Daily Archives: December 22, 2013

Christmas: Loving Jesus at Christmas (study guide)

 

This lesson examines the practical issue of loving Christ during the holiday season—and year around— in the same way that Jesus loved the Father.

Outline

There is a way for us to fulfill the longing in our hearts for true intimacy with our Creator. It is seldom discussed, almost never mentioned at this time of the year, but here is the key: The key to loving Jesus is to understand how Jesus loved His Father.

I.  Jesus Loved the Father by Doing What the Father Asked Him to Do

II.  I Love Jesus by Doing What Jesus Asks Me to Do

III.  If I Will Love Jesus as He loved His Father, Jesus Will Do for Me What the Father Did for Him

Overview

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to love Jesus, for all around us are reminders of His birth and His loving death on our behalf. The cradle or the manger reminds us that He came. The tree is a subtle reminder of where He ended up on our behalf, hanging between heaven and earth. The darkness tells us what we were like before Christ came, and all of the lights which illuminate our hearts remind us that Jesus came as the light of the world to bring joy into each of our lives.

I have been asking myself, “If Jesus were physically here today, what would I say to Him, and how different would it be from what I said to Him in my prayer this morning?” If He were to walk in here among us, and move in and out of our homes, and we had an opportunity to express our love to Him at Christmas time, what would we say? How in the world do we, as modern believers, love Jesus at Christmastime? Do we sing Him songs? Do we go to church? Do we care for the poor? Do we give to the church which is His body? All of these are fine, and they may in some measure fulfill the urge we have within us to love Jesus at Christmas, but there is a way that we can love Jesus—not only at Christmas time but throughout the year—that is so evident that we wonder how we could have missed it. It promises to fulfill the longings we have in our hearts, so when the season is over, we don’t sit there at 7:00 o’clock on Christmas Day with the bitter aftertaste in our mouth thinking, “Is this all there is? I thought there would be more, and now it is over.”

The key to loving Jesus is to understand how Jesus loved His Father.

We can understand how Jesus loved his Father by turning to a passage of Scripture in the Book of Hebrews. Actually, this passage in the Book of Hebrews is an Old Testament passage used in the New Testament by the writer of Hebrews to make a very important point. The point is how Jesus loved his Father at the Incarnation, at Christmastime. How did he do it?

In Hebrews 10:5 we read, “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me, to do Your will, O God.’ ” This is obviously a quotation from Psalm 40, originally spoken by David. But it is a Messianic psalm, a prophetic psalm which speaks into the future the words of the Lord Jesus as He came into the world to be our Savior. Listen to these words from our Lord’s lips. He says, “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do your will, O God.” How did Jesus love his Father?

Jesus Loved the Father by Doing What the Father Asked Him to Do

I can’t imagine what that day must have been like. It is an eternal day, and I can’t even think in terms of eternity. I have said goodbye to my children for short periods of time, some for weeks at a time, some for just days at a time, but can you imagine the Father in heaven saying goodbye to His Son for thirty-some years? He was in fellowship with the Father, but He was sent from heaven into the world to walk among us. That is what He is talking about when He says, “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written, to do your will, O God.” Jesus came in total obedience to His father. “I come to do it your way, O God,” says one of the translators.

What did that mean to Him in His earthly life? In John 4:34 Jesus continued to reiterate that He was loving His Father by doing the will of His Father: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ ”

Notice, too, John 5:30: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

And in John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Throughout His life, Jesus was loving His Father. How? Every time He was questioned, Jesus said, “I have not come to do My own will. I have come to do the will of the Father who sent Me.”

And then, when it came to that moment of crisis in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the fact that Jesus ultimately would pay the penalty for the sin of the whole world, He came back to this principle again: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” How did Jesus love the Father? He loved the Father by doing the will of the Father.

I have written in the front of my Bible a verse. It is just a part of a verse, but it summarizes the life of Jesus while He was on this earth. It is John 8:29: “I always do those things that please [the Father.]” Every minute Jesus was on the earth, everything He did, every thought He had, was conditioned out of one truth: I want to please My Father.

Was God the Father pleased with Him? On two occasions at least, His pleasure broke out. When Jesus was being baptized the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

And it happened in Matthew 17, on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus was being transfigured. He was being revealed. And the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Not these other two (Moses and Elijah). This one.

Jesus lived all of His life that He might please the Father. And when the report card came in, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (v.17:5).

I Love Jesus By Doing What Jesus Asks Me to Do

At the beginning we said that if we could understand how Jesus loved His Father, then maybe, just maybe, we can understand how we can love Jesus.

In John 14:21 the Lord Jesus says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me, And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and manifest Myself to him.”

Notice the first part of the verse: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.” Always doing that which is pleasing the Father. Remember—if we learn how Jesus loved the Father, we can learn how we can love Jesus.

Then notice verse 23: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.’ ” The negative of this is in verse 24: “He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” Do you want to know how not to love Jesus at Christmastime? The Scriptures say the way not to love Jesus at Christmastime is not to keep His words.

