Jesus: Light of the World

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shone” (Isa. 9:2, Matt. 4:14-16).             

                The opposite of light is dark.  Darkness is associated with ignorance, folly (or acting the fool), evil, and death (Ps. 82:5, 107:14, Eccl. 2:13-14, John 3:19, Prov. 2:13-15). There’s nothing scarier than trying to find your way around in pitch darkness.  I get a feeling of unease when I’m alone at night in a dark, unlit area. I usually try to make my way as quickly as I can to get into an area of light.  With light there’s protection.  One is more apt to be mugged in a dark alley or unlit parking lot at night than in an open, lit area.  My husband John also recommends that I carry a flashlight with me. He has a collection, or rather a ‘family’, of flashlights. Mind you, these aren’t cute, fun flashlights—they’re bright, high-lumen, powerful flashlights.  I know that I’ll never (physically) be in the dark when John’s around.

                Spiritually we require just one light.

God doesn’t just emanate light, He is light. In Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  His light is pure, absolute, genuine, and true. It’s underived, meaning it doesn’t come from some other power source—it is the source.  It doesn’t rely on batteries or electrical power and it’s the highest lumen of brightness. “Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God, Who is light, commanded light to shine out of darkness to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the express image of God and the brightness of His glory (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15).  As the spoken word reveals the invisible thought, the living Word reveals the invisible God. Because of the Father’s great love for the world, He sent His only begotten son into it so that through His Son, the world might be saved (John 3:16). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12, 12:46).

                “And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It’s sinful man’s natural response to hide from God rather than come to Him (Gen. 3:8, Ps. 14:1-3, Rom. 3:10-18, 23).  Things hide in the dark—light exposes. Once they’re exposed to the light they can be seen (Eph. 5:13). I never think my house is as dirty as it is until my vacuum light exposes dust (and dog hair) where I didn’t see it hiding. Just like dust that’s exposed and sucked up in a vacuum, darkness and evil will be completely exposed and dealt with (1 Cor. 4:5, 1 John 3:8).

It’s the god of this age (the devil) who has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (who is the image of God) will not shine on them (2 Cor. 4:4). For believers, the struggle is against rulers of darkness, who masquerade as angels of light (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 11:14). The believer doesn’t need to be fearful  or try to withstand these dark forces on their own because they have two powerful sources on their side: (1) the all-powerful Armor of Light (that darkness cannot overcome), and (2) the Word of God (that guides their feet & illuminates their path (Eph. 6:13, Rom. 13:12-14, John 1:5, Ps. 119:105).

                So come out of the darkness, into the Light.  Give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12-14).

Let the Light of Christmas shine in your heart!

Laura

Good Tidings of Comfort & Joy

IMG_4261One of the earliest and most beloved Christmas carols, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” has appealed to many over the years due to its light, lively style and upbeat tempo. Not only does the music reflect the joy in the ‘good tidings’ (or good news) of the birth of Christ, but the lyrics as well. Christ’s birth, after all, is something to be celebrated and this enduring carol is a reminder of that. Interestingly the old English meaning of the word “rest” in the title of the song meant to “keep” or “make”, encouraging those of the time period it was written to allow God to “keep” or “make” them merry and then went on to tell the reasons why.

Even though the day we celebrate Christmas is not when Christ was actually born, it’s a day we set aside to celebrate God’s goodness & promises fulfilled of the coming Savior. God’s written prophecy is important. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Here are some of the prophecies fulfilled when Christ was born:                                 •He would be born of the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15)—fulfilled: Luke 2:7, Gal. 4:4; •He would come from the tribe of Judah (Micah 5:2)—fulfilled: Matt. 1:1-3, Heb. 7:14, Rev. 5:5; •He would be born in the town of Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2-5) —fulfilled: Matt. 2:1-6; •He would be born a king of the line of David (Isaiah 9:6-7) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:1, Luke 1:32, Acts 13:22-23; •He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:18-23, Luke 1:26-35; •He would be a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-2) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:6, Acts 13:22-23; •He would have an eternal existence, “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2) —confirmed: John 1:1-2, 8:58, Col. 1:15-19.

Christmas is about God’s faithfulness now and the hope (for those that believe in Christ) for what God has promised in His Word. This is what brings one comfort & joy in the midst of loss, trying times, and the hardships of living in this present fallen world.

