Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Season for giving and getting”....??

The year has literally disappeared into history, so quickly that one is reminded how short a human life is, in God's economy of time. As fleeting as time is, so is realization of the reality of this time of year, as the general populace focus their attention on so many things which are far removed from the reality we use as an excuse to do what we do.

The reality is the Messiah, Jesus the Christ!

Put yourself in the shoes of doubting Thomas when Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6) ?

These are amazing words which must have caused Thomas to raise his eyebrows. What would your reaction be?

Again, when speaking to the religious fundamentalists of the society into which he came, Jesus said,You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. (John 8:44)

Imagine the course of your thoughts upon hearing these words, as Jesus personifies Himself as “the truth” in contrast with Satan “your father the devil”, who is the very antithesis of truth, the original “liar”, the very foundation of falsehood, whose great desire is to turn attention away from the One we know as Jesus.

The radio announcer's words were loud and clear, “We are now in the season of giving and getting....”. This mind set, which the retailers love to promote, rankles me every time I come across it.

I want to shout in response, “You are so wrong! This is the season of rejoicing in, and celebrating the incarnation! This is something we need to celebrate every day of the year!”.

From August onwards,at least in Australia, retailers are doing their utmost to remind us that Christmas is coming, and we need to acquire all the paraphernalia which they have on display. The gifts, the glitz, and the colourful displays, which are designed to have an effect on us. All without engendering much thought about how amazing this act of God is, as He took upon Himself human form.

Overwhelmed by the razzamatazz, we find the occasional nativity scene giving, as it were, lip service to what the season is, supposedly, really about.

The historic fact of God assuming the form of humanity as Jesus Christ the Son, surely must cause us to consider, and rejoice in the fact that He really is, the one who is personified in many verbal images, such as already mentioned above, which add so much to what the humble family scene in the manger of nativity scenes is telling us, and whom the nativity baby truly is:

"I am the bread of life"(John 6:35,48,51). The only true sustenance throughout eternity
"I am the light of the world"(John 8:12). The only true illumination of eternity in God's presence
"I am the door of the sheep"(John 10:7,9). The only entrance into eternity with God
"I am the good shepherd"(John 10:11,14). The only pastor for now and eternity
"I am the resurrection, and the life"(John 11:25). The only way through which resurrection to
eternal life is possible
"I am the true vine"(John 15:1,5). The only one with whom to be in familial relationship, makes
eternal life a certainty

To use an Australian colloquialism, He is the only fair dinkum, genuine article!  He is the long awaited Messiah. The very Person of the New Covenant promise!

Speaking to a people who put great importance on religious buildings, (sounds rather familiar) the Lord Jesus referred to His body as the temple, creating quite some consternation.

He was speaking of the amazing time in history when the promised New Covenant would become a reality and the traditions surrounding the temple and worship would be replaced by something He explained to the woman at the well,

““Woman, believe me,the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)

This is the very fact which caused Stephen to be murdered by these same religious people, when he mentioned the temple made with stone, he told them, "Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, Heaven is my throne,and the earth is my footstool”.(Acts 7:48).
In chapter 8 of the Letter to the Hebrews, we see,Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent (tabernacle, place of worship) that the Lord set up, not man. (Hebrews 8:2)

To read this Letter to the Hebrews, and miss the import of this point the writer is making, is to miss everything:

The Sovereign, Almighty God, became a man, in Jesus Christ.

As one of my favourite hymns says,
O what a wonderful, wonderful day - day I will never forget;
After I'd wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend - He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
My sins were washed away -
And my night was turned to day -
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

Born of the Spirit with life from above into God's fam'ly divine,
Justified fully thru Calvary's love, O what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer of grace He did proffer - He saved me, O praise His dear name!

Now I've a hope that will surely endure after the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure, there in those mansions sublime.
And it's because of that wonderful day when at the cross I believed;
Riches eternal and blessings supernal from His precious hand I received.

I don't have the words to express my thoughts regarding a gift such as this!

This is what the incarnation was about!

Is not this a good enough reason to rejoice, and to do so always?

Does not this overshadow anything the world has to offer, with all of its gaudy displays?

God working out His will in the most unimaginable act of love and grace, where, as the long prophesied Messiah, He put in place an immediate, heavenly and spiritual personal relationship with Him.

This gift of Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, rather than a legalistic earthly and temporal struggle to do what most religion expects, something which the Son already accomplished, as He lived and died, and rose again, in the place of all who would come to Him as Saviour and Lord .

His Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and, "the true tent (tabernacle, place of worship) that the Lord set up, not man." is a Person, and those for whom He died, who are joined with Him through death, burial and resurrection, and "baptized into one body by one Spirit" (1 Cor.12:13), a Body which Peter calls a “spiritual house”, the very church (ekklesia) Jesus is building (Matt.16:18), and to which all who believe He is whom He said, and trust His finished work, belong, by His Holy Spirit!

Those who are His have an eternal certainty which is a spiritual, and yet, very present possession, with all that implies.

For those who remain in their sin, it's another matter, and so very sad. They also have an eternal certainty! Will they rejoice away from His glorious presence? I think not!

Now, being past my three score years and ten, I have extra reason to rejoice, as it is the first anniversary since having triple bypass surgery. But for the grace of God and His gift of the skilled hands who operated on me, I would still be rejoicing, but in the presence of The King!

Our Sovereign God, revealed to man in the Lord, Jesus Christ, rested the whole issue of the quality of our inevitable eternity upon Himself as the essential central element of the spiritual entity which He is building, so secure and indestructible that Satan, with every ounce of his malevolence, is powerless against it.

I rejoice, also that, as Jesus explained to the woman at the well, in this age of grace, there should be no way of Him becoming located in a place, a building, a denomination, a system, or any other invention of man.

There would be only one criteria by which this spiritual entity would be known, His personal presence, by His Spirit, in the “spiritual stones”, with which He is building.

If we are going to isolate a season, then, above all else, may Jesus truly be the reason for the season. The God who loved so much that He voluntarily took upon Himself the form of His creature, to suffer in that form, to satisfy His own justice, that those who are His may have eternal life, and that abundantly.

For those who know Him, there is no better reason to celebrate, and with the angels sing, “Hallelujah!”
What a Saviour!

May you be richly blessed as we daily celebrate the greatest gift that any person can receive, a living relationship with our great God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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