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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Time. The one obstacle that humans have yet to conquer.

Our obsession with time is evident with our invention of 'Fast food'.

Our obsession with time is evident with the popularity of movies like 'Back to the Future', 'In Time', 'Men in Black 3' and even permeating children's movies with 'Cinderella: A Twist in Time'.

Our obsession with time is evident with our decreasing value in patience.
Our obsession with time is evident with our consumer, 'have to have it now', culture.

Our obsession with time is evident with popular songs like 'Don't Blink' by Kenny Chesney.

Our obsession with time is evident with the fact that we throw such huge parties to ring in the new year.
Millions squeeze into Times Square every year to say goodbye to one year and hello to a new year.

Some researchers believe that the most common asked question in our world is: 'What time is it?'

We care more about 'When?' than we do about 'What?', 'Where?', and 'With whom?'.

For us: Time matters.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Did Jesus enter into human history as a baby?

Is Christmas meant to celebrate the coming of Jesus into human history?


The reason we celebrate the coming of Jesus is because of what he did on the cross about 30 years after his birth. More than that... That what he did on the cross had any meaning because of who He is.

In other words, if this man, Jesus, was born 2,000 years ago and lived for about 30 years and died, and that was it, end of story, then we would have nothing to celebrate.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas- It’s a Story of Remembrance

Surely by now you have pulled out your nativity set and placed cute, adorable, little baby Jesus in his manger.  Those of you who keep Revelation 12 in mind during Christmas time then added in a dragon to your nativity. (Bible college professors especially!)  You deck out your house in lights, shop to feed your relatives, and blast Christmas carols like there is no tomorrow.  As you finish the last shift of work before holiday vacation and scramble to buy those last minute Christmas presents, did it ever strike you that Jesus is not the first time God used a special baby to save His people?  Did you ever think to yourself, “I think I have heard this story before, God!”?  Well, you are right.  You almost did.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Giving control to the infant King.

By this time in December, you've probably heard the Christmas story reiterated by radio plays, church sermons, and festive books multiple times now: Mary, the virgin, conceives a child after being told by an angel. Joseph is a little freaked out at first but after a visit from an angel, he keeps his faith and sticks with Mary. They travel to Bethlehem because of the census, and there was no room in the inn, but no worries, because the stable was free. The baby is born, the wise men bring gifts, and the shepherds stop in. The end.

Yet I'm convinced that there is so much more depth to this Christmas story - that the Christmas story is wedged deep in each of our hearts because we can relate to some, if not all, characters in the story. The storm of questions that must of entered Mary's head when the angel bestowed her with the impossible anointing of being Jesus' mother. The initial fury and feelings of betrayal that welled up in Joseph, and the incredible doubt acting as an initial roadblock to faith. The uncertainty of the shepherds who felt filthy and unworthy of being in Christ's presence, even in a stable. The furious ruler who is terrified of losing control of his kingdom, who goes to all lengths to kill this babe of a savior who could supersede his power and reputation. They're all human, some of them presented with Jesus so closely that they could touch him. They all get to witness the beginning of heaven kissing earth. But when we're confronted with Jesus, it means He's the real king. It means we're not in control anymore.

I'm finding the Christmas story is one of losing control, and one of trusting the strangest and strongest Savior we've ever known.

Soak in the humbling reality of finding a light and depending on it to lead you to the Savior, the incredible trust it takes to let your actions be guided by an angel, your schedule be transformed to make room for a visit to the King. To sacrifice your gifts. To bow down before baby Immanuel.

Think of the shepherds. Keeping watch over their flock of sheep, lying in the filth and darkness and making small talk, just as every night before - and suddenly angels light up the whole sky and deliver the best message they could possibly hear.

In the Charlie Brown Christmas show, Charlie Brown goes to pick out a Christmas tree only to fall in love with the wispy, admittedly pathetic tree that collapses under the pressure of a single silver ball. In a way, we and the shepherds are the tree. And while Charlie Brown may not be a typical Jesus-figure, Jesus likewise chose us - all of us, for we all have impoverished and weak hearts with Him - to catch a glimpse of heaven. Of all people, us! Of all the people, the shepherds! What a strange decision for God to make in such an important moment. Yet Christmas clearly shows that we can't predict or control God.

