Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday's Message

This Sunday morning I aim to preach a message entitled "Take Care How You Hear" from Luke 8:18. My goal is to help us best hear the Word of God both publicly and privately in 2008. I plan to mention a book by Don Whitney entitled, Simplify Your Spiritual Life. I will only mention it briefly Sunday morning, but encourage you to purchase this text if you are interested. Whitney offers some solid suggestions to help clear the clutter and stay focused on the main thing in your daily walk with the Lord. You can click here to order the book from Amazon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

"The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."

What an exclamation point at the end of these two verses! It lets us know the heart and passion of God the Father, Yahweh, in sending His Son to earth. How amazing it is to know that God Himself found joy and zeal and passion in sending Jesus to atone for our sins! How wonderful and freeing it is to know that the "things of God" are that which involves our freedom, our forgiveness, our joy, and our life! The zeal of the Lord sent this child. The zeal of the Lord of hosts gave us His Son! Merry Christmas!

Sentences like these are found throughout the Bible.


Isaiah 53:10 - "Yet it was the will (or, it pleased) of the LORD to crush him; He has put Him to grief."

Speaking of the sufferings of Jesus in Isaiah 53, the Spirit of God inspired Isaiah to say that it pleased God to do it!

Matthew 16:23 - "But (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'"

Jesus, after Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for talking about going to the cross, told Peter that he did not have in mind the things of God. The things of God involve His perfect Son and a cross and resurrection! The things of God involve our freedom and life and joy and peace!

This Christmas, be reminded that what drove the sending of the Son to earth was the zeal of the LORD of hosts. God was passionate about making it happen. He was passionate about sending us a Savior. He was passionate about bringing us a good news of a great joy!

No wonder the angels in heaven, when they cried out to the shepherds that first Christmas said: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!" (Luke 2:14)

God gets the glory. We get life and joy. Oh how zealous He was about sending His Son and how zealous He is even today that we embrace and trust and find our hope in the Son.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

With Justice and Righteousness from this Time Forth and Forevermore

“…with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

The kingdom of this child that was to be born is a kingdom He established and upholds with justice and righteousness. These two “kingdom traits” are not there for a while and then something else upholds the kingdom. They are what establishes it and upholds it now and forever.

Why is it significant that justice and righteousness are what drives the kingdom of Christ? In a sense, it is frightening and condemning. The fact that His kingdom is upheld and established with justice means that He is just to all. Wrongs done will be punished. Justice, in other words, will be served. The Perfect Judge will see to it that disobedience to His divine law will be followed through with wrath. If He is to maintain justice, He cannot simply “pass over” sins. They must be punished. So, the King of this kingdom will execute everything with justice. But consider also that the kingdom is upheld and established in righteousness. Being righteous means fulfilling the obligations of the law. Doing everything “right” is the essence of righteousness. So, subjects of His kingdom must be righteous and constantly adhering to righteousness.
Are you starting to see why, in a sense, the fact that His kingdom is established and upheld by this is frightening and condemning? If Jesus is just and punishes disobedience, then I am in major trouble. If righteousness is the order of the day and the characteristic of subjects of this kingdom, then I don’t stand a chance. Left to myself I don’t stand a chance, that is.
You see the very fact that Jesus’ kingdom is established in justice and righteousness points us to the need of Him to come. For the kingdom to be a just kingdom, sin must be punished. This child that was to be born “for us” and this son that was “given” came to bear the punishment we deserved for our sin. I can be a part of His kingdom, not because I have never sinned, but because the sin I have committed has been punished already on the cross. Likewise, I am not a member of the kingdom of Christ because I am perfectly righteous and have done everything in life without a blemish. Far from it! No, I am a subject of this kingdom because Jesus was/is righteous and His record of obedience (perfect) was transferred to me. He took my punishment for sin (justice) and gave me His perfection (righteousness). His kingdom is established and upheld by these things. Because of what this child came to do, I am a kingdom member.

