The Story of God and the Story of Us

History marched toward his birth; that baby marched towards his death, all so grace would march, with life and hope into our lives.

O Come Let Us Adore Him, Paul David Tripp

I love how Paul David Tripp reminds us today that the Bible is not a selection of isolated stories and events. It is not just a book of theological ideas, moral lessons, or short inspiring biographies. It is a story – an unfolding story of God pursuing a prodigal people for the sake of love and the sake of His own glory. Written over a period of 2000 years on 3 different continents, the Bible contains 66 different books by 40 different authors in 3 different languages. And yet there is one consistent thread and theme throughout of God’s unfailing plan to rescue a sinful and broken world.

God’s Great story begins in the Old Testament:

  • God creates – and it is all good. πŸ˜‡
  • God makes humanity alone in his own image (It is very good! πŸ˜€)
  • Man and woman rebel against God desiring their own will (Not good at all! 😑)
  • God removes them from garden (Not good 😒), but there is the hint of redemption (good πŸ™‚).
  • Prideful humanity marches on, sin spreads and increases. (Not good 🀬)
  • God starts over with one man – Abraham. (Good πŸ€”)
  • God promises Abraham a people (nation), land, & to bless/redeem the world. (Good. πŸ€—)
  • Abraham’s family becomes the nation of Israel. (Good πŸ™‚)
  • Israel becomes slaves in Egypt (Not good 😩), God sets them free. (Good πŸ˜‰)
  • Israel wandered 40 years in desert due to unbelief. (Not good πŸ˜”)
  • Israel crosses over into Promised land (Good 🀩)
  • Israel becomes greatest nation on earth – led by King David. (Good πŸ₯³)
  • Temple becomes place of God’s presence for worship and sacrifice. (Good 😌)
  • Israel wanders from God – & the Kingdom is divided into Israel and Judah (Not Good πŸ˜•)
  • God sends prophets over and over to His people (Good 😊) – (1) Calls them to repent/return to Him.(They are not good πŸ˜–) (2) Many promises of Messiah – Savior King to come & redeem his people. (His Promises are always Good πŸ˜‰)
  • Israel continually worships false gods, conquered by Assyria 722 B.C. (Not good 😒)
  • Judah falls away from God and Jerusalem conquered by Babylon, 585 B.C. Temple and city destroyed. (Ughh. Not good at all 😭)
  • God’s people in Exile, longing for return home (Not so good πŸ˜“). God still promises restoration and hope. (Good is still possible, and always will be with God πŸ™‚)
  • Some return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall & temple – but the glory is missing. (meh, okay but not super good 😐)
  • 400 years of silence between OT and NT. God are you still there? Do you remember us?

New Testament (The Story continues)

  • A Child is born on the outskirts of Bethlehem to a young virgin (Good! πŸ₯°)
  • Angels tell shepherds – this is Christ the Lord. (So good! πŸ˜‡)
  • Angels tell Joseph he will be called Jesus (meaning Savior for He will save His people from their sins) and Emmanuel for He is “God with us.” (Wow. Super good! πŸ€—)
  • Age 30, Jesus begins his ministry. (Good. πŸ™‚)
  • He is baptized by John, anointed with Spirit – He is the one spoken of by prophets. (He is Good. He is God 😜)
  • He does miracles. He teaches about the Kingdom. (Good πŸ˜‰)
  • He makes disciples/followers who will one day carry his message. (Good πŸ˜€)
  • He is hated by the religious leaders. (Not good 😬)
  • He is arrested, betrayed by a friend, & handed over to Rome. (Not good 🀭, but good πŸ€”)
  • Beaten & whipped 40 times (By his stripes we are healed). (Not good, but necessary😦)
  • A crown of thorns placed on his head. (Not good 😯, but still Good 😐)
  • A lonely walk of agony outside of the city, carrying his cross. (Terrible, but Good 😳)
  • Nails driven in, hung up between two thieves. (No! But Yes. Good 😫)
  • He is cursed! – Taking our sin, dying in our place (Not good! Very Good!!! πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯)
  • It is finished! And he breathes his last breath. (GOOD!! πŸ˜•)
  • Dead and buried in a borrowed tomb. (Not good 😣)
  • 3 Days – 3 quiet, agonizing days of hopelessness. (Not good πŸ˜”)
  • HE is RISEN! Jesus defeated sin, death, &mthe grave. (GOOD. Oh the Goodness! 😳πŸ₯³πŸ€©)
  • Jesus returns to heaven. Disciples sent to Jerusalem to pray/wait for Spirit. (Good πŸ™‚)
  • Jesus sends the Holy Spirit. Disciples are filled. The Church is born. (Very Good! πŸ˜€πŸ˜ŒπŸ˜˜)
  • The Message goes forward – Sins are forgiven, death to life, restoration is possible (Too Good 😍😜)
  • The Gospel spreads in Jerusalem – no longer is God’s presence in the OT temple, but lives in the temple of human hearts by the Spirit. (Good and getting “gooder”πŸ€ͺ😊)
  • The Gospel spreads into Samaria – outsiders are welcome. (So Good πŸ˜ŠπŸ™ƒ)
  • The Gentiles are invited into the Kingdom – Jesus came for ALL. (Good, good, good πŸ˜†)
  • The Gospel reaches all the way to Rome… (Unstoppably Good 😘).
  • The story continues… (Un-Ending Good πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°)

You Are invited into the story:

  • The Gospel has spread for 2000 years. (Good 😌)
  • The Church has endured, and continued to make disciples. (Still Good 2000 yrs. later πŸ˜‰)
  • There are billions of people on the planet who name the name of Jesus. (So Good πŸ₯³)
  • And yet billions of people have never met Him, and many have never heard his name. (Not good 🀭)
  • You are invited to find your place in God’s plan and story. (Good Stuff! πŸ€—)
  • Have you met Jesus Christ? (It will be good. He is GOOD! 😊)
  • Are you taking your place in God’s story to bring hope and salvation to the world? (Spread the Goodness 🀩)
  • What are you waiting for? (It’s All Good! πŸ˜‰)
  • Christmas reminds us that He came, & that we are called to GO! (Christmas = Good, Go = Good πŸ˜‡)
  • Come on. You will not be sorry. (Do Good! Spread the GOOD News. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€—πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯°)

