Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas And Grace

Below are two related messages, the first from David Jeremiah and the second from Max Lucado:

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year; but remember — the word wonderful means full of wonder, which is exactly how we should feel when we consider the incredible entrance of God into human life in Bethlehem. After all, His very name is Wonderful, and the people of His day were amazed at every aspect of His life and ministry. Mark 9:15 says, “As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him” (NIV, emphasis mine).

Fatigue Can Wipe Out Our Wonder

One reason we’ve lost the wonder is that we’re too rushed to ponder the meaning of Christmas, and our fatigue overwhelms our sense of marvel. One woman said, “It’s not even Thanksgiving, and I’m already feeling Christmas fatigue. I see the lights and the decorations in store windows and think, ‘Oh, no, not again!’ Isn’t it possible just to skip it all?”

But notice these three little words in Isaiah 29:9“Pause and wonder....”We’ve got to find ways of pausing, of being still, or quieting our lives and our hearts. You might want to get out your calendar right now and make an appointment with yourself for two or three nights during the holidays in which you’ll accept no invitations, entertain no friends, and schedule no activities. You might even decide to “farm out the kids” one evening so you can be alone by the Christmas tree — just you and the Lord — reading Luke 2 and singing the great carols of Christmas as private solos to Him. I know it’s a radical idea! — but even Jesus needed to steal away by himself from time to time.And there’s one more thing. I know you’d like to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list; but maybe it’s better to give a twenty dollar bill or a gift certificate — accompanied by a personal note of appreciation — if doing so will keep you from collapsing from fatigue. You can’t wonder if you’re weary, and it’s hard to be excited when you’re exhausted. This season, try our Lord’s advice: “Come...apart...and rest a while” (Mark 6:31, KJV).

Doubt Can Wipe Out Our Wonder

Doubt and disbelief can also wipe out our wonder. One of the reasons the world has turned Christmas into a harried holiday instead of a hushed holy day is because of the skeptical secularism of our times.

Ravi Zacharias warns that when we reduce the universe to purely mechanistic or random terms, there inevitably follows an accompanying loss of childlike wonder; and that reduces all of life, for everything ultimately becomes chemical or molecular. That leads to a loss of gratitude, for there’s no one left to be grateful to. Thanksgiving Day becomes Turkey Day, and Christmas becomes a holiday rather than a holy day. This results in an avoidable slide into emptiness.

“I think particularly of our present generation,” says Zacharias, “which enjoys more sophisticated toys than ever before, yet each toy has a shorter thrill-span than the previous one.... When wonder ceases, boredom and emptiness begin to stalk existence.”[1]

Pride Can Wipe Out Our Wonder

Self-centered pride can also dilute our feelings of awe toward our great Savior, and Christmas has become very materialistic and selfish for many people. But only by being Christ-centered can we be wonder-filled.Don’t think of what you’ll get out of Christmas this year. Think of others, and think of Him! Share His love. When the shepherds received the angelic message that the Messiah had been born just a mile or so from where they were, they went with haste and found the Babe lying in a manger; and when they had seen Him, they spread the news. Luke 2:18 says: “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds” (NASV).It’s still wonder-full news. This Christmas, don’t let fatigue, doubt, or pride steal the wonder from your heart. Take time to marvel at the miracle of the manger, to stand amazed in His presence, and to worship Him who alone makes it the most wonderful time of the year.

The second commentary below, from Max Lucado introduces the first chapter of his new book "Grace" (a link to the full chapter is provided) which seems timely while we ponder the idea of Jesus coming to earth and fulfilling His mission to live a perfect life and then die on our behalf. Its hard to think about Christmas without thinking about Grace and everything that it involves. As usual, from Max Lucado, this book promises to be a worthwhile read:

GRACE – Chapter 1

by Max Lucado • October 11

The Grace-Shaped Life

Some years ago I underwent a heart procedure. My heartbeat had the regularity of a telegraph operator sending Morse code. Fast, fast fast. Slooooow. After several failed attempts to restore healthy rhythm with medication, my doctor decided I should have a catheter ablation. The plan went like this: a cardiologist would insert two cables in my heart via a blood vessel. One was a camera; the other was an ablation tool. To ablate is to burn. Yes, burn, cauterize, singe, brand. If all went well, the doctor, to use his coinage, would destroy the “misbehaving” parts of my heart.

As I was being wheeled into surgery, he asked if I had any final questions. (Not the best choice of words.) I tried to be witty.
“You’re burning the interior of my heart, right?” “Correct.”
“You intend to kill the misbehaving cells, yes?” “That is my plan.”
“As long as you are in there, could you take your little blow- torch to some of my greed, selfishness, superiority, and guilt?”

He smiled and answered, “Sorry, that’s out of my pay grade.”
Indeed it was, but it’s not out of God’s. He is in the business of changing hearts.

To continue reading, download the PDF of all of GRACE Chapter 1: The Grace-Shaped Life


nathan said...

Hey did anyone here the good news ? We're now sending "army teams" to 35 nations in Africa . Merry Christmas . The New World order is now in hyperdrive .


Scott said...

Nate - I'm not surprised one bit. Do you have a link for that?

Anonymous said...

Gwenny said...

Thought I would stop by & wish you & your families a wonderful Merry Christmas & a Happy & Blessed New Year! We've watched a lot of changes in the world this year--we're living in an exciting time. I feel blessed to live in such a time as this and sharing it with all of you and my friends & family. I'm so thankful to be able to come here each and every day. God Bless you all!

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow is a day that we should not forget was brought to us by one and that is Jesus! So we should take time out tomorrow to give the blessings He deserves on His day! Among every joyful moment i will remember that i have this due to those above me that will always be in my life through the good and the bad! And i will treasure it all and cant wait to meet Him in heaven

nathan said...

Scott , just pull up yahoos news today . Its at infowars also but its an AP article . I wouldn't take it serious if it were from infowars . I'd like to get your take on the article .

Scott said...

Hmm. This I assume:

Army Teams To Africa

"A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge."

Interesting that this isn't getting more coverage. Definitely worth following closely.

Scott said...

strange that we are supporting similar extremists in Syria, Libya, Egypt etc and now we are fighting aginst them in N. Africa? Very strange. Unless we are doing this for Saudi Arabia for some reason

Dave Down Under said...

Scott, it's like someone drinking orange juice after consuming a piece of cake. The orange juice makes having the cake alright.

So to the American piece keeping presence in Africa makes the mess in the Middle East ok! Lol

By the way merry Christmas everyone.

Seek But Don't Hide said...

Hmmm,interesting developments we have here. Does anyone know what this business in Africa means prophetically? I don't know all of the prophecies where Africa is involved. Anyone?

David said...

Happy Birthday Lord Jesus! Thank you for willingly giving your perfect life for a sorry sinner like me. May I never forget what you have done for me.

WVBORN56 said...

Amen David....I feel the same way. Thank-you Jesus!

Scott said...

Parts of Northern Africa are in involved in the Gog-MaGog alliance.

DDU - that could be it. Thats probably the best alternative. I hope it isn't more like Syria, Libya etc..We'll see.

Gary said...

It seems like everything is in a holding pattern. It's been in a holding pattern for a long time. I don't know about you guys, I'm getting pretty restless.

Scott said...

Gary I've been restless for ~ 30 years!