Posted in christmas, encouragement, jesus, kingdom, manger, repent

He came down!

Today is a day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. He deigned to leave his holy place and incarnate as God and as Man, to live among us. His story extends beyond the manger. The helpless babe, innocent and swaddled, grew in stature and wisdom. (Luke 2:52). And the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40).

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The Coming of the Kingdom
“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
“And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. “And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
(Luke 17:20-25)

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The Kingdom is still in your midst. The Holy Spirit who indwells believers is crafting a sanctified kingdom of wisdom and stature which pleases God. If you seek entry to this kingdom, which is among you in this age of grace, do not reject the cornerstone of the kingdom, who is Jesus.

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A Living Stone and a Holy People

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
(2 Peter 2:1-7)

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“Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14b-15)

Merry Christmas! The Lord has come. Will you believe?

Posted in manger, prince william, royal baby

A baby king was born

I am so out of tune with some cultural issues. I had to look up the British Royal family tree to figure out who William was and why people were so excited he is a father of a baby boy now. I still don’t get all the hoopla, though.

Royal succession is an interesting thing. It is called primogeniture. Britain recently made a new law titled, “The Succession to the Crown Act 2013”, which provides that a first-born daughter will become queen even if a younger brother is subsequently born. All that is moot now as the boy born to Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) are now the parents of a healthy baby boy. This means that the current Queen’s son Prince Charles is first in line to succeed her, then William, then the baby boy to be named shortly. Queen Elizabeth II is 87 years old now so this is kind of a pressing question. Her son Charles, Prince of Wales is 64. He has waited a long time for his inheritance.

I remember the night Princess Diana, William’s mother and former wife to Charles, died. It was 1997, and late at night. I had been watching Saturday Night Live, and around 12:30 AM on what was by then a Sunday morning, a news break came on with Tom Brokaw saying Princess Di had been in a terrible accident. A while later he made the sad announcement, “Princess Diana…has died”. I always remember the little pause and the catch in his voice.

I was sad because two little boys were to grow up without a mom. Now the little boy is a dad! Apparently there is a wild celebration in Britain and its commonwealth nations.

I’m very glad for the parents and the family. A healthy baby is always something to celebrate. The family seems eager to welcome him and seem like they will love him. He won’t lack for anything, certainly! The Commonwealth is relieved too, knowing that there are three living and healthy males in line for succession to King.

Source UK Daily Mail via Sky News

You know the saying, “The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire”. This was because at its height, the Empire had colonized geographic territory in ever time zone. Somewhere in the world at any given moment, the sun was shining on territory the British owned. Here is a Wikipedia map showing the extent of the British Empire and some Wikipedia facts:

“At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world’s population at the time. The empire covered more than 13,012,000 sq mi, almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area.” It was the world’s first truly global empire.

Wow! So what happened? The British Empire crumbled, and fast. In 1947, British India, Britain’s most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence two years after the end of the war. After that they fell like dominoes. Some theologians connect Britain’s wily dealings on the Balfour Declaration as the reason. “The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.” In effect, giving Britain-controlled land to the Jews for a homeland. All of Jordan was to be part of the agreement.

Britain later reneged on it, caving to the protests of Muslims. It wasn’t until 1948 and a much smaller parcel until the Israelites got their homeland. I don’t know if that was a direct reason the British Empire crumbled, because that would mean knowing the mind of God with specificity. But we do know He loves His people and gave them land He calls His land and puts His name on it. He could not have been pleased with the British dealings over Balfour.

This week the Queen signed a law that legalizes gay marriage in Britain for the first time.

Britain legalizes homosexual marriage
Britain on Wednesday legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, clearing the way for the first same-sex weddings next summer. Lawmakers cheered as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said royal assent had been given — one day after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales cleared Parliament. The queen’s approval was a formality and is the last step necessary for a bill to become law.”

Caption: “Britain on Wednesday legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, clearing the way for the first same-sex weddings next summer.”