As we understand and embrace these good tidings of joy, we’re also encouraged to share them with those around us—shining God’s love and hope to our dark world (Rom. 15:5, 2 Cor. 1:3-4, Phil. 2:1-2).

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember, Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray,

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our Heav’nly Father a blessed Angel came,
And unto certain Shepherds brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by Name,

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

“Fear not then, “said the Angel, “Let nothing you afright,
This day is born a Savior a blessed holy sight,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s pow’r and might.”

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This Holy Child of Christmas shall fill our hearts with grace:

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Have a Merry Christmas with Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

Laura

Ordinary Extraordinary

Mary: Expecting the SaviorOrdinary Extraordinary
By Laura Kestly

The Extraordinary came in an ordinary way—
in human flesh to redeem and restore.
In an ordinary woman, an Extraordinary birth
would fulfill the prophecies of yore.

Through Divine intervention
and human conception
the Savior came into the world.
Wrapped in swaddling cloth
and laid in a trough
ancient prophecy was unfurled.

The shepherds were told
by an angel on high
while they were watching
their flock by night
where the Savior would be
so they hastened to see
the newborn King—what a wonderful sight.

Wise men came from a far
being led by His star
much later to praise and behold
They fell to their knees
presenting Him with these
gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold.

The Extraordinary came in an ordinary way—
in human flesh to redeem and restore
When ordinary believe
and His gift they receive
they’ll have extraordinary life evermore.

Isaiah 7:14, Matt. 1:18, 23, Luke 1:26-38, 46-56.
The hour came when the Seed of the woman entered the world
(Gen. 3:15, Rom. 1:3, John 1:14, 2 Tim. 2:8, Gal. 3:16).
Luke 1:31, 2:11-20, Matt. 2:1-2, 9-11;, Col. 1:20, Eph. 1:7, John 3:16.

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

o-come-let-us-adore-him-webFor most, it’s far easier to grasp God as the Creator of the majestic mountains, the delicate flowers and the patterned butterfly than as a baby in a lowly manger.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

A few years back when my husband & I took a trip to Arizona for our 25th wedding anniversary we road-tripped to the Grand Canyon. As we stood on the rim of the canyon and gazed first-hand at its majesty, it was awe-inspiring & breath-taking.

                All creation bears God’s handiwork and the imprint of His touch as His eternal power & divine nature are revealed (Rom. 1:19-20). Pattern and purpose are visible everywhere–from the intricate design of a flower and butterfly to the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning & reproduction of the human body, as well as the reliable & orchestrated rising & setting of the sun.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

Purposefully God revealed Himself in the likeness of man (Hebrews 1:1-4).

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

–The same Word that is the invisible God.

–The same Word that is before all things & in Him, all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17).

–The same Word that upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

–The same Word, who being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-7), being born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7).

Why?

                God chose to take on the likeness of man and suffer to pay the penalty (wages) of sin for man, which was death (on the cross), so that man could be redeemed through His blood (saved/released from the power & fear of death) and be reconciled to enjoy eternal life with Him (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, Col. 1:19-22, Eph. 1:7, 2:13-19, Col. 2:13-15, Heb. 2:9).

                God revealed this great LOVE for man (even while man was dead in trespasses) because He so LOVED the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Eph. 2:4, John 3:16). It’s by grace man has been saved through faith (not of man’s doing)—it’s the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). But to enjoy a gift, one must first receive it–and this one through faith. Faith receives the gift that is undeserved.

                When God came as a baby thousands of years ago, He wasn’t well received (except for some angels, shepherds and wise men)–But after Christ died & was raised from the dead, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Col. 2:12, Phil. 2:9-11).

 O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant–

O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

  Laura

The First Sunday of Advent

ADVENT: the coming into place, view, or being; arrival.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent–the beginning of the Christmas Season that Christians celebrate the anniversary of God’s first coming into the world–the birth of Jesus Christ.

It’s more than man’s mere mind can comprehend–God, Who created the world and everything in it, stooping down to be born in human form (John 1:1-3, Phil. 2:6-7), but that’s what was foretold in prophecy & what transpired.

Immanuel: God with us (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23).

David, in Psalm 8, ponders God even being mindful of man–but mindful of man God is–and purposeful. He came in human flesh to become the perfect sacrificial lamb that would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  The gift of eternal life would be for all who believe and receive Him (John 3:16, Eph. 2:4-9).