Last night at the close of the Lord’s Supper service I noticed something very interesting that I had never really noticed before. As I was stacking the bread trays on top of the other I observed that there were numerous fingerprints on the edges of the silverware trays. Fingerprints of sinners. Hundreds of people who were far from perfect and way disobedient had eaten bread and drunk juice together. Sinful and disobedient people considered themselves a part of the kingdom of Christ and partook of the Supper as a body. Is that okay? Can it be? His kingdom is established and upheld with justice and righteousness! It sure is. Because of the body that was given for us and the blood that was shed for us, those who believe are made righteous and have a right and forgiven stance before God Almighty.
Thank You Jesus for being born and doing what You did. May You be honored and treasured and adored this Christmas Eve. As I have heard it said so beautifully, “May You receive the reward You deserve for Your suffering!”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

To Establish (the kingdom) and Uphold it...

“…to establish it and to uphold it…”

This is a short aspect to pick out of this verse to meditate on, but an important one nonetheless. Tomorrow (Lord willing!) we will focus on what Christ’s kingdom is established and upheld by, but I simply want you to stop at this point and contemplate the fact that He Himself establishes and upholds His kingdom. The fact that He establishes His kingdom means that He can do whatever He want to with it. He can establish it any way He pleases. You and I don’t have a say so in what we want His kingdom to be about or what we might think it should be about. He establishes and upholds it Himself. He does not need our counsel on how it should be established. He does not need our advice on how it should be upheld. In fact, He doesn’t even need our help establishing it or upholding it. The only reason ANYONE is able to be a part of His kingdom is by grace.
Tomorrow when we meditate on the fact that His kingdom is established and upheld with “justice and righteousness” we need to be assured up front that this is the way He designed it and ordered it to be. Our only response must be to submit, bow down, and humbly and joyfully accept what God has ordained. He established His kingdom the way He wanted to establish it. He knows best. Our job is not to offer counsel or even question Him on this. It is to joyfully accept it as it is and move toward being a part of this established kingdom the He will uphold by His own power and might.


“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” John 18:36

The kingdom Christ established and upholds is not like any other kingdom. It is a spiritual thing. It is an eternal thing. Remember this when you wage war with the Gospel around the world. Remember this when you are tempted by the evil one. This is something that is not like the world’s way of government and kingdom. This is a spiritual thing that wages war on your soul!

Remember what Paul said to the Ephesians:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13

His kingdom is what it is by His design and order. Let’s submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the throne of David and over his kingdom...

“…on the throne of David and over his kingdom…”

Isaiah 9:6-7

Why is this significant? Why is being on the throne of David and over David’s kingdom such a big deal anyway?

Consider this prophecy from God through Nathan to King David in 2 Samuel 7:

“And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son...And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)

For someone’s kingdom to exist forever, death will have to be defeated. Immortal and eternal must be the characteristic of the King. Here in 2 Samuel, David was promised that his kingdom would go on forever even AFTER he lied down (died) with his fathers. How could a kingdom continue if the king died?
Well, the line of David continued to Jesus.
Consider the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.

Read these words spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary as recorded by Luke:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:29-33)

Gabriel promised Mary that the baby in her womb would take over the throne of King David and would reign as King forever.

So, why does the Spirit of God inspire Isaiah to speak of David’s throne and kingdom? Because the child to be born would be an eternal King.

What does this have to do with you and I? If we claim to follow Jesus, He is to us a King. We are His delightful and joy-filled subjects gladly submitting to Him at all times for all things. We must be constantly acknowledging His rule and reign over our lives and seeking to obey His every whim for our own good and His wonderful glory.

"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end..."

"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end..."

Isaiah has already mentioned that this child to be born will have the government on his shoulder and that He is the Prince of Peace. Here the Spirit of God inspired Isaiah to connect the two thoughts together.

Both the government under the reign of Christ as well as the peace of Christ will never end. The government will forever increase. His authority, His rule, those who are apart of His kingdom, His Sovereign reign will never, ever end. Likewise His peace will never end. It will increase in the souls of those who are His.

