Diana Nesbitt

Always Go Deeper

Tag: Jesus

He Didn’t Come As a Royal King Should Have

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He didn’t come as a royal king should have
The High King of Heaven come down to earth
Unwelcomed by fanfare or clamoring crowds
Quietly humble, His miraculous birth

Curled up inside of a womb He’d created
No guards to protect this valuable life
Only to outcasts His birth was announced
By angels and a great star in the night

Prophets for centuries long had foretold it
A Savior would come, would be Emmanuel
But those in Bethlehem slept, unaware
That the promised Messiah had just joined them there

Creator condemned by His own creation
He carried our sorrows and bore all our shame
Unwelcomed, unwanted, they tried to dethrone Him
They murdered Him, still He continued to reign

Next time He comes it will be in His glory
He will take up His king’s place on the throne
All knees will bow, every tongue will adore Him
Saints will rejoice as He welcomes them home

He didn’t come as a royal king should have
But it wouldn’t have been right if He had
Not only a King, but a Saviour as well
He came not to rule but to save us from hell.

I hope your Christmas is filled with sweet meditations on the most loving and gracious Gift ever given- Jesus! Merry Christmas! 

Matthew Musings: Who’s Really in Charge?

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It was a question that presented a crossroads: either submit to the temptation to take the easy way out and skim over it, or make myself exert some brainpower, take a minute to think it over, and unlock a new insight into God’s Word. Thankfully, I chose the latter.

“What does Jesus’ healing ministry have to do with forgiveness of sins?” Thus read the question in my Bible study book.
Matthew chapters 8-9 reads like a rolodex of Jesus’ interactions with people and their responses to Him. However, there’s only one account of Jesus talking about forgiveness of sins in relation to healing. When the paralytic was brought to Him, Jesus told him that his sins had been forgiven. The Pharisees, of course, objected to this, saying that He was blaspheming by telling the man that He had forgiven his sins – something only God could do.
I thought over the recurring themes in these chapters: forgiveness of sins, healing, driving out demons, faith, authority… Jesus forgave sins, and He healed people, but how were the two related? This phrase stood out to me: “So that you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a free will but also gave clear instructions about what would happen if they sinned by exercising their free will to disobey His commands. Adam and Eve (and consequently every generation after them) chose to sin, and as a result, death and disease entered the world just as God had forewarned. However, just because God permits the existence of sin does not mean that it is stronger than He is. Through healing people of sickness and demon possession Jesus showed that He has authority over the consequences of our downfall as well as the forces that caused it. Sin is our problem, and Jesus came to free us from that problem. By healing people He gave tangible proof that He had the authority and ability to do just that.

Jesus’ ministry of healing and casting out demons was also a picture of the spiritual healing that He provides. The way that people received physical healing is the same way they obtained spiritual healing- through faith. Over and over again, Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well.” “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” He asked those who approached Him for healing, “Do you believe that I can do this?”
He told the Pharisees, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The answer to the question is right there. Jesus came to heal us of our sin, and He illustrated that by healing people of the sickness caused by sin.
He also passed on His power to His disciples, giving them authority to heal and cast out demons and commissioning them to tell others about His ability to free people from the bondage of sin.

As hard as it is sometimes, if we would only truly grasp the reality of Christ’s authority over this world and that which He has given to His followers as ambassadors of His kingdom, we wouldn’t shrink back when an opportunity to declare the truth about Him arises. This is God’s world, and the people in it are only here by His grace. Christ’s ambassadors have authority, permission, and even more, commands from Him to do His work in His kingdom. We are not acting improperly or inappropriately when we speak for Jesus. Even demons recognize God’s reign and position of authority in the world. The fact that other human beings are blind to this shouldn’t sway our resolve to be bold and to act with the authority that we have from Christ, so that others too may experience His healing power in their lives.

The Inescapable Presence of Immanuel

DSC07762 Immanuel- the name given the Messiah, the Promised One who would come to earth to rescue His beloved creation from the horrid mess they had gotten themselves into.

Immanuel. God with us.

No man made religion can offer real closeness with the real God. Always, in the religions man has made up, we make it unattainably hard for ourselves to reach God.

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God, however, makes it easy. He reaches for us. The history of the world is nothing more than the story of God being Immanuel- God with us, God reaching for us.

