4

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

I have been pondering last week's post for the last few days, and it is really rocking my world. The whole concept that “As His name is declared, His passion is revealed.” WOW

I have to tell you, that was a fresh revelation to me.

This phrase “His name poured forth” has been rumbling around my brain for days now.

I picture Mary breaking open an alabaster box and its contents (worth a year's wages) poured forth– wasting it – on Jesus’ feet. The perfect picture our lives poured forth, many would say wasted, living for Jesus and leaving the outcome in His hands. Some will say you waste your life on Jesus, others will notice that you smell just like Him as He pours forth His life as a lamb to the slaughter.

Mary (Maia Morgenstern ) and Mary Magdalene (Monika Bellucci) from The Passion of The Christ

I picture that gruesome image from The Passion of the Christ of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalen sopping up Christ’s blood poured forth while He received those 39 lashes.

I picture blood and water poured forth from His side when they pierced Him.

I picture Jesus baptizing His Church, as He promised He would, in that little upper room as He poured forth His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Finally, I picture Jesus pouring forth His Church, shining with the light of His glory, over a dark and listless world. That light spreading far and wide as the world gets a deep breath of that wonderful fragrance.

I know there is more pouring forth to come – there are seals to be broken and bowls to overturn. But that is for then.

This is for now!

Let’s review

Ointment poured forth in Bethany

Blood and water poured forth at Calvary

Spirit poured forth at Pentecost

The Church poured forth globally

Each without reserve,

Each without stumbling over the cost

All with one aim

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)

You are that joy that was set before Him, and so is your neighbor!

Have you taken His name?

Will you bear the name of your Husband the Bridegroom-Shepherd-King?

Will you be His name poured forth on your circle of influence?

Will you be that sweet savor of life to them that are saved, and are you willing to bear the stench of death, and you die to yourself so others can get a whiff of the aroma of Christ?

Say yes today!

Thanks for stopping by today. I trust this helps you. I know it stirs me up.

See you next week.

Ben

If you did not read last weeks post Fragrance and Ointment it is worth the few minutes it would take.

Yesterday, we looked at the fact that Jesus is the express image of God and to see God we should look at Jesus. But as I promised, I want to see where Jesus took this truth next as He answered Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Here is the passage again, with my highlighting:

Again, it would be awesome if you would read this aloud:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. ~ John 14:9-21

Jesus, the way to know God

So along with telling the boys how they could see God, how they could get to know God’s character and nature, He was going to take this conversation to another destination.

The first paragraph of His answer basically goes like this. You have seen God because He lives in Me, and you have seen Me, the things I do and the words I say, show you exactly who God is.

And as we saw yesterday in Hebrews 1, He is not just the “good parts version” of the immutable (unchangeable) God, He is the “exact representation of His nature” (from Hebrews 1:3.)

The Other Shoe

After making it clear to the disciples that He was how they were to see God, He explains that in the very same way, they were, and we are, a way for people to see and know God.

Each reason Jesus gives Philip for seeing the Father through Himself, He turns around and explains how they will have the same ability to present or should I say re-present the Father to those they touch.

The same Spirit that was in Christ, “will be in you.” The same works that Christ used to demonstrate the character and nature of the Father, “he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.”

Just as Jesus spoke only what He heard the Father say, His promise to the boys comes down like this:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. - John 14:26

Honestly, this revelation is a bit of a world rocker to me. I can be such a screw up at times. I hurt the people I love on a regular basis because my head is stuck where the sun does not shine, and I am thinking about my agenda, my needs, my…self, and that is NOTHING LIKE GOD.

But THIS is His plan. The master plan, set in place before the foundations, before time, before sin, before life as we know it.

If you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, His idea is that when people see you, they would be looking at the Father. [Boy, that feels downright blasphemous, doesn’t it?] [Click here to tweet it anyway]

OK – let’s not get all arrogant-n-stuff, because we fall, we fail, and that’s on a good day. But the fact is, when men and women look at YOU and ME, because of the new creation, the new heart, the new covenant, God, using His infinite power, gives your circle of influence a glimpse of the Almighty.

