Tag Archives: #christmas2020

PONDERING CHRISTMAS

What is God doing?

Christmas music surrounds us with the message of grace and forgiveness. It can put the Good News on display, and sometimes, we do not even realize it. We’re in isle 4 picking out socks for Uncle Bob while swaying to O Holy Night. Thoughts of Aunt Susie’s ugly Christmas sweater are accompanied by thoughts of the true meaning of Christmas.

Mary, Did You Know permeates our ears with the truth of Christmas. It sends our thoughts to Jesus’ identity, and how God was working on that first Christmas. Luke tells us we’re not alone. Mary was thinking about this as well.

Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”

The last few months have been exciting. Mary has been visited by an angel, found out she was expecting a child, had to travel with Joseph for the census, and now, she’s given birth. There’s a lot of hype around her baby. Shepherds visiting and prophetic statements being made. In our day, there would be wall-to-wall coverage on the news networks, and Mary soaks it all in. What was God doing?

This Christmas season you may be wondering the same thing. All the activity in your life – the good and the bad – is causing you to wonder what God is doing. As you ponder God’s work, you can rest assured he has something great planned. You may not fully see it now, but it will be great because God is the one at work.

Please share this post.

jesus: one who understands

Does Jesus really understand my situation?

Yes, Jesus truly understands our situation. Some folks have a difficult time wrapping their minds around Christ’s grace because they feel his life was not relatable to their life. However, Scripture ensures us Jesus can relate to our circumstances, and he does understand the difficulties of this life.

Understanding Through His Birth

In the first 17 verses of Matthew’s Gospel, we begin to see how well Jesus can relate to us. His earthly family was anything but perfect. The individuals listed in the genealogy of Jesus are not powerful and perfect. They are ordinary and normal folks just like you and me. They are Jews and Gentiles. They are men and women with diverse backgrounds and stories. They are individuals with struggles the same as people today.

Look at Jesus’ parents. Mary and Joseph are a young couple engaged to be married. They discover they are facing what society would term an “untimely pregnancy.” Their home may not be ready; they may not be ready to be parents, but they are having a baby. A short time after Jesus’ birth Mary and Joseph are forced to flee to Egypt and hide to save Jesus’ life. This is not an ideal situation. By the very way Jesus enters the world, he says he understands us.

Understanding Through His Life

His birth is not the only way Jesus relates to us. Matthew 4 tells us Jesus was tempted in every way. You may be tempted by this or tempted by that. You may struggle with this or struggle with that. Your list will match Jesus’ list, which leads the writer of Hebrews to assert, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. We have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us, then, approach the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Understanding Brought Christmas

Understanding us, Jesus comes to save us. The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus saving. He provides sight to those who can’t see. He provides hearing to those who can’t hear. One lady was healed by touching the edge of his garment while in a large crowd. Jesus brought Lazarus out of the tomb. In the same way Jesus understood these individuals and met their needs, he understands us and meets our needs.

Whatever you may be experiencing today, Jesus understands and has come to help you. Your life will not shock him or cause him to run away. Jesus has come to embrace us with the fullness of his grace and truth. Will you consider allowing Jesus to embrace you where you are today? Will you consider allowing him to help you?

Please share this post.

Jesus: With Us to Save us

The man was rushed to the hospital where a CT scan revealed pools of blood on his brain. He was quickly transferred to a regional medical center, and placed under the care of a skilled Neurosurgeon. The doctor advised waiting a few days, then running another test to find the source of the bleeding. The time would allow the pooled blood to be absorbed by the body. Saturday slowly became Wednesday, and it was time for the test to be ran. The results were different than anyone was expecting.

It turns out the bleeding spot healed itself and was no longer bleeding. No Neurological procedure was needed. The Neurosurgeon explained it this way, “This happens sometimes.” Sometimes, miracles happen.

Have you ever witnessed a miracle? What was it? Miracles capture everyone’s attention; especially, during the Christmas season. Movies and TV shows have miraculous themes. The miracle of Christ’s birth is no exception. It has captivated mankind for centuries as everyone tires to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Who is Jesus?

