At Bremerton Nazarene we are getting ready for the "Big Give." In Today's sermon, Pastor Sherwin focused on the Magi and how they brought gifts for the Gift. "We give because Christ first gave." The Magi were expectantly looking for this Gift to arrive. And when the Gift was given, He was received by them. They journeyed roughly 1,000 miles (google says that is a 48 day walk) one way to get a glimpse of this Long Expected Jesus.
Today, I had a newcomer at our church ask me the question, "Why is Jesus a gift?" "What did he bring?" "What could a baby do?" These are the questions that every associate and lead pastor long to hear. Questions that are searching for real answers. Questions you can tell are already made in faith because if doubt was there they would not even ask but they come expecting an answer from us and when they ask those questions the Holy Spirit is working!
Why is Jesus a Gift?
The creator of the world breathed life into the creation that would sin against Him. Even knowing that humans would choose idolatry over worship and obedience of the true King... He breathed life into them. But that wasn't the only gift given. You see, He breathed life and then knowing He would have to empty Himself to be born and die for this creation. Jesus is the gift of life. Through His death and resurrection He defeats sin and death. To do that, He had to be born a baby and live a fully human life while still remaining fully God. God Incarnate.
What did He Bring?
Jesus Christ brought Himself. In doing so, He lived a life where He could understand every single temptation. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that, "He was tempted in every way." He understands every single temptation there is and we can lean on Him to get us through those temptations and if we fail, His love is sufficient. Through those temptations, He did NOT sin. He lived the sinless life. The 2nd Adam chose obedience over sin where the 1st Adam failed. No longer does sin bind us to death but now love pulls us to obedience of life.
What could a Baby do?
As I type this, my almost two-year-old son is trying to climb onto the table. And when I tell him, "No, Henry" he smiles at me and then leans over and gives me kisses. Joy. A baby brings Joy... and Hope. (Though, I am sure that Mary didn't have to tell her first born to get off the table as much as I have said while typing this...) Jesus would have to learn how to talk and walk. His starting point would be like our starting points. None of us started as an adult and in that same manner the one who would intercede for us would do the same. For what can a baby not do? Because eventually, babies grow up... (every mother is now either praising this fact or if she is sleeping through the night may be getting teary eyed because that his a happy/sad reality). This baby born King of the Jews would not remain a baby for He would grow to be the greatest teacher, love, and Savior of all.
For The BIG Give, Bremerton Nazarene, I have this to share with you. Many of you have accepted Jesus Christ. You lived expectantly awaiting and are awaiting His Second Coming. There is a lot of work in our local community that we need to do. So for our Christmas Offering we are asking you to give, give a gift to the Gift. Be the Magi of today. The gold given paid for Jesus ministry and the other gifts prepared Him for His burial. I've often wondered what Mary and Joesph did with the gifts that Jesus received for it was not their's... that which Mary knew it belong to the Christ. And I have no doubt that they were used to propel His ministry. So, if you have accepted Jesus Christ.... Give expectantly of His ministry to continue.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ, a gift that you can give the Gift is the gift of yourself. As I have read the Scriptures, I see this too in the Magi. They had the knowledge of Him, that the King of the Jews was coming... they had knowledge of the Scriptures but when the time came they brought themselves to Him. They had to bring themselves to Him to be able to give the Gift gifts. Jesus Christ does not want your money before He wants your heart. For the whole reason why He came was LOVE. And the greatest gift we can give back is LOVE. He isn't asking for things or money.... He came seeking a relationship and through that relationship, He will pour blessings. But as the Magi, they gave the best they had to offer themselves and their gifts.
This Christmas, let's offer Jesus our best. If you want to accept Him as your Lord and Savior the Bremerton Nazarene staff would love to pray with you and aid you in anyway you need as you journey to Him this Christmas. You can comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office. If you want to give a financial gift that allows His ministry to continue in our local community, you can give online HERE and memo The BIG Give or bring your Christmas Offering with your next week as we celebrate The BIG Give on December 17th. In whatever stage you are of being a Magi, starting the journey to Him or giving the gifts to Him... LET'S GIVE BIG, Bremerton Nazarene!
Oh, Come Let us Adore Him.
