When God Removes His Mask

December 25, 2013

Unknown-1For centuries before he was born, mankind wondered what God looked like.  On this night, God took off His mask and showed us what He looked like in the form of the Christ child.

Jesus was in heaven.  He didn’t have to come from heaven to us but he loved us enough to do that.
If I were Jesus, I wouldn’t want to leave heaven.  I would be content there with angels singing and worshipping me.  Guess it’s a good thing I’m not Jesus.  (Sometimes I don’t want to be inconvenienced to help someone, until I think of how Jesus was inconvenienced for me.)
If I were God, I wouldn’t want to send my Son down here to earth to be treated the way that He was treated.  He left heaven and couldn’t even get a hotel room to be born into.  He had to come into this dark world in a BARN!
That’s not the way a King should be treated.  He left heaven and came to a dark world that didn’t appreciate His sacrifice at all.  He left heaven, knowing it would lead to the most horrible death ever…. crucifixion, but He came anyway.
What brought the baby from heaven?  He came because He loves you.
Why did God send his son?  I wouldn’t send any of my three sons to die for any of you.  (Though on some days I might be wiling to spare one for you to make a slave or something, depending upon what they’ve done that day- but that’s another blog post.)
The truth is, God sent His only Son to die a horrible death because He knew it was the only way to restore a relationship with you.  He loves you.
The baby Jesus is the perfect picture of what God looks like.  Giving to us EVERYTHING when it makes no sense.  Sparing His own Son for His enemies (us).
A few years ago I went to Mammoth Cave.  The guide led us into a HUGE room, told us to stand still, and he cut off the lights.  The place went so dark that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  I’ve never seen it that dark before.  After a few minutes, he lit a match.  It seemed like it lit the whole place, it was so bright.  That one small match cut through the darkest dark imaginable.
Jesus came into a world as a baby.  The world was so dark, so separated from God by sin, that we had no hope.  Yet, the small flame in the form of the Christ Child gives us hope and life in a world that is hopelessly dark without the Light!
In John 8:12, Jesus said this:
“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
We crucified the Son, and we put the light in a tomb, but the light didn’t stay in the grave.
If it had, we wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas.
  • Death couldn’t hold the light that came on Christmas.
  • Satan couldn’t put out the light that came on Christmas.
  • Demons thought they had put an end to the baby’s mission but they were wrong.
  • The light had come into the world.
The baby Jesus, the light, came on Christmas and was born into a manger.  He grew up, showed us that He was the light by His love, was crucifed, and the grave couldn’t hold the light.
Jesus was the first Christmas gift and the best gift we could ever get.  God removed the mask of his nature, love, personality, and compassion when Light came into the darkness in the form of a baby.  Merry Christmas!  The LIGHT has come!
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Is Your Life Stagnant?

June 23, 2011

I love being in the mountains and seeing a brook or stream flowing from the top of the mountain and sitting there reading my Bible or just thinking.  There is a sense of God’s presence there to me as I watch the water flow over the rocks and down the stream.

Normal people, however,  don’t see a pool of stagnant water and feel refreshed.  In fact, I think about the opposite when my nose catches a good whif.  It makes me want to see my lunch again.  The smell is enough to make a weak stomach gag.

Webster defines “stagnant” as “not flowing in a current or stream.”  Stagnant water stinks.   When it stops flowing, the life seems to go out of it.

God hasn’t designed us to be stagnant either.  The Bible says that the lukewarm life makes God gag too. God’s mercies are “new every morning.”  (Lam. 3:19-23)  He isn’t a God that you can be in a close relationship with and feel stagnant.  He is always at work around us.  If we aren’t involved in His work and seeing it on a daily basis, it’s our own fault.  When we seek Him we’ll find Him.  When we’re too busy, we don’t take the time to look.

That’s why we always talk about taking your next step at MJLifeChurch.  We believe that no matter where you are in your walk with Christ, there is always a “Next Step” to take because God is always at work and He is inviting us to be involved with Him.

As amazing as it is to me that God is inviting us to be involved with Him in His work, perhaps even more amazing to me is that we often ignore that invitation because we get ourselves too busy.  If you’re too busy to help your neighbor, take food to a sick person, or invest some time in your church, then you’re too busy.  Even though you always seem to be moving and going, you have become stagnant in your spiritual life. …the only part of your life that really matters because EVERYTHING is tied to the spiritual.

