Can You See Me Now? (Part 3)

Over the last few days we have seen how God reveals Himself through creation as well as through His Holy Word. Today, we are going to look at a few ways God not only revealed His personal nature to us but how He demonstrated it for all to see.

In Hebrews 1:1 we are told “God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son [Jesus].” It is in the life of Jesus that we get a perfect picture of what God the Father is like. Colossians 1:3 says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” while Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is the “brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person.” Jesus made it clear in John 14:9 that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father. Therefore, when reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus, we are getting a perfect representation of the Father in heaven.

When we examine the life of Jesus, we are immediately drawn to His concern for all people. It didn’t matter if He was approached by a Roman centurion, Samaritan, tax collector, lawyer, a rich or poor person, He always had time to answer their questions and share with them their deepest need. He didn’t let someone’s social standing or checkbook balance determine their importance. Every person counted regardless of their ethnic background.

He was also concerned for people who were considered dirty by first century standards. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch a leper, heal those that were sick from various diseases, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to those who were mute, restore the strength of those who were crippled, provide food for the poor, and love those considered to be unlovely. He didn’t recoil from anyone regardless of their condition. He reached out past their affliction, all the way to their heart, and healed them from the inside out. After all, it is the sick who need a doctor, and Jesus came as the great Physician to heal the hearts of the spiritually sick.

Jesus also came to teach us God’s expectations. He taught us that all of life is to be lived by loving the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He set the example of loving others and putting them first.  He told us He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). We demonstrate our love for our Father in heaven, whom we have not seen, by loving our neighbor who we have seen. As we have already said, Jesus demonstrated this kind of love.

In Jesus we see the Father. We see His compassion, unconditional love, passion to know us and be known by us, forgiveness for even the most vile human being. In Jesus, God reveals His nature, character, integrity, righteousness, and holiness. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father in heaven.

For some, God seems like an uncaring creator who allows us to suffer way too often. For others, God is our grandfather in the sky who spoils us by giving us everything we want. Neither of these views of God are true. He loves you and came to earth in the form of Jesus so that we could know exactly what He is like. If you really want to know more about God, then start reading one chapter a day from the Gospels. Work your way through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament over the next ninety days. While you are reading, pay careful attention to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal His nature that you might know Him better.

“Can you See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 2

Can You See Me Now? (Part 2)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. You can find it on cell phones, computers, coffee tables, fireplace mantles, as well as a microfilm copy which was taken to the moon on Apollo 14. It has been carved in stone, written on animal hide, papyrus, paper, and I have even seen a chapter tattooed on someone’s back. Needless to say, the Bible is a very popular book to people all around the world.

Unlike other popular books, people do not purchase a Bible to be entertained. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is within the pages of the 66 books of the Bible that we find out about God–His love, mercy, compassion, patience, grace, forgiveness, power, beauty, majesty, and so much more. Page after page we see the Creator reaching out to draw His creation into a loving relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the commands of God, not that we can live up to them, but that we might see His holiness and righteousness and realize our need for His forgiveness. We see His hand of provision, protection, and providence constantly before us tenderly caring for His precious children.

Too often in my life I have performed my daily Bible readings and crossed that off my list of things to do for that day.  I have been so busy reading the book of God that I have missed the God of the book. Through a series of events this became crystal clear to me, so I decided I needed to change. Now, before I begin reading the Bible I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me in Scripture. As I read I want to see more of Christ that I might know Him more.

As you take time to read your Bible today, please ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.  Ask to see His character, integrity, honesty, holiness, righteousness, mercy, compassion, grace and other attributes. Don’t read the Bible to see if you are measuring up. Read the Bible to see Christ and then worship Him!

“Can You See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3

All I Want for Christmas is to be Searching Like the Shepherds

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:8-15 ESV)

During this time in history, shepherds spent months away from their families tending sheep.  Most people looked down on shepherds and considered them way down in social status.  Since God’s Son was coming to be the Good Shepherd, God saw shepherds differently.  God sent an angel to them to announce the birth of the Savior of the world—Christ the Lord.  This child would grow up to be the sacrificial Lamb of God.  The shepherds were told where to go to find the Messiah and to expect “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  To make sure they understood the importance of what was happening in their midst, God allowed them to witness a group of angels praising God for this event that would bring peace to men. After this, the shepherds left their sheep and went in search of the Savior.

This year for Christmas, I want to be searching like the shepherds.  Each day I want to be looking for the Savior to return.  He could come back at any time, and I want to be ready.  I want my life to look like that of the life Jesus lived while here on earth.  Others know when you are searching for the Savior because it shows in your life.

You search for the Savior when you serve others as if you were serving Him.  Visit those who are in the hospital and away from family.  Take snacks or gift-cards to the local Ronald McDonald House, purchase children’s games and donate them to the children’s hospital— regardless of what it is, do something for those who are going to be away from home this Christmas.

Search for the Savior at your local John 3:16 Mission, an assisted living center, the Baptist Home for Children, Big Brothers and Sisters of Tulsa, or any place—a visit, card, or gift would be a pleasant surprise.  Just showing that you care will be the best present you could ever give.

