MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What an amazing thing we celebrate this time of year. The coming of God to earth. We can wrap our minds around God being all powerful or all knowing but a baby…wrapped up in strips of cloth in a horse stall?

“For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body…” That’s what Colossians 2:9 tells us. How amazing! I can’t really sort that out in my head. I know it’s true…but it’s still baffling and mysterious.

It’s interesting that the verse in Colossians is going somewhere with that phrase. It has huge impact on you and I. Here it is:

For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe. (vs 10 NLT)

We share in the fullness of Jesus being fully God. That is our stake in this Christmas story. Without Jesus, we are hopeless and helpless. With Him…we share that fullness…the very fullness of GOD. That’s the greatest underdog story of all time!

Sharing that fullness also grants us great opportunity. This is coming back to something we have been talking about all year…but is worth peeking at again:

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did.

And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NLT

Jesus is the center of the story–the Christmas story, my story, and hopefully your story too. Have a joy-filled, hope-filled, love-filled, & Jesus-filled season!

I’ve been working hard at posting stuff that would be helpful to others on our website…so if you want to check it out… click here

This Sunday we had neat discussion in the INSTITUTE about the Old Testament Prophets who told about what the Messiah would be like. Sometimes we get so familiar with the story that we forget how amazing it is.

We looked at 9 different prophecies and they are in the chart below. Check them out:

Isaiah 7:14

Born of a Virgin

Matthew 1:22-23

Isaiah 7:14

Called “Immanuel”

Matthew 1:23

Micah 5:2

The Messiah King will be born in Bethlehem

Matthew 2:4-6

Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 60: 3, 6, 9

Kings will worship and bring gifts

Matthew 2:11

Hosea 11:1

The Messiah will go to Egypt…and be called out

Matthew 2:15

Jeremiah 31:15

The killing of the innocent children around the Messiah’s birth

Matthew 2:17-18

2 Sam 7:11-12, Ps 132:11, Isaiah 9:6, 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5

The Throne of David will be served by the Messiah

Luke 1:31-32

Daniel 2:44, 7:13-14; Micah 4:7

Forever rule of the Messiah

Luke 1:33

Isaiah 11:1

From David’s line a “branch”– a Nazarene

Matthew 2:23

Frankly, it is quite amazing that the prophets hit the nail on the head over the course of so many years. So amazing that to put it in perspective, we talked about an illustration found in Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell:

The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks…Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies…”we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017.” That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability Stoner illustrates it by supposing that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.

This means these prophecies were either given by inspiration of God or the prophets just wrote them as they thought they should be. In such a case the prophets had just one chance in 1017 of hav­ing them come true in any man, but they all came true in Christ.

Wow does that ramp up my faith! I hope it does yours. I hope it encourages you to talk to others about our Jesus this amazing season!

Press on,

Mike

It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals

I was talking with a person today who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I find it is very difficult to wrestle through situations like that. You don’t want to be trite, you don’t want to be over confident, you don’t want to offend, you don’t want to think about your own death, you think about it anyway, you don’t want to …. It goes on and on.

I this week I ran into a wise saying, that quite frankly, I didn’t like at all. Misery loves company…so I’ll drop it on you too:

It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.*

I don’t know how that strikes you…but that’s a new message. I am charged up about going to parties and festivals…I don’t get really juiced about going to funerals. The Wise Teacher is on to something here I think. It is really healthy for us to think about death and dying…not so we get depressed…but so that we change how we LIVE!

“Sadness has a refining influence…” that can be so true in our lives. We have to make it true though. We have all met people who were washed out by the sadness in their lives. They never allowed the sadness to shape them. Those are the people the Teacher calls foolish. The wise person changes and adjusts the way they live to make God happy…and themselves truly happy.

That’s the way I hope we are walking on this quest together….to be wise and consider how to live lives that will please Jesus.

The amazing thing about the person I was talking with today is the unshakable confidence that they have in Jesus and getting to see Him! That’s the twist we have on the wise teacher–WE ARE GOING TO A FESTIVAL WHEN WE DIE! Heaven is going to be sooooo great. (I just read a book this week called The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis that dreams about the afterlife and how grand heaven is…wow…I can’t wait. It is worth the read!)

I don’t mean to be somber today…but I want us to be wise…let’s think while there is still time.

* Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 NLT

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