Archive for December, 2017

Dec
11

In Him Was Life!

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In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
(John 1:1-5, NLT)

The life giving life of Jesus, according to John’s nativity, was designed to provide light for those who live in darkness. To fully appreciate the interaction between light and dark we have to refer back to the creation story. Check this out.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
(Genesis 1:1-4, NLT)

God’s first recorded words in Scripture were, “Let there be light.” Light is purposeful, because light reveals. When I was a kid, my parents took me to Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Missouri. In the middle of the tour, the guide turned off the lights and told us that we were in absolute darkness. We were encouraged to wave our hands in front of our faces, and sure enough, we couldn’t see a thing! In a sense, darkness is nothing more than the absence of light.

Creation unfolded with light being introduced into absolute darkness. Like a high intensity surgical lamp, it reveals.

Light and darkness are opposites, but not equals. In the creation story darkness is not eliminated, its subordinated. If we use light and dark as metaphors for good and evil, the same principle is true. Good and evil are opposite but not equal. Evil has not been eliminated, its been subordinated.

But the good news is that in the end, both darkness and evil will be eradicated. Years later, the Apostle John would conclude the Revelation with this word of encouragement as he described the New Jerusalem:

“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5, NIV)

Tomorrow I’ll return to John 1 and share three responses to the light. Thanks for checking in!

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Dec
06

In Him Was Life!

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“In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.”
(John 1:1-4)

We usually turn to Matthew and Luke’s gospels to study the Christmas story. There we find the simplicity of the nativity, complemented with shepherd’s and Magi from the east. John’s gospel gives us a different, more abstract view of the same. In the prologue (1:1-18), John presents the birth of Jesus through three different phrases, the first of which is “In him was life.”

The New Testament uses three Greek words for life. The first is bios, (as in biography and biology) which describes the period or duration of one’s physical life. The second word is psuche, which describes the psychological life of the soul. John’s word, however, is zoe, which is the unique quality and quantity of God’s life. Apparently he really loved this word, because he used it 36 times in his gospel, frequently coupling it with the word “eternal.”

Therefore, John’s first observation about the advent of Jesus is that he came into the world to demonstrate and make available the life of God to whoever would believe and receive it.

Have you ever noticed those car commercials that appear on television during the holidays? The scene is set with the perfect, nuclear family awakening on Christmas morning to gather around the perfectly adorned tree. Every hair is in place and not one bed sheet wrinkle is on anyone’s face. The camera then zooms to the father, who looks out the front window toward the driveway where, lo and behold! A brand new luxury car awaits with a big bow on top! He is overjoyed that his wife would be so generous and thoughtful! Who wouldn’t be?

As the advertisement draws to a close, a dollar amount appears in bold lettering on the screen to share how affordable and attainable a luxury car can be. But then comes the fine print. Yes, the base model of the vehicle sounds reasonable, but if you want the fully loaded version in the commercial, the price is, well, much greater.

There are a lot of people, I believe, who have settled for the “base model” of life. They have the basic model but are not living anywhere remotely close to the fully loaded package. That’s why Jesus came to earth. He came into a world to live in the midst of people who were living base model lives, not knowing that life as God intended is the fully loaded package. The good news of the gospel is that you don’t have to endure living with a physical and psychological existence. Jesus said, “I have come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). You can have the quality and quantity of God’s life because he’s made it available through Jesus.

Categories : Advent, Christmas, John
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Dec
04

I Am Unqualified

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Deborah is one of the more under valued characters in the Old Testament, I believe, for a couple of reasons. For one, her story comprises a small section compared to the extensive coverage of characters like Joseph, Moses and David. The other issue, of course, is that Deborah is a woman, and many traditions don’t know exactly what to do with her.

The Book of Judges describes her as carrying dual offices. She was a prophet, whose responsibility was to receive and communicate direct revelation from God, and she was a judge, called upon to arbitrate disputes. Even with those offices she seems an unlikely and unqualified person to fulfill the task at hand.

What task? That requires a bit of background. In Judges chapter 4 we find that Israel had once again done evil in the eyes of the Lord and had been turned over to the tyrannical rule of a Canaanite king named Jabin. King Jabin’s commander was a rude dude named Sisera who in turn ruthlessly oppressed Israel. And predictably, Israel once again cried out to God for help.

No leader from Israel would stand up to the oppression. God spoke to Deborah and shared his promise of deliverance. When Deborah transmitted the message to Barak, he refused to go without her. She agreed to go, but with the clear understanding that “You (Barak) will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman” (Judges 4:9). Yes, Deborah was a woman, but she also lacked any kind of military background or experience. Since Israel had no centralized government, she didn’t possess any form of commission from a formal leader. Not to mention, but four of the tribes of Israel refused to respond to the call to arms. Ultimately, she didn’t permit any of these things to stand in her way because she valued to calling and the promises of God more than anything else.

Deborah causes me to wonder and think about the God given opportunities that I have passed on because I have done the quick math of self assessment and considered myself “unqualified.” At the end of it all, God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

Categories : Jars of Clay
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