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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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.”

Flowers in My Heart

~ music by Shane Henry, “Amore” from the Album “Beauty in the Struggle”

Recently I saw a quote on Pinterest that said, “I don’t need someone who sees the good in me, I need someone who sees the bad and still wants me.”  Thankfully, there is such a One!  God knows us inside and out.  He sees the bad and still wants us.  He remembers that we are “but dust” and “doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve” or “repay us according to our offenses”.  (Psalms 103:10 & 14)  He is patient, longsuffering, and loves us with a perfect love that can only come from Him.

See wise words below from Tim Keller and remember, God will never leave you or forsake you.  “He who began a good work in you WILL carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6)

 

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“The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

– Timothy Keller

This Frequent Oozing Out of Contamination

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Some days I am much more conscious of my sin than others.  Oh, I am certain that my sinfulness is there and  that I am just as sinful on the days when I am not conscious of my sin.  But one particular day,  a day when I was more aware of my sin, I read the following excerpt from page 285 of “The Gospel in Leviticus”.   May it bless you in the consciousness (and unconsciousness) of your sins as well.

“It is indeed melancholy, my brethren, that we, as Christians, still have so much impurity cleaving to us—that with all our efforts so much evil still works in us—that with all our penitence, prayers and resolves, there yet is this frequent oozing out of contamination—that with all the doings of God to cleanse us, we still have so much cause to hang our heads in shame, and humble ourselves in dust and ashes—that not one of us but would blush and be mortified almost to death to have all our thoughts and feelings suddenly laid open to the inspection of those around us.  But still it is not without its good effects.

  • We need something to keep us humble, to drive us continually to the throne of grace, and to keep us ever mindful of our dependence upon the mercy of God.
  • If we were not troubled with these secret flows of sin, we would be in great danger of growing spiritually proud, negligent, and over-confident. But this keeps us down at the foot of the cross, and ever prompts to more earnest prayer, and keeps the soul from stagnation.
  • It makes us feel the presence and power of the foe, that we may be stirred up to ever-renewed zeal, and be strengthened the more by our trying encounters with the enemy.
  • It helps to soften us towards the failings of others, and to make us charitable in our judgments of offenders.
  • Though it is painful, and keeps us in constant peril of making shipwreck of our faith, I do not know whether I would have it otherwise if I could. I fear that we should be too much at rest and satisfied in this present world, if we were not thus made to feel the inconvenience of living in the flesh.
  • It helps greatly to reconcile us to the idea of dying. It contributes to make our dying day, a blessed day; because it will put an everlasting end to these vexations. Then we shall be delivered “from the body of this death…..

Egypt may pursue us to the sea, and its men of war go with us into the waves, but there shall the oppressor cease. From that flood he shall never rise again.  He shall never reach the other shore, or set foot in heaven.  God shall there take off his chariot-wheels, and he shall pursue and oppress us no more. Oh, happy, happy day! that thus lays all our tormentors forever with the dead…

  • And then, again, this constant consciousness of sin assists in endearing to us the cross and righteousness of Jesus. Though evil ever works within us, we have a remedy.
  • We have an Advocate in heaven ever interceding for us. Though uncleanness clings to us, life and purity flows down through him to cover our unrighteousness and to help our infirmities.
  • With all our weaknesses, in Him we are strong.
  • Let faith but touch the hem of His garment, and healing is at hand.
  • Let the poor sinner but press to Him, and all these disgusting issues shall be as though they were not.

Blessed Physician, that God hath sent to us from the heavens! How precious the virtue that goeth out from him! He healeth all our diseases. His blood cleanseth from all sin.

Allow me, then, my dear friends, to commend this Savior to you. He is what you need; and He is ready to become everything to you that is necessary to complete your peace. You may find yourself full of sin; but He is able to cleanse you. You may be poor and friendless; but He sympathizes with you, and proposes to you eternal riches. In more than angelic meekness, He spreads out His hands to you, and says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are Heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Only accept that call, and you shall be blessed forever.”

 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

~ Isaiah 1:18