Now here's a thought with which to bridge our way into the New Year:
"It is a memorable hour in a person's life when for the first time he fully realizes: I am here by the will of God;
the eternal God has a plan for me: I am a thought, a project, of the all-wise One. I have a place here, and a work to do,
by the will of God,a place no one else can fill. No matter how insignificant I may be, here I am, a living being,
one whom God definitely willed to be here. That I am alive here and now is a small part of the perfect will of God."
Andrew Murray, Not My Will
Brothers and Sisters, we have absolutely no idea what 2016 will hold. But He does.
Every day of it.
Every week of it.
Every month of it.
Every minute of it.
Today, let us live just as we will also live tomorrow. And the day after that. With a desire only to Abide in Him, to believe, to obey, and to bear His fruit. You and I may be entirely insignificant in the eyes of everyone around us. But we are the thought and the project of the all-wise One; we are the branches that the Vine has chosen for His particular brand of fruit.
Let us live and rejoice only in the name of Jesus. Happy New Year!
This morning, I was so struck by David's prayer in 2 Samuel 7, as he overwhelmedly received all the promises of God and tries to wrap his mind around Yahweh's choosing of him. To me, with just a few slight changes, it's a perfect prayer to celebrate our chosenness by Jesus, and the power of all we inherit through Him. What a way to prepare to start off the New Year with gratitude!
Consider both prayers, side by side:
As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the day of Christmas, consider this:
In Jerusalem was a man by the name of Simeon. He was an upright man, devoted to the service of God, living in expectation of the “salvation of Israel." His heart was open to the Holy Spirit, and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Lord’s Christ. He had been led by the Spirit to go into the Temple, and when Jesus’ parents brought the child in to have done to him what the Law required, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said — “At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people — a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were still amazed at what was said about him, when Simeon gave them his blessing. He said to Mary, the child’s mother, “This child is destined to make many fall and many rise in Israel and to set up a standard - σημεῖον, a battle standard - which many will attack..." Luke 2
As this little baby is born, the Army of Heaven breaks through. May we today and tomorrow - and everyday - celebrate the glorious and ongoing victory that began with the birth of the Christ-child!
Painting by G.C. Myers
"After [the raising of Lazarus] many of the Jews who had accompanied Mary and observed what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went off to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Consequently, the Pharisees and chief priests summoned the council and said, “What can we do? This man obviously shows many remarkable signs..." John 11
To me, what's "remarkable" about these remarks in the Jewish Council is actually two-fold: it's what they admit about Jesus and how they actually say it.
Firstly, their admission: "This man obviously shows many remarkable signs." They're past the point now of sending exploratory missions to the countryside of Galilee to check into rumors about this Teacher; they now accept that He is, in fact, a doer of miracles. Isn't that an interesting turn to observe?
Secondly, the way they say it. In the Greek, John gives their statement about "signs" using the word σημεῖα - a word that almost equally can be translated as "signs" and also - how good is this?! - "flags" and, even, "battle standards." You know what I'm talking about? Those colorful heraldic flags that would go out with regiments and divisions, showing their fighting reputations and qualities?
Now understand that Jesus, by His doing of signs and wonders, by showing us that power of the Godhead, was actually showing us the battle standard of the Army of Heaven. He rode out before it, as its initial lone combatant, and by His life and lifestyle and power and personality gave us the full flavor of the war that's to come. And who will win that war...
Let's ride out with Him today, our glorious Standard-Bearer. We have nothing to fear with Him at the head.
More and more, all the time, I really do believe in the Body of Christ - in our call and our potential - and that we are to function just exactly as Jesus once lived, moved and breathed. Oh, but only by the Spirit of Jesus and by being completely possessed by that Spirit can we have even the beginning of a hope of functioning as we're meant to. May we, everyday, individually, venture into His life and know that life fully and then allow it to utterly overtake our own. Only His life through us can make us the Body of Christ.
"This is the reason why the Father loves me—that I lay down my life, and I lay it down to take it up again! No one is taking it from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again. This is an order that I have received from my Father.” John 10
Theologically, there is so much going on in these sentences that it hurts your brain if you stop and really give your thoughts to it. Let me prove it to you.
At the Creation of man, Adam and Eve walked perfect and perfectly with God; they lived effortlessly in the center and enjoyment of the Father's will. It didn't occur to them, until it was suggested to them by Satan, that their self-will might have any interest for them. But, in their exerting it against God, they Fell and were now forever Fallen. The constant presence of the imperfect self-will was upon them; that was Sin.
Then, at some point in what we call time, Jesus given an "order" from the Father that it would be His job to wage war upon the self-will, Sin and Satan. His weapon? To rob sin of its power by, everyday, every minute of every day, denying the self and walking in the exact will of His Father. He plainly says this in John 6:38 - "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." And do you understand that He understood this to absolutely include the death it would cost Him?
Hence the Cross being the world's most glorious moment as His "authority" to lay down His life perfectly meets the Father's will to redeem mankind. That was Jesus' most powerful act of self-abandonment.
But do you also understand that Jesus was not externally raised-from-the-dead, like when He raises Lazarus, but that it was His own authority, His own expression of His own will, that would cause Him to "take up" His life again?
The Cross was the final abandonment of His self-will; the Resurrection was the most complete exertion of self-will in all human history. That Friday and Sunday gave birth to a new sort of human will: a will totally redeemed from the self and Sin.