Saturday, December 27, 2014

141228The “One Thing” to Do

Philippians 3:12-16 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

To see the words that the apostle Paul has written is both interesting and encouraging. First, let me say that the apostle Paul is one of my heroes. I’m not sure that he would be pleased with me but I’m certainly pleased with him. So I find it a little surprising when he writes, “not that I have already obtained this…” I can understand Paul saying that he is certainly not perfect, for none of us are. But if anyone has “arrived” at spiritual maturity during their lifetime on earth I would think it would be Paul.

But he says that he has not already obtained nor has he made “IT” his own but instead he acknowledges that Christ Jesus has made him His own and that causes him to press on toward the goal. How do we move forward in the spiritual life?

We should begin by looking ahead rather than behind. One of the struggles I have in life, personally, is how to deal with the past. Years ago we used to sing a chorus that included the words: “Satan remindth me of the crimes that I have done. I know them well 10,000 more but Jehovah findeth none. He findeth none, He findeth none, they’ve been washed in the blood of His Son.” Often times I find myself dwelling on the wrong I have done in the past. On my best day I recognize that I can’t change the past and need to simply push on under the cover of the Lord Jesus Christ. On my worst day I slide into depression remembering that my past includes many wrongdoings. If I’m not very careful I can lose much of a day wallowing in depression and defeat. I have a plan I would like to recommend to you. The next time Satan comes around telling you about your past, stop, take a minute, and remind him about his future! Satan is going to be bound and cast into the lake of fire that burns forever and ever. My future, as a child of God, is a heavenly home prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ. So we need to join with the apostle Paul in…

Forgetting what lies behind. Look in the verses just before our text found in Philippians 3:7-8. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Unlike most of us, much of Paul’s past would have been considered good by the average person. We’ve looked at it before and seen how Paul had lived an exemplary life. He was born into a godly family, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. In regards to the Mosaic law he considered himself blameless. But he knew also that he had been a persecutor of the church and he considered himself to be the chief of sinners.

This does not mean that Paul continued in sin it means that he had, in the past, set the benchmark so far sin is concerned. Let me illustrate: Suppose you were a high jumper in college and you broke the school record by a foot. The school placed a mark on the gym wall with your name beside it, showing the height of your jump and proclaiming you as champion, or “chief.” Twenty years later you walk into the same gym. There is your mark on the wall. No one has even come close to breaking your record. You're still the chief. This is what Paul meant and why he considered himself “chief of sinners”!

Even though Paul remembered the past he made a choice to stop living in it. He was willing to “forget” what lies behind because it was covered by the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We sing, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” If God has washed it away why should we continue to mull over it? The past is not a good place to live even on the good days. We need to join with God and put our sins, all of the past, as far away from us as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12) That’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us. Never, ever. will the blame get back to us if we are in Christ Jesus. Let me give you an illustration. If you were able to fly in an airplane directly West no matter how many times you circled the earth you would still be going West. You may travel North until you reach a point where all travel from there will be South. But there is no “East Pole” or, “West Pole” the two directions will never, ever, meet. Praise God that’s the example of how far He has removed our sins from us! Forget what lies behind and keep on…

Straining forward. Turn with me to Hebrews 12:1-2. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I’m not a great sports fan but there are many illustrations in sports to guide us in our spiritual life. One thing you will notice about runners is that they, “lay aside every weight”, and then they run with endurance.

We are called on to do the same thing spiritually. Lay aside every weight of memory and even lay aside the sin that clings so close to us. We cannot run the race well if we are burdened down with our wrongdoing from the past. Remember, if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) if God says it is forgiven then you can take His word for it. Don’t spend time and energy rehashing the past. Confess it, thank God, and to go on with your life. Remember, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, many times greater than when the writer of Hebrews wrote these words. The faithful throughout history have gone on to be with the Lord. Their lives are witness to us that the life can be lived. We are told that we are to look to Jesus, and with Him in view, we can run the race that is set before us with endurance. So long as we follow that plan we will be successful in…

Reaching for the Goal. Turn with me to Ephesians 1:11-14. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Nine times in the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the term “in Him”, referring to the inheritance we have. It is impossible for human language to completely explain all that we have in Christ Jesus. God chose those who are His children before He created the world and the names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Paul saw himself in the first generation of believers and realized that God had a plan that allowed them to be “to the praise of His glory”. Having believed in the truth that is Christ Jesus, God the Father seals us with the Holy Spirit. And then God begins the work of shaping us into the image of Christ Jesus. Ultimately, we are going to be like Him. The word of God promises us that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

Becoming like Christ Jesus in every respect is God’s goal for the life of the believer. As we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ we will become more and more like Him. We will go through many trials and temptations along the way. The obstacle course that is life is designed to root out of us everything of the flesh and build into us everything that is the Spirit of God. Nothing ever comes into your life without first passing by the Holy Spirit who is our guarantee. He only lets things into our lives that are good for us no matter how painful they are at the moment. The Lord Jesus promised be with us even to the end of the age.

