Monthly Archives: December 2012

JOY TO THE WORLD

We have just finished what, I am sure, for most of us was a wonderful
Thanksgiving, and now the world’s attention is turned toward Christmas – the celebration of the Birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus…Messiah… the long-awaited One who was prophesied to come in the Garden of Eden!

LUKE 2:8-11

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them; and there were very afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ (Messiah) the Lord. (emphasis added)

Most all of us have read that Scripture… or have heard it read… especially  at this time of year, as we gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The angel said it was “…good tidings of GREAT JOY….” and to me that sounds like GOOD NEWS!  GREAT JOY!

I don’t know about you, but if something gives me joy, then it’s GOOD NEWS! Now we are all pretty excited when a baby is born… a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew… a tiny infant just brings smiles to everyone’s face. The birth announcements to out … we celebrate with the new parents their joy.

But THIS “JOY” is something different. An angel appears to shepherds and announces that he is bring you news of GREAT JOY to ALL people… not just the immediate family and friends…but to ALL people. How can this be? What is so special about this particular baby?

We have to celebrate not just the birth of this Child, but His life and what He accomplished in His life, His death, His burial and HIS RESURRECTION! We don’t just ‘leave this Special Baby in the manger in Bethlehem… He didn’t stay there… He grew up… He walked this earth that He had created… He walked among us teaching us how to live… was crucified for OUR sin, was buried and on the 3rd day, He arose from that grave, conquering sin and death and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, ever living to make intercession for us…. THAT’S GREAT GOOD NEWS!

Now, let’s turn to Colossians 1:20-22: (Living New Testament paraphrase): “It was through what His Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to Him. All things in heaven and on earth for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by His blood. This includes you who were once so far away from God, you were his enemies and hated Him. And were separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now, He has brought you back as His friends and He has done this through the death on the cross of His own human body. And now, as a result, Christ has brought you into the very presence of God and you are standing there before Him with nothing left again you. Nothing that He could even chide you for.”  And then the last part of verse 23: “And I, Paul, have the JOY of telling it to others.” (emphasis added)

2Corinthians 5:17-19 (The Amplified Bible translation) “Therefore, if any person is ingrafted in Christ the Messiah, he is a new creature altogether, a new creation; the old previous moral and spiritual condition has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come! But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself, received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation – that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him. It was God personally present in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against (men) their trespasses but canceling them and committing to us the message of reconciliation – of the restoration to favor.” 

So just what is THE GOOD NEWS? Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Good News) to everyone. Isn’t is wonderful to have a message of GOOD NEWS in a world of so much bad news!

In Colossians 1:6 (Living New Testament) it says “This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world and changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours the very first day you heard  it and understood about God’s great kindness to sinners.”

So the GOOD NEWS is a message that CHANGES LIVES! If what you are hearing preached doesn’t change your life, then there’s something wrong with what’s being preached! There is POWER in the Gospel to change your life… to break the power of the devil. Paul said: “It’s changing lives everywhere just as it changed your life when you heard it and understood….”

Number 1: You must HEAR the Gospel. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul said the Gospel changed lives because they HEARD the Word of God.

Then Paul also said you not only need to hear the Good News, you need to UNDERSTAND the Good News. You understand the GOOD NEWS! And Paul tells us what that Good News is: GOD’S GREAT KINDNESS TO SINNERS!

The Holy Spirit is saying that the Good News is a message about God’s great kindness to sinners. That’s our message! God’s message is not a message of condemnation… it’s GOOD NEWS! That God was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself… so that we who were once lost and undone can be reconciled to God! We are reconciled to God through the Blood of Jesus.

There have been many people crucified on crosses down through the ages. Crucifixion was Rome’s preferred method of killing people during Jesus’ time on earth. It continued for many years. We are hearing about it now taking place in the Middle East against Christians who defy the terrorists in their country. It is one of the most inhumane, torturous ways to die. But when Jesus was crucified, there was something different that transpired. When He was lifted up, something tremendous happened. Only when we get into eternity will we ever understand the depth of the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). That’s God’s message! God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved! (John 3:17)

When Jesus was lifted up on that cross, the earth shook … there was an earthquake. The sun his its face. The earth trembled. He cried: “My God, My God, what have You forsaken me?” What was happening? The Bible says that the veil of the temple that hid the very presence of Almighty God – the Holy of Holies – was ripped in two from the top to the bottom!

What does all this mean?

Jesus came into the world as God’s Lamb. He came to bear our sins. He took every sin of Adam and Eve, down to the last man, woman and child that will ever live. Every curse word; every act of adultery, fornication, murder; every lie… EVERY SIN! He took it all! John said: “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” He took our sins. He took our sicknesses. (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24)

The Bible tells us that He tasted death for every man. Not just physical death but spiritual death – He was separated from God. Some people might disagree with that statement about spiritual death, but what is death? It is a separation from…. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body (James 2:26). Spiritual death is separation from God. Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus was separated from God -so you and I would have to be! He tasted the death of being separated from God so we wouldn’t have to be! GLORY!

Jesus also took our judgment! The judgment of our sin that belonged to you and me – our wickedness… our rebellion… Jesus took it in our place! You might say, “…well, I’m not wicked… I’m a good person… I give to the poor… I’m nice to people… I’m not rebellious, I’m a religious person … I go to church every Sunday….” Truth is, NO ONE is going to get to heaven because they are a ‘good person,’ or they are ‘religious’… God said that our righteousness… the very best that we can do… is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6). It’s like rags wrapped around a leprous person with all that corruption running out of it. That’s the stench of OUR own righteousness… But thank God, HE TOOK OUR JUDGMENT!

He bore the wrath of God upon Himself. He became what we were that we might become what He is. He took our sins that we might have His righteousness. He took our place so that we could have His place. He went to hell so we wouldn’t have to to hell… we can go to heaven. He tasted our death. He took our judgment. He took our sicknesses and diseases. He took the curse that was due us. He took our sins. THAT IS WHAT GOD’S SON DID TO CLEAR A PATH FOR US … FOR ALL… TO COME TO HIM!

THAT’S THE MESSAGE: ALL Your past does’t matter. Where you are doesn’t matter. What you have done doesn’t matter. GOD HAS CLEARED THE PATH FOR YOU TO COME TO HIM!  and that Path is through the Lord Jesus Christ!

THAT IS GREAT GOOD NEWS! And that is what we celebrate this Christmas. That Baby was born for purpose! The Good News is that He fulfilled that purpose and no one has to ‘stay where they are’ stuck in sin and death! You can be free through the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God!

Maybe you’ve never heard these words before… maybe you’ve heard something but never understood. Remember what we read in Colossians 1:6 (Living New Testament) it says “This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world and changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours the very first day you heard  it and understood about God’s great kindness to sinners.”

Now you have heard it… and if you now understand it, you can make Jesus the Lord of your life. Just lay one hand on your heart and lift the other to heaven and say: Oh God, without Jesus, I’m lost… I don’t want to be lost…. I want to be saved. I have heard the message of the Good News of Jesus and I understand what Jesus did for me.  I ask Jesus to come into my heart and save me right now. I repent of my sins. I am so glad for the Good News of Jesus. I declare that Jesus is my Lord from this every moment on. You are the Lord of my life and I’ll never be ashamed of you, and wherever I go, I shall tell the world of this Good News!

Hallelujah! If you prayed that prayer from your heart, you have passed from death into Life and your name is now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! And we shall all rejoice together in Heaven!

Thank you, LORD, for the GREAT GOOD NEWS of this Christmas Season! JESUS IS LORD !

MERRY, JOYOUS CHRISTMAS!