Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Isaiah 42: 1

Here the prophet Isaiah is giving us a forward-looking picture of Jesus which states God’s perspective on the Savior. This is the Messiah that God was going to send into our defeated world. Yet, I think that Isaiah was also telling us considerably more than just how the Father would view the Son, Jesus the Christ, for I think that we can see some really great things about how our Lord views us, as well.

Jesus came into this world as a man in order to make God tangible and to connect us totally with our Creator. So, when we enter into a relationship with Christ, we gain much of these same blessings that God granted to Jesus. With Christ in us, we are viewed by God as His chosen ones, and the Lord will literally move heaven and earth in order to hold us up in and through everything that life brings our way. We become the delight of God’s eye. We also become workers in the Lord’s field and keepers of His kingdom come to earth.

However, there are responsibilities that come with our position as God’s chosen ones. We are called upon by the Lord to bring His grace, love, mercy, and justice into the world. Thus, most of us will be required to live differently than we have in the past in that we are being asked by God to care little for ourselves and to be totally involved in demonstrating His redemptive love by and in all of our lives. Standing up for justice, for peace, and for redemptive love in a world that values oppressive power and restrictive rules can be a very lonely and even a dangerous thing to do, but when we do that, we are accomplishing exactly what God wants us to do, and we are standing squarely in the center of His delight.

 

Advertisements

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18: 2

 

In my town this is truly the season of delivery. There are official vehicles of many different colors and sizes zipping about the streets as they bring the goods that we have purchased and the items that others have sent to our homes. In many ways, these vehicles and their drivers are a modern, generally more fit but less colorful version of Santa and his famous Caribou. Although these deliveries are usually enjoyable and may bring something of real worth into our lives, they are not even close to the reason for all of the attention that is focused on these late December days. In this far end of the year with its extremes of darkness in the north and the exact opposite in the south we recognize, remember, and worship the One who God sent to bring about the deliverance of all of creation.

 

Christ came into our world in order to bring the miracle of relationship with God to me. That is a powerful truth to grasp and to consider. The One who resided in the perfection of heaven with nothing but worship surrounding Him, deliberately left all of that behind and came into this world in the form of humanity with our frail and vulnerable composition. He did this so that everyone who would surrender self in order to believe could be saved, delivered from, the certain death that our chosen sinfulness had decreed for all of us. This is the true miracle of this season. This is my reason for celebration and for the joy that permeates my heart and that overcomes everything else that comes my way in the course of life.

 

I may know doubt or fear with sadness and grief coming my way in real life measure, but this land of shadows is no longer my home. My heart and my mind live in a stout fortress of faith that is grounded in God’s Word and that is walled in by His Spirit. That doesn’t mean that I have it all together so that there are never times of wandering or periods of doubt. What it does mean is that the Lord is with me in those periods when the stresses and the concerns of this life seem to shadow Christ’s radiance from my eyes. He breaks through to my soul with the angelic music of truth so that these familiar tunes begin to lift my darkened spirit. I know that I can turn to Christ in every situation that I might encounter, and He will shelter my frailty from the destruction that I fear. In this season, all of my being celebrates that precious and glorious delivery of my redeemer. In Him I find my strength!

Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13: 13

 

Faith, hope, and love existed on this earth through all of the years that came and went between creation and the birth of Jesus. People had faith in many things and in many gods; they also had faith in the one true God, Yahweh. They also hoped for much, and the followers of that one true God carried an enduring hope of His return and the freedom that it would bring. They loved much and expressed it passionately. They created great art to demonstrate those passions and they sang of love’s virtues and challenges much as we do today. Yet, that love was without its fullest expression and its greatest rendition. It, like faith and hope, was incomplete.

 

 

God did not intend to leave His creation in this incomplete state of being. He had finished the work once and He would move it along the path to finality through an act of total loving sacrifice. The God who carried absolute and total authority over the entire universe chose to enter into this world as the humble and powerless baby that was born into the oppressed Jewish culture of those days. Jesus left eternity and entered into our humanity. He joined with us and walked along our roads, and Christ knew our pain and shared in our struggles; then, He allowed us to torture and to crucify Him in order to complete God’s plan for our salvation.