The goal we are reaching toward is…

The upward call. Turn with me to Colossians 1:3-8. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Throughout the Christian life we are being changed into his likeness. We are progressively becoming more and more like Christ. Our goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit that God has placed in our life. We, like the apostle Paul, are not perfect but we are pressing on towards perfection. We have put on a new nature which is constantly being renewed. The gospel bears its fruit in our life so long as we are faithfully laying aside every weight and running the race that’s set before us. The call that we have received is an inner call toward sanctification. Our inner awareness of God grows stronger and stronger as we live our daily lives. We begin to know God is our loving Father in heaven. We have been adopted into his family since we have passed out of the family of Adam and Eve. The Holy Spirit that God has placed in our lives bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God. As time goes by, and we continue to grow spiritually, the intensity of our understanding is such that though we have not seen our Lord Jesus Christ, we indeed love Him!

It is an upward call because the goal itself is in heaven. The Bible tells us that we are joint heirs with Jesus and that our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. (1 Peter 1:4) We are kept by God’s power not by our own strength. So God protects us even when we are not aware of it because we are His children.

Our inheritance is also protected because it is in heaven with God. Anything that one possesses is only as secure as the place it is kept. When you put your money in the bank it is guaranteed by the federal government. That’s pretty secure but it is not totally secure. But to have an inheritance in heaven is absolutely, totally secure! So we respond to the upward call of God knowing that in the future we have a secure inheritance. However, along the way we should remember…

What we have attained. Paul wrote to the Philippians that we should hold true to what we have attained. Turn with me to Romans 8:15-17. We can see some of what we have attained.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We have received the Spirit of adoption. With that one Spirit we have been baptized into one body — making us children of God. (1 Corinthians 12:13) We are able to turn to God as our loving Father.

Without any disrespect we can call him “Daddy” in our day-to-day conversation. We have already attained a place in the family of God. We are now God’s children and as such we have the right to come to our heavenly Father for the help, health and strength we need to live our life secure in Him.

We should be encouraged every day to run the race that God has given us to run. We need to forget about the past and focus on the future. We have before us the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And as we grow in spiritual maturity we will see more clearly the path that lies ahead of us.

It is a wonderful thing to know that we are children of God. All people everywhere are born with an awareness of the existence of God. Satan, suppresses the truth in order to keep them from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world to bear our sins on the cross and defeat the enemy completely. If a person confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God has raised him from the dead the Bible says they will be saved. There are no good works that make us children of God. It is by grace through faith only. If you have come to faith in Christ you will certainly grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord on a day-to-day basis. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God and though we have not seen our Lord Jesus Christ physically we love Him! Do you need to confess Christ as your Lord today? Today is the day of salvation, you have no promise of tomorrow.

