While other houses around here are sporting fall and Halloween decorations, we got a jump on them and put up Mom’s Christmas tree already! This is something I thought I could do for her during my short visit, but it does bring a sense of excitement to see it shining there in the dark of the early morning. Another part of Christmas that I look forward to is listening to Handel’s “Messiah,” even if it’s only on a CD.
Part of that musical work is based on Isaiah 9 which I read this morning. The light shining in darkness is even more poignant as the world grows dark around us and we long for the light at the end of that tunnel.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
In my Bible I have written “Jesus!” in the margin. It’s a very familiar passage which we associate with Christ’s birth at Christmas. But the next lines have definitely not yet been fulfilled:
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice
from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
Oh, how I long for this part of the prophecy to be fulfilled! Jesus Himself will rule singlehandedly with true peace, justice and righteousness. No more scam, scandal, selfishness, secrecy, oppression, violence, deception and all the other things that characterize government and society today. I am committed, by God’s grace, to stay the course. Not to give up in despair or to give in to the forces of evil (even those in sheep’s clothing). It will be worth it all when that glorious kingdom arrives!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
This morning I read the very short book of Jude in a new Bible. When I looked back on the verses I’d marked, all of them were on the same theme! See if you can identify that theme in these verses:
v 1: I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.
v 20-21: But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
v 24: Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. (Answer at the bottom in small type)
Now look once more at each of these verses to see who it is that is responsible for this. Here is a wonderful interplay of God’s sovereign power and my responsibility to stay close to him, safe from the pitfalls described at length in verses 4-19.
(Answer: keeping us safe)
I keep puzzling over how God’s people should live in this world that’s falling apart at the seams as we wait for His kingdom to arrive in all its power and put it all right. This morning I read Matthew 24-25 which answers this very question. Here is what Jesus says:
Don’t be alarmed when terrible things begin to happen. 24:6
Don’t be deceived by false messiahs (or teachings, etc.) 24:5-26
Hang in there, enduring faithfully to the end even when persecutions come. 24:9-13
Keep alert and be ready to meet him whenever He shows up (like a householder on the guard for burglars). 24:42-44
Keep working faithfully, not getting careless about sin (like an abusive manager). 24:45-50
Be wise; don’t slide into apathy or laziness (like the 5 foolish virgins). 25:1-13
Wisely use the resources God has entrusted to us during His absence. 25:14-29
Care, share, & serve others in need, as if they were Christ Himself! 25:31-45
With these assignments, there won’t be time for fussing, fretting, or fear!
This morning as we prayed for our family, I caught a phrase from my husband’s prayer—that they keep their eyes on Jesus! He tells me of plowing a field as a boy—he kept keep the row straight by heading toward a fixed point in the distance. (I know that’s a well-used story, but it’s true; I just double-checked with him.)
Peter, already out of the boat, was doing just fine (walking on a stormy lake!) as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus.
–2:9-18 We do not yet see the creation restored to what it was meant to be. “But we see Jesus”…
crowned with glory and honor,
bring us also to glory,
making us holy and calling us his brothers and sisters,
freeing us from the fear of death,
helping us when tempted.
–11:27 Moses accomplished amazing things because he “persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible”
–12:1-2—Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.
So when the way is hard, when the task is impossible, when distractions beckon, I want to focus on Jesus. That beautiful face, smiling encouragement, beaming love, cheering me on. I’ll make it!