Monday, December 19, 2011

Kinda thinkin’ about Christmas... and thinkin' 'bout those who were involved at the first one. I saw a manger. I no longer see very many mangers during this time of year, but did lately. Many in government along with those they serve, no longer think that what a manger points us to.. is the main thing for anyone.. yes, as our nation slides down the tube if you will. You'd think they'd get the clue and turn back. Wanna be different from them and keep the "manger thing" (I mean it's Message and the Master who was in it) the main thing during Christmas. Yup, don't know about you, but that's what I desire. Wanna Keep Him and His purpose the main thing all year long. 

How often do you think about those at the first Christmas? What can we learn from Joseph? What a great man he was. We can learn it's better to die to self, yes, to put God's plans and His purpose before our own. He didn't lean on his own understanding, but went with the Word. At first he wanted to put Mary away in a respectful way and not get married to her, but Joseph obeyed God instead. So many today just want to have the benefits and pleasure of marriage in a sinful fornication kinda way minus any marriage commitment, but Joseph wasn't flakey. He wanted to do all things righteously. He was an honorable and proper man. And we can learn about obedience from Him.. no matter what we feel like doing. Pleasure is so short-lived, but eternity is long. Sometimes it might not seem reasonable to obey the Lord, but we should obey Him no matter what. Why? Because a little obedience brings a whole lot of blessing.

"Then Joseph.. did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." ~ Matthew 1:24

"When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey." ~ Sammis

To obey is better than sacrifice. King Saul sacrificed religiously but didn't fully obey God, so he was greatly demoted. King David was humble and he obeyed so he was promoted in Saul's place. But we can also learn biblical obedience from Joseph's young wife, Mary, like we saw with Joseph as well, yes from this godly woman who in one context told some servants, "Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you'" (Jn. 2:5). You remember Many and how loyal she was to Jesus.   

What can we learn from Mary like during this wonderful season of the year ..or during any season for that matter? What example did she set for us? What does she teach us as we look in the same Scriptures that she believed in?

Don't you just love the good example that Mary set for us? I sure do and therefore want to keep everything in proper perspective regarding her, cuz I want to please the God that she pleased.

Mary boldly teaches us the submission of godliness. We tend to hate that "S" word but it's a good word for all of us, for the Word is our ultimate Authority. 

"Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your Word" (Lk. 1:38, nkjv).

She lived by the Word of God. Yes, Mary was  a woman of Scripture and a woman of faith. I love how she faithfully followed close behind Jesus all the way to the cross and didn't ditch Him for self preservation, for personal gain, or for fear.

There at the cross she suffered in silence, as her Son suffered and died. Hey gang, God wants us all to learn from the people of the Bible. He wants us to even learn from seeing their suffering as well. Sure we will either embrace and learn from it or we will spend our time on this earth fighting against it, trying not to have any of it. People of faith suffered at times, they didn't just confess it away. But suffering here on earth is temporary. It's only here because of man's sin. We aren't to desire it or intentionally seek it out for ourselves or to cause for others. Many think that if they purposely cause themselves to suffer, they will glorify God by that. Wrong. But suffering in this world is not God's fault, though so many blame Him for it. He ain't at all mean, but has our best interests at heart. You know this. God allows Christian people to suffer at times and He is indeed with them in it minister to em and give em His strong grace.. so that we can learn how to hate sin as He hates sin. We can learn other important lessons while in it as well. And He will also comfort us. He won't leave us alone as orphans. How could the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) comfort any Christian if none of us ever suffered? Don't hate Him for it. He suffered in obeying the Father.. for your sake. He understands and will be close to you when you suffer.   

This might sound kinda crazy or even disrespectful to some and that certainly is not my aim, but we also learn from Mary ..from her own words..  that she too needed a Savior.

Sure God existed before the incarnation, but God the Savior who was born of Mary, also wanted to (for her benefit) make Mary inside her heart born. Yes, God wanted to resurrect her dead human spirit and empower her.. to fill her to overflowing with joy and His Holy Spirit. And guess what. She was there present on the day of Pentecost with some of her kids. She was filled and empowered for more service. Sound new to you? Why was she there then? We are all to be humble servants unto our King. We all were born wrong the first time—in sin says the Bible—and that's why we all need to be born again. We all need to live filled to overflowing with God's Spirit too. But, Kurt, why do we each need to repent and be born again? Well, cuz God said, "..You must be born again" (Jn. 3:7).    

