Why did Jesus come? Listen in as Stu Epperson explains.
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The coming of Jesus has been foretold throughout the Old Testament. From the beginning of the fall of man we see that God had a plan; that plan was Jesus. We are going to look at this reality, and why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
What does it mean that his name will be Wonderful, or Counselor? Why would he be known as the Might God, our Everlasting Father or the Price of Peace?
This week we are going to look at the first two names, Wonderful and Counselor.
Wonderful means inspiring delight, pleasure, or admiration; extremely good; marvelous. We see in scripture that God is marvelous and extremely good (John 1:14, 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 4:14-16). Not only in the amazing creation God has made, but by God giving us the gift of Jesus, we now have the amazing gift of salvation through his son. We can go to our father with confidence because he has struggled in every way and did not sin. He can relate to our sorrows and pain. He has made salvation open to all who believe in him, and that is wonderful news for the whole world.
The Holy Spirit is referred to many times as an advisor, helper, and guide (John 14:16-17, 1 John 2:1, John 16:7). The Holy Spirit plays such a significant role in our spiritual lives today. The Spirit brings peace that surpasses our comprehension, understanding of scripture, and even witnesses our salvation as children of God, WOW! (Romans 8:16)
How can we look at Christmas differently this year in light of these first two names? Make sure to follow our Verse of The Day scriptures on our Truth Network Facebook!
Off Road Vehicles, Off Road Tires Scream, “adventure” our hearts long for High Mountain adventure we were made for it. A vehicle can get you there in the physical, but it needs traction and ground clearance, Four Wheel Drive a narrow short wheel base to navigate narrow roads and switch back turns, yet balance is critical too, not too top heavy. ALL that is surely needed both in the physical and the spiritual, but staying with the physical for a minute tires need a cleft.
Hydroplaning is a scary thing my son in his first rain storm experienced how quick you can lose traction and slide off the road, I’ll never forget that call. He was OK, but his Jeep was in the ditch. For tires that cleft channels out water.
Knobby is an attempt to get some tire surface on that gravel or rock, mud or snow. so their all kinds of tires for all kinds of adventure and the amazing thing is they are also a report card on your vehicle as I wrote a few years ago http://christiancarguy.com/tire-report-card/ and http://christiancarguy.com/getting-it-straight/. How amazing is it that God’s way of seeing our alignment, balance, our steering, our control arms is in our tires/our feet and how cool us is it God Shares how to get your feet fitted not only with the gospel of peace but for that higher ground, that secret place on the steep path it is going to be exciting and dangerous I assure you.
Traction wasn’t exactly Firestone’s idea nor Michelin, God designed the type of traction surface necessary for all sorts of High Mountain adventures beyond any capabilities of a vehicle tire. I wish wish my tires could apply pressure right to let or front to back even dig in by pointing forward. I would note that King David being the Shepherd that he was observed something about hooves when he said in
“He makes my feet like those of deer
and makes me stand on my heights.
His son Solomon knew why as we read in
Song of Songs 2:14
My dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in a secret place along the steep path,
let me see your form,
let me hear your voice.
For your voice is sweet
and your form is lovely.”
SO.. how do we get those feet David described or cleft hooves? Those cleft hooves indicated that they were clean animals Leviticus 11, and two things made an animal clean 1. Chew the cud 2. Cleft Hoof? Why what was God telling us what made a clean animal, why was David asking for those feet.
As the 23 Psalm says “He Makes us lie down in green pastures”
Later his son Solomon in Song of Songs Chapter 1 verse 7 takes it a bit further
“Where do you graze your flock and make them lay down at noon.” The Good Shepherd feeds us in the morning then makes us lay down so we will chew our cud. His word takes long to digest. Sheep not only have 4 stomachs they have 82 feet, yes I said feet of intestines in order to suck all the nutrients out of their food which takes 3-5 days. Every week God feeds me and for days I’ll ruminate, that concept or precept for hours, their is so much that my soul just chews and chews. Like the sheep it makes me clean.
The sheep’s hooves cloven for the balance needed to climb and scale the mountain top adventures with God not fully engaged with the ground or the worlds golden calf down below. Leviticus 11. The beloved will need these as in chapter 2
A well fed beautiful sheep, that can climb the steep path navigate the cleft in the rock with its hooves… Well fed, its form is beautiful its soul restored it voice is sweet.
