Correggio, Nativity (Holy Night), 1528-30
“4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
Aren’t you glad that “the fullness of time” had come over 2,000 years ago and that you are on this side of that mark in time? Our God allowed being born into our world like us in order to be born under the law, live the perfect life we could not, die on the cross and be raised to new life.
Martin Luther once said that, “”Nearly the entire Scripture and the understanding of all theology hangs on the right understanding of law and gospel.” He also wrote: “Whoever knows well how to distinguish the gospel from the law should give thanks to God and know that he is a real theologian.” Are you able to do that…to distinguish the gospel from the law? If so, we can praise God that He has given us good teaching from His Word and from the people He has called to disciple us. Most of all, we can praise Him today for sending His Son in order to make a difference between the gospel and the law. For taking us as slaves to the law and making us adopted children of God. Now free to live as one of God’s own…out of gratefulness instead of striving to be accepted.
There is no shortage of things we think we can do to get God’s acceptance and blessing in the household of Christ: be good people, go to church, pray, serve, go to Sunday school, and on and on and on. Praise God that we have full acceptance already through Christ’s perfection. There is no need to add up our merits or demerits. We have all of Christ’s merits. This is our inheritance, a gift to us from the gift Himself.
C.H. Spurgeon once said:
“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you’ll never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold on Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we will never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not your hold on Christ that saves you — it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you — it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument — it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but Jesus, the source of your hope — look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. We will never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh on your mind; when you wake in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him.”
These are thoughts I’m asking today…
Am I moved to be in awe of how far God has gone to rescue and care for me? How does his rescuing and care impact my attitudes and actions in my current daily circumstances? How would focusing on His rescuing and care of me vs. my own actions change my heart and walk with Christ?
This is an excerpt from my Christmas devotional Kindle book, Beyond the Nativity, available this week for only.99! Reviews on Amazon would be so appreciated!
Beyond the Nativity consists of twenty devotions (four weeks of devotions at five devotions per week). A different theme of the incarnation is presented for each week.
Week 1: The Description
Week 2: The Purpose
Week 3: The Manifestation
Week 4: The Importance and Rewards
Each week’s meditation topic has five devotions which include a scripture with a short devotion to read and a historical artistic piece to view. Some of the devotions include lyrics to a traditional Christmas hymn.
Is it possible that people who love Jesus strive so hard to keep the nativity in mind during Christmas that our celebrating is mostly about that one moment of Christ’s birth? While that is right and wonderful, we can go deeper by meditating on more than the moment of or the story of His birth. Thinking upon the deep aspects of God coming to us in the flesh has the ability to give us great joy throughout the Christmas season and throughout the year. I pray that you are blessed as you think upon Emmanuel, God With Us, this Christmas.