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Christmas Devotional - Unwrapping The Gifts From Jesus

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9: 6 (NLT)

    The Prophet Isaiah, prophesying hundreds of years before a child in swaddling clothes would lie in a manger in Bethlehem described for us who our Savior was to be to us. This one seemingly regular birth would cause Kings to travel the earth to pay homage, shepherds to forever praise God, and evil such as King Herod to blindly panic. All of history would be forever changed. Realize that the public ministry of Jesus Christ was only three years long yet it changed everything we know, forever. For unto us a Savior was born!

    The key verse from the Isaiah prophecy reveals four aspects of who Jesus is that should provide us with some comfort and power today. It should provide us comfort in that we have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living inside of us. That means that we have untapped potential and power through Him who saved us. We hear all the time about living the empowered or abundant Christian life but like so many other Christianisms, the true meaning escape us in our day to day life. It is like God gave us these four gifts. Four presents derived from the first Christmas, prophesied by Isaiah centuries earlier. But we leave them under the tree; thank God and never open them. Sometimes I think that people believe Christians are supposed to suffer while on this earth straining towards the better life that awaits us in heaven. That somehow this life is meant to be spent in misery. Not only does that cheapen the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary but it cheapens the gifts He gave us when He first came into this world. So let’s unwrap the gifts today and see what God has given us…

    The first present is that Jesus Christ is our wonderful counselor. The world system values counseling too. I am a trained and certified counselor in the secular world. The training we received taught us that the best counseling is where we say the least. That we are there to direct or nudge the counselee in the right direction but that our true role is one of passivity. That they have the right of self actualization and that the counseling process has more merit when they are able to “figure things out” themselves. The spectrum of theory runs the gamut too. You have Rogerian counseling on one side that merely reflects back to the patient what it is that they have already said but offers nothing in the way of guidance. On the other end you have rational emotive therapy where the counselor literally screams at the patient to get them to stop dwelling on the negative events in their lives. That is not the counselor we have in Jesus Christ. Where secular counseling seeks to affirm the person, Jesus will always affirm God. Because there is nothing within us that will solve our problems. It is only through God that we can overcome:

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. – John 10: 10 (NIV)

    Most people who enter into secular counseling do not come out of it living life to the full. The world system teaches us how to cope with our problems. To cope means to learn how to live with them. Maybe that is why we have such a problem giving them up to Christ. Jesus does not want you to live with your problems beloved – He wants to take them from you! He sees us when we circle the same mountain year after year. Saved by the precious blood of Christ but crawling into heaven bound and shackled to that one thing we just cannot seem to get victory over. It does not have to be so! We have a counselor that far exceeds our comprehension of counseling! He is not an ordinary counselor – He is a wonderful counselor! Wonderful is a word used so often we probably cheapen the definition in our own minds but it means amazing, excellent and astonishing! If we would ever learn to allow Christ to be the wonderful counselor in our lives we will indeed be astonished at the results! The world system encourages us to talk about our problems. A lot of clinical value is placed in talking about what it is that bothers us but what we speak into we breathe life into. The sad truth is that most of the time we need to STOP talking about it. We have spoken about it since it started. We have talked about it with our family and friends, with our pastors and clergy, with our counselors and professionals – yet we still circle the same mountain. Why? Because we keep talking about it! Take it to the wonderful counselor today and tell Him that you are done talking about it – give it to Him today. But be prepared because God is not in the advice business. The counseling we will receive from God is not in the form of affirming self. It is in the form of affirming God – through His Word. Too often we approach the wonderful counselor as if He is a worldly therapist. We listen to His counsel but do not necessarily implement it at all. Here is the important distinction for us today. In the world, counsel is advice but when it comes to Jesus Christ – counsel is the way we need to live. It is not an opinion. The first gift we see under our tree in the manger is the most wonderful counselor we can ever ask for or need and He lives inside of us.

    The second gift for us to unwrap is the fact that Jesus Christ is the mighty God. In the Old Testament the nations surrounding Israel worshipped gods that were made of wood or stone. An amusing story involves the Philistine god Dagon. It seems the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant from Israel and decided to place it in Dagon’s temple. When they came back the next day their god had fallen on his face so they stood him up again but the next day it was worse:

    But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. – 1Samuel 5: 4 (NLT)

    I don’t know about you, but I do not wish to serve a god I have to prop up each day! I’m the one who needs propping up! We serve a mighty God beloved. He is not some cartoon cut out or symbol carved from wood or stone. He merely spoke the word and the entire universe formed at His command! He told the sun when to come up and when to go down and how far the seas could encroach upon the land. The dictionary defines mighty as being superior in strength and power! That is who we serve! That is who is on our side!

