I had just finished an article on why we should be celebrating the return of Jesus during our Christmas celebrations and then I ran across this post at another blog and thought it fit quite nicely with my dissertation.
There was a time in the not so distant past where Saints of old would remember that the coming of Jesus during the first Advent was proof that he would return a second time to usher in the Millennial reign of the Lord and King. In fact some of the old familiar carols alluded to this truism and it was the author’s intent to remind the church of Jesus’ true purpose in the fulfillment of scriptures.
Many of these verses have long been discarded since they are not as popular as some of the other verses of these hymns but none-the-less they were included in the original scores.
What do Christmas carols make you think of? Luke 2? Manger scenes? Candle-lit Christmas Eve services? Turkey dinners with family? That’s what they do for most people. Few of us think, “Oh, Christmas carols = the sky being peeled back and saints being caught up in the clouds.”
It is true that the nativity is the main theme of carols. Several carols also point to Calvary: “Then let us all with one accord/ Sing praises to our heavenly Lord/ That hath made heaven and earth of nought,/ And with his blood mankind hath bought” (“The First Nowell”).
But some of the best-known carols refer to the second coming. They tell us that Jesus was “born to raise the sons of earth,” so that Christians “need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace!/ Jesus Christ was born to save!/ Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.” Because of Jesus’ incarnation and crucifixion, “He rules the world/ With truth and grace,” and comes to “open wide our heav’nly home;/ Make safe the way that leads on high,/ And close the path to misery.” One day, “Saints before the altar bending/Watching long in hope and fear/ Suddenly, the Lord descending, in His temple shall appear.”
The first coming—Christmas—was tangible, crucial proof that God was keeping His promises to His people. The first coming—the incarnation—was evidence that God was executing His plan of salvation. But it was the first: we have been promised a second. Christmas should not only remind us of what did happen, incredible as it is. It should also remind us that because of what did happen, we can look forward to what will happen. The second coming will finish the work that the first coming established. A good Christmas carol will remind us that looking back is only spiritually useful if it spurs us on and points us forward to the day when Jesus will again come to earth incarnate. Then the plan of salvation will be complete. The glory that Christ’s birth began will be consummated when He comes again, with glory:
“Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs may be embroiled in a healthcare scandal — the severity of which led to the resignation of VA head Eric Shinseki — but pockets of the VA health system seem to be focused not on improving healthcare for veterans,…
With the sorry state that the VA is in they need all the prayer they can get, but once again the PC police as struck with a vengeance against Christ and his followers. Not wanting to offend the small minority who might take offense to seeing Jesus on a cross or a statue of Mary, the VA as put in place regulations that shield the small but vocal minority who may cry foul.
I am really growing weary of these cry babies whining everywhere they go and complaining about religious symbols in places of worship. If you do not want to be confronted with the cross then stay out of the church and the chapel. But if you enter a church or a chapel right-minded individuals would expect to find Christ there.
There are a million and one places you can go if you want to avoid any mention of Christ, but if you venture into a CHRISTIAN facility you will be presented with a CHRISTIAN MESSAGE in word and symbol. and if that offends you then do not attend such places.
Why are there chapels in VA hospitals you may ask? Because many vets and families of vets like having a place to go pray to their Lord. If you are not of the Christian faith and want to have a place where you too can go to pray to your god or goddess get to work on setting up a place of your own or perhaps even ask the Chaplin nicely if he/she will allow you to use the chapel and he/she may even VOLUNTEER to cover-up any offensive symbol, but REQUIRING Christians to remove symbols of their faith is not INCLUSIVE and COMPASSIONATE nor is it TOLERANT.
See on www.theblaze.com
Luke 24:13-16 (GW)
On the same day, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village called Emmaus. It was about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were talking, Jesus approached them and began walking with them. Although they saw him, they didn’t recognize him.
How could it be that two people were walking along the highway with Jesus and did not recognize him? He was right there with them, walking with them and talking to them. He was even explaining the scriptures to them as they walked along the road and yet they could not see him for who he was.
The whole time he was walking with them he was explaining the scriptures to them and they were excited in their spirits. They were getting encouragement in the midst of their sadness. They had just witnessed the death of their beloved leader, the one they thought was sure to deliver them from the heavy yoke of the Roman Empire, but instead they watched him die. All their hopes and aspirations where shattered as Jesus gave up his spirit on the Roman cross. Their plans were dashed on the rocks of Golgotha as Jesus’ blood was spilt. They could not imagine how it could be God’s will for all this to happen. They were devastated and heavy-hearted by the entire course of events.
They watched as Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, surely they thought that he could smite the enemy and gain his freedom. None of what they hoped for took place, leaving them feeling alone and bewildered and questioning their own faith. Perhaps they thought it was all a lie.
