We Were There

christmas-2874137_960_720 With Christmas approaching, most people are aware that the holiday exists to celebrate the day our Savior, Jesus Christ, came into the world in human form. But even with such awareness, here in the United States, it seems that many people would rather ignore the religious facet of Christmas in favor of a more generic celebration centered on the commercial aspect. They will happily take the gifts, the paid days off from work, and the meals shared with family, but they would rather not discuss the real reason we celebrate.

This is most unfortunate. When people push away the real reason for the celebration, they experience all the stress of the holiday season without understanding and benefitting from the object of the celebration which, of course, is Jesus Christ. Jesus is God, the third person of the trinity who, for a time, humbled himself by coming to earth in human form and living among us. He experienced growing up, obeying his parents, and working for his father. He resisted temptation, confronted the wrongs of the religious leaders of the day, performed miracles, taught the people, and when the time came, suffered a horrifying death that all of us, no matter where we live, would find appalling in this day and age. It’s not a myth or fairy tale; it is actual history, and few experts would deny that.

So as Christmas approaches, before you get too bogged down in the shopping and decorating, I implore you to consider this one fact when it comes to the life of Jesus Christ: there were eyewitnesses. Lots of them. There were people who saw, heard, and testified to the truth of the Gospel narratives. The apostle Peter recounts that ‘we were there’ in this passage: “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ We ourselves heard the voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2Peter 1:16-18)

Notice closely what Peter is saying. First, he says “We have seen…”. He is remembering what is commonly referred to as the transfiguration (read Matthew 17:1-13) and he was there with James and John. So the three were there and were eyewitnesses. And what did they see? The Bible says Jesus’ appearance changed, his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white. And then Moses and Elijah, who had long been departed from the earth, were standing next to Jesus talking with him. This is an incredible, otherwordly experience and Peter, James, and John saw this happen with their own eyes. And then God spoke from heaven and they heard his voice. The Bible recounts that Peter, James, and John were terrified by this experience as one might expect they would be.

When Jesus was crucified on the cross, there were eyewitnesses. People who stood there and watched him suffer and die. And people who watched as the Roman guards thrust a sword into his side to be sure he was really dead. And eyewitnesses who saw him buried in the cave that was later sealed and guarded by highly trained military men. And when Jesus rose from that grave and walked the earth again, there were eyewitnesses. People such as Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-17) and Thomas (John 20:24-29), and the seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee, who were there and saw him while they were fishing (John 21:1-14). And the Apostle Paul tells us the risen Jesus was seen by more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), many of whom were still alive at the time he wrote his letter.

That is a lot of eyewitnesses. And it’s only a partial list of the people who saw Jesus, walked with him, listened to him, were healed by him, or otherwise interacted with him right here on earth. In any court of law, this would be overwhelming evidence that could not be denied. And we are all eyewitnesses, too. Not of Jesus Christ in the flesh, but of the existence of God. For the Bible tells us clearly: They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:19-20)

And so I would tell anyone who would ignore the real reason we celebrate Christmas that they are willfully ignoring the facts. Jesus is real, he walked this earth, he died in our place for our sins, and he rose again. Jesus is God. The evidence is simply overwhelming.

How about you? Are you preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, or are you ignoring the evidence and choosing unbelief? The choice is yours. If you would like to know more about the evidence for Jesus Christ, please contact us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. We will be happy to help you and/or recommend resources for further information.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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A Light For My Path

God's will 1 A frequent question asked by Christians and non-Christians alike has to do with knowing God’s will for our lives. It seems people instinctively perceive there must be a purpose for their existence and, therefore, knowing and understanding that purpose becomes a top consideration at some point in time for most of us. For those in a twelve step program, knowing God’s will is an integral part of the process as stated in the eleventh step: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

Many of us have, or know someone who has, sought God’s will in very specific ways, such as which job should I accept, what college should I attend, should I own a home or rent, or even whom should I marry. Just as frequently, perhaps, we’ve heard a friend or family member (or ourselves) say something like, “I know this decision is God’s will because I have peace about it.” Still another may claim that they let their Bible randomly fall open to a page and the first verse they read confirmed their decision must be God’s will. Without a doubt, the tendency to seek God’s will in a specific circumstance can occupy much of our thinking (and can lead to some very errant methodology).

But what if I told you that’s not the way it works at all? What would it mean to you to learn there is no “magic dot” or “x-marks-the-spot” quality to God’s will? Will it help you to know that God’s will does not revolve around you and His purposes will prevail regardless of which job you accept or which college you attend? I find it quite encouraging to know that God has not created for us some mysterious puzzle that we must constantly attempt to solve to determine what he wants us to do. He has not set before us a hidden agenda buried within a complex maze of possibilities that we must persistently search for. Quite the opposite, we are given immense freedom to enjoy life and all that God has created.

But God does have a will for us and the good news is that he has made it pretty easy for us to know and understand what that is. And we need look no further than our Bible, for God’s Word is God’s will. As the psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) And the Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” God changes the way we think when we read his Word and seek to understand the truths it contains.

I think it may help to understand that God’s will is more about who God wants us to be than what, specifically, he wants us to do. When we advance down the path of growing in Godliness, we begin to make decisions consistent with the way God would have us live. In this regard, we are likely to find it advantageous to attend a church with strong Bible teaching as this will guide us in our understanding of the Bible. Having fellowship with a mature Christian who can act as a mentor and/or joining a small group Bible study can also be quite beneficial, especially when it comes to determining what is our will and what the Word of God says. We will find, when we are diligent in our study of his Word, our decisions will begin to reflect the character he is building within us.

It may be a good starting point to look at a few areas of God’s will we can be certain of:

God wants us to be thankful: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18)

We should avoid sexual impurity: “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

God wants everyone to be saved and to know the truth: “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

God wants us to trust him in all things: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

He wants us to be wise: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)

God wants us to be joyful: “Always be joyful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

And he wants us to pray regularly: “Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

The Bible is absolutely rich in the depth of its truth and its revelation of who God is and the relationship he desires to have with us. There is simply no greater endeavor one can undertake than to study the revealed truth from the One who is our Creator and the lover of our souls. As Paul taught his young protégé, Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Whether you have been a Christian for quite some time or you’re brand new to Scripture, once you commit yourself to studying the Bible I am confident you will learn to understand God’s will in new and meaningful ways and you will gain confidence in all areas of your life as you grow in His image. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

May the love and peace of God be with you and yours.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.