The Antidote

In Your Bible: 1 John 4: 7-11

Loved ones, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 This is love—not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atonement for our sins. 11 Loved ones, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11 Tree of Life TLF Version).

Parallel to this Scripture is a succinct poem titled “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Christian Rossetti. It presents an image of incarnate love descending to earth, heralded by the star and the angels. The Father sent Jesus for our redemption — that’s amazing love.

True Love

Rossetti’s powerful poem, “Love Came Down at Christmas” sums up 1 John 4: 1-7.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;

Love was born at Christmas;

Star and angels gave the sign.

The Answer

This poem is the antidote for our soul as we recover from excess materialism, intense shopping, travel, gatherings (of friends/family) during the Christmas season. Take a moment to reflect on God’s gift of Love to us. He sent Jesus for our redemption — that’s amazing Love.

Father: Thank you for your glorious love. Your gift is in the forefront of my thoughts. Selah.

* History of Hymns, Love Came Down at Christmas, by C. Michael Hawn, uncdiscipleship..org.

The Christ(mas) Account

In Your Bible: Luke 2:8-20

Now there were shepherds in the same region, living out in the fields and guarding their flock at night. 9 Suddenly an angel of Adonai stood before them, and the glory of Adonai shone all around them; and they were absolutely terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I proclaim Good News to you, which will be great joy to all the people. 11 A Savior is born to you today in the city of David, who is Messiah the Lord. 12 And the sign to you is this: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly a multitude of heavenly armies appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth shalom to men of good will.”
15 And when the angels departed from them into the heavens, the shepherds were saying to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which Adonai has made known to us!” 16 So they hurried off and found Miriam and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the word that had been spoken to them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard were amazed at the things the shepherds told them. 19 But Miriam treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as they had been told (Luke 2:8-20 Tree of Life [TLV] Translation of the Bible.

The Christmas Story is sung, told, performed, and read every year. Let’s look at its profound features. The message was brought by a major angel, a host of other angels glorified God in song, and the shepherds basked in God’s glory. The focus: what God did for all of mankind – he sent a Savior for those who believe.

Message from God

The angel was not sent to the chief priests or the elders who were not prepared to receive it, but to a few of poor shepherds, near Bethlehem.

  • These shepherds were alert and doing their job
  • They were truly surprised with the appearance of the first angel
  • They saw and heard the glory of the Lord around about them
  • Yet, they were astounded and afraid

What the Angel told them—the Message for mankind:

  • Do not be afraid of this message
  • This message will bring great JOY to all people of the world
  • Today the Messiah is born in the city of David
  • The angel gave instructions [a sign to them] on where to find the Messiah
  • They did not doubt, but went immediately to find Him

The First Evangelists

Commentators ** have reason to think that the shepherds told Joseph and Mary what the angels told them, and the song of the angels sang. This was a great encouragement to new parents. Also, it is probable that Joseph and Mary told the shepherds what an angel had told them concerning the child. This strengthened each everyone’s faith.

The angel had told the shepherds not to keep any of this a secret. But instead tell everybody of this joyous encounter with Jehovah/God. It was their testimony. And the focus: what God did for all of mankind – He sent a Savior.

Prayer: Father, I see again your mercy on me and the peace I have in you from what we call The Christmas Story. In you alone I have Salvation.

* Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible, Copyright 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

** Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary of the Bible, biblegateway.com

Abide in Me – God’s Spirit In You

In Your Bible: Romans 8:9-14

In Romans 8, Paul teaches and encourages believers on their position in Christ. He wants us to understand the spiritual realm. Paul’s words powerfully reveal how God’s Spirit works in the believer.

Freedom in Christ

Paul begins with . . . there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1,2 NASB).

When a believer joins with God through belief in Christ, he receives a sure foundation, salvation, and a new life. Paul assures believers their faith walk transforms our mind—how we think and live.

God’s Spirit

Paul explains how spiritual aspects empower the believer. They are unified in One the Father/God and best seen this way:

  • Ruach – Spirit, breath of God, Spirit of God (breathed into man see Genesis 2:7)
  • Yeshua – Jesus the Christ, God in Jesus the Son
  • Elohim – God the Creator [Spirit of God]
  • Messiah – The One promised of God, Deliverer, Anointed One from God

The Tree of Life Translation of the Bible, from the Messianic Jewish Family Bible, illuminate’s specifics of how God’s Spirit brings power to the believer. This powerful translation reveals the assurance we have. (Bold markings are my input.)

. . . you [believers] are not in the flesh but in the Ruach—if indeed the Ruach Elohim dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Ruach of Messiah, he does not belong to Him. But if Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Ruach of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Ruach who dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we do not owe anything to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Ruach you put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. For all who are led by the Ruach Elohim, these are sons of God (Romans 8:9-14 Tree of Life Translation). 

Believers in Christ are freed from the law. They are not condemned, the Spirit of God (Ruach, Elohim, Elohim, and Messiah) has set us free. Paul’s words, from the Tree of Life Bible, powerfully reveal how God’s Spirit works in the believer.

