Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Air I Breathe

But Mary treasured up all these things 
and pondered them in her heart.  (Luke 2:19)

I love reading the Bible.  Not to chalk up brownie points or to feel good about performing a duty, but because it is through the Word along with the Spirit that God reveals Himself to me . . . deeper and fuller all the time.  And it is so very personal.

This is the air I breathe
Your very Word, spoken to me.

I love gazing into the manger scene, up close, thinking about the characters of that amazing drama which makes up the nativity.  

Wrapped within the Christmas story, is a picture of God's bigger plan. Could it be?  So often we read the Christmas story only at Christmas.  But in the past few years I've come across the nativity at other times of life and have seen it in a different light.  I share some of those thoughts with you here. 

Israel was God's own treasured possession, 
special, chosen as a light to the rest of the world.

She was the only nation which held the presence of God so very closely, in a unique way all her own.

But the nation of Israel turned their back on God,  
becoming consumed with idolatry leading to apathy.  

Over and over through its history they continued to defile intimacy with God by chasing after other loves and they became barren . . . desolate . . . 400 years of silence. 

Zechariah and Elizabeth were old.  They had no children.  

They could represent the nation of Israel in some respects--aged and yet unfruitful.  But then God gave them a child in their old age, John, who would prepare the people for their Messiah.  Likewise, the nation of Israel and the Old Testament prepares us for our Messiah in the New Covenant.  Israel in its old age, gave us our Messiah, a tender shoot from the stump of David, of the tribe of Judah.

Mary enters the scene, similar to the church age as it enters history. 

The virgin church, young, without spot or wrinkle, a pure bride for the Son of God.  Jesus, like Joseph, does not condemn us, but rather cares for us and shows great mercy...and in fact betroths us. The Holy Spirit falls on Mary, much like the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost on the followers of Christ. Believers are filled with the Spirit of God . . . pregnant with the Spirit. The prophet Joel speaks of this when he says in these last days God's Spirit will flow freely. (Acts 2:17-21)

Mary could not explain how she was pregnant by the Spirit, 
just that she was. 

So our new birth in Christ cannot be explained except by the power of the Spirit of God. Mary was highly favored of God, as in this church age, we who are followers of Christ, are under the favor of God . . . pure grace. Mary treasured all these things in her heart, and so we hold the precious Holy Spirit within our lives.  We are His temple and have the mind of Christ. This Spirit of God in us produces spiritual fruitfulness, born not of natural descent, or of a husband's will, but of God.  Only by the Spirit of God are we born again.  It is miraculous, mysterious.  Yet with God all things are possible.   

It was the ordinary and unpolished shepherds 
who were first shown the gift of Jesus. 

In the same manner, the ragtag group of disciples were for the most part grubby fishermen, rough around the edges. They carried the precious news of our great salvation, telling everyone they met. After the Holy Spirit came on them, those same ordinary fishermen became eloquent spokesmen for God. Clay pots, holding the pearl of greatest price.

The Scriptures often refer to us as sheep.  Ordinary people, simply jars of clay, who carry the message of salvation within our hearts, the greatest treasure ever.   
 But as followers of Christ we are also a royal priesthood, 
bringing our worship to Jesus, much like the wise men.  (1 Pet. 2:9)

Three gifts. Accepting, even embracing pain and hardship, is gold . . . for the King of kings, who took on the ultimate sacrifice of pain on a cross.  Devotion to the Word and prayer, frankincense . . . for the One who is wholly devoted to me in His promises. And last, myrrh.  Pure worship in dying to my own selfish desires.  Offering all of me to all of Him     . . . who offered all of Himself in His death on the cross.

The Old Testament ends with the prophet Malachi, 
who grieves Israel's tainted worship. 

Am I going through the motions, offering God my leftovers?  Like King Herod, who made an outward show of worshiping God, but in his heart was far from it? 

I like to think of it as going to a restaurant and the waiter, instead of bringing what was ordered, offers a plate of leftovers from a table nearby. So what if its been picked over and no longer presentable, it's still food, is it not? In the same way we bring to God our leftovers and think He should be pleased--our leftover time and service, leftover devotion, leftover worship. Surely after we've fed ourselves God can have the remains. No. God is not pleased. God desires our best, our first fruits.  
 Jesus in the manger, 
is the focal point of all nativity scenes.

I think of this precious life that we, the church, have been given.  It is the focus of our lives. That He died. That He was buried. That He was raised on the third day, all according the Scriptures. . . just as He said it would happen. (1 Cor. 15:1-4)  In the New Covenant of His blood, He offers us a marriage proposal.  Think of it!  Intimacy with our Savior!  What an awesome privilege! The Holy Spirit within us is our guarantee of greater things to come.  
This is the air I breathe,
Your Holy presence, living in me
And I'm desperate for You, Jesus.
 I'm lost without You.

Zechariah and Mary both offer up a song.  

Zechariah's song applies heavily to Israel. (Luke 1:67-79) Mary's song is the song of the church. (Luke 1:46-56)  The next time you read them, notice how they apply in the light of what I've just written here.  I find this fascinating.

When Mary first greets Elizabeth, John leaps in her womb. 

So as the church age and the nation of Israel coincide, Jesus Christ is the leap which intertwines our lives together.  God has not forgotten Israel.  His promises to her remain steadfast forever.  He will restore her to fellowship with Himself in the last days.  And has already, for those who put their faith in Him.  

May I never lose the wonder! 

 Take me deeper Jesus.  Ever deeper into the mystery of Your Word.  


  1. I heard Steve Brown once say something similar to this...I am so glad he didn;t come in the thunder or the lightening or a great wind...but he came as a baby like a soft whisper so I wouldn't run and hide.
    Good post

  2. I have never heard these concepts before and am unfamiliar with Steve Brown's ideas. These thoughts just came to me as I was studying the Word. Thanks for your comments.