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Incarnation

diamond earrings

In today’s Bible reading, we see two things that are called, “awe-inspiring”: an awe-inspiring sign in heaven (v. 1) and the awe-inspiring works of God (v. 3).

Awe is a word that is foreign to many Believers. We just don’t see things as being “awe-inspiring”.

The things of God tend to be, quite frankly, normal. Boring. Ho-hum. Have we become calloused? Have science and Hollywood so desensitized us to magnificence and a sense of wonder? If so, is there a way to get that sense of wonder back? I think there is. And I think this chapter gives us a clue how.

John tells us that overcoming Believers sang the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb. In other words, they sang what’s revealed in Scripture: Moses from the Old Testament and the Lamb in the New Testament.

Reading, meditating, and worshiping based on God’s Revelation can give us a fresh glimpse of what is truly awe-inspiring. God’s Word can give us the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things to dwell on. (Philippians 4:8) As we meditate on these things, we see new facets of the things of God as a jeweler sees new facets of a diamond as she peers through a magnifying loop.

Application

When’s the last time you spent time worshiping God in song? I’m not talking about singing about God. I’m talking about singing to God. There’s a world of difference between the two. One references God in the third-person. The other references God in the second-person.

“Great and awe-inspiring are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All the nations will come and worship before you because your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4 CSB)

Note how their song addresses your works, your ways, your name. You alone are holy. all the nations will come and worship before you because your righteous acts. The overcomers aren’t singing about God. They are singing to God.

The next time you’re in church, note the songs you sing. If your church uses hymnals (or if you have your own), note whether the songs are about God or to God.

A few years ago, as I prepared a sermon on this very issue, I thumbed through the hymnal we used in church. I was shocked to see how few hymns actually addressed God in the second-person. Almost all of the hymns referenced God in the third-person. Now, there’s nothing wrong with singing about God. But singing about God isn’t worship.

Spend some time today singing songs to God. Use your Bible to express your adoration to the lover of your soul. Here are a few places to start. These Scriptures are examples of worshiping God in the second-person.

Psalm 23:4-5
Revelation 4:11
Revelation 5:9–10
Revelation 11:17–18
Revelation 15:3–4

The Psalms are full of praises about God. As you read, ask God to overwhelm you with a fresh glimpse of Himself and His ways. Personalize the Psalms and other passages into second-person references to God.

Finally, spend a few minutes listening to my sermon, Worship in the First and Second Person Singular Present Tense.

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Jesus
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, John makes a stunning observation. “So the crowd was divided because of him.” John 7:43 (CSB) John wins the title, “Captain Obvious” for this one!

Many today will say that Christians need to be more like Jesus: more peaceful, more inclusive, less judgmental, and less divisive.

“Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34–36 (CSB)

It’s as if the ones telling Christians to “be more like Jesus” don’t know Who Jesus really is. Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if these people have ever read the Bible!

If you read the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, you’ll see character qualities that everyone can admire. Yes, Jesus was the embodiment of all of these things. And He was more. So much more!

We don’t get to take a trip down the Bible Buffet Line, picking and choosing what we like and disregarding what we dislike. No, we can either take the Jesus presented in the Bible, or reject Him outright.

Application

By His very nature, Jesus is divisive. He is God. And God is divisive! God is very divisive.

And we must choose. We must choose, not which parts of Jesus we want, or which version of Jesus we want, but whether or not we really want the Jesus Who’s is revealed in the Bible. The whole Bible.

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Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
He has conquered sin and death!
He has made a way for us to be made right with a Holy God.

We begin to read through Matthew’s Gospel in today’s Bible reading.

I like how Matthew begins his gospel grounding Jesus in his lineage. Jesus doesn’t just drop out of the sky. He doesn’t just appear on the scene. He was born just like every other human being has been born.

Matthew doesn’t gloss over some of the notable people, including some morally-compromised people, including King David, an adulterer, and a murderer. Matthew, like other Gospel writers showed that Jesus was born in a line of real people who lived in a real time in history. And Jesus is thoroughly grounded in Old Testament history.

But Matthew is very quick to point out that Jesus was born of a virgin. Very clearly he says that Joseph married Mary, but he kept her pure until Jesus was born. This was indeed a miraculous conception. Never before and never since has anyone been born without a biological father. But to throw out the virgin birth of Jesus is to discount a major part of His history. And yet, so many people do simply because it seems too spectacular to be true. And if it is true, then Jesus is special. He is divine. He is to be obeyed. And people don’t like to be told what to do.

Application

What about you? Do you believe that Jesus was born of a woman who had never “known” a man? If not, why not?

If Jesus was born of a virgin (not just a “young woman” kind of virgin, but a “virgin” kind of virgin), then He is who the Bible writers claimed He is, and who He said He is: God, made flesh. And if He is God, made flesh (or God in a “dirt suit” as a friend of mine has said), then He isn’t just some guy who was born in a legend in someone’s mind. He is a special human being, as much a human being as you are. The differences are that He never sinned and He is also as much God as God the Father is.

It also means that His sacrificial death makes it possible for you to have a relationship with a wholly, Holy, and righteous God. If you have trusted His payment for your sin, you are justified — you have a right standing — before this righteous judge.

So what difference does that make in your life?

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