The connection makes sense, doesn't it? As long as Christ rules and reigns and the government He runs is ever increasing (which will be forever), then the peace He brings and offers and provides will be forever as well. As long as He is on the throne, so too will there be spiritual peace for the member of His kingdom.

Think of it: The child that was born in a manger stall over 2,000 years ago to a young virgin mother and a young father who was not the "real" father would have an ever increasing government and perfect peace that would never end. Make no mistake about it. Jesus rules on planet earth and throughout all the universe. All authority is His. Only through Him can you, I, or anyone else can have peace. As long as He reigns, His peace will be ours.

Now think of this: every human who has ever lived must bow down before Him and proclaim Him as Lord. Those who know Him as Savior and Lord will proceed to everlasting glory and joy and peace. Those who have never known Him will proceed on to everlasting torment and doom and horror.

As you consider this, I encourage you to contemplate the eternal state of your family members you will come into contact with this Christmas. Consider the eternal state of your neighbors in your neighborhood. Click on this link for the Joshua Project and read about how many people have NEVER heard the name Christ. Likewise, click on this link at the International Mission Board web-site to read about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and how we can help make the name of Christ known around the world with our money. You can also click here at the Desiring God web-site to read of 13 ways you can bless missionaries during this holiday season without even paying for postage!

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. We know He rules. We know He reigns. We know that only through Him is there peace. What are you and I doing about it? Better yet, what are we doing about it this Christmas? We cannot keep this to ourselves. Let's help make as many as possible at peace with God this Christmas season!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Prince of Peace

"...and his name shalle be called...

Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6-7

This fourth and final name description designated for this child to be born (Jesus) helps identify one of the primary purposes of His coming on our behalf: to bring us peace.

A prince is one who has been given ownership of something and the one who distributes it to those whom he is pleased. Jesus Himself IS Peace. He is the Giver and Bringer of Peace. He grants peace to all whom God has given Him.

Consider these passages that permeate the birth narrative of Jesus:

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...'"

Luke 1:46-47

"And you, child (Zechariah speaking of John the Baptist), will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Luke 1:76-79

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:10-11

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased."

Luke 2:14

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."

Luke 2:29-32

He brought peace when He came and He came to bring peace to those who would believe on Him.

But this begs a question doesn't it? What kind of peace? Or better yet, why do we need peace? This really gets at the heart of why He came and why we so desperately needed Him to come. Left to ourselves we simply cannot have peace with God. We are at odds with our Maker. We are, by nature, objects of divine wrath following the ways of our father the devil (see Ephesians 2:1-3). We deserve punishment from God because of our countless sins against Him. Regardless of how many good things we do or try to do it will not be enough. We are still sinful, evil vessels that cannot stand in the presence of a holy God. This is why we need Jesus! This is why we must shout aloud of praise and thanksgiving with all of our might that He is the Prince of Peace! He came to take on the punishment we deserve for our sins! He came to be the mediator between us and God! He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived a perfect life of righteousness (which is what we cannot do) that becomes transferred to us when we believe on Jesus. He also went to the cross and shed His own blood in our place as the sacrifice/punishment we deserved for sin. He was punished by God for us so that we would not have to be. We could not undergo the punishment. Even if we could have (which there is no way a mere man could have) we would not have been a sufficient sacrifice because our lives are blemished with sin. Jesus is our Prince of Peace because He did what was necessary to make right what was made wrong between us and God due to our sins.

He is Peace. He brought Peace. He still gives Peace. He is the Prince of Peace.

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Everlasting Father

“…and His name shall be called…
Everlasting Father…” Isaiah 9:6-7

What an incredible thought that the CHILD to be born is also an EVERLASTING FATHER! How can it be? Only God. The child is the Son of God who is a King with the government under His rule who is a Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father. He is God! God the Father.

Not only does this further reveal to us the deity of Jesus, but it also reminds us that God is a Father to His children. Jesus being God the Father, treats His children as a loving Father would.