“Why should I be as a veiled woman”. Veiled women were prostitues wanderers lost and ashamed.. As Tamar disguised herself to trick Judah into fathering Perez.
We all have a veil a mask we use to cover our shame. Face to face is intimacy and quite dangerous in a world where others are trying to compare themselves and judge in order to feed their pride and their justification for sin.
The original reason for the mask or fig leaf is we feel naked and exposed as Adam did with his sin. My brilliant disguise is my personality I have designed a way to get you to like me without exposing my real feeling, as John Eldridge
I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. – Genesis 3:10
You don’t need a course in psychology to understand men. Understand that verse, let its implications sink in, and the men around you will suddenly come into focus. We are hiding, every last one of us. Well aware that we, too, are not what we were meant to be, desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are and are not, we have run off into the bushes. We hide in our office, at the gym, behind the newspaper and mostly behind our personality.
“By the flocks of your companions”
Who are the companions??? Some say Moses Aaron and Miriam, Some day Idols false Gods… All I know for sure is; one- they are shepherds and two -they are not the good shepherd.
Hirelings- John 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
The Good Shepherd is all about taking care of your feet as he modeled at the last supper. He cares for you deeply, Jesus longs to meet with you in that cleft in the rock, but the balance, traction and alignment necessary will be in you feeding well and following Him to lay down at noon and chew your food daily, then when Jesus knows you can handle the steeper path he will lead you to the cleft, I promise.
Does Your Car have a thorn in the paint? Old Red Sure does, the longer you own a car the more familiar you become with it’s thorn. In Old Red my 1985 Dakota for years I have struggled with it overheating and blowing head gaskets. Have I ever thanked God for that? This week I recycled this story at devotions at Somerset Assisted Living in Mocksville, NC, and no doubt it hit me where it hurts, like a thorn.
The Blessing of Thorns
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.
During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come.
What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.
“Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered aloud. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?
“Good afternoon, can I help you?”
The shop clerk’s approach startled her.
“I….I need an arrangement, “stammered Sandra. “For Thanksgiving?
Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” asked the shop clerk.
“I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued
“Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?
“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. ” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”
Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi Barbara…let me get your order.” She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses.
Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped…there were no flowers.
“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.
Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers!?! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.
“You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.
“Uhh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uhh… she just left with no flowers!”
“Right…I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special… I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.
“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that?” exclaimed Sandra.
“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”
“That same year I had lost my husband, “continued the clerk,” and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.
“So what did you do?” asked Sandra. “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly.
“I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask!; It took time for me to learn that dark times are important.
I always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.
“Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her.”
I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort.
I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”
Just then someone else walked in the shop.
“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.
“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement … twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra doubtingly. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?
“No…I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem.
He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks to Him for what that problem taught us.”
As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”
“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too… fresh.”
“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time.
Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”
Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.
“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”
“Thank you. What do I owe you?” asked Sandra.
“Nothing.” said the clerk.
“Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me. “The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra.
“I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first.”
It read: “Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant.”
Getting back to my cars thorns, they do put me right where God wants me, on my knees asking for help. This Thanksgiving maybe you have an uncle who is a thorn, or even a child or parent, they just put you on your knees. I’ve heard it said, “God rigged the world so we couldn’t do it without him, here is one of my favorite Thorn in my flesh stories.. I lived it.
Following Brian surgery I developed a staff infection under a plate they had placed in my scull..
A brain abbess had formed and I was fading fast in pain.. a thorn for sure.
The waves of pain were far worse than anything I have experienced before or since as my brain swelled under my scull about to explode my only hope was emergency brain surgery … they were rushing me in… then something happened in the Operating Room I’ll never know what but it delayed them..
They pushed me over into a waiting room.. for what seemed like an eternity..
That’s when he sent her… Romona Seacrest, She was a nurse in the Nero-surgery area who just happened to be in my Sunday School Class…She came in gently took my hand …she said nothing but I knew God had sent a comforting Angel with the thorn to get me through it. I thank God for that thorn now as the pain was for a moment, the grace of the messenger God sent has over-abounded in my life since. That’s the thing, Jesus knew on the cross, the pain He endured for those moments He felt was worth it to spend eternity with YOU!!!
