Posts Tagged ‘cross’
[buzzsprout episode=”37947″ player=”true”]
Today I’m going to finish our Christmas devotional. I really appreciate you following along with me. Without the decorations that adorn our Christmas trees, they would just be another pine tree. But because of the decorations, they are Christmas trees.
Without the decorations of love, grace, peace and forgiveness, the cross of Calvary would be no different from any other cross that was used to crucify criminals. But because of the person who hung on the cross and what He did for all mankind, it can change your life forever.
Many people today are satisfied to celebrate Christmas as long as Jesus remains a baby in a manger.
In an Orange County Register article titled, “Bloody Jesus In Parade Outrages Townsfolk,” it describes how a church in Illinois entered a float in their town’s Christmas parade and many were outraged because of the point it illustrated. The float featured a young man depicting the crucifixion of Jesus wearing a loin cloth and blood-like makeup all over his face and body. The pastor of the church stated, “We weren’t out there trying to stir controversy. We were out there trying to identify the whole meaning of Christmas, and the ultimate meaning is Jesus did give His life, God gave a gift.” The pastor went on to say that no one had made any complaints about the float to him or his church, but the parade coordinator said she had received plenty of complaints and stated, “I’m not saying this was an inappropriate float, but it certainly was perceived that way by a lot of people.”
If Jesus had not died on the cross of Calvary to provide love, grace, peace and forgiveness, Christmas would be meaningless. Even Christians can miss the point of the Christmas story if they aren’t careful.
The great question for us is this: Is our Christmas still only a story about a baby, or is it more, a story about a Person into whom the baby grew, who can redeem the world from it’s sins, and who calls us to have a relationship with Him.
It is only as we see the birth of Jesus in light of His crucifixion and resurrection that we are able to grasp the full meaning of Christ’s coming. If Jesus had not died on the cross and rose again, he would have been just one out of billions upon billions of babies who have ever been born. But because he died and rose from the dead, he is much more than just an ordinary child or person.
With your eyes wide open this Christmas, respond to God with love and commitment for the gift of His Son. Focus your thoughts and actions and motivations toward honoring the Baby who grew up and died for all our sins.
After all, on that first Christmas the angel did not declare, “Christ the baby is born” but rather the angel said, “Christ the Savior is born!” Jesus went from the cradle to the cross.
Thank you for following this Christmas blog and listening. I pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas this year. May God bless you.
[buzzsprout episode=”37943″ player=”true”]
Welcome back to our Christmas devotional. Yesterday we started taking a look at the decorations of Calvary by learning how Jesus died for us because of his love. Today we’re going to look at the decoration of GRACE.
The grace of God that decorates the cross of Calvary is an amazing grace.
When I first saw the twisted Christmas tree, I wished my grandpa were alive to fix it. He could make any tree beautiful. No matter how bad it looked when we gave it to him, it was beautiful when he gave it back.
He would get out his saws and clippers and begin cutting and shaping. When he was done, the tree looked as if it had been grown in a greenhouse where a caring gardener had watered, pruned, and protected it from storms, drought, and nasty bugs.
Then grandpa would turn the tree over to the rest of the family to finish the job. We added lights, ornaments, and garland, and the imperfect tree was ready for a perfect celebration. What a transformation!
Life is like that crooked conifer. Each of us comes to God bent and misshaped from the effects of sin. But when we put our faith in Christ as Savior, God lovingly begins His work in us, transforming us from the inside out. Then He puts us into the care of His family, the church, and they continue His work by adding the lights of truth, the ornaments of patient rebuke, and the garland of love.
The message of Grandpa’s tree is this: Under God’s loving care, a life marred by sin can become beautiful!
God sees in us a masterpiece
That one day will be done;
His Spirit works in all our lives
To make us like His Son. —Sper
What sin has twisted, God’s grace can straighten. Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward man. It is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
God’s grace is so great that it’s able to reach the best as well as the worst of us. From the thief on the cross who was a criminal to the Apostle Paul who was a religious zealot.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
The grace of God that decorates the cross is an abounding grace.
John 1:14-17 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
God’s grace is available to the sinner.
Romans 5:20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
God’s grace is available to each one of us in every situation or circumstance we may go through.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
God’s love and grace are two of the most beautiful decorations on that tree that stood on top of Mount Calvary.
[buzzsprout episode=”37891″ player=”true”]
Just about everything on our Christmas tree is connected in some way with a family tradition or has something to do with someone in our family. For instance, one of the bulbs on our tree was made by me when I was a child.
A Christmas tree without decorations is just another pine tree. The decorations are what make it so special.
When I think of a Christmas tree I also think about the cross of Calvary. By itself, the cross is just a piece of wood. It isn’t special at all. What makes the cross so special is the person who hung on it. What makes the cross significant is that Jesus died on it for all mankind.
The cross of Calvary was decorated with some very special ornaments. Over the next few days we’re going to consider four decorations that make the cross of Calvary so significant to our lives today.
The first decoration is LOVE.
Nothing exemplifies the spirit of love at Christmas more than the gifts that we give to one another. But in our giving to one another we should never forget the wonderful gift of God to the entire world. God gave His only begotten Son out of love.
By nature God is love and one of the characteristics of His love is that it is sacrificial.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
During this time of year many people are searching for love. That’s because by nature we all want and need to be loved by someone. But often times we don’t find love because we are looking in all the wrong places for it.
The love of God can satisfy both the saint and the sinner alike.
Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The fighting was fierce in the days before Christmas during the first World War. A German soldier emerged from his trench and tried to advance, but he was hit by gunfire and severely wounded. As he tried to crawl back to safety, he became caught in barbed wire. After his screams turned to moans, an American climbed out of his trench and inched his way to the injured man.
When the two opposing commanders saw what was happening, they ordered their troops to cease-fire. In the eerie silence, the American comforted and freed the wounded German, then carried him to the waiting arms of his comrades. The guns remained silent until he returned to his trench.
This is an inspiring story, but I know one that is even more dramatic. Jesus, because of God’s love, crossed into “enemy territory” to rescue us from spiritual death. Even though we deserved to die, He unselfishly accepted the humiliation, pain, and death of the cross to pay the price for our sin.
Romans 5:6 When we were unable to help ourselves, at the moment of our need, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. (NCV)
Hark! The herald angels sing,”Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild–
God and sinners reconciled!” – Wesley
While Christ’s birth brought God to man; Christ’s death brings man to God.
So, during this busy Christmas season, let’s take time to remember in awe and wonder what Jesus did for us. He was born that we might be rescued from eternal death.