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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hear the voice

Matthew 3:1-6 / Mark 1:1-6 / Luke 3:1-6…

John the Baptist was a preacher. His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and his method was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. The people came to the wilderness to see him, and he looked the part of a wild man. Food and clothing were not of primary importance to him. But he was successful, his awkward look and bold approach did not stop the Voice in his message.

A lot of people are persuasive, charming, and otherwise well spoken, well learned, and perhaps even well dressed. However, you could have just gone through a car wreck, just got back from heart surgery, or just haven’t slept much in days, and God can still use you right there in your wilderness, ragged but ready. When you speak for Christ, what counts is not what you wear or where you eat, but the truth of what you say. The power of the Voice is present in your witness, you can speak the truth and be ready when God calls (1 Peter 3:15).

If you go all out for God, you will have what you need, and you will be successful. Now, you may not look like it to the spiritually blind in your world, but your world will watch, and some will learn, and live. Your voice gives voice to THE Voice.

One day we will all hear that Voice that the Scriptures say is like the roar of many waters (Revelation 1:15), and you will either hear “well done, good and faithful servant”, or “depart from me, worker of iniquity”. One thing is for certain, on that day you won’t be able to say, this is just a voice.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Behold the witness

John 1:6-9…

John the Baptist was the confirmation of Jesus; this was the man the Old Testament passages said would prepare us for the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3 / Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6). His parents knew that he was the herald of God (Luke 1:17, 76). His eyes were opened, and his mission was clear.

John was the transition, the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He had one main reason for being born; to be the initial, burning, public flame that would lead people to Jesus, the True Light. Indeed, he had the greatest calling, yet his whole public ministry lasted little more than six months. Still, John the Baptist did his job well.

Now we have the greatest job, proclaiming that the King is coming again. We have a reason for being born again and yet bound to earth. Fellowship with God, fellowship with each other, and triumph over sin will all be complete in heaven, but the one thing we do here that we cannot do in heaven is to tell lost people about Jesus.

How do you “tell” people? You live for Christ, win others to Christ, and edify your brothers and sisters in Christ. Those you see the most are the ones you have the most chance to “tell”, and you tell with all your life. To be a means in saving even one soul, that is worth living for.

Behold your witness…

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

The increase of God

Luke 2:41-52…

Joseph and Mary were faithful to what they knew was right (Exodus 23:14-17 / Deuteronomy 16:16). Remember that the dream lives in your daily life. It might all seem like religious routine, but Jesus has a way of shaking things up. A growing Jesus means you have to stay faithful but also expect the unexpected.

Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. How can the perfect increase in anything? Jesus wasn’t lacking in any godly quality, but in the full experience of living a perfect human life. His lifelong obedience (John 8:29 / Hebrews 5:8, 7:26-28) provides the basis for our eternal salvation (Hebrews 2:10-18, 10:14).

Jesus knew more than the teachers, and more than His parents. Yet He was submissive to them. He knows more than you, yet in a practical sense He is submissive to your will also. The increase of God in your life means you increasingly act as Jesus would have you act (Galatians 5:22-23). Obedience and submission are the fruit of a faithful walk with God.

Mary saw the destiny of the dream, and for her, the triumph would also be the test. Some fail to fully realize what an increase of God in their life means. Yes, you will increase in favor with God and men, but you will also become identified with the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3 / Philippians 3:10). Jesus will do marvelous things in your life, but make no mistake, it will cost you, and it will be painful.

Still, if you are looking for Jesus, He isn’t hard to find, He’s in the place where you are doing the Father’s will. When you open the door of your will, then God will open the door of your opportunity.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The favor of faith

Luke 2:39-40…

The seed of the Savior must be nurtured according to obedience. As we travel to and fro, if we do what we know we should do, what we need to know about what is next will begin to take care of itself. We will walk right into it, with wisdom.

