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Hidden Christmas

The promise of Immanuel – delivered!

Today’s Monday Motivation continues with a Christmas theme:

The word Immanuel means, as we learn in Matthew 1:23, “God with us.”  The coming of the Christ child fulfilled what Isaiah wrote in chapter 7, verse 14: “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

In his book Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller shares that for centuries, the Jewish religious leaders and scholars had known that prophecy, but did not think that it should be taken literally. They thought it was simply predicting the coming or arrival of some great leader through whose work, God would be present with his people.

However, Matthew writes that this promise is greater than anyone imagined!  It did not come true figuratively, but literally. Jesus Christ is “God with us,” because the human life in Mary’s womb was a miracle performed by God himself.  Then Jesus, with his life, his claims and his resurrection, convinced his closest followers that he was not just a prophet telling them how to find God, but God himself coming to find us.

Keller writes that this claim, that Jesus is God, gives us the greatest possible hope.  Why?  Because it means this world is not all that there is…it means that there is life and love after death and it means that evil and suffering will one day end.

And it is not just hope for the world, but hope for you and me personally. A God who was only holy would have not come to us in Jesus.  He would have just demanded that we pull ourselves together and be moral and holy enough to be worthy of relationship with him. But our God is fully holy and fully human – so he doesn’t send someone else – he comes himself!  Jesus is one of us – and that should give us all hope!

Christmas Gift Exchange winners today:
Becky from Howard and Krista from Howard! Remember the grand prize drawing is Thursday morning on The Morning Thing!

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

The light of Christmas!

Today’s Monday Motivation comes from Isaiah 9:2, 5-7 (NIV)

2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For unto us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

One of the first indications of the Christmas season is LIGHT.  The appearance of lights seemingly everywhere – on trees, with candles, above streets; there is radiance all around us.

Lights are not just for decoration of course, they are symbolic.

In his book, Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller says one of the most important spiritual truths at Christmas is this: the world is a dark place, and we will never find our way or see reality unless Jesus IS our light.

Keller writes that the word ‘darkness’ in the Bible refers to evil and ignorance. The world has evil and untold suffering. The world also has no one who can cure the evil and suffering. We look towards the earth and our human resources to try to fix the world.  We think we can end darkness with intellect and innovation.  That’s the ignorance.

So the message of Christmas is NOT, “we will be able to put together a world of unity and peace.”  The message, instead, is a humble one: “Things really are this bad and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Nevertheless, THERE IS HOPE.”

Notice the verse in Isaiah doesn’t say the light comes from the world…it says that upon the world a light has dawned.  It has come from the outside, and Jesus has brought that light to save us!  Because, as John 8:12 says, He IS that light!

Today’s Christmas Gift Exchange winners were Pam from Fredericktown and James, also from Fredericktown.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe

Praise Thursday – God with Us!

The word Immanuel means, as we learn in Matthew 1:23, “God with us.”  The coming of the Christ child fulfilled what Isaiah wrote in chapter 7, verse 14: “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

In his book Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller shares that for centuries, the Jewish religious leaders and scholars had known that prophecy, but did not think that it should be taken literally. They thought it was simply predicting the coming or arrival of some great leader through whose work, God would be present with his people.

However, Matthew writes that this promise is greater than anyone imagined!  It did not come true figuratively, but literally. Jesus Christ is “God with us” because the human life in Mary’s womb was a miracle performed by God himself.  Then Jesus, with his life, his claims and his resurrection, convinced his closest followers that he was not just a prophet telling them how to find God, but God himself coming to find us.

Keller writes that this claim, that Jesus is God, gives us the greatest possible hope.  Why?  Because it means this world is not all that there is…it means that there is life and love after death and it means that evil and suffering will one day end.

And it is not just hope for the world, but hope for you and me personally. A God who was only holy would have not come to us in Jesus.  He would have just demanded that we pull ourselves together and be moral and holy enough to be worthy of relationship with him. But our God is fully holy and fully human – so he doesn’t send someone else – he comes himself!  Jesus is one of us – and that should give us all hope!

So what is the purpose of “God with us?” What does “with him” mean? Pastor Keller writes that the purpose of the incarnation is that we would have relationship with him. In Jesus, the unapproachable God of the Old Testament becomes a human being who can be known and loved. Through faith, we can know this love.

This is a complete shift from the Old Testament. Think about this: anytime anyone drew near to God in the Old Testament, it was terrifying! God appears to Abraham as a smoking furnace; to Israel as a pillar of fire; to Job, as a hurricane or tornado. When Moses asks to see the face of God in Exodus 33, he was told what?  That it would kill him…that he could only get close to God’s back.  When Moses came down off the mountain in Exodus 34, his face was SO BRIGHT with radiance that the people could not look at him!

So Pastor Keller asks this: can you imagine if Moses were alive today and heard the message of Christmas? What would he say?  How would he react? What if Moses heard John 1:14 “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us – we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son?”

Keller thinks Moses would say, “Do you know what this means? This is the very thing I was denied! Through Jesus, you can meet God. You can know him personally and without terror.  Do you realize what’s going on? Where’s your joy?  Where’s your amazement? This should be the driving force of your life!”

And why did God show up this time in the form of a baby instead of fire? Because this time He has come not to bring judgment but to bear it; to take away the barrier between humanity and God. Jesus is God with us!

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

Praise Thursday: Matthew 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus

The New Testament begins in Matthew 1 with what’s called ” the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.” Have you ever wondered why?

Matthew’s gospel doesn’t begin with the Nativity itself… The star, the shepherds in the manger. Instead, It begins with a long list of ancestry. And let’s be honest – how many times have we skipped through this?

