Sharing by: Pam Crawford
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this week, may we be filled with wonder and awe. I am determined to experience Christmas this year like a little child. For children, Christmas is rather simple. Despite what is going on around them, they are primarily focused on the gifts. Whether this is right or wrong, the truth is that someone else has prepared the way for them to receive a blessing, and they are more than excited to accept the generosity. As adults, we don’t have to be left out of this excitement. Someone else has prepared the way for us to receive a blessing and now we are old enough to understand and embrace the beauty of this gift.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel –which means “God with us.”
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
Hope is something I am not willing to let go of. Last week I touched on the Prophet Isaiah’s message of hope that God himself had given him to share forward. In Isaiah 7:14 we read “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” There is a profound contrast between Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22-23 that we should not overlook. Prophecy was fulfilled just as Isaiah told his people it would be. Don’t miss the words “God with us.”
A few weeks back I shared John 10:30 “The Father and I are One.” I did this to highlight the truth that God and Jesus are one in the same. This too is an important part of prophecy. I must admit that for a very long time, I did not get this! I was raised with the “trinity” teaching, however the words, “His One and Only Son” (John 3:16) always tripped me up. I saw them in my mind as two separate entities. That was until I took the time and was willing to see them with new eyes. When you’re reading Scripture you have to be willing to dig below the surface.
Life’s Application Commentary for John 10:10:
“If Jesus had been merely a man, his claims to be God would have proven him insane. But his miracles proved his words true – he really was God. The Jewish leaders could not see beyond their own prejudices, and they looked at Jesus only from a human perspective – Jesus confined in a human box. But Jesus was not limited by their restricted vision.”
I have to admit that I once had restricted vision. I’m certainly not proud of it, but practicing portions of religion allowed me to keep Jesus contained in my human box. When I thought of Jesus as a separate entity from God, it kind of let me off the hook in my mind when it came to obeying all of that church stuff. It was easier to go through the motions rather than dig my heels in to discover His Holy attributes. It was hard to grasp having a relationship with something I couldn't see, hear, or touch. I was not very different from our Jewish brothers/sisters who are still waiting for the Messiah. I figured if I did the church thing, confessed the big sins, was good to others, and helped when I could, I would get to know this Jesus that I was being told about when I finally met Him in Heaven. Pardon me, but I was pretty presumptuous back then if I don’t say so myself.
Honestly, I had no idea I could know Jesus personally and intimately “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Furthermore, I did not grasp that God’s Word was the key to opening the door to this relationship. It astounds me now that one can hear God's voice when they truly believe He is Lord. When you become a “Child of God” things really do change. It’s like a light bulb turns on. You begin to see and hear things that you had overlooked. What I want to make sure this Christmas is that we don’t miss something really big. I once bought into the “good works” theory and Biblically I was dead wrong. Good works are a result of salvation; they are not the way to salvation. Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6).
There is one more thing I believe we should not overlook. It’s not about how much we know about Jesus, it’s not about what we do for Jesus. No, when you know God’s Word you discover that it’s actually about experiencing Jesus as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and embracing His teachings. It is about being so relationally connected to Him that He knows you as a precious child (John 8),
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
This Christmas may we be blessed with the privilege, the “gift,” of moving beyond religious activity into a personal relationship with the One who welcomes His children into His throne room? I encourage you to cuddle up with the “Good Book” and allow Him to minister to your heart. Set aside all the hoopla for a bit and rest in Matthew 25:31-46.
Although “Christmas” is an important day for Christians, let’s not overlook “judgment day,” a day when we shall once again receive a promised gift. God’s Word tells us that this will be the day when He is going to separate the obedient from the pretenders and the believers from the unbelievers. It will be on this day that we receive what He has promised (John 3:16-21). How we love God and how we love others, is a good indication of our human heart.
Father, we thank you that your love extends from the heavens to the earth. Thank you that while we were still sinners, you chose to enter humanity on our behalf. You knew the cross was necessary and you still came. Thank you Jesus! May we take this time to wish you a Happy Birthday? May it be in the form of honoring your Word and drawing close to you relationally? Father, change us from the inside out. We deserve nothing, but in your great love for mankind your gift of grace gives us another message. When we seek you with all our heart, mind and soul, we will find the gift. In Jesus precious name we say together, AMEN!
In Christ by grace,