The Real Miracle of Christmas

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 1:1-5

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”

Hebrews 2:14

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.”

Movies abound today about the “magic” of Christmas.  Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal.  Not so much.  But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake – One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us.  He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life.  Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life – freely.

But sometimes the miracle of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christ’s birth is and what Christ accomplished in His birth.

Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing).  But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.

In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy.  He did it as a baby.  Talk about the enemy being whipped.  

This baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin.  A miracle indeed.  Holy.  Righteous.  Fully God and fully man.  How amazing.  Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air – just sayin’. And this same Christ is now revealed through us, His people.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas “spirit”, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that “Christmas feeling”. How is God leading us now to give during this season? How can we help others around us? Christ modeled what it meant to serve by giving His all. May we do the same.

The miracle of Jesus is not confined to one day. We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  The miracle of Jesus lives on in the hearts of those who choose to accept Him.

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

What a miracle this is – Christ in us. When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy, and it is a miracle indeed that He uses us at all.

Merry Christmas, all.  Be a part of the miracle in someone’s life this Christmas.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth.  I stand in awe of You.  Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are.  Love you!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 26 – Imputed Holiness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Genesis 15:6

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Philippians 3:9

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Hebrews 10:10

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

When I was first saved, discovering the miracle of Christ making me Holy completely overwhelmed me. It still does. That I could in one moment be darkened in my understanding and in the next moment be able to see my sinful condition was a miracle.

Suddenly there was a desire to be Holy. That day of salvation I threw away all my former music and craved to be like Him. I broke up with my boyfriend and chose not to date. Radical transformation because of a radical gift of salvation.

I began to grasp what it meant to be justified before a Holy God. I could not ascribe to His Holiness, so He covered me with His. Just-As-If-I-Never-Sinned. Wow. We who are in Christ are “at-one” with Him. The “atone”ment cover which conceals our sins is Christ Himself.

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God. For all eternity we will be in His presence because of what Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. Holiness imputed to the unholy ones.

This Holiness given freely was so costly, so undeserved. Those who are unclean, with sin as red as scarlet, are made as white as snow simply because they choose to believe. What a gift I am forever grateful for.

Lord, thank You for purifying our minds and hearts, our entire beings with the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. May we never forget the cost and live lives worthy of His great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 6: Revelation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 2:10

“God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Today I am thankful for the revelation of God’s salvation. When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed. Steeped in sin, we are unaware of our inability to understand the truth. By nature objects of wrath, we are completely blind to our need of God until the LORD opens our eyes and drew us to Himself.

In the moment of revelation, we are suddenly able to apprehend this great salvation – how can it be? Sweet grace of God that would show us our sin by His incredible mercy, then reveal His plan that would set us free.

Lord, thank you that You did not leave me in ignorance, but patiently helped me to comprehend Your salvation. 

Christmas Count “Up” Day 24: Jesus is coming! The Purpose of Traditions

Photo Credits goodjesuitbadjesuit.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
goodjesuitbadjesuit.blogspot.com

Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

1 Corinthians 11:2

“Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”

It is the night before Christmas and I am deep in thought and wonder.  This entire month I have reflected on what Christ’s birth meant and what He accomplished by coming in the flesh.  The culmination of this reflection ends tomorrow when we celebrate Christ’s birth.  Yet I feel I have barely scratched the surface.  I do not want to let another Christmas pass me by without being completely overcome by what our God did.

Traditions vary widely and each one represents something deeper than what is on the surface.  Often we can follow and adhere to traditions not knowing why we do.  There is a certain comfort in doing things which we have done before, even if we have forgotten why.  The original intent behind traditions has often been long forgotten or the initial meaning can become trivialized, yet we tend to cling to what is familiar.

Celebrations of Christian holidays, in particular, can lose their significance when secular ideologies come in, often with tantalizing counterfeits replacing the former tradition.  Tonight I attended a Moravian Christmas service; honestly, I had not heard of the Moravian faith and was surprised that it is said to be the first protestant denomination, emanating from a hundred years before Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg.  I wondered as people anticipated each portion of the service, if the symbolism behind each aspect of the service was still known.  We can all have good feelings when a song is sung, or a candle is lit, but do we know the meaning behind the worship we are giving?

Although I am sure many of us have last minute items we must attend to, far greater than a perfectly planned Christmas, a superbly cooked meal, or a beautifully decorated home, is pausing to worship Jesus.  The repetition of a well-known poem can spark good cheer, but sometimes even better than tradition is a new verse penned.  In closing, here is a spur of the moment poem; may it cause us to worship God in Spirit and truth.

———

‘Twas the eve before Christmas and the world was unaware – That soon their God and Creator would be there.

Not as a King ruling from a throne, but ruling in our hearts as His home.

A crude welcome He received, but offered salvation for all who would believe.

His cooing pierced the air and filled his parents with wonder; the unfolding of God’s plan to put our sins asunder.

Miracle of miracles, God in the flesh came, to bear all our sins and take our shame.

The enemy of our souls sought to thwart His plan, but none could outsmart the Son of Man.

The world was blind and could not comprehend, this Promise of God that He did send –

Was the answer to our need, and God’s purpose as well; to restore us to Himself and keep us from Hell.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night – Your Savior has come, to bring you from darkness to light!

