Sent

The good news is that, through His mercy and grace, God has provided the means for the salvation of mankind. All of us are sinners and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the penalty for our sins has been paid. Salvation is ours and all we need to do is confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is our Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Believing with our hearts results in righteousness and confessing with our mouths results in salvation (Romans 10:10).

What’s even better news is that this gift of salvation is available to everyone. In giving the gift of salvation, God does not make a distinction between people. He does not make a distinction between Jew and Gentile. He is the one true God and Lord of all and God gives generously to all who call on the name of His Son, Jesus (Romans 10:12). As the prophet wrote in Joel 2:32 and Paul reiterated in Romans 10:13, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord receives God’s gift of salvation. So, the good news is for all people, for everyone on the earth that God created.

It is God’s will that no one should perish but rather that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And all it takes is for them to call on Jesus in faith. But in order for someone to call upon the name of Jesus in faith, in order for them to believe the good news of salvation that He brings, they have to know who He is. In Romans 10:14 (NLT), Paul writes, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” It’s hard for people to believe in someone or something that they have never heard of or about!

Someone must tell people about Jesus. Someone must go and bring the good news to those who have not heard it. Someone must take the gospel across the street and around the world. In Romans 10:15 (NLT), Paul asks, “And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” The gospel needs to be sent and it needs to preached. But who is to preach it and who sends them to do so? That’s a very good question, and one that is answered quite clearly in Mark’s gospel:

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. (Mark 16:15, NLT)

These are the words spoken by Jesus to His disciples. So it is Jesus who does the sending. And whom does He send? When He spoke those words, He was sending His disciples, but His words apply to all who choose to believe in Him and follow Him. It is not just the responsibility of evangelists, pastors, preachers, and missionaries. It is the responsibility of each and every believer to bring the good news of salvation to those who have not already heard it, whether they are next door, across the street, or around the world. We have been sent so that all may hear and believe.

Metamorphosis

The butterfly is perhaps the most beautiful creature in the insect world. But that beautiful creature that soars with its beautifully colored wings began its life as a caterpillar that crawls along the ground until one day, through a process called metamorphosis, it wrapped itself in a cocoon from which it emerged transformed. Similarly, when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, we are transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 12:2 (NASB), the apostle Paul begins by writing, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

The word transformed comes from the Greek verb, metamorphoo, the same word from which we get the word metamorphosis. It’s a word that refers to a radical change in character and nature. Just as the caterpillar is drastically changed from a crawling insect to one that soars on beautiful wings, so we are transformed from our sinful nature to the image of Christ when we accept Him as Savior. But while the process of metamorphosis for the caterpillar is a relatively short one, the process by which we are transformed is a lifetime process.

When we receive Christ as Savior, we are born again and have eternal life. But the process continues from there because God wants to do more in our lives. He wants to make us into the image of His Son. We begin the process conformed to the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2), but when we receive Christ as Savior, through the power of the Holy Spirit, our minds are renewed, with the ultimate goal of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). The Holy Spirit transforms us, enabling us to live a godly life. And He does this so that, as Paul goes on to say in Romans 12:2 (NASB), we “may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Our part in this process of transformation is to resist the pattern of this world. The Passion Translation (TPT) paraphrases Romans 12:2 this way: “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.” We do the resisting, but God does the transforming. We are not called to transform ourselves, but to be transformed. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. He will renew our minds, changing the way we think so that we more fully understand the will of God and can translate that understanding into living our lives according to His will. He does this through God’s Word.

Since the Holy Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and help us to see things from God’s perspective, it is important that we saturate our minds with His thoughts and His ways by reading the Word, by memorizing it, and by meditating on it. We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts as the psalmist says in Psalm 119:11. As we are at the beginning of a new year, what better time to begin doing so?

So, how can we hide the Word in our hearts? We can read the Bible aloud, which allows us to use not just our eyes but also our ears and our mouths to put the Word in our hearts. We can copy key verses on index cards and carry them with us so that we can review them from time to time throughout the day. We can record Scripture and listen to it or use the listening features on apps like the You Version. And we can meditate on the Word and memorize it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you this year to become more deliberate and more intentional about hiding the Word in your heart as you seek to renew your mind and grow in God’s grace.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.

