A New Year’s Resolution to Balance The Others

When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and invited the family to come down to live in Egypt, he promised them they would be well taken care of by Pharaoh. Pharaoh told Joseph to tell his family:

“Also regard not your stuff;
for the good of all the land of Egypt is your’s.”

First, let me just say, I love the Bible’s usage of the word “stuff.” What a great word. I have been accused of being an unsophisticated communicator because of my use of words like “stuff.” If it’s good enough for God; it’s good enough for me.

Second, I like this promise! Don’t worry about keeping your stuff nice, don’t worry about packing well or taking your time, just get down here, we got ya covered.

We often use the escape from Egypt and the entrance to the Promised Land as an illustration of salvation. But perhaps we can view the deliverance of Joe’s family from starvation into the bounty of Egypt as a kind of salvation illustration as well.

We are promised an eternity in heaven where all is right and all needs will be fully met. That being the case, while you’re on earth, regard not your stuff.

I think this is what Jesus has in mind in Matthew 6 when He says things like:

“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”

“And why take ye thought for raiment?”

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow:”

Regard not your “stuff,” remember that there is eternity coming where God has ya covered. If we truly took to heart the words of God, our lives would be radically different from the world around us.

As we ramble around making resolutions for the new year about what to do with our stuff, remember one of your resolutions should be to not take your stuff so seriously. Lighten up. God’s got the future won. Enjoy the win and leave off the stuff of the losers.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

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New Year’s Resolutions and Christianity

New Year’s Resolutions are something I have done many times. I guess I call them more “goals for the year,” but it’s the same thing.

I don’t always hit my goals, but I don’t really write them to make them happen. I write them to encourage me to do a little more than I would otherwise. I have no problem determining later that the goal aint gonna happen, that other things popped up, or that my time would be better served elsewhere.

Back in the day I would obsess over my goals and do them at all costs. If I had to be rude to people to get away from them so I could go home and read 200 more pages to get back on track, I would.

That wasn’t right! I learned that the exercise of my faith–love–trumped any goal. If my goals are taking me away from serving people and being patient, then I’d back off them. I even skipped doing goals for a couple years as I realized they had become a problem.

Goals have become a thing I do when there is nothing else to do. What I’ll do with my free time. They revolve around reading, exercise and various hobbies that replace television and other, what I consider, waste of time diversions.

There have been some Christians who criticize resolutions/goals because they are legalism and a reliance on fleshly power. I find that stupid. I find them a handy tool to keep my body under subjection and a way to redeem the time.

I typically do not tell anyone what my goals are, because my goal with goals is to keep them floating, not too serious.

My pastoral advice on goals is this–if your life is already too busy, set a goal to nix some activities, relax more. Be with people. Go to some funerals. Set a goal to have time for people.

If you are a person who sees that you tend to waste too much time on television, video games or mindless, fruitless activity, then set some goals to do different stuff, be with more people, have a life that is interesting so people know what to talk to you about. Have a life a conversation can be struck up about, a life that people know what to get you for Christmas!

This pastor is all for people using their time to encourage interaction with others, which can’t happen if you don’t do anything. We are creatures of habit and many of our habits are a waste of time. Goals can help you overcome the wasting of time. Be specific, it helps to be able to count your results–books read, miles walked, etc.

Do some stuff. But if the doing of stuff takes you away from people, makes you impatient to leave people so you can go home and do your goal, then you’ve missed the point. Go for it, but without love there is no profit.

After Christmas Jesus Talk

Jesus Christ’s earthly body and Ministry were a revelation of who God is. Jesus did the works of His Father and said the words His Father wanted Him to say. If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. “I and the Father are one.”

Christ revealed who the Father was and because of Him we have a better understanding ot The True God.

Although Christ was not yet born, the Old Testament foretells many details about the Coming One, the Messiah, the birth of the Everlasting Father. I find the prophecies to be very cool. What a testament to the credibility of God’s Word.

When Jesus was born, He wasn’t just winging it. Everything He did was the fulfill promises made in the Old Testament, some written thousands of years before His birth. There is a whole mess of verses being fulfilled at His birth.

Paul writes “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Christ was born of the seed of David. You can’t fully understand what Jesus is doing without a knowledge of OT revelation.

There was a reason Christ was not born as a Norwegian. The intricacies of the genealogy of Christ, how everything fit together to have Him born in the line of David. Yes, God is His Father, but He’s in the line of David as well. He was a real human being with a real lineage and the lineage was specific.

In the next verse, Paul goes on to say, “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Again, don’t stop your knowledge of Jesus with the fact that He was born! Carry it on to see that He died for a reason and He was raised up for a reason.

It is the full person of Christ and all that He did that shows who He truly is. No other life remotely comes close to the life of Christ. He is the seed of David and the Son of God. He’s both and it took both to pull off the redemption of humanity.

You could study this alone for the rest of your life and never exhaust the ins and outs of it! Don’t let the bigness disappoint you. Revel in it. Get to know your God through the person of Christ.

After Christmas Reality

Shwew, survived another one!

As you are reading this, I am packing up the car and heading back home from family. Hopefully I have enough room in the car for all our loot.