Because Christ Lives,
Today, I sat in my office at church pondering how to move people into a deeper relationship with God and others. Praying things that are on the heart of Connection Pastors everywhere. Then my almost two-year-old son started to get a bit fussy. And instead of sitting at my desk praying about what was on my heart, I moved to the floor to play peekaboo with Henry and was still praying because I am a multitasking ninja. And then God taught me something.
As I sat playing peekaboo with Henry I noticed that he started copying me. He was laughing. He was trying to make me laugh, as well. In the spending of time and intentional one-on-one time he started to reflect what I was doing. When I would cover my eyes he would cover his eyes. And when I said peek he took one hand off one eye just like mommy and when I said boo he acted suprised just like mommy and then I would tickle him and we would laugh and laugh. We did this over and over again until he now knew what to expect from me and the game. He came to a place where he knew what I was going to do next. This game ended by Henry laying his head on my chest and giving me the best hug in the world.
We played peekaboo. In the playing of peekaboo our relationship grew even though I didn't tell him anything, I simply spent time with him. I think God wants to spend that time with us... but sometimes we are the toddler that doesn't want to play peekaboo with him and we go off and keep being fussy or busy with other things. I keep thinking if people knew more about God they wouldn't act the way they do. They would be able to love like Him if they knew how he loves. Now, don't get me wrong we can learn about God in that manner and by reading the Bible but the power isn't in what we know but in who we know.
During peekaboo, Henry began to copy me. He began to guess and know what I was going to do before I did it. He knew what it meant when I was covering my eyes, saying "peek" and saying "boo." There was no biblical exchange or deep conversation covered there was simply being with eachother and the relationship grew. I want to play "peekaboo" with God. I want my congregation to play "peekaboo" with God. I want us to be able to copy Him, to know Him, and to enjoy Him.
Immediately after playing peekaboo with Henry he fell and hit his head on the floor. He instantly came to me for comfort to hold him and to care for him. He also then started to do the same thing that made him fall and hit his head (climbing... boys!) and I corrected him. He listened to my correction. From peekaboo, to caring for an owie, to taking correction was all done in the same 15 minute time span. And oh! the lesson this momma learned. The time spent in joy allowed the time of comfort and it also allowed him to be willing to trust my correction.
Lord, that is the kind of relationship that I want to see the people you placed in my care in with you. That is the prayer of my heart! May they be willing and intentionally spending time with you, going to you in need, and taking correction! A deeper relationship with God is that simple. Being intentional and spending time.
Thank you Lord for teaching me through Henry today!
The past two weeks, I have felt God challenge me in my family life, in my ministry life, and in my own spiritual growth. I found myself diving deeper into Scripture that I already knew to find answers I already knew but the Spirit showed me a new way to apply it. The Word is Living, y'all hear me!
God is moving in my life and asking me/calling me to things I never would have planned. It led to me diving deep into Genesis 22 where God asks Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to be an offering. Out of this section, I am led to just realize the willingness that both Abraham and Isaac displayed to be open to what God was asking them. We see the obedience of both Abraham who took his son to be an offering and Isaac who could have run away or fought his father when his father started to tie him up but he didn't. However, God wasn't going to let Abraham sacrifice his son. For Christ Himself was going to supply the offering.
Sometimes, God asks us to do something and He has no intention of you actually completing what He asks but simply wants to see if you are willing to Trust Him. I always realized this was a lesson on Trusting God and a story that would help us understand what God was going to do with sacrificing His son, but I didn't seem to see the fact that God was asking, "Are you willing?" And the answer was, "Yes" from Abraham but he didn't have to do it.
There have been two major things in my life that God is moving my heart with. One seems be something we just had to be willing to do but will not [yet]. And the other may be something that He calls me to that I very much will start working on. But with both I have learned a huge lesson is a short amount of time.
No matter what it is I need to be willing to do it if God calls. That could mean adoption, that could mean changing my ministry field a bit, that could mean changing my degree program to better fit where He is calling me. It could mean doing something that is not on my plan, my chosen plan but following His plan.
Yielding up my will for His will. (Cause I am Nazarene... Sanctification had to make its appearance somewhere, duh!)
