again, and Peter reminds us it will be a day of reckoning. Are you ready?

I hope your Christmas holiday will be blessed with happiness and precious moments with family and friends. But I also hope – no, I pray – that when you consider that baby in a manger, you will consider how His birth has impacted you. That baby was born for love of you. That baby was born to save you.

Do you now Him? I pray you do. But if you’ve never confessed your sin and allowed Him to forgive you through the blood of Jesus, do it today. I can’t imagine a better birthday gift to give that Baby Jesus, than your heart.

Because He is coming again. It could be today. And when He comes it will be too late for you to suddenly accept what He died to give you.

May you celebrate the birth of YOUR Savior this season.

James; Humility

Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, was born in a stable, then laid in a feeding trough. The King of Kings didn’t start his life on planet Earth in a palace. His beginnings were nothing to brag about.

James talks to us about being humble. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (4:6b) “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord…” (4:10a)

As I think about Christmas 2018, it occurs to me that if Jesus could humble Himself, who am I to stand tall? Who am I to build myself up, to brag, or strive for a sense of self-worth? Everything good in my life comes from God, not by my own effort. And if I’m honest, I am nothing compared to Him.

I think that reality trips some people up today, when society tells us to believe in ourselves, to nurture self-esteem, to celebrate our “selves.” But the truth is, when we humble ourselves, when we empty ourselves and submit to God, “He will exalt (us).” (4:10b)

Jesus’ humble birth set the standard by which He lived. It’s the standard by which I want to live my life as well.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to Earth the way You did. You gave up everything to be born that day. You submitted to the Father 100%. So when You tell us to humble ourselves, you aren’t asking us to do anything You didn’t do Yourself first. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s lie that tells us to exalt ourselves. May we humble ourselves, and let you do the exalting. Help us to trust You with our “selves.”

Colossians; Chains and Open Doors

Paul is in prison. Although he is afforded some privileges, he is still chained to a wall, guarded 24/7. This letter to Colossi was written from that prison.

Paul speaks of Jesus, and points to the fact that our salvation, our redemption comes through Jesus only. He warns about mystical thinking, legalism, and the very real temptation to fall for religious sounding teaching that, in reality, is false religion. He encourages us to stand firm. I love 2:6-7:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

We need not only to know Christ, but to grow in Him through reading His Word and in prayer. Our roots need to grow deep in the Truth.

Colossians is a quick read. But I hope you’ll read it twice, let the words sink in, let your roots grow deep.

Something struck me today. I guess I’m still thinking about this season of year that can be so hard for some. Family drama, financial woes, a fearful diagnosis has some people wanting a fast-forward button. Just get me through the next few weeks, Lord.

But here Paul, in chains, asks the Colossians to pray for him. And how does he ask them to pray?

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (4:3-4)

He doesn’t ask them to pray that he’d get out of jail. He didn’t ask them to pray that his troubles would cease. He asked them to pray that God would give him an open door for ministry – not an open door to the outside.

I wonder if that couldn’t be our prayer this Christmas, too. Instead of asking God to fix our circumstances, what if we asked Him to open a door to share the true meaning of the season while our circumstances are holding us captive? What if we asked God to help us look for ways to serve Him in spite of what is going on in our lives at the moment? What if we asked God to change our sorrow to joy so that people will see the supernatural power of God in us?

Christmas holds such an amazing truth I don’t want us to forget. God Himself became a human, a baby born about as poor as a church mouse. God Himself left heaven, and chained Himself to a flesh and blood body so that He could die for sinners. God so loved the world that He came, He grew up and shared His heart with us, He died, and rose again so that we can know Him now and in eternity.

Let’s pray that God will give us opportunities to share this wonderful truth with people during the next few weeks. Instead of focusing on our chains, let’s pray for open doors.

Philippians; If You Think It, You Can Be It

There are some motivational speakers and authors who preach the power of our thoughts. “If you think it, you can be it.”

Now, I’m not discounting the fact that our thoughts have a lot to do with how we feel, and our feelings contribute to what we do. Typically, thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions. So imagining myself CEO of the company might help me to feel confident, which will give me the courage to take on those hard projects that will get noticed by those in charge. Even the Bible tells us how important is our thought-life.

This time of year, when so much focus in put on family and friendships, can be hard for some people. The loss of a loved one still feels like a knife to the heart. The empty chair, whether through death, or anger, or neglect, seems the focal point of the whole house. Every Hallmark movie, every Christmas song on the radio, every card that comes (or doesn’t come) in the mail reminds us of what is wrong.

And we get sadder, or angrier, or lonelier than we were the day before. We remember the harsh words said in our last conversation. We replay happier times, and tell ourselves we will never be that happy again. Our thoughts can swallow us whole.