In his book, Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller gives us perspective on why Matthew started the story of Jesus this way. He reminds us that Christmas is not just about a birth, it is about a coming.

The birth of the Son of God into the world is a gospel, a good news, an announcements that says, you don’t have to save yourself – God has come to save you. Of course, Christmas is just the beginning of the story of how God came to save us. Jesus will have to go to the Cross. But you begin with Christ by reading this report about what has happened in history. Matthew tells here that this story is no fairy tale – Jesus is real!

Matthew doesn’t start his book with “Once Upon a Time.” That is the way fairy tales or legendary fantasy stories begin. Matthew is grounding who Jesus Christ is and what he does in history with the genealogy. Keller reminds us in Matthew 1, we learn that Jesus is not a metaphor – he is real. This all happened!

In this genealogy at the beginning of the New Testament, what else is Matthew saying? Pastor Keller writes that the list of Jesus’ genealogy is also a type of resume. In those times, your family, pedigree, and clan made up your resume. Therefore, this list is really saying, “This is who Jesus is.”

Matthew’s genealogy is shockingly different from the other ones of his time. First, there are five women in the list. Three of them. Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth are Gentiles. The Jews would have considered them unclean. In fact, Tamar was a prostitute. He also refers to “Uriah’s wife,”  who you may know as Bathsheba. These names recall some of the most difficult stories is in the Old Testament. Yet, they are in Jesus’s genealogy. Why?

But wait, in verse 6 we have the name King David. So, we might think “now there is somebody we want in out genealogy!” David, after all, was the boy who killed Goliath, favored by Saul, anointed as king, and the man who conquers Jerusalem.  David also was a flawed man, who arranged the killing of his friend Uriah and whose son Solomon was the result of an affair with Bathsheba. Yet out of that deeply flawed man, the Messiah came.  These people are all acknowledged in Matthew 1 as the ancestors of Jesus.

 So what does that mean? Tim Keller asks us to think about it this way :

 It means that people who are excluded by culture, society and even by the laws God can be brought into Jesus’s family. If you repent and believe in him, the grace of Jesus covers your sin and unites you with him.

Moreover, with King David, it means even the powerful and great are still in need of the grace of Christ. It is not what you have done; it is what Christ has done for you!

God is not ashamed of us. We are all in his family.

Copy of Mystery Monday xmas

Congratulations to Becky from Fredericktown who won the Jordan Feliz “The River” CD and Amy from Mount Vernon who won a Rend Collective CD called “Good News”. If you want to know more about the WNZR Christmas Gift Exchange click HERE.

The Food For the Hungry broadcast is this Saturday!  If you want to find out more information or get involved click HERE! 

Thanks for checking out the blog!

-Hannah and Todd

Praise Thursday – It’s time to talk about Christmas!

Our new Devotional series:

Hidden Christmas By Timothy Keller

A LIGHT HAS DAWNED

Isaiah 9:2, 5-7:

Verses 2  “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”

Verses 5-7: “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.  For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

#1

One of the first indications of the Christmas season is LIGHT. The appearance of lights seemingly everywhere – on trees, with candles, above streets; there is radiance all around us.

Lights are not just for decoration, of course, they are symbolic.

In his book, Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller says one of the most important spiritual truths at Christmas is this: the world is a dark place, and we will never find our way or see reality unless Jesus IS our light.

Keller writes that the word ‘darkness’ in the Bible refers to evil and ignorance. The world has evil and untold suffering. The world also has no one who can cure the evil and suffering. We look towards the earth and our human resources to try to fix the world. We think we can end darkness with intellect and innovation. That’s the ignorance.

So the message of Christmas is NOT, “we will be able to put together a world of unity and peace.” The message, instead, is a humble one: “Things really are this bad and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Nevertheless, THERE IS HOPE.”

Notice the verse in Isaiah doesn’t say the light comes from the world…it says that upon the world a light has dawned. It has come from the outside, and Jesus has brought that light to save us! Because, as John 8:12 says, He IS that light!

#2

Notice the verse in Isaiah doesn’t say the light comes from the world…it says that upon the world a light has dawned. The light has come from the outside, and Jesus has brought that light to save us! Because, as John 8:12 says, He IS that light!

So how can this divine light “dawn” upon us? Verses 6 and 7 answers with what Timothy Keller calls a stunning directness.

The light has come “for unto us a child is born.” This child is the “wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

If we embrace this, we understand the significance of its meaning – the creator of the universe is “born to us!” Jesus is fully God and fully human. There’s nothing like this claim in any of the other major religions of the world.

Think about this: it’s almost too limiting to say that we celebrate this at Christmas…yes, we do celebrate, but don’t we also have moments at Christmas where we stare dumbstruck and lose ourselves a bit in wonder, love, and praise?

The implication of God being born into our world, of choosing to become one of us, is overwhelming! Jesus is the divine light of the world, because he brings a new life to replace our spiritual deadness, shows us the truth to heal our spiritual blindness…and is the beautiful light that can help break our addictions to anything from money to power.

Keller writes, “the promises of Christmas cannot be discerned until you first admit that you can’t save yourself or even know yourself without the light of his unmerited grace in your life – it’s a foundational truth!”

We gave away two tickets to the MVNU performance of G. F. Handel’s Messiah on December 8th! Congrats to our friend from Mount Vernon who was caller number three and won those tickets! Click HERE to find out more about MVNUs performance of G. F. Handel’s Messiah.

Thanks for listening to The Afternoon Drive!

-Hannah and Todd

 

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