    What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8: 31 (NLT)

    The sad truth is that we often spend too much time worrying about who is against us rather than focusing on who is for us! Power is only powerful when tapped into! It was the Mighty God that parted the Red Sea and then enclosed the armies of Pharaoh with it. It was the Mighty God that tore down the walls of Jericho. It was the Mighty God who defeated an army of 120,000 with only 3,000 men. It was the Mighty God that gave Jehoshaphat the victory when he was besieged on all sides. It was the Mighty God that rained fire down on Mount Carmel and slew the 450 prophets of Baal. It was the Mighty God who took a rag tag bunch of imperfect fishermen and turned the world upside down! When you experience great victory in your life – it is the Mighty God that gave you that victory. We let ourselves get overwhelmed by such mediocrity. We let such trivialities cripple us. We simply do not understand or appreciate the power within us. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells inside of each one of us. The Bible says we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. That is an awesome second gift from God!

    Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the Everlasting Father. We live in a world that says there are only two certainties, death and taxes! Ironically it was a decree for more taxes that forced Joseph and Mary to return to Bethlehem for the birth of our Lord and Savior. Death however is always the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter of you are rich or poor, black or white, male or female. One day, we all will die. God however transcends all time and never dies. The gift of the Everlasting Father is that now we no longer have to worry about the inevitability of death:

    But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1Corinthians 15: 51-57 (NLT)

    The birth of Christ is intrinsically tied to His death and resurrection. Jesus was born specifically to die and atone for our sins. He bridged the gap that existed between man and God. He restored the fellowship between man and God. It is the birth of Christ that allows the second birth for men. The devil has done a masterful job of either convincing people that this life is all we get or to not concern themselves with what happens after. Agnosticism runs rampant through this country where people believe in a higher power but seemingly do not care what He might have to say. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. It is the Everlasting Father living inside of us all that assures us that our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is the Everlasting Father that stands up for us against the accuser of the brethren, Satan. I do not think that many Christians understand the transformative power this revelation should have in the life of a believer.

    I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16: 33 (NLT)

    Too often we continue to try and overcome the world on our own. We cannot accomplish this. The good news however is that we do not need to try because He who lives inside of me is greater than he who lives in this world. Jesus already overcame this world through His death and resurrection. Will we have trials and sorrows? Absolutely, because we live in a fallen world. What are they though but a glimmer in the expanse of eternity? The devil sells us on a temporal mindset where everything is weighed against the 80 years or so we get on this planet. God however wants us to develop an eternal perspective where we weigh everything in light of eternity. We have that liberating power through the gift of the Everlasting Father.

    Lastly, Jesus Christ, who lives in us, is the Prince of Peace. The most elusive concept in all humanity has always been peace. If you polled everyone on the planet, I would guess peace would be the number one things people felt they lacked and truly wanted. The peace the world sells can be fleeting beloved. Vacations are designed to impart peace but they end. Relationships might provide temporary peace but at some point the honeymoon is over. The peace the world sells can also be nothing more than a lie. There is no peace at the bottom of a bottle. Or in a prescription. Or with illegal drugs. Changing your state of mind does not solve your peace problem. Disguising your symptoms does not solve your peace problem. Only the Prince of Peace can solve your peace problem. Let’s take a look at the recipe for the peace of God in our lives:

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4: 5-9 (NIV)

    The first part of these verses is a formula for us to follow to experience the transcendent peace of God in our lives. Whatever it is that might be tempting us to worry or fret in the slightest – turn it over to God in prayer that is bathed in thanksgiving. The truth of the matter is we often fall into despair because we forget everything God has already done in our lives. Elijah had just seen the 450 prophets of Baal slain by God when he decided he couldn’t take anymore of the threats of Jezebel so he asked God to take his life! I am always astounded when I read the Gospel account of the second miraculous feeding. I am stunned because the reaction of the disciples remains the same even though they had just seen the previous miraculous feeding! We see in the second half of these verses that the other component to thankful prayer is mindful focus. When we are not praying – what do we choose to focus on? It is the thinking about our problems that breeds the anxiety and uncertainty. When the shepherd boy David said he was willing to face the nine foot tall Goliath what was his rationale? He had seen the Lord deliver the lion and bear into his hands so why should the giant be any different? They tried to dress him in Saul’s armor and weapons but David just took what he knew – his slingshot. Why? Because David realized that he did not matter - only God did. If all David knew how to handle was a fly swatter than God would have slain Goliath through David and his fly swatter. Sound silly? Remember Samson killed 1000 men with a donkey jawbone. Nothing is impossible with God!

    When you realize that and focus only on Him and how good He is then you will feel His peace come over you in your life. We have peace because He is a wonderful counselor, guiding us through this life with His Word and that still small voice inside of us. We have peace because He is the Mighty God who can overcome any enemy we might ever face and give us the victory handily. We have peace because we no longer have to worry about what happens when we die – the Everlasting Father has assured us of eternal life NOW. We have peace because He is the Prince of Peace and as long as our thoughts are on Him and our prayers remind us of everything He has already done, then His transcendent peace will cover our lives. What a bounty of Christmas presents we have received from God beloved. Have you opened all of these yet in your life? Don’t leave them under the tree. God was born this day but He died a death we deserved to purchase these gifts for us. Open them today. Merry Christmas!

    Reverend Anthony Wade – 12/24/12

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