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

141221 The True Light

John 1:9-14 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The gospel of John does not include a birth narrative for Jesus. I try to imagine what it might have been like for John as he was inspired to write his account. I believe he probably had read Matthew, Mark and very likely Luke also. As he was mulling over those accounts I can imagine him going back in his thoughts. John had been a disciple of John the Baptist. He had met Jesus alongside the Jordan River. However, he knew that Jesus had existed long before his birth on earth. As his thoughts went back in time he came to the very beginning and saw Jesus with the Father before the world was created.
As a disciple of John the Baptist, John the Apostle joined in the witness to the light. He was there on the day after Jesus’ baptism when John the Baptist, for the second time, spoke these amazing words, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) I wonder how many times the Apostle reviewed that day in his memories. He may not have been there when Jesus was born but he was there when Jesus was introduced for He who He really was, “The Lamb of God.” This introduction to Jesus, the sin bearer, gave him and the others who became disciples an inside track on God’s plan. He was there when he heard the testimony that…
John the Baptist had come as a witness to the light. John the Apostle was made into an eyewitness as well. Turn with me to John 3:16-21. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
These words seem to conclude Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. John places this dialogue at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. We can see that Jesus knew, in the beginning, that He would be crucified. He knew that He would be “lifted up” so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Jesus went on to proclaim that He was the “light” that came into the world to overcome the darkness. In most of our Christmas traditions we do not recognize Jesus, the baby in a manger, as the light bearer who became the sin bearer for the world. We need to remember Jesus is…
The true light that was coming into the world. In our opening reading we have this testimony found at John 1:4-5, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 The darkness could not overwhelm the light, because, as we see in verse 9. He was… The true light, which gives light to everyone, (and it) was coming into the world.
In many ways the world Jesus was coming into was darker than our own world. The only spiritual light in that age, so far as we know, came from small groups of Jewish believers scattered, primarily, throughout the Roman Empire. There may have been other colonies of faith that God has not seen fit to inform us about. All we know of for sure are those who follow the faith of Abraham as recorded in the Bible.
Today there are light bearing groups throughout most of the world. The gospel of the kingdom is preached in all major cultures and is being expanded into the smaller cultures more and more every day. That is why the light, in Jesus, came into the world. He Himself said that He “came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) and that He came “that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The great hymn writer, Phillip P. Bliss set it to song:
The whole world was lost In the darkness of sin,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in.
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!
The Babe In the manger that day was, and still is, the light of the world! Yet, we are involved in sharing the light. In another song by Bliss we hear:
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor struggling, sinking sailor you may rescue, you may save
Jesus, Himself said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” And “let your light shine before others….”. (Matthew 5:14 & 16)
You may be the light for someone else to see the way clearly to come to the narrow gate that leads to life eternal. Without your knowledge someone else may look at you and come to the Savior by your light.
Having been saved by grace, through faith, we must remember that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Jesus, the Baby in the manger, is the “Light of the World” who. having left the world, has transferred the light to His people and, as the old chorus says we are to “Let our little light shine”. Jesus who was…
That light was the creator of all things. Turn with me to Colossians 1:15-17. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Yes, the Baby in the manger was the Creator of all things. “ALL” is an absolutely inclusive word. Of course Jesus Himself, the Father and Holy Spirit are not part of the “all” they are part of the Creator.
Jesus created the heavens and the earth and populated the heavens with an innumerable host of angels. There seem to be different orders of angels just as there are differences in the animal world. Jesus, as the Creator, placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and, I believe, provides humans with a spirit/soul as well as a reproducible body at the time of conception. David said that he was knit together in his mother’s womb. Zechariah talks of God (Jesus to us) as the one who forms the spirit of man. And Isaiah says that God (Jesus to us) gives breath and spirit to the people on earth.
John tells us that at the nativity Jesus, the Word, came to His own, meaning He came to His own property or country, but His own people did not receive Him. The Light of the world came to His own territory but…
The light was rejected by His people. Turn with me to John 5:39-40. Jesus had given various signs by now and the religious leaders had set out to take His life because, He was breaking the Sabbath and making Himself equal with God. In the midst of Jesus’ explanation of His authority we find Him saying:  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
The Christ is not just a deliverer of Israel, He is the deliverer of all who will come to Him by faith. Sadly Jesus was rejected by the vast majority of His own people. But God already had a plan. That plan included the sheep that are not of the house of Israel. When Jesus compared Himself with a shepherd He said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Paul would later tell us that their rejection was our gain. Through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles. Their rejection means the reconciliation of the world. (Romans 11:11-16)
Rejecting the Light brings condemnation but…
Receiving the light gives the right to become children of God. Turn over in the back of your Bibles to 1 John 3:1-3. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
In his Gospel John tells us that as many as received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Now, many years later, John tells us the love of God is reflected in our being called God’s children. I get the sense that, after all those years, John was still amazed at God’s plan. A plan that brings us into God’s family so that we no longer identify with the world. The old gospel song is correct when it says, “This world is not my home I'm just a passing through My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue The angels beckon me from heaven's open door And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”
Being born of God means, among other things, we are brought into the family of God. In fact, we are born into God’s family! Not born the natural way but, instead, born spiritually.
The bible teaches that, unlike Baby Jesus, we were born, as humans, dead in trespasses and sins. We were born subjects of the prince of the power of the air – Satan. When we are born again we become subjects of the Prince of Peace. As God’s children we are not born of our own decision, or of someone else’s persuasion we are…
Children born of God’s will. Turn with me to John 6:44. Jesus is in that long debate with the religious leaders. He tells them: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
No one can come without the Father drawing them. When we are born physically we are without the ability to do anything that will cause God to declare us righteous. From a human standpoint we may seem to be doing good it is only on the surface. All our righteousness is like a dirty, polluted, garment at a fancy dress ball. Without God the Father’s call and God the Holy Spirit’s illumination connected to God the Son’s sacrifice on the cross we have no hope in this world or the one to come. We do not come to Christ in our own goodness nor our own decision we only come because He has drawn us, or chosen us. Turn with me to what Peter had to say in 1 Peter 2:9-10. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The people of God are a chosen race. If God did not choose us we would have no hope. Once we were not a people but now we are because of the Baby in the manger. That Baby became the sin bearer for us. Then He became the man on the cross—the sacrifice for our sin. Having satisfied God’s wrath with His own blood He became the Risen Lord bringing victory over sin and death and delivering all who will come to Him from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.
Towards the end of his gospel, chapter 20, verses 30 and 31, John gives his reason for writing. He wrote, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.” Obviously, he was not just writing a biography of Jesus. He was writing so that people through the ages could see Jesus’ work in the world and know that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! Knowing his Lordship should lead many to confess their sins, wrongdoings, and become children of God by receiving Jesus as Lord of their life. The birth of Jesus should lead to our “new birth”. That, my friends, is what Christmas should be about. Have you confessed Him as your Lord and do you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

