Merry Reality

December 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | Leave a comment
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Truth Over Tradition

“Watch out;” “don’t pout;” “don’t cry.” Apparently, Santa is big on works-righteousness. He’s all about “don’t, don’t, don’t.”

Jesus is all about “done, done, done” (John 19:30). He did all the good works we failed to do (Matthew 3:15), cancelled out our naughty list on His Cross (Colossians 2:14), and will one day personally wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:3-4). He doesn’t save us on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His mercy (Titus 3:5).

Majesty Over Magic

Santa supposedly sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. But the best he can do is watch.

Jesus is omniscient and omnipresent (II Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 23:23-24). He knows what you are thinking and what’s on your heart (I Samuel 16:7). Plus He can protect you from harm (Psalm 23:4).

Faith Over Fantasy

Santa supposedly wants you to be good for goodness’s sake.

Jesus knows that you are incapable of being good (Isaiah 64:6) without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and that “goodness” isn’t an entity which holds you accountable. He wants to help you to do good for the glory of God, your Maker and Redeemer (I Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 5:16).

Promise Over Pretense

Santa knows if you’ve bad or good, and apparently he is intending to reward you accordingly.

Jesus knows you haven’t been good enough to deserve any presents (Romans 3:10-11), but He loves you anyway, and He will give you good and perfect gifts according to His grace (Philippians 4:19; John 1:16).

Eternity Over Error

Santa can supposedly bring you a bunch of candy, a new skateboard, or a Red Ryder BB gun.

Jesus gives you the gift of eternal life (John 3:15; Romans 6:23; I John 2:25). Nobody ever got a tummy ache, a skinned knee, or shot his eye out with eternal life.

Red ryder BB gunshoot your eye out

The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

December 27, 2017 at 11:18 am | Posted in Incarnation | 1 Comment
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In this short series I have mentioned some concepts that parents could easily discuss with their children during the holiday season:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
5. The Humanity of Jesus
And, finally:
6. The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

The cuteness of the Nativity scene can be attractive to children, there is no doubt about it. Parents need to remind kids, though, that the birth of Christ was only the beginning of His lifelong mission to:

a. Seek and save sinners (Luke 19:10; I Timothy 1:15)
b. Fulfill the Law of God (Matthew 5:17-18)
c. Minister to others and give His life for a ransom (Mark 10:45)
d. Divide the true from the false (Luke 12:51-53; John 18:37)
e. Call sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17)
f. Die for the sins of the world by satisfying the wrath of God (John 12:27; I John 4:10)

The Condescension

December 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Incarnation | 5 Comments
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Previously, I recommended that Christian parents use the holiday season to discuss some relevant theological ideas with our children, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent

Now, add the Condescension to the list. This is a good concept to explain to children when they see droplets of water forming on a frosty beverage glass. Just kidding, that’s “condensation.”

The Condescension of Christ refers to the way in which the Son of God left His throne of glory in Heaven and came to live in our world as a man. He “stooped down” or “condescended” to our level in order to identify with us in our sufferings, needs, and dependence upon God, even beginning His earthly life as a newborn baby. This is one of the tremendous blessings and features of the Gospel message, for it helps to show how much Jesus loves us and how far He went to redeem us. As you explain it to your kids, it would be good for you to get down on their level, kneeling, sitting on the floor, or bending down to demonstrate.

For those who do the Christmas tree thing, helping them hang ornaments on the lowest branches of your Christmas tree, or peering underneath at some of the waiting-to-be-opened presents, would be an ideal time for this.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

II Corinthians 8:9

Next time we will discuss the Virgin Birth.

Helpless and Hopeless No More

October 9, 2017 at 10:55 am | Posted in Luke | 9 Comments
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Jesus came to save the helpless. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Luke Chapter 2 is where we find what is known as the “Annunciation” The Annunciation is the announcement of Christ’s Incarnation. In the Incarnation God became flesh. God the Son became man while remaining God.

Why did He become a man?
1. To represent us before God
2. To identify with us in our nature
3. To fully keep God’s Law, thus becoming the perfect sacrifice for people who had broken God’s law.

As humans, left to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own merit, we are completely helpless. Jesus came as a newborn baby, and babies are helpless. They can’t eat, they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they do not even know what to think. Spiritually, we are that helpless without God.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2:4

God providentially involved others in helping Jesus, including His earthly parents, and angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

He even used shepherds.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:20

Maybe you know someone who is poor and helpless (like Joseph and Mary). Maybe you know someone who is on the “outside” of society (like the shepherds). Maybe you fit into these categories yourself. Maybe you even feel shut out of Christianity because of your sin. If so, there is Good News: Jesus wants you to come to Him – to look on Him in faith. He became helpless Himself in order to be the Great Helper to the helpless. He gave hope to the hopeless.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22

The law of Moses pointed toward the Hope, but it did not give hope itself. You can not live a “good” enough life. You can not do enough “good” things. You can not bring anything to God in order to gain entrance into Heaven. Those attempts are hopeless attempts.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

You may know someone who has given up, but the hope of Christ is always available in this lifetime.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:36-37

You may feel hopeless because no one cares about you, but Jesus cares about you. God cares about you so much that He sent His Son to give you hope, and not to be a messenger only, but to BE your Hope Himself!

Reconciled

December 21, 2012 at 11:55 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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It’s taken from Luke 2:14, and it’s my favorite lyric in any Christmas song:

Peace on Earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” by Charles Wesley (later amended by others)

The idea of “peace on earth” is pretty wonderful to think about, but it’s something that we’ve never truly experienced in our lifetimes. From family squabbles, to school yard fist fights, to problems on the job, to different political, cultural, and societal groups at each other’s throats, to war in the Middle East, we sometimes just wish the fighting would stop and we could all get along.

But the “peace on earth” that the angel proclaimed to the shepherds a little over 2000 years ago was not really that kind of “peace.” In fact, some of the people to whom God was sending peace to the Earth in the Person of His Messiah were some of the same people who would be screaming: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a short 33 years later.

Christmas is about something greater than God coming into this world to reconcile sinners to each other. It is about God coming into this world to reconcile sinners to Himself! A great price was paid so that God could bring us into mediated fellowship with Himself. We come into this world with two great needs: forgiveness and purity. We need forgiveness because we are at enmity with God from the get-go. And we need purity so that we can survive in the presence of a holy God.

The Baby born in Bethlehem on that famous night brought both of those things to us. Because He paid the price for your sins, God can and will forgive you if you trust in Jesus. Because Jesus lived every moment of every day of His earthly life in perfect peace, harmony, and obedience with God, He achieved the purity which He can impart to us.

That’s the real message and meaning of the celebration of the Incarnation, which our culture calls “Christmas.”

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Colossians 1:20 (emphasis added)


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