United as One Body
Spirit Baptism– “I believe” in Jesus Christ
Child of God through Faith in Jesus
Galatians 3:26– for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Water Baptism– Act of Obedience to Matthew 28:19-20
Matthew 28:19-20– Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing themin the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
The focus on Jesus’ encounter with John at the Jordan River is on the anointing with the Spirit rather than the act of Water Baptism.
Luke 3:21-22– When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
John 1:32-34– Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
THE POURING OUT OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO EVERY BELIEVER.
Every believer has the power & anointing of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Galatians 4:6-7 – And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
The gift of the Holy Spirit seals the believer. God gives His Spirit only to those who are His.
Why is it important?
BEING MADE NEW – FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Romans 6:3-6:8– Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Galatians 3:27– And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
CHILD OF GOD
2 Corinthians 1:22– and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installmentthat guarantees everything He has promised us.
Galatians 4:6-7– Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.
UNITED AS ONE BODY
Ephesians 4:4-6– There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
What is Water Baptism?
Water Baptism is an act of obedience to Jesus’ command from Matthew 28:19-20– Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing themin the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Baptize – “baptízō” – “immerse, sink, drown, go under.”
NOT GOING TO GET INTO DISCUSSION OF WHAT IS RIGHT OR WRONG WITH METHOD – SOME DUNK, SOME POUR OR SPRINKLE, SOME GO BACKWARDS, SOME GO FORWARDS, ETC.
Ancient Christian art – go into water waist deep & pour water on head.
Philip & Eunuch (Acts 8:38-39) – doesn’t say immersed. Said they went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and he came out of the water. “baptízō” – submerge, immerse (dip under)
Same words used in Luke 11:38 – “His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.” In Luke, the “baptízō” meant handwashing
Water Baptism is NOT required for salvation, but it is a biblical command and demonstrates your love and obedience to Christ.
MUST BE BORN AGAIN / BORN FROM ABOVE
John 3:5-8 – Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Colossians 2:11-12– When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision–the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
MAY YOU CONTINUE TO LIVE OUT THIS NEW LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS FOR HIS GLORY! FOREVER AND EVER AMEN!
Week 1 – The Lamb of God
[John 1:29, Leviticus 17:11]
Here is the LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world.
- Behold –to point something out
- Here – to indicate a place … John is drawing attention to Jesus
- Lamb of God – sent by God, provided by God
- Takes Away – removes, blots out
Lamb in a Sacrificial Sense: God is holy and righteous, separate from sin
Atonement – Reconciliation – wipe clean, sacrifice that cleanses from sin
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. [CSB]
Leviticus 4:32-35 – “kipper” – make atonement, make reconciliation, to purge, to wipe clean
Leviticus 4:5-6 – The anointed priest will then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting. The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. [CSB]
Leviticus 16:14-16 – He is to take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger against the east side of the mercy seat; then he will sprinkle some of the blood with his finger before the mercy seat seven times. When he slaughters the male goat for the people’s sin offering and brings its blood inside the curtain, he will do the same with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. He will make atonement for the most holy place in this way for all their sins because of the Israelites’ impurities and rebellious acts. He will do the same for the tent of meeting that remains among them, because it is surrounded by their impurities. [CSB]
Hebrews 9:11-12, 16-22, 24-28
Confession / Costly / Identification / Personal
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read John 1:29. Does John the Baptist’s statement about the Lamb of God refer to sacrifice? If yes, how can you tell?
2) The phrase “sin of the world” is bold and radical. Why? How can we live this out?
3) In what sense is God’s provision of the animal sacrifice for forgiveness of sins an expression of mercy?
4) Were animal sacrifices actually adequate to atone for sin?
5) How is the Lamb of God a more sufficient sacrifice than the previous sacrificial system?
Week 2 – The Lamb Who Takes Our Place
Substitute – a person acting or serving in place of another.
Bears Our Sin (v. 4)
2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [CSB]
Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so Christ could make us acceptable to God. [CEV]
1 Peter 2:24-25 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [NASB]
Receives Our Punishment (v.5-6)
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NIV]
Acts Voluntarily (v. 7)
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [ESV]
Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many [NLT]
Revelation 5:6, 9-10 – Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth… And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Isaiah 53:1-3. How was Jesus a man of sorrows? How is the description of Jesus that we read about in this passage not what was expected?
2) Read Isaiah 53:4-6. List every “our” phrase. What does the list say to you?
3) Read Isaiah 53:6. Are you one of the sheep? Even today?
4) Read Isaiah 53:7. How does this passage describe the Lamb of God?
5) Read Isaiah 53:10. Who killed Jesus? Who was to blame?
Week 3 – The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery
[1 Peter 1:18-19, Mark 10:44-45, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20]
Intro: Last week we looked at Isaiah 53, which promised One Who was coming to redeem from their bondage to sin and death… tonight we discuss The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery.
Free: Not bound, confined or detained; having no obligations; capable of moving or turning in any direction.
Slave: Held in servitude; completely subservient.
We were REDEEMED from the empty way of life
1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. [NIV] Redemption – deliverance from captivity by means of ransom price
With the life of Jesus given as a RANSOM for many
Mark 10:44-45 – And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” [NASV]
We were bought with a high price, so we must HONOR GOD WITH BODY
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. [NLT]
Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
How to live free?
- Accept God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [ESV]
- Accept God’s Grace – Romans 5:18 – Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [ESV]
- Accept God’s Victory – 1 John 5:5 – Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Romans 8:1-4. What does it mean that the law was weakened by the flesh? How did Jesus fulfill the law’s requirement?
2) Read Romans 8:5-9. What are the two types of people? In reading this passage, do you think it is possible for a believer to be living with the mind-set of the flesh and be hostile to God?
3) Read Romans 8:15-17. How is this passage empowering?
4) From tonight’s reading in the book of Romans, what are some of the things the Holy Spirit will help us live out if we live in the Spirit?
Week 4 – The Passover Lamb of Whom We Partake
[1 Corinthians 5:7, Exodus 12:3-14, Matthew 26:26-30]
Passover Lamb – Passover Instituted
Exodus 12:3-14 – Instructions for Passover
The Lord’s Supper Instituted
Matthew 26:26-30 – 3rd cup, Cup of Redemption
Bread – blessed, broken – “Take and eat it; this is My body.”
Cup – “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Cup of Promise – 4th cup “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” PROMISE TO COME
Handling the Leaven
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
- 3 – Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit.
- 7 – Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch as indeed you are. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.
- 8 – Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old leaven or with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of SINCERITY and TRUTH.
Remove old yeast – sin/sinner
We are to be the new unleavened batch
- Sincerity of mind & integrity of character (Pure inner motives)
- Truth – divine truth / God’s Truth
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Looking at Exodus 12, in what ways did the Passover lamb protect the families of God’s people?
2) How is the Passover lamb in Exodus similar to the sacrifice of Christ?
3) Read Matthew 26:28. How could these words fill us with sorrow? Why should these words fill us with joy?
4) Read Matthew 26:29. How does the celebration of the Lord’s Supper anticipate a future celebration with Jesus? How does this give you hope?
5) Read Exodus 12:11. How is this in relation with how we approach the Lord’s Supper?
Week 5 – The Triumphant Lamb We Worship
Jesus has fierceness & fearlessness of a Lion (v. 5) and tenderness and humility of a Lamb (v. 6).
- Scroll is the action plan
- Scroll is an Action Plan to judge, cleanse, and prepare the nations for Jesus’ rule over Earth, while bringing the Church to maturity and into unity with redeemed Israel.
- Scroll is the Title Deed to the Earth
- By taking the scroll, He accepted responsibility to cleanse and rule Earth.
Jesus is the only Man found worthy, deserving, and capable to take scroll from Father.
- Who is worthy? No one.
- John wept bitterly.
