Friday, June 5, 2015

Growing In Christ - 40 Days To Deeper Faith

IMMANUEL ARRIVES

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." — Luke 2:11-12

àSEE HIM 
The Birth of Jesus

Picture Credit: Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska

It doesn't seem like a suitable place for the King of kings: the animals, the filth, the smells, the flies, the dusty scratchy hay—and having a feeding trough, of all things, for a crib! But God, in His infinite love, chooses the humblest possible surroundings. No one can accuse Jesus of not knowing hardship and pain.


As Mary studies the face of her baby, she isn't just looking at a precious child; she's peering into the face of her Lord—His Majesty. Mary knows she's holding God in her arms. So this is the One the angel told me about.

She remembers what the angel had told her: "You are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." 1
But at this very moment, baby Jesus looks like anything but a king. His face is reddish and prunelike. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. 2 And He is absolutely dependent upon Mary for His well-being. 3


The sky above the manger is torn open with a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and promising peace on earth to those who please Him: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."4



 As the angel choir withdraws into heaven, the sheepherders talk it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They leave, running, and find Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing is believing. They tell everyone they meet what the angels said about this child. All who hear the sheepherders are impressed.' 5

Meanwhile, Mary remains as obedient as ever.6

è HEAR HIM 
Explore the Word: Luke 2:1-20

Two things strike me (Arnie) as I read this passage:

I can't help thinking about the stigma of being an unwed mother in the early Jewish culture. Imagine the angry stares and cruel remarks from those you once thought were friends. In spite of the fact that Mary's world has been forever altered in extraordinary ways, she remains committed to God's plan.  

Second, it's not to the kings, or to the great intellectual-As, or even to the celebrities that God sends the ultimate birth announcement. Instead, the Creator of the universe first shares His great joy with simple, humble shepherds. [Apparently high positions don't impress Him very much!)

Are our eyes fixed on God's faithful love? Can we see beyond our own problems and experience His love—just as Mary did? If you're having trouble with that, keep in mind that part of His love involved coming all the way down to our level to live in this dirty, sin-infested world in the person of His Son. Let's move in closer and get a better look at this Son....

No beauty. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

No reputation. The Bible describes Jesus as one who
"made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:7).

No sin. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).'

è KNOW Him

·         Meet the God of wonder. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. . . . His name shall be called.... Wonderful" (Isaiah 9:6 KJV). Even now He is working in just as amazing ways as when He created heaven and earth. Our challenge to you in the days ahead: Strive to get the full picture of Jesus and be attracted to Him with new awe and new wonder.

·          Work It Out: When you think of Jesus, what images come to mind? Are you attracted to Him with awe and wonder? (Please explain.)

·         Focus on Christ's image. His beauty comes from the inside out. His eyes radiate with unlimited peace; His smile speaks of incomprehensible joy. Most of all, His heart beats with boundless love.


* Work It Out: Do the negative opinions of skeptics sometimes shake your faith? (Please explain.) Are you able to stick with what God says is right. . .even in the face of doubters?

Pray: "Lord, guide me today; help me know the purpose , You have created just for me."
Ask Jesus to give the kind of obedience that Mary demonstrated. Ask Him to focus your vision on His boundless love.

è NOTES FOR GROWTH

A Key Point I Learned Today:


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How I Want to Grow:


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My Prayer List:


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1. Luke 1:31-33. 2. Max Lucado, God Came Near (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1987), 23.
3. Ibid.
4. Luke 2:14
5. See Luke 2:15-18, MSG.
6. A portion of this story was adapted from Bill Myers and Michael Ross, Faith Encounter: Experience the Ultimate With Jesus (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 16-17.
7. Author and missionary Manfred Koehler contributed to today's devotional entry.

(An adaptation from the book “ GROWING IN CHRIST 40 Days to Deeper Faith” written by Dr. Arnie Cole & Michael Ross.  Copyright 2015 by Back to the Bible.)