Glad tidings of great joy

Heb 1:1-3a  “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” NIV

When Jesus was born, the God that created the universe and Whom the universe cannot contain, was seen “contained” in a little human baby body!  The invisible God became visible to the eyes of men, not as the appearance of a cloud or pillar of fire, but in a human person!

Have you ever stopped to think how absolutely amazing that is?

God became a man without ceasing to be God!

Jesus came, not as a prophet to simply tell us about God, but as the flawless expression of God.  Jesus is the exact reflection of the Father–His perfect “mirror image.”  Man can no longer make guesses about God or choose their own concepts about Him.

Whatever you may have thought about God, that isn’t like Jesus; isn’t God.

The Apostle John called Jesus, God’s “Word” (Jn 1:1), the “voice” of God, God’s direct “conversation” with mankind. Everything God wants to say is said in Christ.  Not in the sense that God is no longer talking, but everything God wants to communicate is captured in Christ.  What did God say to us in His Word?

“I LOVE YOU.” (Jn 3:16)

The Apostle John also adds this staggering statement, “The Word BECAME flesh.”  (Jn 1:14)  Notice John didn’t say, “put on flesh,” to one day, put down His humanity, and return to His place as wholly God.  The Incarnation was not for God to sample what it’s like to be human. He “BECAME flesh.”  Jesus did not simply endure being a human for 33 years and then, with great relief, returned to being the Second Person of the Godhead.  The Bible says that Jesus is still a man and will always be a man, to exist into Eternity as a man.  The Incarnation was permanent.

God told Moses, that “no man can see Me and live” (Ex 33:20).  John says in his first Epistle, “we saw Him; we touched Him; we talked to Him,” and lived to tell about it!  (1 Jn 1:1)  They didn’t die!  In fact, the revelation of the Father’s love for mankind demonstrated in Christ, filled John and the others with a contagious joy that demanded they share this encounter and joy with others.

1 Jn 1:3-4  “We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!  MSG

That must have been scandalous to many of John’s readers.  Well, the true Gospel (“the glad message of the happy God” 1 Tim 1:11 Rotherham) is still a scandal to those who think God is an unjust Judge, sitting in Heaven, anxiously awaiting to bring judgment upon innocent people.

Let me repeat, whatever you thought about God that isn’t like Jesus, isn’t God.

When the angels declared Jesus’ birth, they announced, “glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Lk 2:10).  Jesus is the focus of the “glad message.”

But, the Gospel isn’t just a story ABOUT Jesus.  The Gospel has profound implications for YOUR life. Are you ready for the dawning of a new day in your heart?  Then, I have a “glad message” for you!  Jesus has come, not to give you joy, but to FILL you with Himself, Who is Joy!  Unending Joy!

Who Jesus is; what He came to say, what He came to do–is all about inspiring “great joy” in our hearts!  Joy is what a prisoner experiences on the day he or she is set free.  “Great joy” is that same prisoner being told, they’re not only “free” but they’ve inherited an unending flow of resources that will supply their every need into eternity!  Can you imagine the response of that prisoner?  Don’t you think they would be both laughing and crying tears of joy?

Martin Luther said, “the Gospel is nothing else than laughter and joy”  Catch some of that today!

 

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Focusing on Jesus makes the gospel “good news” again

Well, this is exciting.  My first blog.  I better confess upfront: the inspiration for what I will say here, I get from Paul: “….plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did–Jesus crucified”  1 Cor 2:2 MSG  My focus will be Jesus! Week in and week out.  Because focusing on Jesus is what makes the gospel “good news.”

And what is the “gospel?”  The gospel is the “powerful rescuing act of God” and “the righteousness of God revealed” Rom 1:16-17 Mirror Bible Translation.  It is a celebration of a perfect redemption (def. “the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt, the action of buying one’s freedom”) accomplished by Jesus Christ on the Cross.  In Christ, you & I stand before the Father with the blessing of His favor and friendship.  We share in Jesus’ own intimate relationship with the Father!

Is that not staggering?  Everything that we could never do for ourselves; God did for us in Christ! And He did it in one glorious act of divine exchange. (2 Cor 5:21)

This is “good news” indeed!

John in his first Epistle says, because of Christ, our heart’s can be full of joy:  “we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!”  1 Jn 1:4 MSG  I so agree! And that’s my motive for writing as well.  To share with you the inward joy that is a celebration of God’s perfect salvation revealed in the gospel of Christ.

In Luke 24, we read the account of two disciples that had an encounter with Jesus after His resurrection.  These two disciples may have walked with Jesus for a couple of years, witnessed His miracles, yet they were “long-faced, like they had lost their best friend.”  Lk 24:17 MSG  They had allowed their immediate circumstances to rob them of the joy of knowing Jesus.  I think there are a lot of Christians today are like those two disciples.  Many are glibly walking down “the road of life” without having an inward revelation of the risen Christ in their hearts.  Their lives are marked by disappointment and disillusionment instead of delight.  They do not recognize the literal “treasure” they possess inwardly.

If the kingdom of God is marked by “righteousness, peace and JOY” (Ro 14:17), and since Jesus said God’s kingdom is “within you” (Lk 17:21).  I’m convinced that if you or any Christian you know, cannot personally identify with “JOY unspeakable & full of glory” — then, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, you do not recognize “who He is.”  Lk 24:16  MSG

I know many people are in the midst of devastating circumstances that are not joyful right now.  I am not discounting your agony.  But I see in Paul a heart connect with the Spirit of Life that sustained him even while he was in the midst of the most contradictory of circumstances.  Circumstances can act like a “veil” that causes you to lose sight of the abundance of grace and peace that is yours, right here; right now, in Christ.  Paul knew that by turning your heart toward the Lord, the veil will be lifted and His love, will redefine your life and mind-set.

“This is why no form of suffering can interfere with my joy”  Col 1:24  Mirror Translation

Paul had a revelation of the “success” of the Cross.  What those two disciples on the road to Emmaus lacked and maybe you lack, is a revelation of the success of the Cross.

Join me in the days ahead as we discover together the “unsearchable riches” that come with unveiling the mystery which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).   Let’s grow together in intimately knowing this risen One and increase our understanding of what God has done in redeeming and restoring His image in us.

I promise you, you will understand why the gospel; and your salvation, is worth celebrating!