DRAWING NEAR – PART 23 – 12/27/2015
LOST SHEEP CANNOT FIND THE SHEPHERD
After all the packages have been opened, the Christmas cards and decorations put away and the holiday meals become another wonderful memory of family and friends, we are amazed at how much we have been blessed. But the pleasures of having an abundance of material possessions actually has very little to do with our real blessings. Hopefully throughout the festivities that usually include lighted decorations, luscious treats and passed down traditions, we have paused to consider what we have really celebrated – the birth of our only hope to be saved from our sins. When we pray, we ask Jesus to forgive us and wash us clean with His holy blood – the ONLY substance that has the power to release mankind from the guilt and shame of iniquity. The reason why Jesus is the only way to heaven is because He is the only one that has the authority to forgive us. People all over the world have always bowed down to various religious figures and imaginations but not one of them had the power to give anyone the gift of eternal salvation. To declare that anyone other than God has the spiritual dominion to save a soul would be to blaspheme the Bible and downplay the significance of the greatest act of love the world has ever known. What other figure is recognized as creator of the universe, the sun and stars, and the endless galaxies? What other person was from the beginning, was not created and has no end? Who can declare they know everyone’s thoughts and will one day judge every person that has ever lived and have the authority to sentence them to eternal life or eternal death? Name someone that can create a human being, an animal, a living tree or can hold the earth in orbit at a perfect angle and keep it rotating at the perfect speed? What was once a crowded room of attention seekers, imposters, lovers of fame and the worship of men and women are now seen slipping out the back door because they are embarrassed and humiliated.
Some will say they searched high and low for the truth and finally found Jesus but is this how salvation works? No. Is the GREAT I AM that is filled with love and mercy playing hide and seek with all the people in the world? No. He is in plain sight and is NOT trying to resist us. He is visible all around us and if we will stop and listen we can hear His voice. It is our blindness that causes us to walk past Him and it is the dark condition of our heart that prevents us from seeking Him. We never went searching for Him – He drew us through the love of His gospel! The truth is that when we made the holy connection with Jesus it was because He was searching for US! He made a divine appointment for you and I to hear about His love and those living words penetrated our heart as the Holy Spirit brought conviction upon us. Our conscience became flooded with the guilt of realizing we were hopelessly lost and that we desperately needed a Savior. We did not “find” Him – He found us! He not only gave His life to rescue us, but was relentless until He finally captured our heart. We are the recipients of His divine GRACE (lest any person should boast) filled with His glory – and forever grateful.
IS THERE ANY ROOM IN YOUR INN?
The story of Mary and Joseph coming from Nazareth into Bethlehem, trying to find a place for her to deliver her baby (the Messiah) has been cherished and contemplated since the day it happened. The city was filled to over capacity during this time because the government was collecting taxes and of course everyone was looking for a “hotel.” Mary and Joseph were nonetheless entering into the city at a very hectic season and as Joseph continued to seek shelter for his wife, he finally realized there were no available rooms. He was told by one Innkeeper that since this was an emergency he could stay overnight in the stable out back with the animals. At least there would be straw and a roof over their head and sure enough this is where the Savior of the world was born. The King of all kings and the Lord of all Lords was brought forth in a dirty, drafty barn, wrapped in a blanket and laid in a feeding trough called a manger. You would think the creator of heaven and earth would have rolled out the red carpet as the second person of the Trinity was being manifested as the greatest miracle of mercy and love to a spiritually lost and dying civilization – but that was not the case. God’s attributes and principals are perfectly based on divine truth and this includes possessing great humility along with superior authority. As always, God’s ways and standards are holy and pure and His Word is our textbook on how to conduct our life – HIS WAY. With Jesus lowly entrance into the world, we see another example of how we should live humbly in our quest to become a reflection of His image. Even though we are also children of His royal family, we are to live in meekness which is strength under control and demonstrating this attitude of spiritual love is our utmost for His Highest. Power and pride when mixed together produce a poisonous recipe for destruction and we can always follow the trail of failure and disappointment back to the carnality of mankind’s arrogant heart. We all represent the Innkeeper and as God continues to knock on our door, many times we are still telling Him there is no room. We are also a symbolic type of Mary, the humble, willing vessel who submitted to the Holy Spirit and brought forth Jesus into her life as the light of the world.