We search for the Savior by spending time in the Bible to see just how God has revealed Himself to us.  We take what we learn from Scripture and demonstrate those godly attributes to the rest of the world.  Let people know that the reason for your kindness is because of God’s great love for them.

This year, all I want for Christmas is to search like the shepherds.  The Savior of the world wasn’t exactly what they expected, never-the-less, they searched and searched until they found Him.  In searching for the Shepherd, I might find people to serve who don’t look much like Jesus; however, He taught us when we help those in need we are really helping Him!

All I Want for Christmas Is to be Obeying Like Joseph

Next on my Christmas list is “I want to be obeying like Joseph.”

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)

Okay guys, let’s go back to when we were dating our wives. You’ve grown up together, been in church together, worked in the fields together, and now you are both of the age to get married. You have watched this young woman her whole life, and she is one of the godliest women you have ever met. The best description of her is found in Proverbs 31:10-31—a virtuous woman. You have talked to her father and made all the arrangements to be married on a specific day. You both are excited and looking forward to spending the rest of your life together.

One day before the wedding she comes to you and say, “I had a vision from God yesterday. He sent an angel to tell me that I am with child and He will be the awaited Messiah.” How would you react? As for me, the first words out of my mouth would be, “Check please!” or “I’m outta here!” Most of us would dump her faster than she could say “Do you believe me?” However, that is not how Joseph reacted.

The Bible tells us that Joseph was looking at divorcing her quietly so that she would not be stoned for adultery. Then, while he was sleeping, he had a vision from God. An angel told Joseph the baby is of God, his name is to be Jesus, he will save his people, fulfill Scripture, and will be Immanuel—God with us. Without question Joseph took Mary as his wife and raised Jesus like his own son. Joseph was obedient to what God had called him to do.

This year for Christmas, I want to be Obeying Like Joseph. As I read through Scripture and see how God would have me to live, I want to be obedient. I don’t want to question what He knows is the very best for my life. If how I respond to God’s Word shows what I actually believe about God, then I want to be completely obedient to Him. I can spend hours explaining why God’s plan will not work and all the ways it will inconvenience me; but in the end, I just want to obey Him. He has a plan for my life, so either I choose to obey or disobey. I either believe God knows best or I know best. If I love God I obey Him, so if I don’t obey Him, do I really love Him?  The second request on my Christmas list is this: All I want for Christmas is to obey like Joseph.

All I Want for Christmas…

There are numerous events that have happened over the years, some I can remember better than others. However, there are certain memories from my childhood that are as clear in my mind today as they were fifty years ago. Those special times never seem to fade like so many other memories. They are always present, fresh, and crisp in my mind.

One set of memories that I have is an accumulation of several of the same memory.  That is to say, every year just before Christmas my parents would place a book in my lap and let me read through any section I wanted. It didn’t matter whether I was six, eight, ten, or twelve years old I always longed for the Christmas season just so I could look through the “BOOK!” At this point I should probably explain what book I am talking about. I would love to say that at the age of six and up I longed for the opportunity to flip through the pages of the Bible at Christmas time and read the nativity story; however, that would be a bit of a fabrication—okay, it would be a blatant lie.

In the early years of my life, there was only one book that could take me away from racing Hot Wheels, riding my bike, climbing trees, playing baseball, or watching countless hours of “Gilligan’s Island,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” and “Gomer Pyle.” Only one book could bring to a halt a hyperactive child that only knew two aspects of life—sleep and play! What book had such a powerful effect over me? Quite simply the “Sears Christmas Catalog.”  You can laugh, but it is true. Each year my  parents would give me a sheet of paper and “The Book,” then I would write down everything I wanted for Christmas.

What an incredible time of the year! I was able to look through over 200 pages of toys and write down ANYTHING I wanted. The excitement was almost too much for a child to endure. My mind would race as I would imagine playing with each toy that I added to my ever-growing list. The anticipation of Christmas morning was excruciating as I continued to examine my list of 50, 60, and sometimes over 70 different toys. What made the wait even worse was the knowledge that within a matter days a few of these could be all mine! The memory of these years are very special to me. That was a special time of the year when I could ask for whatever I wanted and know that I would be given a few of the toys on my list.

With Christmas racing upon me so quickly, I begin to think about the “Book.” These memories lead me to begin a mental checklist of things I would like to get this year for Christmas—tinted windows, a book, new shoes, or any number of items that I think I need. The problem is there is no longer a book to look through nor a list to be made. The nervous sleepless nights just before Christmas are no longer an annual event. I guess it is all part of “growing up.”

I suspect all this sounds a bit depressing, and to be perfectly honest there have been times throughout the years I let the loneliness of the season bring me down. But this year I decided it would be different. This year I determined to look through the Book and write down what I want for Christmas. However, this year I made a list of things that if asked for I am guaranteed to get them. So, over the next few weeks we are going to look through the book, not the Sears Christmas catalog, but “The Book” better known as the Holy Bible as I share with you my Christmas list for 2020.

My list this year has been greatly influenced by COVID and the uncertainty, concern, and lifestyle changes that it has brought about. This year, I’m asking specifically for the things I will need to make it through 2021 and beyond.

I hope you’ll check back each week as we begin looking at “All I Want For Christmas.”