Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: December 2014 Devotion

Hope Is Born

Luke 1: 28…The angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 38 Then Mary said, Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.

Intelligence and skilled hands may make a useful product and an artist or architect may transfer conceivings to canvas or contractor, but the very concept of birth is unquestioned genius. And we may with excellence promote the passing of ideas, mannerisms, words and knowledge through teaching and association, but this birth idea speaks of another realm. It’s one thing to transfer how-to, style and ideas to another, but imparting the very essence of one’s mind, heart and ability, well… that belongs to the wisdom of another One. And the Wisdom that created all that is seen or ever will be has life created and contingent on the intimacy of two.

As Mary’s virtuous body was selected by the Holy Spirit to bring the Son of God into the world, subject also to that unorthodox assignment was her heart and mind. And it was from her humbled submission in body and soul to the angel’s declaration that Hope was given entrance into our hopeless world! (And how strangely, preposterously, far out is that!) Yet when the weak are willing to trust the only One worthy of trust, then do we see and experience the unexpectedly impossible. What the world itself for ages had been unable to restore through exhaustive rehab strivings of men (whether legal, moral, social or religious); the Grace of God birthed its Restorer through the faith-opened heart of a young, unknown woman! Say what you will… to see common trust unite with divine Grace to offer the world an otherwise unattainable forgiveness of sins, eternal life and a bodily resurrection too! To ignore that miracle of Grace is to miss the grandest of all invitations to believe!

God chose one frail human frame to birth the Redeemer into the world in order to offer the entire world, every single human being ever formed or will be, the joy of His indwelling Presence by faith! And now that He’s come, He’s come to stay! Not to be with us so much as be in us! Not hold our hands so much as guide our hearts! Not see Him so much with our eyes as know Him with our hearts! Not wonder if He’ll leave us as much as know He can’t! He didn’t come to simply help us, heal us, comfort us or even forgive us, as if He were only another friend, doctor or sacrificial lamb; Read the rest of this entry »

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Emmanuel

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Ahhh, December. The month that retailers and kids of all ages wait for all year long is finally here,… And with it comes the official Christmas season – that glorious time on the calendar when we celebrate our Savior’s birth!

Let’s revisit Bethlehem again with the wide-eyed wonder of a Judean shepherd whose silent, starlit night was shocked by a heavenly choir. In the fullness of God’s timing, on that otherwise ordinary night over 2,000 years ago, God came down to earth. The Creator of the universe and all it contains – the Almighty Yahweh/Elohim of the Old Testament – penetrated the veil of eternity and allowed Himself to be confined to a robe of flesh, even a baby’s helpless frame, so He could prove His love for His creation.

The Incarnation,…the timeless, boundless, infinite God humbled Himself to the limitations of time, space and a natural body. How is that even possible?

How can the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is equal to Father God as part of the divine Trinity and was with Him from the beginning of time (Philippians 2:6, John 1:1), be born of a virgin maiden who had never been intimate with a man? And even if that’s possible, did Jesus have to lay aside His divinity to become like us?  Read the rest of this entry »

Better Than Bitter

“Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”John 2:10 

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. Revelation 10:8-10

 The Apostle John recorded both of the passages above. The first event was the wedding at Cana when he personally witnessed Jesus turn the water into wine. The second event was experienced in his vision of the end times. These two stories relate to the experience of taste as metaphor for something more substantial in spirit. And both address the reality of this world and our experience of it.

John recorded the testimony of the wedding headwaiter that the wine which Jesus made was the good stuff. He was shocked by a reversal of the norm: “everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.” “Everyone”? Not this time.

The practice was common: drinking wine dulled the sense of taste and diminished the value of taste. In short, the common way was the good first impression ends with poor or distaste. Why waste good wine on dull taste buds? But that wasn’t the way Jesus worked.

The vision of John in Revelation is a much more severe setting and more harsh than a wedding. John is writing what Jesus unveiled to him. In the end times, the judgment of God is pictured as a scroll. Several Old Testament prophets had similar experience with the Word of God. John’s experience was different. The scroll was sweet in the beginning and bitter in the stomach. The judgment of God might well be something that is sweet when we think about it – our idea of “sweet revenge” Read the rest of this entry »