Grace

Jean Valjean was desperate. His sister and her family were starving and they had no money to buy food. So, out of that place of desperation, he stole a loaf of bread, a crime for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. That five-year sentence stretched into nineteen as Valjean, feeling that his punishment did not fit his crime, made numerous attempts to escape. In 1815, Valjean was released from prison but, due to another petty theft of a small amount of money from a 12-year-old boy, he was once again a fugitive of the law. Valjean assumed a new identity and became both a prosperous factory owner and mayor of a town. Years later, another man was mistaken for Valjean and arrested. As that man awaited sentencing for a crime he did not commit, Valjean appeared in the courtroom and the man was set free. It was an act of grace that went beyond thanks.

The word “grace” is an important one in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. The definition of grace as it applies to us is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners. It was through God’s grace that Jesus came to earth and paid the penalty for our sins. Unlike the man mistakenly arrested in Les Miserables, who did not deserve the punishment he was about to receive, we are all sinners and the punishment for our sins rightly belonged to us (Romans 3:23). But God sent Jesus to take our punishment. He who was without sin became sin for us. He became our salvation (Romans 3:24-25).

Titus 2:11 (NASB), says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” Jesus is the grace of God made flesh. When Jesus went to the cross and died, the penalty for our sins was paid in full. It was not something we deserved but rather God’s gift to us, given out of His great love for us. As John wrote in his gospel, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, NLT).”

The gift of eternal life, the gift of God’s grace, is ours. It is not something that we can attain on our own. God freely gives this gift when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Thank God for His amazing grace!

Fall Prevention

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; (2 Peter 1:10, NASB)

Among the most serious and common medical problems that face older adults are falls and the injuries related to those falls. In the United States in 2015, over 3 million older adults visited emergency rooms to be treated for fall-related injuries. And over half of those 3 million people ended up being admitted to the hospital due to the extent of their injuries. For these and many other reasons, fall prevention measures become important for those 65 and older. One of the best and most common measures of preventing falls is exercising to build strength, increase endurance, improve balance, and promote flexibility.

Fall prevention is also important in our walk with the Lord. And this is true not just for older adults but for everyone who follows Jesus Christ. We have an adversary whose goal is to cause us to stumble and to fall away from our faith. He is looking to trip us up in every step we take. The apostle Peter knew well how our adversary looks to cause us to stumble. It was that very adversary who caused Peter to stumble and deny even knowing Jesus on the night that He was arrested (John 18:25-27). In his first letter, Peter warns that we need to be on the alert for this adversary, as he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

In his second letter, Peter addresses fall prevention. He gives us some measures that we can take in order to keep ourselves from stumbling and falling away. The key to standing firm in the faith is to be certain of our calling, to be secure in Christ. It is our faith in Christ that guarantees that we are saved, and it is our growth in that faith that gives us the confidence that we need to keep from stumbling. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter writes that we will not stumble if we “practice these things.” What is it that we must practice? What are these things that Peter is referring to? The answer to these questions is found in 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT):

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

By developing the character virtues that Peter lists in these verses, we honor the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. When we practice these things, these virtues, in the way in which we live our lives, our character and our conduct become evidence to the world and to ourselves that we are children of God. When we live a life of faith that is governed by moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love for all, then we will walk in the assurance of our salvation in Christ. And that blessed assurance is what will keep us from stumbling. It is our spiritual fall prevention.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Is God for Us?

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5 NLT)

Since the creation of the world, Satan has placed doubt in the minds of men and women as to whether or not God is truly for them. He has placed seeds of doubt as to whether God truly cares for them and wants what’s best for them. When we find ourselves thinking or asking whether God is for us or against us, we can be sure that the source of that thought, that the author of that question is Satan himself. But here’s the thing about Satan: he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). His desire is to cause us to lose faith, to doubt God’s love for us, by making us think that God is not for us but against us. When things become difficult and anxiety creeps into our lives, that’s when this enemy of our souls will pounce. But, as the apostle Peter wrote, we must remember to cast all of our anxiety on God. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Scripture is quite clear that not only is God for us, but He cares for us and truly wants what is best for us. His plan for us is always to prosper us and never harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). When we cast our burdens on Him, He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). The God who cares about the birds of the air and the grass of the field cares even more for us (Matthew 6:26, 30). We can be sure that if we commit our lives to God, when we trust in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:3-5). God Himself has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

And so, we can be sure that, no matter what the enemy may try to make us believe, God truly cares for us and is for us. And if God is for us, then no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31). Not even the father of lies.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Christmas: God’s Love Letter

Christmas is God’s way of saying to all of us, “I love you.”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

Love letters. I’m sure that most of us would say that we love receiving them. Some even save them throughout the years, pulling them out occasionally to read them. They come from our spouses, from our children, or from others who have occupied a special place in our hearts at some point in our lives. And we treasure them because they are tangible expressions of the love that person had or has for us.