The walk of faith means that we have the faith to walk. It isn’t waiting for some spiritual high. These things may happen from time to time, but even in the extraordinary events of the coming and living of our Lord, the people involved were still normal people living normal lives. The three year mission was thirty years later.

Yes, the providence of God has changed the scope of our course, and our answered prayer brings new promise and new dreams. But remember, this new hope brings new understanding to our way of doing things, and we are not rescued from the mundane, we are transformed in it. Even the King of the Universe, who now resides in you, even Jesus took on the role of the regular. That is part of what the Incarnation is all about, to transform human clay. God is a potter, after all (Isaiah 64:8).

The seed will sprout and start to take on more and more room in your existence, as long as you stay obedient to the vision. You will be full of wisdom, and you will be found in favor. The mission of the Father is to see to it that the Son is blossoming out from your soul into all of your life. Just do what you know to do, and the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of faith, will be produced. Christ is called the Branch, after all (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The planting period

Matthew 2:19-23…

If the dream of God, Christ in you, is going to grow in your life, it has to be planted in good soil. The pot that holds the plant may be moved, but eventually, the plant has to be taken outside. It isn’t meant to stay in the greenhouse; it is made to spread out in the garden. The fragrance of Christ must be in the world, but not of it.

When the fullness of Christ is the dream for your life, the things that would hold sway over you and distract you will evaporate as the Evangel takes center stage in your existence. If you will die to self, the enemies of your soul will have no authority over you (John 12:24-26). You have to stay the course, and let God set that course.

Even when you know the way back into battle, often there will be new dangers lurking, and you need to keep listening. Just as you were led to safety on your way out, as you walk on the way of obedience, you will be led to safety on your way in. The formation of Christ in your life is where the safe passage lies. It is a fulfillment of God’s plan for you (Romans 8:28-29 / Ephesians 1:4).

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The dream in motion

Matthew 2:13-18…

The birth of Jesus in your life is only the beginning. When God is on the move, the enemy turns from the veiled threats, and the opposition comes out in the open. The secret war of the soul isn’t so secret anymore. Christians know that the world (1 John 2:16), the flesh (1 Peter 2:11), and the devil (1 Peter 5:8), are at war with our souls, and they try and destroy our dreams for God. Still, when the battle becomes manifest, and the enemy rages about trying to destroy the dream by destroying other, lesser things around it, this is when the soldier must be ready for action.

The movement of God requires you at times to lose your life so that you may travel to the place where you begin to find it. It may involve new areas of preparation and protection. In any event, the season of downtime is for the good. The unfolding drama of the dream, Christ in you, takes many twists and turns. Jesus has to grow in your life.

Bad men with bad intentions are always part of the process. This is the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Opposition is to be expected (2 Timothy 3:12). Your hope and happiness must be in God, and yes, learning that can be a painful process. Your dream must not be dependent on what is happening to others. Yes, we must be compassionate, but letting the light of Christ fade from our focus does no one any good, for it is Christ who is the answer to the death of dreams, and Christ who is the light of eternal life. Having Christ with you is what matters, wherever He leads.

Moses was called out, Jesus was called out, and you are called out. Do you hear the call? Will you answer it with obedient action, even if it takes you out of the picture for a while?

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

New move, old groove

Luke 2:21-38…

When a new dream, or a new vision, and a new paradigm have entered into your life, what are you supposed to do first? How are you supposed to walk rightly, obediently? How do we begin to bring Christ into our new life?

The answer is that you do what you already know you should do. The new “to do” list will appear as you walk down the old road of obedience. Some things will change, radically, but the mundane is part of the movement of God along the path.

The standard for revealed truth is that it conforms in essence to what has already been revealed. New prophetic purpose may be born, but the fulfillment of the old is what gives way to the new. The old wave of righteous saints will confirm the new wave of righteous action. They will revel in it, not rebel against it. They have been waiting for it. The Spirit of God will move the godly to proclaim the name of Christ upon the movement of God. This proclamation will be a confirmation; the line of testimony will be unbroken, the way forward will appear.