This is where we take up the story, as two of Jesus’ disciples where making they way from Jerusalem to Emmaus they were joined by a stranger. They were surprised that this stranger did not know what had happened in Jerusalem just three days earlier. They retold the story of Jesus’ trial and conviction by the Jewish leaders of the day. They even told how Mary and Martha had gone to the tomb only to find it empty. They were basically living in the past. Their emotions and minds were stuck on good Friday. They had not yet arrived to the glorious realization of the third day. They had yet to embrace the truism of Jesus’ resurrection.
When bad things happen to us many of us get stuck in the past, or get hampered by the events that have happened to us yesterday that we are unable to embrace the newness of life that comes each new day. We can not travel down life’s highway while continually looking in the rearview mirror. We have to focus on the present and have hope for the future.
It is the enemies plan to discourage and weaken our resolves by constantly badgering us and bombarding us with negative thoughts and inflicting our lives with chaos and calamity. There is nothing more important to the devil then to derail our faith in a risen Lord. He wants us to believe that God is dead and we are on our own. He wants us to believe that Jesus has forsaken us and left us to handle things down here without any help or intervention from him. The enemy of life is constantly asking us where is God?
These disciples, although they had spent three years with Jesus, had not fully grasped the message Jesus was trying to tell them. He had told them repeatedly that he had to die in order for them to live. He told them the reason he came was to be the sacrifice for Adam’s sin. They did not understand what he was teaching them. This is why they could not see Jesus. They did not really believe that he was going to rise from the dead like he said he would.
There are many today, and quite frankly many in the church, who are just like these two disciples. They are going through the daily life without any acknowledgement that Jesus is right there with them. They are walking along life’s highway without ever stopping to ponder if Jesus walks the road beside them. Too many I feel believe that Jesus left them to figure out their own paths to righteousness and salvation. Too many I fear have forgotten the promise Jesus made while he was still with his disciples. He told them plainly that he would never leave them nor forsake them but would be with them even until the end of the age.
Jesus is alive and he is wanting to walk with you and fellowship with you. Are we too blind to see him hiding in plain sight? It wasn’t until the disciples invited Jesus to come home with them and to have a fellowship dinner with them that their eyes were opened to see Jesus. At that moment he disappeared from their sight.
Luke 24:28-31 (GW)
When they came near the village where they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. They urged him, “Stay with us! It’s getting late, and the day is almost over.” So he went to stay with them. While he was at the table with them, he took bread and blessed it. He broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But he vanished from their sight.
After their eyes were opened they remarked how their spirits were stirred within them as Jesus was teaching them from the word of God. Although they knew in their hearts that what Jesus was saying was true, they were not able to fully grasp it until they invited Jesus to their home and they ate with him.
Many ask where God is when things go wrong, and I have to wonder if he isn’t right there beside them the entire time and they simply fail to recognize him. You see these two disciples knew the scriptures, they had read about Jesus in the scriptures, they even knew that what Jesus was saying was true, but they had not yet invited Jesus into their inner most place, into the home of their heart. They had not actually took the time to sit with Jesus and have real fellowship with him.
It isn’t until we accept the scriptures are true, and acknowledge that Jesus is indeed raised from the dead, and confess with our mouth that Jesus is indeed Lord will be able to see him as he truly is; alive and well.
The minds of these two were clouded by their own expectations of who Jesus was and what his mission was. They had formed their own opinions and ideas how Jesus was going to bring about his kingdom. Although Jesus told them plainly they were not able to get past their own wants and desires. They were seeking to see things turn out the way they thought it should, and not the way Jesus told them it would.
Now let us not get sanctimonious and think that we are somehow better than these two. How many times have you wanted something so badly that you were disappointed when it did not turn out the way you wanted and actually blamed God for failing to answer your prayers? How many times have you wandered off the straight and narrow path of righteousness taught by the scriptures and found yourself in a bad place but still wanted God to bless you right where you were without any wish to return to where you took the detour?
Come on be honest, how many times have you entered into the sanctuary of a church and come away feeling empty? You went expecting God to do something for you but you never really took the time to spend some quality time alone with Jesus in fellowship and the reading of His word. How can Jesus show himself to you if you refuse to accept his word as the bread of life, his very body, his essence is found within the pages of scripture. This is what Jesus taught the two disciples as they were traveling the road from Jerusalem. He taught them that the whole of scripture tells us about Jesus. He is hidden in plain sight throughout all of earth’s history, and HIS STORY is told on the pages of scripture.
Preaching alone is not going to get you to recognize Jesus unless you are willing to accept the truth of the gospel and acknowledge that Jesus is the word and that word became flesh and walked among us. He is risen, he does not still hang on a cross or lie in a tomb. Jesus is alive and well and every time you take the time to read about Him in the holy book you become more and more like him until you too can see him exactly as he is.
Jesus is here now. Can you see him? Do you expect to see him? Do you even want to see him? Are you still clinging to the failures of the past or are you ready to move forward with a new life in Christ? The chose is yours. Jesus is waiting right there beside you, why not invite him home with you?
Until next time. Good day!
But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness. Isaiah 40:31 (BBE)
Along for the journey
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