For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3: 16

 

After a long journey, the band of travelers from the east arrive in the land of David; they go to Herod, for as the religious ruler of the country they thought that they could get specific directions to the location of the baby king that they had come to honor. But Herod was interested in personal gain, in power, and not in the souls of men; so, they went away from him, and they stayed away from his evil intent. These men were the philosophers and the spiritual counselors to their home country. They studied the stars and they predicted the future. They were the elite thinkers of their culture. Here they were in a foreign land, and they were very far from home; yet, the sense of adventure and the excitement of encountering the fulfillment of their prophetic studies had to be intoxicatingly powerful.

 

We, too, have all been on a long journey through life. We have all encountered various challenges and trials and roadblocks along the way. Yet, I have found that the presence of Christ remains constant throughout all. His glory shines even brighter than that star that the magi followed. Christ never stops calling to all people just as He has never stopped calling to me. Christ cares deeply about what I do and how I am living; still, these actions and thoughts of mine have never made any difference to Him in regards to His desire to lead me to truth, to integrity, to righteousness, and to love. Since I have known Jesus on the profoundly personal basis that He desires for all, the journey to God’s presence is a very short one, for His Spirit is a part of who I now am. Still, that journey can seem like the longest and the most challenging expedition that I could imagine; yet, that perception is my problem. God is here with me always; it is my heart that tries to shut him out. I am the one that tries to run and hide from Him and His truth.

 

For people who haven’t come to the decision to enter into a relationship with Jesus, the journey to Him is also, in fact, very short, for it is accomplished in the heart, not with the feet, and He is there waiting to enter into it with everyone. There are no special words and no magic spells required. God does love everyone, and Christ wants to complete that love by infusing every one’s heart with it. So, like the Magi, we come to the presence of Christ bringing gifts to honor the king, He wants us to bring Him a gift also. God wants us to give him the gift of our lives. He wants us to present our willingness to let him have control of our thoughts and our actions, and He asks for us to give Him our openness and willingness to live for Him. In turn, God gives us everything. He gives us His hope, grace, comfort, freedom, honesty, compassion, serenity, understanding, companionship, majesty, and joy. God gives us all of this and so much more, and all of this is ours always and forever.

 

So, I ask myself, where am I on this journey today? What is it that I am holding onto out of fear or stubbornness or some other personal motive; what does God want me to lay at His feet as my gift of self? As I fall down before the King in worship, I challenge myself to accept Christ’s gifts to me, to live like they are my reality, and like the Magi did, I am to go into my own world to tell of this gracious love that fills my heart and that gives me my true purpose in life.

 

Advertisements

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3: 16

 

It didn’t need to be this way. We did not need to require saving, for God made this world with perfection as a major thread in its fabric. That perfect creation did not know disobedience and the decaying corruption that sin brings about. The peace of eternity was something to enjoy during every moment of the day; so, people did not need to hope for it as a future event. We had God’s presence as our regular and our routine companion, and communication with Him was unstrained and without restraint. Yet evil and its disobedience did exist in the universe, and Satan appeared before our ancestors with his crafty ways and his shiny eyes of deceit, and they listened too long and responded without careful consideration of what was true and what was not quite so. The result of all of this was disastrous for all of creation from that moment onward until today.

 

In the situation at hand, God had to make a choice. He could have destroyed what His hands had fashioned and start over. This was completely within His power and this entire world was then, as it is now, under His authority. God would have been within His rights to have acted like a sculptor who is dissatisfied with the result of His work and so rolled the clay back into an unformed lump to rework its consistency and start anew with shaping it into the great creation that He had envisioned and desired to form. Yet, this was not how God responded. He was already invested in the relationship with Adam and Eve, and even with the knowledge that He possessed of just how hard it all was going to be, the Lord was not going to give up on the relationship. God came to the people and approached them with His stern hand of love so that the process of restoration of relationship could begin. The Lord brought redemption and granted purpose to Adam and Eve that continues forward to today.