The Bible! One big story from beginning to end, and will end up one day around the throne of God where men and women from every nation, tribe, and tongue will join together in the song of the Lamb. They did not get there because they were good enough. They did not earn their way to heaven They put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, the Savior, the Lamb who was slain. They are in heaven at the throne because a Christ follower found their place in the story and shared the good news of Jesus with them, and their life was changed. And the story continues until we meet at that throne. Hallelujah, our God reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for Today:

Hallelujah God. I stand amazed at your Glory and your Grace. I often lose sight of your glory and your story, and yet you never lose a beat. There is nothing random about your work throughout history. You always have a plan, even while we seek to choose our plan instead. You always had a plan before we ever walked away from you. Thank you for your faithfulness when we are faithless. The story of our rebellion and sin only amplifies the story of your Grace. We turned our backs on you and forfeited your presence, but You never stopped with your plan to redeem us and restore us to your presence. It was sin that made us outcasts from Eden as exiles in a fallen world, but it was love that compelled Jesus to take up the cross and die for sin as an outcast between two thieves. He took our sin so we could be forgiven. He was cursed to break the curse over our lives. His blood was shed so we could be cleansed and begin to live a new story. Jesus, come into my life and be the author of my story. Let my story be laced with love, mercy, grace, and glory. Let my story become so woven into your story that my life might lead others to see you; and that would create a desire to be a part of your story as well. I love you Father. I love you Jesus. I love you Holy Spirit. Amen.

Do You Need the Vaccine?

COVID19 has completely altered our lives for the last 9 months, and doesn’t seem to have quite run out of steam. Infections are on the rise, death tolls mount, and we still have many opinions about how we should respond? Do we stay inside to keep from possibly harming another person? Or do we continue to call for shut-ins and shut-downs that bring untold damage psychologically, emotionally, and financially to people who are unable to make a living or have connection with others?

In record speed, however, several companies have produced at a vaccine. This is an amazing feat even by modern standards, and some will start receiving it within days or weeks. There is still a bit of question over who will take it. Many are ready as it will begin to allow them to feel safe and normal again. Others are skeptical of being told they must be vaccinated, remain unafraid of the Coronavirus overall. To Vaccinate or not, that is the question…

While I do not have a fully formed opinion, I tend to hesitate at the idea of any forced vaccinations. I will keep reading and learning, but my real point has nothing to do with COVID19 other than to use this as an illustration.

PDT said in today’s devotional, “The baby in the manger came to tell us the worst news ever, because until we can accept the worst news ever, we’ll never want the best news ever. (December 12, O Come Let Us Adore Him.)

I wrote on this theme a few days back, and I made quite the pitch on how terribly sinful we are. Hope I didn’t hurt your feelings… I will seek to be a little more succinct today, but still quite direct.

Humanity is sick. Fatally sick. We have a virus that has continually spread to each new born child since as long as we can remember babies being born. There is apparently a highly contagious viral pathogen that impacts each child in the womb so they are born with a deadly disease that attacks the whole being but especially the heart and mind.

Humanity is dying from a fatal infection known as SIN! Like an unseen virus, it has been passed on and spread through all of humanity for years on end. Many people do not realize that they have it, or deny they have it, or minimize how dangerous and deadly this little invisible virus is to the existence. Many live as if they are immune and immortal.

How do you know if you are infected?

  • You are alive and breathing, therefore assume you have the sin virus. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
  • You struggle with selfish tendencies and really like to have things “your way.”
  • You feel a distance and separation between you and God.
  • You find that relationships are not always easy.
  • You sometimes do things that you know you shouldn’t do, but you just can’t seem to stop yourself.
  • You deal with many negative emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, grief, guilt, and shame.
  • You like to hide your mistakes from other people for fear of embarrassment or shame.
  • You do not like to admit you are wrong, but would far rather have someone else to blame.
  • You struggle with jealousy, insecurity, frustration, greed, etc.
  • You find it can be a struggle to be consistent in prayer and Bible study, worship, taking time for solitude, and connecting with God – while it seems easy to read a book, exercise, call a friend, eat too much, watch Netflix, spend money, etc.
  • You lack peace. No matter how hard you try you always seem to come up short of finding peace.
  • You struggle with a hard heart that can feel weighed down with fear, anxiety, resentment and bitterness, jealousy, pride, anger, rage, etc. The Sin Virus wreaks havoc on the human heart.
  • You ever get sick, get injured, or have a body that will ultimately age – first slowing down and then ceasing to be alive…

I could go on and share many more symptoms, cite case studies, and refer to the Medical Manual (God’s Word), but I assume you may have a few of those symptoms currently. You need to know that left untreated, the SIN virus has destroyed relationships, created addiction problems, produced large level pride and ego, created severe depression and loss of hope, accounted for great lack of meaning and purpose, destroyed intimacy, and ends in extreme torment where one feels eternally separated from God, damned, forsaken, and hopeless. While it’s effects are not always initially recognized by the patient, the end result of the disease is very unpleasant and devastating.

There is really good news on this front in the fight to find an answer to this spiritual pandemic of sin. There was a sinless host who lived in the modern day state of Israel around 2000 years ago. He is the only known human to never have contracted the Sin Virus. Thankfully HIS FATHER knew His Son’s immunity against SIN and they were able to develop a Vaccine by gathering large samples of the Son’s blood. It has the rare ability to not only create immunity from the deadly effects of sin, but when applied fully and properly, it can completely neutralize and destroy the Virus.

THERE IS A VACCINE. The Great Physician has declared that there is a global scale emergency and is calling everyone to take the Vaccine for their safety and the safety of those around them. The Vaccine has been made completely free by the benevolence of a very generous donor.

