31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:31-33 (NLT)
Salvation does not come with a magic wand. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, all our problems and situations do not magically disappear in a puff of smoke. There are many references we can find in the Bible where Jesus tells that in this world, we will be offended. Jesus tells His disciples here in John 16:33 that here on earth, “you will have many trials and sorrows.”. In verse 32, Jesus says that He will be left alone by His disciples but that He won’t really be alone because the Father is always with Him. We have that same assurance. Living a Holy lifestyle is not fantasy, it is reality and it comes with its own set of problems. But we are assured over 300 times in the Bible that we will never be alone or forsaken. God’s Holy Spirit is with us, in us, and around us. We are in Christ Jesus. It isn’t magic, smoke, or mirrors. but it is the greatest peace and joy that we can experience here on earth because we are never alone.
21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. 25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”–Mark 4:21-25 (NLT)
As we study and meditate on God’s Word, His Spirit leads us into more truth. When we have doubts about God and His faithfulness, we just need to dig deeper, not wider. We need to stay in the Word. Knowledge of God is like our muscles, if we don’t exercise them, we start to lose them. If we don’t exercise our faith, it gets weaker and weaker. We need to stretch our faith everyday. Listen to God’s Spirit and receive more wisdom and understanding. Refuse to listen and obey and God takes away the wisdom and understanding that you have.
19 “Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. 21 Your heart will be where your treasure is.–Matthew 6:19-21 (NCV)
Continuing yesterday’s thoughts on showing love. How do we show Jesus that we love Him? To love someone, it is necessary to get know that person, to get to know a person requires us to spend time with that person. When you love someone, you want to spend as much time as possible with them. How much time do you spend with Jesus each day? He has written a book full of love letters to us, have you read them? When we love someone, we think about them most of the time. How much time do you spend meditating and thinking about Jesus? If we examine our lifestyles and find out where our heart is, what treasures would we find? Don’t hang onto temporary, worldly “treasures”, fix your thoughts on eternity and Jesus. Nothing can separate us from God’s love and those treasures we lay up in heaven.
-19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.-John 5:19,20 (NLT)
Even though we verbalize the truth that Jesus was all man, do we really understand what that means? Jesus was as human as you and I are. He could do nothing in and of Himself. He had the Father’s authority to do what He saw the Father doing. So do we. We have access to the same power that Jesus had access to. Then why was Jesus more effective in His ministry than we are today? Jesus was the PERFECT man, we are not perfect. That imperfection keeps us from seeing and knowing God completely. Jesus said that the Father shows Him everything He does. But Jesus also tells us that there is at least one thing that only the Father knows and that is the end of time. So, Jesus was perfect but not omniscient. We are neither. But Jesus tell us in John 14:12 that “we will do greater things than these”. How could we do “greater” things than the miracles that Jesus did even raising the dead after 4 days? Surely the “greater” is quantitative, not qualitative.
20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.–1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (NLT)
God’s Holy Spirit has a job to do here on earth. It is to call the lost to salvation. Those that hear and accept the call find true wisdom and strength. It is wisdom beyond what any man can imagine. We should not find it surprising when we are rejected, scorned, or attacked for our beliefs. We need to remember the pit from which we were dug. In times past, before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were guilty of the same foolishness. We may not have been vocal or aggressive about our positions at that time, but our actions denied the existence of any belief in Jesus Christ. As we are told in Romans 8:29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. We cannot believe unless we are called by God’s Spirit. If we accept the call, then we have right standing with God and can participate in His glory.
19 How great is the goodness, you have stored up for those who fear you.
You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.
20 You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them.
You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.–Psalm 31:19,20 (NLT)
God lavishes His blessings on us everyday. Every new breath is a gift from Him. And yet, we still cannot imagine all the good things He has in store for those of us who love and obey Him. The Bible tells us that it has not even entered into the mind of a human all the things that await us in heaven. But we are also told that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly in the here and now. We live in God’s presence and we are hid in that shelter from all dangers. Blessings, security, and joy. Let us smile, make music in our hearts and rejoice because God is good all the time!
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.–Romans 5:6-10 (NLT)
In our busy lives, we often get impatient with God when He doesn’t deliver exactly what and when we want Him to. But, take a look at history, He has never been early and He has never been late. Mary and Martha thought surely Jesus was late, but, no, He was right on time for God to get the glory of resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. He lives outside our time and only sees the “now”. If it is always “now”, and it is, then He can never be early or late. His great love for us compels Him to act “at just the right time.”
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.–1 Peter 4:12-16 (NRSV)
Yesterday, we talked about how Jesus was tempted by satan when Jesus was alone, tired and hungry. satan picks our weakest moments to tempt us, when we are sick or when we are already having a bad day. It is those times that he uses our friends and families to annoy us even more. We should count it a joy to share in the same sufferings that our Lord and Savior had to go through. Jesus faced satan directly, we face him indirectly everyday because he uses those around us to do his work. Don’t get angry at the person speaking, just remember, evil comes from the devil. But we can control how we react to it. We have the Spirit of God abiding within us, so that we have the power to call on the name of Jesus, Who has already won the victory. It is Jesus that fights our battles for us. Every confrontation by satan is a spiritual battle, not a battle of flesh and blood. Rest in Jesus and His Word and you will find security, peace, and joy. 10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run into it and are safe.–Proverbs 18:10 (NRSV)
If we allow God to fight our spiritual battles for us, we win and God gets the glory! Rejoice!
30 The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor[a] with God.
31 You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.
32 He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
33 Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’ve never had sexual intercourse.”–Luke 1:30-34 (Gods word)
Can you imagine the thoughts that must have gone through Mary’s mind at this announcement? The thoughts of the shame of being unmarried and pregnant? She would be ridiculed and possibly put away by Joseph, her betrothed. What faith it took for Mary to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me”. And, then, Joseph, how could he accept this? Surely, Mary had been unfaithful and gotten herself in this condition. But God! But God had a plan and a purpose. Can we even imagine what God could do through us, if we had even a hint of the faith that Mary and Joseph displayed in carrying out God’s marvelous plan. How many times has God spoken to us and we have responded with “How can this be?” Will we say okay to God,even when it doesn’t make sense to us? Do we believe or do we just mouth the words? But God!!
17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near—a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab,
and the territory of all the Shethites. Numbers 24:17 (NRSV)
This would have been a strange prophecy for the Israelites to hear. This was a conformation of the prophecy in Gen 49:10 that the scepter would never depart from between Judah’s feet. All priests were to be of the tribe of Levi and Jacob was of the tribe of Judah. How could a priest rise out of the tribe of Judah? But God had a plan that would not violate the laws that He had handed down. When the scepter rose out of Israel, there would be a change in the way people were to worship God. This is explained further in Hebrews. 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, 16 one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life.–Hebrews 7:12-15 (NRSV)
So, we see that while the priesthood of the Levites was established by the law, the priesthood of Jesus was established through the power of an indestructible life that could only be from the Creator. It was decided before the earth was formed. Jesus would be the final and perfect blood sacrifice for all the sin of the world. He was not, can not, and will not be destroyed or defeated. What Adam gave up in Eden, Jesus took back with His death and resurrection.
Now, we celebrate His birth, but that truly was just the beginning.