They are sadly growing in numbers out there, I mean those who are unfamiliar with the real Message of the manger. It's true. So many today are biblical illiterate, not knowing anything about Adam, Eve, Abraham, Noah, Moses etc. And most people have not yet heard the clear-cut Gospel. But we can tell them, and we have new tools to use in this with! 

I sat down with a man from Southern California and a formal denomination a few days ago as we drank some apple cider together. Robert (that's not his real name) had been in church all his life and yet he wanted to hear about my story, of how I found the assurance of my salvation. It happened in the spring of 1977. What a relief for me to find Jesus. Yes he didn't yet have this same assurance and I didn't always have this assurance so I could relate. So He asked about it ..being totally unfamiliar with the Gospel.. and I was only so thrilled to explain my testimony and the simple Gospel (not of works, but of grace alone) to him non-religious terms cuz God ain't religious. Never has been. It was a good time to chat. How cool is that! Made my day. And he listened very carefully to the Bible verses that I shared with Him as I simply pointed Him to the Jesus of the Bible who could save him... who could give him a free gift. Everyone needs this Christmas Gift that keeps on giving. He was even thankful. (I use that word "save" not to sound preachy, but because God's Word uses that word to describe such an experience). I'm praying for him now so that he can receive by faith the same gift of salvation that the people at the first Christmas needed. Mary, who was a virgin but only until after the birth of Jesus, knew that she too needed to have forgiveness and assurance of salvation. She wanted to be with her Son forever. Do you need such assurance? What present do you need more at this time of year ..than His presence? There ain't one, not even one.   

"Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said: 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Lk. 1:45-47, emph. mine).

You can't need a Savior if you aren't a sinner. Duh. I had to figure that one out on my own as a teen who had for years been taught some error about Mary. Took me awhile. 

Lots of people preach a different Jesus today of their own making and preference, but the Jesus Christ of the manger is the Bible Jesus and He is my Savior. He is God - sinless. He is the centerpiece of the entire human race. History is His story. He is in control. Yes, and He is the focus of all human history. It will be that way in the future too. He is thee Leader in the line of progress. He is the only One who can get you into Heaven and keep you from Hell (which is a real place) and keep you from purgatory (which is not a real place). Perhaps you need this Savior today? If you have not yet turned from your sin and believed.. if you do not know Him in a personal kinda way ..then you are lost. Simple as that. Not trying to guilt you, judge you, condemn you, or put "a heavy" on you. I was lost for 18 long years, but He found me and now tells me to tell. This Jesus was born to die. It was our sins that put Him up on that cross, but after He was dead and in the grave, He arose from that hole ..totally alive again. There were eyewitnesses. And you can walk with Him and biblically be used of Him to tactfully help others. You've perhaps seen pushy, puffed-up preachers talking down to people. Well that isn't what God wants you to be like. We are not to manipulate or be greedy. No worries. Just be yourself in Him and He will guide you in the right way. He will make you a blessing to be around. 

What can we learn from the wise men? We can learn to seek the Savior until we find Him. We can learn to give to Him for He first gave to us. Please don't wait any longer to address this most important personal issue. He wants you.

Like Mary needed forgiveness, we do too.

She worshipped and prayed to God alone. You can't find one verse that says otherwise, or that she talked with any saint who had passed on. What good would that do for any of us? The Bible says we have one Mediator between God and man - Jesus Christ. Yes, we can and outta follow her example in in prayer as well.. unto God. We ought to lay down all our idols and bow before God alone. He is the only One worthy of that. He is the One who longs to help and provide for you, because He loves you so.

What is your master passion today? What have you lived for up to this point in your life? I say that you were made for Christ, not for your career, or for your goals, or for your date.. if you have one, or even for your family first. You weren't made for the Church, though it's good for every believer to be a part of a local church. You were made for the praise of His glory. He gave Himself for you, but the best birthday gift you can give to Him is yourself—all of you.

"That night so many years ago which brought the Savior's birth,
Gave promise of a brighter hope: good will—and peace on earth."
~ Anon.

Do you need a brighter hope today? Let's all remember to keep the manger thing the main thing, worship Jesus alone, obey and then go tell

BTW: I took the photos of Chuck Swindoll (above) with some friends yesterday. That's his cool manger scene. 
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