When they look at you, they see God, and when they see you fall, and God lift you up, they see their own need for God, their own need for “my Glory and the Lifter of my head.”

I know, crazy, right?

Lord, today, this day, shine through my successes and my failures, so those around me can see You, and are drawn to the Lover of their souls.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you're screwed in.

Ben

2

who is unholy

Holy, as you may know, means set apart, separate.

We know that God is a special kind of Holy—in fact He is thrice holy—Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts! He’s surrounded by angels protecting the unsuspecting passerby of this immense holiness, as if the throne and smoke and shaking and all that were not enough.

In Jewish culture there were two classes of stuff. Stuff here refers to people and things. There were holy things and holy people, those set apart from the rest of the stuff for God’s service, and then there was rest of the stuff.

The interesting thing is that objects and people who were not holy would be called common. Of course there were extremes of common and unholy, but as a class anything that was not set apart specifically for God’s service was considered unholy—common.

But the cross changed something—drastically.

It was so drastic that it was years after Pentecost before the apostles even got what was going on.

The book of Acts jumps the time line in decades more or less. If you look at the chapter number, staring with about chapter 10, you will find yourself more or less that number of years beyond the cross. OK—it’s a really rough estimate, but Peter’s encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10, was something like ten years after the death and resurrection of Christ.

Ten years after Jesus told them to go into all the world and preach to everyone.

Ten years since the blood of Jesus washed away all our sin.

Ten years since: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. - (2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB)

So Peter’s up on the roof and is drawn into a trans where an angel offers him a ham sandwich.

Here’s the verse that really nailed it for me this morning though:

And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. - Acts 10:28 NASB

Let me emphasize:

I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

Hmmmmmm

Do you suppose there were wicked men in Peter’s day?

Do you think some might have been considered evil?

Let me be clear. This did not mean they didn’t need to repent and believe. This did not mean they didn’t need to hear the gospel. On the contrary, the command was to preach to every man, woman and child that Jesus Christ is Lord.

What it meant in context was, instead of being against these non-jews and seeing them as the enemy, Peter needed to treat them as the precious harvest that the Lord Jesus wanted to bring into His garner.

The darker it seems, the more the world needs the light of the gospel to shine. The Lord can work in any amount of darkness to change hearts—to call His enemies in His service.

I urge you today (Ben, I’m talking to you, dude) to look through the eyes of Peter and see, no man is unholy today. No man is beyond the reach of the gospel. As I have said many times, Jesus can speak anyone’s language.

benheadshot1Thanks for sticking it out to the end today.

Shine where your plugged in,

Ben

7

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince's daughter! 

Song of Songs 7:1

The first thing catches her followers attention about the bride of Christ is her feet. This idea of beautiful or lovely feet is not unique to the Song, but it’s actually the first time it comes up in the Word.

We find two other references to lovely feet in the prophets:

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"

Isaiah 52:7

Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O Judah;
Pay your vows.
For never again will the wicked one pass through you;
He is cut off completely.

Nahum 1:15

In both cases the prophets Isaiah and Nahum speak of a messenger of peace, and bringing good news.

Paul uses the glue gun of New Covenant revelation to firmly attach this to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Romans 10, as he describes preaching as the delivery system for the message of salvation.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:14-15

It’s a sure mark of maturity that as we go we are brining the Good News of the gospel, and where we go we are leaving a wake of peace.

Paul even gives us this picture as part of our equipment, when he dresses us in the full armor of God.

and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; - Ephesians 6:15

The fact that she is wearing sandals tells me she is no longer living only the in secret place, but she is, in fact, running with her Groom in the hills and mountains - out in the highways and byways of life.

She has given her feet to the gospel.

Paul exhorts us in Romans 6

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. - Romans 6:13

He calls us not just to say “Yes Lord” I will follow you, but to present our members - let’s say body parts - to God as instruments of righteousness.

