Monday, December 5, 2016

9th Day of Advent: Jesus is the Gate

 
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture."
John 10:9

How Jesus be a Gate?  Where are we entering that we need to go through Him?  The answer: Heaven.  There is only One Way to Heaven and it's through Jesus.  What does that mean?  We need to believe in Him as our Savior.  We cannot save ourselves.  No amount of good deeds will outweigh all the bad ones.  The entrance to Heaven also cannot be earned.  God gives it to us freely by grace, but we must believe.  If we are in Jesus, meaning we have confessed with our mouths, Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead by God, we are saved (Paraphrase Romans 10:9).  That's the entrance fee to Heaven.  

Jesus is standing as the Gate, waiting for you to come.  Run to Him and make that confession because what is waiting for us there is not only eternal life but eternal worship of our Creator and Savior.  That is the hope we have to hold onto in this world.  It is also the Power, Truth, and Reason we celebrate this season (and always truthfully).  Jesus' birth provided the perfect human life that could take on the sins of the world while His infinite and eternal Godly nature could take them on for everyone.  His birth gave way to His death, so that we could live forever and ever with Him in Heaven.  

How will you worship Him knowing that He was born to die and be the Gate for your entrance into Heaven?  Do you acknowledge Him as the Gate?  What words of praise can you offer Him this morning as you reflect on Him as the reason for our Christmas celebrations?

In His Love,
A

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2nd Sunday of Advent: Jesus is the Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!"
John 1:29
  
Here's the background.  The Israelites (God's People) were slaves in Egypt.  God sent Moses to ask Pharaoh to allow ALL the people to be freed (there were more than a million Israelites enslaved).  Pharaoh repeatedly said no.  Therefore, God sent plagues to Egypt to punish Pharaoh and the Egyptians for their disobedience.  On the night that the Israelite Nation left Egypt, God had commanded Moses to instruct the Israelites to take a lamb's blood and spread it on the doorposts of their house.  When God passed through the land of Egypt for the 10th and final plague of killing all first born sons, He would pass over the houses with lamb blood on the door frames.  God didn't punish or inflict judgement on His people.  Instead He passed over them! (Exodus 12)

Jesus is the Ultimate Lamb because He was Perfect and Blameless.  His Blood on our doorposts of life is way more valuable than any animal lamb.  Isn't this a beautiful picture?  The simplicity of the foreshadowing of Jesus a mere 62 chapters into the Bible.  We are now able to be passed over because Jesus' Blood covers us!

I think this is a reason to celebrate in the coming days.  Normally we talk about Jesus as the Lamb of God during Easter when He was crucified, but at His birth, He was just as much of God's Lamb as on Calvary 33 years later.  Jesus was born knowing all this would happen and yet He still continued to live a life that we will never be able to.  He was filled with the Joy of the Lord no matter His circumstances.  This is a wonderful example for our lives, although it can be difficult to implement at times. 

Have you applied the Blood of Jesus to the doorposts of your life?  What would happen if you did?

With His Love,

A

PS Isn't beautiful that some of the first people to see Jesus the Lamb of God in this world were Shepherds?!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jesus is the Good Shepherd on the 7th day of Advent




"I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep....I know my sheep and my sheep know me."
John 10:11, 14b


Shepherds take care of their sheep.  They watch over them and lead them.  Why do sheep need so much guidance and protection?  They are not instinctive animals.  That is a nice way to say they are pretty dumb.  If a predator comes, the sheep will basically stand their.  They don't flee away.  They also don't know which type of grass is good to eat.  They will simply eat what is right  in front of them.  Don't these descriptions seems kind of familiar?  Do they describe you?  I know I can be described as not instinctive and dumb at times!

Today let's worship Jesus and reflect on His role as the Good Shepherd in our lives.  The Shepherd leads His sheep to better pastures and protects them from harm.  He will even go out of His way to find that lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7).  The Shepherd is Jesus!  He even will lay down His life for the protection and goodwill of His Flock (that's us!).  How amazing is that?!

