The Word of Christmas

Have you ever looked at how the story of Jesus is told in the Bible?  The writers of the Gospels all start their accounts differently.  Matthew starts with Jesus’ genealogy beginning with Abraham.  Mark just jumps into the story of Jesus’ ministry, starting with John the Baptist’s introducing Jesus.  Luke gives us the most details of the story of Jesus’ birth starting with the announcement of the coming birth of John the Baptist.

The Apostle John, however, begins his account in what might be an unexpected way to many.  He starts with Creation.  John’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus is the Divine Son of God who pre-existed his coming on that first Christmas.  He is the Divine “Word” of God who spoke the world into existence.  John appears to be speaking to the Greek audience in his time.  The Greek philosophers had postulated that life itself must have some underlying, foundational core of logic upon which the whole world rested.  They called this the “Logos” (that’s Greek for “word”).  John says that Jesus is that “Word.”  He is life itself.  He is the light of humanity.

John tells us of Jesus’ birth, but does so in one sentence:  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).  That one statement says a lot!  John says that the pre-existent Son of God took on humanity.  He came to us in a human body and took up residence among us.  John identifies this God/man as Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

This Christmas when you look at the manger scene, remember what you are seeing:  the Divine Word who spoke the world into existence has humbled Himself (cf. Phil. 2:5-11), taking on the form of a helpless baby, so that He can take away your sins!  Now that is truly a gift beyond compare!

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Giving Thanks

Many families will gather around a table filled with food this Thanksgiving, and will pause to give thanks before they begin eating.  Did you know that apparently Jesus made a habit of giving thanks to the Father before a meal?  Several times the New Testament records instances Jesus giving thanks before a meal:  Matthew 14:19, 15:36, 26:26-27 and parallel passages in the other Gospels.  Also, it is recorded that the Apostle Paul offered thanks before a meal as well (Acts 27:35).

Why is this tradition of giving thanks to God for our food important for us to continue?  Let me suggest some reasons:

1) Giving thanks reminds us that every good thing comes from God (James 1:17).

2) It reminds us that we need more than physical food to live:  we are kept alive by God’s Word (Matthew 4:4).

3) We need to be reminded to follow Jesus in everything we say & do (1 Corinthians 11:1).

4) We cannot reach personal & spiritual maturity without developing the attribute of thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).

5) Actively giving thanks defeats the temptation to complain (Philippians 2:14).

So as you gather with others for a Thanksgiving meal, remember that you are joining in a soul-shaping tradition with other Christians and with Christ Himself…and be thankful!

The Quest – Day 28

This is the devotional for Monday, October 23, 2006 which is the 28th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 28 of Frank Moore’s insightful book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 28 – It’s In The Bank

God has provided all you need for victorious Christian living.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)

One of Professor Frank Moore’s students requested prayer for her brother who had moved out of the family’s expensive home and was sleeping on city streets and eating from garbage cans. The young man’s father had placed a large sum of money in a bank on the street where his son slept. He gave his son a checkbook with the words, “If you ever need money, all you have to do is walk into the bank and write a check.”

From what Paul says in our Bible text for today, God has done for us something like what this father did for his son. God prompts a longing in our hearts to find power for our lives and then provides a way for us to access that power. This power comes through the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ.

When Paul speaks of our inner being, he is thinking of the place of our personality, our spirituality, of the seat of our praise, worship and gratitude, the source of our willpower, emotions, attitudes and conscience. The Spirit of Christ must flavor everything that springs from our inner being.

How do we get this power for the life we long for? Paul says it comes by our faith in God and His indwelling love. Only God’s love working within us gives us the solid foundation we need to complete our spiritual journey with victory. This power is not just for a select few; it is for all of God’s saints—including you! God and His love can dwell completely in you, a love that you can understand in your heart, but cannot adequately put into words. This power fills us with God Himself!

God’s power comes your way though relationship with the Spirit of Christ. Seek Him rather than power as the focus of your quest. God’s power comes as a by-product of your relationship with Him.

The memory verse for this week is Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 4 of the Quest, “You can receive power,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by receiving the Spirit of Christ and His indwelling love by faith.