Conservatives and liberals agree Jesus existed. He made a mark in mankind’s history which cannot be erased. When it comes to his identity though, there is much disagreement. Ask who is Jesus, and you will receive numerous answers.

A college professor gave this assignment to his students. They were to ask 20 people who is Jesus. Here are just a few of the answers.

  • A good guy.
  • A guy in history.
  • A guy in the Bible. What else is there to know.

In Matthew 1, we find the Bible’s answer to this question. Matthew explicitly states Jesus is God with us to save us.

God with us.

Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 which states, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”

The idea of God being with us is not a new thought. From the very beginning, we see God being with us. He walked with Adam in the coolness of the day in the Garden of Eden. Sin creeped in and destroyed this perfect communion, so God pulled himself back to the Holy of Holies. That is, until the miracle of Christmas. Christmas brought God back to us in the form of a baby. The fullness and completeness of God came on Christmas night.

  • Philippians 2:6-8 says, “Christ, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing. Taking on the very nature of a servant.”
  • In his Gospel, John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was with God in the beginning,” according to 1:1-2. Verse 4 goes on, “In him was life, and that life was the Light of men.” Then verse 14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”

The Creator became the creation to save it. You see, Jesus is God with us. He is God with us to save us.

To save us.

The angel tells Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus’ name links back to Joshua. In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the account of the leader helping God’s people by leading them out of wilderness into the land of Canaan, their promised land, is told. Like Joshua, Jesus came to lead his people out of the wilderness of lostness into the promise of freedom in Christ’s grace and truth.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, so that you, through his poverty, might become rich.” You see, Jesus came to save us.

Our answer.

C. S. Lewis has said, “Jesus was either telling the truth about his identity or he was a lunatic. A man running around claiming to be God in the flesh is either telling the truth or is a lunatic. No one in his right mind would make such a claim unless it was true. We have to decide.”

According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is God with us to save us. Thus, the IVP New Testament Commentary Series remarks, “By the cross we are invited to worship a God who accepted the ultimate vulnerability. Jesus was born as an infant to poor and humiliated parents into a world who was hostile to his presence. His oppressors must hate such a God. For his abandonment of power for love is contrary to everything they believe, but the broken and depressed find in him a God they can trust in a world where trust is dangerous. Of all the world’s faiths, Christianity is the only one who presents a God who shares in our pain.”

The birds helped him understand.

There is an old story told by radio personality Paul Harvey of a man and a flock of birds. There was a good man. He tried to do everything right. He was a good husband, excellent father, and he had an upstanding reputation in the community. He was just a good man.

He could not wrap his mind around Jesus’ birth. The miracle of Christmas seemed out of touch to him. A baby being able to save him was just hard for him to grasp.

One Christmas eve, the man told his wife he was not going to attend the Christmas eve service, but he would wait up for her. He hugged his wife goodbye, and closed the door behind her. As he did, he noticed it was snowing. He stood at the window for a few moments enjoying the beauty of the snow before retiring to his chair by the fireplace.

A few minutes later as the man was lost in the chapters of a good book, he was startled by a thud on the window. Thud, thud, thud came the sound. The man investigated to find a flock of birds trying to break the glass to escape the warmth of the dark, cold night. They were attempting to enter the light and warmth of his home, and the man thought, “I can’t let the poor creatures freeze.”

Dawning his coat and shoes, the man went outside to help. He opened his barn door hoping the birds would fly into the hay stack, but no luck. The birds just continued to fly toward the window.

The man turned on the light in the barn, but the birds didn’t head that way. He tried leaving a trail of food to the barn and chasing the birds, but they didn’t understand what he was doing.

“If only I was one of them,” the man thought, “they would not be afraid of me, and I could show them the way to the safety of the barn.”

Just then, the church clock clanged midnight. The chimes began playing O Holy Night, and the man fell to his knees in the snow.

He had it. The man understood the miracle of Christmas; he understood God left everything to become one of us. He understood Jesus is God with us to save us. What is your answer? Who is Jesus?

Please share this post.