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God’s Story in 66 Verses

As a Pastor who has spent the first years of his career with youth I heard two major complaints from my students:

1. The Bible is so big

2. The Bible is so boring

And it’s not just young people a lot of people look at the Bible like trying to read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or War & Peace. How do you get through it? How do you begin to tackle it and understand it?

Author Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and his latest book, God’s Story in 66 Verses attempts to break the bible down into a single passage from each book of the Bible to give you a clearer understanding of God’s word.

And at 256 pages, it’s a lot smaller than your Bible. And while true, this book is not a replacement for reading the Bible, but it is a great introduction for breaking this large book down and making it less intimidating.

Each chapter of Guthrie’s book takes a single passage and invites the reader to see how it fits into the “larger” picture.

This is a great book for someone who either doesn’t have a history with the scriptures or who is having a hard time understanding the bigger picture.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Believe by Randy Frazee

When I was in seminary, one of my favorite classes was “systematics” it’s basically “why you believe what you believe….” or more accurately “what it is you actually believe.” When I saw this book BELIEVE by RANDY FRAZEE. It appeared to be a scaled back, more reader-friendly “every day person” systematics text book.

Eh. yes and no.

The editors of BELIEVE describe it as: “Believe, NIV is a unique spiritual growth experience that takes you on a journey to think, act, and be more like Jesus. Each chapter uses short topical passages from the New International Version to help you live the story of the Bible. Using this edition of Believe, church families around the globe can now embrace a full ministry year through worship services, small group studies, and family activities.”

When you open the book and look inside the front cover, the table of contents IS broken down just like a systematics book. It starts with God, Salvation, the Bible, Jesus, the Church, Humanity and so forth…. then it breaks down into personal growth like worship, prayer Bible study etc…

The book is broken down into three main areas:

Beliefs: What do I believe?
Practices: What should I do?
Virtues: Who am I becoming?

Which is great! I was kind of looking for a simplified “discipleship” program that I could implement with people or new believers. When I got the book in the mail, it was…. HUGE. It’s as big as a BIBLE.

Well, that’s because it kind of IS a Bible.

This book has a lot of padding. And sadly it’s a BIG book that talks about a BIG BOOK! I assume the publishers wanted to “help” new readers by including in full, every supporting passage. Which is great, but … misleading. If the Bible portions were stripped out, you’d be left with a much smaller book.

Plus, then within each chapter, the Bible has been stripped of all it’s chapter and verse references and strung together more in a “Message-style.”

Again, let me repeat – for a target audience of New Believer. This is a great resource and I would highly recommend it, in fact I know exactly who I am going to give it to. But I don’t see using this as something to base curriculum or sermon prep or a discipleship program from.

Thank you to Zondervan Publishers for sending me this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Jesus is the gift of Christmas

Fruitcake is a very misunderstood dessert. When you eat normal cake you want a “wedge” or a great big “pretty” slice of cake…. hopefully with the big frosting flower on the top. But fruitcake is meant to be sliced the thickness of tissue paper and then served with whipped cream. It’s a very light dessert, but we have a tendency to serve a “slab” of it and then wonder why it’s so filling…and disgusting.

And although the lady makes us laugh in the video, she said something pretty profound just before her salt and sugar mix up. She said, “Big things can come from really little places.”

Jesus was born in this really little place called Bethlehem 2000 years ago. And the entire reason why we end up at Bethlehem -at all – in the Christmas story is because Caesar Augustus wanted to see how BIG his world was. After all, he was in charge of it. So he wanted to count the whole world, or at least the part of it that he controlled. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been in charge of a census before, but it’s a tremendous undertaking. And so we have Mary and Joseph who live in Nazareth and they make the long journey to Bethlehem.

Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius Syria 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Bethlehem is the smallest place in the smallest city. When Jesus was born there, it probably had between 300 and 1,000 people max. But it was in that city, a small child was born – who changes the world.

This year our theme for the season was “the gift of Christmas” and today I want to say that – even though a tiny baby born in a tiny city seems insignificant – Jesus is the ultimate gift of Christmas.

And so when we read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Matthew, we see the wise men tell King Herod that the birth of Jesus was actually the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy that was written over half a millennia before THAT.