 

We are the recipients of this same mercy and grace that was granted to the first people. God still comes after us in our sinful wandering, and He comes to us wherever we have gone. His desire to see our relationship with Him returned to the intimate and everlasting nature of His original design is relentless. In fact, in order to perfect this restorative process, God gave the world Jesus as the ultimate and complete payment for all of our sinfulness. In Christ we are all set free from the penalty of death that belongs to each of us from birth. With Christ we enter into a life that transcends this world and that takes us into the eternal presence of God and into a new life that is lived out as a citizen of the Lord’s kingdom come to earth. All of this is done out of love. God loves each and every person and all of His creation with a passion that is all consuming and with a form of commitment that is beyond human reasoning. Christ is God’s expression of total love to me and to you. When we come to Christ and surrender our striving to His gracious will, the Lord writes His eternal love note on our hearts.

Reposted from 2012

Where does thankfulness come from? What is it that I am truly thankful for? Why does it matter at all in a world where take is stronger than give and have is far more desirable than relinquish? The questions seem to outstrip the traditions, and the day of gathering and celebration in America has become, for many, just the starting point for the consumer rush of the Holiday Season. Yet, I want to throw out that there is, indeed, much to be thankful for and there is truly a reason to celebrate.

 

This point on the calendar in late November can and should be the start of a very special season. The celebration and the remembrance, the gathering together and the festivities that mark the Christmas Season are good things. In fact, I think that they are more than just good things; I believe that this coming season of Advent is an important part of the cycle of our faith lives. This is a time when we reflect upon the characteristics of God that were given to humanity by and through Christ. During these weeks our hearts can be turned away from our self-imposed necessities and toward our calling in Christ to serve His Kingdom and to glorify His name. This is a time of the year when giving the gifts of kindness, compassion, and care can mean more to a tired soul than any object or fragile token of affection.

 

It seems to me that our greatest cause for thankfulness is to be found in the Advent, which is Christ come. This is God with us and God within us. The Spirit of Christ has been given to us to speak truth, love, peace, mercy, and forgiveness into our broken and bitter souls. In Christ we are granted restoration and our lives are transformed from the inside to the out in a manner that grants each of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior into persons of real, eternal significance in our world. In all of this resides the cause for thankfulness. It is through Christ and by the results of His coming that we are made alive, and because of His grace and merciful forgiveness, we are granted a life that matters. So, as our thankfulness is focused upon God and reflects on His great gift to all of Creation, we are motivated to extend the love of God to the world around us and to rest in the certainty of His for us. This is more than enough cause to be deeply and eternally thankful.

 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3: 16

 

Where does thankfulness come from? What is it that I am truly thankful for? Why does it matter at all in a world where take is stronger than give and have is far more desirable than relinquish? The questions seem to outstrip the traditions, and the day of gathering and celebration in America has become, for many, just the starting point for the consumer rush of the Holiday Season. Yet, I want to throw out that there is, indeed, much to be thankful for and there is truly a reason to celebrate.

 

This point on the calendar in late November can and should be the start of a very special season. The celebration and the remembrance, the gathering together and the festivities that mark the Christmas Season are good things. In fact, I think that they are more than just good things; I believe that this coming season of Advent is an important part of the cycle of our faith lives. This is a time when we reflect upon the characteristics of God that were given to humanity by and through Christ. During these weeks our hearts should be turned away from our self-imposed necessities and toward our calling in Christ to serve His Kingdom and to glorify His name. This is a time of the year when giving the gifts of kindness, compassion, and care can mean more to a tired soul than any object or fragile token of affection.

 

It seems to me that our greatest cause for thankfulness should be found in the Advent, which is Christ come. This is God with us and God within us. The Spirit of Christ has been given to us to speak truth, love, peace, mercy, and forgiveness into our broken and bitter souls. In Christ we are granted restoration and our lives are transformed from the inside to the out in a manner that grants each of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior into persons of real, eternal significance in our world. In all of this resides the cause for thankfulness. It is through Christ and by the results of His coming that we are made alive, and because of His grace and merciful forgiveness, we are granted a life that matters. So, as our thankfulness is focused upon God and reflects on His great gift to all of Creation, we should be motivated to extend the love of God to the world around us and to rest in the certainty of His for us. This is more than enough cause to be deeply and eternally thankful.

 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3: 16