Monday, December 30, 2013

The One Thing Vital to Having a New Year

You know you’re reading a good book when you stay up most of the night just to find out what happens in the end.

And you can spot a good author when she leaves you hanging at every chapter. You can’t turn the page fast enough, and you certainly aren’t ready to close the book.

I doubt you turn back and re-read previous chapters, either. 

When you come to the end of chapter 17, you eagerly turn to chapter 18. You don’t waste your time re-reading chapter 3.

You’re done with chapter 3.

It’s the law of “forgetting and reaching” (Phil. 3:13).

Paul called this “one thing.” The one thing he did in life was make sure he never stayed in chapter 3. He saw the value of every chapter in his life, but he perceived the greater value of the chapters ahead.

Every life is a story already written down—a story written by the greatest Author—the One who has been writing stories since before time began.

Every chapter is vital to the overall story. But to find out why they’re so vital, you have to close every chapter and move forward.

Reading a story is easier than living one.  It must be, because I often find myself looking back at chapter 3 . . . and chapter 9 . . . and chapter 17 . . .

But if you and I want to have a new year, it’s vital to keep every chapter we’ve already lived closed.

Living a new year means one thing: forgetting and reaching.
Two actions rolled into one.

Like turning a page.

It’s the law of forgetting the past and moving forward.

And living the story God has already written down.

2013 is about to close.

Let’s keep it closed and turn eagerly to the chapter ahead. 

Reaching forth in total dependence on the God Who will be just as faithful in the next chapter as He was in the last.

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, 
and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 
I press toward the mark for the prize 
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14).

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Are You Going to Give God for Christmas?

Ever have trouble finding just the right gift for someone?

Do you ever wonder what to give God?

What do you give Someone who owns everything? What can you give that could properly express your love?

The beautiful thing about our God is that He takes greatest pleasure in giving, not receiving.

We can rest this Christmas Day and every day in the joy of His greatest gift—the Lord Jesus Christ.

We can take pleasure in the daily good and perfect gifts He showers on our undeserving lives.

What are you going to give God for Christmas?

Let’s give Him open hands.

Hands open wide to receive all He plans to place there out of His greater love for you and me.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, 
how much more will your Father who is in heaven 
give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)


Monday, December 16, 2013

While Jesus was Lying in a Manger

I held her baby tight. 

At ten days old, his tiny body felt barely there. I was afraid I’d forget. I was afraid I’d look down and discover I’d hurt him somehow.

He laid there so trusting, so helpless. So dependent on someone else to protect him, to feed him, to keep him warm. Eyes closed in sleep. Eyes closed to a world he knows nothing about yet.

Lying so still, yet breathing strong.

I held my breath.

A newborn is a breathtaking miracle.

He has so much to learn, to experience, to hope in, to succeed in; to leave behind when his days are done.

But for now, he knows nothing but to trust.

It’s newborn instinct to trust.

Josiah Lang. Used by permission. (Thanks, Bec.)

The Image of the invisible God in whom we trust was a newborn.

A miracle, he laid still as newborns do—trusting in the arms of His mother and in a manger built for a different purpose.

His mother laid Him . . . in a manger.

But while He lay there trusting, something else was happening.

Shepherds were watching defenseless sheep through the night.

Angels appeared. They sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”

A Savior was born. A newborn.

They would find Him . . . lying (trusting) in a manger.

The shepherds ran to see the Savior.

They found Him just as the angel had said . . . lying in a manger.

They went away wondering at all they had seen and heard.

A newborn miracle. A miracle announced by angels.

The Glory of God in the highest . . . lying in a manger.

He trusted, as newborns do. He lay still in a manger. 


While Jesus was lying in a manger, He taught us to trust.

To be still.

And know that He is God.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Three Reasons Why the First Christmas Matters This Christmas

When Jesus was born, Mary pondered everything in her heart.

Shepherds wondered at all that had been told to them.

They looked into the manger, and they saw the face of God.

Imagine the Creator of the universe depending on a teenage mother.

Imagine the One who “holds all things together” having to be held.

John told us why He was born.
                He became flesh.
                He dwelt among us.
                We saw His glory. (John 1:14)

John was an eyewitness that Jesus lived and breathed and walked on this earth. He dwelt among them. They saw His glory.

Jesus was born.

But does that first Christmas really matter this Christmas?

He became flesh 2,000 years ago, so He could have a body that could bleed.
Only blood could atone for sin. And only the blood of God's Son was sufficient.

So Jesus “became flesh” long ago. He became flesh, so He could bleed.

He was born, so He could die.

And His blood was shed for many.

His birth matters today.

He dwelt among them 2,000 years ago, so He could associate Himself with our world.
He didn’t come as a full-grown man the night of the crucifixion.

And He didn’t live in a castle on a hill.

Jesus dwelt among them.

He was, and He still is Immanuel, "God with us.”

“In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

We serve a living Christ.

His birth matters today.

                They saw His glory 2,000 years ago, so He could reveal to them the nature of the Father.
Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

We see “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

We can know the very nature of the Father by looking deeply at the life of Christ.

His birth matters today.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
                He bled for you.

Find comfort in Him.
He experienced everything this broken world involves.

Trust Him.
He is the very nature of God.

His birth was the most pivotal point in human history.

The first Christmas matters this Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Was Only His First Coming

Not long before Thanksgiving one year, I saw a sign outside a day care that read:

                “Thank you, Santa Clause.”

That sign spoke volumes.

It took two of the most God-honoring holidays and combined them into a four-word statement insisting that God be ignored.

That’s what our world wants to do.

Forget Christ and simply enjoy a holiday spirit.

As a result, many are celebrating Christmas this year.

But they have no idea why.

They have no idea that Christmas means Christ came.
They have no idea that the coming of Christ was the most pivotal point in human history.

The first Christmas was only His first coming.

And a “first coming” means there will be another one.

We ought to celebrate Christmas as a reminder that He’s coming again.

We don’t know when. We only know it will be quite different.

No one will be thanking Santa Clause.

Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10,11).

No one will be exempt.

Some will bow in humility and out of recognition of who He is.

Others will have no choice but to kneel, because there will be no place to stand.

His first coming was a place of rejection, symbolized by a manger.
Our world keeps Him there—and continues to reject why He came.

His second coming will be a place of honor and recognition.
Our world will be bowing. They will know why He came.

Let’s celebrate Christmas as only a first coming.

And remember He’s coming again.