Directions for Acquiring the Vaccine:

  1. Check for symptoms. It will be obvious that you are infected with sin.
  2. Deal with any denial that says you are fine and healthy, and do not need help.
  3. Be convinced that apart from the Vaccine, you will die in your sin. Sin will spread slowly and surely over time…
  4. Hit your knees and call on the Great Physician Jesus Christ (see suggested request when talking to the Healer about your need for the Vaccine and desire to get well).
  5. Suggested phrases to talk to the Lord Jesus, the Great Physician about:
    • He loves it when you come in humility and gratitude.
    • He is not conceited, but it is always a great idea to Praise Him. When you see Him, it will make perfect sense as to why.
    • Humbly acknowledge your infection with sin, and share with the doctor of how you have seen the Sin Virus disrupt your life.
    • Tell Him you believe that He alone has the ability to save you through His care and administering the Vaccine.
    • Ask Him to take the blood of Jesus and apply it to your life. By faith, Ask Him to rescue and save you from this dreaded disease, and then fully believe in His power to heal you.
    • Ask Jesus for a new heart – to take out the old heart of stone that is hard to God, weighed down by sin, and to give you a heart of flesh that is soft and fully alive to God.
    • Thank Him for the Cure to your fatal condition; thanking for forgiveness, for grace, for defeating sin, for peace, for love, for healing.
    • Spend some moments in worship and praise as it seems to increase the blood flow of Jesus in your heart and spirit, and allows the Spirit’s work to more fully engage the power of the vaccine.
  6. It is suggested you read the Medical Manual (Scripture) to discover more insight into maintaining spiritual, mental and emotional health, and discovering tips to deal with any lingering effects of the virus.
  7. Do not be discouraged if you still notice symptoms. You are recovering from a very disabling and dangerous disease. Once you have the blood of Jesus to cover and cleanse you, it is 100% effective in every trial for complete eternal restoration to full health. Please keep calling upon the doctor so he may guide you in the recovery process.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” ~ Jeremiah 7:14

“”He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; β€œby his wounds you have been healed.” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

“I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the LORD. β€œAnd I will heal them.”  ~ Isaiah 57:18-19

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” ~ James 5:6

Prayer Today:

  • Go up to Point 5 on Suggested Phrases to talk to the Lord Jesus about, and use those thoughts to form your own prayer.
  • Spend some time soaking in worship to one of these songs.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/4AloN5rhhyMwAF1wAznVZJ

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/7sSU8nVqe5LaKaAHqs18lZ

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/50IxLqt4bb0UDrzkNk5g6F

Who is on the throne?

The baby in a manger came as a Conquering King to dethrone us and then to enthrone himself in our hearts and lives forever and ever. ~ O Come Let Us Adore Him, Paul David Tripp

Who is the boss? Who is in charge? That is the real question for each of us. As people, we really like to be in control and in charge. The great focus of sinners is self. I want to be in control.

This too was the Devil’s great problem when he fell from heaven. He wanted to exalt himself above God, and take God’s rightful place as ruler. From scripture, we gain insight into into the satanic line of thinking before he was kicked out of heaven: How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: β€œI will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12–14; NKJV).

Do you see all of the self centered statements there: I will ascend…, I will exalt my throne… I will ascend above…, and I will be like the Most High. The enemy’s desire was for control He wanted to enthrone himself above God. And this is the essence of our issue.

We want to enthrone ourselves about our God and Savior Jesus Christ. If you are a Christ follower, we often want to appease Christ while maintaining as much control as possible. We simply want to be in charge. And yet Jesus left his throne in heaven to come and live as one of us, die for us, rise again, and ultimately come to dwell within us on the throne of our hearts. He wants to dethrone us and assume the rule and reign of our hearts.

So, look at these 3 diagrams from Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ, known now as Cru. They describe our condition and struggle for control.

  1. The Non Christian does not have Jesus in their life. The circle with the chair below represents your life. The chair is the throne, the control center of your life and heart. For the non Christian, Jesus Christ is outside of their life (outside the circle). Self is on the throne as they live a self directed life. Has Christ come into your life.

2. The Christ Directed Life or the Spirit filled Christian. Jesus is fully in control of this person’s life. He is in their life, and He is on the throne. They are seeking to live into submission to Jesus, and seek to be filled with the power of the the Holy Spirit. They are continually yielding their will to Christ, seeking his power and help to live pleasing to God. Jesus came to dethrone self, and live in control of our lives. Does he rule and reign in you?

3. Finally there is the Carnal Christian or worldly believer. This person has trusted and received Jesus, but they find themselves still wanting control. This is true for all of us, and we must learn to recognize our tendency to want to live as our own Lord, taking back the throne of our lives from Jesus. As you can see, Jesus is inside the circle, inside this person’s life, however Self is on the throne and Jesus is at the feet of self. How can this even be? And yet it is. This is the battle for those of us in Christ. Will we yield to our flesh and maintain control or will we continually submit to Jesus and give him the reigns of our life?

So where are you? Which picture best describes you at the moment?

If you are in picture 1, then I encourage you to realize your need for Christ. You need forgiveness. You need new life in Christ and through Christ. You sinful nature separates you from the Lord, and He is outside your life. Jesus died for your sin and rose again that you might be forgiven and restored into relationship with God. There is a prayer just for you in the prayer section to trust Jesus Christ to come in and be Lord of your life. Please pray this prayer of commitment from your heart and let me know!!! I love you and God bless you.

If you are in picture 2, the Christ directed life, then stay humble and continually submitted to Jesus. Humility, confession and repentance, constant seeking, and ongoing dependence upon the Holy Spirit are just a few things that help keep us from seeking re-seize control of the throne. Most Christians living the victorious life still tend to bounce into the issue we find in the picture 3 where we seize to assert our will again over God, but the mature Christian realizes this quickly and repents and submits again.

If you are in picture 3, the worldly/Carnal Christian, then you probably bounce back and forth with a of spiritual discontentment. You perhaps have a true love and desire for Jesus, but you are trying to life life in your power or strength – maybe consciously or unconsciously. Some may want enough of Jesus to get them to heaven, but they have not surrendered enough to bring heaven to earth in their life. Ultimately you are still in the driver seat, or still seated on the throne of your life. You have relegated Jesus to a corner in your life, but are not willing to hand over the keys.

Jesus Christ is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. He is not negotiating with you. He is asking for an all our surrender. Like a gentlemen though, he is not forcing a hostile takeover for the seat of your life. You must choose to bow. You must choose to acknowledge your sinful, prideful will, then repent, and surrender to Jesus as Lord. You must ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit, but you must remove the obstacles that are the way – pride, self, sin, sins, attitudes. You must confess your dependence upon Jesus. He came as a humble child, but truly is the King who comes to dethrone you as you enthrone him as Lord of your heart and life, forever and ever.