141214 A Son Is Given

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,     on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
We think of Christmas as a time to recognize the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Strangely, Christmas is recognized all around the world, even in countries where there are few Christians. For example, Japan celebrates Christmas with as much enthusiasm as we do here in America. Yet only about one percent of the population are Christian. In Japan they display extensive decorations and have replaced Santa Claus with a Buddhist monk! His name is Hotei-osho and he brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Like Santa Claus, Hotei-osho has eyes in the back of his head so that the children will behave themselves in anticipation of their gifts. It is sad that Christmas is so easily celebrated without Christ! 700 years before Mary delivered a son, and called his name Jesus, Isaiah promised him.
The prophecies really began in the Garden of Eden after the temptation of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:15 the Lord God promised Satan that he would put enmity between him and the woman throughout the generations until the seed of the woman would bruise Satan’s head. Of course, he was referring to Jesus defeating Satan on the cross and the empty tomb. The promise was not a plan B after the failure of plan A. Before the creation of the universe God had prepared a plan that involved the fall of man into sin and the payment of the sin debt by the Son of God. In fact, God’s plan went so far as entering the names of those who would be saved, before the ages began, in the Lamb’s Book of Life. God’s plan involved, not a conquering King, but a baby born to a young woman and brought up as a human. Isaiah said…
To us a child is born. Turn with me to, or repeat from memory, John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
As Isaiah was looking into the vision God gave him he saw a child being born. Everything about this birth was contrary to what would be expected by the religious leaders. The world’s way of doing things would be to send a powerful man to conquer and destroy the opponents of God. God’s way was to send a child, His only Son, to live the life that Adam had failed to live. God’s love was demonstrated to us on that first Christmas morning. Yes, God’s love for the world was packaged in a baby. The Wise Men from the East knew that he would be born to be King of the Jews. When they saw the star they packed up their treasures and brought them to Bethlehem. They probably arrived several months after the birth of Jesus. “The wise men” of Jerusalem didn’t have a clue, and that is remarkable! When Herod asked the priests where the Christ would be born they knew right away that it would be in Bethlehem. However, they didn’t know it had already happened until the strangers came looking for Him. Isaiah had seen a child being born and described the child as “a son”. He wrote…
To us a son is given. Turn with me to Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Earlier in the vision of Isaiah he had seen a virgin conceive and bear a son. In chapter nine Isaiah had said that the son was given to “us”. The prophet could not have known that this plural pronoun “us” would include so much more than the Jewish people. The “us” that the son was given to included every generation of mankind from righteous Abel to the last person born on the earth to be chosen by God. He was given to us!
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, God made this Son to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) This is a powerful gift. Not only was a Son given but…
He will rule. Jesus himself proclaimed his rule to his disciples when he ascended into heaven. Turn with me to Matthew 28:18-20. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He was born in a manger and raised in the home of a carpenter. So far as we know, He never owned anything except the clothes on his back. Yet, according to Isaiah’s vision the government would be upon His shoulder. Jesus will rule until He puts all His enemies under His feet.
Jesus lived on earth as a man even though He is God! He was a very remarkable man — and still is. Part of what is amazing about Jesus is that he could be fully man and not sin and fully God and still give his life. After Jesus took our sins in His own body on the cross He was able to enter into the holy place in heaven with His own blood to cover the sins of all those chosen by God who will put their faith in Him. Then he returned to the tomb only to be resurrected on Easter morning.
The result of the work of Christ on the cross and His victory over the grave was that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him by the Father. Since that authority was given to Him we can go and make disciples of all nations. Because we go in His authority not our own. Not only will he rule but…
He will conquer His enemies. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15:25-26. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
It is obvious that everything is not yet subjected to Him because, if it were, the evil going on the world would all be over. Jesus is in the process of subduing all his enemies. Part of that process is getting the gospel into all the world. Jesus himself said that the end will not come until the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed throughout the whole world. No one will be able to say that they did not have the opportunity to be saved. A very sad truth is that everyone, everywhere, will be confronted with the gospel one way or another. But not everyone will be saved even though every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God. (Romans 14:11)
