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Gifts of Faith: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

Last week Jay Leno joked that two of the three wise men must not have gotten the memo about the appropriate gift to bring Jesus. They brought only frankincense and myrrh while the third one brought gold.

James Montgomery Boyce gave further insight to these “gifts of faith” in Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus:

Gold: It is easy to see why gold is an appropriate gift for Jesus Christ. Gold is the metal of kings. When gold was presented to Jesus, it acknowledged his right to rule. The wise men knew Jesus was the King of kings.

Incense: Incense was also a significant gift. It was used in the temple worship. It was mixed with the oil that was used to anoint the priests of Israel. It was part of the meal offerings that were offerings of thanksgiving and praise to God. In presenting this gift the wise men pointed to Christ as our great High Priest, the one whose whole life was acceptable and well pleasing to his Father.

Myrrh: Myrrh was used for embalming. By any human measure it would be odd, if not offensive, to present to the infant Christ a spice used for embalming. But it was not offensive in this case, nor was it odd. It was a gift of faith. We do not know precisely what the wise men may have known or guessed about Christ’s ministry, but we do know that the Old Testament again and again foretold his suffering.

December 25, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Christmas,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:00 am | (2) Comments »

Glory to God in the Highest

Isn’t it interesting how in Christmas cards and on public displays we often see the words, “Peace on earth, good will toward men”? But how seldom we see the prior words, “Glory to God in the highest”! But there is no peace, there is no good will, unless there is glory to God in the highest first. We forget to put God’s glory first. Fortunately, he does not. God will be glorified.

Would you or I have begun this announcement the way the angels did, with glory to God first? Obviously, the angels did not understand the importance of relevance and contextualization and meeting felt needs. They started with God, not with peace on earth! Why? Because the most relevant message to this sin-ruined world was, is, and always will be, “Glory to God in the highest.” Our whole problem is our God-neglect. But the best news for sinners like you and me is that, whatever we might do, God is still God, God is glorious, and God’s glory is supreme over all other realities. And when his glorious kingdom is finally consummated, then there will be perfect peace on earth, good will toward men.

Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.

December 23, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Christmas,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life,The Glory of God | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:00 am | 0 Comments »

How One Church is Bridging the Gap to Share the Gospel this Christmas

“We sit here in a building, but we can be very separate from our community. . . we’re never satisfied with the level of outreach that we’re doing. We want to be engaging with our neighbors. Sometimes that’s difficult because of the multicultural setting and sometimes our background presents difficulty in bridging that gap. This is a bridge for us.”

December 21, 2009 | Posted in: Christmas,Event,Leadership,Video | Author: Crossway Staff @ 2:36 pm | 1 Comment »

Shopping for Time

9781581349139Holiday parties, shopping, and less than a week until Christmas! Here are some helpful thoughts from Carolyn Mahaney (Shopping for Time):

We don’t often manage the time God has granted us on this earth with the same intentionality or skill that we bring to shopping. Think for a minute:

  • Do you plan ahead to maximize your fruitfulness each day, or do you simply let life happen?
  • Do you make choices based on Scripture or on what feels good at the moment?
  • Do you strategize to use your talents to bless your family and church, or do you employ them primarily for your own personal fulfillment?
  • Do you evaluate every opportunity in light of biblical priorities, or do you do whatever it takes to get ahead?
  • Do you consider whom God would have you serve, or do you try to please everyone all the time?

While we constantly—almost unconsciously—plan, evaluate, strategize, and make wise choices when shopping, we often neglect to do so with the most important matters of our lives. We wouldn’t dream of going to the grocery store without a shopping list, or buying a car without haggling over the sticker price, or purchasing new shoes without checking the price tag, but we throw away our time as if we had an endless supply.

As a result, we often miss out on the best deals life has to offer and end up paying big time in guilt, anxiety, and a lack of confidence that we’re really doing the will of God. More often than not, we’re overwhelmed by life’s choices and demands. Perhaps most unfortunately, we lack fruitfulness in Christ’s kingdom.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can know—with absolute certainty—that we are doing all God wants us to do. Peace and joy and rest can be an everyday experience. We can live a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Eph. 4:1). And we can anticipate that future day when we will hear those words—“Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

How? By becoming shoppers of time. This isn’t our bright idea. It comes straight from Scripture. Ephesians 5:15–16 tells us how to live like we shop: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Read the introduction and chapter 1 of Shopping for Time.

| Posted in: Books,Christmas,Fear and Anxiety,Pursuit of Holiness | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:30 pm | 0 Comments »

Lee Strobel on Share the Good News of Christmas

Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg encourage pastors to use the Share the Good News of Christmas program in their communities this year:

Thanks to the Church Communication Network for allowing us to show this segment of their “Countdown to Christmas” broadcast. For more information on this broadcast, visit www.ccn.tv.

December 11, 2009 | Posted in: Christmas,Event,Video | Author: Crossway Staff @ 11:54 am | 1 Comment »