But in your hearts revere (set apart) Christ as Lord. ~ 1 Peter 3:15

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ~ James 4:7

Prayer 1 – A Prayer to Commit your Life to Jesus and receive Him. Pray this prayer from the heart:

Lord have mercy on me a sinner. I know that I need you. I need your forgiveness and grace. I need you to save me from my sin and myself. I believe you died for my sin and rose again Lord. Now forgive me for my sin against you, and for wanting to rule my life. I repent and turn from sin, and I now embrace you by faith Lord Jesus. Forgive me, and come into my life. I welcome you and receive you. I invite you Jesus to come and be my forgiver, my Leader, and My Lord. Come take control of me. Come and assume your rightful place on the throne of my life and fill me with your Spirit and power. Thank you Jesus. I confess you now as Lord. Amen.

Prayer 2 – A Prayer for Believers who want to live the Christ controlled/Spirit filled Life:

Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I do trust and believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for my sin and rose again. I am so thankful Jesus you have come into my life. Yet I am so sorry that I continue to fight you for control of my heart and life. I still seek to be in control and take the throne of my life. Forgive me Lord. I repent for refusing to allow you to control my life fully, and to be fully enthroned as the Lord of my life. Have mercy on me, because I cannot lead my life very well. I repent of my sin and self will, and I step off the throne of my life for this is your rightful place. I submit to your Lord Jesus. I give you full access to all of me. Come Lord Jesus and rule and reign over me. I ask you to fill me with the Holy Spirit and power. Change me. Mold me, and shape me to be more like your Son. I thank you God for your grace. I thank you Holy Spirit for your presence and power. In Jesus name. Amen.

Today:

(1) Surrender! Pray the prayers from the heart

(2) Learn to do a throne check at least once a day – who is on the throne of my life right now?

Oh What a Savior!

The Christmas story ultimately shows that the hope of the universe is a PERSON. ~ Paul David Tripp, O Come Let Us Adore Him

Are you good at giving presents? Some people have a knack for gift giving. They seem to be creative and always able to discover something so perfect to give to their loved ones. I am somewhat hit or miss. Sometimes I can come up with the perfect gift, and other times I just do not have any idea at all about what to give. When in doubt, my “go to” gifts would be a kitchen item for a woman, and a shirt for dudes. Wow, that sounds so terribly sexist as well as bland and boring. Please do not judge me.

There will be many gifts exchanged over these holidays. Aren’t you glad I am not in charge of purchasing your gift (unless your heart is set on a can opener)? Gift giving has long been a part of our Christmas tradition. The wisemen brought the first Christmas gifts to the baby Lord Jesus with their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I once heard that if it had been three “wise women,” they would have stopped and asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, clean the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts (some onesies, diaper wipes, and baby blankets. Probably not a can opener).

In reality though, the gifts of the wisemen share a prophetic picture of Jesus. These gifts tell us about this baby. Gold was a gift presented to Kings. By giving gold to the family, they were declaring that this Child is the King.

Frankincense was a sweet smelling incense that was burned in temple as a sweet fragrance of a worship offering to God. They would burn incense before the altar representing the praises and prayers that would rise up unto the Lord. The laid the frankincense before the child, and then bowed down to worship because they believed this child was divine. He was God – in the flesh.

And last they brought myrrh. It was a burial spice used in embalming dead bodies as it’s sweet smell helped hold back the smell of rot and decay. A very interesting gift. I bet you have never seen myrrh brought to a baby shower. Myrrh was not only a burial spice, but also was believed to have some medicinal purposes to fight off viruses and bacteria. As they lay the myrrh at his feet in worship, their gift proclaimed that this baby did not come to live but ultimately came to die and give his life for many. Jesus would be the Healer, the Great Physician, and the Wonderful Savior.

I love how the gifts of the wisemen point to the beauty of Jesus. From infancy, the gifts speak declare that Jesus is King, He is God, and He will save. These gifts point to the fact that Jesus is actually THE GIFT. The very first Christmas gift was Jesus. God gave the first gift when his son came to the earth to pursue a sinful and separated humanity, reveal the nature of God through Jesus, and to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

Jesus is the Gift!

  • For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith (in Jesus); and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God… ~ Ephesians 2:8
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23
  • And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~ Ephesians 5:2
  • For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. ~ 1 Timothy 2:5-6
  • waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us… Titus 2:13,14

The Christian faith all starts with a gift from God to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He was and still is the Perfect Gift.

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
~ Unfinished Business, Charles Sell,

Prayer:

Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ. I am not worthy of such an amazing gift, and yet He still came. Lord Jesus, you are the King and I want to submit my life to you. You are my God and I worship you. You are my Savior and I put all of my hope in you. I trust you and believe in you fully. O What a Savior you are! Thank you that you became sin for me, to rescue me from myself. I confess that I have needed you from my first breath to help and rescue me. You truly are a kind and amazing God. I love you Lord. Amen.

Today:

  • Focus on Jesus as the gift. Take some and list all of the gifts you have found in Him (forgiveness, love, freedom, etc.)
  • What gift do you want to give Jesus for Christmas? Remember a gift is freely given in love. You cannot repay God. You cannot match His gift of Jesus, but you can in faith return a gift of gratitude to Him. What gift do you bring?

Glory To God in the Highest

This is quick and brief today. Who deserves all of the glory? Is it you? Is it me? Surely we would say NO! We know that our God deserves the glory. Scripture over and over again is about God and His glory. The Psalmist said, “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power” (Psalm 145:11). We are told to “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among the peoples” (1 Chronicles 16:24). Isaiah saw a vision of a holy and amazing God – actually a holy, holy, holy God – and the angels cried out “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3-6).

The greatest thing we could ever know is the Glory of God. God’s glory is revealed in His very Presence and nature. His glory is revealed in His grace and forgiveness, in His power and His might. God made us in his image and sought to share His glory with us.

In the end, however, we became a bunch of glory thieves, seeking to steal God’s glory for ourselves. In our sin, we become more focused one our personal Kingdom than God’s Kingdom. We live for self and our glory instead of living for God and His glory. We end up putting ourselves in the center of everything instead of letting Jesus Christ be the Center!

On day 9 in O Come Let Us Adore Him, Paul David Tripp said, “Jesus left his lofty place to rescue glory thieves, who insert themselves into his place and make it all about them.” WE make life about our glory as we think it will somehow make us most fulfilled with the most sense of importance and purpose.

The key to real life is not to make much of ourselves, or simply believe that God makes much of us. The real power and freedom in life comes when we make it about Him and give all of the glory to our God.

The Magi came to see the child, and they bowed down before child. They could sense His glory in the middle lying in a manger. They laid their gifts down at his feet to give him the glory. Angels sang to shepherds in a field, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth goodwill to man.” Jesus came to reveal God’s glory again, so they might no longer live for their own selfish glory.

When we see His glory, we no longer seek to steal His glory and live for our glory. We become convinced that there is nothing better than His glory. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing His glory. Nothing better than standing in the shade of His glory. Nothing better than worshipping and giving Him all of the Glory!

A glorious God came to rescue a bunch of glory grabbing thieves from our selfish, foolish pursuit of our personal glory. And instead of destroying us, he saves us and restores us that we may truly delight and savor in the never ending, all satisfying GLORY of our GOD.

Prayer:

O God of Glory, God of Wonder, I worship you. Forgive me for pursuing my counterfeit glories and ultimately seeking to steal your glory. I will never be satisfied in seeking my own glory. It leaves me hollow and empty inside. You are the God of All Glory. As the Psalmist said, Not to us, not to us Lord, but to your name be all the glory because of your love and faithfulness. I love your glory. I want to see your glory. I want to be filled with your glory. And I want to live for your glory. Amen and Amen.

Come out of Hiding!

Where are you? This question can evoke many responses that take us in different directions. You can answer by giving me your location. You could even drop me a location pin to my IPhone. You could answer with some general sense of your state and season of life “I’m busy. I am so slammed right now, I feel a little overwhelmed!”

Or you could go deeper, into the state of your heart – your true spiritual and emotional condition. Where are you? In your heart of hearts, where are you with God, with yourself, and the world around you. Often, we can find ourselves feeling pretty out of sync in our interior life. Where are you?

That was the first question asked in the Bible after the man and woman had sinned. When they rebelled against God and ate of the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they found themselves in an awkward state of being they had never been in before. The Genesis account says, “Then the eyes of both were opened,Β and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of theΒ LordΒ God walking in the garden in the coolΒ of the day, and the man and his wifeΒ hid themselves from the presence of theΒ LordΒ God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:7-8)

The Lord came into the garden searching for his children who were hiding “from the presence of the Lord.” This was when their Heavenly Father called to them and said, “Where are you?” Do you know that when God asks a question, it is not for his benefit. He knows the answer already, but he wants those listening to engage with his question so they can look and see below the surface to the root of the problem and issue.

The man and woman were made for the Presence of the One who made them in His image. Yet, now His Presence has become scary and intimidating. They are fearful. They were guilty, even trying to cover themselves with fig leaves. They were full of shame, running and hiding from God because they were ashamed of what they had become. Their eyes had been opened in a way that did not lead to freedom and deeper intimacy with God, but their sinful rebellion opened their eyes to their complete state of helpless vulnerability and inadequacy.

God had warned them not to eat of the forbidden fruit, for if they did they would “surely die.” He came searching for them in love that day, but He sadly had to lead them to the exit door of paradise that day. They forfeited their home in the garden in the presence of their God, and found themselves as outcasts living in the wilderness of exile. Their quest for greater independence led them to a complete lack of peace and totally separated from their true Home in the presence of the Lord. Their world had become a frightening new reality that was no longer safe and secure.

Where are you? It is a question God would still ask us.

He knows the answer. Do you? Are you willing to let that question go deep?

Fear, guilt, and shame have regrettably become some of the chief emotions of our day. They lead us into a lack of peace, questioning our identity, worth, and purpose.

The Father never gave up looking for his children though. His desire was always for them to find their way back Home to Him. The Old Testament reveals an ongoing search of heaven for a prodigal people. There were promises of salvation, renewal and the restoration from their separation – a return of peace!

Fast Forward: An angel appears to a virgin. A supernatural conception. No earthly father, but a Heavenly Father. Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary.

What Child is this? You will call Him Jesus. He will be great. He will be called Son of the Most High. And He shall reign forever. (Luke 1:26-38)

A census taken. Bethlehem. No Room. A stable and a manger. He is born and wrapped in cloths lying in that manger.

Shepherds in a field. Angel appears. More angels. Glory of God shone around them. Fear Not. Good News of Great joy: A Savior is born. Christ the Lord. Go find him. Glory to God in the highest. And…

PEACE on earth. Good will (from God) to all people.

Peace for all people is available. God’s good will has come to humanity in this child.

He never stopped looking. He never stopped searching. Where are you my child? We are lost! Where are you? We are sinful. Where are you? Not where we should be. And we simply don’t know the way back home. Many of us do not even know where home is. We are lost in a dark wilderness constantly searching for peace and rest without knowing where to really find. It’s scary. And we are filled with all kinds of fear, guilt, and shame.

I know. I know you are lost. I just need you to know it.

Do not fear. I knew you would never find your way home. So I have come to find you. I have sent a search and rescue team. He is literally leaving the glory of heaven to come down into the dark wilderness of your world. He will become one of you. He will walk among you. He will walk in human “shoes”, but He will walk as no human ever before. He will find you. He will fight for you. He will be willing to bleed for you. He will give is life for you.

He will find you. And when you find Him who finds you, you will begin to know peace again. You will find healing, hope, and victory. He will remind you of home. And I promise, He will lead you home again!

Prayer:

Father God, the One who is ever faithful and has never given up on me, I am grateful. Help me know “where I am” today, so I can honestly bring my heart before you. I am tired of running and hiding. In my brokeness, I often am filled with fear, guilt, and shame – and feel such a lack of peace. There are times I still feel like I am wandering lost in wilderness of darkness. Thank you for always coming after me. Thank you for finding me. Jesus! Your never ending love is coming after me. Here I am. Come and find me here in this moment, and in this place. Lord Jesus, I am home in your arms. I am home in your presence. Forgive me for running and hiding. I want to always run to you, not away from you. Thank you for always running after me. Thank you for restoring me to peace and to your Presence once again. To God be the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Grace Has a Name!

What is one word that could describe the Christmas story? This is the question PDT asks in his Dec. 7 devotional in O Come Let Us Adore Him. It may seem impossible, but Tripp insists it can be done. One word can sum up God’s response to humanity’s rebellion to God, to the lost state of a wandering people, to the problem of sin that corrupted human nature. Can we capture all of God’s wonderful work to save in just a word! What about the word GRACE?

I once heard it said that Grace ain’t a blue-eyed blond. No she ain’t. Grace is more. Grace is greater. Grace is sweeter. Grace is amazing. Grace is free. Grace is free-ing. And Grace has a name – JESUS! God’s gracious and kind response to set us free from sin and death is best summed up in the name of Jesus.

Grace is Amazing. Grace is free. Grace is free-ing!

And Grace has a name – JESUS!

God’s response to our sin was not just a thought, an idea, a thing, or a theological construct. Tripp says that God’s answer was not an establishment of religion, process of intervention, or a new divine program. No, God’s answer was a person – His Son Jesus Christ.

God gave Himself. God’s gift is the very gift of His Son’s life.

  • Jesus is GRACE!
  • Jesus is our rescue.
  • Jesus is forgiveness.
  • Jesus is restoration.
  • Jesus is victory.
  • Jesus is life.
  • Jesus is the most priceless gift ever…

Look into the manger and you will see the face of grace! God’s wrath at our sin has been replaced by the smile of His Son. Turn to Jesus and live. Turn to Jesus and you will find the grace of God.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, my God and my Savior. I know that I deserve nothing, but in your grace You have given me everything. I was lost but now I am found. I was guilty, and you forgave me. I was dead, and now I am alive. I was broken, and you are putting me back together. It is more than I can ask for. It is more than I could ever hope to receive. Thank God for grace. Thank God I have met grace in the person of Jesus. I receive all of your grace God in and through Jesus. Lord God, I love your grace. I love the Lord Jesus. Amen!

Today:

  • Be reminded that you will earn nothing from God today. Thank God for his grace, being reminded of Jesus.
  • Do you have a nativity scene in your home? Whenever you walk by it throughout this season, remember Grace has a NAME, and He has called your name. Stop and tell Jesus how amazing his grace truly is to you.

~ I am referring to and using the daily Advent devotional O Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp as inspiration for these writings.

Are you Ready?

(Note: I have been using Paul David Tripp’s Advent devotional book “O Come Let Us Adore Him” as the basis for my December devotions so far. I will continue to do so most days, but I will also share some thoughts that I came up with all by myself! It happens every once in a while. Enjoy! Happy Advent.)

It is time to get ready! That is what the season of Advent is all about. The four Sundays before Christmas make up the season of Advent. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” This is a season where Christ followers are supposed to prepare themselves for the arrival of Jesus Christ. There are 3 Advents (comings) of Jesus that we should remember, anticipate, and celebrate.

Jesus came for you. He is coming again for his church.

He will come and meet you even now.

The 3 Advents of Jesus:

  • The Past Coming of Christ – This is the celebration of Christmas. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Son of God came to earth 2000+ years ago in the form of a man. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Incarnation of Jesus Christ – God becoming a man – should continue to blow our minds. Frederick Beuchner said, “The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.” The scandal of the Incarnation leads to the scandal of the cross which leads to the miracle of the resurrection where the sinless Son of God would claim victory over Satan and sin. Dang, it is one heck of a story. The Son of God was born of man so that we might be born of God. Thank God for Christmas!
  • The Future Coming of Christ – Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again! Yes, He will come again. After rising from the dead, and revealing himself to his disciples, Jesus then was returned to Heaven. He told his disciples He would come again from heaven just as he was taken back into heaven. Scripture declares, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28). Jesus has promised to come again for his people – and his people are supposed to keep an eye upon heaven looking and awaiting for his return. Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3) When Jesus returns, He will initiate that last phase of redemption whereby He will judge sin, reward his people, and restore a broken world. Author Alan Redpath said, “The immense step from the Babe at Bethlehem to the living, reigning triumphant Lord Jesus, returning to earth for his own people–that is the glorious truth proclaimed throughout Scripture. As the bells ring out the joys of Christmas, may we also be alert for the final trumpet that will announce his return, when we shall always be with him.”
  • The Present Day Coming of Christ – Jesus still comes to his people in the moment. He can still come to you in this moment. The angel told Joseph that Jesus’ name should be called Immanuel which means God with us. He still comes to make His presence known to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is always with us, and yet He wants us to experience fresh advents. Jesus said, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven gift the Holy Spirit to them that ask” (Luke 11:13). In the book of Acts, we the see the disciples continue to experience the ongoing work of the Spirit, and continually being filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:1, Acts 4:8, 31). They were not filled once, but again, and again, and again. There is a never ending supply of the Presence of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. He wants to come to you in a fresh way this Christmas season. He wants to meet you and fill you even as you finish this sentence – Breathe deep… Come Lord Jesus! Holy Spirit I welcome you right now. I want more of you. – Jesus will come to you afresh tomorrow morning if you seek Him. He wants to reveal Himself to you over and over this week. Those who seek Him will find Him when they seek Him with all of their heart (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus came for you. He is coming again for his church. He will come and meet you even now. There are many preparations that we make to get ready for Christmas: decorations, baking, gift buying, etc. Even more important is to make preparations of the heart for the coming of Christ in our lives. I hope you will continue to embrace this season with examination, confession, reflection, remembrance, repentance and more.

