Posts tagged ‘heaven’
“Always winter but never Christmas.”
- C.S. Lewis
Narnia may be a never-ending winter, but Heaven is a never-ending Christmas.
So often at Christmas we stop to consider this baby in a manger, but as Philippians 2 points out, Christmas isn’t astounding only because God became man, but why God became man. If we’re honest with ourselves, we really like to think that Christmas is about us. But while Jesus came to die for us, He had his sights set on something much higher than just setting a prisoner free. Yes Jesus came to be crucified, but that was so that He would be glorified. What good would it do us, to be set free from slavery to sin, only to see ourselves fall right back? When Christ stepped off His throne, He wasn’t just coming to purchase your redemption, but to seal it too. This purchase included a guarantee! Jesus caused the lame to walk, the blind to see and the deaf to hear, He caused the dead the rise and He humbled the proud. He fed thousands, walked on water, and turned water into wine. Yet His greatest act of divinity wasn’t one of these miracles, it was His submission to the Father. And so the Father has exalted the Son; Christmas on Earth means Christmas in Heaven!
He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way. – Ephesians 1:20-23
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. – John 3:35
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death. For God has put everything under His feet. But when it says “everything” is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. – Colossians 3:1
Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him. – 1 Peter 3:22
Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. – Hebrews 10:11-14
I would like to close by sharing a video of John Piper reading his poem The Innkeeper. This is an incredibly moving poem about what might have happened to the innkeeper and his family after Jesus was born. I hope it is a source of comfort and joy for you, Merry Christmas!
9 After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
Salvation belongs to our God,
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!
11 All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “Who are these people robed in white, and where did they come from?”
14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
Then he told me:
These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.
They washed their robes and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb.
15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and they serve Him day and night in His sanctuary.
The One seated on the throne will shelter them:
16 They will no longer hunger;
they will no longer thirst;
the sun will no longer strike them,
nor will any heat.
17 For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne
will shepherd them;
He will guide them to springs of living waters,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
This scripture was on my heart as we had talked about some of our experiences so far here in New Mexico. The poverty and neglect is so overwhelming here it’s like stepping into a third world country, except we’re still supposedly in the US. It’s easy for the visible problems to consume us, but this passage reminds me of two things that I should always keep in proper perspective. First, this world is just as broken as we are, and God promises to restore it just like He promises to restore us if we have the obedience of faith. As we spend more and more time with these children and their families, we’re exposed to the brokenness that fills their homes (just like it does ours). But the good news is that God won’t leave it like this, and as much as I want to break down and weep over some of the places that these families call home, I’m encouraged to know that it won’t stay this way. There will be a Day when they will no longer thirst for clean water. There will be a Day when the sun and heat will no longer beat them down. There will be a Day when they will no longer cry. And there will be a Day when God Himself will shelter them. What incredible news!
The second thing this passage reminds me to keep in perspective, is that salvation belongs to God. God has sent us here to preach the Gospel faithfully to the Navajo, but we have to remember that the only One who Saves anyone, is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, there is no Salvation. As deeply as I hope for these children to believe, I know that their salvation is totally and completely in God’s hands. If we truly believe that God’s Word is true, we will trust that as we faithfully present the Gospel, God will move in people’s hearts to convict them of their sin and awaken them to their need for Him as Lord and Savior.
These two truths are very freeing: this isn’t how the story ends and the story isn’t mine.
Monday was a great day for us. We had a fantastic turnout considering this is our first time to come out here and it’s incredibly difficult to invite the kids and their parents to come because the houses are all so far apart. But word spreads quickly around here, and after a day of hesitant interaction, the kids not only started warming up, they didn’t want us to leave! Even though it took a while for the kids to come join us, we had a great time with our sports camp in the morning because it really helped us get to know the kids and just as importantly, it helped them get to know us. We mostly played soccer with the kids, although we eventually migrated to the tent and ended up playing a number of games like duck, duck, goose. The VBS on Monday night was great, especially considering we weren’t sure to what to expect and so much of it was kind of like a trial and error sort of thing. Thankfully, our students and adults were all so prepared that we were all able to handle the changes and surprises that came our way. I can’t say enough good things about our students and how well they interacted with the kids. At one point, we had left our snacks and drinks at the Church, and so I ran back to get them. It was a little bit frustrating having to drive all the way back to the Church, but as soon as I pulled back in and saw our students playing games, doing crafts and loving on the kids in their groups, I was reminded why we’re here. In all, we had around 30 kids at both sites on Monday, but we know that many of them will go home and tell their friends to come tomorrow. Thank you to everyone back home for the prayers, keep them coming!