He made a perfect world with perfect closeness between man and Himself. Man sinned and severed the relationship. God continued to make ways for man to know Him, and then finally, He sent the permanent solution to our sin problem. He gave us His dearly loved Son, withholding nothing in His pursuit of us. Then He sent His Spirit to indwell every person who accepts His gift of eternal life.

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I once heard a preacher say: “You can be as close to God as you want.”

He is God with us, the One who has done everything possible to make it easy for us to come close to Him. We’re the ones who build the barriers between us and God, with our sin, mistrust, and rejection of all the goodness He offers us.

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Still, His invitation is always going out. Christmas, the fascinating time of year when, in spite of all of people’s efforts to squelch the scandalous message that God loved us all enough to send His Son to die a brutal death to pay for our sin and be raised again so those who believe can have new life, that message, it goes out over loudspeakers in stores, and on the radio, the television, and the internet.

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That message, it travels at the speed of sound, and you can cover your ears against it but you can’t stop it from leaking out everywhere. The songs of the season carry the message, the crooners, the pop artists, and all the musicians are the unwitting carriers of the message that will rescue the whole world from darkness, if we’d all stop being afraid of the Light.

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You’re hard-pressed to evade it, this time of year, this message that has infiltrated every tradition surrounding this holiday. Santa Claus? =A generous Christian saint. Happy Holidays? Holiday=Holy Day.

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It’s no surprise- Paul says in Romans 10:8, “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” In the mouth of every person who has ever sung Silent Night or Joy to the World, in the ears of every person who has heard Linus recite the Christmas story on Charlie Brown Christmas.

If only everyone would stop and wonder about what they’re singing and hearing.

Inescapable Immanuel. You can leave Him, but He won’t leave you.

What relentless, generous love. Don’t run from it, embrace it.

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“Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Why It’s Okay If This Isn’t The Best Christmas Ever

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It’s inevitable. You’re innocently watching a Christmas movie. Something has just happened to heighten the anticipation for the yearly celebration, and somebody throws their arms into the air and exclaims “This is going to be the best Christmas ever!” I don’t know what your reaction to such a display is, but when I hear that I want to throw my head back and let out a Charlie Brown-sized “AAAAAUUGGHHHH!!!!!”, the writer within me cringing with disgust at the unfortunately common use of a clichè as stale as Granny’s fruitcake.

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The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in the hopes that Christmas would be perfect this year…

As clichè as the words may be, however, the sentiment is not.  At Christmas, more than any other time of year, there is a high level of anticipation. Part of this adds to the enjoyment of the holiday, and part of it also reflects the true celebration of the season very accurately -after all, the point of Christmas is to celebrate the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, and also to look forward to His second coming to earth. But somehow as the deadline draws nearer and the holiday to-do list grows, instead of focusing on the long-term things we are waiting for, our gaze drops and we find our focus drifting to the immediate future: December 25th. Somehow, with help from the movies, of course, the desire to have a magical, memorable Christmas wriggles its way into our hearts. We feel the pressure it places on us to carry out the special traditions, buy the perfect gifts, bake the most delicious cookies, and all the while working ourselves into “the Christmas spirit”.

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A delicate hope

However, there is a certain level of danger in such anticipation, because there’s no guarantee that our expectations for the perfect Christmas will be met. There’s a lot that could shrivel our hopes for the best Christmas ever: someone might get sick and not be well enough to carry out the special traditions, that perfect Christmas gift might get lost in the mail, or the cookies might burn. Even though we know better than to hang our hopes for a holly jolly Christmas on the mantle alongside our stockings, we still get caught up in the “Christmas spirit” and burn ourselves out trying to get it all done. And if we wake up on Christmas morning and find our stocking filled with less than everything we hoped for, boom. Instant blue Christmas.

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The first Christmas didn’t meet people’s expectations, either.

From the nature of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ, the majority of Israelites were expecting Jesus to come as a powerful leader who would free them from the political oppression they were under.  They couldn’t believe it when the One who claimed to be the promised Savior came in the form of a helpless baby, the son of a poor carpenter, from a town whose reputation was so humble that one of Jesus’ disciples said “Can anything good come from there?” So they crucified Him for blasphemy, not realizing that this One who was not what they expected had the power to exceed their wildest dreams.

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What makes the best Christmas ever?