The old guard will be comforted to see the fulfillment of God’s Word to the faithful. He is still moving among the generations (Matthew 28:18-20 / Hebrews 13:5-6). The old faithful will see the glory of God at the end of life when all others who are not alive to the vision will think them used up. God will grace them with a glimpse of glory before they are taken up into it.

Be looking for those old saints. They are a key to seeing the power of your dream. To see the new move, hit the old groove.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Follow the leader

Matthew 2:1-12…

When the move of God has people moving, the stir is enough to make the present monuments, traditions and tyrants in your life shake. The devil knows when God is on the move, and he sends his minions to excite, entice, and enrage those under his power. When the person in power feels threatened the people under that power are also troubled. The entrance of Christ into any situation draws the battle line.

We can and should get excited by the light of Christ shining into our lives to lead us to His presence. And yet this is where we find ourselves, not yet in the clear about things. At times we come under the influence of important people who may call us friend, but they are not leading you to God. Their aim is to deceive you into thinking they are also interested in your dream, but they only want to wipe it out because they feel threatened.

The Scriptures are your plumb line to the presence of God. You may be involved with or in some part of the wrong camp, and feel you are helpless, and constrained to do wrong, but if you will be obedient to where the Lord is leading, He will keep your path from leading to destruction.

You must be obedient to the vision (Philippians 3:13-17); follow the dream and you will find a way out. Don’t have fear like Herod but have faith like the wise men.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

The wonder of it all

Luke 2:8-20…

The background events of the move of God can be long in the making, yet suddenly, the movement of God is moving others. The shepherds were doing their normal thing, working and watching, but then God moved in. An angel was appearing, the glory of God was shining, and the shepherds, now fearing, are wondering what it all means.

The angel brings joy, not fear, at the announcement of the Good News, the arrival of the Christ, and the army of the Lord sounds the praise of the ages, and peace to the people of God.

When the Lord reveals the hand of providence, when we hear His Word, we do well to follow His lead to the place of His purpose if we want to be included in it. Obedience to the prophetic vision is the key to blessing (Proverbs 29:18). In our obedience we see that God has indeed moved, and moved us. We see that God has been faithful to His Word; the message is as He has said. It is then that we can ponder and wonder at the meaning, and get our answers. Our testimony is a confirmation of His move to others already in the stream of events. Testimony is a cause for treasure, and a reciprocal praise among people of like precious faith (2 Peter 1:1).

The Move, the Message, the Meaning: do you ponder these things? Is the revelation of Christ to your life the treasure you seek? The stream of God’s blessing is always on the move. Our obedience to His vision is all it takes to get into the flow. The wonder of it all is that in the grace of Christ we are allowed to dive into the depths of God (2 Corinthians 13:14).

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Counting on Christ

Luke 2:1-7…

The hustle and bustle of our societal obligations can be the context of a providential move of God. When we think of the movement of God, we are often looking for the spectacular, something that will make the heathen stand up and notice, and to be honest, something that will keep us from looking ridiculous. However, this is not the usual manner of the Maestro.

After we are born again, Jesus may burst forth out of us at times and in places where He may not be immediately noticed. Jesus has a way of taking dirt and making it a testament to the divine (Genesis 2:7 / 2 Corinthians 4:7). His purpose is not pleasing to the world (James 4:4), but something manifest to the friends of the faith (1 John 2:16, 4:5-6).

Most of the world has no room for the King of Glory, they seek their own glory. They have no room for the Comforter, they seek their own comfort. Most have no real peace; they throw the Prince of Peace out the back door. Jesus left the glories of Heaven and became poor that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9), but it is another sort of riches altogether, and in a different place than that which the world seeks.

Be on the lookout: your greatest blessing may be out back.

