Oct 2, 2015
“The Newborn King” from Christmas Worship Vol. 2 by Paul Baloche
Oct 2, 2015
“The Newborn King” from Christmas Worship Vol. 2 by Paul Baloche
It is not that the Western Church has lost its salvation but that it has lost its compatibility with God. We simply don’t know Him and many of us don’t want to. We are content with being identified by our carnality instead of by our likeness to Christ.
To borrow Paul’s metaphor in 1 Corinthians 3 we have become a congregation of infants; unable to eat solid food. We come in on Sunday morning to be spoon fed by the man of God but then recede back to our comfortable lives and do literally nothing for the kingdom and it’s sake. This cannot be so, church! How can it be that this Gospel, which has caused countless men and women to willingly give up their lives, can no longer motivate men to get off the couch?
We actually deceive ourselves into believing that we are more spiritual than we are by all the magnificent resources we have; as if a seminary degree, a stadium, and a smoke machine could impress God. No, for the Western Church to have revival we must learn from two men found in Mark Chapter 10, just 29 verses apart.
The first is the rich young man who thought so highly of himself and his possessions that he became fated to them. He was unwilling to forsake his status, fine clothing, and luxurious lifestyle for the kingdom of God. The latter is blind Bartimaeus, who had nothing. The only thing he gave up was what little dignity he had left by shouting “Son of David have mercy on me!” against many people telling him to be quiet. He did not ask for what the rich man had or any figment of status or power but wanted to see. Bartimaeus was not special but blessed because even though he was but a blind beggar he understood the value of the kingdom of God and rightly understood his position in relation to it. The rich young man did not.
The Western Church needs to cry out like Bartimaeus. We must admit that we are poor despite our wealth, that we are blind despite all our seeing, and most importantly admit that He is Lord of all. Then in humility we must thrust ourselves through the crowd and shout “Lord, I want to see!”.
Everyone values something. To whom do we give ultimate worth?
The word “worship” makes many people think of an act reserved for those who are religious. Yet we forget that God created everyone for worship—to worship Him—so it is hard-wired into our spiritual DNA as much as our bodies’ need for food and water. If we decide not to worship God, we will worship something or someone else. The word means “to give worth to” and is the full expression of adoration, respect, and awe toward a person or object.
Some of the greatest demonstrations of worship in our world are found not in churches but at concerts, sports arenas, or film premieres, where people shower adoration on their favorite athletes and celebrities. Nothing is held back; there are screams of delight and all-consuming passion.
Sadly, church worship can be far less enthusiastic when we approach it as merely a religious obligation. We can easily get distracted by the kind of music we are singing, or how people around us are worshipping. We can forget there is Someone on the receiving end.
Jesus once had a discussion with a Samaritan woman, who, like many in her day, wondered about the place of worship—the subject of a religious argument with the Jews about proper etiquette. Jesus redirected her focus: “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father . . . an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24). Jesus reminds her that nothing is more important than the object of our worship.
Our heavenly Father seeks our adoration, and unlike the celebrities of our day, He is fully deserving. Worship is our personal response to what God has done in our past as well as our present, and it is the only appropriate response to who God is: our righteous and holy Creator, our Sustainer, and the Lover and Savior of our souls. No celebrity can compete with His glory—no object or desire is as wonderful or perfect as He.
As C. S. Lewis writes in Reflections on the Psalms, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
By Dan Schaeffer
Hardly coincidences, the mighty works of God are beyond the natural order of things.
“Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed.” — C. S. Lewis
Most people use the word miracle to describe something totally unexpected, a cause for celebration. “It’s a miracle!” they blithely exclaim—at least at first. The problem is that over time we begin to lose an initial sense of wonder or awe. Our rational minds seek a natural explanation, and more often than not, we think we find one.
Soon “miracle” becomes the word we use to describe a series of fortunate yet completely unexpected circumstances—pleasant occurrences, but certainly not beyond reason. Gone is the idea of the supernatural. Even Christians can begin to think this way, seeking to rationalize an amazing answer to prayer they received or a recovery from trials or sickness.
When we then read about miracles in the Bible, we can be tempted to view them through this cultural definition. Yet in the Bible, a supernatural act of God was unexplainable in any human terms: the Nile turned red with blood; manna fell from heaven; a bush burned without being consumed.