Our enemy, who is roaming the earth like a roaring lion, is going to be completely defeated. Part of that defeat must involve setting the spiritual captives free. You see, millions live in a world of spiritual darkness and must be brought to the light. The God of this world has blinded their minds so they cannot see spiritually. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6) Yet, God has enabled His people to be in the process of being transformed from darkness to the light. As the Church proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord, God will give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah could see, at a distance, a Child being born and a Son being given to us. Isaiah could see that this Child would be different from all others. Not only was He given to us but…
He is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Turn with me to the gospel of John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
At least seven times in the New Testament Jesus is proclaimed as God. John, thinking back through the centuries to the beginning saw, in his mind’s eye, the Word with God he saw that the Word was God. In the original language the word order is different. The last phrase can be translated as, “God was the Word”. So, “God” and the “Word” are interchangeable they mean the same thing. Now let’s turn to the story of Jesus’ resurrection and the reaction of Thomas. Throughout history he has been called “Doubting Thomas”. Yet, when he was confronted with the evidence he gave one of the strongest statements of any of the disciples about who Jesus is. Turn with me to John 20:26-29. Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas called Jesus “my God.” The story shows that both John in writing his gospel and Jesus Himself approve of what Thomas has said and encourages everyone who hears about Thomas to believe the same things Thomas did. Jesus immediately responds to Thomas. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” As far as John is concerned this is the high point in his gospel because he immediately tells the reader — in the very next verse — that this is the reason he wrote it. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
Jesus speaks of us in this passage. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Think about it, we are among those who have not seen and yet have believed. Isaiah tells us that He is the Mighty God and then it is confirmed in the New Testament, Gospel of John. Not only is He the Mighty God who will rule but also…
He is called Everlasting Father. Turn with me to Jesus’ words found in John 14:18-21.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jesus had earlier clearly stated that, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) Here Jesus promises us that we will not be left as orphans, He will come to us! Just as Isaiah stated — the Messiah would be called “Everlasting Father” and that is what Jesus also promised. He and the Father are eternally interrelated. In fact, we are taught that, “In Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) Jesus is fully God and as such he is the Everlasting Father. Not only that but…
He is called Prince of Peace. Turn with me to Ephesians 2:13-18. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
“Prince of Peace” is an important title. It’s part of the evidence that Jesus, Himself, is God. The Bible tells us that God is a God of peace (Romans 15:33, etc.). Isaiah had stated that we would be led forth in peace. (Isaiah 55:12) God, again and again, promises peace to his people. The third element in the fruit of the Spirit is “peace” (Galatians 5:22) so peace is part of our spiritual inheritance.
We once were far off but now have been brought near by the blood of Christ. God grants peace to all those who claim the name of Christ. That would be peace with one another as well as peace in our own heart. The angel that greeted the shepherds on the first Christmas morning spoke of “peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) We have a responsibility as citizens of the kingdom of heaven to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19) We also have the responsibility, and the privilege, to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. (Colossians 3:15) This is our calling. We are one body in Christ and as such we should be, as much as possible, at peace with each other.
The Lord Jesus Christ enables us to have peace but we have to allow it to rule in our heart. Satan, our enemy, likes nothing more than to rob peace from a child of God. Please remember he is a liar and the father of lies. Don’t let him take away your peace.
Luke tells us that Mary treasured all these things in her heart when Jesus had stayed behind at the temple after Passover. It was very hard for Jesus’ earthly family to see him as the Mighty God because they had seen him first as a baby in a manger and then later on as an obedient son and brother. It is equally hard for people today to identify the baby in a manger with the man on the cross and the empty tomb. We should enjoy the Christmas celebration but we need to remember that this season is about the Christ who came to earth to bear our sins and to give us the privilege of confessing Him as Lord. The greatest gift — and it is shown at Christmas — is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! Have you received him? This could be your day to make Christ Lord of your life.

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.