We don’t know the mind of God with specificity, as in, we don’t know what He is thinking right now about this. But He spoke about homosexuality in the bible, and we know in general He said homosexuality is an abomination and marriage is a covenant between Him and a man and a woman. We know that He said in Romans 1 that He gives nations over to their perverse desires as a judgment on them. When we see a nation embrace homosexuality, it is in the last stages of His judgment. (Romans 1:27-31).

So for Britain, I’m sad. Their citizens are celebrating what should be a joyous event, but in my mind, it is overshadowed by the larger issue of this one: Will Charles, William, or Baby To Be Named Later even have a nation to rule? The outlook does not bode well.

I also can’t help but think of the parallels. I named this blog entry “A baby king was born.” A nation celebrates a little king. He was born into luxury, openly to two parents and an extended family who loves him. He has the best of care and everyone will protect him. There were crowds and fanfare,

At least one group of well-wishers brought flowers, champagne and a card for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. … I’m sure that right across the country and indeed right across the commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

Yet our king was born poor, in a manger on straw, under suspicion of parentage by naysayers, not in a clean facility with doctors. He was unloved by His people. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:11). Only the shepherds welcomed Him, and later three kings from a Gentile nation far away. He was hated, and hunted. Everyone wanted to kill Him and he had to flee to Egypt with his parents. A baby king was born, and no one celebrated.

Where were the people standing outside the Inn, ready to raise holy hands that our King was born? Where were the hosannas that peace had come to the earth? I mentioned above that Prince Charles is 64 years old and has been waiting for His inheritance for a long time. Jesus is still waiting! His inheritance, a redeemed, holy Bride! He waits, for two thousand years, for six thousand years, since time began, Jesus has been waiting to redeem His people and bring us to His bosom in glorified bodies. Us! He loves us so. “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34) He wants us home!

Unless Prince Charles who would be King, and Prince William who would be King and the baby who would be king come to know the real king, they will be laid low-

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

I’m glad a king was born to a family in London. I’m gladder our King was born, and has the power to save all earthly kings and peasants. Let’s celebrate the right thing and the right King.

Posted in eternal life, glory, manger, swaddling

Jesus in the manger: a compare and contrast exercise

I published this on December 16 but I’m publishing it again this morning, a holy morning when we gladly honor the Savior who came to put away sin, and honor the Him who was and is and is to come.

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It is the season of the baby Jesus. We love to think of Him as the innocent babe in swaddling clothes, his parents Mary and Joseph (and God) looking down on the sleeping baby. It is a scene of peace.

But we can’t be glad about the babe in the manger unless we remember that without the babe we are living a life of corruption, wrath and death. He was born to save us from it. That juxtaposition is just as as startling as the fact of Messiah’s bursting in from glory to live in depravity on our behalf.

In my mind, I think of these examples that are equally a juxtaposition. From His humble beginnings, He was born and laid in swaddling clothes amid the hay of the stable. The vision of the hay strewn around evokes the hay that will be burned up on His day.

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:12).

Hay is only temporary. It’s fodder for animals, stuffing in log cabin cracks, filler for brickmakers. Hay doesn’t last. Yet Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:25).

The babe was laid in another man’s barn, bearing witness to the fact that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  (Luke 9:58).

He didn’t have a place to lay His head when He was born, and He didn’t have His own place to lay His broken body to rest when He died. Jesus was buried in another man’s tomb.

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” (Matthew 27:57-60).

Jesus left His home to live homeless, in order to give us HIS home. We have a place to lay our head: a place in heaven Jesus is preparing for us. It is called New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:2)

Jesus came from holy glory and was pure. Yet His life began amid the dung of the animals. This evokes Him coming from sinlessness of heaven to the depraved corruption of earth and all that is in it. Isaiah said our works are like filthy menstrual rags (Is 64:6). Paul said our life apart from Christ is rubbish (garbage) (Phil 3:8). His perfect and glorious soul inside a baby’s body was laid down amid all that corruption.

From the moment of His birth, the contrast between Himself in eternal life, and our death and destruction apart from Him was made clear. He is so Great!

Source
He came down so that, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)