Messiah! The people were waiting for Him, the prophets searching intently, for all had staked their hopes on this Anointed One who was to come. He would be their Savior, their deliverer, their “God with us.” Yet somehow, those who sought Him missed Him. He came, just as He promised, but they did not recognize Him, this One sent from God. How does this happen? How could this possibly be?

Perhaps it was because when Jesus entered the world of His creating that first Christmas night—humbly stepping into human flesh for a specific time and a specific purpose—He focused on what really was important: others. Think about it, if the Christ1 had come in majestic splendor, could He have lived and taught among the people, caring for them with acts of compassion and opening Himself up to them with words of truth and love? Were He to dress in royal robes and adorn Himself in silver and gold, could He have shown us to how to give ourselves in humility for others? Had Jesus seated Himself aloft on golden thrones, how far would He have to had to have stooped to wash the soiled feet of others? And had He lived aloof from others, could He have bidden them, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”?2

The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus, though being in very nature God, “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”3 You see, Jesus showed His genuine heart for us by becoming just like us—not merely in human form with flesh and blood, but by being like us, truly like us. Born with no fanfare. The son of a laborer. A servant. Not as one who tells others what to do, but as one who models what to do. Nothing phony, nothing fake; just real, the kind of person who earns our trust.

In fact, Jesus is the One we can trust. He’s shown it. He’s lived it. And two thousand years later, He is still calling us to Himself—to be forgiven and live forgiven, to entrust our broken life to Him in whom we have eternal life, and to take this love of God and share it with others.

This Christmas Day and every day, may we say “yes” with grateful lives, so all may see this Savior, this deliverer, this “God with us.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christ in me is salvation.

1 “Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew word, “Messiah,” and the English term, “Anointed One.”
2 Matthew 11:28
3 Philippians 2:6-8


He Showed Us How

John didn’t get it. Who could blame him? As Jesus approached him at the Jordan River, all the Baptizer could muster was a humble inquiry rooted in puzzlement: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” It was necessary, however, for the One who came from God to consecrate Himself to God, so as John baptized Jesus, the Father thundered His approval and the Spirit descended upon the Son. God was there in His fullness; Jesus’ work on Earth had begun.

We know why Jesus came—to redeem a people separated from God by sin. We know what He taught us what to do—love God with all we have and love others as we love ourselves (the entire law is wrapped up in these). But one thing that escaped me all these years is this: Jesus also modeled for us how to live reborn lives. Consider the ways He lived with and in the Holy Spirit of God. As Isaiah foretold, God put His Spirit in this long-promised Messiah,1 and in fact, the Spirit lived in Him.2 Jesus was taught by the “Spirit of wisdom … understanding … [and] knowledge,”3 also as Isaiah prophesied, and the Spirit led Jesus4 while He went about His Father’s work. Astoundingly, it was by the power of the Spirit that Jesus was raised from the dead.5 All of this commencing from the baptism at the Jordan, when the Spirit of God alit on the Son of God.

Just before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”6 The Spirit had been Jesus’ friend—a faithful guide—and now Jesus was promising His presence with all who would believe. What then came of this promise? It should sound very familiar. God put His Spirit in us7 and His Spirit lives in us.8 He is to us, also, the Counselor would come and teach us, or “guide us in all truth.”9 The Spirit leads10 all who are children of God through Christ. “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”11 All this commencing from the faith into which we are baptized—when the Spirit seals us in the Son, who did the will of the Father.12

How do we love God with all our might, not only in our heart, but also in our words and our actions? How do we love our neighbors in what we think, say and do? Not in our own power, will or wisdom, but by living this life the way Jesus did—going where the Spirit leads us and saying what He tells us to say, not just in the epic, pivotal points in our life, but even more so in every day encounters with people. Jesus showed us how.

Father, I confess that my natural inclination is to place my priorities above yours. Send your Spirit today to lead me, and grace me to recognize His voice and to follow Him, moment by moment. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

Read today’s Scripture in Matthew 3:13-17.

1 Isaiah 42:1
2 John 3:34
3 Isaiah 11:2
4 Luke 4:1
5 Romans 8:11
6 John 16:7
7 Ezekiel 36:27
8 1 Corinthians 3:16
9 John 16:13
10 Romans 8:14
11 Romans 8:11
12 Ephesians 1:13


You Started It!

“You started it!” It’s a universal, intergenerational childhood defense. If “did not,” “did too” isn’t going to work—because clearly you did—then “You started it” becomes the go-to oral argument before the parental court of common pleas. Who, after all, can improve upon such persuasion and eloquence?

For all who are in Christ, “You started it” still resounds, not in the sense of accusation or blame any more, but now in proclamation and praise. For it is God who takes the initiative to open our eyes to His reality and stir in our hearts to receive Him. For example, when Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God,” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you … for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”1 Who started it? God, the Father, started it. Upon seeing the pierced hands, feet and side of the risen Lord, Thomas—the doubting disciple—proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”2 Who started it? God, the Son, started it. And now Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”3 Who starts it? God, the Holy Spirit, starts it.

Isn’t it amazing that, what God did for Peter, Thomas and Paul, He did also for you and for me? Isn’t it mind-boggling that despite our individual differences, journeys, and unique life experiences, He brought us to the same place: salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son? And who started it? God started it. This is our story and that of countless others throughout history.

Then can we hope also for those who don’t yet know Jesus, those we love and for whom our heart aches? Yes, we can, for one thing is clear: God the initiator is not done yet; He’s still “starting it” in people—those we love and whom He loves even more. So, keep trusting. Keep praying. And watch.

God, you started it, and I’m eternally grateful. Hear me as I pray for those who do not know you; start stirring in them that they too would proclaim Christ as God and receive life in His name. It is in His name and by the power of the Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

Read today’s Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12:1-3.

1 Matthew 16:16, 17
2 John 20:28
3 1 Corinthians 12:3