Today, we celebrate Christmas, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born into this world so that we may have eternal life. Christmas is God’s love letter to us. It is God’s way of saying to all of us, “I love you!” It is the tangible expression of the love that comes to us from our heavenly Father, the God who is love Himself (1 John 4:8, 16). Through the birth of a little baby in a stable in Bethlehem, God’s Son who would one day pay the penalty for our sins, God was showing us how much He loves us (1 John 4:9). He was saying, “I love you so much that I am sending my only Son into the world so that, if you believe in Him, you will have eternal life (John 3:16).

As we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world today, my prayer is that each of us will pause to reflect on God’s love letter, Jesus Christ, the greatest love letter ever written. And let our lives and our hearts be our love letters to Him!

A blessed and merry Christmas to all!

Jesus is the Light

In the neighborhood that I live in, Netherwood Heights in Plainfield, New Jersey, we have an annual tradition on Christmas Eve. Neighbors gather together in the morning to create luminaries, paper bags filled with sand and a candle. The bags are then transported throughout the neighborhood and placed at the curb where they wait to be lit just before it gets dark. When the sun goes down and darkness descends on the neighborhood, light from the luminaries lines the streets, and the sight is breathtaking. One cannot walk or drive the streets of Netherwood Heights on Christmas Eve and not feel uplifted.

This display of light, combined with the lights that adorn the outside of homes and shine from the Christmas trees displayed inside those homes serve as a wonderful reminder of the birth of Jesus. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was sent into the darkness of this world just as the prophet Isaiah had written centuries before that:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2, NLT)

Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of this fallen world. And, as John wrote in his gospel, that light cannot be extinguished by the darkness (John 1:5). With Jesus in our lives, we have His light in our hearts. And that light can’t be overcome by the darkness of the world and the enemy of our souls who works in the darkness. Here’s the thing about darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. But when light is introduced in the darkness, the darkness no longer exists. Just as the luminaries in my neighborhood shine light into the darkness of the night, so the presence of Jesus shines light into the darkness of the world. As Jesus Himself said in John 8:12, He is the light of the world and when we follow Him, we will not walk in darkness because we have the light that leads to life.

Merry Christmas!

Lessons in Obedience

Have you ever felt that God was calling you or leading you to do something that was either out of your comfort zone or would require you to give up something that was important to you? Sometimes God does that. Sometimes He wants us to step into something that we don’t feel qualified to do or into something that will require us to stretch. And sometimes, the thing that He is calling us to requires that we let go of something. It could mean letting go of a job that we are comfortable in. It could mean a change in lifestyle. Or it could mean letting go of a personal dream to follow His plan for our lives. Whatever the case may be, what God is looking for in us is obedience.

The Christmas story teaches us a lot about obedience. In Luke 1:26-35, we read that God sent an angel messenger named Gabriel to the Galilean city of Nazareth, with a message for a young virgin by the name of Mary who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary had no idea what this meant and as she tried to make some sense of it, Gabriel continued by telling Mary that she had found favor with God. God had chosen her to give birth to a son whom she was to name Jesus. And this was not to be just any child. This child would be the Son of God and would be given the throne of David. Mary questioned how this could be since she was a virgin, but Gabriel explained that she would conceive the child through the power of the Holy Spirit. And here is where Mary shows us a great example in obedience.

Mary could have reacted by saying, “No way, Gabriel! I am not even married yet. If I become pregnant, what would my family think? What would my neighbors think? And, what about Joseph? If he finds that I am pregnant with a child that he knows cannot be his, he’ll call off the wedding. My life will be ruined!” But instead, Mary’s reply was, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” I’m sure having any baby at that point in her life, let alone a baby who was the Son of God, was not in Mary’s own plans for her life. But Mary chose to accept God’s plan over her own plan. In obedience, she agreed to allow herself to be used for God’s purpose.