Prayer: Father, this revelation of Messianic understanding bolsters my faith. Thank you for Jewish believers who help us grasp your greatness. Selah.

Abide In Me – Part 3

Be Like Christ

The apostle Paul outlined the integrity and strength believers should live by—the character of Christ:

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me [Paul] truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:1-5 NLT).

Christ-followers must think like Jesus and bear a resemblance of who he is. This may seem impossible unless you fully accept what Paul says here . . . for we have the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16b NLT). In this manner, we will actually see the Father’s love when we take on this attitude, the mind of Christ.

Have This

In this letter, Paul encourages believers and builds them up. He strongly promotes unity in the love of Christ and tells how to do it:

  • Love one another as Jesus does and he (Paul) taught them
  • Be of the same mind and spirit
  • Have one purpose – seek God’s best

Do This

Then Paul exhorts believers concerning things we too often miss or dismiss as “oh that’s not me.” He says we must do the hard stuff in order to . . . have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:1-5 NLT).

  • Be humble – don’t let pride enter your daily life
  • Be selfless – not selfish which too often is our thought process
  • Be one who takes an interest in others – seek what others want too

In this manner, we will actually see the Father’s love when we take on the attitude, the mind of Christ.

Prayer: Father, I love that you show me what you desire. Keep me immersed in the light of your Word for true Life.

Abide In Me

This is the second in a series on abiding in me as Jesus said. The Apostle Paul uses the term in Christ 53 times throughout Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. He discloses the benefits, blessings, new character, and empowerment that accompany being in Christ. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Faith

Paul tells believers that by faith in Christ, they are justified and become sons of God. Plus, their faith working through love brings them in to a special relationship with the Father, . . . so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14b NASB).

The author of Hebrews gives us a deeper understanding of faith:

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.  By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:1-3 Amplified).

Strength

Paul hears reports of believers’ good discipline and the stability of their faith (Colossians 2:5). He rejoices at their new character and growth as they mature in Christ. The apostle affirms believers even when he cannot be with them to teach and encourage them himself.

Mystery

Paul tells believers there is something special and powerful with their position in Christ. It’s a mystery hidden for generations—Christ lives in you! This gives you assurance of sharing his glory (Colossians 1:26,27b). What a glorious promise. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your plan that Christ could live in us. I praise you for providing this glorious way to be in relationship with you.

Abide In Me

In Your Bible: John 15:1-20

Jesus told his disciples they must abide, or live, in him. This new series will highlight some of the many benefits of being in Christ.

Abide and Bear Fruit

Jesus revealed the secret of how we must live! He compared believers to branches hidden in Christ. Jesus, the vine, supplies our nourishment. The Father, the gardener, prunes the branches by the Word of Christ, in order to help believers bear good fruit.

See more of what Jesus actually said:

  • I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NASB).
  • If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned (John 15:6 NASB).

Glorify God

  • This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:8 NASB).
  • As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love (John 15: 9,10 NASB).

First the Apostles glorified the Father in following Jesus’ commands. Today we as disciples must do the same. This series will highlight some of the many benefits of being in Christ.

Prayer: Father, your gracious love shown through Jesus overwhelms me day by day. Selah.

Exuberant Praise to God

In Your Bible: Psalm 150

This psalm compliments and appropriately “bookends” the first psalm. It shows what worship must have often sounded like: voices lifted up, shouting for joy, trumpets blaring, stringed instruments playing, people dancing, pipes humming, tambourines keeping rhythm, and cymbals crashing.

Worship and praise are often used together—both break out in JOY. We too can be an instrument of praise to God. As we travel through good and bad times, his praise should always be on our lips.

Praise Him

1 Praise the Eternal!
Praise the True God inside His temple.
    Praise Him beneath massive skies, under moonlit stars and rising sun.
2 Praise Him for His powerful acts, redeeming His people.
    Praise Him for His greatness that surpasses our time and understanding.
3-4 Praise Him with the blast of trumpets high into the heavens,
    and praise Him with harps and lyres
    and the rhythm of the tambourines skillfully played by those who love and fear the Eternal.
Praise Him with singing and dancing;
    praise Him with flutes and strings of all kinds!
5 Praise Him with crashing cymbals,
    loud clashing cymbals!
6 No one should be left out;
    Let every man and every beast—
    every creature that has the breath of the Lord—praise the Eternal!
Praise the Eternal! (The VOICE Translation)

Always Praise God

God is the life-giver. We should praise him in all circumstances. Even when we have problems and are emotionally down, praise will restore our spirit and soul. Who really is our deliverer?

Yes, praise God, whatever/whenever/wherever we are. So, Psalm 150 is right on for a blessed life. Everything that has breath—praise God. As we travel through good and bad times, his praise should always be on our lips.

Prayer: Father, I praise you in the sanctuary, at home, away, at work, (even) in the hospital, and at play. What a wonder you are. Selah.