Christmas is over and baby Jesus will fade from many people’s minds as we gear up for our next holiday distraction: New Years.

Unfortunately, many drop their understanding of Jesus with Christmas. The know Jesus was born and whatnot, but that’s about it. They fail to take it further.

Not til Easter do many think of Christ again. We hit the high points in our holidays–Christ’s birth and death, just as we remember the high points of people’s lives. People’s gravestones record their birthday and deathday.

I guess Jesus is no different.

Except He’s entirely different.

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

The big deal about Christ’s birth and death is that it was just a temporary thing. It really wasn’t the main point.

Christ lived a holy life to be an acceptable sacrifice, and He died in order that He might be raised up. His resurrection is a huge deal! If there is no resurrection then we are yet in our sins.

Christ was put to death in the flesh, but He was made alive by the Spirit. Christ’s body was a temporary dwelling for His person. The real triumph was escaping the body and returning to Spirit-life, rejoining His Father in heaven, sitting at His right hand.

Christ’s life is a great thing to celebrate. It is indeed a blessed fact that God became flesh and dwelt among us. It is also a great thing that He suffered and died for our sins. But it is a triumphantly great thing that He rose again!

This resurrection shows His power over sin and death, shows that He is approved of God, shows that He has power to give life.

Don’t let your Christmas stop with Jesus becoming a human; let it go on to all that Christ is, to the new, resurrection life of eternity, a life He now promises to give to all who come to Him.

The ministry of Jesus doesn’t stop with Him becoming a baby boy, nor does it stop with His death on a cross. Jesus’ ministry never stops, because He is alive even today and for ever!

Christmas and Knowing God

Christmas is allegedly the day we remember that God became flesh and dwelt among us.

There are many reasons why Christ came, perhaps there is one that doesn’t get as much play as it should. It will no doubt show up in a theological explanation of the incarnation, and would probably also be one those things people wouldn’t say if they tried to explain why Christ came but when they heard it would say, “Oh, well, yeah, that’s what I was trying to say.”

Here it is:

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

One of the reasons Christ came, that God became flesh, was to give us an understanding who the invisible God, whom no man has seen, is like!

God tells people in the Old Testament that they can’t handle seeing Him. Moses received much instruction on this, including the placing of a veil on his face to be in God’s presence.

If we finite, tiny, little humans ever saw the eternal God, we’d just go ahead and melt. Moses had to hide in the rocks just to glimpse His “back parts.” God makes the point clear when He says, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”

We can’t handle seeing God. In order for God to be seen, to truly know who He is, He had to limit Himself. So, with great humility, He took the form of a servant and was made like us.

Jesus spoke to other human beings and told them, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

“I and the Father are one.” Jesus Christ reveals God. Jesus Christ is a view of God we can handle, one that won’t kill us on the spot.

There is deep humility here, a humility we could never understand. We don’t think being human is so bad, what’s the big deal? It’s a huge deal for the eternal, omnipotent God to be made like us. The eternal Spirit to reside in a body of dirt.

It’s truly incredible. It’s a glimpse of God, Him that is true. This is the true God and eternal life. If you don’t want Christ, you truly don’t want eternal life. Christ is the representation of eternal life.

Wow, there’s stuff there. No, we don’t live in the time when Christ’s physical body walked the earth, but we have four records of that time. Get to know your God and lay hold of eternal life.

Christmas and Christological Heresies

Understanding God becoming flesh is not easy for our brains to grasp. How is God the Father one with the Son? What happens with Christ’s divinity when He takes on a human body? How much of Him is God and how much is human?

Throw Mary in the mix and, well, look out!

One of the great confusing verses on the issue is Isaiah 9:6, “ For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Within this verse we see the complexity of what’s going on. A son is born called The Everlasting Father! How can He who is eternal be born? How can the eternal father be a son at some point? Doesn’t that cancel out the idea of eternal fatherness?!

The best way to describe what is going on is to use biblical words and phrases. Quoting a verse is the best option; trying to use philosophy to explain it will merely lead you into the murky waters of heresy. I may not be able to explain it to your satisfaction, but I know I can quote the One who brought it up!

Church History is filled with heretical views of Jesus Christ. Some thought He was just a spirit that looked human. Some thought He was just a guy God used. There are views more extreme and at every point in the middle of who Christ was.

There are three major heresies regarding the Lord Jesus Christ:

(1) The denial of Christ’s Divinity — which lead to the heresies known as Ebionism, Arianism (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Nestorianism, Socinianism, Unitarianism.

(2) The denial of Christ’s two natures — which created heretical groups such as Monophysitism, Eutychianism, Monothelitism. These all confuse the two natures of Christ; i.e., absorbed one of His natures into the other.

(3) The denial of Christ’s humanity — which gave rise to Docetism, Marcionism, Gnosticism, Apollinarianism, Monarchianism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism (modalism), Adoptionism, Dynamic Monarchianism.

The bottom line is that God in the flesh is who Christ is. If it were not so, there is no Gospel. Beware anyone who tries messing with the person of Christ, denying that He was who He said He was. If they don’t have that part right, they have nothing else right. Guaranteed.

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”