Even the dirt poor can be filled with divine power.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Last place wins the race

Matthew 1:18-25…

It seems that in the story of the gospels, Joseph is always last. Mary had been told by an angel that Jesus would be born of her, and then she went away to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth knew who was in Mary’s womb, and who was in her own womb, and even the child in her womb, John the Baptist, knew who was in Mary’s womb. It would seem that Zechariah probably knew about Jesus, too. A lot of joy was being spread around. All of this travelling news and yet, all before Mary’s own husband, Joseph, knew.

Sometimes when we first notice the hand of God, we don’t know it is He who is moving in our situation. We can apprehend that something is happening, but we reason that it must not be the right thing. We decide that we will not make waves, but then the Master of the Sea (Psalm 135:6) comes to us for our understanding.

Like Zechariah and Mary, an angel told Joseph of the Good News. The Holy Spirit fills us with the knowledge that He who walks upon the waters is in our midst. Jesus, the One who saves us, the God who is with us, He is the fulfillment of our greatest dreams. Whenever we awaken to the Light of Christ, our obedience will hasten the birth of the dream through our lives.

In the fullness of time Jesus came (Galatians 4:4-7). In the fullness of time your dream will come. Better to know and be last than not know and be lost.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The dream comes

Luke 1:57-80…

John the Baptist is born. When the promise has come, there is still the matter of living it out in obedience. Direction is one thing, but development along that line quite another. Many a promised dream has died in the land of laziness, buried in the coffin of carelessness.

Zechariah learned that the blessing comes as we go with God and call those things as God sees them, and not as we might think they should be. Then we can truly praise as we ought. The lips of a man freed from bondage will speak blessing, and it may put a healthy fear of God before those who do not yet understand.

The promises of God are as good as His Word, and they give birth to our deepest hopes and dreams, but the fullness of the promise must wait for full growth if we are to receive the full blessing. It is not our decision to start, but our determination to stay in the will of God that will count in the end. The dream is born, but the destiny has only begun.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Joy loves company

Luke 1:39-56…

Mary finds out that Elizabeth is also carrying a child of promise. They say that misery loves company, but so does joy, and hope, and deliverance, and redemption. We like to share Good News with others who are also receiving it. Even in the beginnings of the parade of providence, we have joy from seeing the miracle in other people’s lives. The joy we have is made fuller when we share it, and when it is received.

Joy is joyful at the joy of others. Those who truly know they are truly blessed don’t mind when others are blessed even more than them. The blessed are blessed by the blessing of others, in their obedience and desire to do the Lord’s will.

The fullness of the heart filled with the joy of God will result in exclamations of praise, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Yes our lips should always pour forth praise, but it will not need to be a manufactured thing when we are filled, it will simply be the result.

The King of the Universe is waiting to fulfill His destiny in your destiny, and that is all the reason you need to be full of joy, and to spread that joy, and it will bring joy to others who will find it and others who have received it for themselves. If you believe in the fulfillment of what the Spirit has promised, you will receive the fullness of the Spirit in practice. If you act according to God’s will, His promise for your life, you will have joy.

Then the words of Mary will be on our lips and the sublime statement of ultimate joy will be ours in reality, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…

Join the company…Jesus IS joy.

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Sunday, January 07, 2018

The instrument of God

Luke 1:26-38…

Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” We say that we know that (Hebrews 13:6), but sometimes, God seems to place us in a position where we are startled and suspicious. He tells us not to fear, but then He blows us away.

The revelation of Jesus to Mary, and the announcement that a poor little girl would bring forth the Incarnation of Glory into the world; this was and is a time for awe and wonder. Mary wondered, how can these things happen, through me?

She is given the same answer we are given: the power of the Holy Spirit. God can do anything, and He can do anything through you.

Mary is also told that she is not the only one giving birth to a miracle. We are not alone; we are not the only instrument in the Grand Orchestra of the Great Maestro.

She then gives us one of the most sublime statements in the Bible, the key to Christ in your life; “let it be to me according to your word”.