In Matthew 1:18-25, we are given another lesson in obedience, this time on the part of Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed. Before they were married, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant with a child who she claimed was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph’s initial reaction was one that, from a worldly point of view, made sense. He could not go ahead with the marriage. But, since Joseph was a just man and did not want to disgrace Mary publicly, he made plans to send her away quietly. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel verified all that Mary had told Joseph about the child she was carrying. When Joseph woke up from this dream, he laid aside his own plans and in obedience, he married Mary.

This Christmas, as you read or listen to the gospel accounts about the birth of Jesus, take some time to meditate on the obedience shown by Mary and Joseph. Let their example speak to you as you think about ways in which God is looking for you to lay aside your own plans and be obedient to His.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

The words most commonly associated with Advent and Christmas are peace, joy, hope, and love. The birth of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, brought all of these things. He is the Prince of Peace whose birth brought and still brings joy and hope to the hearts of men. The salvation that He brings is the gift of God’s love for us. But there is another word that comes to mind in this season of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. That word is found in the lyrics of the 18th century Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

The word that I am speaking of is found three times in this verse and every verse of this song: comfort. The coming of the Messiah, the Savior Jesus Christ not only brings peace, joy, hope, and love. It brings comfort to all who would believe in Him. As I reflect on this song and, particularly, on the word comfort found in its lyrics, I am reminded of Isaiah 40:1: “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. In verse 2 of that same chapter, God continues by saying, “Tell her (Jerusalem) that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.” In these verses, God spoke to Israel of the comfort that He was providing to His people, a comfort that came because their warfare had come to an end. God was providing His peace and His forgiveness and was restoring His people.

How appropriate a message this is in this season of Advent and Christmas for those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Because of His coming as a baby over 2,000 years ago, we can receive that same comfort. Why? Because Jesus came to put an end to sin’s hold on us. He came to put an end to the battle that Satan waged against us through temptation and condemnation. He came to bring us peace, forgiveness, and to restore us in the sight of God. And that is why Christmas brings with it tidings of comfort and joy.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Gift That Makes Jesus Smile

Written in 1941 by an American classical music composer and teacher named Katherine Kennicott Davis, Carol of the Drum is one of the most popular of Christmas carols. It was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers (of The Sound of Music fame) in 1951. In 1958 the song reached the peak of its popularity when it was recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale and released under the name it is better known as, The Little Drummer Boy.

The song is about a poor young drummer boy who travels with the wise men to see the baby Jesus. While the wise men bring valuable gifts to give to the baby born to be a King, gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the young boy has nothing to offer to Jesus but to play for Him on his drum. The gift, which came from the heart of the drummer boy, makes the baby Jesus smile. 

Christmas is a time for giving gifts. We give gifts to family and friends, gifts that tell them that we love them. And, of course, the greatest Christmas gift of all is the one that was given to the world by God, who sent His Son Jesus so that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). But what gift can we give to God? What gift can we offer to Jesus that would be fit for the King of kings?

In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, we read about a day when Jesus sat by the collection box at the Temple and watched as the people entering the Temple put their gifts into the treasury. As He sat there, a poor widow put in two small copper coins, which were the equivalent of about one cent. Jesus then called His disciples over and pointed out that the meager gift of the widow was of far more value than the larger gifts of those who were rich. Why? Because she gave from her heart, she gave all that she had.

Romans 12:1 tells us that the best gift that we can give to God for all He has done for us is to offer our lives as a sacrifice to Him. In other words, like the poor widow, and the drummer boy, we should hold back nothing from Jesus. That is the kind of gift that Jesus finds acceptable; it is true worship. And, just as the drummer boy’s drum playing made Jesus smile because it came from the boy’s heart, when we offer our lives as our gift, our sacrifice of worship, we can be sure that Jesus smiles at us, too.

The All-Inclusive Message of Christmas

Gospel_of_Luke_Chapter_2-10_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

After my wife and I were married, we spent our honeymoon at a resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The resort was beautiful, we had a wonderful room, there were lots of activities available, and we had three delicious meals each day. And the best part is that all of that was included in the price we paid for the trip because it was an all-inclusive resort. According to the dictionary, all-inclusive is an adjective that means including everything or everyone. Nothing or no one is left out.

