Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Substitute

Romans 3:9 tells us that “all are under the power of sin.” Our sin changed the game plan. Our sin keeps us from being in fellowship with God, who is holy, righteous and perfect. So once sin came into the world, God put together a new plan; a plan to change our lives. But to do this He needed to provide a substitute, and the substitute is Jesus Christ.

Many wrong predictions have been made; here is a list of a few of them:
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
-- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields'Cookies.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
-- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

-- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
-- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

Obviously, we know that they predictions are very wrong. But the prediction of Jesus’ coming, and why He came, was not wrong. In Micah 5:2 we read where Jesus will be born: “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” And we know that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. In Isaiah 9:6 we are told one of the reasons Jesus was to be born: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon His shoulders; and He is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This child is Jesus, and He is given to us as a Savior; or as Matthew 1:21 says, to save His people from their sins.

Romans 3:24-26 tells us of what Jesus, our substitute did for us: “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Christmas is a time of understanding and believing that Jesus was born with a purpose; the purpose of justifying and redeeming us from our sin. This too was predicted, and it came true. As we come to Christmas day, let us be grateful that Jesus chose to substitute Himself for us, so that we could be free from our sin, and could again be in a relationship with God. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Gift

What gift do you want for Christmas? You probably make some kind of list and pass it on to your friends and family. No doubt, we all have received some gifts at Christmas that we would never want or use. An American Express survey about Christmas gifts found that the fruitcake was chosen most often (31%) from a list of “worst” holiday gifts. It even finished ahead of “no gift at all.” When asked how to dispose of a bad gift, 30% would hide it in the closet, 21% would return it, and 19% would give it away. Who knows, the fruitcake you get this year for Christmas could have been someone else’s gift from last Christmas!
A better question is: What is the best gift ever given? I’d like to propose to you that it was the gift that was given by God that first Christmas. It was not wrapped with beautiful paper and frilly bows, but wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. The apostle Paul in reflecting upon Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 9:15:"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Many have tried to describe Him by using prose, poetry, song or music to characterize this glorious gift, yet, it is still not fitting. Musicians have composed some of their greatest music on this theme: Handel’s "Messiah," Bach’s Christmas Oratorio," & the beautiful hymns, "Joy to the World," "Silent Night, Holy Night," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
As we approach Christmas day, I hope we will not forget the greatest gift of Christmas, Christ’s birth, which made His death and resurrection possible. This gift of God was given that you and I might be saved. Have you by faith received this glorious gift of God’s love? If you have never been saved or need to renew your vows before God, you can find forgiveness and salvation today by acknowledging to God your faith in Jesus, and your desire to receive the cleansing of your sins from Jesus. Let us receive the gift of Christ as we understand that this gift is from God to us; a gift that is unspeakable and unfathomable. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Kind of Person God Uses

In Ecclesiastes 2:11 we are told:- “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was in vain and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
We can easily feel this way, because all too often, we are not seeking to fulfill what God created us to do and be, but we go off chasing our own dreams. We have to understand that God uses people who desire to do His will. This is important, because, since God created the world, and created you and me, we will really only be happy, and bear fruit, if we are doing the will of God in our lives. As it is the Advent season, we remember what God said to Mary: "I want to use you." In response
Mary did not say, " I’ve got other plans,” OR “What about my dreams?” She didn’t
say "This really isn’t convenient for me,” OR “God, Can’t you get somebody else?"
Because Mary wanted God’s will for her life more than she wanted anything else, God chose her to do something wonderful; something that changed the course of destiny.
And even more, after this first encounter, Mary became even more in tune with God. In another part of the gospel of Luke, 2:19, we are told: "Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them." Mary created a habit of listening to God. God speaks to people who listen. God uses people who desire to be used.
So, if you want to be used by God, if you want to do something significant with your life, if you want to be chosen by God, then you need to seek to listen to God, and seek to follow God’s plan. We probably need to stop thinking that we have all the answers, and realize that so often we feel like so much of life is in vain because we are chasing after the wrong things. We are trying to satisfy ourselves with things that won’t satisfy. We need to gain a new perspective on life and believe that God can come to us and speak to us and choose us as He did Mary!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Who Jesus Is

If you've ever played hangman, you know that it is very difficult to gues the word without some help by guessing some of the letters. For example, what word is
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _? What if I give you the letters J _ _ _ _ C _ _ _ _ _? By the title of this blog, you might guess Jesus Christ, and you would be right.
Mark 8:29 tells us: "But Jesus asked them, 'Who do you say that I am?'" This is an important question, especially as we approach Christmas and so many people try and take Jesus out of Christmas. Who is Jesus?
Books have been written on this question, but if we get a little information from the Bible then we can know who Jesus is; we don't have to guess. For our purpose here, it is important to note that Jesus is the Messiah, God's Son, God in the flesh, come to this world for two very important reasons. The first reason is so that the presence of God could be shown to the world. As we are told in the gospel of John, 1:14- "And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." By coming to this world, God made His presence known to us in visible form.
Second, and more important, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary (in Matthew 1:21-23), he told her to name her baby Jesus, because "he will save his people from their sins." This blessed event of God coming into the world, is the event of God wanting to save us from our sins. Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus is the One who will take our penalty for us. Jesus is God with us.
I hope you receive this with joy, and hope, as you understand God's love for you, and the peace God can bring to your life. Be blessed in this season as you remember who Jesus is. Blessings.