And oh the hope! The hope of being told we're believed in, of being told we'll be rescued by the strongest heavenly hand! But can we believe it? The concept of Jesus as king rebels against every concept of a savior that the people had ever known. No knights or valiant followers, no crown or tangible throne? Not just sent from God, but sent as God, as a personal and humble fraction of heaven? What trust this takes - knowing Jesus as he is, not as we expect him. It's the only way we can ever accept the fullness of His sacrifice and love.

It's a strange sensation, serving the humble baby but defying the 'king.' Though the three wise men were on their way to see Jesus, King Herod tried to force them to cough up some insider information about the Christ baby. They didn't, and he could feel himself losing control of the situation; so he ordered all babies ages two and under to be killed.

I'm pretty sure King Herod had a control issue as well, one that placed him in the center of his world to be worshipped by his people as a god. He was a schemer of the day who worked his way to the top through manipulation and sheltered his weaknesses from the public eye. Someone trying to take that control of that? It's like trying to break down one of the iciest walls hiding a broken heart. He began building up towers of jealousy, anger, selfishness, fear, around his heart. Jesus was a threat.

How often, when we're presented with Jesus, do we immediately shield our hearts out of fear of losing control?

We learn, however, that fear is not an uncommon reaction to Jesus. When the "glory of the Lord shone around" the shepherds, whose schedules were flipped upside down with news of the birth, were "filled with great fear" (Luke 2:9). Mary, who lost control of her body, her betrothed and the reactions of those around her, was "greatly troubled" at the angel's greeting, and had to be told, "do not be afraid" (Luke 1:29-30). Joseph also had to be reassured to not fear. It doesn't say explicitly in the Bible that King Herod was afraid as well, but I'm willing to bet his heart was struck with the most fear of all. How we react to that fear, though, is what truly matters. King Herod reacted with intense fury, violence even, but Mary, Joseph and the shepherds reacted with amazing faith.

I once heard a story of someone who was drowning in the ocean. They were flailing and splashing and panicking, trying desperately to stay afloat and just get one more breath, when the lifeguard swam out. The lifeguard was perfectly equipped to save, and quite ready, except the drowning beach-goer was trying to save himself. The lifeguard tried to tell him to stop thrashing, to let him hold him and carry him to shore. But he couldn't save him until he rested his limbs, released control, and let himself be held.

In that situation, it's the most ridiculous idea to release control of your limbs. Yet often our situations call for us to release control for us to be saved. We have to stop trying to control God, stop trying to be God, and let him be the Savior he showed us through Christmas.

We typically understand Christmas as a time of warmth and benevolence. It's a time we're supposed to make sure the traditions are done, the lights strung up, the presents all shopped for and the calendar scheduled and filled. But what if we're still like the shepherds and wise men, waiting for a light to guide us to the King, terrified that the night will never end? And if our hearts are cold and hardened from the fear we never quite moved past, or from fear of losing control? Yet the birth of Jesus brought the news lovely and strong enough to cast beams of light onto our dark paths and draw our hearts home. When we're scared we'll forever be hiding being these walls of having control, we can be reminded that the hands that eventually stretched out to save us started small and weak as our infant King's.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Incarnation Day

Matt Proctor, President of Ozark Christian College and 2012 President of the North American Christian Convention wrote a piece for Christian Standard that is well worth a share.

Today's Advent devotional can be found at the link below.

Your theology of the incarnation matters. It affects how you view your body, your
problems, your ministry—and your celebration of the holiday before us.

‘Happy Incarnation Day’

Friday, December 20, 2013

Silent Night

The origin of the Christmas carol we know as Silent Night was a poem that was written in 1816 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr. On Christmas Eve in 1818 in the small alpine village called Oberndorf it is reputed that the organ at St. Nicholas Church had broken. Joseph Mohr gave the poem of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) to his friend Franz Xavier Gruber and the melody for Silent Night was composed with this in mind. The music to Silent Night was therefore intended for a guitar and the simple score was finished in time for Midnight Mass.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

It's a beautiful poem, a beautiful carol. One that will be sung in churches all over the world, candles flickering, celebrating the first advent of Christ this night.

But there is something I find odd about this song.
It's the second stanza.

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born

Silent night?
Shepherds quaking at the sight?
Heavenly hosts singing?

    And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
    And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
    “Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
    When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:6-20 ESV)

Luke has this way about him, he seems to skip over the details of what our culture, our minds want to know more about. He explains the incarnation like this:  "And while they were there... she gave birth to her firstborn son..."

He explains the atonement like this:     "And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him..." (Luke 23:33 ESV)

The overtly complicated, simplified. The crazy unfathomable, humanized.

He was born.
He died.
God, the always was, always is, always will be, becoming human is said to have just been born. Born.
God, the always was, always is, always will be, being human is said to have just died. Died.

We will never be able to fully comprehend or fully appreciate all that is happening in these words.
The best we can do is wrap this story into a song, a song that really makes no sense.

Silent night?

Mary and Joseph running around Bethlehem looking for some place to stay.
Mary's water breaking.
Mary piercing scream through the pains of childbirth...without modern medicine.
Joseph trying to help in any way he can... he's a carpenter with rough calloused hands, not a careful physician.
Animals making noise in the background.
Sheep running around when an angel appears to petrified shepherds.

The voice of God wrapped in a baby's first cry.

An army of angels appearing and singing through the night sky.
Shepherds running through the streets looking for a baby.
A giant star lighting up the sky.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. -Galatians 4:4-5
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Perhaps it wasn't such a silent night.

Perhaps for Mary, Joseph, and those shepherds it was ANYTHING but a silent night.

We equate silence with peace. Phrases like 'Peace and quiet' prove this.

The song ends with 'Sleep in Heavenly Peace'.

Strange, isn't it?

Because for the first time in all of eternity... Jesus wasn't sleeping in heavenly peace, but rather earthly chaos.

In the midst of our sin...
    but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 ESV)

In the midst of our confusion...
    Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
(John 3:9-10 ESV)

    So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
(John 12:34 ESV)
In the midst of our doubt...
    And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
(Luke 1:18 ESV)

    But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:30-31 ESV)
In the midst of our rebellion...
    Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.
(Nehemiah 9:26 ESV)
    But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
(Matthew 15:18-19 ESV)

...God with us.

He came, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Savior, the Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, Almighty God, Wonderful Counselor... as a baby, quietly, in a remote city near the hills of Judea.
He was an outcast before he was even born...
People thought he was conceived illegitimately.
There was no room for him in the inn.
He was born in a barn, laid in a manger.
Smelly, poor, shepherds were his first audience.

He came with no royal robes, no medical doctors, no crown was placed on his head, no crib, no acknowledgement that the very creator of the world has become human.

It's how he would have it.

Perhaps it was a silent night after all.

Today when we gather in our respected home churches, or with family and friends, and sing this beloved carol, I hope we can remember all that is encompassed in these simple words: "Silent night, Holy night."


Nathan Bryant

Is a student of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. Majoring in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology, he has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church. Nate is a crazed sports fan, he enjoys college football and playing fantasy football. He also enjoys watching baseball with friends. He works as an Admissions Counselor at Ozark. Nate is unashamedly a Starbucks addict. Yay Coffee!

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Social Network Christmas

A video I saw last year, thought I would share it with you all. Merry Christmas! And it is indeed merry, for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father...

Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas at Job's House

Last year Jon Acuff wrote a piece about the worst guy to invite to a Christmas party on his famous blog “Stuff Christians Like”. He began saying to never invite this guy,

He is even more annoying than the friend who doesn’t even own a TV and tells you that constantly when you’re not even talking about TV. (And we know you watch Hulu, or Netflix or Youtube. Quit acting like you’re a 4th century Desert Father.)

