Christmas Child

CHRISTMAS CHILD

“For there is born unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Children are born of their mothers, into their families, not to groups of people.

Christ, already being begotten of God, had to be in a sense born again Himself through the body of Mary, thereby becoming in His earthly body like the people He came to redeem.

Unlike Adam, made fully formed as a man, Jesus went through a cycle of growth:

He understood what it was to be under parental authority, to learn at the feet of the rabbis (and later amazed them).

He knew what it was to work, play, and interact with siblings who think you’re strange.

He understood temptation to seize power, hunger, thirst, scorching heat, and freezing cold when He was in the desert, so much so that at the end of His testing the angels came to tend Him.

He understood grief, weeping at the death of Lazarus.

He marveled at the centurion’s proclamation of faith.

He understood frustration, trying to get the Pharisees to open their eyes.

He understood obedience in the face of fear in the Gethsemane Gardens.

He understood what it is to die.

But this night, He is a baby, sleeping in his mother’s arms, under His earthly father’s protection, given to us by the Father of all, and we celebrate His delivery not only to Mary, but to us, and for us.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

“For unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6

May His Holy Presence be newly born in your homes and among your families this Christmas.

Amen.

 

Devotional 25: He is Out of His Mind

Mark 3:20-21 Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”

How can it be that the family of the Messiah missed the fact that He was among them?

How could it be that His mother, who pondered the sayings of Simeon, Anna, and the Wise Men in her heart on the things concerning her Son, go after Him with His siblings, believing Him to be mentally unsound?

He is unlike anything we’ve ever known, and yet He is the most accessible to the most lowly man.

“If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” You’ve seen the heart of G-d toward mankind, that we be reconciled to Him through the spilled Blood of the Son, and come to Him through the risen spotlessness and glory of His resurrection, fastened in body, mind, and spirit to Him for eternity, as He was fastened to the cross for our mortality.

The cares of the day press down on us, however, and thoughts of Him fade as we go through the traffic and mayhem of daily life, suffering slings and arrows that assault our psyche when we would be holy, when our minds are in silent prayer, when we take a moment to sigh our thanks in an empty room, and request strength for the remainder of what lies ahead.

There are those who think us stupid to proclaim Him our Lord and Savior on the basis of faith alone, believing in the Promise of One long departed, yet alive and glorified. “The foolishness of the cross,” as the Apostle Paul says. Are we willing to be out of our worldly minds, and have them stayed on the One who came to save, or do we risk denial on earth to please man, and be cast into the outer darkness?

“I would that you were hot or cold.” Indeed, He’ll be more involved with you when you’re out of the will of God, then He will if you walk between earthly and heavenly realms of influence. He can convert sinners through the Spirit, but a double-minded person is wind-tossed, rudderless, without roots, and unstable.

Feed the spirit-man, for you cannot save the fleshly one; he is out of his mind.

That’s why He came to us.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, there are times I too, thought this message foolish, its standards untenable, its sacrifice of self too great a price to pay, and I turned, and backslid, and became a profane vessel unfit for service, unwashed within.

There are times I said that if your love is steadfast and eternal, I could indulge my fleshly desires, and it would be all right in the end.

There are times I said that the problem was with You, and not within me.

I, like Your family, like Mary herself, forgot who You were, and where You came from, and why. I was bent on backsliding, because it felt good, and eased my loneliness, and assuaged my pain in ways that I appealed to You to do, but You did not, for reasons I couldn’t understand.

So I went away and looked on the outer darkness waiting to receive me, and said it was good, and it was well with my soul.

Lord, forgive me. 

It’s I who am foolish, not the message of the cross.

It is my standards that are untenable, for they lead me to perdition.

It is the sacrifice of filthy rags of self- righteousness that is too great a price to pay.

And looking on the outer darkness, I am a blind sheep, unconcerned with Your worry as You leave the ninety-nine to come rescue a fool and bring him home, in love and grace and mercy.

Help me always to hear your voice when the void whispers prettily, and smells of jasmine and honey and clean earth, but holds the horrors of eternal separation from Your glory in unquenchable, agonizing fire that tortures my damned soul with no respite, and mocks the hope I once had as it burns the tears of sorrow away, and singes the cries of my hopeless, helpless heart on my tongue, and burns the praise from my throat.

Goad me along the narrow road to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I will not kick against them.

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 11: Job 2:9 Curse God and Die

Devotional 11: Curse God and Die

 

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

 

   Job was the target of Satan’s attack to get him to do that which his wife told him to do, but Job, though he endured the attack, would not do it.

But consider the words of his wife; they are so often dismissed, and she’s preached as one who added to his burden, in before his three friends came and began rebuking him.

As Chuck Swindoll once preached on this, I had to agree: she too, lost her children, and her position among the women of Israel.

She too, became a target of Satan’s destruction of their lives.

Job did not suffer alone, though he suffered the brunt of it.

Their enemies probably spoke of them in laughter, to see Job brought low, and the women of Israel who were jealous of his wife doubtless ridiculed her to her face.

We are not told much, because Job and his integrity are the focus of the book, but we shouldn’t be so quick to see the wife as a nag or a burden.

I’ve also heard it preached that Job called his wife foolish, but he did not; he said she speaks as one of the foolish.

He doesn’t strike me as the kind of man who’d marry a foolish woman, given that in his absence she had to deal with the daily matters of issues that accompanied his wealth, as well as raise their many children, and keep track of it all.

While it may be true she didn’t have Job’s integrity, can we truly blame for her falling into despair? She couldn’t lay eyes on her suffering husband, all of their children had been taken in a single stroke, and all of their wealth in the same manner.

Who, not having Job’s integrity, wouldn’t have a broken spirit? We have the book’s outcome and the gift of historical hindsight, but in the moment, in her position, ask yourself honestly, might you have said the same?

In a crucial time, when they should have been pulling together, he sat outside scraping himself, and left her to grieve alone, and he could have ministered to her and soothed her heart as best he could.

Had Job cursed God and died, she would have soon followed, having no hope.

But he actually did something better, because he had the integrity that he did: he strengthened her faith.

As she saw him endure day after day, he probably set an example before her, just as Abraham believed the promise of God when Sarah laughed.

If the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband, then Job’s most extreme testament of faith, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” had to make a profound impact on her, and imparted to her a stronger and higher faith in the Lord.

As the Father returned a double portion Job, he returned one to her as well, because Job, as her husband, was her covering, just as he had to pray for his friends in order to keep God’s chastising hand from them for rebuking their friend in his hour of need .

Therefore I pray:

Lord, when I fall, impart to me Your declaration of faith in me, and Your wisdom to guide me through the trial.

   Restore me to You by the Power of holy, refining fire, and purge my impurities.

   Make of me your best example, in all things, at all times.

   By the Power of the Name of my King and Savior, Jesus Christ, I ask it, knowing full well what You may do; I only ask that You be with me in it, and let me not lose sight of You, not lose the sense of Your presence, that I may know that You are there, for I don’t have Job’s integrity, and my faith is as the tide, strong at times, weak at others.

   Lord, I don’t ask for a double portion, I only ask that You not let me die, before I’ve completed the assignment You’ve called me to do, old and full of days.

   Amen.