Then Jesus goes on to say that He knows His sheep!  That means He knows each one of us.  Jesus already knew you before you were even born! (Psalm 139)  What comfort and great news is that!  Jesus will lead us and protect us if we let Him.  Did you catch that last part...if we let Him?  He will be our Good Shepherd joyfully, just ask Him!!

Not only is Jesus the Lamb of God but He also is the Shepherd.  His role as the Lamb is for sacrificial purposes, but His role as the Shepherd is for leadership.  How is Jesus the Shepherd of your life?  Do you recognize Him as the One leading your life?  Where in your life do you need to give up that control and allow Him to watch over, guide, and protect you like a shepherd would for their flock?  What praise can you give Jesus for being the Shepherd who watches over all His sheep?  

Go and end the day knowing that Jesus is in control and that He is watching over you, not letting you stray away from the flock of God's children.
In His Love,

6th Day of Advent we see Jesus is Judge

"And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out--those how have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.  By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." 
John 5:27-30
In this passage Jesus is proclaiming Himself with the authority and power to judge others.  God gave Him this responsibility. He is also referring to the final Judgement. In the Book of Revelation, John gives a glimpse into the throne room of God, as he sees it revealed to Him by Jesus. But lastly and most importantly, He states that His judgment is just.  Why? Because He is seeking to please His Father and not Himself.  He will reward the good and punish the bad according to their deeds.    God is sitting on the throne and Jesus comes also out of the throne, proving He is God as well but also that He has the authority to judge (Revelation 4-5). 

Recently, I've been studying John with BSF. In John 8, the Pharisees bring an adulterous woman to Jesus to try and trap Him in His answer to how to deal with her. He shocks them all by responding that whoever is sinless can throw the first stone at her. Everyone walks away, starting with the older Pharisees. They all knew they were not without sin and can't condemn this woman just because she was caught in the act and it was public. It's the same with us. Who are you throwing stones at when you deserve the stones to be thrown at you?

Why do we think that we can do a better job at judging than Jesus?  Why do we judge a person's character based on their appearance?  I can't answer those questions.  I do know that when I find myself judging others, gossiping about their actions in a condescending tone, or thinking harsh thoughts about them, I can turn to God.  I can pray for help to stop those actions.  I can pray for the self-control to hold my tongue and cleanse my thoughts.  I need to hand the role of Judge back over to Jesus.  

Do you submit to His authority or do you try to take judging into your own hands (guilty here)?  Repent and give that role over to Him!! Have you thought about the end times and the fact that Jesus is coming back to judge?  How will you change your life because of the certainty of His judgment? (2 Peter 3: 8-18)

In His Love,
A   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

5th Day of Advent: Jesus is Creator

Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness....."
 Genesis 1:26a
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  
John 1:1-3
So 26 verses into the Bible we see that God isn't singular.  There is a Triune God, three Persons but One God.  There is God the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was present at Creation! Jesus didn't just come into being that night in Bethlehem.  Jesus is Eternal so He has always been (just not in human form) and will always be!!  Therefore, Jesus created us.  John 1 solidifies this idea.  He is the Word and so He was right there with God when He created the world and everything we know!  How awesome is that!! 
It puts into perspective another aspect of Jesus' life.  He is part of the Creator and He came down to Earth to live with the created.  That's wonderful news for us.  We have a God who knows us by name and wants to be with us!! We can't choose our earthly family but we have a Heavenly Father who has chosen us.
Just earlier I was thinking about a new project and how I love to create things.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that since I was made in the image of God who created, I too am able to create.  I can't create mountains but I can craft so that's basically the same thing ;)
So Jesus not only was there when the world was formed but when you were formed as well.  He knows you inside and out because He knit us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139) so why not get to know Him the same way?  How amazing would that be to state that you know Jesus that intimately?? Well guess what...WE CAN KNOW HIM!!  Because of His Work on the Cross, we can have an intimate and personal relationship with our God.  Not only does He desire that but also delights in it too. 
How does it impact your relationship with Jesus to seem Him as Creator and Savior all wrapped up in one?  Will you praise Him today for something He created?  Whether it is you, someone else or even the mountains, sky and stars.  It was ALL made by Him.    What words of worship can you offer Him for this amazing Truth?
With His Love,
A