 

This is a love beyond any other. The love that Jesus lived out is the human demonstration of the infinite love that the Father has for each and every one of the people on this earth. We all are His beloved children, and Christ came to save every one of us from the sin that separates us from God’s eternal presence. Because of God’s love, as carried to completed expression by Christ, we can have true and lasting faith in that one God, and we have hope for today that is based upon the real and tangible presence of Christ in our lives and in our world. Love is the gift of Christmas and faith and hope are its lasting legacy.

Merry Christmas!

But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

John 3: 21

 

It is the Christmas season and people are decorating their homes and places of business in festive colors and with bright lights. I truly enjoy the sparkle of creativity that comes out during this time of year. The lights are especially attractive to me. It is as if our homes and city streets are putting on their best jewelry to wear to a very special party. Of course, we know that this is true. We are celebrating something that is far greater than anything else in history. These parties and other expressions of joy and of reverence are engaged in remembrance of a birthday, but I suggest that the birth being celebrated is not just that of Jesus.

 

The joy that is felt is that of humanity’s birth out of the death of sin’s separation from God and into the life that is found in Christ. Jesus was born, raised into adulthood, lived among us, and died the sacrificial death that restores us to God’s graces. So, as we string the lights on our homes and around our trees, we are expressing our delight and appreciation for that work of restoration that God engaged so purposefully. These strings of lights are a representation of what Christ brings into our world. They shine brightly for a season, but the Lord desires for His people to shine out into the darkness of all times and seasons.

 

The true things that Jesus was speaking about are those ways of thinking and acting that are a human expression of the gospel. In Christ we can be bold and fearless. We are granted the grace that we need to expose our own sin and depravity to our God with the certain knowledge that He has forgiven us and that He will heal us from their destructive effects. As we dwell in the restorative light of Christmas come we are called upon by Christ to step out into our world in order to bring the light of righteousness, grace, and love into its darkened corners. I think that our Lord is delighted when He sees the streets of our world illuminated by the light of His truth as His people live it out.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8: 19

 

It is hard to wait for Christmas. There are so many joys and pleasures to anticipate that time can seem to stop in place as the days of December roll past on the calendar. We look forward to family gathering, greetings exchanged, and comfortable good meals prepared and eaten in an environment that invites taking our time and a schedule set aside for a day. We shop for special gifts that hand the receiver the blessing of a picture of the heart of the giver, and we anticipate opening gifts that are wrapped in love. The December air crackles with the sort of magic that C. S. Lewis spoke about in his Tales of Narnia. This real magic is found in the presence of Christ in the land as He grants perspective to the season and brings all into clear focus.

 

Although we humans may think that we have the market on Christmas anticipation cornered, that we own it in its entirety; that is simply not true. Our entire world has undergone the pain and the loss that is the negative blessing, the curse, of sin. Evil is more real than even the most aware of us can consider. It rages in the storm, and its icy flow seeps into the minute cracks of our hearts in order to erode our spirits from within. God’s original creation had no storm and knew no destruction and loss. So, it is this state of deep and unremitting peace that even the rocks and the seas desire. All of Creation is waiting for Christ to return and to put it all right again with a sort of tingle of anticipation that is like a groom at the altar or a child on Christmas morning.

 

At this time we all continue to wait for Christmas. We live in the presence of the unresolved tension that uncertainty brings; yet, we also dwell in the presence of God’s promised and delivered certainty. Christ is the answer to every question that we and the rest of creation utter. Although we await the total healing that His return will bring about, we are, in fact, healed by His presence in our lives. So, as Christ transforms every person who calls upon Him from being sons of the world into being true and fully vested sons of God, we are called by Christ to serve His Kingdom by bringing healing to our world. Where there is destruction, we can bring repair. As there is loss, we can comfort. In a land that is filled with sorrow and pain, we can bring the hope that is Christmas.