Holy Child–Awesome God!

Shepherds wonder at the sceneThe Holy Child, both God and man even in His infancy. A song our church loves to sing contains the line: “Hands that lighted the evening stars reach out for comfort in Mary’s arms.” Who can comprehend God’s awesome condescension to His people–how the Divine became flesh?

Against that thought, this passage in Isaiah struck me with extra force today, as I pondered my Lord Jesus lying in the manger. Isaiah 40.10-31 speaks of who He IS and how silly it is to compare Him to impotent and ridiculous idols.

May this passage bless you today. Make sure you read the ending!

10      Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
11      He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

12      Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13      Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14      With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?

15      Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16      And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17      All nations before Him are as nothing,
And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.

18      To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
19      The workman molds an image,
The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
And the silversmith casts silver chains.
20      Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution
Chooses a tree that will not rot;
He seeks for himself a skillful workman
To prepare a carved image that will not totter.

21      Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22      It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23      He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.

24      Scarcely shall they be planted,
Scarcely shall they be sown,
Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth,
When He will also blow on them,
And they will wither,
And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

25      “To whom then will you liken Me,
Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
26      Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.

27      Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
28      Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29      He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30      Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31      But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

What Do I Need for Christmas?

The GiftAs I ponder the wonderful giving opportunities on December’s horizon, I wonder about all the things I already have.

My wife is following an idea this year to provide each of our children four gifts:

  1. Something they Wear
  2. Something they Read
  3. Something they Want
  4. Something they Need

Nice jingle, eh?

Each year it never fails…I lose myself thinking about all the stuff I own and all the things my children already have.

Christmas SweaterSomething They Wear
Sure, my kids have not mastered the art of folding their clothes neatly, but usually their drawers are difficult to shut because they are completely overflowing!

My own closet is packed with pants and shirts I don’t actually wear on any consistent basis. My wife gets upset because all my favorite shirts have holes in them. But the other ones don’t fit quite right, being too large, too small, too scratchy, too tight. Why do I keep them around?

Something They Read
Don’t even get me started on books. We have books. And we also have four nearby libraries we raid on a regular basis. Do we need another book in the house? (Whenever I ask that question, my wife gives me a look which makes me realize, yes, clearly we do. Apologies in advance, dear wife…)

Something They Want
What do I want? I mean, what do I want that fits into the category of I-haven’t-yet-bought-it-for-myself-and-it’s-within-a-reasonable-price-range. Because, let’s face it, if it’s within a reasonable price range and I really want it, I’ve probably already purchased it for myself.

My kids want…video games and LEGOs. And LEGO video games. My littlest son wants character figurines from his favorite video game.

Something they wantDo we usually want things that are good for us? The winning stocking stuffers are usually not pecans, apples, and boiled eggs. Usually they include lots of cocoa, butter, and sugar. Maybe that’s just at my house.

Something They Need
We must define “need” in order to clearly grasp this one. If you ask my children, their “needs” are actually wants. To be honest, it’s not just the children. What do I need? I need to get my truck a new radiator so I can drive it again. I need to finish putting down laminate flooring in my house (that one may not sound like a gift, but in a weird way it is). I need…

Let’s break down needs. Necessities. Air would qualify. Food qualifies. Clothing qualifies. As to the quality of those items, I don’t need the top of the line of any of those things. We eat a lot of organic food, but that’s actually a luxury. I only actually need one or two changes of clothing to live.

I have everything I need, and I always have.

PeacefulWhat I Really Need
After thinking through these four items, what do I come away with?

God has richly blessed me with physical things. I don’t just have what I need–I have much more than I really need. Must folks really have a healthy 401K? Must they live in a four-bedroom house in at least an average neighborhood? Most of the world doesn’t live this way. Why should I think I must live this way? If God has blessed me to live this way, I will praise Him! And if He chooses to take it away from me, praise Him! He will still give me what I need.

What I really need is to know Him and His Son Jesus. That’s where true life is. It’s not in all the stuff I listed above. That stuff comes and goes, ebbs and flows, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13.8).

What I really need is contentment–to be happy with what I have.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Heb. 13.5-6)

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Tim. 6.6-10)

Content people are grateful. Discontent people are complainers. If you and I can take this mindset of contentment (I have all I need) into the Christmas whirlwind of joy, cheer, and merchandising, we will experience peace amidst the chaos. Doesn’t everyone long for peace?

I pray for a peaceful month in which we all center our lives on Him who makes life worthwhile.

Jesus Is the Reason…

Frozen CherriesSo I keep hearing songs and statements around town and on the radio insisting “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Yeppers.

Sometimes it seems to me it’s almost insulting to the Lord to even make such a statement. Jesus is the reason for spring, summer, fall, and winter. Undeniably, without Jesus this world would have never begun to exist and without His continued grace it would disintegrate. How do I know this?

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1.16-18)

Christmas CoffeeIf we must remind someone to “keep Christ in Christmas,” the battle was lost long ago. I’m not saying all Christians must celebrate the birth of Christ during this season, for there are many who know the Scripture never commands such a celebration, and neither do we actually know on what day Jesus was born. Nevertheless, I worry about Christians who celebrate the holiday in such a way as to keep thoughts of the Lord at arm’s distance–as if being spiritually-minded or devotional on Christmas is wrong!

Whatever your stand on Christmas, whether you celebrate it as Christ’s birth or simply as a national holiday or whether you avoid any special celebration at all, I hope you still continue to celebrate Jesus Christ as you have all year in 2015 and will in 2016. Jesus is the reason for life!

May God’s richest blessings be with you who trust in Him. Peace be with you.