IMMANUEL IS DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND
The incarnation means “to become flesh” and when Christ was born of a virgin, God became a flesh and blood man for the purpose of living among His creation and then dying to rescue them from being eternally separated from the presence of the Almighty. Theologians have a fancy name for this merging together of deity and flesh called “hypostatic union.” The term hypostatic union is much easier than it sounds, but the concept is as profound as anything in theology. Both the Father and the Son are of the same “nature” with Jesus described as the exact imprint of God as we see this clearly in the first chapter of Hebrews. Hypostatic means personal and this union is the personal combination of Jesus’ two natures – one fully human and one fully divine. Fully human in that He feels and understands everything about us and completely divine that has the perfect wisdom to take care of any and every problem we will ever face. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. It is awe-inspiring—to know that Jesus’ two natures are perfectly united in his one person. Jesus is not divided – He is not two people – He is one person without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Because of this hypostatic, one-person union, Jesus Christ exhibits an unparalleled magnificence. No one person satisfies the complex longings of the human heart like the God-man. God has made the mind and conscience in such a way that it will never be eternally content with that which is only human. The conceptions of every other religious idol and god have never had an incarnation or a hypostatic union and will never satisfy the human soul like the ONE TRUE God who did! Amen! And beyond just gazing at the spectacular person of Jesus, there is also the amazing gospel-laced revelation that the reason Jesus became the God-man was for us. His fully human nature joined in personal union to his eternally divine nature is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is the Lamb that was slain and the Son of Man who is Omnipotent. God was glorious long before He became Yeshuah and demonstrated His love for us by living and dying for us while we were yet still sinners. He experienced our nature as a human and was thinking about us while hanging on the cross as our Savior. If we could ever come into an awareness that realizes “God lives in us” we would find ourselves being truly transformed into what God has in mind. “Immanuel” is a mystery and asking God to reveal this to us is how we receive enlightenment and revelation of His wisdom. Some may say this is actually beyond comprehension and others might never even consider trying but some will dedicate their life to it – and succeed. Does the God of the universe live inside of you? Do you have a desire to allow Him to do what He wants to do through you? Do we believe the God who has made everything enjoys being dormant within us? Hmmmm….
HE DID NOT COME TO BRING US SILVER AND GOLD
The Christmas song, “do you hear what I hear” has a line in it that says, “let us bring him silver and gold” and I believe that most people do not have a clue what this means. I was humming this song the other day just going through the house and realized I was singing the words, “HE WILL bring us silver and gold” and it dawned on me that I had somehow subconsciously twisted this important meaning around to bless me instead of me blessing Him. And then I wondered how many people have really forgotten or maybe have never known the true meaning of spiritual worship and praise unto the Almighty God of all creation. Yes, He has no problem blessing us but this is not why he came. I was teaching a Bible story the other day to a group of young handicapped adults and talking about the wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus and I stopped and asked them, “what can we bring Jesus now” and a young girl immediately said – OUR LOVE! This was very precious and brought a tear to my eye and I thought – do we really understand this? Do I really believe that the item He wants more than anything is the very thing that I do not want to give to Him? Our “will” is mankind’s prized possession because it allows us to do whatever we want and the gifts the Magi laid at His crib represent this most valuable sacrifice. He does not need my gold – He wants me. Not just my works – He wants me to walk in faith and give Him all of my heart, strength and soul. He proved His love by abandoning His will…and is still waiting for wise men and women to bow before Him with the “gift” of submission. Amen.