“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.” John 1.14
I wonder if we have really absorbed the full meaning of the words we have just read. “The Word (God) was made flesh …” The eternal, holy, righteous, all-knowing, all-powerful God BECAME flesh. He took the form that you and I have – God clothed in human flesh.
In Matthew 1.28 we read: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” God made the deliberate choice to dwell among us in the form of a man. Emmanuel – God with us. Isaiah 7.14 says: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This declaration of God dwelling among us runs throughout the Word of God.
When Jesus came to earth, those New Testament believers “beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father … ” There was something about Jesus that caused those who wanted to be with Him to acknowledge that He was God. On more than one occasion they saw Him do things that no ordinary man could do. While the Pharisees were unwilling to acknowledge that He was the son of God, the man whose sight was restored in John 9:30-33 said: “Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.”
Let’s simply remember that when God became flesh, it was a demonstration of His unconditional for us. Just my thoughts …
“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3.17
This verse from the pen of Zephaniah is a great reminder of the significance of God’s presence. I like the way it is translated in another translation. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
We may periodically think about the attribute of God’s omnipresence, but how often do we live as if we are conscious of His presence? “The Lord your God is in your midst … ” That truth in itself is a great comfort to me. But the verse continues: “a mighty one who will save … ” I believe the statement about God saving us is more than just our salvation. You and I may never know the things God saves us from in any given day. His constant watch care over us goes beyond our greatest expectations.
“He will rejoice over you with gladness …” God doesn’t just consider us part of the family of God. He rejoices over us with gladness. Did you know that? What a life-changing piece of information. If God loves me that much, how can I ever NOT demonstrate my love FOR Him and my service TO Him?
“He will quiet you by his love …” Have you ever watched a mother pick up or embrace a hurting child who is crying? You will her whisper something like this: “Mommy loves you. Everything is going to be ok.” This phrase presents a similar scenario when I think about how God quiets me by His love.
Finally, “he will exult over you with loud singing.” This word exult means “show or feel elation.” I wonder what it sounds like in heaven when God sings over His children? Some day we will find out. In the mean time I choose to live with the knowledge of His presence with me always, to realize that He “saves” me from things I may never see or know, to be grateful that God is rejoicing over me with gladness, to accept His embrace that quiets me in time of need, and anticipate what I will hear is heaven some day when God “exults over me with loud singing.” Just my thoughts …
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3.3
What a powerful first phrase in this verse: “ … the Lord is faithful … ” Have you ever thought about that truth … really thought about it? Aren’t we glad that God’s faithfulness to us is not based on our faithfulness to Him?
What does it mean, “the Lord is faithful”? (1) He does not abandon us just because we turn away from Him. (2) His love for us is not based on our performance for Him but on His choice to love us. (3) As the verse above says, He “shall stablish you …” He wants far more for us that we can ever imagine. He wants us to be rooted and grounded in His Word. If we aren’t, it is our fault and not His. (4) He wants to “keep (us) from evil.” Sometimes we act like we don’t want to be kept from evil. But God’s purpose is to do that for us when we allow Him to do it.
Consider for just a brief moment the fact that God IS faithful to us, and that He wants to ESTABLISH us firmly in His truth, and that He wants to keep us from evil. Do we RECOGNIZE God’s faithfulness when we see it at work? Do we listen carefully when God wants to LEAD US in a path that will place our feet firmly on the solid ground of truth? When the Holy Spirit prompts us to turn away from evil, do we do so WILLINGLY or are we hesitant to obey the Spirit’s prompting.
Job 1.1 tells us this: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed (turned away from) evil.” The story that follows in the book of Job is heart breaking but Job still proclaimed, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him … ” (Job 13.15a) He knew God will still with Him and though he did not understand his circumstances, He knew God was faithful. May we come to understand that in a very personal way today. Just my thoughts …
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100.4
While today is Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving is really an attitude that should characterize our lives EVERY DAY of the year because of who we are in Christ. We should allow these thought provoking words from the pen of the psalmist to affect the focus of our lives daily, as well as today. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving … ” Since the presence of God was in the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Israelite realized, “When I pass through these gates, I am in His presence.”
