Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas, We look back to His birth and look forward to His return

Twas the night before Jesus came

There seems to be no greater story that fascinates us like the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. How does God become man…in the most unlikely way. In so many ways I think His return will happen in just the same way.

Although prophesied for hundreds and thousands of years before— (Gen 3:15, Mic 5:2, Isa 7:4, 14, Hos 11:1, Isa 9:6, 2 Sam 7:12-13, Ps 45:6-7)
He was received only by a handful, because He came in the most unlikely way for a king. 
However when He comes back the second time, He will be more recognizable because He will come back with a royal shout…(1 Thes 4:16, Rev 7)
not as a baby but as a warrior and king…with the government on His shoulder…called wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the prince of peace (Isa 9:6)

I think the celebration of Christmas brings to life the beautiful assurance of another kingdom—the Messianic Kingdom when God comes again to earth and becomes king over all the earth and lives with us and causes all things to become new (Zeph 3:29). 
…and He will reign on earth 1000 years before He destroys Satan, death and his enemies once and for all, bringing a new heaven and new earth to us…the world becomes perfect again and we who had believed in Him before our death or before His second coming, live happily ever after with God, this is how the world ends, what a comfort as you celebrate Christmas, knowing that it only gets better for those who will dare to believe in this Baby in a manger (Rev 20, 21, 22)

Outside of the Bible itself, this little beautiful poem allows us to envision the reality of Emmanuel—God with us…this time not as a Baby to be our Savior, but as a Warrior to be our King—"Twas the night before Jesus".

'Twas The Night Before Jesus Came'
written by Unknown Author
'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed.
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.
When out of the East there arose such a clatter.
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray 
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!
The light of His face made me cover my head
 It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
 I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
 Was written the name of every saved man.
 He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
 When He said "it's not here" my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love 
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound.
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
 I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
 I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
 Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
 The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
 There's only one life and when comes the last call
 We'll find that the Bible was true after all! 
[Just like He came as a baby—Christmas being the Pre-show; Please make Him Lord of your life and be ready for His second coming—the final show].

Merry Christmas to you all from Comfortnotes

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Drop your idols and follow the one true God" Deut 5

" Moses called all the people of Israel together and said, “Listen carefully, Israel. Hear the decrees and regulations I am giving you today, so you may learn them and obey them!". (Deut 5:1)
Thought to be Canaanite Pagan Shrine, Gezer National Park Israel
In one of my classes my professor posed a very simple question, "What is idolatry". We all answered with great confidence, "Worshipping as God, an image we make with our own hands". How about an image we make with our own minds, is this still idolatry? We all knew the answer to be Yes.

So he rephrased and said, "So when we make God in our own image then this is adolatry". We were all silent for a moment to think it through and savor the fullness of its implication.

To prevent Israel from worshipping as God, an image which they create not only with their hands but with their minds, Moses reminds them of who God is. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses before his death, made a "farewell" speech to Israel. Reminding them of the relationship they have with God and the laws God had given to them for their obedience and their welfare.
Thought to be Canaanite Pagan Shrine, Gezer National Park Israel
All God's laws speak to His character and His expectation for the objects of his affection, in this case Israel. For example the chapter recounts a second time the 10 Commandments…

You may have only one God...You cannot worship anything or any one apart from God—speaks to God's control over the earth and all that is good and true. It tells us that, like a father, God knows what is best for us and because of his love for us, He desires us to commit to Him alone, because He knows we were created to be satisfied only by Him (Gen 2:26-27).

God still has this expectation for us today, He desires us to understand that He is the only creator of heaven and earth (Gen 1:1), that He loves us (John 3:16), that He desires to have a personal relationship with us (Rom 5:8). He understands that this relationship can only be achieved by His ways and through following His rules (Jer 29:11). He wants to live with us forever and so he directs us to believe in Jesus Christ, our only provision for eternal life (John 6:40).

However if we decide to make God in our own image, we violate the very essence of our existence and we jeopardize our relationship with God. If we decide to worship the kind of God we want to have, we create our own idol. 

Some have created a God who is angry all the time and wants to punish us…that is an idol which needs to be dropped. Some only want to worship a God who is all loving but who never will judge with justice or discipline them…this too is an idol needing to be dropped. God has revealed Himself to be both love and just or righteous, so we have to worship Him as both.
God proclaims Himself to be a good of love and compassion as well as a God of justice, as is written in Exo 34:6-7
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
    The God of compassion and mercy!
 I am slow to anger
 and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
 I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
    I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.” 
Some say their own God can be appeased by obeying all the rules…while others worship a God who can be found through positive energy and connection with their inner self...this too is Idol worship (Rom 1:21-31)others worship a God that never sends anyone to hell. This kind of God does not exist, He is not the God of creation neither is He the God of Israel (1 John 5:11-13). 
Thought to be Canaanite Pagan Shrine, Gezer National Park Israel
So Moses reminds Israel about God's laws in His farewell message so that, Israel may worship God according to who He is and not who they want Him to be. That is why he said to the people, 

“You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy".

This message which Moses reminds Israel of in our text today, looks like the same message John reminds believers during his time which translates and applies to us today. He says,

"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life,and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life"—1 John 5:11-13

So may we be reminded today like Israel was reminded then, that God's laws, God's path, is the only true way, and out of this way comes blessing. 

May we be comforted knowing that we do not have to create our own path, we do not need to create our own God in our image—or the image of our own ideas or philosophies. We have a God who created us and He has revealed Himself in His word and through creation (Rom1:19-20). He reveals Himself to be good, He is perfect and He loves us tremendously, that is why He desires to give us the best life, which comes only by following Him (John 14:26-27), now this is true comfort for the soul.
Until next time, Read, Share and Be comforted.
Merry Christmas to you my Comfortnotes Readers! Stay tune for a Christmas message coming soon.

My Testimony