November 30, 2016

Being the last day of November most are looking forward to the month of December and Christmas. Most are looking forward to gifts and the gathering of family, missing the true meaning of Christmas.

Each of us should take this time to once again read the scriptures that tell of a virgin birth over two thousand years ago. When God’s son, came to earth as a man Christ Jesus. A perfect sacrifice for lost and dying world, to live a sinless life, and to be put to death for our sins. So what begins in a lowly manger ends at the cross. This simple story can save a lost and dying world.

So share these truths as often as you can during this Christmas season. So you can give some one the opportunity to have a truly blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Dear Lord: Remind me continuously why we are celebrating Christmas. Keep me from being so caught up in the hustle and bustle that I forget about you. Give me opportunities to tell people the real story of the season.

In Jesus name I pray amen. 

THE LOGOS

John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:15-17

Introducing Jesus as “the Word” spoke volumes to the Greeks of John’s day. To the Greeks, the “Logos” (Word) was what made sense of it all. Famous as philosophers, the Greeks believed that meaning could be found in anything if only enough words were spoken over it.

By introducing Jesus as “the Word,” John clearly communicated to the Greeks that Jesus Christ is the one who makes sense of it all. It is Christ who makes the universe a cosmos instead of a chaos. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who gives meaning, reason and rhyme to life.  

According to the cockamamie theory of evolution: (1) The universe is a cosmic accident (2) We are the mere products of natural selection (3) Life has no meaning, and (4) There is nothing beyond this meaningless existence. When we add relativism—the belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth or right and wrong—to evolution, we end up in the morass of today’s meaningless society. 

If there has ever been a day and time when John’s message was needed, it is our day and time. Never before has the world been so gripped by meaninglessness nor its masses so victimized by depression, which is the inevitable consequence of meaninglessness. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide depression is the leading cause of disability for people in midlife and for women of all ages.

What’s the cure for worldwide depression? Where in today’s meaningless world can we find meaning? Where can we find reason and rhyme in life? And where do we turn to make sense of it all in a seemingly senseless world? According to the Apostle John, the answer to all these questions is found in “the Word”—Jesus Christ! 

“The nature of Christ’s existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants ofman. Reject it, and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

December 28

Bible Reading: Luke 2:15-18 & Mark 16:15

The shepherds were not content just hearing about the good news; instead, they determined to go and see about it for themselves. Curiously, God waited to speak to Moses through the burning bush until He “saw that [Moses] turned aside to see” (Exodus 3:1-4). It was Moses’ willingness to turn aside from the affairs of this world and see for himself what the Lord had done that resulted in his life-changing encounter with God at the burning bush. Likewise, we will have no life-changing encounter with God until we, like Moses and the shepherds, are willing to turn aside and see for ourselves what the Lord has done.

Most people today are content to hear, and casual in their response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This explains why it makes no difference in their lives, no matter how many times they hear it. To shrug your shoulders at the salvation that God has wrought for the world in Christ is to leave yourself unaffected by its power and without acquittal from its pardon.

Years ago, I preached at a downtown rescue mission on Christmas Eve. My congregation, for the most part, was comprised of transients, winos and prostitutes. During my Christmas message a somewhat inebriated member of the congregation stood up and shouted out: “Christmas means nothing to me. It makes no difference in my life whatsoever.”

After saying a quick prayer in my heart for God to give me an appropriate response, I asked this inebriated Christmas detractor, “Would your life be changed if I gave you a million dollars?” He quickly retorted, “You bet it would!” I then informed him that there was a way that my gift would make no difference in his life at all. He quizzically asked, “How?” I answered, “My gift would have absolutely no effect upon your life if you refused to receive it.” Once he admitted that this was true, I proceeded to inform him that the reason Christmas meant nothing to him was because he had failed to receive the greatest gift ever given, the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

After seeing for themselves and personally receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ, the shepherds began sharing it with everyone. Like the shepherds, once we’ve seen for ourselves and personally received the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we too need to share it with everyone.

To me, the greatest proof of the power of the Gospel is not its miraculous transformation of others, but its miraculous transformation of me. (Romans 1:16)   

December 19

Bible Reading: John 1:1-14 & Colossians  1:15-17

Introducing Jesus as “the Word” spoke volumes to the Greeks of John’s day. To the Greeks, the “Logos” (Word) was what made sense of it all. Famous as philosophers, the Greeks believed that meaning could be found in anything if only enough words were spoken over it.

By introducing Jesus as “the Word,” John clearly communicated to the Greeks that Jesus Christ is the one who makes sense of it all. It is Christ who makes the universe a cosmos instead of a chaos. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who gives meaning, reason and rhyme to life.

According to the cockamamie theory of evolution: (1) The universe is a cosmic accident (2) We are the mere products of natural selection (3) Life has no meaning, and (4) There is nothing beyond this meaningless existence. When we add relativism—the belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth or right and wrong—to evolution, we end up in the morass of today’s meaningless society.

If there has ever been a day and time when John’s message was needed, it is our day and time. Never before has the world been so gripped by meaninglessness nor its masses so victimized by depression, which is the inevitable consequence of meaninglessness. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide depression is the leading cause of disability for people in midlife and for omen of all ages.

What’s the cure for worldwide depression? Where in today’s meaningless world can we find meaning? Where can we find reason and rhyme in life? And where do we turn to make sense of it all in a seemingly senseless world? According to the Apostle John, the answer to all these questions is found in “the Word”—Jesus Christ!

