John 3:16 rings eternal as head-knowledge. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." As it becomes heart knowledge the reality of this awesome expression of love is that we too are to love the world so much that we continue the expression of giving God's Only Begotten Son - Jesus the Christ. that all may believe and thus have everlasting life!
The proclivity to satiate our own carnal desires in the posture of hyper-consumption and false humility have caused us to engage the very idolistic behavior that calls us away from possessing the greatest gift. God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah and warned us in the 10th chapter of His book vs. 3-5 to, "Learn not the way of the heathen...For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. Their idols[b] are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.”
And despite God's Word not to engage these ways, we not only neglect the responsibility to teach what thus says the Lord, but many of us as pastors engage in the same acts of idolatry in our homes and assemblies that we call houses of worship! God has already declared His response for such stupidity in the same chapter in verses 14 and 15, that every person who engages in these acts of futility will be put to shame and perish. Verse 21 declares that the pastors will not prosper and their flocks shall be scattered!
Saints, it is truly time for us to wake up out of the drunken carnal stupor of this age! As God inspired the apostle Paul to write in Romans 13:11-14, " know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
I know that this is not the Christ-mas message that many of you were looking for, but it is time for you to handle the Truth! It is time to F.A.C.E. the essence of this season of our lives, and it is the Gift of God's Presence. In the 2nd chapter of the book of Luke an angel approaches a group of shepherds in the twilight of the evening to declare that the Savior had been born. He told them it was "the Messiah, the Lord." As this story unfolds in verses 8-20 we find the unfolding of a process - a cycle that we are to engage. Communicated through the acronym F.A.C.E.
God initiated the process when He gave the prophetic mandate that a "Child would be born, that a Son would be given. The arrival of the Anointed One - the Messiah was
The angel came to ANNOUNCE the Christ's arrival and makes reference to the foretelling as he mentions The Messiah, The Lord. An angelic hosts joins the angel to CELEBRATE and sing joyful praise to God and to communicate the profundity of this moment to the shepherd's and to us, and to all who will believe! The shepherds leave and hasten their way to Bethlehem, which means the House of Bread, to find the Bread of Life wrapped in a feeding trough, where they witness and EXPERIENCE the joy of God's Presence. Fascinatingly enough, they repeat the process! They run to others citizens of Israel to Announce that was has been Foretold has come to pass. In doing so they invite others to come and Experience the Gift of God's presence. Finally the depart Celebrating this marvelous reality!
We are called to do the same saints! Perhaps part of the challenge is that we have lost the joy and excitement of the season! Perhaps many of us have viewed the coming of the Christ as a foregone conclusion. So much so that we neglect that this Christ, this Anointed One, this Holy Sacrifice was offered to reconcile us to the full eternal presence, purpose, and privilege of our Loving God! The Gift of God's Presence is going to be experienced in greater measure when Christ returns, but we have the blessed joy of knowing that is God is with us right now! In spite of the myriad of challenges that we experience right now, on the ground, while we're still around, God is working all things together for the good! God will deliver us out of every trial and tribulation - in this life and/or in the life to come. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and our light and momentary tribulation is not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in our eternal future.
So I encourage you to turn your eyes, ears, and most of all your hearts toward Jesus - the true Gift of God's Presence! As the songwriter says, "Look full in His wonderful face. May the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
By His Grace,
Pastor Emery B. Barber
Until the Next Time, may the Lord God bless you real good!