John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus always “was” but it took the Big Event to remind people to notice. This year it was odd to notice Christmas things beginning to show up in stores in October. It was a confusing reality that just didn’t seem right. Couldn’t we just get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first? In fact I wonder about that.
Remember the times Jesus makes reference to eyes that see and ears that hear? Remember all the things that are associated with our celebration of Christmas that impact our senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, smell. Remember when that “other” Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”?
What if the reality is God has not lost control of the celebration of the birth of his Son, our Savior to commercialism? Maybe God is using retail to remind us to notice it’s his reality on display even though the stores may have a different plan.
• What if those beautiful illuminated trees decked out with ornaments and flashing lights are meant to remind us of a long ago star?
• What if the Christmas music playing everywhere is really the modern-day version of the angel choir?
• What if Christmas hoopla is God using the money, time and effort retailers put into Christmas to appeal to our physical senses to remember HIS reality?
• What if crowded aisles full of people searching for the perfect gift is God reminding us Christmas is the reality he chose “to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives,” the Big Event.
God bless reality.
Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
My only other “Jesse Tree” was made for a church decoration years ago early in my own faith journey. I was caught up with the idea of a simple branch as a decoration. This year it’s different. The origami Stars are folded around the Word of Light for each post to help me remember. The ornaments for the days in between posts represent ways I do remember God has worked in my life. This year the Jesse Tree is more than a decoration.
Isaiah told about gifts the Savior would receive, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
There’s a little piece of knitting to remember my first real awareness that God could use ordinary hands and a pair of knitting needles for his purposes. Prayer Shawls were knit with nothing more than those hands and trust that God would open my eyes to recognize a connection he’d made between his heart and my hands to know who should receive that shawl. Giving away those shawls was an unexpected gift that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.
This year the Jesse Tree is my visual reminder of why I choose to spend these days remembering the Big Event; the birth of our Savior. I can see with my own eyes how the branch is changing as the ornaments are added each day. They are the gifts received, remembered and returned that make the branch beautiful and add Isaiah’s capital “B.” God bless the fruit of the Branch.
• 26 “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
• “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Get it? You’re the seed! A tiny speck planted in the kingdom of God that grew. Nothing emerges from the dirt full grown. Growth is a combination of day and night in the soil of “thy will be done” for this crop to grow. Growth is almost imperceptible except for comparing then to now. Remember then? Remember now?
You’re the crop! You grew and became one of “the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” But wait, there’s more! God isn’t finished with you yet.
You began as one small seed planted in good soil and inexplicable growth happened. You became part of the crop and now “the harvest has come.” Here’s the Lightning Flash: as inexplicable as it may be, you’re the evidence there really is a kingdom of God happening “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Remember? You’re the harvest!
2 Peter 3:3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” 5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.
My life has been bookmarked by a long span of relative security and safety. There’s been the comfort of stability that I’ve been able to depend on. I like that. It’s no wonder I’m shocked to discover “that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires”…but God can even use the distress of current events for good. He can still change hearts, even mine. I’m beginning to see how important praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” really is.
Peter’s words have reminded me those “last days” probably began way back on that 8th day after creation. God has chosen to fill every “last day” of all that time between then and now with opportunity for his creation: a new day, a new beginning. The keywords of Peter’s message are “they deliberately forget.” They “deliberately forget” it’s God who’s created this kingdom we’re living in “by the word of his command.” It’s God who’s given them the privilege of every one of these “last days” and longs for them to come to their senses and remember his voice.
“Most importantly” all of us who live by faith need to “deliberately” remember when we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” it’s much more than just words or wishes. We are agreeing with God’s longing for the hearts and minds of those scoffers to recognize his truly secure, safe and stable kingdom IS NOT of their own making.
2 Peter 1:1-12 Read these verses first in your favorite Bible. Today’s post is from the [SCV] Shirle’s Condensed Version. “Quotes” are from the NIV.
FYI: You have received a faith as precious as that of a disciple. It came with a core of knowledge about God and Jesus that promises abundant grace and peace as you learn to live it daily. What you’ve already received is everything needed for a godly life but there’s more to learn of Jesus’ glory and goodness that will protect you from “corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith” these qualities: goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and finally love. Your faith doesn’t need anything more but these qualities help you learn to live what you know about Jesus and make you effective and productive, right here and now. Don’t be nearsighted, remember how your past sins have been wiped away? How you live your life of faith confirms that.
Live to learn all that God has yet to teach you even though you’re “firmly established in the truth you now have.” That’s what ties every day of this life to the “rich welcome” of the forever ahead.
Luke 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.
This is our Savior…sweating blood…in anguish…pleading with God to tell him if there’s any other way. This is our Savior completely aware of just how bad it will be to be punished for our sin. This is our Savior who’s repeated concern is still that his disciples “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
It’s heartbreaking to read later in Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The rooster’s crow confirmed the worst…the Lord’s prediction had come true. They’d all fallen away…and Jesus was going to pay for it.
Repent, pray and remember… Jesus paid for you too.
John 16:31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Quote from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
“Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life.”
The idea of real faith being slightly unfocused isn’t really a surprise but Chambers comment made me look at the words of this Scripture more carefully. I can put myself there with those disciple’s hearing Jesus, the one I’ve pledged to faithfully follow, speaking these words to me; ‘You will leave me all alone.” Ever done that?
Of course you have! It hurts to remember failing him doesn’t it?
Remembering that reality is one way Jesus leads you to confession and repentance. Jesus knows…”In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus says remember and repent… “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “I have told you these things, so that…IN ME…you may have peace.” That’s faith that works in the important realities of life. That’s the secret of the peace of repentance.
Repent: view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse.