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You Can Look Down or Come Down

John 19:2-5 – “the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’”

Ours is a world in which everyone is trying to go up. In business, everyone is trying to climb the corporate ladder to get a bigger office and bigger income through a better job. In politics, everyone is positioning themselves for greater prominence, power, and poll numbers. There is no bestselling book on how to have less, be less, and suffer more.

In Heaven, worshipped as a King by angels as He sat on a throne, Jesus had it all. He was literally at the top of every ladder. Then, Jesus did the unthinkable – He came down that ladder to the earth to be born to peasant parents and laid in an animal’s feeding trough as His first crib. For roughly 90 percent of His life, Jesus lived in obscurity, working in a small town as a carpenter with His dad. His ministry lasted a short three years and resulted in religious and political leaders forming an unholy alliance to murder Him. In mockery, Jesus was publicly beaten, then forced to wear a crown of thorns before being flogged so that His body was ravaged beyond recognition.

Why?

Jesus is humble. Satan is proud, and Jesus is humble. Satan was the first being to try and go up and usurp God as the one sitting on the throne. When Satan was cast down to the earth, he brought pride with him. When Jesus came to earth, He brought humility with Him and established the Kingdom virtue which is the opposite of the way the world works. This explains why on the list of things God hates, pride comes first, Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” and first on the list is “haughty eyes”. Haughty eyes are proud and look down on people who are beneath you. Jesus looked down upon the earth with humble eyes and came down to love and serve others by placing Himself beneath them.

What prideful area of your life needs the most urgent attention

 

By Mark Driscoll

Should We Only Pray for God the Father or Can We Pray to Jesus and The Holy Spirit?

Jesus’ longest prayer is in John 17. There, Jesus prays to God as “Father”, which is his common pattern. Every time I preach about it, many people have the same question, “Should we pray to God the Father or can we pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?”

That is a common question. As a general rule, most of our praying should be to God the Father. Jesus taught us saying in Matthew 6:9, “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven”. Jesus modeled praying to God as Father repeatedly as some 165 times in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), He refers to God as Father which is His favorite name for God.

Sometimes, it is fine to pray to Jesus. There is an occasion when an early church leader named Stephen prayed to Jesus as he was dying. We read in Acts 7:59 that Stephen saw Jesus in heaven and “he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’”.

Christian prayer is most often Trinitarian. Practically, this means we pray by the Spirit, through Jesus Christ our mediator, to God the Father. Praying by the Spirit is clearly taught in the Bible. Ephesians 6:18 says we should be, “praying at all times in the Spirit”. Jude 1:20 says we should be, “praying in the Holy Spirit”. Praying through Jesus Christ is what He meant teaching us to pray, “in my name” (John 14:13-14).

There are times, however, when it is sensible to pray to Jesus or the Spirit. For example, if you are reading the Bible and reminded that Jesus died in your place for your sins on the cross, it is a good thing to stop and thank Him for doing that work on your behalf. Or, if you love someone who is far from God and not paying any attention to the bad decisions that are harming their life and relationship with God, you can pray to the Spirit to convict them of their sin as that is one of His ministries (John 16:8).

Which member of the Trinity do you feel most familiar with? How can you get to know the others?

By Mark Driscoll

The First Proclamation of the Gospel

Throughout the Old Testament, we read prophecies of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. His coming is first foretold in Genesis 3:15:

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.

It’s the first time the Good News is mentioned in the Bible. Right after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, God immediately revealed His plan to send a Redeemer, His Son, to offer salvation to a sinful world.

Can you see the promise of Jesus in this passage? The phrase “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman [symbolizing all of humanity]” describes the coming, longlasting struggle between good and evil. “You shall bruise his heel ” refers to Satan’s attempts to defeat Christ, the woman’s offspring. “He shall bruise your head” foretells Christ’s victory over Satan when He defeated death.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, by Charles Wesley, is one of my favorite Christmas carols. In the original version, Wesley refers to that passage of Scripture:

Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home; Rise, the woman’s conquering Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Since the beginning of time, Satan has been out to steal, kill, and destroy us. He desires for you to follow his evil, destructive, and deadly path. He repeatedly attempted to defeat Christ during His 33 years on earth, and I am sure Satan thought he had the final victory when Christ took His last breath. But when Jesus rose from the grave, He conquered death and defeated Satan. Remember, Jesus came to give life to you and me:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it  bundantly.”—John 10:10

Whether you are dreading this Christmas season or excitedly anticipating all it brings, keep in mind that Christ stands in victory. Don’t let Satan rob you of the joy of the season.

Christmas is the time when we remember that God’s Son was born—born to live so that He could die for you. What a precious thing to celebrate! What are you doing to take time to appreciate and focus on the gift of Christ this Christmas season?

By Cissie Graham Lynch

How God Talks to Us #6 – With Humbleness

How God Talks to Us #5 – Through His Power

How God Talks to Us #4 – With Forgiveness

The Great Thanksgiving

How God Talks to Us #3 – With Grace

How God Talks to Us #2 – With Glory

How God Talks to Us #1 – Through Jesus