Merry Christmas! Happy Resurrection!

It may seem odd talking about Christmas just a few months into the new year, but I was thinking about attempts in recent years to banish Christ from Christmas. Whether it be governments limiting or outlawing nativity scenes, or the push to change “Merry Christmas” to simply “happy holidays.”

Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t noticed as much of an outcry about using the phrase “Happy Easter.” Perhaps it’s the name of Christ that is offensive to so many?

But why would you want to banish someOne who has been throughout human history the greatest Force for good?

Now before you begin take exception to this statement, I acknowledge that Christians (as well as others purporting to know Him) have made mistakes at times and done more harm than good. Because they are flawed human beings. That’s not my point.

I’m just wondering why you want to banish someone who has contributed so much to our civil society, even if you do not believe in him as the Son of God? Why do we have a law against murder; because it is written “Thou shalt not kill.” Even if you are an atheist, why would you not want a neighbor who believes in serving others over himself?

I will always say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Easter”, “Happy Resurrection Day”, “Happy day that Christ rose again and conquered death so that my sins, although grievous, could be forgiven and I might enjoy fellowship with my savior forever!”

And I pray that you can say this also. I pray that you have peace in your heart now and forever more. In need of a God like this? Almighty then!

Reflect

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away

Phil 3:8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ

I have been thinking lately.  Reflecting.  Specifically, about the following progression.  No matter how “good” our actions may be from a human perspective, no matter how altruistic our aims – even if carried out on behalf of the church or with Christian intent — if we act solely in our own strength our accomplishments might as well be garbage.

Too strong, too harsh?!

Paul did not think so.  He was in the “Who’s Who” of Judaism in his time.  You can refer to Philippians Chapter Three for his resume.  But Paul’s zeal (Saul at the time) resulted in the death of Christians.  Now, I’m not equating our actions with the murder of innocents.  [Although puported Christians who support abortion would in my mind be similar.  But that’s a topic for another day].  But in one respect we are the same as Paul.

Ask these questions about your actions, as I do the same:

  • Whose glory do I seek?
  • Am I confident that I am acting in God’s will, after a time of prayer?
  • And perhaps most important, have I confessed my sins & asked Almighty God to forgive me, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior?

It is not an easy thing to lay down sin, especially the persistent kind that we are susceptible to, but it is so incredibly necessary.  It is a challenge to pray without ceasing, especially when the distractions of the world encroach, but it is so incredibly necessary.

I pray that we will see all of our earthbound abilities, talents, accomplishments the way that Paul did.  Filth.  Refuse.  Garbage.  Dung.   Depending on your translation.  But you get the idea.  Absolutely worthless.  Only fitting for the landfill or junkyard.

I am not condemning anyone.  But I hope that you will reflect as well. What are you leaning on?  

Important:  If you are unsure about your salvation, if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can do so now.  Cry out to Him, admit you are a sinner, ask forgiveness for your sins, and ask Jesus into your heart.  Find peace.




Poem:

Lord, If Thou art Willing

Lord If Thou Art Willing

And when he came down from the mount, great multitudes did follow him, and lo, a leper having come, was bowing to him, saying, ‘Sir, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me;’ and having stretched forth the hand, Jesus touched him, saying, ‘I will, be thou cleansed,’ and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, ‘See, thou mayest tell no one, but go, thyself shew to the priest, and bring the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.’ [Matthew 8:1-4]


And having sternly charged him, immediately he put him forth, and saith to him, ‘See thou mayest say nothing to any one, but go away, thyself shew to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing the things Moses directed, for a testimony to them.’ And he, having gone forth, began to proclaim much, and to spread abroad the thing, so that no more he was able openly to enter into the city, but he was without in desert places, and they were coming unto him from every quarter. [Mark 1:43-45]


I have been pondering on this passage for a while.  I prayed this very same prayer that the leper made, while waiting on the Lord to heal my nerve pain.  And He did answer my prayer, although in an extended healing over time rather than the quick relief [like the leper] I had asked for.  I am still on that journey to recovery – but amazed at how far I have already come.  Or rather, how far He has carried me.


I am struck by three things in this passage.


First, the leper asked unabashedly for Jesus to heal him.  He recognized Jesus as a source of healing, fought the crowds to get near Him, and knelt before the Lord to make his request.  I imagine Jesus loves this kind of dogged determination to get close to Him.  The leper was a social outcast.  I can picture others making efforts to avoid this man as he made his effort to get to the Lord.  The leper is a picture of all of us with the stain of sin in our lives.  We are not clean, but we recognize Jesus as the One who can take away our sin.


Second, the leper anticipated the healing.  To be sure, he asked the Lord “if thou art willing,” but at the same time he stretched out his hand to be healed.  Because perhaps of what he had seen or heard about Jesus, he had full confidence that Jesus would in fact heal him!  What great faith!  In the same way, we can have full confidence that God will heal us.  First, to heal our heart of the sin that comes between us and God.  Second, often through physical or mental healing according to His will.  And third, in our final and ultimate healing when He calls us home.  We will not suffer the infirmities of this physical life when we reach our final reward in glory!


Finally, despite Jesus’ stern warning not to tell anyone about what had happened, the former leper could not contain the joy inside of being touched by God.  We can, I think forgive this man for disobeying Jesus’ command to keep it quiet.  Jesus probably wanted less focus and attention on the miracle itself, and more focus on lives changed forever by Him.  We see from the parallel passages in Mark and Luke that instead of telling no one, the former leper made such a fuss, so to speak, that Jesus had to move His ministry out of the city and into the desert.  If you think about it, leprosy is a very visible disease. People who knew this man could not help but see the change. And he could not help but proclaim the work of Jesus in his life! 


We as believers in Jesus should also exhibit a manifested change because of His healing in our life and soul.  We should also have joy so pent up inside that we cannot fail to tell others about what Jesus did for us.



Lord, if thou art willing…I am willing; be thou cleansed

The Love of God Descending

The Love of God Descending

The Love of God Descending

The Sons of men, not apprehending

The innocent, the tender babe

The manger, obscure and vague

The Magi, honored guests

The shepherds, nothing less

The horde of sinful men, destined to die

He the Savior, for them, crucified

But for now, a tender coo

The baby Jesus, delivered

For me – For you 

A Tiny Life

baby-jesus-in-the-manger-3-728-1.jpgA Tiny Life

 

A tiny life

delivered into obscurity

    and humility

Yet full of the Godhead

and imbued with Divine Majesty

 

Set among the common things

    of life

Among animals and mud

Among men who tended sheep

    in the fields above


And yet sought with great earnest

by travelers following prophecy and a star

Lit by the Heavenly Hosts

to bring them nigh the newborn babe

    the long awaited King on High

 

And thus He came

A Baby King

A Light to the Nations

A Savior to the redeemed

the most innocent tiny life

to bring Heaven to earth

and peace inside

 

12/10/15