The call I hear today, in this beautiful song - is present your feet to God as agents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Strap on your sandals and get out there and make some disciples. [Tweet This] Let the wave of peace that resided in you, in the person of the Prince of Peace, cause a change in the atmosphere everywhere your sandals take you.

You have beautiful feet!

Walk your faith out into the world today.

Ben NelsonBlessings,

Ben

2

I don’t know how they do the offering or collection in your church. In mine we usually ask the Lord to receive our gifts and then the ushers come forward and the music plays. Sometimes a soloist sings, other times we worship, and once in a while we watch a video.

Imagine with me for a moment the Pastor standing up just as you were about to toss your envelope with your tidy tax deduction into the basket and said:

WAIT – STOP – HOLD EVERYTHING!

Nobody puts another penny in that basket until we fix what happened at the business meeting last week.

The Church will not accept another offering until reconciliation is obvious. End the factions or end the finances! You pick, but I can no longer allow you to pretend to give to God, when you can’t forgive your brothers and sisters.

That might shake it up a bit – you think?

God is more interested in your relationship with your brothers and sisters, than He is with your money. [Tweet This]

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24 NASB)

Thanks for stopping by today.

Ben

Wallet photo credit: NCReedplayer via photo pin cc

Offering plate photo credit: k.landerholm via photo pin cc

Originally posted September 14th of 2012.

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Oh man – Oh man – Oh man

Check this out!

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. - John 14:20 NASB

WHAT!

Can this be true?

I mean – I get the first one. I get  the last one. But that one in the middle is kind of blowing my mind right now.

Jesus in the Father – ok I get that.

Jesus in me – well – I have heard about that since I was a little one in Sunday School.

But Me in Jesus –

The little one in there - that' s me.

Me in Jesus?

Why would He even want that?

Later Jesus says:

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; - John 14 30 NASB

So then

I am in Jesus.

And satan has nothing in Jesus.

How then could satan have anything in me?

If I am in Jesus, and Jesus is in me, and we are both in the Father

I could not be safer in Ft. Knox (is that safe?)

So here I sit, deep inside the Father and Son with the Son and the Spirit inside me and I look out at satan and declare – "you have nothing in me! Run along!" [Tweet This]

It’s a great day.

Ben NelsonIn Jesus

Ben

Photo thanks to Wikimedia.org

5

First - let me say

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2014  - We welcome you!

There - now that that is done, let me travel back in time a few days to last Sunday.

When you read the title of this post you probably said: Aren't we done with Christmas yet? - almost - I promise - at least here.

I had the privilege of preaching in my home church - Pascack Bible Church, in Hillsdale, NJ last Sunday, December 29, 2013 (I know - sounds like ancient history, doesn't it?)

Anyway - it was the last sermon in a series our Pastor, Chet Klope, walked us through this advent season, and I thought I would share it with you here.

Here is the link on our Church website to the audio of the sermon, and a place you can download it so you can take me for a walk as part of your New Years Resolution to move more.

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Angels From The Realms of Glory

Ben NelsonSpeaker: Ben Nelson
Series: The Songs We Sing As part of our Advent sermon series, “The Songs We Sing”, Elder Ben Nelson unpacks the deep meaning behind the powerful carol, Angels From The Realms Of Glory, including two lesser known verses.
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Below, for those of you who would rather read than listen is my sermon prep notes - the audio is pretty close, but this is not exactly a transcript.Once again - Let's walk together in blessing in 2014!
Ben

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Come and Worship 

Christmas is over. 

This year it seemed like a long haul, what with the Christmas commercials staring in September. Yes – September

No big surprise that yesterday my girls saw Valentine’s decorations in the Mall.

Many have eaten way to much. There was one 7-day stretch where I ate at 7 holiday meals/buffets, and believe me the 7 days were not the only things stretching.

Many have spent way too much.