———

May you all sleep in peace and bask in the knowledge of God’s radical selfless love for you – He came for you and gave Himself to you.  No greater gift has been given – why not give Him ourselves, as well?

Lord, thank You so much for coming to earth that we might know You.  Help us to see how great this love is and to never cease to be in wonder and amazement at You.

Christmas Countdown Day 9: The Miracle of Christmas

Photo Credits ministry127.com

Photo Credits
ministry127.com

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

Hebrews 2:14

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–

Movies abound today about the “magic” of Christmas.  Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal.  Not so much.  But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake – One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us.  He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life.  Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life – freely.

But sometimes the miracles of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christ’s birth is.  In fact, there are so many miracles in what Christ accomplished in His birth.  Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing).  But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.  In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy.  He did it as a baby.  Talk about the enemy being whipped.  But the most amazing thing is that this baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin.  A miracle indeed.  Holy.  Righteous.  Fully God and fully man.  How amazing.  Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air – just sayin’.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas “spirit”, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that “Christmas feeling”.  I felt it yesterday at a nursing home, but realized in that moment that we can have that feeling all year through.  The miracle of Jesus is not confined to a day and needs to be heard and lived out daily.  When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy.  We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  Merry Christmas, all.  Jesus loves you so very much more than you could ever imagine!

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth.  I stand in awe of You.  Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are.  Love you!

The Trusting Fool

Photo credits christinequong.ca

Photo credits christinequong.ca

Jeremiah 17:5, 7

“The Lord says, ‘I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the LORD.  7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me.  10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.  I examine people’s hearts.  I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.  I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.'”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

Trusting in a God who is not visible seems impractical in our sophisticated world.  Laughter perhaps emerges from others over our foolishness to place our faith in God as our Deliverer rather than something or someone seen.  It seems naive, fantasaical, maybe even crazy.  It is far easier to depend on flesh and blood – a relative, a friend, a government.  But what happens when these are unreliable?  Seeking to protect ourselves from being let down by others, we attempt to be self-sufficient.  That does not work for long, either.  What are we afraid of?  Why not trust God with every aspect of our lives?  Perhaps we are even afraid of God letting us down.  Is He really good?  Does He really control everything?  Why does He permit difficulties in our lives and seemingly tolerate evil?  Can He be trusted?

It might seem harsh to think of being cursed by God for leaning on someone else.  Depending on a friend or a family member seems harmless enough.  In fact, a brother is born for times of adversity.  So why such strong language in the above verse?  The hearts of God’s people had turned away from the LORD – because of looking to someone else for salvation.  Worshiping the false god Baal, God’s people stooped to offering their own children in flames and participating in cannibalism.  While the level they sank to seems like something we would never do, are we guilty of equivalent actions by our heart serving false gods, too?  Are we diligent to protect our children from the influence of the world, or do we offer them up to the god of this culture – materialism, entertainment or comfort?

It can start easily enough – we are tired and worn – maybe a little entertainment will bring some relief.  The gradual drift away from running to God becomes a craving to be numb from pain, maybe sprinkled with a little country club Christianity or religion.  But these things were never meant to satisfy the God-placed hole in our heart that can only be satisfied by knowing God.  God does not want us to be deceived – He alone is the One Who supplies all we need. He used other people and organizations to provide for us, but it is Him – the One Who made us, the One Who saved us, who we need to place our trust in.  A job is not our Provider – it is a vehicle of provision.  A generous friend or family member is not our Savior – God moved on their heart to bless.  So how do we place our trust and confidence in God?  By going before Him, crying out and searching His Word.

There are so many testimonies of God’s goodness and answers to prayers, I could fill a novel.  But one case in particular, I hope will encourage your heart that God is trustworthy and will never let you down.  His answer might not be what you want, but He will carry you through all of life’s trials.  I was twenty-six and expecting with my daughter, Deborah, when the doctors informed me that the pregnancy was going to end in another miscarriage.  My spirit said differently.  I opened God’s Word and placed my trust and confidence in Him.  I also did practical things such as resting, but the blood work continued to show that the pregnancy was not viable.  The doctors insisted that they would need to give me a shot to reabsorb the fetus – it was not a valid pregnancy.  I declined their solution and told them I knew God was going to save my child.  They called me a fool for trusting God.  Deborah is now a lovely 18-year-old with a lot of wisdom and love for God.  I thank God for His promises and for being a living God, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

There are also testimonies of God allowing hardship in, but amazing faith and grace to walk through them.  Comfortable?  No – but at peace.  Do you need hope today?  It can be hard to keep that optimistic spirit alive when troubles abound, but our confidence can be in the Alpha and Omega, the One Who has always been and will always be.  No matter what surrounds us, we can trust in and be encompassed about by the living God.  There are a lot of fools who have gone before us – who did not belong to this world and who lived lives that glorified God.  This great cloud of witnesses might not have been esteemed by man, but the fellowship with God they shared sustained them and ultimately led them to eternal bliss in Heaven.  God loves us so very much, and wants to walk through this amazing gift called life with us.  We can trust Him because of His character – He is Who He says He is – trustworthy, faithful and loving.  Let’s put down the false idols and trust solely in God!

Lord, thank you that you are trustworthy.  Thank you for modeling dependency on the Father and help us to walk with You.