Monday, December 24, 2007

Remembering The Jesus of Christmas


It is Christmas Eve as I write.

And we all know the Christian warnings about remembering Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season. Keep Christ in Christmas. And these cliches have become cliches because they are valid.

Still, the baby in a manger was just the beginning.

It's good to celebrate the birth of Christ. But the Son of God didn't come to earth for the purpose of being a baby. As He grew in years, He grew in wisdom and stature, as a man. He was and is God, but now God with us, Emmanuel.

And He came to us, dwelt with us, tabernacled with us, in a human body, on Earth, that He might die to pay for our sins, so that we might be saved, forgiven. And then He rose again from the dead, and lives today, in a body at the right hand of the Father, but by His Spirit in us, who believe in Him.

Have you ever done Bible memorization? I have.

If you have, one verse you probably haven't memorized is 2 Tim. 2:8.

It's something important that Paul the Apostle told his spiritual son and protege, Timothy. He tells Timothy to remember something. It's something that you wouldn't think Timothy would need to be reminded of. But he did need to be reminded of it, and so do you, and I.

2 Tim. 2:8:

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.“

Why would Paul remind Timothy to remember Jesus?

1. To be strong in grace.

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Strong in the Grace? Sounds like a contradiction.

But life is tough, isn’t it? Timothy had things to do. And so do you.

These things require the grace of God. Remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh?

We can’t be strong in grace if we don’t remember Jesus, that He is alive (risen from the dead). He's not just a dead Savior, He is a living Savior, and may I say it like Jesus did?...He calls us his friends.

Can you imagine? We are FOJ's. Friends of Jesus. The Creator of the Universe, the Lord of all Creation, the almighty God, calls us His friends.

And the Lord wants us to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Do you ever hear preachers, or other Christian folks, all they talk about is sin? Now if you're preaching through the Bible and you come to something about sin, preach it. But do you notice how some think the most important subject in the world is sin? I'm talking about Christian brothers and sisters. They think the most important subject in the world is sin.

Now sin is important. As Christians we're against it, aren't we? But we don't need a huge amount of teaching about it, because we are very familiar with it, aren't we? It's not something we need to be constantly reminded of, or to be constantly dwelling on.

What we do need to be constantly reminded of, and to be dwelling on is Jesus Christ, and His astounding grace. That's what honors Christ, and that's what gives us the light to walk by, the light to walk in the Spirit. And the Bible says that when we walk by the Spirit we won't fulfill the lust of the flesh.

See how that works? If we dwell on sin, we end up trying to defeat it in the flesh, which just compounds the mess. It's like trying to clean honey off of your hand with your other hand, and both hands end up sticky with nowhere to go.

But if we dwell on Jesus, who gives us the water of life, He by grace fills us with His Spirit, and we walk with clean hands. It's grace we need to obsess over, not the Law and sin. And the grace will minimize the sin, as we realize freshly that we are not under Law but under grace, and we are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ, Rom. 6:11.

"The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." –John 1:17

2. Because of His past faithfulness.

Don’t you just love the Book of Psalms?

An entire Christian life could be spent meditating on the Psalms. Maybe no other book so exalts God as the powerful creator of the universe, and maybe no other book exalts God as the faithful provider of mercy for His children.

He is faithful.

And the Psalm-writers, mostly David, write over and over about remembering the Lord.

I want to mention some things the Psalmist says about the Lord, and just let them wash over you.

Take a few moments. Be still, and know He is God.

Remember Him for these things. His:

Loving-kindness
Mercy
Word
Salvation
Faithfulness
Deliverance
Justice
Compassion
Righteousness
Strength
Watchful eye
Blessing
Protection

We are so prone to forget these things, and partly because we are so prone to forget Him.

We live in a “now” world.

We have things to do, people to see, presents to buy, things to arrange, go go go!

And we've got problems, and we have them NOW.

And we know we will have more problems in the future.

And so we’re prone to worry.

But then we remember Jesus.
That He is born in Bethlehem.
That He died for us, for the forgiveness of our sins.
That He is risen.
That He is here.
And not just here, but in us (Christ in you, the hope of glory).

And we remember His faithfulness in the past.

How He rescued us from that storm of life (even a literal storm, maybe).
How He comforted us in that loss we had.
How we had this thorn in our flesh, but His grace was sufficient.
How we lost hope in a certain person and then God turned them around.
How we had that financial setback or lost that job, and He provided.
How we thought we just couldn’t get through that one thing, and He brought us through it.

And so we remember His past faithfulness to us.

We remember Him as we walk through the day, and we remember Him as we lie on our beds at night, like David did.

We remember Him as our Rock and our Fortress, and our Deliverer, and our Friend, and we long for Him like the deer who pants after the waterbrook.

And we love Him. We love Him.

And we remember that He loved us first. Even when we were unloveable. And maybe we don’t feel all that loveable even today. But He loves us anyway. And so we love Him.

I became a Christian in 1976.

Contemporary Christian Music was a brand new phenomenon.

Four years before I became a Christian, there was a man named John Fischer who wrote a song. And it’s a song I have never forgotten in 30 years. It’s simple, almost simplistic, but it sticks in your mind, and it blesses you, and then you realize how profound the simple little song is.

It’s called the “All Day Song”.

"Love Him in the morning when you see the sun arising,
Love Him in the evening ‘cause He took you through the day.
And in the in-between times when you feel the pressure coming,
Remember that He loves you and He promises to stay."


Have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Merry Christmas.

3 comments:

dec said...

If we dwell on sin, we end up trying to defeat it in the flesh

instead...
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.

Thanks, Terry.
Merry Christmas.

Terry Rayburn said...

Thanks, dec.

Reminds me of...

2 Cor. 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

When we turn our eyes on Him, we are transformed.

Bhedr said...

Amen! Hey Terry, my wife bought me this new CD set for Christmas called "The Word Of Promise". It is the NKJV read by differant actors and set to music and theatrical sound effects. Michael W Smith sings the Promise song at the end. Man it is wonderful. Talk about gazing at Jesus. I listen to this in my truck with a heart of prayer and its like audibly hearing Jesus constantly talking to me. Praise God. I highly recomend it for your travels. You will be blessed.

Happy New Year,

Brian