Consider that God as Father…

1. Treats His children as adopted orphans.

Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless…is God in his holy habitation.”

2. Disciplines His children as a father does his own for their own good and godliness.

Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “…we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

3. Gives good things to His children who ask Him.

Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Jesus is our Everlasting Father. Thus, not only is He our Heavenly Father, but He will be our Heavenly Father from everlasting to everlasting. Forever and ever we will be treated as children, heirs with Christ of the Father’s blessing and goodness and grace and love and abundant welfare and joy. He will always be God the Father and for those who are His, He will always be our Father!

What do we do with this?
Three things at least:
(1) Praise Him for adopting us and accepting us as His children in Christ.
(2) Rejoice in trials and tests knowing that God allows things to come our way to sharpen us and discipline us for our own growth in godliness.
(3) Ask Him for anything and everything that will aid in our Christlikeness. As a Father, He longs to give to His children who ask of Him.

As we spend time with our family this holiday season, make it a point to spend extra time with your Heavenly Father and also anticipate the joyous time we will have with Him in glory!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Mighty God

“…and His name shall be called…
Mighty God…” Isaiah 9:6-7

This child that was to be born the first Christmas was to be called the “Mighty God.” Are you kidding? This child is God? The Creator of the universe? The One God who is to be worshipped? Would the child, the human child, the son be God? According to Isaiah he would be. Isaiah had recorded two chapters earlier that His name would be Immanuel. In Isaiah 7:14, we read, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Of course, Immanuel means “God with us.” This baby that was born for those who would believe was/is/always will be God.

Other biblical authors agree.

Consider the following:

John 1:1-5, 14 says, “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 any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Colossians 1:15-20 says, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power…”

This baby that was to be born would be God. Jesus is God. Jesus is not another god. He is God, the only One and True God. He is the Mighty God. Hallelujah!

Why? Why is this so important? Why is it crucial that we understand Jesus is God? Why can’t we just believe that Jesus was fully man with some divine power? Or, why can’t we just say He was half-man and half-god? Why is it important that we believe He is THE God of the universe? It is critical for a number of reasons. But one of the most important is that no mere man could ever bear the weight of the sin of mankind. No man could endure the punishment deserved for sinners. Only God has that kind of power. If just a man, or a half-man died on the cross, there would still need to be atonement for sin. But since it was God who died on the cross (for three days!), all of sin’s guilt and shame and punishment was atoned for! Thank You God! Thank You Jesus! You are the Mighty God!

Another reason it is so important is because you and I need to rest assured that it is right and proper and fitting to worship Jesus. We must fall down on our face before this man. We must raise our hands in adoration to this man. We must sing our hearts out to this man. We must love this man with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is God. Jesus, the baby born to us in Bethlehem, is God. O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Our sins are atoned for because God bore the punishment for us.
Our worship is to be directed toward Him, the man Christ Jesus.
He is the Wonderful Counselor. He is the Mighty God!

Monday, December 17, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Wonderful Counselor

“…and His name shall be called…
Wonderful Counselor…” Isaiah 9:6-7

At the end of verse 6, the Spirit of God prompted Isaiah to describe this child that was to be born in four different word pictures. The four descriptions are names He was to be called. The names would describe His essence. The names are adjectives as to who and what He is. The first of the names He is to be called is “Wonderful Counselor.”
A counselor is someone who provides counsel, advice, direction, and wisdom. A counselor is someone that is sought out by people in need of help and comfort and relief. A counselor is sought after because he is skilled at seeing a way of freedom from current bondage. A counselor knows how to direct, lead, and help lead in the right path.
Jesus’ name is counselor. He is THE counselor. His words are life and joy and peace. His counsel is the only true counsel, for he created us and knows what is best for our souls.
But not only is He described here as counselor, but He is a “Wonderful Counselor.” His counsel is wonderful. He is wonderful. It is a glorious thing that we would even have access to His counsel, much less that He would counsel us, and much less that we might even be able to heed His counsel.
Every word of Jesus recorded in the New Testament is wonderful counsel. Everything breathed by Him are truth and life. His counsel is wonderful and for our good.

