Christmas Eve thoughts….
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us… John 1:14 NIV 1984
Luke 2:9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” NIV 1984 underline added
Have you ever wondered why Jesus came to the earth? What was the purpose of this? How does it affect and effect us?
If you look carefully at verses 10 and 14 I believe you will see the answers (or some of the answers) to these questions.
Verse 10… good news of great joy… For many years, I thought the point was the good news. But the truth of the matter is that the good news is that there is great joy waiting for us. And, if God thought it important enough to send the angels to announce this great joy, it must be important for us to know about it and to experience it.
While verse 10 tells us what it is, verse 11 tells us where to find it, but the answer is not geographical. Yes it was in the town of David, but more specifically, it is found in the Savior. Only in the Lord Jesus Christ will you find the joy that God has planned for you. Only through fellowship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit will you know the joy that is called the good news.
The word used for joy is “chara” which can be translated as a greatly exceeding calm delight. This is a bi-product of knowing Jesus as your Lord but it is also a primary reason that Jesus came to earth.
The affect on us is an internal emotion that can only be understood by those who experience it.
Verse 14…peace to men… To me, this used to mean that eventually everyone would be at peace with each other. And while this will happen (after Jesus returns) it is not the peace this verse refers to. The peace in this verse is the new peace between man and God; the end of the enmity between God and mankind. The peace that was established when the curtain was ripped (Mat 27:51, Mr 15:38, Lu 23: 45, Heb 10: 13-22) giving us total access to the Father through the Son.
The effect is twofold. First, because our sin debt is paid, God is now free to lavish His love on us. Second, because our sin debt is paid, we are now able to receive that love.
I believe joy and peace are the two most important reasons why the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. But keep this in mind, you will not be able to experience the joy until you accept the peace.
But some teachers would stop there and have you think this was all about us. And yes we will receive benefits of the joy and peace, but the ultimate goal is for the Father to receive glory through the joy and peace that He provides.
Dear friends, as you enjoy this Christmas season (regardless of your personal situation), realize that true joy and peace are only found in and through the Son that was born in a manger, died on a cross, and is now interceding on your behalf at the right hand of the Father. Once you accept the peace that Jesus has secured for you, then you will be able to experience the joy that He intends for you. Embrace this and you will have the Christmas spirit! Embrace this and the Father will be glorified!
That is why the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
May you be blessed by the Word of God
Religion, Relationship, or Fellowship?
I have heard it said, and said it myself, that the difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Recently I have come to understand that it is even more than a relationship; it is fellowship. I get this from 1Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. The creator of the world, the one who hung the stars in the sky, has called us into fellowship with Himself through Jesus Christ. Now, what does this look like?
From Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
: the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other…
: a friendly relationship among people
: the relationship of people who share interests or feelings
At the lowest level, Christianity is in fact a religion because it is a belief in “a” God, it is organized, it does have ceremonies and rules, and it is very important to Christians. But, that is not the full measure of Christianity nor is it God’s desire for us.
Christianity is also a relationship because it is about how God behaves towards and deal with us, and vice versa. Even though this does imply interaction and communication, it still is not the full measure of what God desires.
I believe the full measure of Christianity, the abundant life that Jesus promised us is not found in religion or relationship, but in the fellowship that God specifically identifies as His desire for us in 1 Cor 1:9.
This means interacting with the creator of the universe, the sustainer of life, in a way that focuses on His feelings and interests and being concerned about what He is concerned about. But how do we know what those things are? I looked through the scriptures and here are a few things that Father is concerned about:
Ps 96:2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Mt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:2 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Rev 7: 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…
Obviously there are many things that the Father is interested in and concerned about, but I believe these 4 items are high on His list (if that is possible). He is concerned about people praising Him and declaring His glory among the nations, He is concerned about people loving Him, He is concerned about people repenting, and He is concerned about everyone worshiping Him.
Now, because God has called us into fellowship with Him, and because fellowship means common interests, how would you rate your fellowship? Ask yourself this question; are you interested in the same things your Creator is interested in, and if not, why not?
My goal in writing this is to reveal the fullness of what Christ died for you to have. Not just a religion, not just a relationship, but a full fellowship with God the Father. I believe this fellowship is only completely realized when we realign our concerns and interests with His. Then we will truly experience life to the full through the fellowship that God has called us into.
May the Holy Spirit reveal this to you so that you can embrace it.