Many years ago during a hustling and bustling time, a baby was born. Not just any baby, but The King. He came in the most unconventional way. People had been waiting for the Messiah to come and save man from sin. Human reasoning would dictate that God would come in regal fashion but if He did arrive in such flair, man would take credit for it. Our flesh is like that, so self-centered. We would like it if God did things to accommodate our expectations, wouldn’t we?
Yet, God in His amazing love sent His Son to be a baby, a helpless infant who was born to a very young poor and illiterate girl who was engaged to be married. Talk about being the center of gossip! In worldly standards, Jesus was born illegitimately and would come from a town known as, “nothing good comes out of Nazareth”. God is like this, very unorthodox.
He has good reason to do things out of the ordinary. In our flesh, we like to think we are good and capable and strong. We can be independent. But because of Genesis 3, we showed God that we are incapable. One bite of an apple laced with lies caused our downfall. That one bite sent us reeling far away from God and in His amazing love for us He sent Jesus to end all the Old Testament sacrifices and allowed His Son to be the final Lamb. Jesus became the bridge which allowed man to walk across the deadly abyss of sin into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12 says, “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”
Merry Christmas and Happy Easter need to become synonymous. To see only the manger means we are missing what God is doing. Jesus did not come to walk among us so we simply believe. He came to die and in His death we are called to follow. His death lead to the greatest moment in all of history! He did not remain in the grave but resurrected. Because He conquered death, we are now called to believe and follow. Galatians 5:24-25 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks of who Jesus is. “For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Take some time and meditate on these verses.
God is telling us that He is giving us His Son and that He has authority over us all. He will counsel us, fight for us into eternity. He is peace. Read John 1:1-5 for greater discovery. In this world we will never experience fairness and justice but with God on our side, we won’t battle alone. God is passionate and committed to those who believe and follow. When we take the time to discover the amazing love that God is giving us, we stop dead in our tracts, look up and readily let Him lead us.
Let’s read about a woman in Acts 16:11-15 who readily responded. She resembles many people. She was a successful business woman who worshiped God. Paul and Silas were on their second missionary journey and they came upon some women who had gathered to pray. They spoke the things of Christ to them and Lydia listened. God opened her heart and she accepted what Paul was telling her. I have a question for you. If she already worshiped God, why would God need to open her heart to accept what Paul was saying? She apparently believed. Please don’t miss this. Ask God for clarity if this question puzzles you. If you are still struggling, message me and I will help you. (You can message me in the contact section from my website.)
Salvation is a two-step process. First, we must come to believe in who Jesus is. Then we learn to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Everyone’s process will be different. For me, my brother shared who Jesus was when I was 13 and I said yes. Then I had 10 years of not knowing what to do with that. While desiring to know God, I floundered around in my flesh. I graduated high school and then lived with this same brother my freshman year of college. There, I saw his family live out Christ and God planted my seeds of faith. At age 23, I got married and God took those baby seeds and began sprouting them as I learned how to pick up my cross and follow Him. 30 years later, here I am! Jesus has become my best friend. He has taught me to recognize His voice when He speaks to me. He will teach you but you must fight for it!
If you continue reading the verses, she was baptized and opened her home to Paul and Silas. God led her to go all the way in her faith journey. Like we spoke about in past blogs, Jesus went all the way in obedience with His Father. He did not go half way, perhaps to the cross and then stand up for himself to keep from being put to death. If He did that, we would all be doomed right now or man would have extinguished himself years ago. And so, we are called to go all the way, like Jesus did.
Lydia went all the way. She heard truth and responded, with her heart. She went from just listening to hearing. Her hearing changed her heart which in turn changed how she lived life. She worked hard, apparently made plenty of money and went to church. She was found on the hillside praying with others and yet her encounter with Paul changed her position. She went from being a believer to a true believer. Christmas and Easter became synonymous to her.
You may be someone who worships God externally. You may be someone who works hard and is successful in your trade. You may be someone who faithfully attends church and gives to the needy. You love your family. On the outside you may appear to have it all but what does your inside look like? Is God needing to open your heart? Are you needing to go from being a listener to a hearer? May this Christmas be about going all the way with Jesus, seeing the manger as well as the cross. It’s about following as well as believing. You will miss out on the greatest journey given to mankind if you stop 1/2 way. Go from being a Christmas believer to a true believer of the resurrection.
Be brave and allow your belief to morph into obedience. There, the Holy Spirit will guide you home. The Father never left His Son while on earth. The same is true for you and me. God will take you where we need to be. It is truly a beautiful thing.