I’m tired of the Christmas commercials.
I’m tired of the Christmas music playing in every store.
I’m tired of the ever-present Santas.
I’m tired of the elf watching my every move.
I’m tired of red and green.
I’m tired of the pine needles littering my living spaces.
If I hear one more rendition of “I’ll be home for Christmas” I think I might be sick.

So today when you walked into the sanctuary and the usher handed you a bulletin with yet another Christmas carol sermon… well, I get it. OK?

What I am defiantly not sick of is the story of the incarnation.

Paul captured its essence in one of my favorite passages in the Bible.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:5-11 NIV

Jesus is God. He always has been God.
There was never a day when He was not God.

But Paul tells us here He emptied Himself.

He took off His kingly robes

He set aside His omnis – Omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence.

He did not lose them, He simply took them off, set them aside for a time. They still belonged to Him, and He still had access to them. There were times in His ministry when He slipped back into them.

On the mount of transfiguration recorded in Matthew and Mark He slipped back into some of His heavenly garments and Peter, James, John, Elijah, and Moses got a glimpse of His deity – His majesty – His glory.

In the garden of Gethsemane, as Judas and those who came to arrest Him approached, there was one moment when He stood up to “greet” them.

Do you remember how it went down? Jesus, out of the predawn mist asks the oncoming army, “Whom do you seek?”

The leader of the mob sent to arrest him called out “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus spoke again and the strangest thing happened. He said “I AM” and all six hundred of the soldiers, the high priests and temple guards – everyone – fell to the ground.

He clearly never stopped being God. But the scripture tells us He humbled himself.

  • He took off His royal robes and put on swaddling clothes.
  • He stepped down from His kingly throne and lay down in a manger.
  • The same mouth that uttered the words “Light Be” and exploded the universe into motion, now cooed and dr00led and spit up on His mama’s shoulder.
  • The same mind that informed Solomon would soon sit and learn from the Spiritual leaders as a young boy in Jerusalem.
  • The Captain of the Lord’s army, who lead Joshua into battle against Jericho, would soon be taken captive by a Roman cohort.
  • The same lungs that breathed breath into the dust of the ground and called forth Adam, would heave with the words, ‘it is finished’ and then be still for three days.
  • The same Christ, this same Jesus, who condescended to put on flesh, would again put on immortality, and ascended into heaven.
  • This same Jesus who talked baby talk and ate baby food will one day judge all men dead and alive.
  • This same Jesus who was mocked and scorned and crucified is the One before whom every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.

And that is what I love about Christmas.

One thing that strikes me in the Christmas story is the worship of this King of Kings when He does not appear to deserve or even desire worship. And I am not just talking about doting parents and grand parents. The story of the incarnation is full of folks who stopped what they were doing and worshiped this tiny king in a tiny town outside Jerusalem.

The carol we are considering this morning walks us right through the list of worshippers in a beautiful progression.

Angels 

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

So it is a quiet night over Bethlehem. Smarter folks than I say it could not have been winter. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that it happened on the day of some ancient Jewish feast. Perhaps Pentecost. The original feast of Pentecost or Shavu'ot – the feast of weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no proof for this, and of course this is the day God chose to fulfill the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. But to the Jews it was the celebration of the day the Law was given. It was the day the Word became “stone.” What better day for the Word to become flesh.

Anyway, an angel shows up and starts talking to some shepherds. Next the sky is full of angels. (I wonder if it would have looked like a new star in the sky from far off in the east!– hmmm)

You see the angels, who had an inkling of what was actually happening, came from all over the earth. I wonder if every angel in creation came to see this great unveiling of God in flesh.

The angels have come to worship the newborn king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Shepherds

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Why shepherds?

Why not fishermen?

Why not tax collectors?

After all, that’s who Jesus picked when He was picking disciples. I don’t think there was a single shepherd in the whole flock.

But that night God sent the angels to tell shepherds.