It seems so simple but yet is so complex in everyday living. We have to be willing to follow him or we won't. We have to be open to His way or we will close the door before He has the chance to open it. And if we are not open, we could be the one who locks the door or is holding it closed so it doesn't open. But whatever we do and whatever He calls us to do, we must do it in love and trust. I never thought of the love behind Abraham, as he was taking his son to be a sacrifice. But I can tell you this, he was quick to stop when Christ said, "Stop!" He trusted and loved God above all else and he loved his son. I find it relieving that Abraham probably also felt relieved when he didn't have to do something that he was willing to do. hahaha, you know what I mean. Just because you are willing to do something doesn't mean you want to.
But after the last two weeks of God asking me, "Bobbi are you willing?" My answer is "Yes, Lord. I am willing. I am open. And I will do it with and in love." Is Christ asking you, "Are you willing?"
This post was triggered by one sentence that absolutely hit me wrong from the start but the more and more I thought about it the more the Wesleyan in me could not help but articulate why it hit me wrong.
In Beth Moore's study 'Entrusted' in the 4th video session she states, "You are NOT your own worst enemy." She was teaching that Satan and the other devils are very much our enemy. And they are! But the matter of him or them (the devils) being our "worst" enemy has me say, "Beth... let's rethink this." Who is our worst enemy? Here is why I don't think it is Satan or any of the devils that followed him. Though we should be aware of him and not give in to his temptations.
1. Whatever Satan does or says to me cannot separate me from God.
Satan has no power until I/you give it to him. An enemy is only an enemy if they have the power to hurt you. I would say he is an enemy because he wants destruction in our lives... but not our worst enemy. Our problem is that we give Satan power to use against us when we choose sin. He can't do it without us.... so, which one is greater? In James 4:7 it says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." The power is in your hands. When we choose to sin we separate ourselves from God. Satan did not separate us from God, we separated ourselves from God with use of our own free will (this is both talking about personal and original sin). Thank God for prevenient grace! Thank God for Christ's work and mercy that pays for the sin debt we chose!
2. Our sin is just as much our enemy as Satan... and dare I say, I think sin is more of an enemy since it does Separate us from God!
In Matthew 6:13, The Lord's Prayer, some translations read like this, "And deliver us from the evil one." Other translations say, "Deliver us from evil." Which one is it?! Is it an evil being that Christ is modeling us to pray to be delivered from? Or is it general evil? Evil one vs. evil...In the Greek they translate "evil one" and "evil" from πονηρός (poneros) which means evil, wicked, bad, worthless, guilty, be sick, crime...
So, in our English translated Bibles we are at the mercy of the translator to make that decision for us. So, in this passage is Jesus really talking about Satan or is it talking about ALL evil? I would/I do interpret this to mean All EVIL. Which causes me to pray this prayer as I unpack the Lord's Prayer...
Lord, I don't want to just be delivered from Satan. I want to be delivered from Anything and Everything that separates me from you. God deliver me from my sin! Deliver me from my old self... make me new... make me new! Make me yours! Make me Holy! Deliver me from evil! Amen!
3. We have free will.
If we act like our greatest enemy is the one who taunts us instead of the one who can act on it, or the spirit that wants to act in sin, or the part of us... the sinful nature that is of the flesh... that is when we miss our power! God gave us free will.... we can use it for good! but we can also use it for bad. Satan cannot use our free will. But we can use our free will and other people can use their free will. In fact, I am more fearful of other people's free will than I am of Satan. But Jesus Christ doesn't sit back and just let us drown in our sinful nature or our sin that we chose with our free will. He gifts us His Spirit at the very instant we accept Him! And He starts pruning us and through the process of sanctification, entire sanctification.... we are given a new life that we yield up our free will for His will! So even if I am my own worst enemy by choosing sin... Christ crushes all my/all our enemies! I no longer have to be my own worst enemy because Christ. Satan is no longer my worst enemy because he has lost his power... because Christ. I am going to live in the freedom of the Gospel! There is no longer a worst enemy... there are enemies... but they aren't the worst. They've got nothing on my Jesus.
Thanks be to God!
"Satan, go bother a rock." :) Amarie Russell, a good friend and mentor of mine, taught me that saying. I believe it.... we have power to go tell him to bother a rock. "In Christ name, Satan... GO BOTHER A ROCK." And he has to. The power is in you. Use it for good....or you could choose to use it for evil but don't think for a second Satan has any deciding factor over you. He is a defeated enemy.