In the hills surrounding Bethlehem, over 2,000 years ago, an angel messenger suddenly appeared to a group of shepherds at night, scaring them out of their wits. As they stood there trembling in fear, the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have great news for you, good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Now, I’ve read the words of Luke 2:10 many times but as I read them again recently, what stood out to me was one word, “all.” The good news that brings great joy was not just for the shepherds. It was not just for kings and rulers or for the religious leaders of the time. It was not just for the nation of Israel. The good news that the angel was bringing was for everyone. It was for ALL people!

The good news that the angel brought that night was that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem, a Savior named Jesus Christ. The baby born in Bethlehem that night was bringing salvation from sin, and He was bringing it not just for some people, He was bringing it for all people. God’s message of salvation is all-inclusive, it’s for everyone. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, when Mary and Joseph brought the baby to the temple to be dedicated, an old man named Simeon met them there. He had been promised by God that he would live to see the Messiah, the Savior. And he knew that Jesus was that Savior. He took the baby in his arms and prophesied that Jesus was God’s promise of salvation, a salvation that God had prepared not just for some people, but for all people (Luke 2:30-31).

Long before Jesus was born, long before Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be the salvation of all people, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the heir to David’s throne, an heir who would be a banner of salvation to all the world (Isaiah 11:10). God’s promised Messiah, God’s promise of salvation would be available to all the world. God’s promise is all-inclusive; it’s for everyone. No matter whether we are Jew or Gentile, poor or rich, black or white, the salvation offered through Jesus Christ is for each and every one of us who chooses to believe in Him, to accept Him as Savior, and to follow Him. Today, just as it was 2,000 years ago, the message of Christmas, the message of salvation, is all-inclusive.

The “Foolishness” of God

Adoration of the Shepherds

You are the owner of a baseball team and are in the process of trying to put together the strongest team possible with the goal of winning a championship. As you get ready to select the player to play third base, you have a choice of two players. Both are excellent defensive players, but while one is a power hitter capable of putting up big numbers, the other can barely hit his way out of a paper bag. So you choose the latter, right? … I didn’t think so. Obviously, you choose the accomplished hitter. It’s the most logical choice, the wisest choice.

While the actions and choices of man are based on what makes the most sense, what is wisest in the eyes of others, the actions of God appear to be, from a worldly perspective, foolish. In 1 Corinthians 1:25, the apostle Paul states that God’s foolishness is wiser than men and God’s weakness is stronger than men. In verse 27, Paul goes on to say that God has chosen the things that seem foolish to the world to shame the wise, and the things that the world considers weak, to shame the strong. Paul is talking about the death and resurrection of Christ here, but when you look through the pages of the Bible, you can see that this is the way God has worked throughout time.

When God decided to choose someone to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt, someone to go and present His case to Pharaoh, he didn’t choose someone who was a great orator. He chose Moses, a person who, in his own words, was slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exodus 4:10). When Saul had fallen out of grace as king of Israel and God was leading Samuel to His new choice for king, God didn’t choose the strongest, most experienced leader available. He chose David, a young shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:11-12). When Jesus chose the twelve men into whom He would pour out His wisdom, the men who would become His disciples and spearhead the foundation of the church, He did not choose the most educated men, such as the scribes and the Pharisees. He chose fishermen, tax collectors, and other common, uneducated men.

God’s “foolishness” is even seen in the story of the first Christmas, when God sent His Son into the world to redeem mankind from sin. God did not choose to send His Son in divine form. He chose instead to send Him in the form of a small, vulnerable human child, born not of a queen but of a young virgin girl named Mary. God did not choose to have His Son born in a palace and placed in a luxurious crib. He chose to have Him born in a stable and placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. When God sent His angel messengers to tell of the good news of Jesus’ birth, He did not choose to make that announcement to kings and rulers. He chose to make the announcement to a group of lowly shepherds.

As we reflect on the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, we should remember that God’s ways are greater and higher than our ways and His thoughts are greater and higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God can work in the lives of anyone and everyone. He can use the most unlikely person to do His work here on earth. He can use me, and He can use you, no matter what or who we are in the eyes of the world.

 

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