Christmas Contemplations 3

It has been said that the historic Jesus misled his followers, learning the prophecies of Scripture and going about “fulfilling” them.

That is wrong…for so many reasons.

Unless He was the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14), He couldn’t determine to whom or where He would be born.

The Wise Men were scholars who studied the prophecies and traveled far in order to worship Him.

If just anyone, Jesus would have had nothing to do with the dream Joseph had that caused them to flee to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod. The king’s edict to kill the baby boys two and younger was also a fulfillment of prophecy.

As a young child, Jesus would have had no influence on the fact that they settled in Nazareth when they returned.

These are just a few of the prophesies the historic Jesus fulfilled. They are recorded in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.

As we progress through this study, we will find many more evidences that Jesus is who the Bible reveals Him to be.

Have a blessed Christmas season and a New Year overflowing with wonder.

 

 

 

Christmas Contemplations 2

There they are: the three wise men at the manger, on Christmas cards, in Nativity scenes, etc. Were they there? No, not according to Matthew 2:11. It says they came to the door of “the house.” Surprised?

The Scriptures leave out many of the finer details of many stories, including only those we need to know. For instance, were there three wise men? Because there were three gifts, we assume so. However, we don’t know for sure. Apparently, it doesn’t really matter. But we do know they weren’t at the manger.

Why am I making such a big deal about this? As I said in Christmas Contemplations 1, I believe the Scriptures are to be taken literally – whenever the text indicates it isn’t employing a literary device.

Now, if the wise men didn’t come to the manger, what does that mean?

The star appeared well in advance of the Saviour’s birth. These men traveled a very long way.

If they came to a house, the star continued to shine for up to two years after Jesus’ birth. (Herod had all the baby boys two and under killed [v. 16].)

Mary and Joseph did, indeed, flee to Egypt [v. 14], but not immediately after the child was born.

God had His faithful followers in faraway lands. The Bible says the Hebrews were His chosen people. However, anyone who sought to worship the true God was welcomed into fellowship.

I can’t help but think of the times I’ve responded with a wholehearted YES! only to flame out just a short while later. These men studied, watched, and waited. When they saw the sign they were waiting for, they packed up their things for the long journey. They traveled through the desert, probably on camels – not the most fun, I’m sure. They approached King Herod, found the child, worshiped him, had a dream, and returned home on a route that bypassed Jerusalem. If I’m honest, I might have failed Step 1. Who knows how long they studied before the star appeared?

Does it really matter if the wise men are featured on cards? Sort of. The Christmas Story is not a myth or just a nice story. If we believe it, it has the potential to change our entire lives.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithful followers throughout history. May I become one of them. Thank You for the star that led the wise men to the Saviour. Though I’ve “found” Him, may I faithfully follow after You always – even when the prize seems a long way off. Thank You for the wise men’s sensitivity to Your guidance: the star, the dream, etc. May I recognize Your leading and walk faithfully in the way You’d have me go. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Christmas Contemplations 1

Thank you for stopping by. From now until the end of the year, I hope to add two posts per week.

Christmas can be a wonderful time of the year, especially for followers of Jesus. But we too must be careful not to get caught up in all the busyness. It helps if we focus our attention on the One who came to earth approximately 2,000 years ago.

I would like to consider what the Gospel of Matthew says about His coming.

The first seventeen verses of chapter one are a genealogy that begins with Abraham. Because the book was originally written to the Hebrew people, Matthew knew how important it was to trace back Jesus’ ancestry to the father of their faith. Jesus is referred to as “the son of David.”

However, I believe the Bible is to be taken literally when it says Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. It was the fulfillment of the prophecy that says, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” As you likely know, Immanuel means “God with us.”

So, about that busyness…We shop. We attend parties and family gatherings. We are even extra busy at church. For some, it is a difficult time. You may be lonely. You may be missing loved ones. You may be all too aware that you are not in a financial position to purchase the gifts you’d love to give.

