Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Following the Star

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2
Was there any chance the journey of the magi would end without finding the King of kings? I say no way. 

God had given these wise men a sign from heaven – a brilliant star – to guide their journey. He had given them a desire in their heart to come and worship the King. And when they put feet to their faith in pursuit of the One worthy of their treasures, the Lord magnificently rewarded their quest. 

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” - Matthew 2:10-11 

Do you know, friend, that when you seek the Lord with all your heart, you will find Him? And when you find Him you’ll, too, rejoice with great joy, worshiping Him as King and offering your treasures in glad and grateful adoration. 

When king David neared the end of his life, his gave this charge to his son, Solomon: 

“Know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him he will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9). 

God will not hide himself from those who truly seek him. He is not elusive. He will not lead you astray. He will not leave you with regret. He will not disappoint. 

But He will reward your earnest, seeking faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). 

He delights to reveal Himself to those who seek Him with longing hearts. To those who cry out to Him in brokenness, in despair, in trouble, He is never far away. To those who refuse to be satisfied with a superficial knowledge of the Savior or ritualistic religion, and are willing to pursue Him wholeheartedly, the Lord is pleased to grant greater revelations of His glory than most men will ever know. 

Do you need a star to help guide your way to Jesus? Seek Him through the Bible and it will glow for you. Seek Him in the church and the light will shine. Seek Him in prayer through the power of the Holy Spirit and you will discover His glory radiating in brilliant display. Keep following the star and you’ll soon find the joy of worshipping the King of kings. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wonder of the Impossible

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. – Luke 1:34-37
Let’s leave room for the wonder of the impossible this Christmas, and see what miracles God has in store.

Not the wonder of how Santa gets down the chimney to put gifts under the tree. Not the wonder of how reindeer know how to fly. Not the wonder of, “How in the world am I going to pay for all this stuff?” And not the wonder of, “What on earth was I thinking when I invited all these people over for dinner?”

Leaving room for the wonder means letting God be God. Let’s face it: we don’t often understand the ways of God. We don’t always know how He does what He does or even why He does it. But that’s okay. Since we can trust that He is perfectly good, we don’t have to know all the details of His plans. It’s okay to leave room for God to accomplish His will in any way He wants, through whomever He chooses, using whatever means He desires. Mary certainly did. So did Elizabeth.

For truly there is nothing impossible with God. If He can create life through a virgin womb, He can certainly create a way for you where there seems to be no way. If He can open the womb of a barren woman to conceive, He can open up a way for you through the most impossible circumstances you face.

Your lonely heart is not impossible for God to comfort. Your addiction is not impossible for God to break. Your broken marriage is not impossible for God to fix. Your illness is not impossible for God to heal. Your sin is not impossible for Him to forgive. Whatever you’re facing today that seems impossible to you is not too difficult for God.

“Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).
Turn in faith to the Lord God this Christmas through Jesus, and in wonder watch Him do the impossible.

And if you don’t have a church home, let me invite you to join us this Sunday morning at 10:45 at the First Baptist Church in Petersburg for a Christmas worship celebration. Then on Christmas Eve, next Tuesday, we’ll gather for a special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 9:00 p.m. We’d love to welcome you!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Nevertheless

It’s “The Great Nevertheless.” It is the heart of the Christmas season and, indeed, of life itself. It is the remedy for the deepest miseries we face; the cure for the darkest of despairs. And it just may be the Christmas miracle you need this year.

In the days of Isaiah the prophet, in the 8th century B.C., the people of Israel were just about as rebellious against God as they could be. The Lord had blessed them in such abundance with His goodness and mercy that they should have been forever loyal to Him. He promised His very presence among them, that He would be their sanctuary, their strength, their Savior. But rather than turn to Him in faith, they turned their back in spite.

They were looking to make unholy alliances with the wicked Assyrians for their protection, when they should have been trusting in the mighty hand of God. They were seeking the fortune-tellers, mediums and spiritists for direction and guidance when they should have been consulting the wisdom of God. They did not regard the Lord as holy. They did not have a reverential fear of Him. They did not wait upon the Lord nor trust in Him. They failed to recognized the signs and wonders that He had done in their midst, and they ignored the promises He made in His Word.

Hmmm. It’s a good thing we’re not following that path today, huh?

Instead of walking in His light, they were stumbling over the Living Stone, and the Lord said they would fall and be broken in His judgment against them for their sin. They would be ensnared and captured. They would wander through the land dejected and hungry, and when they become famished they would become enraged and curse their God and King. They would look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness, and the gloom of anguish. And they would be thrust into utter darkness.

The situation could not have been more dire. Perhaps, friend, you’re in a situation today that could not be darker. Whether by your own sinful desires and decisions, or by circumstances far beyond your control, maybe you find yourself facing the deepest gloom of anguish you’ve ever known.

Let me introduce you to “The Great Nevertheless.” After Isaiah spells out the case against Israel, he then offers them a hope of grace and glory that is yet to come that would shatter the shadows of gloom forever – a hope offered to you, as well:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress...The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…” (Isaiah 9:1-2).

There it is, the great “Nevertheless.” God gives His people a promise that He will shine a light upon them so great that it will dispel the darkness and distress eternally. And He would do it by sending forth a child to be born, His very own Son, Jesus, the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us. And the darkness wouldn’t stand a chance. 

Christmas is all about the coming of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth, bringing salvation to mankind, turning our darkness into light, our anguish into glory, our sorrow into joy, our oppression into freedom, our terror into triumph and defeat into victory. 

It’s a message of hope and salvation, this great “Nevertheless.” That though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

If you’re in need of a Christmas miracle this year, trust in Christ as your sanctuary, your strength, your salvation – and you’ll be walking in the light of life.