  1. Reflect upon the Person of Jesus – Relax. Slow down. You cannot experience the presence of Jesus while in a hurry. Take intentional time to be with Him, to meet with Him. Advent is a time for personal reflection, examination, and repentance. Draw near to the presence of Jesus and He will draw near to you. Reflect on the manger as an invitation from God to come closer.
  2. Remember Why He Came – Christmas is so much more than sentiment, but it involves the sacrifice of Jesus coming to earth to live his life as one of us, then give his life for all of us. His mission to earth was not nice thing or good thing, but a needed thing. The humble manger would always lead to a horrific cross. Jesus agreed with the Father. It had to be done for the sake of salvation. It was the plan all along. We should never forget.
  3. REFRAME Your life in light of Eternity – Advent reminds us that this story is going somewhere beyond this world, to the next. We are to live today in light of THE DAY when we will meet Jesus face to face. We can endure hardship in light of that day. We can invest our lives now in light of that day. We can submit to God when it is hard in light of that. We can fight sin in light of that day. Advent reminds us not to become short-sighted and live half-hearted as if this life is all there is.
  4. REPENT as a way of life – We are not called to repent of sin once and then move on. True repentance is a lifestyle, continually asking God to search our hearts, humbling ourselves before Him and asking for His grace. Repentance means that we turn away from sin and self and to the Lord. Our turning will involve three aspects. First we must turn away from some things – actions, attitudes, habits, etc. that lead us away from God. Secondly, we should turn to the Lord and his voice. Turning should involve really leaning into Jesus more. Finally, we may need to turn more to others that are running with the Lord instead of settling for shallow relationships that do not build us up.

The Best and Worst News Ever

This little manger contains the most important message you have ever heard. It shares some urgent bad news you need to hear, and leaves you with the best news you could ever hope for. Hallelujah!

I have some good news, and some bad news. Which do you want to hear first? You are familiar with that dilemma right… Which way would you proceed. Some want to start good and end with the bad – hoping the good news will be so good that the bad news will hardly matter. Others say give me the bad news, and then end with the Good News.

Paul David Tripp’s (PDT) devo this morning reminds us that the story of Christmas is definitely a “Bad News,” then “Good News” situation. The angels said they had come to “bring good news of Great joy that will be for all people.” (Luke 2:10) The story of Jesus Christ is good news. Heck, it is great news as Jesus is the best gift ever. It is the bad news that actually makes it such good news though. So let’s remember the bad news and fully embrace it. The more we can reckon with the bad news, the more power and impact the Good News has on us. So, are you ready?

The Bad News: we are born sinful, rebellious, self-loving idolaters. We are born into this world lost in sin, dead in our sin, enslaved to the very power of sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-3). Truthfully, you are far worse than you have ever imagined. Okay, are we still friends? Humanity does not like to hear and admit the truth of our sin. We tend to justify ourselves believing we are actually “good people,” just not quite perfect. This is such a dangerous view of self because it causes us to look within to help and change ourselves. Jesus then becomes a “self help guru” in our journey to enjoying the good life. We really do not become convinced of our desperate need for help and rescue.

Jesus did not come for good people who need a few touch-ups. He came for a hostile, lost, and broken world that had been devastated through their sin and rebellion to God. Christmas is so sweet to celebrate, but PDT reminds us that this season should humble us. The message of Christmas is that we were in such desperate need of rescue that God entered the world in a personal way to intervene for us, otherwise we were stuck and dead in our sin. It is humbling to acknowledge that another had to come on our behalf – to live a life we could never life, to die a death we should have died, and to rise from the dead having defeated sin and death. Christmas came not because humanity needed another holiday. No, Christmas came because humanity was plunging head first over a ledge of destruction, separation, and judgment.

Jesus offers the only hope for the bad news of our core problem of sin. So we must see and embrace this terribly bad news of our sin and self before we can truly receive the Good news. Paul David Tripp shares 5 words that help define the brokenness of our sin: separation, inability, delusion, judgment, and hopeless.

5 Effects of Sin

  • Separation – We are born into the world completely separated from God due to sin (Psalm 51:3-5, Romans 3:23). Our separation from God keeps us from our true purpose, and leaves us with a God-shaped vacuum that we constantly seek to fill. Sin cuts us off from the presence of our God.
  • Inability – The power of sin leaves us unable to please God, to obey God, to honor and follow God. Sin has damaged our hearts so fully that are unable to live for God and His glory.
  • Delusion – The sinful nature is so deceptive in that it makes us spiritually blind to our true need. Sin has a way justifying ourselves as better than we are. It is why the great hymn proclaims, “I once was lost, but now I am found; was BLIND but now I see.”
  • Judgment – This is a subject that is not mentioned much in this day and time, but the due sentence of our sin is death and eternal separation from God. Our sin deserves God’s judgment to an eternal hell. I can’t put lipstick on a pig. Sin is that bad in the eyes of a holy God. Jesus did not come merely to make good people better. He came to bring dead people to life, and save sinful people from certain judgment.
  • Hopeless – This is where sin brings us. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves, no way to save ourselves. No education, positive thinking, self help tool, or any other human measure can fix our hopeless situation.

BUT, He can do something…

He Came down for us…

He gave his life for us…

He defeated sin, death, hell, and the grave on the cross and through the power of His resurrection.

For those of us who can humbly confess our sinful, broken nature to God,

for those willing to repent and turn from their sinful, self willed nature and instead turn to Christ,

For those who gratefully embrace and receive Jesus Christ as our great and only hope…

Well, for those people who trust Jesus, the bad news becomes good news of great joy! We will find forgiveness and reconciliation. Goodbye separation, and hello to intimacy with God.

So long to inability, as we are given the Spirit of God. Holy Spirit will change our hearts and empower us to live lives pleasing to Christ.

We are no longer blind, but now we see. The evil one no longer deludes us, but our eyes are open to the glory of Christ.

We not longer fear judgment, for Jesus has taken our punishment. The hammer of God’s divine judgment fell upon Jesus Christ at the cross. Thank you Jesus.

Hopeless no more, we are a people filled with great hope. We know God will always get the last word. Our life is in his hands. We know there is much more to this life, but we have the promise of the world to come. We will bow our knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

I close with this reminder.

You are far worse than your ever imagined – hopeless, lost, sinful, rebellious and broken.

And yet you are for more loved than you ever imagined. God has gone to great lengths to rescue you and bring you home to Him. Thank you Jesus.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~ 1 John 3:10

Prayer:

Father in heaven, I humble myself before you. I am aware that I often make excuses for myself and my sin. I constantly want to think that I am better than I am, that somehow I am above my sinful mistakes and decisions. The truth though is that I am a sinful, broken person who is capable of far worse than I have imagined. Father, I was born a sinner, born wanting my own way, constantly fighting against you for control of my life. I have chosen my sin over you time and again. I have been blind to my own pride and sin.