Perhaps it was because they were the lowest of the low.
Perhaps it was because they were the most down trodden.
Or maybe it was because a thousand years earlier there was a shepherd boy who sat in these same fields under the these same stars and talked to God.
Perhaps it was because a millennium earlier Israel had a shepherd savior when they were faced with a giant problem.

I don’t know why God picked shepherds, but I know what the shepherds did.

They left their flocks and ran to worship Jesus.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Wisemen

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Again we must tweak the traditional Christmas story with what the Bible says. These “wise men” may not have shown up on the scene for up to two years, and for the record, we really don’t know how many came, just that the gifts listed were three, gold for His royalty, incense to depict the intercession He would make for us, and myrrh for the death He would die.

I know the Christmas cards have them arriving while Jesus was still in the stable, but the Bible tells us they came to “the house.”

One of the reasons I think it may have been as much as two years later is that after quizzing these magi, Herod had all the male children, two years of age and younger slaughtered based on the time these sages indicated.

Can you imagine this brutality? This is a part of the Christmas story we would like to forget, but it is not forgotten. Herod’s holocaust against the children of Bethlehem is recorded for all eternity.

Matthew 2:16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

How did these sages, from far off lands, know a king had been born to the Jews?

Well, this word Magi is not a word that the Jews would have used to describe anyone in their world. It seems to have had Babylonian origins and so many scholars believe these “wise men” were not from the Far East – aka the Orient – but rather they were from Babylon.

Babylon was the land of Israel’s captivity, and it was in Babylon where Daniel and his crew Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ascended from slavery to positions of honor, and Daniel in particular was given authority among the magicians and soothsayers.

It seems credible to me that Daniel would have told those in his circle of the promised Messiah. It was after all his great hope of deliverance.

So, these wise men, sages, soothsayers, whatever make their way from Babylon to Bethlehem and there they worship this child king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Saints

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Next we come to Simeon and Anna.

Simeon was an old man who lived in Jerusalem, and had been told by the Holy Spirit that before he died he would see the Lord’s Christ.

When Jesus enters the temple on His eighth day to be consecrated, in accordance with Jewish law, Simeon speaks a wonderful prophecy over the child.

Anna was a widow who had been serving in the temple for decades, and now was eighty-four years old. As soon as she laid eyes on the child she began to rejoice and spread the news of the Messiah’s birth to everyone she saw.

These saints worship the child king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

This is where our hymnal stops, but there is more to this carol. We will look at two more verses to bring it home.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

You see, without Christ, this Messiah, this Savior, we are doomed to the hopelessness of life in slavery to sin, and the endless pain and suffering, the darkness and anguish of an eternal hell and separation from the One who so dearly loved us.

The solution?

Repentance

Repentance has a really bad reputation these days

What do you think of when you think of repentance?

Do you think of men in sandwich boards crying in the streets: the End is near!
Do you think of people weeping at an altar.
Do you think of guilty feelings.
Do you think of failure.
Perhaps you conjure up remembrances of childhood punishment.

Maybe you feel like repentance is nothing but an endless, useless saying “I’m sorry” to God and then getting up and falling right back into the same sin.

But in reality:

True repentance connects you with the mercy that paid the price God's justice demanded, and breaks the chains of sin.

Repentance is one of the greatest gifts ever offered by our Wonderful Lord.

Repentance – true repentance is a gift with a promise.

God gives repentance, and if we will accept this gift and walk through repentance from start to finish, in the end, we will have victory and freedom from that sin. The reason we continually fall back into the same sins, is that we never fully repent.

We just feel sorry

and guilty,

and go back for more.

Paul describes repentance in 2 Cor 7:10-11

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. –2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV

So then repentance breaks the endless cycle of sin and guilt and gives us the ability to live free and worship Him.

There is a moment when we begin this process with God. We come to Him with realization of our sin and our separation from Him. We see the doom of our current course, and turn toward Him.

The day of our salvation is the day we stand [or kneel] before Him and declare our need for forgiveness and our willingness to follow Him wherever He might lead.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

And so we have come full circle.