And so it is with us… it is our destiny to be fashioned into the figure of Christ (Romans 8:29), yet we need to be strengthened (Ephesians 3:14-20) for the song of the Savior to be turned up to full volume (Galatians 4:19). Let the music play.

We can live Incarnational lives (Galatians 2:20) as the instrument of God, because we have the same power, the same glory, resident in us (Colossians 1:27). It must come out.

Bring forth the miracle: let God play His glorious tune, through you.

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Saturday, January 06, 2018

A promised child

Luke 1:5-25…

We have so many hopes in this life, and many of the biggest and best hopes are about old dreams. Sometimes we never realize what we had hoped for, and we are reoriented to make the most of our journey along the way, aiming to give God the glory in the “regular” life we live.

Yet, as we serve God, and we try to fulfill His will for our lives in our day to day routine, sometimes, something providential changes the scope of our course. An answered prayer brings new promise and new dreams. A new hope brings new understanding to our way of doing things, and suddenly the mundane takes on new meaning.

It can also bring fear and doubt. A dead dream is hard to awaken, especially if we don’t see that the new vision is a new version of the old dream, but with God’s hand pulling forward now instead of holding back. If we push against the hand of God, the promise is still to come, but with the added burden of a season of silence until the season of fullness is come.

Don’t doubt that God can use you as His instrument, despite your supposed limitations. You are also a promised child (Ephesians 1:4-5), even though you started out as a problem child (Ephesians 5:8). Have faith: if you live beyond reproach, God will take away your reproach.

Zechariah and Elizabeth knew these things exactly.

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Friday, January 05, 2018

Second hand security

Luke 1:1-4…

They say, "How can you trust the Bible?"

We say, "How can you trust the “big bang” theory?"

Second hand is not always out of hand. In Luke 7:18-28 we see the imprisoned John the Baptist wondering if he had understood Jesus rightly about His being the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t speak to his emotions (and John was family), Jesus sends John back to the Scriptures (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus provided reassurance, but notice that this would be faith in the report of others.

You can’t just say, “Well, men wrote the Bible, therefore it must be flawed”, because if the claim of the Bible itself is true, God can get men to write what He wants them to. It is not self-refuting to claim that men wrote the very words of God and that it is inerrant. If that is your problem with the Bible, get rid of every book that you have because every single one was written by men. You can never trust anything else that you ever read in life. Face the fact; you trust much of your life to second hand knowledge.

Be grateful for Luke, and the “second hand” of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:20-21 / 1 John 4:13).

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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Our family tree

Matthew 1:1-17…

This is Jesus’ genealogy through the line of Joseph.

Jesus is truly the “son of David” (Luke 20:41) and the true heir of the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 22:18 / Galatians 3:16). We are sons of Abraham, heirs of Abraham’s blessing, and we are sons of God, and heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-18 / Galatians 4:7).

We have just celebrated the Incarnation during the Christmas season. Our Christmas tree, and yes indeed, our family tree… is a cross (Galatians 3:9-14 / 1 Peter 2:24).

We all need Jesus. No family line will save you from sin, and there is no heritage, family, status, job, or cultural background that will relieve you from the need for redemption or place you at the front of some line (cf. Philippians 3:4-8). Instead of trying to be someone great based on someone else’s past greatness, we should just be grateful that all Christians are from God stock.

Look at the Cross of Christ, and there you will see the one family tree that truly matters.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Jesus had to wait

Luke 3:23-38…

This is Jesus’ genealogy through the line of Mary.

Jesus is a real man, an eternal being who was also an historical person. Jesus is the promised “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is in the line of David, and will sit on “the throne of David” (Isaiah 9:7). He is called by those who know this and believe the “son of David” (Matthew 9:27, 12:23, 15:22 / Luke 18:38-39). Jesus is the rightful heir, in both the divine and human senses.

