31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 9 – Jesus is fully human and fully God

servant-songs

There are four servant songs in the book of Isaiah, which describe the coming Messiah as a servant, a savior, one who will suffer, and one who will be exalted. This second servant song from the prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse of God’s purpose from the beginning to the end. Jesus was with God from the beginning, and came to earth as a man to serve, suffer, and offer salvation through his death. God’s message is this: salvation for all people, made possible through his servant, Jesus. All four of the servant songs can be found in Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 49:1-13, Isaiah 50:4-11 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

The song of the servant, the Messiah.

Isaiah 49:1-6
Coastlands, listen to me;
distant peoples, pay attention.  (for all people)
The Lord called me before I was born.  (Jesus was with God from the beginning)
He named me while I was in my mother’s womb.  (virgin Mary)
He made my words like a sharp sword;
He hid me in the shadow of His hand.  (not to be revealed until the right time)
He made me like a sharpened arrow;
He hid me in His quiver.
He said to me, “You are My Servant, Israel;
I will be glorified in him.”  (Jesus will come through Israel)

But I myself said: I have labored in vain,  (Jesus will suffer)
I have spent my strength for nothing and futility;  (Jesus will be rejected by some)
yet my vindication is with the Lord,
and my reward is with my God.
And now, says the Lord,
who formed me from the womb to be His Servant,
to bring Jacob back to Him  (God’s purpose is to restore His people to Him)
so that Israel might be gathered to Him;  
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is my strength—
He says,
“It is not enough for you to be My Servant
raising up the tribes of Jacob  (in the Tribulation, the 12 tribes will be witnesses)
and restoring the protected ones of Israel.
I will also make you a light for the nations,
to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”  (through Jesus, salvation is for all)

The Apostle Paul wrote these beautiful words in the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians: “We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” It is a simple but powerful message to all, from the Creator.

May you seek the God of Israel, the God of salvation, your Creator, this Christmas season. 

* Merry Christmas *

Names of Jesus: First Born of Every Creature

This is the scene outside my desk window this morning from Atlanta Georgia in December, and I cannot help but think of the majesty and beauty of God’s creation!  How appropriately named is our Savior, the Firstborn over all Creation (Colossians 1:15).  How can we not stop in awe?

The world seems quieter when it snows.  Some of this may be because of less traffic and people out shopping, but there is a scientific reason as well.  When snow accumulates on the ground and trees, it acts like a sound absorber and dampens the sound waves.  I also believe God created it that way.

The firstborn of all creation refers to Jesus’ deity: his preeminence and highest ranking over all creation.  He existed before creation and is exalted above all creation.

This Christmas season, may we worship the Creator who created all that we see, and saw that it was good.

In Jesus’ Words: The Living God (Matthew 22:29-33)

Jesus was asked a question about marriage in heaven: If a man dies, having no children, and his brother is to marry his wife, whose wife will she be in heaven?

Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees was directed more toward their heart than just answering their question.

~ Matthew 22: 29-33  Jesus speaks of the Resurrection ~

“You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.” For in the resurrection, they will neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.  Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
And they were amazed at His teaching.

God of the Living.  The Living God.  Simon Peter confirmed this in Matthew 16:16 when he said, “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.”  Joshua mentioned this in the Old Testament when he said, “By this you shall know that the Living God is among you.” Joshua 3:10.

And Psalm 42:2 beautifully illustrates this by saying, “My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.”

When we pursue and get to know the Living God, we can know that we will spend eternity with Him in heaven, and that our life and soul is created by a Living God, the only One who can give life and conquer death.  For it is not the knowledge about heaven that gives us this assurance, but it is in the knowledge of God and who He is.

The lunch conversation I will never forget

debate-lunch-breakI’ll never forget that day at lunch.  I’ve thought about it many times since.  Why didn’t I have an answer?  What would I say today?  I was resolved to find the answer.

My co-worker sat across from me in the lunch cafeteria.  She had invited me to lunch that day, which was unusual since we were not close friends and had never had lunch together in all the years we worked at the same company.  She was retiring soon and asked if I would join her for lunch.  I was happy to go.  She was a funny person, liked to tell jokes and always had a smile on her face.

We began talking about trivial things and small-talk, when all of a sudden her demeanor changed.  She looked at me with a fierceness in her face I had never seen before, and she brought up the subject of God.  “I don’t believe in God,” she said, “but if he does exist when I die, I’m going to look him right in the face and point my finger at him (she starts shaking her finger at me) and I’m going to tell him I don’t want anything to do with a god that demands people worship him or else he sends them to hell.  I’ll turn around and gladly go straight to hell!”

Whaat?, came my reply in a state of disbelief.  I kept waiting for the joke or punch line but it never came.  I was speechless and did not know where her sudden anger came from.  I had never discussed religion with her and was not even sure she knew I was a Christian.  I do not know her reason for choosing me that day, but her attack seemed very personal.  I think it was not me she was attacking but rather the one I represented, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that lives within me as a Christian.

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

Our lunch was mostly over after that rant, but the expression on her face never changed back to the happy person I knew before.  I never saw her again after that, but I have often wondered about her and what was the right answer to her statement.  Here is what I would say to her today.

You have the wrong idea about God.  God is Sovereign and Holy, and the Creator of the universe.  He created this world and you and I, with only a spoken word.  He is far beyond anything we can fully imagine or contain within our limitations.  God is to be revered, but He is also fair and good and loving.  He does not demand anything of us, nor can we earn it.  Everything on this earth requires that we work for it, including our jobs, but it is not that way with God.  God asks us if we would like to receive His gift of Grace.  It is freely given to anyone, but we have to want to accept it.  Heaven is a place for those who want to worship the true and living God and have found their salvation in Christ.  If you get to know who God is, then you will want to be with Him out of this love.

You also have the wrong idea about hell.  If hell is real, as described in the Bible and warned about many times by Jesus, then it is not a place you will gladly want to go.  You will want to avoid it at all costs.  Just look around us at the evil we see every day on this earth and you will know that hell can be a reality, and there is no reason to think it would be limited to only what we can see.

Satan’s main goal is to keep us away from God and to keep us from knowing the truth.

It is worth everything we have to seek out and find the truth; to examine our hearts and our motives.  There is no price too great for knowing the truth, and there is no substitute.  Yes, God is more than we can ever imagine, but He has also given us the truth and the way for redemption and eternal fellowship with Him.  The rest is up to us.

And all mankind will see the salvation of God. Luke 3:6

 

The bakery

bakery

I love this time of year.  Autumn brings in a cornucopia of colors, enticing scents of pumpkin spice and apples, and the anticipation of good things to come.  Even the weather has an air of serenity about it.  But mostly, I love the Autumn scents.  I wandered by a candle shop the other day where they were having a sale – two candles for the price of one.  I left with an armful of candles, carrying such delightful names as Gourmet Espresso and Warm Caramel Cider.

I’ve heard that the sense of smell is the strongest of our five senses.  Just imagine… fresh-baked bread, the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, and warm scones delivered right out of the oven.  Maybe that is why I never see unhappy people in a bakery.  This thought occurred to me one evening while I was dining out in a nice restaurant.  The lighting was soothing, the food excellent, but I was stressed.  Work had been extra stressful that year.  As I sat there wallowing in my own thoughts, I had a good view of the bakery in the corner of the restaurant.  I began watching the baker as she carefully lifted the bowls of batter and poured them into the pans for baking.  Then she formed beautiful creations of art as she spread the icing on the cakes.  All the while, children and adults alike lined up at the glass counter to look at the cakes and pies she had created.  It was almost magical, and definitely mesmerizing to watch.  She did not hurry or rush the baking process.

I envied the baker a little, complete with her white coat and bakers hat.  If I ever change careers, I decided, I would love to be a baker.  But I think what appealed to me the most was the process of slowing down, and of crafting something beautiful with my own hands.  It reminded me of God, our Creator.  God created us in His own image, so we also have that same desire to create.  God also rested.  He is never rushed, and neither was Jesus during his short ministry on earth.  I don’t think we are meant to be so rushed either.

I may never become a master baker, but the image of that bakery with its smells and happy creations and slower pace has stayed with me.  I’ve learned to slow down. When I do, and put it all in God’s hands instead, it seems like God takes care of all the other busyness for me.  Work becomes less, deadlines go away, and problems are solved quicker.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

When I think about this verse, I like to think it applies to our busy schedules as much as it does our finances.  So during this Autumn and Thanksgiving season, I plan to do a lot of baking in my house.  It makes me happy, fills the air with warm scents, and teaches me to slow down.feet with waves cropped