The best Christmas ever was just over 2,000 years ago when the promised Messiah humbled Himself and came to earth as a baby to be Immanuel, God with us.  He came as the Light that the darkness could not overcome, full of truth and grace. He came to bridge the gap between God and man and make it possible for us to have peace with our Creator and a bright future in heaven. The perfect place to hang your hopes for the best Christmas ever is not a Christmas tree, but a cross. Hope in Jesus is hope without danger, for He will never fail us. {tweet that}

So if you’re sitting amidst a pile of presents trying to figure out how to make them look halfway decent and nothing is working out like you’d hoped (this is the voice of experience speaking), just breathe and let the pressure roll away. The best Christmas ever already happened, and all we have to do to celebrate it in style is to remember the One who came and rejoice in the greatest Christmas gift of all time: Jesus.

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To The Unsung Heroes: Why Your Weakness is Your Greatest Asset

Nothing reminds you of how fragile you are like getting sick. For the past nine days (but who’s counting?) I’ve had one of the worst colds I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing. Instead of going about my days purposefully trying to get things done on my to-do list, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit wandering about like a homeless phantom with a blank look in my eyes, breathing through my mouth as my foggy brain tries to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with myself.

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One evening as I was rejoicing over the fact that I could breathe through both nostrils, momentarily at least (this hadn’t occurred in at least twenty-four hours, mind you), it struck me how illness can drastically decrease the scope of your priorities. Here I was celebrating a temporary breakthrough (pardon the pun, I’m still not quite well) in something that I ordinarily do all the time without even thinking about: breathing.

And then I though of those who have to breathe with the help of oxygen tubes and wondered how they cope with the discomfort of having them up their nose all the time, or how anyone bears living with prolonged or permanent discomfort, pain, or disability.

Suddenly, I realized something.

The world is full of unsung heroes.

We honor (and rightly so) those who defend our country, save people from burning buildings, uphold justice, feed and educate the impoverished, and do many other benevolent things. This is appropriate; those who sacrifice their time and energy for the better of others are worthy of our appreciation.

But there’s a whole other group of heroes that we don’t usually recognize as such. They might wear a hospital gown instead of a cape, a smile for a mask to hide their pain, and sometimes it takes a superhuman effort for them to just get through the day. Like all true heroes, they suffer. They have faced their kryptonite – they’re living with it, in fact- but instead of weakening them, it is making them stronger.

They are those who are going through daily struggles of prolonged illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Candida, chronic illness or pain, poor mental health, or any other of the myriad of physical afflictions that exist.

To you, my new heroes, I would like to say:

When you smile even though it would be easier to cry,

when you get out of bed to face another day even though it would be simpler to hide under the covers,

when you keep putting one foot in front of the other even though you might be learning how to walk all over again,

when you meet someone else’s needs even though your own are so overwhelming,

when you use some of your precious energy to serve someone else,

when you count your blessings even though you could effortlessly count your complaints,

you are my heroes, because you remind me of The World’s Greatest Unsung Hero:

Jesus.

From the things we know about Him in Scripture, we don’t use words like “weak” or “sickly” to describe Jesus. And yet in what is perhaps the only Bible passage that gives us any clues as to His physical being, He is described by Isaiah as “A Man of suffering who knew what sickness was.”

He was the Master Designer of the human body. He made the lame walk with a word. He made the blind see with some mud. He raised the dead with a shout. He healed a twelve-year bleeding problem with a brush of the hem of His robe.

And yet He allowed Himself to suffer. “He bore our sicknesses and carried our pains.” (Isaiah 53:4a)

Why?

Why would He do such a thing? He created His own body; why not make it disease-resistant? Why make Himself susceptible to our human weaknesses? How was a physically weak Savior better for us than a physically strong one?

It puzzled me for a while, but then the revelation came.

Jesus Christ took on a human body with all its weaknesses to show us where real strength lies: in the Father. {tweet this}

With His frail, human body, Jesus showed us that the strength to do things that matter for eternity doesn’t come from within ourselves. It comes from God. That’s what Jesus was constantly doing – pointing people to the Father and showing them how much they need Him. He shared our sicknesses so that when we look at Him we can have hope that in spite of our human frailty God can do great things through us, too. He shared our pains so that, like Paul, we too can take pride in our weaknesses and infirmities, because when we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest.{tweet this}

Human frailty is not a limitation; it is an opportunity for Christ’s power to reside in us. {tweet this}

 

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