“‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel] (which means ‘God with us’).”
Matthew 1: 20-23
2 Peter 1: 3-8
On Monday, one of the questions I asked you to ‘Ponder’ was what it meant for us to be glorified in Jesus as He is glorified in us (2 Thessalonians 1: 12). What did you come up with? To some extent the message of Christmas answers this question. Jesus became one of us in His incarnational ministry. We know that this amazing sacrifice paves the way for us to be reconciled with God, to have an incredible, incomparable eternal relationship with our Creator (Matthew 1: 20-22); but there’s more, there are deeper truths. Jesus shared in our humanity that we may share in His divinity! Augustine states this truth well, “He was made sharer in our mortality that we might also be made partakers in His divinity.” Remember also the amazing truth in 2 Corinthians 5: 21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” This incredible exchange, His righteousness for our sin, our humanity for His divinity! So how does this play out?
The Apostle Peter helps us in this area (and I would encourage you to read the passage). Firstly, we are told that God’s Divine power gives us all we need to live this godly life through our knowledge of Him; He has called us to this life because of His own Glory and goodness (vs. 3). As we get to know God and His written Word we know and believe His promises which enable us to participate in His Divine nature and escape our old nature and failings (vs 4). As we make every effort to walk in the way of Jesus and His Divine nature we tread on amazing stepping stones, going from one to the next, increasing our Christlikeness. From: faith to: goodness, to; knowledge, to self-control, to; perseverance, to; godliness, to; mutual affection, and to; love (vs. 5-7). If we grow in these attributes of Christ our knowledge of Him grows as will our participation in His Divine nature. You can see though the importance of knowing His Word (another reason for the Bible in a Year Project in 2021!).
At Christmas we have the tradition of giving and receiving presents. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare with the great exchange that is possible between the Lord and us. He became one of us that we might become one in Him; our sin for His righteousness, our humanity for His Divinity….how utterly incredible is that!! Whatever gifts you give and receive this year I pray that you give your heart to the Lord that you may receive the most absurdly generous gift ever!
Ponder: 1. Meditate on the ‘stepping stones’ of Christ’s attributes (faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love). Which ones does the Holy Spirit highlight in your heart; how might you grow in this area and the knowledge of Christ?
2. Pray great exchanges, give to Christ and receive from Christ. For example: give sin, receive forgiveness; give your heart receive life; give anxiety and receive peace; give sadness and receive joy. Sit comfortably with an open posture and give what the Holy Spirit prompts and receive the opposite blessing from God!
Pray: Almighty and most wonderful Father, we give you our hearts and in gratitude receive the new life you graciously bestow. As our faith in you matures help us in your divine power through your promises to add to our faith; goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. All to your glory. Amen
Praise: A Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong
In a bleak midwinter sung by Keith & Kristyn Getty (give our hearts)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.