Finally, look at John 15:10: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” So let’s back up and ask ourselves that question again. How do we love Jesus at Christmastime? Well, how did Jesus love the Father? “In the volume of the Book it is written of me, ‘I come to do Your will, O God.’ ” He was obedient, according to the Book of Philippians, even to the point of death.

If I Will Love Jesus as He Loved His Father, Jesus Will Do for Me What the Father Did for Him

Here is the other part of the equation. If we will love Jesus as Jesus loved the Father, Jesus will do for us what the Father did for Him. Look at the second part of John 14:21. Verse 21 says if we will keep His commandments, we will be loved by the Father and Christ will love us and manifest Himself to us. That’s the promise He gives us. He says that if we will love the Lord Jesus by obeying His words, then in a very special way we will be loved by the Father, and we will be loved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord Jesus will reveal himself to us.

Someone might say, “Am I not loved by the Father?” Yes! Are you not loved by Jesus? Yes, if you are a Christian. Does He not reveal Himself to you? Yes He does, in the Scripture. But there’s a special kind of manifest presence that comes upon the person whose only joy in life, whose only passion in life, is the passion that Jesus had. That was to do the will of God.

Notice verse 23: “And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

Again, look at (John 15:10): “Abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” As we look at these verses, we cannot help but see the principle: If I will love Jesus as Jesus loved the Father, then Jesus will do for me what the Father did for His Son.

That means a day is coming which is foretold in the parable of the talents, when you will be able to stand before Him, having served as a faithful servant, and He will say you are a blessed, faithful servant, and invite you to enter into the joy of your Lord.

So, at Christmastime, when we are running around, buying gifts, and trying to stay out of trouble with all of the relatives and all of the in-laws and all of the rest of everything that happens, how do we get through all of this and focus so that we can love Jesus? Here it is.

We love Jesus by doing what He asks us to do: by keeping His commandments. That’s the way to have a very merry, and Christ- centered, Christmas.

Application

1.  What do the following verses teach us about the Son’s obedience to the Father?

a.   Romans 5:19

b.   Philippians 2:6–8

c.   Hebrews 5:8

2.   What will be the ultimate outcome of the Son’s obedience to the Father?

a.   Psalm 110:1–2

b.   Daniel 7:13–14

c.   Philippians 2:9–11

3.   What do you think was the Son’s ultimate act of obedience to the Father? (See Matthew 26:39.)

4.   What is faith in Christ called in the verses below?

a.   2 Corinthians 9:13

b.   2 Thessalonians 1:7–8

c.   1 Peter 4:7

5.   What, then, should be our understanding of the connection between love for Christ and obedience to Christ?

6.   How is that reflected in these passages?

a.   John 14:15

b.   John 14:21–24

c.   John 15:10

d.   1 John 2:5–6

7.   What does God’s Word say about the person who talks about loving Christ, but lives a life of perpetual disobedience (see 1 John 2:4)?

8.   In what practical ways, then, might you display your love for Christ during the holiday season and beyond?

Did You Know?

The history of the Christian church is a continuous record of swinging between the extremes of legalism on one hand and license on the other. The argument against legalism, of course, is that good works can save no one; while the argument against license is that Christ is not unrighteous; therefore His saints should not engage in unrighteous acts.

The Bible teaches neither legalism nor license for the believer. What the Bible teaches is liberty—freedom—from bondage to belief in works that can save one’s self, and freedom from a body that cannot produce good works under the duress of the law. Jesus indeed came that He might set us free from the law, so that rather than vowing to do good (which we cannot do) in order to save ourselves (which we likewise cannot do), by faith we can be saved by Him and be set free to live our lives in submission to Him in us, Who can produce good works.

ICE Candles

This activity needs close adult supervision.

You will need the following items:

clean, empty card- board milk cartons

taper candles

ice, crushed or cubed

old broken crayons or candles

candle wax (paraffin)

old coffee cans

Remove tops from milk cartons and cut to desired height. Center a taper candle in each milk carton, making sure the wick is above the top of the carton. Place carton in a shallow foil-lined pan.

Melt wax in a coffee can that has been placed in a pan of water. Stir wax to aid in melting, and heat to a simmer.

Fill area around taper in carton with ice. The larger the ice cubes and the more ice you use, the larger the holes in the candles. Now ís the time to add bits of broken crayons or candles for extra color and texture.

The next step should be done by an adult.

Pour melted wax over ice in carton slowly. As the wax cools around the ice, it forms holes. Allow to cool completely and pour off water. To remove from carton, simply tear paper gently away from candle.[1]

 


[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 88–99). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

But I Say Walk By The Spirit And You Will Not Gratify The Desires Of The Flesh

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV)

Any honest research into Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality will reveal a serpent’s nest of Emergent writers who, with ease, take passages from Sacred Scripture out of context and attempt to force them to support their mystical paradigm. If you do this you will find a great deal of emphasis on Christian Authenticity and what that means as well as becoming Christlike or like Christ, which is also the emphasis of this ministry. What is is disturbing in this research, however, is how those in the Emergent movement take the passages from God’s Word I use to teach believers to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus to mean something quite different from how they are used in Biblical Orthodoxy. 

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