In the New Testament, Jesus heals the lame, the lepers, the blind; He raises the dead, walks on water, and calms a storm with a command. People don’t applaud as if Christ is an illusionist doing a trick; they’re often stunned into silence. Only a few even thought to challenge the reality of the supernatural things Jesus did—and even then they simply credited the miracle to the power of the devil (Matt. 12:24).
How was the world to believe that a carpenter from Nazareth was truly God’s Son, the Messiah? “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). Miracles in the Bible are not random-but-fortuitous events to be explained away. They are instead God’s path to demonstrating His presence, purpose, and power to us.
As the author of Hebrews writes about those who received the gospel from Jesus, “God also testif[ied] with them, both by signs and wonder and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:4). Miracles—including (and especially) the resurrection of Jesus Christ—are supernatural, unexplainable examples of the power and presence of God, designed to get our attention.
The question is, have they gotten yours?
By Dan Schaeffer
Good morning said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.
The man slowly looked up.
This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new.. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.
His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.. “Leave me alone,” he growled….
To his amazement, the woman continued standing.
She was smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked..
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”
The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“This is a good deal for you, Jack” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it..”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived…
The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business..”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled……. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And do you make a godly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?”
“What business is that of yours?”
I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”
The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.
“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently.. “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said.. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble… Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons…He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet… If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus…… He led me to you.”
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways….
“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And.. And thank you for the coffee.”
God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor.
God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close..
Our greatest hope is found where we’ll live forever with the Lord.
One of the most precious words to Christians, heaven speaks to our greatest hope—that a far better world is awaiting us. It is the promise of Jesus in John 14:2: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”
Though it is a central concept to Christianity, heaven can also be confusing—many words and phrases are used to describe it. It is called Paradise (Luke 23:43), the Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26), the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 25:1), the eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:11), our inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22), and a better country (Heb. 11:16). Why describe heaven in so many ways? Perhaps because it is like a diamond with countless facets, each one reflecting an aspect of heaven’s glory.
At funerals, we’ll often hear things like, “Sally is cultivating God’s flowers now” if Sally was a great gardener, or “Bob is now riding heavenly waves” if Bob was a surfer. In other words, heaven, to many people, is their idealized earth, or earthly activity—only without death and suffering. But, heaven isn’t something we get to make up in our mind. When we die it becomes real; heaven is a real place that already exists—and nothing we can imagine comes close to its glory and wonder. Paul saw it (2 Cor. 12:2) as did John the apostle in Revelation. Heaven is a very real place. Because we are united with Christ, Christians already own real estate there (Phil. 3:20), and we are already legal residents (Eph. 2:6). Because of this, we are merely “renters” here on earth. Our future home is the only permanent one we will ever know (2 Cor. 5:1). When life is difficult, that’s an important truth to cling to. As Irish songwriter Thomas Moore said, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
The word heaven embodies all our hopes and dreams of our future with God. Perhaps no phrase better captures our imagination than what the writer of Hebrews calls it: a better country. That’s what we truly long for and visualize; a real place, not just some ethereal existence among the clouds playing harps. Peter reminds us that our present earth and heavens will be burned up and God will create new ones—and we will live there forever (2 Peter 3:7-13).
“Faith is the Christian’s foundation, hope is his anchor, death is his harbor, Christ is his pilot, and heaven is his country.” — Jeremy Taylor, 17th century cleric.
By Dan Schaeffer
“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:3).
In 2005, a movie entitled The Passion was released that chronicled the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life. During a flashback scene, Jesus was seen in his carpentry shop making a table with his mother standing by playfully observing. It was a very beautiful scene that reminds us that Jesus was a carpenter for most of his adult life. In fact, Jesus was more qualified to be a carpenter than the Son of God in the eyes of the people because that is the history they knew of this young working class man from Nazareth.
Consider that in the New Testament of Jesus’ 132 public appearances, 122 were in the marketplace. Of 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a workplace context. Of 40 miracles in the book of Acts, 39 were in the marketplace. Jesus spent his adult life as a carpenter until age 30 before he went into a preaching ministry in the workplace. And, 54% of Jesus’ reported teaching ministry arose out of issues posed by others in the scope of daily life experience. Saint Bonaventure said, “His doing nothing ‘wonderful’ (his first 30-years) was in itself a kind of wonder.”
Work, in its different forms, is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible -more than all the words used to express worship, music, praise, and singing combined. God created work and He is a worker. “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working” (John 5:17).
So, the next time you are tempted to minimize your daily work as anything less than a holy calling, remember that Jesus was a workplace minister as a carpenter in his community. He has called you and I to reflect His glory in our work.
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