Matthew 2:1-6

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

So that indented part, is a foot note or a screen capture from another text. It’s actually from an ancient scroll called “Micah.” That document was written 700 years before the wise men show up.

These wise men are putting the clues together and so far what they know is…the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

But noteworthy to us, even long before the prophecy from Micah was foretold, something else big happened three centuries earlier in the same city of Bethlehem. You see, deep in those ancient stories we find another story about Ruth and Naomi who are distant ancestors of Jesus….another part of the “Christmas recipe” if you will.

Naomi is a good woman. Her husband had died and her sons had died and she is

alone with her two daughters in-law. So she tells them both – that they are released from all their family obligations. She tells them to go back to their own families and find new

husbands. The first one leaves, but Ruth stays behind.

The two eventually find their way to a city called …. (you guessed it) Bethlehem…(and this is 1000 years before Jesus was born).

Naomi ends up staying on a piece of property owned by a distant relative whose name is Boaz. And Naomi tells Ruth to go out into Boaz’s field and to pick up and glean discarded grain. Each night, Ruth would take the grain home to Naomi and they would make …bread.

And so if you read to the end of Ruth’s story, her trip to Bethlehem not only included bread for dinner, but also the gift of a “bread winner” namely her new husband, Boaz. Yes, Ruth ends up marrying the landowner and the story concludes with Ruth becoming a Mother.

Ruth 4:14-17

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name Israel 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

And Obed is important because he represented the continuing of Naomi’s family name and lineage. Finally, after all those years, Naomi had redemption and a grandchild to hold. Plus, notice the Bible says that Obed is was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

In other words, Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother which made Naomi his

great-great grandmother. And through the ages, the little town of Bethlehem became known as the “city of David.”

Luke 2:11

Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.

Remember, this is how the Angel of the Lord described the location of the birth of Jesus centuries later to the shepherds watching their flocks out in the fields at night.

The angel was telling the good news that a new Kinsman-Redeemer of all people, had just entered the world. Jesus came to the rescue of humanity in the same city where his great ancestor Boaz had redeemed his grandmother.

Bethlehem means “house of bread.”

But you know, there are more than 5,000 references to bread in the Bible, from the quick unleavened bread found in the Exodus story to Jesus feeding the five thousand with bread and fish. There’s even a bread recipe in the book of Ezekiel which I guarantee you would be worse than any fruitcake you have ever eaten.

You know, after Jesus feeds the five thousand, a crowd finds him later on and begin following him around. And Jesus accuses them of being gawkers and rubber neckers – he says “you’re only here because you want to see me do another magic trick.” And listen to what the crowd says….

John 6

30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? (so yea, do another magic trick) 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”(another mention of bread in the Bible)

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

.. and listen to what Jesus says in reply….

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

The Christmas recipe comes full circle.

Naomi harvests grain with leads to meeting her husband, they have a child who would be the great Grandfather of King David, and from the line of David comes the greatest King – Jesus. A baby born in “the house of bread” … the bread of life.

One man giving “lunch-leftovers” to a girl who was poor…began a marriage that would lead to King David and to Joseph and to Jesus.

The smallest things really can change the world.

Which brings us back to fruit cake. Do you know what’s in a fruit cake recipie? A lot of junk. I copied this off the internet, the lady said. “This is my 90-year-old grandmother’s recipe. Very simple.” Are you ready for simple?

2 cups packed brown sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground cloves

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons ground nutmeg

4 eggs

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

1 1/2 cups dried mixed fruit

1 1/2 cups butter, melted

2 cups brandy

First off, that doesn’t feel simple…. second…. didja see the Brandy at the bottom? 2 Cups sounds like a lot. Well, I read the directions.

So you bake all the ingredients together in the oven and make the bread. But… after the bread is baked and done. That’s when you use the brandy.

This is from the directions again

Wrap cooled cake in foil. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons brandy over the cake everyday for 2 weeks.

What? 2 weeks? No wonder fruit cake tastes terrible, you’re literally eating stale drunk bread. When your Mom bakes homemade bread – when do you want to eat it? That same day right? Fresh bread smells amazing, fresh bread tastes amazing – but maybe the reason fruit cake is…. what it is… is because it’s 2 weeks old… and smells like your uncle Frank.

What’s in a simple bread recipe?

