Monday, December 22, 2014

How much more than shepherds...

As many of you know, I'm currently in Haiti on a mission trip with my wife, our three kiddos, and 17 other close friends and family members. Since the wifi on campus is limited and rather spotty, I will give you your Christmas present just a bit early. That's right, I offer you my attempt at a relatively short(ish) blog on this Monday. (For clarification: the gift is the attempted short-length, not the actual blog itself.)

A couple weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity of preaching during both of our Sunday morning services. As I prepared to teach earlier that week, I came across a quote that I really appreciated. I planned on sharing it in my sermon, but it didn't make the final draft. I've found myself thinking of it often, so I will share it this morning.

Speaking of the shepherds' worship of Immanuel, John Calvin once wrote, "Their zeal in glorifying and praising God is an implied reproof of our indolence, or rather our ingratitude. If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them, as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ to be in raising us to God?"

The prophets spoke of the coming Messiah without knowing of the time that He would come. They faithfully preached of the Lord's salvation that would be extended through the One born of a virgin. And upon seeing the the King of Kings swaddled in a lowly manger, the shepherds left worshipping and glorifying God. For by faith they recognized that this baby Jesus was the One the prophets had predicted and the Child the angels had announced. The shepherds arrived at the same conclusion as the Roman centurion later would after Jesus' crucifixion, "certainly, this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54)."

Yet, here we are today. Not wondering if we rightly wrote down the prophecy, not doubting whether the Messiah will ever come, not questioning if God would actually manifest Himself in a manger. No, we sit on this side of the first Easter; we know of and celebrate the empty tomb! We know of His coming, of His life, death, and resurrection, and His promised return. We know that our sin and shame was nailed to our Savior on that horrible tree. We've experienced the hope of His atoning work. But does that turn our hearts toward heaven? Are we aware of our great gain? What a glorious gaze we've been given to look upon the cross of Christ from this vantage point in history!

Like the presents we seek this time of year when it's His presence we truly desire, I wonder if we really need more evidence of His grace, or simply more faith to believe and reflect upon all He's done. God has proven Himself over and over! He is faithful and trustworthy and the knowledge that He is near is more than we could ever ask for; it's what the soul longs for, what each man deeply desires.

May we see our real reason for rejoicing and make much of God's gospel goodness this week. 

Merry Christmas from Neply!!
Matt Fowler
NBC Family Pastor of HS

(Sent from my iPhone)

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