There will come a day, when not only those of us who choose to worship, but all creation, above and below will bow their knee. Remember where we started:

at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Phil 2:10-11

And so I close with an invitation to you

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Don’t be one of those who bows only when there is no choice.

Join the angels, shepherds, sages, Simeon and Anna, and all those who call on the name of Jesus today in bowing your knee to Him.

It’s no mistake that you are reading this today. God is offering you the opportunity to bow before the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is offering repentance and salvation to you today.

Did your spirit jump when I said you could be free from that sin that keeps you chained? That was God offering you the gift of repentance, and the promise of freedom.

Do you wonder about where you will spend eternity today? Do you have a longing, a stirring right now within you to have relationship with Jesus?

Today is your day. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait one more minute. Don’t resist this opportunity.

Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ the Newborn King.

4

Photo credit - PatriotLeader.com
Photo credit - PatriotLeader.com

Merry Christmas!

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:5-11

He humbled himself.

He took off His royal robes and put on swaddling clothes.

He took off the purple robes of majesty and put on diapers.

The same mouth that uttered the words “Light Be” and exploded the universe into motion, now cooed and drooled and spit up on His mama’s shoulder.

The same mind that informed Solomon would soon sit and ask questions of the Spiritual leaders in Jerusalem.

The Captain of the Lord’s army who lead Israel into battle against Jericho would soon be taken captive by a Roman cohort.

The same lungs that breathed breath into the dust of the ground and brought forth Adam, would heave with the words, ‘it is finished’ and then be silent for three days.

The same Christ, this same Jesus, who condescended to put on flesh, would again put on immortality, and ascended into heaven.

This same Jesus who talked baby talk and ate baby food will one day judge all men dead and alive.

This same Jesus who was mocked and scorned is the One before whom every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.

O come let us adore Him.

Ben NelsonHave a great Christmas Incarnation Celebration

Come back soon!

Ben

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)

Mighty God

In this prophecy we have come to the most controversial note. Anyone who looks at the life of Jesus, even from a natural standpoint, and is not predisposed to hate Him would probably be OK with every name on this list with one exception.

There is enough empirical evidence that He did miracles – wouldn’t historians of the time have debunked all the talk of Messiah if no one ever saw or experienced His powerful touch?

Anyone who reads the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule or the Prodigal Son would agree that He was a great Counselor.

I suppose Father is a bit tricky since He never married or had earthly children, but the way he Fathered the multitudes with His words, healings, feedings, etc – no big problem here.

Clearly a man of peace – never raised His voice in His own defense as He was unjustly accused, tried and executed.

But Mighty God? Has Isaiah gone too far? Is this over the top?

Many Christians would point to His calming of the sea as to where His God robes were in full view, or perhaps when He was walking on the water, or multiplying the loaves and fishes.

But according to Jesus himself, this was not an exposé of Jesus as God, but rather the man, Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, who descended upon Him in the River. (He told us He only did what He saw the Father do, and that the works that He did, we could do the same way – eyes on Jesus)

I do believe there were 5 guys who got to see this “Mighty God” aspect of Jesus when He walked the earth. – Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah.

It was only on the mount of transfiguration that Jesus slipped back into the Mighty God Robe that He set aside just before stepping into that Manger.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11 NASB)

[Sorry – I can’t break that bit up – my word processor was offended when I tried to only put the highlights in.]

Jesus emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.

But know this: HE IS MIGHTY GOD!

He has picked up that wonderful robe, and is seated on the throne of heaven, rising now and then to greet His loved ones into their eternal home.

Hey - I know the robe is not a perfect image, but it helps me understand the difference between Jesus wanting us to walk like He walked. We are tempted to say, I can't do it because He was God and I am not. Yes, He was, and IS God, but chose to walk as a man filled with the Spirit of God, as a demonstration of the "normal Christian life." He never stopped being God, but that does not excuse you from walking like Jesus.

That’s my Jesus!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in today.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

7

Shining through

So what does the Sabbath point to?