Upon entering your home, the guy who tells you Christmas is a pagan holiday will proceed to do exactly that:

“Oh, you’ve got a Christmas tree? Didn’t realize you were into celebrating the winter solstice. Interesting. Are you doing that because you’re recognizing the Egyptian tradition of decorating the house with palm branches to symbolize resurrection? Or does your family swing more Northern European? Is your Christmas tree a shout out to the Germanic god Woden? Or perhaps a Roman tribute to Bacchus? Wait, don’t tell me, don’t tell me. It’s the Greeks and Adonia, isn’t it? I felt like I was getting an ancient Greek vibe in here.
What’s that you’ve got hanging over the entryway? Mistletoe? Or as I call it, “Pagan Fertility Plant.” Babylon in the house!
And do I smell ham? Are we having a Christmas ham? That will be delicious. But then you know that is a symbol of Tammuz who was fatally wounded by the tusk of a boar. Pagans started that tradition by sacrificing a boar on this pagan holiday. What do you serve with a big plate of meat heresy? Mashed potatoes? What’s the side dish in that situation?
Red and green? Occultic colors!
Yule log? A reference to the sun god!

The worst guy to invite to a Christmas party.

And some of you are thinking of that friend we all have right now aren’t you?

I can think of the second worst guy to invite to a Christmas party.
The second worst guy would be Job, well, MAYBE the second worst is Eeyore the Donkey... but Job is a close third.

Can you imagine being one of Job’s friends at Christmas time?

You’re at the party… 
Perhaps you walk up to the table where all the finger food is...

And there he is.

“Job! How are you doing?”

I imagine his response something like,

“If only my anguish could be weighed
    and all my misery be placed on the scales!
It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—
    no wonder my words have been impetuous.
The arrows of the Almighty are in me,
    my spirit drinks in their poison;
    God’s terrors are marshaled against me.”

Job! Sounds… disturbing… Here, take some deviled eggs, they came out really good this year. Maybe that will make you feel better?

“Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass,
    or an ox bellow when it has fodder?”

Job… I , I don’t know.

“Is tasteless food eaten without salt,”

No… It’s not, here take some salt… (I just asked how he was doing…)

“ or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?”

What’s a mallow?!

“I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill.”

Now I share that as a light introduction to a more heavy topic...

So many people run around just wanting to throw Christmas Spirit into every dark corner of their lives. And sometimes… well most times, they want to throw it on others as well.

Because it’s Christmas, nothing can be sad around Christmas time!

But if you are Job at Christmas... the last thing you want is someone telling you that you need to be happy.

Job is perhaps the most synonymous person with the idea of suffering.
He is a victim of his own righteousness… much like Noah.

Both men are noted for their righteousness. The Bible speaks of both of these men that there are no other people within their generation who is like them. Noah suffered by watching the entire earth be destroyed. Job suffered by watching his entire world be destroyed. Noah’s righteousness condemned the world. Job’s righteousness condemned himself.

We know the story of Job, his reward for living a righteous life is that he has everything taken from him, his health, his wealth, his happiness, even his family is taken from him. He seems to lose everything. It’s hard to be Job, especially at Christmas time.

There’s something about Christmas that amplifies grief and loss.

For many the lights of Christmas can be blinding, the songs of Christmas can be mocking, the gatherings of Christmas can be emptying.

Christmas is really hard at Job’s house, and perhaps there are those of you that can identify in a very real way this year:

This Christmas is going to be tough for you, because it was during this year that family members finalized their divorce. This Christmas is going to be very tough because this is the first Christmas without Grandma or Grandpa.

A bad breakup.
Death of a pet.
Loss of a friend.
Financial stress.
A sickness that came out of nowhere.

We look at Job and it is hard to relate to his sufferings and loss when we have our staring us in the face... so large and so looming.