1 teaspoon sugar

1 package dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

And then some recipes call for an egg, others milk

5 or 6 ingredients max.

Not one ingredient is all that large, but all of them are needed. The sugar and the salt add flavor, the yeast makes it rise. The water and the flour bonds all of the ingredients together. Bread is so simple, so basic and yet – it is one of the core elements of our diet. If you ever hear anyone describe the most basic and most elemental food building blocks what do they always say?

“Bread and water.”

Some people give fruit cake as a gift at Christmastime and if that’s you, I don’t mean to poke fun. It’s just me. Fruit cake (for me) is a lot like Thanksgiving stuffing, 99% of it out there tastes terrible, but when you find that 1% that does it right – it’s an amazing experience – and I am sure… your fruitcake – or your Grandma’s fruitcake is wonderful. God Bless, but here’s my point.

Some people give fruit cake as a gift at Christmas; “Hey, do you know why fruitcake make the perfect gift? Because the U.S. Postal Service hasn’t found a way to damage it.”

Some people give fruit cake as a gift at Christmas; and for those of us who get fruitcake at Christmas… our response is… you shouldn’t have… no, you really shouldn’t have.

And maybe the reason it’s weird to me is because the Christmas recipe doesn’t begin with fruit or cake – it begins with bread.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Fruitcake may be the worst gift at Christmas, but Jesus is the ultimate gift of Christmas.

Bread during the time of Jesus was a symbol for life, just as it is today. In fact bread also symbolized a spiritual life. In the Old Testament fresh bread was placed every day in a very special place in the temple. And it was a very popular Jewish belief that when the Messiah came, he would once again bring bread from Heaven, just like Moses did.

That’s why the crowd asks Jesus for a sign, they’re basically saying, “if you’re the Messiah then prove it, make it rain bread like Moses did and then we’ll believe you.”

Moses fed three million Jews. Jesus had only fed five thousand. Moses fed the people for 40 years, Jesus had only given them lunch. Moses made it rain bread from the Heavens, Jesus had only multiplied bread that he …borrowed.  So where you and I might be impressed – there were some in the crowd who just shrugged and said, “eh, what else you got?”

See but here’s the problem. The people of Jesus’ day were looking to have their physical needs met. Hey, if every day you opened up the fridge, and it was always stocked, and it some how magically replenished itself while you slept. That’s pretty sweet, (put that on my Christmas list) a replenishing fridge that’s one less thing to worry about. We’d all love for God to take care of our physical needs.

But these people, were only focused on the emptiness of their stomachs, but Jesus didn’t come to fill tummies, he came to fill the human heart. He came to replenish the soul.  Jesus turns to them and says, “You have it all wrong, mana doesn’t really fill you up, did you really think the Messiah was just another bread winner like Boaz? I’m here to bring you life – real life. There may be no physical life without bread, but there is no spiritual life without me.” (pause)

I love Christmas I really do, and I get caught up just like most people in the frenzy of buying stuff – or buying too much stuff. But at the same time I worry that some people are buying more than toys, and that they’re actually buying “the hype.” You know what I mean? I think it’s sad when Christmas becomes an opportunity to get stuff, and to fill their stockings, but they never once give a thought to filling what matters.

Their life…. their soul… their spirit.

Too many people are to quick to unwrap the stuff of this world and they don’t realize how empty it will prove in the end. The presents of this world will never fulfill us.

Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus simply asks us to trust him to give us what we really need. Namely, he gives himself to us.  He came as a baby to fulfill a promise from God.

And Jesus entered this world to live for us, to die for us. He came to ensure forgiveness for us. He came to give himself completely to us, so that we can feast on his love, enjoy his freedom and grace now and forever.

So you know, in a way, the MANA from Heaven really had come. It just wasn’t what everyone was expecting. Jesus is all the life we need.

And His gift to us at Christmas is the ultimate present because -He is the one who offers forgiveness. He offers peace and freedom from guilt and shame. And this is sustenance we need to partake of daily.

But sadly, our sinful hearts are tempted to leave this “living bread” on the table as a leftover. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and gotten an order of bread with dinner? Yea, everywhere you go. And when the breadbasket arrives everyone is excited at first. People will eat one or two pieces in a matter of minutes. That’s until the main course comes, and then the rest of the bread remains untouched.