Howard Griffith, in an article I read entitled “Wonderful Counselor,” wrote:

“Only one has the words of eternal life: the Lord Jesus. Only He exhaustively understands all things, for only He is God…
“Here is the beginning of repentance: becoming humble enough to receive God’s teaching in Christ. Are you a person who can take counsel? Do you want to know God and what He wants before anything else, or are you confident in your own thinking? We need to repent by submitting our thoughts to the counsel of Jesus…
“When the King rules your heart, you begin to see how foolish your own thinking is apart from God. Grace and forgiveness lead us to stop talking and begin listening to the godly wisdom of others. ‘Wisdom is found in those who take advice’ (Proverbs 13:10). The Wonderful Counselor has come. Listen to Him!”

Great counsel! The best counsel we humans can give each other is to seek the counsel of the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ. Are you a person who can take counsel? Do you want to know God and what He wants before anything else? Jesus is a child born for us. He is the Son of God given to us. The entire government in all the world is on His shoulder. He is the Wonderful Counsel. For you. For me. For your son or daughter. For you mom or dad. For the way you dress. For the way you drive. For the way you spend money. For what you watch on TV. For what you spend your time doing. For whether or not you share the Gospel with an unbeliever. He is a wonderful counselor. Let’s be diligent to seek His whole counsel with all of our might!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder

“…and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” Isaiah 9:6-7

So far we have read that there is to be a human child born for a people. The child to be born is a son, or rather, the Son of God. This child will be “given” as a free gift. Immediately Isaiah, inspired by the Spirit of God, shows us what this child is destined to be: a Ruler. When you read a phrase like “the government shall be upon His shoulder” it means exactly what it says it means: He will carry the government on His shoulder. This child, this son, this gift will be in charge of the government. He will rule. He will reign. Edward Young, in his commentary on Isaiah, wrote:

"Upon this Child the government with all its responsibilities lies. Like a burden it rests upon His shoulders…the entire responsibility for the good administration of the government is said to rest upon His shoulders. The Child is to be a King, a Ruler, a Sovereign.
This government is the kingdom of grace, but also in widest extent the kingdom of nature and power. All the world is subject to the rule of this Child. ‘All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me” (Matthew 28:18; 11:27; John 5:22). World powers were threatening the very existence of the people of God; the government of the Child is a spiritual rule, but for that very reason more embracing and world-wide. ‘My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36)."

Wow! This isn’t just any other child. This isn’t just any other son. This child is the Son of God who will reign over every power imaginable. “All the world is subject to the rule of this Child.” Wise men from the East came to worship this child. The angels of heaven broke out into glorious praise when He was born. King Herod could not outsmart the hand of Almighty God in carrying out His perfect plan.
Praise be to this Child! The government shall be upon His shoulder!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

To Us a Son is Given

“…to us a son is given;” Isaiah 9:6-7

Not only does Isaiah prophecy of a human child to be born for those who would believe on Him, but he goes on to say that this child will be a son. Now I am not sure, but I assume those in Isaiah’s day did not piece it altogether as to whose son this child would be and what kind of son this child would be. But being that we have the unique privilege of having the New Testament and we have the written record of how all of this transpired, we know that this son was a reference to the son of God.

God would send His son to us. In the coming days we will look closer at the significance of this human baby also being God. But for now it is important that we meditate on the wonder of God sending His son to the earth.