- He hears – Lion of Tribe of Judah – Lion – boldness, strength, fierceness
- He sees – Lamb Slain – Lamb – humility, gentleness, weakness, submission
He alone could redeem us:
- He was related to us (Man of God)
- He was willing to do it
- He was able to pay the price
Highest government council around throne. (Living angels – angelic, elders – human)
They fell awestruck before the worthy Man and boldly proclaimed their agreement with the Father’s decree to make Jesus supreme leader of whole Earth forever.
Because of His obedience to death, God highly exalted Jesus in heaven and on earth
Philippians 2:8-10 – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [NIV]
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Psalm 96:1-9. This Psalm speaks of the King of the earth and provides reasons to worship. What are some of the reasons listed?
2) Read Psalm 96:6-12. This passage speaks of the need to “ascribe to the Lord.” What does it mean to “ascribe to the Lord”? This passage speaks of our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness? In verse 10, it says, “Say among the nations,” which is again pointing to our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness?
3) Read Psalm 96:11-13. How does this passage describe worship? How does this description change the way you think about worship? This Psalm ends waiting for what? How does this relate to tonight’s look at Revelation?
In Numbers 8, we read about the instructions God gives Moses to share with Aaron regarding the lighting of the seven lamps. The light is a symbol of the presence of God among His people. The lampstand was within the Tabernacle; the lampstand was in the first section which was the Holy Place. Aaron and his sons were in charge of keeping the lamps forever lit. This points to Jesus Who is the true Light that will forever shine.
We read in this passage that Aaron was to place the lamps in the lampstand in such a way that their light would shine forward in front of the lampstand. If Aaron followed God’s command, the lamps would reflect their light forward. This is a great reminder of how the Light, the Truth of God which we find in His Word, can shine a light in this dark world.
Today, embrace the Light. Spend time in the Word of God. Spend time with Jesus Who is the Light, the true Light who gives light to everyone (John 1:9). Ask for the Light to shine forward in your life today. Ask that God use you to shine forth the Light wherever you are led.
“’Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.’ So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. – Numbers 8:2-3 [NLT]
One of the ideas I often hear spoken is that we are “all children of God.” This is something that people say when they are trying to say everyone is equal. Yes, everyone is important. Yes, everyone is created by God. But not everyone is a child of God. This is a mistruth that sadly allows people to find comfort that keeps them from seeing true salvation.
The Bible says that the only people who are “children of God” are those who believe in Jesus Christ. If you refuse the Son, you refuse the Father. Bottom line. This is not me talking. This is the Word of God. We can sugar coat it to appease others, but we are only then loving them to hell.
Look around. There are people around you who are children of God, as the Bible defines, and there are those who do not know the Truth. Speak boldly today. Allow the Spirit to loosen your lips. Let people know that if they want to accept the free gift of Jesus Christ, it is available. When they make this step, they will be called a “child of God.” Thank the Lord that we can call out to God, “Abba Father” and He hears us and He recognizes us as His children. Thank you Jesus!
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12 [NASB]
“No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:23 [ESV]
In John, we read that the “children of God” became so because they “did receive him,” they “believed in His name.” So often we talk about when we “received” Jesus or “believed in Jesus.” To outsiders it may sound confusing. What does it mean to “receive Jesus”? This is something one may consider.
I remember when I was in college, we had to memorize the Prologue. It was a task I accepted but considered a bit strange because memorization tests are not always very fruitful with time. How many things have you memorized for a test and yet you can still remember today? But I understand the importance of this passage in John, which wraps everything up as a beautiful gift to open for all who read.
The gift we receive is Jesus Christ. The introduction speaks of a forerunner coming to prepare the way for the One Who, since the very beginning, was to come and redeem the world from sin that God knew would separate God from man. Many are overwhelmed by the words that speak of deity, life, light, flesh, law, truth, and grace. First, open the gift of Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Believe in Him. These two things are linked together. You cannot believe without receiving. You cannot receive something unless it was freely given. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you; He has been reaching out to you so you can come to know Him. If you receive, you believe. This is a belief of trust. If you believe, if you receive—you have the right to become a child of God.