“The nature of Christ’s existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man. Reject it, and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

 

December 4

Bible Reading: 1 John 4:13-17

There is a flip side to the doctrine of the Incarnation. Unfortunately, it is little known and seldom taught. If God lived among men in the man Christ Jesus, then, it must be possible for God to live in men. The doctrine of the Incarnation not only teaches us that God became a man in Christ, but also of the possibility of God living in Christians.

Having once lived in this world in the physical body of Christ, God now lives in this world in the spiritual body of Christ. The spiritual body of Christ is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). The church is comprised of all Spirit indwelt, born again believers. God lives in the world today in the physical bodies of believers, who in turn makeup the spiritual body of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

In Ephesians 2:21-22, the Apostle Paul taught that the church is both “an holy temple in the Lord” and “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” God inhabits believers in the person of the Holy Spirit. As a result, the church, which is comprised of all believers, serves as the temple and spiritual habitation of God in the world today.

Where was the temple of God in the days of Jesus? Was it in Jerusalem, as most Christians would be inclined to automatically answer? Well, it was sometimes, but not all of the time. There were times when it was in other places, such as the Galilean city of Capernaum or the Samaritan village of Sychar. You see, the temple of God in the days of Jesus was the physical body of Jesus.

In the days of Jesus Christ, God was not living in the world in a building in Jerusalem. Instead, He was living in a man, the man Christ Jesus. The body of Christ was the temple of God. This explains our Lord’s puzzling answer to the sign-seeking Jews of His day—“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Although Christ’s Jewish contemporaries clearly mistook His words as a reference to their beloved temple in Jerusalem, John is careful to clarify that Christ was speaking “of the temple of His body” (John 2:20-21). All of this became abundantly clear to the Gospel author and his fellow apostles after our Lord rose from the dead on the third day (John 2:22).

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death for echoing the truth that his Savior had previously stated; namely, that “the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48). God does not live in a building; instead, He lives in the body of Christ. The only difference between our day and Jesus’ day is that God lives in today’s world in the spiritual body of Christ (the church) rather than in Christ’s physical body.

When you realize that the physical bodies that God lives in today are the physical bodies of believers, you are forced to conclude, at least in a very limited sense, that God came into the world in His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost for the same reason He came into the world in His Son on that silent and starry night in Bethlehem. He came to live in flesh! On the first Christmas, He came into the world to live in the flesh of His only begotten Son. On the Day of Pentecost, He came into the world in the person of the Holy Spirit to live in the flesh of all of His adopted sons and daughters.

This flip-side of the doctrine of the Incarnation should never be misunderstood to ascribe any divinity to us. Divinity is Christ’s possession; humanity is the Christian’s possession. Still, in a limited sense of the word, God has incarnated Himself in us, as He did in Christ. No, we’re not gods living in this world, but the one and only true God is in this world living in us!

A Christian is someone within and through whom Christ lives. Christ thinks through the Christian’s mind, speaks through the Christian’s mouth, loves through the Christian’s heart and touches others through the Christian’s hands.

 

December 3

Bible Reading: Romans 1:4

If I was an unbeliever—someone unconvinced by divine revelation of the absolute truth of the Christian faith—the greatest doctrinal stumbling block for me would undoubtedly be the doctrine of the Incarnation. The Incarnation is to me the most astonishing truth in all of Scripture. The Creator we read about at the beginning of the Old Testament is the baby that we read about at the beginning of the New Testament.

At the heart of the Gospel is this astounding truth: God became a man in the man Christ Jesus.  Although I readily admit the difficulty of getting one’s head around this incredible doctrine, I spurn the world’s reproach of Christians for embracing it. After all, what right does this world have to poke fun at my belief in the Incarnation when it has bought into the cockamamie theory of evolution.

While it is true that I proudly profess to believe the scriptural truth that God became a man, the world unabashedly adheres to the ludicrous theory that a monkey became a man. What we Christians believe is truly amazing, but what the world believes is certainly absurd.

Unlike the theory of evolution and its elusive missing link, my belief in the Incarnation is substantiated by corroborating evidence. According to the Apostle Paul, the Resurrection is proof positive of the Incarnation. If a man accurately predicts his own death, promises afterward that He’ll rise from the dead, and then pulls it off, you can pretty much believe anything He says, even His claim to deity.

Do you remember when the religious leaders of Jesus’ day demanded a miraculous sign from Him to corroborate His Messianic claims (Matthew 12:38-40)? Obviously, their unbelieving eyes were blinded to the miracles of the Master being daily performed all around them. Thus, they insisted upon some other indisputable evidence to substantiate the deity of Christ. In response to their demand, Jesus declared, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

According to Jesus, His resurrection serves as a sure sign of His deity. The resurrected Christ is undoubtedly God! He was proven to be so by His resurrection from the dead. Apart from the claim of Christ, all human claims of divinity have ended in the same place; namely, an inescapable grave.

The tombs of the founders of the world’s other religions are occupied. It is only the tomb of Christ that is empty. This, more than anything else, distinguishes the Christian faith from all other faiths.

Jerusalem’s empty garden tomb speaks volumes about Bethlehem’s occupied manger.

 

December 1

This month’s devotions are on the theme of Christmas and are written by pastor Don Walton. The devotions will run Monday through Friday each week with two extra devotions on December 29th & 30th. May you be blessed this month as you follow along with these special devotions.