The Jews, and the world, had to wait thousands of years before the Savior appeared, but God sent His Son when the time was right (Galatians 4:4-5), as He had promised (Romans 1:2-3). Through Jesus we become rightful heirs in the kingdom of God (Romans 8:17 / Galatians 3:29, 4:6-7 / Ephesians 3:6 / Titus 3:4-7).

The Savior will return again, and we are supposed to be watching, waiting, and working until that time comes (Luke 19:13 / 1 Peter 4:7). It can be a hard wait at times, but it will happen (Romans 8:23, 13:11 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Bible is full of people who have a promise but they have to wait on it. Even Jesus had to wait till His time was right.

If we believe in Him, then we can wait, too (Isaiah 40:31 / 2 Timothy 4:8 / Titus 2:11-14). We can live for today by having an eye for tomorrow.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Light shined

John 1:10-18…

John the Baptist came to prepare the way, to proclaim the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:11 / John 3:25-30). But the world, including the Jews in particular, was and is blind to Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). They did not understand who He was. The world doesn’t recognize its Creator (cf. Romans 1:18-21), and the Jews did not recognize their Messiah (Mark 6:4 / Luke 4:28). It sounds like a sad beginning to the story.

Yet it is not the end of the story, because, in the midst of this general rejection, there are those who do indeed receive Jesus. These are the ones whom God has chosen. He calls His children to be born again, and they believe in Jesus (Romans 9:16 / Galatians 3:26 / Ephesians 2:8-9 / James 1:18 / 1 John 5:1). The light shines in their hearts.

There is enough theology, doctrine and devotion in this passage to last a lifetime. The Son of God became the Son of Man (Isaiah 7:14 / Micah 5:2 / Romans 1:3 / Galatians 4:4 / Philippians 2:5-7 / 1 Timothy 3:16 / Hebrews 2:14). The glory of God shown as the great light on earth (Titus 2:11-14 / 2 Peter 1:16-18 / 1 John 1:1-3). Jesus is fullness and gives us the grace we need (Ephesians 1:23, 3:19, 4:13 / Colossians 1:19, 2:9-10). Jesus gives us a look at the invisible and we can know God (John 14:7 / Colossians 1:15 / 1 Timothy 1:17 / Hebrews 1:3).

The light has shined. The question is will you see it?

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Monday, January 01, 2018

In the beginning

John 1:1-5…

God was before matter, energy, and all of the stuff that unbelievers might like to think that we devolve into over the course of time. Other things are not eternal, but God is eternal, and Jesus is God. He is eternal. He is self-existent, and has always existed. Simply put, Jesus is better than any other religious system out there because Jesus is God.

The story of Jesus in the gospels is the story of light entering into the darkness, so that man might be brought to the light of life, and truth, and grace, into eternity. In the mercy of God, He has not left us without a witness. He has sent His Son. Jesus is the heir of all things, the Creator and Sustainer of the world, the glory and exact image of God, the purification for our sins, and the exalted victor over death (Hebrews 1:1-3). The gospels cast the vision of Jesus into our world, our time, and our personal experience (2 Corinthians 4:6).

It was not that Jesus was created, and then He created everything else. Jesus created matter, energy, time, space, and everything else. More than that, He is the sustainer of everything (Colossians 1:16-17). Nothing exists if He does not will it. Jesus is, theologically speaking, God of very God (cf. Revelation 1:8).

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Why is this so? Why is the light going to overcome the darkness? It is because this light is life, and through this life were all things made, and this light, this life, is the Word of God. And the Word of God is Jesus.

The world is full of darkness. What the gospels teach us is that Jesus will overcome the darkness, for, in, and through His own people (John 16:33 / 1 John 1:5-7, 2:8-11 / Colossians 1:13). Jesus is life (John 3:16, 5:24, 14:6) and light (John 8:12 / Ephesians 5:8-14 / 1 Peter 2:9). When all around is darkness, and yet the light shines through, how great indeed is that light!

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