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12
This past week something happened to my shoulder again. I have been told in the past that I have a week shoulder. Something happened at work that knocked me out of alignment. I cannot explain how it happened; I work in an office. All I know is my alignment was off.
I believe that my alignment was off for a long time, but our bodies are so complex and compensate for injuries and misalignment. Today, I go to the chiropractor to find out what has happened. This doctor will search for misalignment and adjust everything necessary if possible. I have heard stories of others who had one leg shorter than the other, and swift correction in a session.
We also can have issues of misalignment. We are to be connected to Christ (John 15:1-17). The Bible speaks of a plumb line that is used to adequately measure (see Isaiah 28:17). For us, our plumb line is the Truth- it is the Word of God, and Christ is the Word (John 1:1-18). So often, we can misalign when we start to believe the lies of the devil and this world. At times we begin to align ourselves with things God never intended to be part of our lives. He has this perfect plan and this special purpose for your life. It is greater than you can ever imagine. Today ask for the Holy Spirit to help you evaluate your alignment with the One Who is the Great I AM, to reveal anything that may have you a bit misaligned.
Matthew 27 / Mark 15 / Luke 23 / John 18-19
Pontius Pilate – Roman Governor –Procurator.
- He was in charge of appointing the high priest and controlling the Temple and funds.
- He had full control of the province.
- He had full powers of life and death as he could reverse capital sentences passed by Sanhedrin.
- He had a bad reputation with Jews and Samaritans.
- He was guilty of slander, robbery, violence and murder – and at least twice was called to account by the Roman imperial authority.
- Because people threatened Pilate, that they would inform the emperor that Pilate hadn’t eliminated a rebel against Rome, Pilate went against what he knew was right. He didn’t do the right thing.
- He was later removed from his office for unnecessary and brutal treatment of his subjects.
- Pagan historians only mention Pilate when mentioning his authorization of the death of Jesus (Tacitus).
- Historians documented that Pilate was forced to commit suicide during reign of Gaius (AD 37-41).
1) DISCOVER THE TRUTH – What is Truth?
Jesus told Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” John 18:37 (NIV). The question that Pilate and many others have asked is “what is truth?” (v. 38 NIV). The Bible mentions the word “truth” over two hundred times. God revealed truth to us through Jesus. Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (NIV).
I believe absolute truth is God’s truth. The Bible is God’s Word and God’s Word is Truth. The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), which therefore means that He speaks only what is true. The Psalmist writes “Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT). God is the source of all truth. I believe Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” and I believe that Jesus is infinite, living Truth.
When we read the garden scene in Genesis 3, it is quite clear that God presents absolute truth with regard to this tree of knowledge of good and evil to Adam and Eve. Satan challenges God’s truth, and deceives Adam and Eve into questioning what God says as well. Even today, Satan attempts to get us to challenge God’s Truth, to ask “did God really say” when we encounter His Truth. God’s Truth does not change; though we may attempt to misrepresent or skew His Truth, it still remains as Truth, as absolute reality. We can choose to accept His Truth and live by it, or to deny it and live as a fool, lost and wandering in search for another alternative which just is not there.
Some people believe that there is truth and it can be found through science and logic. Anything claimed of God that has no scientific or logically basis is not seen as being true. Other people reject the idea of absolute truth and believe that what may be true for one person is not necessarily what is true for another person. Truth is what we make it to be and we each will find our own truth. That means one person can claim God to be God and that is seen as Truth for that person. Another person may claim that there are three gods and that is truth for that particular person.
Many people will spend their lives asking the same question as Pilate, and will never get the true answer because they are seeking for answers in the wrong place. I cling to the promise found in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (NIV). Only through a relationship with God, as a result of Christ’s redemption and the working of the Holy Spirit are we able to understand Truth. If only Pilate realized that he was speaking to the Truth, he would have seen the answer was right before him.
Truth is God’s Truth
Jesus is God’s Truth – John 1 says Jesus is full of grace and TRUTH.
