Moving On From the Manger …. DECEMBER 29, 2019
We have just come through the time of year when we celebrated the brith of Jesus. We have seen nativity scenes, heard beautiful songs of celebration, and watched the reenactments of the Christmas story. What an eventful time it was for Joseph and Mary to have been traveling, only to find no rooms available. Then Mary gives birth in a stable, and shepherds come, telling of angels and their sining concerning a new born king. Joseph, in the next few days, registered as he was told, and soon after Jesus’ birth, he took him to the temple and performed everything according to the Law[. Then] they returned into Galilee, to their own town Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. Luke 2:39-40 ESV Do you suppose when they arrived home people said, “Let us see Jesus, God’s Son.” I speculate they perhaps wanted to see the baby but didn’t realize they were looking at God in the flesh. Jesus was recognized as Joseph and Mary’s new baby boy. Wise men came looking for baby Jesus, so they might worship this new born King, which concerned a man recognized as King Herod. When the wise men did not return to tell Herod of the baby’s location as instructed, this made him very angry. Herod then instructed all baby boy two years and younger to be killed. Joseph, instructed by an angel in a dream, fled to Egypt by night. When Herod died, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned from Egypt to Nazareth. (Matthew chapter 2) At twelve years of age, Jesus went to the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem with His family. A day’s travel back from Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary realized Jesus wasn’t with them and traveled back to Jerusalem to find him. After three days of searching, they found Jesus in the Temple sitting with the teachers. (Luke 2:41-47) From age twelve until Jesus began his earthly ministry… about thirty… we do not know much concerning the events in his life. We know this however…. He never sinned. It is important to remember the manger, but it is also important to move on from the manger. The manger is obviously a significant event, as are all historical accounts of Jesus, but it’s only the beginning. Jesus lived as a little boy, then grew into a man and did so in such a way that he was honored by man and God. He has called us to be his disciples/followers of the way….His way— that we might be a part of all that God is doing.
Move toward knowing God:
Can we really know God? Yes, but we must remember He has first made himself known to us. The more a person wants to know God, the more they will seek the things of God. The scripture principle of Jeremiah 29:13 should always be remembered….. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (ESV) Knowing God is not an attempt to make God fit into my world, but as a seeker it is wanting to become a part of God’s world. To be a part of God’s world, you will need to honor him as God by doing his will. Doing his will is to love. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1John 4:8 ESV This takes us to the next point, which is to love God.
Move closer in loving God:
If you love me you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV I know people might say this sounds like a works-based Christianity, but it isn’t. T obey is better than sacrifice of time, money , or whatever else. (1 Samuel 15:22) Loving God is loving who God is and what God calls us to… Holiness. If it was important enough for God to write it down then it is important enough to honor God by living His Word on purpose. Jesus was asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:36-39 ESV
Move toward living for God:
In him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 What in your life can only be explained by God? Please let this question take root in your thought process. It’s not being good, moral, or a whole host of other words. It is about who God really is to you…. Master, Savior, King, Lord… the one who redeemed you by dying on a cross, taking the penalty of your sin upon himself. Do you live and sing daily the hymn “I’ll live for him who died for me, My Savior and My God!” (Lyrics by Ralph Hudson)? Love is a choice, not just a feeling. Feelings were not what kept Jesus on the cross and feelings will not make you a Christian. Living for God is the result of knowing him and loving him on a level that takes action. These actions are not just what others can see, but it is how you see and know that God is in your life. I am not implying perfection, but I am saying that every day you should move closer to him in your walk and relationship with him. The grace by which we have been redeemed should motivate you to live thankful when people are not looking.
To know God is to love him, and to love him is to live for him. We have heard the saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” referring to Christmas. Jesus is the reason for our every day. Christmas is not the only season in which we recognize Jesus; rather we are more seasoned in him as we grow to know, live for, and love him each day. Here are some challenges to make this happen in your life.
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 ESV The more you know about Jesus, the more you will know about God, for Jesus was God in the flesh. Study the life of Jesus, and know all you can about him.
Make the decision to love God on purpose by doing something every day that says, “God, I love you.” And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; 2 John 1:6 ESV Never forget Love is the greatest commandment….. every commandment is linked to love. (Matthew 22:40)
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22 ESV Be someone approved by God… Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV You can’t live in a way that you know nothing about.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David