Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Presence: God Came Near

December 19, 2009

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

God came near at Christmas. In a sense, he became our neighbor. He traveled to our little corner of the Milky Way, put on human skin, and moved into a Bethlehem stable. He came as close to us as he could because he loves us and desires a relationship with us.

There was a time when he was near and neighborly as he walked with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden. But our sin distanced us from a holy God and from the place of paradise for which we were created. As soon as sin entered the world, we began living on the far side of the nearness of God.

There’s something inside all of us that groans about our present abode because this was not the way it was supposed to be. But God had a plan to bring us back together. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4).

Jesus, the God-man, lived with us on planet earth for thirty-three years. After His crucifixion and resurrection, he ascended to heaven where he now sits at the right hand of the Father while he prays for the saints of God. He returned to heaven so that he could send his Holy Spirit, which he did on the day of Pentecost. This took place forty days after Passover when he became the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

At the first Christmas, Jesus was and is Immanuel, God with us. Today, the Holy Spirit lives in us as believers in Jesus Christ. Do you see what’s happening? God keeps moving closer and closer to us. And one day Jesus is coming again to take us to heaven to live with him forever.

You can experience the nearness of God this Christmas. Yes, his Christmas presence can be your personal possession by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

The Greatness of Jesus

December 9, 2009

biltmore_int_subimg_fyh_ourbrandsWe spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Montreat, North Carolina. The massive home built by George Vanderbilt is located nearby in Asheville. We toured the home when it was stunningly decorated for Christmas. Christmas at Biltmore was a delight.

If the size of a man’s home has anything to do with how great he is, one would think George Vanderbilt was a great man. He certainly lived in a great big house.

The home was modeled after three French chateaux from the 16th century. It features 4 acres of floor space, 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. I was impressed with the advanced technological features in the home, including running water, indoor bathrooms, an indoor pool and a fitness facility. George’s library was to die for. I could have sat there for hours thumbing through his fine collection of leather-bound books, a sign of his great wealth. After six years of construction, George Vanderbilt had built a country retreat where he could pursue his passions for art, horticulture, and literature. He officially opened up his home to family and friends on Christmas Eve in 1895.

I’m sure George Vanderbilt was a good man, but Jesus was truly great. Of Jesus, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary, “He will be great” (Luke 1:32).

Fill up a room with all the people in the world plus those in history that you deem great, and Jesus outshines them all. He is greater than the greatest artists or musicians. He is greater than the greatest scientists, mathematicians or military strategists. He is greater than the greatest Presidents, Prime Ministers and Popes. He is greater than any other religious figure including Gandhi, Moses or Muhammad.

The three-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Muhammad Ali, declared himself to be “The Greatest,” but Jesus was greater than Ali. Herod was known as Herod the Great and built for himself a great palace called the Herodian, but Jesus was greater than Herod. Words fail to express the greatness of Jesus, who is even greater than the angels of heaven (Heb. 1). There is no greater name or person in heaven or on earth.

And for the record books, Jesus has a bigger house than George Vanderbilt. It’s a great, great big house. He told us, “In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). I wonder if Mr. Vanderbilt ever thought about that as he built his great mansion in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Christmas Already?

December 6, 2009

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1, 14

It’s easy to miss the connection between the Christmas story and the creation story. The Christmas story that starts in Bethlehem is a small story inside a much larger story that begins “in the beginning” of what we know as the beginning. Are you confused yet?

By starting his Gospel with the words “in the beginning,” John intentionally triggers a flashback in our memories to the first three words of the Bible found in the book of beginnings called Genesis. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The beginning of life on earth as recorded in Genesis is not the beginning of God’s existence any more than Bethlehem is the beginning of Jesus’s existence. The words “in the beginning” speak of God’s eternal nature. He existed in the beginning of what we know as the beginning because he is God without beginning or end.

As time-bound creatures, it’s difficult for us to wrap our minds around the eternal nature of God. And yet, the Bible clearly affirms that God has no beginning or end. Psalm 90:2 says, for example, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” And Psalm 93:2 says, “Your throne is established from of old; You are everlasting.” Another translation reads, “Your throne was established from long ago; you are from all eternity.”

For us, time is elusive and linear. As seconds and minutes tick away, they are gone forever. We feel as though moments slip through our fingers, and they do. The moments turn into hours, days, weeks, months and years. Before long, years become decades. We get older not younger and time seems to quicken as the years pass. Some of you are saying, “Is it Christmas already?” God never wonders where all the time went because he is eternal.

We learn from physics that time is a property that results from matter. Time, also known as the fourth dimension, exists because and when matter exists. But God is not matter; he is Spirit. According to the first ten words of the Bible, God created matter and therefore time. And so, before the beginning of it all, God simply existed and time had no meaning or relevance to him. Now that’s enough to snap a few synapses in our brains, isn’t it?

John places Jesus “in the beginning” because he wants us to know that this baby in Bethlehem was and is the eternal God of creation who has no beginning or end. Yes, the historical Jesus was born in Bethlehem nearly 2,000 years ago, but the eternal Jesus was also there at the beginning, speaking the worlds into existence (Col. 1:16).

In verse 3, John says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Think about it. The Christ Child born in a Bethlehem stable was the chief and only architect and builder of the universe. Then, in the fullness of time, he stepped out of eternity and into time to save us from our sins.

Merry Christmas!

T'was the Month Before Christmas

December 1, 2009

Credit this Christmas gem titled T’was the Month Before Christmas to Robert Jason, age 74, of Canada. I thought you might enjoy this. Merrry Christmas!

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas – no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ‘Holiday.’

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears
You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Tree’
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jesus is The Reason for the Season!”

Ron Jones is a pastor whose greatest passion is to introduce people to Jesus Christ through anointed biblical preaching that transforms lives.

 

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