I was walking today with the tune “Silent Night” on my lips. It was the last phrase where the Spirit caught my attention. “Jesus, Lord at thy birth.” Jesus was birthed as God and man to live, die and live again forever to bring us freedom. He came into the world in that stinky animal cave so as to relate to people of all stripes and colors. He came and was LORD at birth on Christmas. He still is LORD today and He will remain so long into forever eternity.
We celebrated Jesus’ birth through singing, services, gift giving, family gatherings, etc. this past weekend. Now, let’s remember to celebrate His life through our daily love filled choices to follow Him. Ya know, He still is LORD.
S”E”t Free Nowww
I had a great night’s sleep and just wanted to linger in a bed a little longer. I really sensed the Lord, however, telling me to get out and prayer walk at 7 AM. I ignored that call. Instead, I spent time under those warm covers praying. Then about 8 AM, I finally rolled out of bed and went on that walk.
Even though I was doing a “good thing” that could be backed up by Scripture, it was still disobedience! Why? I was in control doing what I wanted to do. There is a name for this. It’s called religion. Religion keeps the person in control and makes them feel better because they feel they are doing something good. Jesus has nothing to do with religion. He’s about His sheep listening and following Him.
We have an illustration of this in Exodus. After the Tabernacle was built, God’s presence filled it. This could be seen by a cloud by day and fire by night. When that cloud moved, the people were to break camp and follow. When it stopped, they were to stop and make camp. What if they decided to stay in their tent for some prayer time? They would be left behind at best and get lost at worse!
Tozer once said, “One compromise here, one there and the so-called Christian and the man of the world look the same.” What’s best for you and me is not going good, but listening and following our Shepherd.
S“E”t Free Nowww
Christmas. Food to prepare. Gifts to purchase and wrap. House to clean. Rush, rush, rush to get it all done before the big day. Then it comes. Everyone has a great time with lots of hugs, smiles and positive screams to go around (hopefully from the children!).
Now, the day after is ripe for the emotional hangover. Or, does it? Keep in mind with every high, there usually is a corresponding low, which can lead us to say or do some pretty stupid things. Some of which we’ll regret and have to apologize for later.
Isaiah 26:3 is your perfect holiday hangover remedy when it states, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
You tend to do and say the right thing when you’re at peace – that all is well feeling. So grab the truth the Spirit gives you and focus on it. Let God’s peace overtake your mind to keep you loving Jesus.
S”E”t Free Nowww
Joseph and Mary were descendants of David from the tribe of Judah, which is south of Jerusalem. Why were they living up north in Nazareth of the tribe Zebulun?
The northern areas of Israel were sparsely populated during the years before Jesus’ birth. The Jewish people kicked the Syrians/Greeks out of Israel during the Maccabean revolt (Chanukah story). Then the Israeli leadership asked people to resettle the north. Joseph and Mary’s parents must have headed that call. God could have chosen a couple living in Bethlehem; but instead chose a couple living in Nazareth to give birth to our Savior.
Then we read that Caesar, for some reason, calls for a census to increase tax revenues, which gets this couple south to Bethlehem. After which Herod wants to kill baby Jesus, a king who threatened Herod’s throne. God countermoved by getting the family to Egypt. Herod dies with his son rising to the throne. Again God countermoved by moving the couple back to Nazareth.
Matthew records that each of the above moves fulfills prophecy. God doesn’t make our choices, but He can overcome them to achieve His purposes. Not everything that happens to the believer is good, but God can make all things turn out for good (Rom. 8:28).
We are responsible for our choices – bad and good. Yet keep in mind this Christmas season, your God is bigger than your choices! True, we suffer less by making right choices. But, never give up on yourself! Neither your good nor your bad choices define you. God does by calling you His child!
Set Free “N”owww
Did you know it’s an act of grace to experience God’s love? In our day and age of entitlement, believers often mistakenly believe they deserve God’s love or that He has to love them. NO HE DOESN’T!
Here’s why. The sin offering was one of the sacrifices made at the Temple. As the final sacrifice, Jesus fulfilled this on the cross. This sacrifice covers unconsciously committed sin. In other words, we’re spitting in God’s face and we don’t even know it!
Think about this for a moment. If you were repeatedly offended by someone, how long would your love last? Be honest. Think divorce rate among US Christians. Would it start to wane the hundredth time? The thousandth time? The millionth time?
We were called children of wrath before coming to faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:3); thus, we deserved punishment and disconnection, not love. We became children of God when we put our faith in Jesus (Jn. 1:12). Even still, we spit in God’s face, not just by our known actions, but through a gazillion other unconscious actions as well.
Who covers both? Jesus. We get, not deserve, God’s love through Jesus dying in our place. We get unconditional love because it was given to us through God’s grace as all our sin – known and otherwise – is covered by Him.
This should make us all a lot more humble, grateful and thankful in experiencing God’s love. And maybe, just maybe, this Christmas season a little more loving toward those hard to love people in line with us?
S“E”t Free Nowww