so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
From: Our Daily Bread
Bethlehem . . . out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel. Micah 5:2
“How much longer until it’s Christmas?” When my children were little, they asked this question repeatedly. Although we used a daily Advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas, they still found the waiting excruciating.
We can easily recognize a child’s struggle with waiting, but we might underestimate the challenge it can involve for all of God’s people. Consider, for instance, those who received the message of the prophet Micah, who promised that out of Bethlehem would come a “ruler over Israel” (5:2) who would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord” (v. 4). The initial fulfillment of this prophecy came when Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1) —after the people had waited some 700 years. But some of the prophecy’s fulfillment is yet to come. For we wait in hope for the return of Jesus, when all of God’s people will “live securely” and “his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Mic. 5:4). Then we will rejoice greatly, for our long wait will be over.
Most of us don’t find waiting easy, but we can trust that God will honor His promises to be with us as we wait (Matt. 28:20). For when Jesus was born in little Bethlehem, He ushered in life in all its fullness (see John 10:10)—life without condemnation. We enjoy His presence with us today while we eagerly wait for His return.
We wait, Father God, and we hope. We wait, dear Jesus, as we long for peace to break out. We wait, comforting Spirit, for all the world to experience Your love.
We wait for God’s promises, believing they will come true.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
Have you ever felt completely out of your comfort zone, totally removed from all that’s familiar? It’s the feeling of being displaced. We cherish familiar settings, places that we have grown accustomed to, places that are compatible to our relationships and lifestyle. In a fast-moving, mobile culture that pushes us from here to there like tumbleweeds, we long for a familiar environment to provide sanity and serenity. For most of us, displacement can be stressful and scary.
For some, displacement is more than a fear—it’s a reality. Many permanently displaced people walk the streets of our inner cities; some by their own doing, others through the winds of “fate.” In the marketplace, many find themselves displaced from jobs, and all the meaning and fulfillment they received from being productive in the workforce has suddenly disappeared. Throughout history, wars have displaced sons and daughters. Think of all who were displaced by Katrina. Cruel and oppressive regimes have spawned pilgrimages of millions who fled the tyranny of fear, leaving the comforts of their native land to move to unknown places.
Whatever the cause, displacement is an unwelcome and unsettling prospect. It almost always means loss and sacrifice.
That’s what strikes me about the wonder of what happened at Christmas. In order to rescue us from this fallen place, Jesus became a displaced person. He relinquished the privilege of reigning as Creator and King in order to incarcerate Himself in the body of a child. He spent 33 years walking on this planet rejected by His own, scoffed by His family, misunderstood by both political and religious leaders, and ultimately crucified. Why would He have voluntarily and so dramatically displaced Himself from the grandeur of His glory and all the marvelous perks of paradise to subject Himself to that?!
Some of us might willingly be displaced as an act of sacrifice if the cause were great enough. That’s why some leave family and friends to go to war. But, as Paul notes in Romans 5:7, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Which makes the next verse all the more incredible. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8).
The stunning point of Christmas is that God considered my needs and the worth of my relationship to Him to be sufficient cause to endure the trials of displacement. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the apostle Paul wrote, “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus displaced Himself to guarantee a permanent place where eternally I can be secure, safe, and satisfied without any fear of ever being displaced. I find it interesting that what I am longing for here can only be realized there. Thanks be to God, my permanent address is already assigned to me and, if you know Christ as Savior, so is yours.
Let’s not miss the wonder of what really happened at Christmas. Jesus Christ was the most significantly displaced person in history—and He did it willingly so that permanent displacement would never be our fear. What amazing love!
December 3, 2017
If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality. Take care to see while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, that you yourself are rooted and grounded by faith in God. Never rely on the clearness of your presentation, but as you give your explanation make sure that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people.
Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God or the reality of redemption. Base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God Himself. Once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be moved again. That is the meaning of sanctification. God disapproves of our human efforts to cling to the concept that sanctification is merely an experience, while forgetting that even our sanctification must also be sanctified (see John 17:19). I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet.