During those times when life does not seem to be working out, feeling as if life could have been different, failing to see our impact on others not to mention the world, wishing we had not even been born, we need to realize that it truly is a wonderful life. It's hard to see this throughout the entire year as we deal with the ups and downs of life regardless of the calendar. It doesn't have to be just at Christmas time as in the climatic scene in the classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey, played by the one and only James "Jimmy" Stewart, found himself in a situation that seemed impossible. George was contemplating ending his life, wishing he had never been born, failing to realize that his life had impacted so many in positive ways until he was shown by an unlikely source, Clarence Odbody (Angel, Second Class) played by Henry Travers, that if he had not been born the people of Bedford Falls would not have had such a wonderful life.
Through it all, the movie projects that God had a purpose for George Bailey and was working through him to help others in ways that would not have materialized if George had not been born. The Bailey house had a merry Christmas that year because God, answering the prayers of people who loved George, sent a messenger to show George his worth just in time.
It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made. In our house, my family and I have traditionally watched it on Christmas Eve although it is a good movie to be watched any time of the year. Because of that tradition, when I think of characters of Christmas, George Bailey is one who pops into my mind.
I wrote my first book, The Characters of Christmas: God at Work in our Lives, to encourage people to realize that God is always working in our lives, even if we can not see it or feel it. The book is not about fictitious characters from a movie, like George Bailey, and it's not just a Christmas book or a book to be read at Christmas time. In the book I take real life characters and show how God worked in their life while making it relevant to each reader by showing how God is working in us, no matter what we are going through in life.
Please know today that you have value. You are favored by God. He allowed you to be born for a purpose. He is working in your life. He is working in your seemingly impossible situation. As you realize this, you will realize that it truly is a wonderful life. You don't have to wait till the Christmas season to read the book. It will speak to you no matter what season of the year or season of life that you find yourself in today. I've prayed that God will use the book as a messenger showing readers and those they recommend it to their worth. With some it will be just in time.
Today, there is more of an infatuation with the end of days than in any other time I can recall during my lifetime. Movies have been made, books written, and predictions made. People are building bomb shelters, buying up precious metals as silver and gold, storing up food, and making sure they have ample supplies of water. Are we living in the last days?
The “last days” began over 2,000 years ago at the cross of Christ when those three powerful words, “it is finished,” were uttered from the parched lips of our tortured and dying Savior. Ever since and throughout the years, many have predicted the return of Christ for His followers prior to the wrath of God being poured out on a world that has rejected Him. These dates have come and gone, but the truth of Jesus’ return remains. Each time a prediction is made and the date goes by, some are swayed into believing that it is nothing more than a myth, but it is not a myth; it is truth and will occur at God’s beckoning, which will not be in response to His creation’s predictions. God will not consult with anyone.
Jesus said, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)”
So, as Christ followers, besides being in a continual state of readiness, what are we to do? Jesus answers that question in a few verses of Scripture prior when He says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 ESV)”
The gospel is good news. Jesus showed us what the kingdom is all about through His words and actions when He came into our world to show us how to live and how to die. I’m writing a book this summer that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart titled “The Kingdom According to Jesus.” I believe that we have missed so much of what God intended in His kingdom as revealed through the life and teachings of Jesus. Please pray for me as I seek to obey our Lord in this endeavor.
The ministries of LGF are now touching 13,739 people around the world per day with the “gospel of the kingdom.” We thank God constantly for the faithful prayer and financial support that we receive.
Through the writing of the Palmist, Psalm 2 comes to a conclusion with a warning from the Holy Spirit: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalms 2:10-12 ESV)”
The Holy Spirit gives us three imperatives in this paragraph of Scripture, which if followed, will result in blessed living. First of all, the Holy Spirit compels those of our day to be “wise” and to be “warned.” Wisdom and warning come from God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. Christ followers must constantly be people of the Word and the Spirit to live for Jesus as the Word and the Spirit will come together and do a powerful work in our lives. When either the Word or the Spirit is rejected, wisdom and warning is cast away and the result is destruction.
The second imperative given by the Holy Spirit in these verses is to “serve the LORD.” Salvation from the wrath of God that is to come is not complete by only accepting Jesus as your savior; you must make Jesus LORD of your life. You must follow Him and commit your life to His lordship.
The third imperative the Holy Spirit gives us is to “Kiss the Son” which implies intimacy in relationship. Jesus came to earth rejecting religion and religionist, proclaiming and portraying relationship with God instead. You see, it’s not about religion. It’s not about manmade denominations. It’s not about church membership. It’s not about devoting all of your extra time to church activity. It’s all about relationship with Jesus; kissing the Son; having an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Why does the Holy Spirit give us these three imperatives? Because the wrath of God is coming on all those that do not love Him and have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who will obey these imperatives are found in Jesus and there is wonderful news for them in the face of world destruction like has never been seen before. That wonderful news is found in the last sentence of Psalm 2: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Beloved, take refuge in Jesus, making Him your LORD and Savior, receiving the bountiful blessings found only in Him.
God has lifted Jesus up to be the King of kings and has exalted Him to the holy hill of Zion! Jesus came to earth as the sacrificial Lamb to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of this world so that whoever believes in Him can be saved from the wrath of God and be given eternal life. Coming into our world, humbling Himself to serve instead of rule, obeying the Heavenly Father in all aspects of His mission, resulted in the Father re-glorifying Him and placing Him back in His original state of glory.
Psalm 2 records God’s response to those in the world who rage and plot in vain against Him: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill (Psalms 2:4-6 ESV).”
Notice Jesus’ response: “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psalms 2:7-9 ESV).”
As the result of His obedience to the Father, Jesus inherits the nations, and the earth will be His possession. In the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11), Satan promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just worship him. Jesus’ response to him was, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10 ESV).”
Offering Jesus the kingdoms of this world was not an idle offer made by Satan. The world that we live in is truly Satan’s kingdom. But for the Christ follower, God’s kingdom is currently in them and will be consummated upon Jesus’ return as He rules in total justice and righteousness. God has made the nations Jesus’ inheritance and the ends of the earth His possession! Satan’s offer to Jesus was temporary. God’s offer was eternal. Jesus declined the temporal for the eternal.
What will you do? Satan constantly offers us temporary gratification in return to our disobedience to God and His Word. God offers us eternal life. Follow Jesus and chose the eternal over the temporal!
Psalm 2 is both a prophetic and messianic psalm that points to Jesus and that which is to come. The present condition of our world is described prophetically in the first three verses: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us (Psalms 2:1-3 ESV).”
Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30 ESV),” but, in our day, nations and rulers have decided that God’s yoke declared through Jesus, the Word that became flesh, is “bonds” and “cords” restraining them from fulfilling their fleshly desires birthed through selfish ambition. Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God, has been denied by entire nations, their rulers and their religions.
Nations fight against God through rejecting His Anointed, Jesus Christ, His only begotten son. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him (John 14:6-7 ESV).” If Jesus is rejected, God Himself is rejected; If Jesus is received, God Himself is received.
Set apart are two words that demand separation of their subject from the group that it occupies in order for it to be used for something specific. When you set something apart, you separate it from multiples of the same or from distinctly different items, in order for it to be utilized for a specific purpose. Throughout Scripture, from tabernacle utensils to entire nations, from donkeys to kings, from fishermen to doctors, God reveals that He sets apart for His purposes. Jesus Christ came into our world and set apart His followers, and He continues to do so today. Christ followers are set apart for His service and they realize it.
The Apostle Paul knew that he was set apart by Jesus as told in his words: ”Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1 ESV).” You can read about the beginnings of Paul’s setting apart in the book of Acts of the Bible, in chapter 9.
Beloved, please know that you also have been set apart for the good news of God. You are no longer your own. You were bought by God. The purchase price was more precious than money. The purchase price was the blood of Jesus Christ the son of God. Now you are no longer your own doing your own thing in a world that grows increasing out of step with the good news of God. No, you are called and set apart by God to live and to share the good news through your actions and words.
A set apart life is such an exciting life to live. Our life is not our own. We are living for Jesus and Jesus is living within us. We are in this world, but we are not a part of this world. We have been separated and set apart from this world for the good news of God! Praise the Lord for His good news! Praise the Lord for buying us back from sin with His blood and setting us apart! Praise the Lord for His goodness, His mercy and His grace!
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