Sunday, December 30, 2012

Playing with the Band

That you may walk worthy of teh Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God... Colossians 1:10

In the past year I have undertaken to learn to play the bagpipes.  It is not a terribly common instrument, however there are many resources available on the internet as well as in print for private study.  With books, CD's and videos I labored greatly, trying to work my own way through this musical artform.  Once I had felt that I had acheived some level of proficiency I set out to join a Bagpipe band here in town.  I auditioned with the pipe major who graciously noted that I must have been self taught.  As it turns out I had learned many of my most basic movements incorrectly and, while they sounded fine to me, they would not do for playing with the band.  So my instruction began again, this time with a teacher and I am now progressing towards being able to play suitably as a member of the band.  There is a paralell in our spiritual life.  We may be tempted to be "self-study" Christians.  Turning over whatever leaves of knowledge that we can draw together with our experience and understanding, however, nothing can replace the corporate need of our faith.  It can be uncomfortable to be in a body.  It necessarily means being hurt and making mistakes.  Yet this is how we are meant to grow: together.  We can try to keep our old ideas and habits, but they will clash with what The Lord is doing in the body and in this way The Lord will change us, grow us, draw us to maturity.  It is a slow process, and a thorough one.  This is because He who calls us to salvation in Jesus Christ is not calling us to superficial change, but total and complete transformation.  We will struggle at times, at times we will be frustrated, but the worst thing that we can do is take ourselves "out of the band."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Child is This?

"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel." - Luke 2:29-32 NASB

The account of Simeon is amazing.  The Lord had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  When he held the baby Jesus in his arms he knew that he could depart in peace.  All of his hopes, and all of the hopes of the world were met and fulfilled in this promised Child whom we celebrate each December.  How much more blessed are we when we consider the Salvation that the Lord has provided, rather than listening to the ruckus that the world continually provides.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. - Luke 2:8 NASB

 Of all the things I love about the Christmas accounts, the angels appearance to the shepherds is among my favorites. The choice of God to herald Christ's coming to the shepherds gives us some valuable applications for the holidays.

  1) Shepherds were humble - Being with livestock all day was not a prestigious trade. Their work kept them out of many social and religious gatherings and they were solitary outcasts of "high society". This is exactly who Christ came to, and for: not who humanity views as the brightest and best, but the humble and needy.

  2) Shepherds were available - Far from the hustle and bustle of the city lights and the census hubbub, the shepherds were available and able to hear the angelic chorus, leave everything to go and see this Messiah who was born as a baby in Bethlehem.

  3) These Shepherds were special - Given the area of these shepherds were working in it was very likely that these were the very shepherds who would carefully breed many of the lambs that would be slaughtered in celebration of the Passover. They, who raised the lambs that were killed in anticipation of the Messiah would surely be interested in seeing, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

 This Christmas season, I pray we may all be humble, available, and fully aware of the miraculous first advent of Jesus Christ on planet earth.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Christmas Miracle

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 NASB There is so much to love about Christmas. The lights, the decorations, the food, and the songs all bring about special and wonderful memories. At this time, however, we can never lose sight of the most amazing thing that ever happened to the planet earth. This is the season where we celebrate the God Who put on skin, became flesh, and dwelt among us. In the person of Jesus Christ we behold the glory of God, and that glory came to us as a helpless baby, born to a young girl, as the greatest act of love the world would ever know.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Apply! Apply! Apply!

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 NASB There is no practice so valuable in my life as daily Bible reading. However, even in this wonderful habit there is a danger of fleshly interference. Whether by inattentively passing our eyes over the words and "checking a box" on our daily to-do list, or by reading to give ourselves some sense of self-righteousness, we can do this and still miss out on the great benefits of Bible reading. The piece that may be missing is application. It has well been said: "Every Bible should come bound in shoe-leather." Every verse of Scripture tells us something about the Lord, something about ourselves, something about what God is doing. Every verse is meant to be lived out, by the life of Christ, every day.