“Jesus did His part and now I have to do mine!” No, that is not what I mean. Some believers live as though they are finishing what God started. I don’t believe that! For sure, that is not what being a Christian means. No, this is what I mean by “Carry My Cross.” I will live my life in surrender, as a living sacrifice, to His will for my life. I will live in such a way as to honor to His sacrificial death for my sins. I will honor His death by surrendering to the Christ in me, which is my hope of glory! Jesus carried His cross and I will carry mine, for His name sake! Paul described carrying His cross in these words, Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” What Jesus gave for me I will honor by giving Him my life in return. He is my life… I am His… whether in death or in life. Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Join me! We can walk together, carrying our crosses for His name sake!!!
Jesus Christ came into this world Incarnate Deity… GOD! Why is this important? John writes that, “He came unto His own.” John adds, “And they received Him not.” Jesus came presenting Himself to His people the Jews, as their Redeemer and Deliverer! For their own reasons, they refused Him! But some did “receive Him.” As Incarnate Deity, Jesus was God’s way of satisfying His own wrath… not just wrath for the prideful Jews, but wrath for ALL SINNERS! God provided His own Mediator… His own way into His presence! Jesus was God’s Way of saying, “I will forgive you of your sins through My Son Jesus, come to Me through Him!” So then, whether you are Jew or Gentile, religious or non-religious, come to God by Him, Who being Incarnate Deity, humbled Himself and became sin for you that you would become the righteousness of God in Him! Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
After living most of my life as a Christian, I ask myself this question: What difference does the cross make in the way I life my life? For Jesus, the cross was His mission. His death upon the cross was prophesied by man and orchestrated by God! His death on the cross provides for me a template, a pattern by which I live my Christian life. His death means He lives again in me. Without this view of His death, I live for myself and fulfill the desires of my flesh. On the other hand, a clear understanding of His death motivates me to move forward as a follower of Jesus. The cross of Jesus is more than a piece of jewelry, it is a symbol of His sacrifice and therefore my sacrifice as His disciple. Yes, the cross is an emblem of shame. It represents the payment that He offered for my deliverance from the wrath of a holy God… now my GOD! For most people, the cross speaks of the blood of an innocent man shed for guilty men. This is true, but it means more than that! It means that Christ is alive, alive in me. His son! When I see Jesus’ cross, I see life. I see His life in me. Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
We hear a lot of talk about what is the true meaning of Christmas? I like to think of Christmas in these terms.
Christmas is when GOD came to earth, through the virgin birth.
He came to save us from our sins and to show us where true life begins!
His birth meant death on earth and life through rebirth!
He gives us a new name and we share HIS FAME!
What an indescribable Gift when we share our Savior’s worth!
The Father’s Incarnate Son makes it possible for us to be one, one of His own! That’s Christmas to me!
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Written by Charles Wesley
Scripture reveals God’s ongoing pursuit of sinners! The cast of God’s story brings people together from Genesis through the Revelation… from Adam and Eve to John and his Revelation. There is no way we can introduce all of God’s cast members. Today I want to introduce you to Simeon. Simeon wins the Oscar for best supporting actor in God’s movie, TELL ME A STORY! Of course, GOD is PROMINENT throughout the entire drama. Simeon, on the other hand, makes what might be called a cameo appearance. It’s brief, but it is important to God’s unfolding storyline!
- SIMEON’S PROFILE– 2:25-26
- Isaiah 40:1-2 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
- SIMEON’S PRAYER – 2:27-33
- Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
- Isaiah 52:10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the Salvation of our God.
- Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law…
- SIMEON’S PROPHECY – 2:34-35
- Luke 2:34, 35 ~ Simeon prophesied that Jesus would have a paradoxical effect on Israel. Some would fall because of him (see Isaiah 8:14, 15), while others would rise (see Malachi 4:2). With Jesus, there would be no neutral ground: People would either joyfully accept him or totally reject him. As Jesus’ mother, Mary would be grieved by the widespread rejection he would face. This is the first note of sorrow in Luke’s Gospel. Life Application Study Bible
Challenging thought… It is not enough to be sorry that you sinned. Very evil people can be sorry for their sins. To repent is to live a new life. It is to change in the ways that please and honor God. Today there is a new language of repentance abroad in the evangelical and Reformed world. People speak of their brokenness. “Brokenness” is the new buzzword. They talk about how “broken” they are. I don’t want you to use that language of yourselves. It is a way of speaking that sounds suspiciously like its opposite. People who talk publicly and at some length about their humility are not likely to be humble. But one finds this nowadays. “I’m a deeply broken person. And I think it is wonderful that God should choose so unworthy a vessel to accomplish such great things for his kingdom.” Substitute the word “humble” for the word “broken” when you hear these statements and then how do they sound to you?
I like very much C.S. Lewis’ perceptive comment. “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of…person who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him…. He will not be thinking about humility; he will not be thinking about himself at all.” [Mere Christianity~114]
Repentance is not demonstrated in the Bible in affirmations of one’s own unworthiness. These should be made, primarily in private to God. Repentance is demonstrated rather in godliness, in obedient, faithful, other-centered, Christ-honoring living. In fact, “repentance,” in biblical usage is the Christian life, it is discipleship, it is sanctification.
I love the Christmas Season! Commercialism aside, of course! Throughout the Christmas Season we have tremendous opportunities to present the Gospel. However, there is one big hangup! If we become intoxicated with “the spirit of christmas” instead of “the Spirit of Christmas” we in effect forfeit every opportunity we have to share Jesus and the Gospel. Is there a “war on Christmas”? I believe so! This war however is not being waged by our secular society, it is being waged by Christians who have forgotten their calling and commission! Christmas is the season with a reason! The reason for the season is JESUS! Grace Church let us not forfeit our open door to a culture steeped in darkness. Matthew 4:16 says, “The people which sat in darkness saw Great Light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death Light is sprung up.” Yes, we have a Great Light… JESUS CHRIST! May the Spirit of Christmas rule in your heart this year as never before!
Immanuel – oh the glory! In that moment Matthew is saying “See wisdom is now personified – Immanuel. Grace is now realized – Immanuel. Love is done surpassed – Immanuel God with us. Satan is defeated – Immanuel God with us. God’s people are now delivered, saved, secured, redeemed and none will be lost, why? Immanuel, God with us.” Hell is vanquished, why? God with us. Death is conquered, why? God with us. Therefore it’s not just ‘they’ who call is name Immanuel for we will call His name Immanuel. We will sing it. We will shout it! We will whisper it for by it we are assured that we have been saved from our sins by grace to glory.
Our God is with us. Our God is one of us. Our God has died for us an atoning death. Our God is risen. Our God is interceding for us. Our God is coming for us and we will be with Him as His people for all eternity therefore we will sing Immanuel. We will whisper Immanuel. We will shout Immanuel! To the world we will tell them not about a man-made religion that only brings despair but a God-given glorious relationship, secured by the unmerited grace of God through God Himself. It is not a regiment but it is through God Himself who died for all of our sins to give us a new life. In that new life the God who came for us and died for us will be with us and is coming again for us. So if God be for us and with us, then who can be against us? Our God Immanuel with us.
Merry Christmas! CHRISTMAS is BIG because GOD IS BIG! Even angels know that CHRISTMAS is BIG because GOD IS BIG!!! For example, when Joseph found out that Mary was with child, the Holy Spirit said, Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. The virgin birth of Jesus is BIG… but God is not finished! What about Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call HIS name JESUS: for HE shall save HIS people from their sins. There HE goes again! This is HUGE… BIG… SUPERNATURAL! “For HE shall save His people from their sins” No one else can make a claim as GINORMOUS as this, saving people from their sins!!! Yes, brothers and sisters Christmas is BIG because GOD IS BIG!!! Celebrate CHRISTMAS… make your celebration BIG because your GOD IS BIG! Make it ALL ABOUT JESUS… EMMANUEL! Matthew 1:23 says, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call HIS name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.