Tag Archives: Faith

Preparing for Jesus – Hope – Christmas Eve.

Isaiah 7:13-14

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.

Isaiah 7:13-14 talks about a promise God made several hundred years before Jesus was born. This means that there were many generations of people who lived and died waiting for the fulfillment of this promise. When the promise was fulfilled many couldn’t accept it.

This Christmas, I am mindful of many people around me who are waiting on God for something. God’s word is clear, He if for us, He loves us and He came a long way to be Immanuel. Yet suffering does not take a break to worship God for being born into our world. Death, disease and loss don’t call a cease fire on humanity over what we claim as holy days.

Some people identify more with Job than with Shepherds in the fields at the birth of Jesus.  They can’t see any miraculous signs. The pain is just too great. It would be easy to come up with endless counsel directly from the Bible in an attempt to give hope. I am positive any words from me in these times of pain will be trite, selfish and insensitive.

In some case even being Jesus with skin on to our hurting world around us just won’t help. My daughter and I will be reaching out to our people who do not have permanent shelter over the next few hours and days. Even the company I work for dove headfirst into compassion and justice this year working with a Christian Community Center and Church in the hope of letting our light shine so that the world would see that God is good through us. Even when we, as the church fulfill our mission as Jesus with skin on, we can’t take away the pain.

There are many people who are suffering this Christmas and their only hope is, by some miracle God will touch them directly. My prayer this Christmas Eve morning is for all those who are suffering beyond anything I could even understand or comprehend. For the mother who just lost her unborn baby at 8 months, for the parents who are losing hope that their newborn baby with live, for the family spending their first Christmas without a loved one, for the father who has no food to feed his family, for the single mom who doesn’t know how she will make ends meet, for the child who just lost her last parent to Aids…for the 14 year old slave who has forgotten that she is loved… the list goes on and on… I pray for direct intervention from You Dear God this Christmas. I know that this kind of suffering happens throughout the year…yet the world seems to wonder about You during Christmas. Please God, you are the only one who can bring hope directly into this world.

Preparing for Jesus – Love Love Love Love Love – Advent, Day 9

Wow there’s a whole lot of love in this passage…

1 John 4:7-21

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

This passage is rather long and I had first planned on just linking to an online version of it. However, after reading through it a couple times I just had to post it completely. I am struck by the overwhelming expression of love in this passage. I know…I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been taught that God is love since before I can remember.  Furthermore, I could easily write twenty blog posts on this passage. I know that all Scripture is God breathed and useful…but this passage is God breathed at about 10,000 psi. Therefore, for the purpose of this post, as I prepare my heart for this Christmas, even though I can dig into each passage individually,  I want to look at the big picture of this passage as a portrait crafted by a fine artist.
Did you ever see a work of fine art that moved or inspired you deeply. For me, Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of those inspiring works. When many people think of this work they think of the following image.

However, Michelangelo’s actual total work on the Sistine Chapel looked like this…

Michelangelo painted dozens and dozens of stunning paintings on fresh plaster on an uneven ceiling several stories off the ground…and he didn’t even consider himself to be a painter. Each painting on the Sistine Chapel could be considered an individual masterpiece in and of itself. But when you view the entire ceiling as a whole, it is breath taking. I have only seen it in photographs and I am still moved by this great work of art. This is how I view 1 John 4:7-21. It is an overwhelmingly beautiful portrait of God that inspires and challenges me to consider the reality of how God’s love changes everything as we know it in our world.

God is Love – 4:8
God Created Love – 4:7
God Loves Us – 4:9
God Loves Us – 4:11
God Loved Us First – 4:19

It is hard for me respond to this reality with anything but worship. What else can I do in response to this kind of love but worship God…but how…that is another beautiful thing about this passage…it tells us how.

Love One Another – 4:7
Love One Another – 4:11
Love One Another – 4:12
Love Jesus – 4:15
Live in Love – 4:16
Live in Confidence – 4:17
Live Without Fear – 4:18
Love God – 4:20
Love One Another  – 4:20
Love One Another – 4:21
Love One Another – 4:21

It may just be me, but it seems like God really wants us to Love One Another…Subtle. It would also seem that to love God requires us to Love One Another. This reminds me of the words of Jesus when he spoke in Matthew 22:37-40 on the first and second greatest commandments of God.

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

It would seem to me that God gives us some insight into a way we to respond to the amazing love that he poured out to us through Jesus.  The least we can do is love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. But it would also seem that it is impossible for us to do this without loving our neighbor, or, “one another,” This should be an easy enough request. But yet we struggle with it so.