Friday, December 28, 2012

I Will Enjoy God!

Although I do not think New Year's resolutions are very helpful in some ways, I do think they can be marvelously helpful in other ways.  Some of the ways that New Year resolutions can be helpful is that they call us back to what we know, to what we believe, and to what we value, which we may have neglected or even forgotten. Making a New Year's resolution can be like cleaning the attic or the garage at the house, or it can be like finally getting to that very important project you know you need to do, but have somehow failed to do. Then suddenly in a whirlwind of energetic planning and intention, one says, "I will do such and such."  Then one puts it in a calendar, plans a budget, and makes lists that will enable him to accomplish this task. Resolutions are like that. They can also be like waking up from a dream or coming into clear awareness of an idea, waking and thinking with clarity of thought, insight, and purpose.

Resolutions are not guarantees of anything.  They certainly do not mean that we will never again forget or neglect what is important.  But they are like signposts that stay in our lives, constantly reminding us of things that we need to come back to over and over again.

Perhaps we should start this new year of 2013 with a heart prayer and resolution: "I want us to enjoy God! I will seek to enjoy God! I will pray about enjoying God! I will give of my energy and life this year to enjoy God!" 

Now to do that we must truly know about the true God as He has revealed Himself in special revelation. And we must know Him personally through faith in Christ. But we must come to see that everything, and I mean everything, that God has made us to be in our humanity, all that God made and is making us to be in our Christianity (regeneration, sanctification, and future glorification), and all that God would have us to be and do in the world as the church, all presupposes and reflects on the value and worthiness of God.  And nothing speaks more of how much we love, value, and want God than our enjoyment of Him.

Do you enjoy God? Would you pray about enjoying God? Would you make it a goal and a heart-felt request of God to make you someone who enjoys God?  Would you be willing to tell others how much you enjoy God? Would you enjoy God in pain, disappointment, hardship, struggle, and even tragedy? Would enjoy God in prosperity and good fortune? Jesus said in John 17:3 that to know God is eternal life, for to know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to enjoy Him, and to enjoy Him is to live with Him forever.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Home for Christmas"

I suppose there is no other word that brings more warmth and peace to the heart than the word "home", and if so, then there is no more heart-warming use of this word than when it is used at Christmas time.  "Home for Christmas" conjures up images of cozy houses nestled in snow scenes with a wisp of smoke slowly rising from the chimney.  Houses in which there are happy people, eating, laughing, talking, and sharing together the human bond of love.  Houses in which comforting aromas of food and beauty wafting through each room, bringing to the senses the awareness that THIS is a very special time.  Yes, "home for Christmas", is a vision that powerfully captures the imagination, evoking many happy thoughts and memories.

But, perhaps, the word "home", at least conceived in this way, is something of a metaphor of heaven.  The Christian's experience of going to heaven is like waking up on Christmas morning, bright with joy and promise, tingling with excitement and delight.  But unlike many Christmas mornings, there is no disappointment; rather, there is the greatest joy, beyond what could possibly be imagined, conceived, and pondered.  The experience is far greater than the promise received and conceived.  How glorious to think of that eternal Christmas morning when the greatest gift of all is eternally enjoyed in heaven with the highest human affection and delight!  Home in heaven for Christmas!  What a marvelous anticipation; what a scintillating thought!

As we gather with whomever, wherever, and whenever this Christmas time, as Christians, let us not forget about our true home.  Someday, some GLORIOUS day, we will truly be "home for Christmas."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Jesus Came

Jesus Explains Why He Came to Earth

John 10:10 "...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Here I am living through another Christmas season, enduring the "You MUST be happy at this time of the year; it is REQUIRED!"  But for those who are not truly and really happy, the "happiness" of Christmas is all so...artificial.

But somehow, knowing about Jesus Christ, His life, and ministry as taught in the Scripture, I feel more natural with quiet and peacefulness at Christmas, in contrast to hurry, buy, and noise.

The Christmas season gives all believers a reason to ponder anew the reason why Jesus came to earth.  He answers this question in John 10:10.

First, Jesus makes it clear that His birth was more than a birth; it was a coming!  Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, the God-man.  Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of the blessed Trinity, conceived and transformed into flesh, human flesh, humanity, for the eternal salvation of sinners.

Second, the purpose of this coming is made absolutely clear by Jesus.  "I came that they might have life."  The achievement and giving of life is pointedly described, and the people to whom and for whom He came are concisely identified.  Jesus came as the Good Shepherd (the context of John 10) to bring to His sheep life, eternal life.  Jesus is the door for the sheep (10:7, 9), He lays down His life for His sheep (10:11), He knows His sheep (10:14, 27), He gives to His sheep eternal life (10:28-29).  All of this is gospel data; Jesus came, Jesus did the work of salvation, all for HIS sheep, His people, all believers for all time.

Third, this life is described as "abundant" life; i.e. life that is true life, life that is extraordinary, transcendent, and perfect in every way.  This life is true life, God's life.  This life is the life for which the human heart is yearning.  There is peace, joy, purity, goodness, and all that is desired and necessary for present, eternal, and glorious LIFE.

All of this is given by Jesus to His sheep, all because He came.  So, believers rejoice as they ponder the coming of Jesus Christ.  He came for us.  He came to give us life.