God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) – We find truth when we read & study the Bible. We need the belt of Truth in place (Ephesians 6:14)
We are to correctly handle/explain God’s Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
To be a disciple of Christ, you must continue in His Word and you will KNOW the truth and the truth will SET YOU FREE. (John 8:32)
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.“ – John 18:37 [NLT]
Every child of God knows the truth as Jesus, and is on the side of truth, and stands by it.
Pilate avoided the truth:
- Tried to get out of the situation? Sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:6-17)
- Tried to get someone to side with him?
- Tried to put responsibility on someone else – Told Jews “judge by your own law” – a mockery (John 18:31)
- Tried to escape – offer to release “criminal” (John 18:39)
- Tried to washed his hands – though it didn’t cancel guilt (Matthew 27:24)
- Tried to compromise – Had Jesus flogged (John 19:1-3)
- Tried to appeal to sympathy – Shall I kill your King? (John 19:15)
All this despite Pilate never having doubt of Jesus’ innocence – 3 x’s said NOT GUILTY!
2) DOING THE RIGHT THING EVEN WHEN IT COSTS EVERYTHING
When you know the Truth – then you must make a choice – what will you do with the Truth?
James 1:23-24 speaks about person who stares in the mirror and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. The mirror becomes useless after you walk away from it. James was saying that if we simply hear the word but don’t act, it’s useless just like the mirror.
St. Augustine said, “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it.”
Right choice could mean
Social Rejection / Career Loss / Public Ridicule
“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT).
Here’s my heart, Lord
Speak what is true
Here’s my life, Lord
Speak what is true
God wants to be your God. Isn’t that awesome? God offers us the greatest blessing—Himself! How great is our God? How blessed are we?
In the Old Testament we read about the Tabernacle. It was God’s way of creating a way for His presence to dwell on earth in the midst of His people. Later Solomon built the Temple and God’s glory went into the Temple. Disobedience caused God’s glory to depart from the Temple (see Ezekiel 10), but God had other plans.
In John 1, we read that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (ESV). Once again God sent up a tent. The Tabernacle was back. Jesus walked the earth. After Jesus was crucified and rose again, He sent us the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit—to dwell within us. We became the temple. And one day Revelation promises that God’s glory will fill the entire earth. He wants to be your God. How awesome is that?
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” – Genesis 17:7-8 [NIV]
The weather has been very peculiar lately, but I am not going to complain. At a time when we typically are feeling the below freezing chill, we are able to enjoy temperatures that near the fifties. Today the warm weather combined with some precipitation, which brought some fog into my area. Since I was a little girl, I always loved fog. It was definitely fun to look at what was “not there” and try to imagine it as it was the day prior, when everything was in clear view.
Just as fog distorts and covers up what is always there, so do we have periods when we cannot see God. We know He is there, but He is silent. Or perhaps we have so many outside noises around us that we are unable to hear Him or see Him at work. Maybe we are not looking at the big picture because we have our focus elsewhere at the moment. Either way, the truth is that God is always here. Sometimes we need to simply take the time to look, and to continue pressing forward with our walk of faith, knowing that God is with us.
Certainly we are to live by faith, as 2 Corinthians 5:7 asserts we should, “live by faith, not by sight.” When Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus, he was there. The men did not know it until it was revealed later, but it doesn’t change the fact that He was present. When Mary Magdalene was crying at the tomb with Jesus there watching, He was there despite her not knowing that He was the One present. She thought He was the gardener until she heard Him speak. It doesn’t change the fact that He was there with her.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). John 1 makes it clear that if we believe, we are children of God. With Christmas day coming in the week ahead, it is important to not let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season create a fog around the true meaning of Christmas. As children of God, it is important to follow Christ as we celebrate His birth and the hope we have in Him. Christmas is not a time for fruit cake, but a time for really showing the fruit of the Spirit as we celebrate God and His love for us, and hope breathing.
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9 [NIV]
The most precious Christmas gift!