The Word Became Flesh…

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As we enter this Christmas season and ponder the meaning of the incarnation, the excerpt below from Philip Yancey’s, “The Jesus I Never Knew” may very well shed some light in your heart on the light of the world — God in flesh.

 

The Jesus I Never Knew

~ by Philip Yancey

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium.  Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. . . You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful.  Not so.  Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell.  They showed me one “emotion” only: fear. . .

To my fish I was deity.  I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible.  My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction.  To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation.  I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby.  And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem.  The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play.  God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history.  The Word became flesh.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,

the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

–John 1:14

 

Two Great Truths

crazystairs I’ve often heard that we are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or headed directly into one!  The words of wisdom below are from Chuck Swindoll and are a great reminder for any of those times when life is unfair and doesn’t make sense….

Chuck says, “I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective).  In my darkest hours these principles still become my anchor of stability, my only means of survival. Because they work for me, I pass them on to you.  Memorize them.  Write them on a card and carry it at all times.

  • Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing.  Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved.  We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
  • Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively.  Everything.  Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience.  It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider.  And God knows what will get through to us.

Things may not be logical or fair, but when God is directing the events of our lives, they are right.”

~ Taken from “Day by Day With Chuck Swindoll”…

“And now your Local on The 8s.”

Currently, we have snow on the ground in 48 of the 50 states, with more snow in the forecast for all 50 states in the next seven days.  (Yes, including Florida and Hawaii!)  Snow in all 50 states at the same time is a rare occurrence, and of course the forecast could change as it usually does, but the possibility of this happening definitely caught my attention.

This most recent snowfall caused me to pause and reflect on the snow that is blanketing our nation and the following passage from Isaiah:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earthmaking it bud and flourishso that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eaterso is My Word that goes forth from My mouth:  It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

~ Isaiah 55:10-11

When and if the snow passes through your state this week, meditate on this verse and why God chose this comparison of His Word with the snow and water cycle.  Then, consider the following…

  • Am I willing to slow down, take a spiritual “snow day”, and allow the Word of God (the written Word and the Living Word) to water and replenish my life as the rain and snow “water” and “replenish” the earth?
  • Is there an area of my life that is experiencing a season of winter and I have impatiently tried to hurry the changing of the season to spring?
  • Do I truly believe that God has the final word, or have I been expecting His word to “return empty”?
  • Many people do not realize the important part that snow plays in the world’s ecological cycle, protecting plants and helping to replenish the water supply.  Have I been equally unaware of the importance of the Word of God in my life?  Remember, a lack of snow in places that normally receive snow is NOT a good thing causing a domino effect in the world!
  • Without a “blanket” of snow to help insulate the soil during very cold temperatures, the root systems of trees and shrubs would become damaged as the soil begins to freeze deeper and deeper.  How has God’s “blanket of snow” in my life insulated and protected my “roots”?
  • Do I see the hope and the sovereignty of God in this verse that the falling snow in my life is not without purpose?

God’s Word WILL water our lives and any dilemma or situation that we bring to Him, causing it to “bring forth”, “sprout”, giving “seed to the sower” (for future harvests) and “bread to the eater” (for our needs now).  So all right then, let’s get ready for times of refreshing, put on our spiritual snow boots, and hit the slopes!

“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth…'” ~ Job 37:6

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More Precious Than Gold

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The Japanese art of Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) is where cracked or broken pottery is mended with gold.  The finished result is beautiful, functional, and increases the vessel’s worth.  Such is the same in our lives when we allow God to take the gold of His Holy Spirit to the trials, problems, and broken pieces of our lives and bring restoration, healing, and beauty from the ashes.

Smith Wigglesworth once said, “To be molded by the hand of God must become our everything, our all-consuming desire.  When it is, every trial is a blessing, because in everything we see the opportunity to trust Him to purify us further.  As we are able to discern the truth and live as melted gold, as moistened clay, as softened wax, with broken and contrite hearts, we are pliable in the Potter’s hands, as He conforms us to His image.

  • Only melted gold is minted;
  • Only moistened clay is molded;
  • only softened wax receives the seal;
  • only broken and contrite hearts receive the mark as the Potter turns us on His wheel, shaped and burnt to take and keep the mark, the mold, the stamp of God’s pure gold.”

“So that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

~ 1 Peter 1:7

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

“Give us enough trials to keep us strong,

     enough tears to keep us tender,

     enough hurts to keep us humane,

     enough failure to keep us humble,

     and enough faith to keep us confident in You

     O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.”

~ Taken from Being Still With God, by Richard and Henry Blackaby

photo by Donna Bannister

Settle it on the Front End

I received a prayer request recently from a friend whose loved one needed prayer.  He was having difficulty believing that God could love him.  He felt that he was “too bad” and had “sinned too much”.  But Scripture tells us that God loves us and that He pursues us.  This can be a difficult concept for us to believe and understand when so much in our life is based on the conditional.  It can be especially difficult for those whose earthly father was not as loving as he should have been.

In Experiencing God, Dr. Henry Blackaby says, “The cross, the death of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection are God’s final, total, and complete expression that God loves you.   Never allow your heart to question God’s love.  Settle it on the front end of your desire to know Him and experience Him.  He loves you.  He created you for a love relationship.  He has been pursuing you in that love relationship.  Every encounter He has with you is an expression of His love for you.  God would cease to be God if He expressed Himself in any way other than perfect love!” 

Charles Spurgeon put it this way in his book, Morning and Evening:

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, 

  • it is not your hold of Christ that saves you–it is Christ; 
  • it is not your joy in Christ that saves you–it is Christ; 
  • it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; 

Therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.”  Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you awake in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him.  Oh! let not your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail you.   “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness: I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.”