Names of Christ: My Redeemer
One of the names of Christ is Author and Finisher of our faith found in Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV): Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
When I think of this verse, especially in the context of Christmas, I think of the great gift that Jesus was and is. He came to this earth in the most humble of circumstances, born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah that God’s people had been waiting for, for centuries. And centuries of prophecy and His life bore that out. In His life, Jesus performed miracles and wonders and taught all of those around Him how to live.
But it wasn’t until His death on the cross that all of us were saved. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NKJV), Jesus said on the cross. Jesus endured the cross so that all of us—anyone who believes—might be saved and have eternal life.
And so, in the season of giving and receiving gifts, the greatest gift we could ever receive is Jesus—the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Glory to God and Merry Christmas!
A Revealed Savior
by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
I wish I could ask the Magi what it was like after they returned to their homeland. After watching the skies for years, journeying for weeks, and seeing Jesus with their own eyes, how did they return to the life they once knew? Did they ever hear about the rest of Jesus’s life? Did they realize the Jew who was killed on the tree was the same child to whom they offered gifts befitting a king? Did they understand that his birth was a precursor to a far greater event?
We don’t know much with certainty about these men. They brought three gifts—gold, incense, and myrrh—but there may have been dozens of Magi who went on that journey. These wise men were certainly Gentiles, probably from Persia. They acted as something close to astrologer-priests in their homeland, we think, marking the movements of the heavens to find out its impact on man. Judging by their gifts and their titles, their status and wealth came close to royalty.
Now consider what we definitely know about them: these Magi considered it worth their time, efforts, riches, and worship to come worship at a Bethlehem house.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” – Matthew 2:10-11
These pagans searched for the Messiah as no one else did. Their adventure is an extraordinary tale of God’s grace mixed with man’s hunger, as they followed the star God set up in the heavens with single-minded devotion. They were on a search for God, who had given them the signs to find him. I think these men, who knew so much less than I do about the Messiah, sought him harder than I ever have.
Consider Matthew Henry’s commentary on what transpired:
“They might have said, ‘If such a prince be born, we shall hear of him shortly in our own country, and it will be time enough then to pay our homage to him.’ But so impatient were they to be better acquainted with him, that they took a long journey on purpose to enquire after him. Note, Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him.”
Personally, I don’t think the Magi were ever the same after their encounter in the Bethlehem house. They invested themselves to finding the King of the Jews, and he revealed himself to them. I think all other stars must have paled in comparison.
Streams in the Desert – December 24
He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching.—Gen 24:63
We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe,” as someone has said, “in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.” Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.
“Reverie,” it has been said, “is the Sunday of the mind.” Let us often in these days give our mind a “Sunday,” in which it will do no manner of work but simply lie still, and look upward, and spread itself out before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, to be soaked and moistened with the dews of Heaven. Let there be intervals when we shall do nothing, think nothing, plan nothing, but just lay ourselves on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”
Time so spent is not lost time. The fisherman cannot be said to be losing time when he is mending his nets, nor the mower when he takes a few minutes to sharpen his scythe at the top of the ridge. City men cannot do better than follow the example of Isaac, and, as often as they can, get away from the fret and fever of life into fields. Wearied with the heat and din, the noise and bustle, communion with nature is very grateful; it will have a calming, healing influence. A walk through the fields, a saunter by the seashore or across the daisy-sprinkled meadows, will purge your life from sordidness, and make the heart beat with new joy and hope.
A Merry Christmas
By: Charles Spurgeon, Park Street Chapel, New York, circa 1860
“And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Job 1:4-5
Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 8:9-12
The text gives a licence. Now, ye souls who would deny to your fellow-men all sorts of mirth, come and listen to the merry bell of this text, while it gives a licence to the righteous especially—a licence that they meet together in their houses, and eat and drink, and praise their God. In Cromwell’s days, the Puritans thought it an ungodly thing for men to keep Christmas. They, therefore, tried to put it down, and the common crier went through the street, announcing that Christmas was henceforth no more to be kept, it being a popish, if not a heathenish ceremony. Now, you do not suppose that after the crier had made the proclamation, any living Englishman took any notice of it; at least, I can scarcely imagine that any did, except to laugh at it; for it is idle thus to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Although we do not keep the fast as papists, not even as a commemorative festival, yet there is something in old associations that makes us enjoy the day in which a man may shake off the cares of business, and relax with his little ones. God forbid I should be such a Puritan as to proclaim the annihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the labouring man. I wish there were half a dozen holidays in the year. I wish there were more opportunities for the poor to rest; though I would not have as many saint’s days as there are in Romish countries; yet, if we had but one or two more days in which the poor man’s household, and the rich man’s family might meet together, it might perhaps be better for us. However, I am quite certain that all the preaching in the world will not put Christmas down.
For meditation: Perhaps you are completely opposed to the keeping of Christmas! That is your right! But you can still benefit from the holiday and show the joy of the Lord to those who are going to be with you.