*a little poem inspired during my silent retreat last weekend
Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 2:1-14
“7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” – Psalm 24:7-10
“1 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 was governor of 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.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” – Luke 2:1-14
open up them doors! open up your hearts, that the King of Glory may come in.
who is this King of Glory?
– He grew up in a town that people thought no good could come from!
– He is born in the “house of bread” (bethlehem) and is our Bread of Life!
– He was born to a teenage mom!
– He was born to a dad, who wasn’t even His biological dad!
– He was born into a world that didn’t have space for Him!
– He was born in a cave and his crib was a food trough for animals!
– He makes His best baby shower announcement EVER to a bunch of filthy nobodies in the dark!
– He is the I AM that even commands all the armies of heaven!
open up them doors! 0pen up your hearts, that the King of Glory may come in.
from infinite to finite, from the throne of heaven to the lowest place on earth, from most respected to most disrespected, from eternity to now…where could we ever find a more awesome King?! Let’s welcome Him in and leave no room or space in our heart empty of Him!
thank you Lord that you came to us!!!
Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:16
“I will bless those who bless you [Abram], and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:3
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” – Galatians 3:16
although God blessed abraham, the father of the jewish (and the muslim) people, so many years ago, it is important to remember that it was the “offspring” of the person of Jesus the Christ through whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” it says in genesis that it is “in” abraham that this blessing would go out. it wasn’t from abraham himself that the whole world would be blessed. it was a person from his line who would bless the whole world…not just bless the people of ishmael or israel, not just any one nation or ethnic group. who else before or after Jesus offers salvation to anyone who would receive Him…not based on who you are or what you have done or not done? Jesus alone lived a sinless life so He alone could offer a substitutionary death. Jesus alone offers this pure life to anyone who would ask…with no strings attached. i must remember, He may have called us to imitate His example, but He alone lived the life that could save anyone. the only reason we can be any sort of true blessing to another is because we ourselves have received the blessing that Christ lived and died to secure for us.
how can we remember and thank Him for the promises of blessing that come to us through Him? in what ways am i experiencing this blessing of God (the life of Christ and all that it entails) and in what ways am i living as an ambassador of this blessing to the rest of the earth?
thank you Lord for blessing us through you.
Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 3:8
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,born of woman, born under the law,” – Galatians 4:4
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:8
from the beginning satan fooled us and brought us down to his level. this lie, that God is holding out on us…that we have to look out for ourselves. but where has that gotten us? we think we’ve got the medicine but it keeps making us sicker. we just keep digging our graves deeper. right where the devil wants us. we were stuck in sin, this debilitating condition, with no way out. we can’t get ourselves out.
yet, also from the beginning, God had a plan to lift us up to his level. not only a plan to get us out of the mess we got ourselves in but to crush satan’s head and live in victory…through His own and simultaneously one of our own (“born of a woman, born under law”). Jesus Christ is from God but also born of a woman…He is God and He is a man. He had to be God to save man for only God has the strength to live without sin. He had to be a man to save man for only a man could take the punishment for sin. through Jesus alone, we are raised as kings and queens, victorious over sin, death, and satan…like Jesus is.
in what ways are we still giving into satan’s lies and sin? how can we live today in the freedom we have in Him?
thank you Lord that you are victorious
John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-4
“No one has ever seen God;the only God, who is at the Father’s side,he has made him known.” – John 1:18
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” – Colossians 1:15
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” – Hebrews 1:1-3
Jesus of Nazareth is God expressed. when we read one of his titles, “the firstborn of all creation”, we are tempted to think He was born but “firstborn” means supremacy in the family. He, in fact, “created” all created things and, like the firstborn of the family, inherits all things. He made and owns all things, yet He comes into what He has made, lives among us, cares for us, cleanses us by dying for us that killed Him. although He is over all things, He comes under us and serves us. what does that say about God? about us?
if Jesus is “the exact imprint” of God, why do we still look for God elsewhere? why do we continue to insist and live like He is far away when He has come to be one of us?
thank you Lord that you are God…and the man.
Isaiah 11:1-9; John 1:14; John 8:12
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump ofJesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” – Isaiah 11:1-5
“And 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.” – John 1:14
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” – John 8:12
the artist joan osborne once asked in a song “what if God was one of us?” God actually gave us an answer: i was and i am…his name is Jesus of nazareth. it is a wonderful and terrifying mystery that God became a human being. so it begs the next question: what was/is He like? well if we use the scriptures listed above we learn that at the very least:
1) He has insight and understanding into ALL things. His discernment goes far beyond physical sensory perception…He sees beyond appearances. He does not make decisions like men do. who really knows anything to the heart, really, except God himself?
2) He really likes being in awesome reverence of God. its strange because even though He is God, He delights in God, and reveres God. maybe this means He has a totally right view of Himself, He is at total peace with himself. who has total insight, even into themselves, and still has total respect for themselves and are at peace with it?
3) He focuses on the poor and the meek. with all this power and authority, this is who He spends time with and lives among? its preposterous…it hurts our pride…its true…precisely because men wouldn’t do that. who, having all the authority and power of the world at their disposal, would give themselves to the poor and the nobodies?