I Thank God for the Thorns.
What does that really mean, “The Last Shall Be First”? All Week God has had me on the lesson plan of “Work” with Jesus Parable of the Day Laborers or as some say The Workers in the Vineyard. It’s just not fair is it? Here is the Parable Matthew 20:1-16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the workers for a denarius per day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing in the marketplace, idle. And to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did the same. And about the eleventh hour, he went out and found others standing around. And he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle the whole day?’
“‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him.
“He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard, too.’
“Now when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’ And those who had come about the eleventh hour each received a denarius. And when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; yet they too received a denarius.
“But when they received it, they began to grumble against the master of the house, saying, ‘These last guys did one hour, and you’ve made them equal to us, who bore the burden and scorching heat of the day!’
“But answering, he said to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. But I want to give this last guy the same as you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’
“So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Provoking isn’t it. Worth meditation, by all means, as so much of our lives are devoted to our work. Here is the way many look at work in our culture listen to this work montage.
With that point of view, essentially, “I’m taken what they’re given cause I’m workin for a livin”. That parable brings anger and disbelief, that, Jesus, God, would say such a thing, and then to finish with “the first will be last and the last will be first”! What the heck?
Then I started thinking how bad it feels to be unemployed verses how good it feels to do a job well and find myself achieving or doing more than I thought I could. Finding out that I really can do things, I am not lazy or ineffective, especially work with my own hands. It actually answers a core question for men according to John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, the question: “Do I Have What It Takes”?
I would also ad that the workers who came early in the morning had the joy of working with a good boss and other diligent workers rather than sitting wondering if they would get work that day. Those who came later and later had worse days in my view with the worst being those who didn’t find work until the last hour. Those who go to work with this adventure and battle point of view, listen to this montage.
Forgetting pay for just a minute, this being the Thanksgiving season think about how much work goes into a Turkey Thanksgiving dinner. Is not a big part of the Joy of the season in the cleaning, and chopping, boiling and peeling and roasting with dear ones; some times sons and daughters or mothers and fathers. I know it is for me and the legendary time I forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie is a point of fellowship and hilarity in my family to this day.
Working has its rewards, many, many in my view and those guys who came first may have gotten paid last but there is so much more to life and life abundantly than the monetary compensation.
Before I move on to a further explanation of the last will be first, think about the great bosses God has placed in your life. My guess is you felt appreciated, favored, (That’s Grace, Jesus is full of that). They told you the truth, (that’s the other thing Jesus is full of). Those bosses would also be generous (Ephesians 4:8, Jesus gave gifts to men). Gift means you don’t earn it. PAY IS NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU DO with a generous boss. You can’t earn a gift. So I often feel God telling me, “STOP STRIVING!!!” Come close let’s do this together, I’ll take you the fun way, the way of adventure and beauty and battle, but with Me you can’t lose.”
Theologically I believe “the last will be first and the first will be last” was originally meant for the disciples to understand that though the Jews got there first they would as a group be the last to come into the Kingdom, mostly because they felt they earned it.
At another level yes many can accept Jesus as their savoir on their death bed and they will get to heaven even though they were last to accept Christ. The sad aspect of that or even in my own story I didn’t receive Christ until I was 36 years old and so I missed the joy of working for the ultimate boss in the ultimate vineyard with other brothers and sisters for 36 YEARS.
The other cool thing about all this is the envy and jealousy aspect. Jesus is digging into my eye, how I see things, through the self filter or the God filter or the Good Filter. Jesus has giving phenomenal gifts to people who hardly seem worthy through my self filter. Yet through the God filter I can see the good boss leading a worker to a higher work ethic by paying him at the level he knows he can work at, God has done that in my life, He has given me gifts way beyond anything I could possibly have earned knowing that He made me in His image and I do have what it takes.
With all that I am so glad that the last will be first as I don’t want anyone to miss out. Accept the Good Boss TODAY!! http://christiancarguy.com/how-to-know-god-personally/