This morning I read several Psalms, and as I read them I was struck with the beauty, the power, and the safety that He offers us from our distress.
The verse that I highlighted was Psalm 27:4, which says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”
So much around us vies for our attention. Much of it is greatly distressing. The Corona Virus has the attention of all of us today. There are a whole host of worrisome questions you could be thinking regarding our current situation.
Today, on Sunday, I am reminded how the Corona Virus has changed how we connect in community with one another. Because of this our church is worshiping together online. Like me, you miss the physical gathering of our church to bring worship to our God. As I read Psalm 27:4 and meditated upon the idea of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever my desire to dwell in the church building of my church with my church family grew. In this moment, the Spirit of God reminded me that as much as I desire to worship with you in the house of the Lord at 4777 Alben Barkley Drive, I ought to desire more to worship with you in the house of the Lord in Heaven. While the Lord turns our attention to Him to gaze upon His beauty in the gathering of the local church on earth, how much more will we gaze upon His beauty in Heaven! Though it may be remotely, through technology, we still have the ability to worship our Lord together on this Lords day. What we do not have the capability to do at the moment is worship the Lord together in His presence in Heaven.
So, gather with your church online today. But, may we also find our selves today longing for the greater gathering of the church in the eternal presence of God in Heaven.
Genesis 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10 & 13, ESV
Jesus faced the same temptation that Adam did. Jesus, the new Adam, defeated sin and Satan’s attempts to deceive and distract Him. Therefore, we know that the only way for us to live with sin defeated, and to have help when distracted, is to stand firm in Christ. You see, there is one aspect of the Christmas story that is almost never talked about. War. The Christmas story is apart of a greater story, a war story. Jesus came as a warrior to battle Satan. He won that battle! Praise the Lord for His victory because we could never gain the victory in our own strength. We could never do it on our own. Adam battled with Satan and lost but, Jesus battled with Satan and won! When we face spiritual battles, temptations, are confronted with false teaching, and are given opportunities to be distracted we can win to. But only through the power of Jesus Christ.
Think about the hope that you have through Jesus Christ. Commit to look to Jesus next time you are in the heat of a spiritual battle.
Psalm 95; Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95:1
God commands us to sing. Now, why would singing be so important that God would command us to do it? The act of singing helps us focus our hearts. When we sing we can focus our hearts on what makes us happy, sad, and mad. We can focus our hearts on what is truly important to us and what we treasure. If singing is important enough for God to command us to do it (Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16), why wouldn’t we sing at Christmas?
Think about what your favorite Christmas songs are and sing them throughout the day today. Sing them with your family and friends.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
Today’s advent reading provides us a special guarantee. A guarantee is a pledge or promise to do something for someone. Guarantees are special pledges or promises. They are seen as unbreakable. They are a sure thing. Gods guarantee above brings us much comfort. God, who shows His grace to us by sending Jesus to be born at Christmas also showed His grace to us when Jesus died on the cross. The promise of Romans 8:32 reveals that God continues to show us His grace. Because Jesus died on the cross how will He not also continue to graciously provide what we need? The Christmas story serves as a guarantee that God will continue to give us everything that we need. Since God gave us Jesus, we can be sure that He will give us everything else that we need so that we can be shaped to be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do.
Bring your needs to the Lord this morning in prayer.
Luke 18:9-14; Philippians 3:1-11
and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3, ESV
Self-righteousness plagues us all. Self-righteousness is the tendency to think that we are better than we actually are. When we sink in to self-righteousness we begin to excuse the wrong things that we do, we believe that we do not need any help, and we believe that we are superior to others. It is our sin that separates us from God. But our sinful attitude of self-righteousness blinds us from our need for Him. In the Christmas story our arrogant attitude of self-righteousness is confronted. Jesus’ worth far surpasses anything that we have (Phil. 3:8). Jesus came, in His surpassing worth, in order that we might count all things as rubbish in order to gain Christ. Praise the Lord that He knew we were needy and that we could not help ourselves. Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus this year and allow Jesus to meet our needs. Glory in Jesus Christ this Christmas. Ask Him to do a miraculous work in you this Christmas – that you would put no confidence in your flesh.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
Our reading today reveals that followers of Jesus can often live in a state of Christian Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia involves a breakdown of the relationship between emotion/feeling and behavior. Christian Schizophrenia happens when we hear and know the Word of God yet we walk away without applying it to our life. We often live in this state of Christian Schizophrenia at Christmas. How do we do this? We celebrate the birth of Jesus without connecting the knowledge of who Jesus is and His incarnation with their daily lives. One example of this is how we can easily sing the words of Christmas carols without applying them to our life. The root cause of this is our ability to easily convince ourselves that we do not need the rescue that Jesus was born to bring. In doing this we minimize our sin.
How do you minimize your sin?
Celebrating Christmas includes confessing our sin and our need for forgiveness. Take a few minutes to do that now.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2
What are your hopes? What are you hoping will happen? This time of year you might be hoping for a specific gift on Christmas. Maybe you are hoping for a white Christmas. Maybe you’re hoping that time with family during the holidays is less stressful than it was last year. Because we are made in the image of God we are wired to hope. We are always hoping in, or for, something. Most of the time the things, or people, that we put our hope in will fail us. The Christmas story is a story of hope that does not fail us. Jesus came to give hopeless people hope that would never fail. Because of Jesus we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Rejoice in the hope you have in God today. Submit all of your hopes to Him in prayer.