Longing For Rescue

manger scene
She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. —Matthew 1:21

The movie Man of Steel, released in 2013, is a fresh imagining of the Superman story. Filled with breathtaking special effects and nonstop action, it drew crowds to movie theaters around the world. Some said that the film’s appeal was rooted in its amazing technology. Others pointed to the enduring appeal of the “Superman mythology.”

Amy Adams, the actress who plays Lois Lane in the movie, has a different view of Superman’s appeal. She says it is about a basic human longing: “Who doesn’t want to believe that there’s one person who could come and save us from ourselves?”

That’s a great question. And the answer is that someone has already come to save us from ourselves, and that someone is Jesus. Several announcements were made regarding the birth of Jesus. One of them was from the angel Gabriel to Joseph: “She [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Jesus came—He did so to save us from our sin and from ourselves. His name means “the Lord saves”—and our salvation was His mission. The longing for rescue that fills the human heart ultimately is met by Jesus. By Bill Crowder

When the angel spoke to Joseph about Mary’s baby, he said that the child’s name would be a clue to His identity: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus would also be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (v.23). Jesus came to rescue us.

Shout salvation full and free,
Highest hills and deepest caves;
This our song of victory—
Jesus saves! Jesus saves! —Owens

Jesus’ name and mission are the same— He came to save us.

Responding to Our Trials

1 Peter 4:12-19

What is your usual response when you face times of trouble? Are you inclined to stand and fight? Perhaps you are convinced that you’re strong enough to handle any obstacle. Or maybe you do what so many others do: run as far and as fast as you can.

Trials are unavoidable in life. Instead of deciding how best to avoid them, we should instead focus on the way to respond to them. There are several things for the Christian to do when confronted with conflict.

First, we should trust God, based on His holy Word. Scripture assures us that the Lord knows our limits and will therefore never allow us to be pushed or tempted beyond our ability to persevere (1 Cor. 10:13).

Second, we must trust in His faithfulness. In times of trouble, take time to reflect on previous hardships. Did God help you then? What was the result of that trial? How has He shown Himself to be faithful at other times? (See Ps. 37:23-24.)

Third, we must make a conscious decision to persevere. Romans 5:3-5 reveals that persistence is a vital part of a healthy growing Christian life. Our encouragement is that perseverance in the face of trials leads to the hope which “does not disappoint” (v. 5).

Finally, it is important to acknowledge the sovereignty of almighty God. Our heavenly Father is never surprised by the tragedies in our lives. Rather, He stands ready to work in us (Phil. 2:13), through us (1 John 4:4), and for us (Rom. 8:31) to bring us to the point of victory in His Son Jesus Christ.

We Will Serve the Lord

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

As Joshua’s death approached, he gathered the people around him for a final address and challenge. “Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served” (v. 14), he exhorted as he reviewed the history of God’s provision for Israel. Indeed, God was worthy of their service in light of all He had done for them. Speaking on behalf of the Lord, Joshua used the divine pronoun “I” no less than 17 times in the previous 11 verses, in a majestic listing of His work on their behalf.

There seems to be a twist of irony in Joshua’s words. Even though the people adamantly maintained, “Therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God” (v. 18), Joshua evidently knew they had already decided not to follow God. He did not offer them a choice between the true God and false gods, he offered them a choice between sets of false gods—those “on the other side of the flood” (i.e., the Euphrates River), or those “in Egypt” (v. 14), or “the gods of the Amorites.” None can compare, obviously, to the Lord.

Joshua’s point is still applicable today. Man must worship; he must have a god. One may recognize his god as an actual “god”—an idol to be openly worshipped. Many times today, however, the god is that of human reason, science, evolution, or humanism, and worship is performed unwittingly. Our duty in witnessing includes helping the unsaved to make a knowledgeable choice, pointing out the consequences of their choice of gods. Such a comparison should drive one to the same decision as Joshua’s: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” JDM

An Instrument for God to Use

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. —1 Peter 4:11

To please God, a person must be just an instrument for God to use. For a few seconds, picture in your mind the variety of wonderful and useful appliances we have in our homes. They have been engineered and built to perform tasks of all kinds. But without the inflow of electrical power they are just lumps of metal and plastic, unable to function and serve. They cannot do their work until power is applied from a dynamic outside source.

So it is in the work of God in the church. Many people preach and teach. Many take part in the music. Certain ones try to administer God’s work. But if the power of God’s Spirit does not have freedom to energize all they do, these workers might just as well stay home.

Natural gifts are not enough in God’s work. The mighty Spirit of God must have freedom to animate and quicken with His overtones of creativity and blessing.

Lord, deliver us from our dependency on natural gifts. We hunger for effectiveness in Your work, but too seldom turn loose to let Your power flow through us. Amen.

God Will Not Play Along with Adam

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5

There is great need for us to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ.

God will not play along with Adam; Christ will not be “used” by any of Adam’s selfish brood.

We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience and not the true Lord of glory at all!

I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging but not too discriminating Big Brother who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favors us by forbearing to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.

In our eagerness to lead men to “accept” Christ we are often tempted to present for acceptance a Christ who is little more than a caricature of “that holy thing” which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, to be crucified and rise the third day to take His place on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God! To accomplish this, He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.

Give Time to God

In his law doth he meditate day and night. PSALM 1:2

I have often wished that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short, easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No shortcut exists!

God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him!

He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.

He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end. So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the believing members of the holy Church in all generations.

And so must we if we would follow in their train!

May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the kingdom like little children through the marketplace, chattering about everything but pausing to learn the true value of nothing?

Dear Lord, help me order my time so that I may get to know You and Your
Word more intimately.