But here’s some good news. Paul tells us God offers peace. Not just in good times. Paul simply says, “And the God of peace WILL BE WITH YOU.” (4:9, emphasis mine)

How? How can I find peace when my heart is broken, when anger or regret or hurt feelings occupy 90% of my day? The answer is here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He says think instead on these things:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (4:8)

Do you want peace in your heart and life? Then think about what is true. Not just about your situation, although that is certainly important. Think about what is true about God. Turn your thoughts away from yourself, and toward Him.

Think about what is noble and right. Take the high road. You might be the one who needs to swallow your pride, to reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. It’s Jesus’ example that we show love to those who are not loving toward us. It’s the right thing to do.

Think about what is pure, lovely, and admirable. Don’t let your thoughts sink to the gutter. Don’t wish someone ill. Don’t keep reminding yourself how unfair you think they’ve been. Get rid of anger, selfish ambition, jealousy, evil.

Think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Has God blessed you? Then think about that. Talk to Him about how thankful you are for what He has given you, without mentioning what you think He should give you. Praise Him for who He is to you.

Scripture tells us if we get a handle on our thoughts, the God of peace will be with us.

If you’re okay with feeling depressed, lonely, or angry this Christmas, then don’t change anything. But if you want to experience God’s peace, I’ll go so far as to promise His joy, then change your thoughts.

When Satan would nudge you with negativity, turn it into praise. Think instead on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…” think about those things instead.

If you want God’s peace, you can have it. Think about it.

December 25 – Grow In Grace

2 Peter; Jude

We celebrate the birth of Jesus today. I pray you’ve enjoyed going to church, singing the beautiful Christmas songs, reading Luke 2, and opening gifts with those you love. It’s a magical day. It’s a holy day.

God Himself took on the form of a needy newborn, and perfectly grew to become the Sacrifice for all of us. God, in flesh and blood! It’s beyond wonderful.

Peter reminds us this same Jesus is coming again. Not as another baby, but with power and glory. The heavens and earth that we enjoy today, will melt away, and we who know Him will see a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

Meanwhile, the apostle encourages us to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” to be on guard, and to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a)

My prayer on this Christmas Day is that you will allow this baby whose birth we are celebrating to do what He came to do. May you know the peace that comes from bowing to the Savior. May you love and serve Him who loved you all the way to the cross.

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (3:18)

December 24 – Treasure The Gift

2 Timothy

Twice in chapter one, Paul says something to Timothy that got my attention this Christmas Eve morning. First, in verse 6 he tells the young preacher to “Kindle afresh the gift of God.”  Then in verse 14 Timothy is told to “Guard… The treasure which has been intrusted to you.”

Are your presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for the family gathering when those things, bought with those special people in mind, will be revealed? I finished wrapping my gifts yesterday and I’m looking forward to going to church tonight, then going to my sister’s house where we will open those treasures and enjoy watching the grandkids’ excitement.

What if you’d spent everything you have on a gift for the one you love? Wouldn’t you hope they’d at least appreciate it? You’d probably want them to love it, cherish it, protect it, show it off. You’d want them to use it correctly and carefully. You wouldn’t buy it expecting them to discard or abuse it, or set it aside and neglect it. Would you? I mean it cost you everything.

This weekend we are celebrating the most precious gift you’ve ever been given. And yes, it cost Jesus everything to buy it for you. He bought it wanting you to receive it with joy, to treasure the gift of forgiveness that cost Him His own blood.

Paul tells Timothy in chapter two to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”, to be a good soldier, a fit athlete, a hard working farmer. In speaking to Timothy he tells us not to be ashamed, to be diligent, avoid worldly and empty chatter. I hope you read this letter to Timothy. It contains the owners manual for the gift God gave you through His Son.

We’ll celebrate the birth of the Savior this weekend. But we are celebrating not just a birth. We’re celebrating a life, and a death. We are celebrating the free gift of salvation this Baby was born to purchase for us. My prayer is that we will guard this gift, treasure this gift, use it and share it just like God intends for us to do.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

December 21 – He Had To

Hebrews 1-6

I read another Christmas passage, and never realized it was a Christmas passage before. The author of Hebrews in chapters 1-3, tells us why we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument, “If God were a loving God He wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” And that is a true statement. The reality is, God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell. In fact, there is no reason for anyone to go to hell.

First of all, we have to understand God is holy. He cannot NOT be holy. So when He created us with the ability to choose Him, He knew there was another side to that coin. We could also choose to reject Him. So before He created anything, He came up with a plan to save us. He created us to fellowship with Him. So He had to provide a way for us to fellowship with Him after we sin, because holiness and sin cannot exist together.

Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people ( Heb 2:17)

We are human. Humans sin. So a human had to pay the penalty for sin. (You don’t send a dog to jail to pay for a crime a person commits.)

Every transgression and disobedience receives a just penalty (the wages of sin is death) How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus) See Hebrews 2:2&3 and Romans 6:23.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because there was no other way for God to fellowship with us sinners. Jesus HAD to be born so that He could die and be that substitute for each of us.

I pray none of us will neglect so great a salvation!

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I’m glad you were born.