There are days when it’s wise for us to stop and look and listen. We scrutinize our lives, examine Scripture, and spend extended time in prayer as we gain a clearer sense of what God is doing in our lives and what He has for us in the future. As the new year rolls around, take some time for reflection and renewal. Start today.
Boredom is the real danger we face when we approach the Christmas story. It’s so familiar, our minds just hit the highlights, because we think we’ve already plumbed the depths of every detail. But if we could approach the nativity as if we’ve never read it before, we’d discover something new and exciting—we’d discover the birth of Jesus is a gift too wonderful for words.
If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.
Buckle up and keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, because you’re about to go on the wildest ride of your life. This ride will involve time travel, taking you all the way past human history, the creation of Adam and Eve, and the beginning of the universe. This ride—this journey—will transport you to eternity past, to a time before time began. Are you ready? It’ll require you to use your imagination and think, but it’s a trip worth making.
We’ve learned that Jesus is the God-Man. Such a study could leave us with the erroneous idea that His life was merely a theoretical (or theological) phenomenon with little practical value. Not so! He touched people where they were and changed their lives.
The second member of the Godhead came to earth as a tiny baby in Bethlehem. God became man. This is commonly referred to as the doctrine of the incarnation. In the words of the Apostle John, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Think about that for a while. Imagine what it must have been like to see Him, walk with Him, watch Him work, and hear His words.
Very few people cared about the tiny town of Bethlehem—much less the birth of a Jewish infant named Jesus. However, God saw things differently. This small baby would one day die on a cross for the sins of all humankind. So God inspired a physician named Luke to record the facts about Jesus' birth and His purposes for coming to earth.
Knowing God calls for a response that includes trusting Him, relying on Him, worshipping Him—in a word, loving Him. Scripture is filled with accounts of the God of heaven, reaching out to His people in grace and mercy, showing Himself to be strong and compassionate. Each one is a reason to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Puritans used to speak of “following hard after God” and “setting our faces like a flint toward God.”—Strange-sounding phrases in today’s fast-paced world! But these words need to be remembered, especially in our generation.
“You can prove anything you want to from the Bible!” Have you ever heard someone make that claim? Probably so. For the most part, it is true. If a person really wants to find biblical “justification” for some belief or activity and is willing to use half-verses, to take passages out of context, and to twist the meaning of various terms, then he or she can “prove” just about anything from Scripture.