1. God loved/loves His son.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son…’” (Matthew 3:17)

2. God was pleased to send His son.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said… ‘with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17)

3. God expects all on planet earth to listen to His son.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)

4. God sent His son to earth because He loves the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I think it’s also important to see at this point that Isaiah said to us a son is “given.” This, of course, implies that the Son is a gift. God so loved the world that He gave. A gift is something that is given for free. A gift is not like a wage. A wage is earned. A gift is grace. You have probably received a gift already this Christmas season that someone just gave you because they love you. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. You didn’t try to win their favor. They just gave it to you because they love you. That’s what a gift is. Free. Undeserved. To have it, though, you have to receive it. You must accept it as a gift that is given out of grace and embrace it.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Because of our sins, we’ve earned death. It’s what we deserve. But God so loved the world (sinners like you and me) that He gave a free gift by sending of His son. We deserve death because of our sin. We don’t deserve Jesus. Reality is, however (hallelujah!), that “to us a son is given.”
Receive Him my dear friend. Receive Him for yourself!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;” Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

For to us a child is born...

“For to us a child is born…” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Chapter 9 of Isaiah is a chapter where God tells Isaiah to prophecy about a hope that will come to those who live in spiritual darkness. Verse 2 reads, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” This passage, then, is a passage of hope. Jerusalem and Judah had been extremely rebellious. Isaiah had called them to repent and turn back to God. Likewise he had informed God’s people of one who would atone for their sins (see Isaiah 53). In verses 6 and 7 we read a description of how God would redeem the souls of mankind and offer a great light to those who walk in darkness.

The first phrase in verse 6 is “For to us a child is born…” A couple of things are to be noticed here.

First, Isaiah said “to us” a child is born. Who is the “us” here? Was not this child born for all people? Or was this child born to a specific “us”? In the context of this passage, we know that Isaiah was sent to prophecy to the Jews of Jerusalem and Judah (see Isaiah 1:1). Does this mean that the child to be born was only for Jews? In Matthew 1 when the angel appeared to Joseph and urged him not to divorce Mary quietly because of her unexpected pregnancy, the angel told him that what was going on was a work of God. In verse 21 the angel continued, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (emphasis mine). Who are “his people”? Luke records for us that after baby Jesus was born, the first people to get the news from heaven were shepherds! Shepherds! Consider what one of the angels said to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). This helps us shed light on our question. Jesus was sent by God for all the people. So, we know this baby will save his people from their sins, but He was sent for all the people. So, who is the “us”? For to “who” exactly is the child born? I think our answer is found in verse 32 of Luke 2. Eight days after Jesus’ birth Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to present him to God. A man named Simeon knew it was the Messiah, and said these words of Jesus: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” So here we see Jesus is a light for the Gentiles and glory for the Jews. What do we make of all this? Did He come for all the people of the world? Yes, hallelujah. He came for all the peoples of the world, not a specific people group. He came for all people groups and nations and tribes and tongues. However, not all will come to a saving knowledge of and faith in him. The “us” in Isaiah 9:6 and the “his” in Matthew 1:21 are those who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. The offer of salvation is not for any particular kind of people group. The offer of salvation is for all peoples. For those who believe on Him and are saved, the child will be for them! Everyone you run into today has the opportunity to hear about this child. Urge them to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation! Today they might experience the glorious reality of this child’s birth being for them!

Second, notice what is to happen: “For to us a child is born…” How fascinating! God could have chosen to come to earth by making a grand entrance out of heaven (which, by the way He will do when He returns to earth). But He didn’t. He chose to be born. He chose to be born to two earthly, human parents. He chose to be an infant child. He chose to be born to poor parents. He chose to be born in a stable, a barn. He chose to be human. Why? Why did God choose to come to earth and be born as a human child? Primarily because a perfect sacrifice had to be given in order for our sins to be atoned for. A perfectly obedient human had to do what could not be done. A perfectly obedient human had to die. A human had to come and do for us what we so miserably failed at! A sinful human on a cross would not have sufficed. The sacrifice had to be perfect and the sacrifice had to be a human substitute. Likewise, he chose to be human so as to identify with us! He knows what it’s like to be completely, 100% human. He knows because for 33 years he was one. He lived a perfectly righteous life as a human. He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.