How do you break out of the stagnant life?  Decide to make your spiritual walk the most important part of your life.  Sometimes we have to give up some things that we love for some things that we love even more.  God should have the first spot in your life.  Everything else should fit around your relationship with Him.  (Quiet time with Him, Investing in leading areas at church, helping people, etc.)

The challenge is that most people fill up their lives with work, soccer, hobbies, and everything else that they can fit in it and then try to fill the cracks with God to help them feel better about themselves.  They blow off church if they happen to be too “tired” from all of the other stuff that they have crammed into their lives.

Take an honest look at your life right now.  Are there changes that you need to make for the sake of your relationship with God?  Then do it now!  There’s too much at stake to spend the rest of your life in a stagnant state of living.

Daniel Fast

January 1, 2011

“To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.” -Craig Groeshel

 

It’s a New Year and it’s time for those resolutions that we make every year.  Many times as believers we say we want to grow closer to God in this next year.  If we want to make changes or really know God better, we need to do something radical.  Andy Stanley says, “The system that you’ve been using is perfectly designed to get you the results that you’ve been getting.” What are you going to do that is radical that will jolt your life into the direction that you know that you need to be going?

MJLifeChurch.tv is participating with LifeChurch.tv in the Daniel Fast for 21 days. Fasting is a great way to push aside ourselves and our wants and focus on God. It reminds us that it’s not all about us. Fasting has the potential to draw us closer to God and helps us refocus on Him. If you have been at a spiritual standstill or you simply want to grow in your relationship with Christ, I hope you’ll join us for these 21 days.

In the “Daniel Fast,” the idea is to limit what we eat to the things that Daniel ate when he requested to stay with the diet that he learned when he was home serving God before he was taken captive.  Basically, he only ate veggies, fruit, and nuts. He avoided all meats and drink, other than water.  You can research more on the Daniel Fast at and the allowed foods here:

http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/

Daniel could have had the best food from the King’s table but he felt like that would get in the way of his relationship with God. God blessed his devotion, dedication, and heart.

The key to fasting for spiritual growth is not simply going without food. If that’s all we do, we’re simply starving ourselves.  We also need to intentionally draw to God during this time through prayer, meditation, and Bible reading. Otherwise all we accomplish is maybe loosing a little weight.  I hope you’re goal is more than shedding a pound or two, though some of us could definitely benefit from that too!

In the above quote, Craig Groeschel said, “To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.”  If your relationship with God has grown stale.   If need some answers or you feel like you need to trust God more.  If you just want to grow in your faith, join us beginning on January 3rd, with the Daniel Fast.  Ask God for something BIG that only He can do through you.  Let me know how it goes for you!

One thing that I’ve learned as I’ve tried to live as a Christ follower is that life is tough.  It didn’t take me long to discover that life can sometimes seem very unfair.  I think sometimes Christians think that once they accept Christ into their life, everything will begin running smoothly in their life.  That’s not always the case.

Jesus said that “in this life, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33).  If you’re not in a trial now, one thing is for sure.  You will have them in the future.  Hard times come.   Going through tough times is not an issue of being unlucky or lacking faith.  It’s just life in a messed up world.

In tough times, I often hear statements like these:

“I know that God loves me BUT I don’t understand why I have to go through life hurting like this.”

“I know God is sovereign BUT if that’s the case, why can’t I find a job?”

The problem with these statements is that the BUT is in the wrong place. The Bible tells the story of Job and others who loved God with all of their hearts, however, things went wrong in their lives.

Job didn’t throw in the towel when life came crashing down on him. He kept trusting God. Job 13:15 quotes Job as saying, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust Him.” Job was trusting with everything he had…even his own life.

Now, back to the BUT being in the wrong place. Let’s rearrange the above sentences with the BUT in the right place.

“I am hurting alot and I don’t understand, BUT I know that God loves me. I trust Him.”

“I haven’t found a job yet BUT I hope in God because He is sovereign. He knows what I need and He cares for me.”

The difference in the statements is the placement of the BUT. One focuses on the challenge and the other focuses on God.  The first two has the focus on our limitations and the other focuses on how big God is.

Let’s focus our “BUTS” on who God is and not focus so much on our challenges. When we focus on who God is and not so much on our challenges, those challenges seem to get a bit smaller in comparison to the God that we serve.

Does any of this make sense to you?