Showing posts with label Making Connections Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Making Connections Review. Show all posts

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Making Connections Review



Making Connections Review
December 14
Isaiah 9:1-7, John 10:29-39
 
Making Connections:
 
Though today's market is flooded with baby name books, the importance of name & character has really been lost in today's western culture. While trends range from classic or family names to unique names, they rarely seem related to character.  In Biblical times, children received names based on their parents' hopes for them or because of something distinctive in & around their birth. God's names reflect His character as well: Jehovah Jireh - The Lord Will Provide; El Elyon - The Most High God; El Shaddai - Lord God Almighty; Jehovah Rapha - The Lord That Heals.
 
Isaiah 9 gives some names that certainly don't seem fitting for an ordinary baby, most especially one born in a stable: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Can you imagine bigger names to live up to? They reveal that Jesus is not an ordinary baby, but God in the flesh - truly Immanuel. These verses tell of work Jesus will accomplish, breaking the rod of the oppressors, carrying the government on His shoulders, and ruling forever. He will bring great light & great joy to the people. But more than anything, the names reveal the very identity & character of Jesus.
 
Consider the significance of Jesus being called Mighty God & Everlasting Father. The Trinity is so clearly illustrated here: Jesus is God, yet Jesus is distinct from God. Jesus explains some of this mystery in John 10, speaking of the Father & the Father's work, then stating that He & the Father are one. The people listening picked up stones because such a claim was blasphemy. Jesus went on to say that He is in the Father & the Father is in Him. The proof could be clearly seen from the work Jesus did in His earthly ministry.
 
Jesus carries weighty names because He is very God, yet made flesh & born of a virgin. His work reveals His character just as His names point to His character & identity. What comforting titles, instilling great trust. When we struggle for understanding, He is our Wonderful Counselor. When we are far from the Lord, the Prince of Peace reconciled us, and He provides peace now even in the midst of our circumstances. And we can trust that His word & promises are sure because He is Mighty God to carry them out.
 
 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Connections Review

December 13
Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25, Philippians 2:5-10, Hebrews 2:17
 
Making Connections:
 
Imagine: You are engaged & some months before the wedding, your fiance comes to you & says she is pregnant. You know the child is not yours, but can you believe her story that the child is somehow from the Holy Spirit, and that your future bride is still a virgin? Or on the flip side - you are engaged to be married when an angel visits you & tells you that the Holy Spirit will overshadow you, creating within you a child. Though yet a virgin, you will be a mother. And you must tell your fiance... if he doesn't believe your story, he might have you stoned for adultery. Meanwhile, you can see & feel the evidence of this child growing within your own body.
 
The wonder & the scandal of the virgin birth is sometimes lost through our familiarity with the story. We can speak of it without really thinking about what it means, or what this might have been like in the lives of Mary & Joseph. God gave Isaiah the message that the virgin would be with child, but was there any reason beforehand for Mary or Joseph to think this Messiah would be born to them? Such very ordinary people - surely the Messiah would come with splendor & might, with more fanfare.
 
Think of the Incarnation itself for a moment: the very God who created the heavens, somehow taking the form of a human. Fully man & fully God, knit together in Mary's womb. Born like any other baby in this world, with even less glory than many, in a stable, with Joseph perhaps the only labor & delivery assistant. All the glory of God in a tiny, helpless baby. And let's never forget where this story ends: Jesus is born & He also dies. Then yet another miracle in the resurrection.
 
Immanuel - God with us. He became like us, willingly giving up His glory to be a servant, to share in our sufferings & temptations. He remained sinless, a feat we cannot accomplish ourselves, & lived a life perfectly pleasing in obedience to God. As this perfect man (yet still fully God), He alone was able to be the perfect substitute for us. He transfers His righteousness to us & takes our sin upon Himself.
 
God with us. Now through the Holy Spirit, and in heaven as we walk with Him face to face. Don't let the richness of the Christmas story pass you by because it is so familiar. Let God open your eyes to be astonished & awed by the virgin birth and the arrival of God as a baby, born that He might die.