If Jesus is your Lord and Savior today, rejoice in the fact that the child that was born over 2,000 years ago was for you. Trust in the reality that as a human being, a perfect human being, when you believed on him his righteousness and perfect obedient record before God became yours. Rest in the beauty that when you talk to him in prayer and express your emotions and thoughts and concerns, you are talking to God who knows all your struggles and can relate personally to your situation.
“For to us a child is born…” Thank You Lord God for sending this child!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 Glories of Christmas

I aim to post several (12 to be exact) meditations/reflections on Christ and Christmas over the next few days. Tomorrow, December 14th, will begin the "12 Days Until Christmas" countdown.
Every day I plan to post some thoughts on the attributes of Christ as predicted and prophesied about in Isaiah 9:6-7. There, God told the prophet Isaiah to announce the following:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, and on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Wow! That is some incredible stuff! I want to take 12 days (at least!) and meditate on each of these truths about the Messiah!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christ in the Media

I love it when secular news reporters simply cannot understand someone's actions. What I mean is, it blesses my heart when someone who loves Christ is questioned about their actions by a news reporter simply because their actions are so foreign to the world's way of thinking and doing things.
For instance, take Saturday night when the Heisman trophy was awarded to Tim Tebow. Prior to the announcement, one of the ESPN reporters interviewed Tebow. He asked Tebow why he was so humble (this was after the reporter had stated that Tebow was the most humble man he had ever met). Tebow's response? Something to the effect of, "God gave me the ability to play football." I love it! The reporter could not grasp how someone with Tebow's ability as a sophomore at college could be so humble. The response was breathtaking for me: "God gave me the ability." Tebow knows he got everything he has from the Father, his Creator. The world does not know how to react to humbleness that is a result of knowing that nothing we have is earned, but a gift of grace from God. Read more about Tim Tebow and what he said when he accepted the award at this Baptist Press article. He thanked Jesus Christ at least twice! Praise God for Tim Tebow! May God raise up many more young men and women like him in the future!
Or take the shootings that happened Sunday in Colorado. One of the shootings happened at a Youth With a Mission office. The next day, on the front page of many on-line news pages reported of this organization taking Christianity to more than 150 countries (if my facts are correct). Also, when the Today show interviewed some of the eyewitnesses at the church where the second shooting took place, the reporter again could not understand something. The reporter heard that the couple she was interviewing actually prayed for the gunman. By the look on the reporter's face, it was inconceivable that anyone would pray for an attacker like that! You're supposed to hate people like that, right? If you are of the world you are. But Jesus says to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). The world cannot understand the ways of Christ. Read more of this in an article posted at Pay careful attention to page two when the writer of the article states, "Some members of the congregation reacted with compassion and forgiveness, in keeping with their faith." Oh how I love it when the secular news media notices something different about those who are living out their faith!
Please don't misunderstand me. We must "grieve with those who grieve" and pray for the families of those who lost loved ones and this church that must be shocked at what happened. I do not want to take anything away from their heartache. But I do want to rejoice in the fact that God works "all things" together for good and His glory by giving the nation and the national media some tastes as to what Christianity is: salt and light in a world that so desperately needs it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Resources Mentioned Yesterday From the Pulpit

In both AM and PM messages, I referenced some resources that some of you may be interested in. While preaching in the morning from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 on giving, I called your attention to an article about the value of the U.S. dollar falling in foreign countries. This, of course, is negatively affecting the work our IMB missionaries can do. If you would like to read the entire article, you can do so by clicking here. Baptist Press will also provide many other helpful and insightful articles for you to read.
During the AM message I also read some frightening statistics about the state of Christianity and the church in North America. If you click here it will take you to a written sermon preached by John Piper. At the beginning of the sermon, you will see a list of statistics. He provides a note of where he got the statistics at the end of the sermon (in the endnotes). The reference is from a paper written by Dave Earley. Click on the link provided there and it will take you directly to the paper (in Microsoft Word format).

In last night's sermon I called your attention to a book entitled The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance by Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday. It is a very biblical, academic, and scholarly read on the subject of "Once Saved Always Saved." You can order it from by clicking here.
Happy Reading!