The Bible instructs both to pray and to expectantly watch. Both are demonstrations of faith.
If you are a Christian you are saved from God (from his just wrath), you are saved by God (by his sacrifice) and you are saved for God (for his delight and praise).
When God created Adam he did so with startling intimacy and intentionality. So too in the new creation where God visits the spiritually lifeless with the life-giving gospel.
A new year means we are that much closer to walking in Immanuel’s Land.
We are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2.11). If Satan can’t destroy you he is content to simply divert you.
The Christmas story is about the deepest, most personal, secure, and powerful love that could ever be experienced. It is about intimacy through full-knowledge and security through full-redemption. When this penny drops it is an absolute game-changer for us.
The one who swaddled the stars with darkness (Job 38.9) is now swaddled in cloth as a baby. This is such mind bending, heart melting truth! Christ, the Lord God, becomes a man, and dwells among us (John 1.14).
You can tell a lot about a person by what they hold to be precious. We give our hearts, time, and resources to these things. They hold value to us. As Christians our objective is to agree with God about what he finds precious and to pursue these same things ourselves. One of the most helpful resources that I have found in this pursuit is entitled The Precious Things of God. It remains a tremendous resource to drive my heart after what is valued by God.
The Precious Things of God was written by Octavius Winslow. He was a 19th Century English pastor and author. Winslow was a dear friend and contemporary of Charles Spurgeon. When you read Winslow it is not difficult to see why. He writes with the same lucid, descriptive, and gospel-dripping pen that Spurgeon deployed in his reservoir of writings for the church.
The book has 12 chapters, each of them quoting a verse to show that something or someone is particularly precious to God. The titles include:
The Preciousness of Christ
The Preciousness of Faith
The Preciousness of Trial
The Preciousness of God’s Thoughts
The Preciousness of the Divine Promises
The Preciousness of Christ’s Blood
The Precious Anointing
The Preciousness of God’s Children
The Preciousness of God’s Word
The Preciousness of Prayer
The Preciousness of Christ’s Sympathy with our Infirmities
The Death of the Saints Precious
As I flip through my old copy of this book the pages are covered with notes and underlining. This book has been like a jar of honey to a sore throat. I have often turned …
Think with me about the specific qualifications for humanity’s savior. He must be a perfect man. He cannot sin. If he is to be our substitute and rescuer then he cannot be a transgressor of this same Law. He must be perfect. He must be both God and man. Wholly God and fully man.
Of course there is no one created who qualifies for this post. We are, after all, created beings. And, as descendants of the first Adam, therefore beset by the same weakness as he.
Furthermore, no angel may pick up this mantle. In addition to not being eternally and inherently righteous they are not human. Therefore, the arch-angel Michael is not a suitable substitute for humanity.
Here in the US we have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving this week. There may be 5 billion things that we could be thankful for at any moment; and truthfully we are probably aware of less than 5. The Christian is to always be aware of and deeply affected by at least one: the gospel of Christ.
The Scriptures teach that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). This is a staggering fact. He, the unchanging, ever-perfect, always good God–gives gifts to imperfect, weak, needy people.
Why does he do it? Well, one could rightly say, it is because he has abundance and we are needy. This is true. God needs nothing and we need everything. However, his giving is more than a cold, mechanical, divine donation. God gives because God loves. He loves us. And, his giving is the overflow of his love in sharing himself and his creation with us.