Monday— The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
The Greek god Zeus supposedly came from two dysfunctional beings battling for power, and the story keeps getting weirder. The Egyptian god Baal was even more perverted and his origins sound like a tale invented after having a few too many.
Siddhartha Gautama reinvented himself, came to some conclusions about the meaning of life, and called himself the Buddha. Socrates, Plato, Alexander the Great, and Adolf Hitler made significant contributions to the world and many considered them godlike. But none comes close to the Bible’s claim about Jesus Christ: Virgin-born, which makes Him the Son of God.
If we are going to claim to believe in Jesus, we don’t get to pick and choose which facts about Him we accept. It is all or nothing; otherwise, this “Great Moral Teacher” was a liar or a lunatic. The ancient Greeks and Romans continually molded their gods and goddesses into their own images. If they needed someone to blame when the crops failed, they’d make up a god and a story to go with it. When Jesus came, His message blew people away: “I am like nothing you’ve ever seen before, so don’t try to compare me to anyone you know. I came from heaven and will return to heaven after I have paid the debt humanity owes God. I am the only hope for all of you.” No one has ever said anything like that and then rose from the dead to prove it.
Final Thought: Jesus is not one in a list of gods. He is supernatural and only when we accept that, can we know Him.
Prayer: Father, it is your Son Jesus who gave me the right to call you that. Thank you that Jesus stands high above all other gods. He is compared to none. I receive all that He is and believe all that you say about Him. In His holy name, amen.
Tuesday— In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:1
How do you explain the beginning of something that is eternal? It’s sort of mind-blowing. Have you tried to wrap your brain around the concept of forever-and-ever-and-ever-and-ever…? That’s what John was doing when he began to write his gospel. How could he find words to explain the Eternal One becoming Man? He had to start somewhere, so he started with the word “Logos.” In Greek, “logos” means the message behind a word. There are other terms, such as “rhema,” that mean the words we speak. But grasping for something deeper, John wrote: “In the beginning, the Message already existed in the triune God.”
The word “trinity” is not in the Bible, but the concept is all over it. God has existed forever in three Persons we call the Trinity. God is something like a triangle with three distinct angles; yet, each is equal in importance in creating the triangle. Jesus did not begin as a fetus inside a virgin. He has always existed as part of what we call the “Godhead.” He was there at Creation, at the fall of Satan, and when the time was right, He set aside His privileges as God and stepped through the portal to become human. Every major religion has at its core the efforts of Man to reach God. Christianity has at its core the efforts of God to reach Man. We were helpless to save ourselves, so the eternal Word became flesh in order to reach us (v.14).
Final Thought: No other religion has a God who would stoop to our level to save us. Jesus is the Logos of God.
Prayer: Lord, my mind can’t get around what forever means. You are so far outside my ability to comprehend, but I thank you that you stooped down to our level so you could bring us to God. Thank you that because of you, I can live forever. Amen.
Wednesday— Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
“I just can’t believe in God.” Have you heard someone say that? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. You’d heard the gospel of Jesus, been shown the evidences from scripture and history, heard His invitation to follow, but you shook your head. “I just can’t believe it,” you said. Some people respond to a gospel presentation with a glazed look, as though trying to understand Mandarin. Lights are on but nobody’s home in their souls. Are they dense? Stubborn? Lying? Maybe, but it’s probably deeper than that. If you are a Christian, you did not make yourself one. You did not create your own faith or open your own spiritual eyes. Only God can do that. Doubt and skepticism come naturally; saving faith is supernatural.
Christianity is not a religion anyone would have made up because we don’t get to be the heroes. We don’t yearn to surrender, submit, and serve God. A supernatural force must act on us in order for our desires to change. In fact, we play a pretty minor role in our own salvation. Imagine a firefighter charging into a burning building and, at great personal risk, dragging you to safety. He is badly burned and will bear the scars for the rest of his life. Would the praise be for you or for your rescuer? He did it all; you only surrendered to his help. That’s what Jesus did for us. We resist believing because we’re held captive by natural desires: money, power, sex, pleasure… We don’t even want to believe until God steps in and rescues us. It’s supernatural.
Final Thought: Salvation is more than a mental agreement with the facts about Jesus. It’s a supernatural change of direction.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for rescuing me. I did nothing to deserve your salvation, but I praise you for it. May I live every day with the awareness that your supernatural grace gave me the faith to believe. May I never forget that it’s all about you. Amen.
Thursday— The mystery hidden from past…generations, is now been manifested to His saints. Colossians 1:26
Private club requirements vary with each organization. Anyone wishing to join must meet certain standards, that’s what makes the club private. Income level, abilities, heritage, and even race have been factors in some membership lists. In Old Testament times, people had to jump through dozens of hoops to join God’s people, such as sacrifices, feast days, and law-keeping. But when Jesus came, He talked about a private club where He would keep all the requirements for anyone who wanted to join. This made no sense to the rule-keeping Jews and was considered a great mystery. It still is because it’s supernatural.
The mystery hidden from past generations began at an event for the Jews called Passover. It was a time when God struck down all firstborn males of every household but passed over those with the blood of a lamb on the doorposts. It did not matter how wealthy, influential, or nice a person was. If they did not have blood over the doorpost, the death angel would strike. Blood of a perfect lamb was the only requirement for membership in the Survivor’s Club. That mystery was revealed at the cross. Passover had been a picture of God’s future requirements for membership in His family. It does not matter how neighborly, church-going, or sincere a person is. If God does not see the blood of His Lamb over our hearts, we cannot join His family.
Final Thought: God is strict about His requirements but generously offers membership to anyone who will bow to His Son.
Prayer: Lord God, check my heart. Is the blood of your Son covering my sin? You cannot be fooled and I want to be sure. I surrender now to His lordship. I receive His sacrifice on my behalf. Make me part of your family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Friday— “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you…” Matthew 5:38-39
An eye for an eye sounds pretty good when we’ve been wronged by someone. When a jerk cuts us off in traffic, it seems reasonable to run up on his bumper or lay on the horn. Teach him a lesson. If somebody gossips about us, gossip back. They punch us, punch them back. That’s our natural way of dealing with people who wrong us. But Jesus often used this phrase: “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” He introduced a new way of doing life that went against everything our human nature wants to do. That’s why none of us can obey Him unless we have the supernatural power to do so.
Have you considered that the human side of Jesus may not have wanted to obey either? He was as human as we are, but did not have the sin nature that controls us. So His life demonstrated what it looks like to live completely controlled by the Holy Spirit. When people mocked Him, lied about Him, beat Him, and eventually crucified Him, His flesh may have desired an eye for an eye. His Spirit, however—the same Spirit who wrote that law—chose a better way. He could only resist temptation and choose love because He was completely surrendered to God’s will. His human side did not get a vote on His actions. Imagine how our lives would radiate with love and power if our fleshly side did not get a vote on our actions. We can’t do it on our own. We need the power of the Holy Spirit that comes with compete surrender to God’s will. It’s a supernatural way to live.
Final Thought: Anyone can live by their natural inclinations: it takes supernatural power to say no to them.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us Jesus to show us how to live. My sinful nature makes things worse. People can’t even tell I know you when I give in to it. So I surrender now. Completely. Fill me with your Spirit so I can obey your word. Amen.