In order of us to grasp the significance of this phrase for us in this New Testament era, let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5.18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Our God is WITH us 24×7 because of His Omnipresence. Paul’s instructions here are very practical in everyday life. He does NOT say “for everything” give thanks, but “in everything give thanks … ” If I may be allowed a moment of personal reflection, this year has been a series of one health crisis after another. I had surgery for cancer in April, a minor heart attack after I came home, and then open heart surgery to correct the problems that caused the heart attack. After I healed from that surgery I began a regimen of chemotherapy to battle the cancer. This last week my oncologist said, “You are in remission.” To say that I am rejoicing is an understatement. I can say to you with an honest heart that the Lord taught me this simple but profound truth: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Have I enjoyed every experience? Absolutely not! Have I been able to “give thanks” through these experiences? By God’s grace, “Yes.”
May this DAY of Thanksgiving lead you to a daily ATTITUDE of thanksgiving. Just my thoughts …
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9.15
How do you describe Jesus to someone who has never heard of Him. He IS the unspeakable gift. Imagine a conversation like the following. You sit down in a restaurant on a bar stool and you strike up a conversation with the man sitting next to you. You say to him, “Tell me what you know about a man named Jesus.” And he says, “I never heard of him. Tell me about him.” And so you begin with, “He was born of a virgin …” and the guy stops you in mid sentence. “That’s impossible.” You say, “That’s not all. When he was 33 years old he was crucified on a Roman cross, but three days later he arose from the grave.” The guy looks at you and shakes his head. “You think I am going to believe that? You’re nuts.” He gets up and starts to walk away and you shout to him, “But wait. There’s more. When He died on the cross, he did so to pay for your sins and mine. Jesus is the Son of God!” The man stops in his tracks and turns around and sits back down. “I don’t believe that. No one ever loved me that much.”
Do you see the difficulty in attempting to tell about this “unspeakable gift”? How do you tell one who is unsaved about “the power of prayer”? It’s like trying to tell someone how good a cherry pie tastes when you are the only one who has tasted it. Our daily responsibility is to give thanks to God “for His unspeakable gift” and that gift is His Son, Jesus Christ. As we draw near to Thanksgiving Day, would it not be a worthwhile effort on our part to especially give thanks to God for all that He has done for us through the person of His Son? I certainly believe it would be. Just my thoughts …
“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works.” Psalm 9.1
One week from today will be Thanksgiving Day. We are all probably getting into “Thanksgiving spirit” gradually. But I think the psalmist interrupts us in our “gradual” run up to the official time for Thanksgiving. Look at his attitude: “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart …” Could we …would we all agree that as Christ followers, EVERY DAY ought to be a day when we praise the LORD with our whole heart? I believe praising God is more than just saying, “Praise the Lord.” I believe that my attitude ought to reflect a praising heart. I believe my actions ought to reflect a praising heart. I believe even my “reaction” ought to reflect a praising heart. A heart filled with praise is difficult to hide. Others NEED to see us when we are in the midst of a battle, whether emotional, spiritual, financial, or any other, and EVEN THEN we choose to praise Him. It is easy to praise God when every thing is going well – the kids are all well, the bills are all paid, we have a tank full of gas, the cupboard is filled with food, and things are going well with the spouse, But when the bottom drops out of any ONE of those things, there goes our praising heart.
Look at the next phrase: “I will show forth all thy marvelous works.” Can I suggest that the only time we forget to praise God is when we have chosen to forget all His “marvelous works”? Everyone reading these words can stop and begin to enumerate the times when God has demonstrated His marvelous works on our behalf. Why, then, do we so easily forget them? Don’t allow Satan to steal your praising heart by simply allowing you to forget God’s marvelous works. Just my thoughts …
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4.12
I watched the presidential debate last night and was reminded once again that my salvation is not based in Washington DC. No elected official can do for you and me what God has already done through His Son, Jesus Christ. Do I think we should be concerned about our nation? Absolutely. Do I think we should be good citizens and do all we can for our nation? Absolutely. We should be the BEST citizens our nation has. But we must never forget that the answer for our destiny is found at the cross and not in the White House.
Coming back to theme of this verse, Peter is affirming that religion is not the answer – he lived in the midst of a religious generation. I would to God that we would be as bold as Peter is declaring that salvation is wrapped up in Christ alone. Salvation is MORE than a fire escape from hell. It embodies the very essence of God Himself Who chooses to live within us in the person of His Holy Spirit. Think about this … no other religion can make the claim successfully that their god is with them no matter where they go. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20 tell us: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The powerful truth that we must grasp is that God loves us so much that He will not let us walk through this world without Him. He gives us His Spirit to give direction, to remind us of what God wants, to rebuke us when we sin, and to encourage and defend us when Satan comes knocking. And all of this is wrapped up in that word “salvation”. Praise His Holy Name! Just my thoughts …