Lord, my sin put me in a state of being cut off from you, unable to please you, blind to truth, and eternally hopeless at the judgment that I rightfully deserve. I own it all God. I make no excuses for my sorry, sinful, rebellious, self-loving, self-righteous heart and nature. You owe me nothing but judgment.

Now Lord, have mercy upon one such as me. Let Christmas come to me this year as sweet rescue to my broken life. Jesus I thank you for entering the darkness of this world for people like me. In amazing love, you died for sinners like me. The cross settled the score, where you more than paid the price for my sin. One precious drop of your blood Lord Jesus is enough to set the foulest sinner clean. I claim your blood over my life. Thank you for the blood of Jesus that washes me and cleanses me now as white as snow. Your resurrection releases the power of life over death, and brings hope into hopeless hearts such as mine.

I believe in you Jesus. I receive You Jesus. I surrender to you Jesus. Forgive me for my stubborn refusal of your will. Holy Spirit, I repent of quenching your work and your voice in my life each time I choose my sin instead of God’s grace. I am far more broken than I have ever realized… And you are far more gracious than I have ever imagined. I receive your forgiveness and grace today. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for coming for me, and for receiving me even now. I invite you into my heart and life fully Jesus. Come in and have your way. Come in. Welcome. Thank you.

I love you. I want to love you more, because your first loved me. Praise to you Almighty God who has ransomed the hearts of his people, who has defeated death, hell, and the grave. Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain and purchased men for God. Worthy is the Lamb to receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, forever. Amen!!!

Today:

  • I encourage you to soak in the prayer above. Do not rush through it, but sometime over the weekend spend 10 to 20 minutes slowly praying and reflecting on these words of humble petition to God. Give the Spirit permission to search your heart for any long ingrained sins of rebellion and withholding of self to God. Talk to God honestly about your sinful nature. He knows about it, and it doesn’t scare Him. As you become honest to the bad news, He can more easily free you through power of the Good News.
  • Reflect on this – “I am not a person who sometimes does bad. No, I am a dearly loved child of God that is being rescued from my wicked, selfish, idolatrous, sinful and hard heart. Isn’t my God amazing?”
  • Remember: The Gospel reminds us that sin is far worse than we ever imagined, and we are not nearly as good as we think we are. Yet Jesus loves and cares for us more than we have ever hoped was possible.

A Never Ending Glory Song

Today’s devo from PDT reminds me of a Christmas video my kids (and me) would watch when they were younger. It was the story of Alabaster the angel. Alabaster was a young gap-toothed angel that sat atop a Christmas tree in the home of a young boy and his family.

At night as the young body lay in his bed peering through his door to the top of the tree, Alabaster would begin to sing his song – Gloria! In Excelsis del! Gloria. The angel would retell the story of that first night the angels sang this song. It was a night when shepherds were in a field, and a King was born nearby in a manger in Bethlehem. And Alabaster and a legion of angels were sent to light up the sky as a heavenly chorus to sing the song of Glory about one who had come to rescue men and women.

Tripp says, “The angels sang of glory because Glory had come to earth to rescue us from the in-glory of sin and to unleash the forgiving and transforming glory of his grace on all who would believe. The hymns of the angels, and the hymns that that have been written by God’s people since, shimmer with glory because the Incarnation of Jesus is about a glorious Savior coming to give glorious grace to people who have forsaken his glory for the temporarily satisfying shadow glories of the created glory.” (O Come Let Us Adore Him, Day 4, Paul David Tripp)

Tripp mentions that the angels that night began a never ending glory song of our Savior that has been sung in some form or fashion throughout our present church age, and it will be songs of glory we sing around the throne of the One and Only Lord and Christ – the Lamb who was slain.

Let me end with Two thoughts and challenges:

(1) What are the shadow glories or counterfeit glories that we still cling to, instead of letting our lives be filled with glory of God? Counterfeit glories are nothing more than idols – the created things we actually clutch to and love more than God because we seek our daily comfort and peace through these means.

Counterfeit glories often include our Appetites, Ambitions, and desire for Approval. Our appetites leave us with a constant push and desire for more – from materialism and possessions, to addictions of all sorts. Our ambition causes us to push God to the side while we take control for ourselves so that we get what we want, and we get where we want. Our deep longing for approval and admiration causes us to compromise and live half hearted lives because we continually seek a nod or compliment from the world around us.

What is the shadow glory(s) you most need to deal with today by owning, confessing it to God, and renouncing it as an idol in your life. (See my prayer below)

(2) How will you join in the never ending song of glory? For the follower of Jesus, you are in the midst of a great story that is being played out. We are in the story of God’s miraculous intervention for rebellious sinners that he might turn us into whole hearted worshippers. True salvation should turn you into a worshipper. If you experienced the glorious Gospel, you must want to sing and share of that Gospel – of that One Jesus who is everything.

Is your life sharing the song of Glory? Is your life pointing to the grace of Christ? Do you need to be reconnected to the song and story of grace this Christmas. Read Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 – 4 with fresh eyes this year. Let your heart be amazed at the divine response to the broken world. Sit and soak while listening to some Glory songs – and be lifted up beyond your little world into the realm of heaven itself. I will give you a couple of songs below that help lift me in this season.

Glory! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace and goodwill towards men on whom his favor rests.

Prayer: Renouncing Idols/Counterfeit glories – This can be important because we have not only sinned by loving these things more than God, but we have enthroned them and let them take God’s place in our lives. A prayer of renouncing by faith can often be a simple and powerful way to reaffirm the grace of Christ and His Lordship over us. Pray this prayer…

Father I come before you in Jesus name and I want to submit to you and you alone. I want my life to bring glory to you and your Son Jesus Christ. I ask you to cover me now by the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all of my sins. Lord, I often let counterfeit glories come steal your glory in my life. I repent of my idols (Name your idols). I confess these idols to you, and I repent of my devotion to them above you. Please forgive me and cleanse me from them now in Jesus name.

In the Name of the true and living God, Jesus Christ, I renounce my worship of the false gods of ______________. I choose to worship only You, Lord, and ask You, Father, to enable me to keep all these areas in their proper place in my life. I renounce idolatry and all it’s effect in my life (marriage, family and ministry). Thank You that I am forgiven. I submit to Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. To Him be the Glory In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

My Favorite Glory Songs for this Season

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