But the book of Job isn’t really about loss… it’s about the experience of loss. 
And we all from time to time can find ourselves in Job’s story. It isn’t a book about pain, it is a book about suffering and everything that comes along with it: the alienation, the anger, the questions, the bitterness, the sadness… the sometimes good, but oftentimes bad advice and empty theological sayings from friends and family.

It is a book that we search in to look for meaning in the midst of the dark cloudy days. But perhaps above all else, it is a book that frustrates our desire for an easy, concise answer to a problem that has been common to all people everywhere in all times.

For Job, after all the questions have been asked, after all the insufficient answers have been given… God answers Job from out of a storm. And God spends four entire chapters saying one thing: I am incomprehensibly great in power and purpose.

There is nothing sympathetic or pastoral about God’s reply. Job is not given answers to why he is suffering, instead he is overwhelmed with a picture of a great and transcendent God. Read Job 38-40

But what does this have to do with Christmas?

After all, Christmas didn’t exist in Job’s day. In fact Jesus wasn’t going to be coming for at least another few thousand years. What does the story of Job have to do with Christmas?

Because Christmas is really God’s answer for humanity’s cry for help.

In the midst of his suffering, Job cries out for help…
In Job chapter 9, speaking of God Job says,

“He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,
    that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to mediate between us,
    someone to bring us together,
someone to remove God’s rod from me,
    so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him,
    but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

Now this doesn’t sound very hopeful. However true hope is sometimes best seen in the groans of God’s people. Paul says in Romans 8,

“we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Job feels abandoned by his creator, by the one whom he has lived for up to this point. He speaks out of a broken heart because he feels abandoned… He desires a mediator, 

“someone who would bring them together”

Job is looking for Christ.

Job is desiring someone to come and bridge the gap... not knowing that his name is Jesus and he was coming.

God seems absent, God seems remote, God seems unjust and uncaring. 

Job expresses this sentiment throughout the book.

Matthew Henry once said,

“The God of Israel, the Savior, is sometimes a God that hides Himself, but never a God that absents Himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.”

The problem is, sometimes, we can't tell the difference. We just feel abandoned by our creator.
If Job were here today, he would have a bone to pick with Matthew Henry, because he certainly felt like God just left him. But the fact is, God never was far from him. Job was crying out for someone to make God known to him. 

Job doesn’t understand God, and God certainly could not understand him.

And the cry of Job echoes throughout the Old Testament, all the way up to the cry of Jesus being born.

If only there were someone to mediate between us,
    someone to bring us together,

Do you hear the Christmas story?

Christmas is really God’s answer for humanity’s cry for help.

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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,

As Job continues in his discussion with his three friends, in chapter 16 he again gasps for some air even while drowning in his sorrow. Here he has even more hope in his voice as he speaks with surety:

“I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
    and buried my brow in the dust.
My face is red with weeping,
    dark shadows ring my eyes;
yet my hands have been free of violence
    and my prayer is pure.
“Earth, do not cover my blood;
    may my cry never be laid to rest!
Even now my witness is in heaven;
    my advocate is on high.
My intercessor is my friend

    as my eyes pour out tears to God;
on behalf of a man he pleads with God
    as one pleads for a friend.

Do you hear the Christmas story?
Christmas is really God’s answer for humanity’s cry for help.

This is hope above all hope, this is hope from Job’s point of view, seeing through the dark veil, he is trusting that God will provide… God surely will not abandon his people.

Job uses words like, witness, advocate, intercessor, friend…
He is crying out for a priest.

Someone who will mediate.

Church, are you crying out for a priest this Christmas?

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. –Hebrews 4:14-15

We will have to forgive Job for his seemingly unstable emotional outbursts… He is flipping back and forth between cries of agony and hope for his future. We can’t expect someone going through as much agony as Job to be the model for emotional or mental stability.

But perhaps the clearest expression of hope that Job clings to is found in chapter 19

“Oh, that my words were recorded,

that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
  How my heart yearns within me!

Do you hear the Christmas story?

What do you get a man who has nothing for Christmas?