Do we do that with Jesus? – the bread of life? – in the same way? At times, we welcome him into our life until “something better” comes along?

People may come to church on Christmas or Easter out of tradition or to please somebody else, or maybe people come to church simply because that’s what you do on Sunday.

But there’s the temptation not to take Christ home with you. Listen, we need to take Jesus home with us. We have to continue to feed on his Word. It’s necessary that we nourish our souls on the good news of forgiveness and love and salvation.

That’s the thing that was confusing then, and that’s the thing that’s confusing now, Jesus IS the main course. The bread isn’t an add-on to your life – it IS your life. There is no fulfillment WITHOUT the bread. There is no life WITHOUT Jesus.

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Love Comes Down at Christmas

So I wanted to look at this idea of how love became manifest to us. How God became visible and became known to us. And so the first part of that is…

The Mystery

One Theologian said it like this, “God became that which first became through Him.”

Confused? It’s ok. The understanding of how God’s love became manifest is a mystery.

I read John 1:14 earlier, here is what it says in our pew Bible

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

You know this is the most wonderful and most mysterious verse in all of scripture. How does this work? How does God, who is immortal become mortal? How can God who is eternal become temporary? To say that this is a mystery is actually an understatement! How does God who can never change… grow and learn as a young man. Did Mary teach her son to read?  Don’t think about that for too long it will hurt your brain.

The Christmas story begins with God entering the world, not as a born baby, or as a man, but as a fetus. God spent His first 9 months on earth fully alive and fully human as an unborn child.

In the apostle’s creed there is a line that says that Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Why is that important? Well it’s important because Jesus didn’t become God in the manger, and he didn’t become God when he was baptized – he was God the entire time – even in the womb.

But the flip side of that is… the ongoing mystery of that is…. God didn’t cease to be God when he became a human.  God added, humanity to himself.  Jesus was fully God and fully human. God moved in to a human body, God resided in human flesh. “God became that which first became through Him.”

God’s previously invisible love… became visible…. it became manifest.  The love of God now beat with a human heart. The wisdom of God now spoke with human lips. The mercy of God reached out with human hands. God was always the God of love but when Christ came to the earth, love was wrapped up in human flesh. Jesus was God with skin on.

The Meaning – So what did this mean?

It’s funny to read the Angel’s announcement to Mary in Luke 1:29 – the Angel says,

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But Mary was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

Which is the Bible’s way of saying…. “huh?” Who are you? Do I know you? What did you just say? Wait, what now? Mary was looking for the meaning.

Every Jew knew the Messiah was coming, but they didn’t exactly know how or when and so when Jesus finally does arrive… it wasn’t how everyone expected it to be and so we examine what it means.

Hebrews 2:17

He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

What does it mean – that God became human? Why did He do it like that? Well, I would say that He did it like that so that God could be like us. God did it that way so that we could see him and so that we could relate to him.

This is how reconciliation starts. On common ground. On neutral territory. The Father in that video says, I am going to them. “I’m not bringing any presents, just the gift of making things right.”

God isn’t a long bearded guru on a cloud, and he’s not a floating head who breaths fire and smoke – God became a baby. God was holdable, huggable, kissable. Just think for a minute about what that means.

God knows what it feels like…. I think we go through trials and darkness and our first thought is… we’re all alone. The rest of the world is merry and bright and we are walking alone. But God became a baby, and so God knows what it feels like.  The Bible says in..

Hebrews 4:15-16

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

All of that –  means God knows what it feels like…

1. To be hungry. Jesus begins his ministry in Luke 4 with a time of fasting. The Bible says that he went without food and knew hunger.

2. It means God knows what it feels like to be tired. In John 4, Jesus rests at the well of Jacob and the Bible says that Jesus was “weary from his journey.”

3. It means God knows what it’s like to be poor. You know, Jesus wasn’t born into wealth. He grew up in a backwater town, in poverty, his family did manual labor. Years later during his own ministry Jesus told those following him that he was homeless and that he had “no place” to lay his head.

4. It means Jesus knows what it’s like to be rejected. God drove all that way – to be with his kids, to live among them.  Jesus came as the Messiah and as the Savior and yet… his own children ridiculed him, despised him, talked ill of him and had him arrested.