Whether we’re running here and there or wishing the whole thing would just be over, the Scriptures reveal many amazing truths that should cause us to take a breathe and marvel at His plan.

Thank You, Lord, that You came to earth. Thank You that You were – and are – the fulfillment of countless prophecies. May we be still this Christmas season and marvel anew at the truths revealed in Your Word.

Superior

As I wrote three weeks ago, Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God, God become man. As John indicates in verses 26 and 27 of chapter one, the One who came after him was far superior to him.

I’ve been making lists of the things I’m learning about Jesus from the Gospel of John. Today,  I want to share the list I made from Chapter 1.

Jesus Christ…

–      The Word

–      with God and was God

–      Creator of all things

–      In Him was life, the light of man

–      Enlightens everyone

–      Incarnate

–      Gave the right to become God’s children to those who receive Him and believe in His name

–      Full of grace and truth

–      Ranks before John

–      From His fullness, we received grace upon grace

–      Grace and truth came through Him

–      at the Father’s side and has made Him known

–      John declared himself to be unworthy to even untie Jesus’ sandals

–      Lamb of God

–      Removes the sin of the world

–      Baptizes with the Holy Spirit

–      Son of God

–      King of Israel

As you can see any one of these truths is worth of a detailed entry. However, for this week, I just wanted to give you some food for thought.

BE BLESSED

Blessing Giver

The book of John is so incredibly rich with information about who God is. Verses 15 through 18 of chapter one alone provide enough springboards for four or five posts.

For now, I want to focus on verses 16 and 17. In the New International Version they read as follows:

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

There is a saying that is circulating around Facebook right now: “What if we woke up tomorrow with only what we thanked God for today?” (I don’t know who first said this, but it’s extremely powerful.)

“One blessing after another” is poured out into our lives daily. I must remember to thank God regularly for these blessings.

And the specific blessings John is referring to in this passage? Grace and truth.

Grace has been defined as “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” If we’ve been Christians for a long time, we might have a tendency to breeze over this saying, this concept, this word. However, if we take time to mull it over, to truly meditate on it, it will blow us away (to continue the analogy).

Grace means I do not deserve God’s favour – not one little bit.

Grace means He knows that, but loves me anyway.

Grace means I enjoy His blessings day after day after day – even when I forget to thank Him.

Truth…now there’s a word that has been tossed around a lot. Many people think they know the truth. Many think it’s relative or situational. However, Jesus refers to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is not one of many. He is the only Way, the only Truth, the only source of Life – physical and spiritual.

Does that declaration make me narrow minded, hurtful, hateful even? No. Because, if I really care for others – and I believe the Bible – I must proclaim it’s truth in hope that others would experience the blessing of a right relationship with God.

I believe He shows me truth because of His grace, not because I deserve it, not because He loves me more than the next person. I believe He will reveal truth to anyone who asks.

May you enjoy the blessings of grace and truth this day.

Incarnate

Incarnate means “embodied in flesh.”

John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (NIV). This is one of those “basics” of the Christian faith that should make us stop short, quieten our minds, and truly marvel.

Remember what verse 1 says? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NIV).

We cannot fully understand or explain the incarnation. It is one of those things we have to take by faith, but when we do, it blows us away.

People wish God would make Himself known. Come to them. Reveal His character, His will, His love. He did – approximately 2,000 years ago.

Because of His grace, those of us who did not live then, have the Scriptures. We can learn about Him in its pages. It is absolutely indispensable. Otherwise, we’d always live in confusion, believing others’ perceptions of Him or our own changing ideas.

And thankfully, our experience need not be limited to an intellectual one. Before Jesus’ went back to Heaven after His resurrection, He informed His followers that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who would lead and guide them.

Jesus Christ no longer walks among us, but the Spirit is still making Him known to this day. By reading the Bible, accepting God’s gift of eternal life, and heeding His Spirit’s direction, we can get to know Him, the One who came as God Incarnate.