Daily Archives: December 22, 2013

advent: all things new

New Years is coming. A little less than two weeks away and with Christmas in between, it’ll be here before you know it.

New Years

A new year….

2014

Just as tomorrow is a new day…

And next week is a new week…

Many people seek to start things over when New Year’s rolls around – a new diet, new workout regimen, new set of goals, maybe even a new addition to the family.

Our culture teaches us to think that if only  we could start over without making a mess, we would succeed.

There is hope, bred by the stack of self-help books and enlightenment novels we read and financial experts on Wall Street. We reach for it. We want to find the answers for ourselves.

Yet, once we make that first mistake (and we always do – we are not perfect creatures), that great hope suddenly dissipates and is replaced with imperfection and great feelings of guilt, which some of us eat our way through.

Why does this happen?

Sin

Sin provides a great stumbling block in this imperfect world.

It gets in the way.

It shoves us back to ground 0, or at least it seems that way.

And just when we’ve think we’ve made progress, we take two steps back…or so it seems.

But we have hope.

Christ came to make all things new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5.17

An encounter with Jesus never leaves a person unchanged. The old that passes away is your sin. The new — is the new creation he is creating within you, one moment at a time.

We change when we make the choice to follow Jesus. Old values, ideas, plans, loves, desires and beliefs vanish over time as we continue to grow in his grace and love. He gives you new desires and they match up with his will.

I pray that this Christmas, you will encounter him. Invite him in. And forever be changed.

traditions: ’twas the night before Christmas

You’ve probably read the mainstream version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, where jolly old St. Nick arrives in a flurry, leaves gifts in a hurry and wishes all a good night at tale’s end.

I remember my mom reading that story to us as kids, after which she would follow with the story of Jesus’ birth, read from the book of Luke.

And while those Christmas stories, Twas the Night included, are heart-warming and fun to read in and of themselves, I would rather hear the birth of Christ retold time and time again.

I stumbled on multiple spoofs of the tale, all Christian, but this one spoke to me most:

Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed
Not once ever kneeling or bowing their head
And mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap

When out of the east there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But [a trumpet] proclaiming that Jesus was here
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be the day

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus, returning just as he said
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth
I cried when I saw Him, in spite of myself

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man
He spoke not a word as he searched for my name
When He said “It’s not here,” my head hung in shame

The people whose names had been written in love
He gathered to take to His Father above
With those who are ready, He rose without sound
While all the rest were left standing around

I fell to my knees, but it was too late
I had waited too long and this sealed my fate
I stood and cried as they rose out of sight
Oh, if I had only been ready tonight

In the words of the meaning it is clear
The coming of Jesus is drawing near
There’s only one life and when comes that last call
We’ll find that the Bible was the true Word of God after all

December 22: that you may believe

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20.30-31

I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep and who yawn through the Apostles Creed – that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power.

You can read every fairytale that was ever written, every mystery thriller, every ghost story, and you will never find anything so shocking, so strange, so weird and so spellbinding as the story of the incarnations of the Son of God.

How dead we are! How callous and unfeeling to his glory and his story! How often have I had to repent and say, “God, I am sorry that the stories men have made up stir my emotions, my awe and wonder and admiration and joy, more than your own true story.”

The space thrillers of our day, like Star War and The Empire Strikes Back, can do this great good for us: they can humble us and bring us to repentance, by showing us that we really are capable of some of the wonder and awe and amazement that we so seldom feel when we contemplate the enteral God and the cosmic Christ and a real living contact between them and us in Jesus of Nazareth.

When Jesus said, “For this I have come into the world,” he said something as crazy and weird and strange and eerie as any statement in the science fiction that you have ever read (John 18.37).

O, how I pray for a breaking forth of the Spirit of God upon me and upon you. I pray for the Holy Spirit to break into my experience in a frightening way, to wake me up to the unimaginable reality of God.

One of these days lightning is going to fill the sky from the rising of the sun to its setting, and there is going to appear in the clouds one like a son of man with his mighty angels and flaming fire. And we will see him clearly. And whether from terror or sheer excitement, we will tremble and will wonder how, how we ever lived so long with such a domesticated, harmless Christ.

These things are written that you might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world. Really believe.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org