4) His words have such weight people can die from just being in its presence. forget about that dos equis most interesting man in the world…He IS The Man in the world. people are cut to the quick by His words. no one can escape them. we’ve tried to hush them up, ignore them, or get rid of them for over two millenia…they just won’t die. whose words mean anything these days…who actually sticks to them…who actually has any authority to carry them out?
5) He is righteous and faithful. who is righteous and faithful? stop. ’nuff said.
6) He is full of grace and truth. He does not lie…He cannot lie…
He only speaks and lives the truth. yet, even though He knows all the truth about all of us, He overflows with the ability to give us good when we deserve the worst. whom of us pour forth only truth and always chooses to offer grace?
7) He is the guide to life. who can make the guarantee that where they are leading is absolutely the right way? only God who walked the way Himself first.
for reflection i’ll ask the same question joan osborne asked: “…if God had a face what would it look like / and would you want to see / if seeing meant that you would have to believe…?”
thank you Lord for showing us yourself.
there’s this one message I still remember from high school that was on setting up altars of God. what the people did back in the day was when God moved in a powerful way among them they set up a memorial of stones. they did this to help them REMEMBER Him. so when somebody came along that didn’t know what happened they would point at the stones and ask “what does this mean?” then they would tell of what He had done.
So I’m gonna be setting up some
Memorial Stones of God’s Works Witnessed in My Life
1. In Japan, my grandmother became the first Christian in my family, after a neighbor invited her to bible study. This was amidst persecution from others, namely from my grandfather who tore up her bible at some point.
2. My mother accepted Christ, in college in Japan through a Christmas presentation of the Navigators…a ministry that would have a great impact on my brother and I. I didn’t learn about how my mother had accepted till almost the end of my college experience.
3. My father accepted Christ after attending a church in LA for some time…his roommate got him to go b/c he told my dad there would be girls, music, and Japanese food! Go dad!
4. before I was born my parents gave me a name…the meaning of which, unbeknown to them, matched up with what they wanted me to be. i guess my mother asked my father what kind of child he wanted me to be and he said something like “one who is loved by God and by men.” David means “beloved.”
5. about the time I was in 5th grade I got a kidney illness that hospitalized me for days (my entire body was swollen) and put me on medication for years afterward (which by the way was supposed to stunt my growth but now im the tallest in my family). there’s a lot that God triggered through this event but the biggest lessons i learned through it was that humans are weak and that He is a personal God. My first clear memories of praying begin around here.
6. the day I went into the hospital was the first day my soon-to-be youth pastor came to visit our church. Jason Zahairiades (half greek-half Korean. once again I didn’t know how much Koreans would impact my life till college) talked with God like He was a real person. He taught me through example that Christianity is not about rituals and rules but about a living relationship with a powerful God.
7. Although, growing up in the church, I must have said words a bunch of times, I believe I sincerely accepted Christ in 7th grade at Mt. Hermon youth camp.
8. One time, I can’t remember exactly when, I fell off a small cliff. I cried out to God as I was falling. next thing I know I was on the dirt ground with nothing but a scratch on my hand.
9. My freshman year of high school I went to this revival event and as I was praying to experience his Spirit’s movement in me somebody began to pray for me. I can’t really explain it, but soon after my body began to shake uncontrollably. His work at that time was more significant than that, like experiencing God’s peace, but I guess it was the first time I experienced God physically moving in me.
10. In the winter of my freshman year in high school I went to Winter Vision (a youth camp for our conference) in Santa Cruz. on the final morning of the camp the speaker gave a message on the power of God’s movement in the early church and the potential for power in this generation. He focused on ACTS 4:31 where the place the believers were praying was shaken. After the message we received news that So. California had been rocked by an earthquake that same morning. it was what we now refer to as the Northridge earthquake. the earthquake struck at 4:31 a.m.
11. One morning in high school i witnessed a demon manifest in my friend. it was scary. We prayed hard. Then my youth pastor came and prayed and the demon left.
12. I contemplated suicide my junior year. Nothing dramatic had happened. I just found myself in a place where I felt so much pressure that I felt like I was caving in and all I could do was ball. while my face was buried in my pillow my stereo was playing the song “Come Let Us Return” by Kevin Prosch. I heard these lines: “For He has torn us but he will heal us, for He has wounded us but He will bandage us, and He will come.” He did. He saved me, my soul as well as that night.
13. During that anxious time of waiting my senior year for college letters, I found I did not hear at all from UCLA. A while after everyone got their acceptance/rejection letter my acceptance arrived on the day of my 18th birthday. It seemed a confirmation that I would go to the only school that I knew people at…who all happened to be Christians.
14. Sometime in high school I was at another revival meeting. One of the leaders was praying for me and they said that they sensed a call of Joshua over my life (you know the guy that had to lead the Israelites into the promised land when Moses passed away) and something about an iron scepter. now I don’t really know what that all means (will mean) but my 5th and final year at UCLA I was reading through the book of Joshua. what God spoke to me during that time of my life, not only was it the freest time I felt in my life, but it was a time that ultimately led to my decision to go to summer missions to Japan and into the graduate program of education for teaching.
So what has God done in your life?
Won’t you set up some memorial stones too? Let’s remember what He has done and who He is. Let it be a witness to us as well as for all to see.
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. – Psalm 78:4