5. It means Jesus know what it’s like to have those closest to him die. You know the last time we see Joseph was when Jesus was 12. But later on the cross, Jesus entrusts the care of Mary to John (his disciple) so sometime between Jesus being 12 and 33, his father died.  The passage in Hebrews continues…

Hebrews 2:18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

And I know it doesn’t always help when someone puts their hand on your shoulder and says, “I know what you’re going through” but the meaning behind God’s love made manifest …was so that God would know what you go through.”

The Bible says we don’t worship a God who is unable to sympathize. This means we can run to our Father in assurance that He can help. He will help. He wants to help. Each time we cry out to him for Help – God is the God who runs to your side.

Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son? It’s a good story for Vacation Bible school, but we don’t usually tell it at Christmas do we?

It’s the story of a man who had children. And one rebellious child says, “Dad, I can’t wait any longer for you to die, so please give me my inheritance now.”

The child then runs off to squander their Father’s wealth, until there is nothing left and the child is left impoverished and hungry.

And so while this broken child works for a gentile farmer, slopping pigs. His stomach growls for the pig’s food and the child longs to go back… to go home.

The prodigal child would be home for Christmas if only in their dreams. And even though in an act of humility and shame, the child returns home, we see the Father running to His child.

It’s a new day, all is forgiven. The Father welcomes his child home with love and open arms; and the entire household throws a huge celebration. The Father in Jesus’ story never gives up on his kids, and takes the first steps towards healing and wholeness.

And true, we don’t know all the reasons why God did what he did. Sent His son as a baby and then allowed his son to be tortured and killed. But we do know that part of that meaning was so that he could identify with us, part of that meaning was so that he could take the first steps towards reconciliation. So we have the mystery, the meaning and ….

The Message

Isaiah 43:19 says:

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

What if that happened every Christmas?

What if that happened every DAY?

The Message of Christmas was that something new was about to happen and the world would never be the same.

Colossians 1:19-20

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

This is the message! This is the good news of Christmas! All the fullness of God was in that one tiny baby and through him – he would reconcile all things. What does all things mean? Well, it means all things.

In the book of Romans Paul writes:

Romans 8:31-39:

If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

…37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God in heaven sees that the space between us and Him has grown so great; so God comes

to us. God comes to meet us. Wherever we are, whoever we are. Whatever the past,

whatever the present. No matter how broken or separated we might feel from God.

God comes to us. Love comes down at Christmas.

What is this Christmas going to be like for you?

Let me offer that it could be a reconciliation in your own life, in your own family.

We all know how things go with family. Words get said, feelings get hurt, we say things, we don’t say things. Someone gets blamed, maybe even someone gets cast off…

Maybe you have a prodigal child.

Maybe you ARE the prodigal child.

This Christmas could be about relationships that have lingering wounds being healed

and made whole. It may not all happen at once. But what if a step was taken that led to

a second step and then a third? Perhaps, all God desires this Christmas is for

someone to take the initiative in your family and to make the first move offering the gift of love.

Nothing is beyond repair. No relationship is beyond fixing.

Not even ours with God.

God says, “I love you no matter what.” And this Christmas God wants a new beginning ….with his kids.

 

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New Beginnings

Why do images of family, and love and hearth and home warm us at Christmas time? Why do songs like “I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams?” make us get all teary eyed? Because Christmas’ foundation is built on love and family and relationships.

The Christmas story starts with a Father sending his son. The Christmas story starts with a newly married couple. The Christmas story starts with a birth announcement.

So I wanted to look at the Christmas story in a different place this morning. I want to read the Christmas story found in 1 John chapter 4. In this passage we see… love… wrapping the greatest gift of God.

1 John 4:7-12

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

I love that, “His love is perfected in us…”

A perfect love is a right love. It’s the right love in the right relationship. And so what did God have to do to restore and reconcile things? It’s right there in verse 9, “the love of God was made manifest among us.”

Manifest is the word “phenero” in the Greek and it means to reveal – as if something that was invisible became visible. It’s when a student doesn’t understand something, they just don’t get it and a really good teacher comes along and “reveals” it to them.

God said, “I’m all about new beginnings.” God sent himself – to reveal – to phenero – himself – to begin something new and after that.. it would never be the same.

 

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