I realize I never really got to the Sabbath yesterday because I was so taken with the picture of circumcision. That really got me yesterday, and if you missed it, check the tail end of yesterday’s post.

Back to the Sabbath though, the passage we’ve been poking around all week – Colossians 2:16 ends with dashes in my Bible.

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- - Colossians 2:16

So the next verse really needs to be included in the conversation too!

…things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. - Colossians 2:17

I love it in the New Living Translation:

For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. - Colossians 2:17 NLT

I know some of you, in the comments have mentioned this, and it has taken me a long time to get here, but hey – I’m plodding here.

Jesus Christ is the reality – the Greek word here is body, so you could say that Jesus is the embodiment of the Sabbath. He is a living breathing Sabbath. He is rest personified. He demonstrates what it means to keep the Sabbath everyday.

And to take it one step further, as I am want to do, this word body – σῶμα – sōma – is the same word used here:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

If then Christ is the embodiment of the Sabbath, and we are the body – embodiment – of Christ, does it not stand to reason that our live ought to be a walking demonstration of Sabbath?

In case you are not sure the answer is an emphatic yes!

But wait Ben, it sounds like you are saying Christians should lay around doing nothing. Doesn’t rest mean no work? Didn’t God tell us to stop our labors on the Sabbath? If we live in a constant state of Sabbath, how will anything get done?

Oh – I am glad you asked, because there are some red letters that will help us with this little paradox.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

Christianity is a state of working at rest.

We rest from our labors to earn a place with God.

Jesus’ work on the cross earned us that place.

We rest from our labors to earn forgiveness.

Jesus’ blood purchased forgiveness once and for all.

We take up our work in the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ yoke is easy and burden is light.

This idea of a yoke, is one of work, but not solo work, work in partnership with Jesus. Like two oxen plowing a field, it is God’s plan to link you up with Jesus, and for the two of you to do the work He ordained for you, and created you for.

So, in the same way that He has prepared heaven and a future home for every one in covenant with Him yet He calls us to be seated in heavenly places today, so it is that He has prepared a future rest for each of us that is yet to be seen, yet the cross provides a Sabbath rest for us today.

The real work of appeasing and pleasing God was completed with the words, “It is finished.” That was the violent and bloody cutting off of your sin, the once and for all burial of your transgressions, the completion of your reconciliation to the Father. All that is left for you to do today is place your faith in THAT work, that finished work.

I pray for you today, that you will stop your working to earn favor with God, and rest in the favor that Jesus bought for you.

You can enter covenant with Jesus right now, if you have never done so. Simply come clean with Him about how you never have been able to “measure up.” It’s not like He doesn’t already know, but He wants you to own your sin, to confess it, and then to give it to Him. In confessing your sin - it is best to name it, out loud every sin you can remember. Be honest with God. Remember, He already knows, but in saying it out loud, you are putting it in Christ's tomb. Next time you look in there it will be empty! Confession breaks your old sin's hold on you. It gives you a place to point when satan tries to accuse you. "Look satan, I put it over there in that empty tomb and it is GONE!!!" [Tweet This]

Once you give Him your sin, and see that His blood on the cross paid the price for it, there is nothing between you and a wonderful relationship with your Father and mine. Simply ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

The Bible promises:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, - John 1:12

The only thing left to do is to put your faith, your trust, your life into His hands.

If you have done that while reading this post there a couple things I would ask you to do. (What more work?)

Tell somebody, someone you know if a Christian.
Plug into a local body – a good Bible believing church.
Start reading the Bible for yourself. If you don’t have a bible – go to http://www.blueletterbible.org/ or http://www.biblegateway.com/ and start reading. I suggest starting with Mark because you will get to know Jesus quickly.

Lastly, I would love you to tell me about it – either in the comments below or you can email  me: Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com

What a great way to start Christmas at Another Red Letter Day.

Ben NelsonThanks for reading today.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here is a related post you may enjoy: Remember to Rest