The only thing his heart truly longs for is redemption.

Christmas at Job’s house is hard, but there is also no one who appreciates Christmas more than Job.

The one who introduced himself from the storm as the one who laid the earth’s foundation… came lying in a manger, attended by shepherds, heralded by angels.
The one who asked Job, have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place… That very same one, emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant and found himself in appearance as a man.
The one who asked Job, have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? That very same one wrapped himself in human flesh became obedient to death, a humiliating, painful death so as to pay for our sins and satisfy the wrath of God.

The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And in Luke 2:11 the angel announced to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  You will never understand who Jesus is until you realize that he came to save you from our sins. This is why he lived, this is why he died, and this is why he rose from the dead. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). And he saves all those who trust in him.

If our greatest need had been education, God would have sent a teacher.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent a banker.
If our greatest need had been advice, God would have sent a counselor.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer.
But since our greatest need was redemption and forgiveness, God sent a Savior, a redeemer.

The one whom Job looked at from a far… The one whom Job did not receive whilst still on earth but welcomed him from a far.

 His name is Jesus. He is Christ the Lord, the Son of God who came from heaven to earth.

A Christmas without Job, sanitized of suffering and the real life troubles we all face is really nothing more than a hollow shell. After all the very first Christmas story was accompanied by cries of anguish and pain. King Herod made sure of that. Every Christmas since has spoken words of comfort and words of Joy to the weak, the broken, the suffering, the alienated… Christmas is for all the Jobs of the world. And we aren’t all together different from him are we?

Whether you are dealing with a specific hurt or tragedy or not, we are all like Job. We all desire reconciliation, for things to be made right, we all crave justice.

N.T. Wright once said that he believed that every person has been created with a deep longing for justice… the residue left over from the Garden of Eden. We long for things to be made right, for brokenness to be renewed, for redemption. And praise be to God that the vague hope of Job has become our reality… with Christmas.

And that brings us right back to Incarnation. Who is that baby born on Christmas day? As the familiar carol puts it, “This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the Son of Mary.” He is the divine Son of God from heaven who in his earthly birth took on a fully human nature. All that God is and all that man is meet in perfect union in Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man—the God-man who came to earth to save us from our sins and gives us hope in the midst of our sufferings.

For those who face loneliness, hurt, grief, or depression during this season of the year, take comfort in this fact: God’s answer to you is not a theory or an abstract doctrine or a book to read or a seminar to attend. It’s not an answer to your “why?”. It’s not a better job, more friends, another movie to watch or another song to sing. And it’s not even the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset. God’s answer to you is wrapped up in a person—Jesus Christ. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. He is the only one who will never leave you or forsake you. Loneliness and hurt can be overcome through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you know him?

Job never received the things promised. Job never got an answer as to why. Job never got filled in on the fact that he was a cosmic test between God and Satan. Job just lived faithfully.

And when Job was confronted by this great and powerful God… He worshiped. That’s all.

Because Christmas is really God’s answer for humanity’s cry for help.

All that God has to say to us can be wrapped up in one word: “Jesus.” And not just any Jesus, but only the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the New Testament. He alone is the Lord from heaven. He alone can save us. All that God has for you and me is wrapped up in his Son. No matter what difficulties we face or the decisions we must make, in the end God leads us back to that simple one-word answer: “Jesus.”

In an interview with David Frost on PBS, Billy Graham said he hoped the last word he uttered before dying was simply this: “Jesus.” 

We can’t do any better than that.

So can we this Christmas season, say with confidence,

I know that my redeemer lives,   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

Because Christmas is really God’s answer for humanity’s cry for help.

*(This post is adapted from a sermon by Chad Ragsdale at Ozark Christian College.)


Nathan Bryant

Is a student of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. Majoring in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology, he has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church. Nate is a crazed sports fan, he enjoys college football and playing fantasy football. He also enjoys watching baseball with friends. He works as an Admissions Counselor at Ozark. Nate is unashamedly a Starbucks addict. Yay Coffee!

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

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