Immanuel – God With Us!

Keith NIxThe LiftTribe

All is lost
and yet
A bruised reed
He will not break

The light is gone
and yet,
A smoking lamp
He will not snuff out

Hope is given
A Promise is spoken

Woven into the skins that cover us
A glimmer of light
A glimpse forward

Restoration foretold
The Seed
Will prevail

The Redeemer (Ga’al)
Will pay the ransom price

Abraham’s descendant
David’s Son
Israel’s Hope
The Suffering Servant
The King of Kings

A Sign is given
Impossibility made possible
Miracle of miracles
A virgin conceives

The Baby belongs to Yahweh
The Child is Yahweh
God in skin

Silence is shattered
The Babe cries
The roar of a conquering King

The beginning is humble
Seemingly weak
Almost fragile

And yet
All will be made NEW

The lost found
Paradise restored
The GLORY returned
HE has come

His coming is not as we imagined
The Word among us
The Word one of us
Immanuel – God With Us!

3 Truths I Learned From The Wise Men

Keith NIxThe Lift

Have you ever seen a satellite in space? Most likely, you have and didn’t realize it. I recently read that twenty-seven satellites on six different orbital planes at an altitude of 12,400 miles circle the earth at 8,640 miles per hour. They each circle twice a day, with four of them visible at all times everywhere on the planet, sending signals to radar stations around the world. These fantastic machines form the Global Positioning Satellite system which is amazingly accurate and help make this the most mobile generation in history.

Many people travel more than 30 miles each day, but in the time of the birth of Christ, the average person never traveled beyond a 30-mile radius of their birthplace; this makes the story recorded in Matthew 2 all the more amazing:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no longer least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a Governor, who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, carefully inquired of them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed. And the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great excitement. And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Mt. 2:1-11 MEV

While most believe this happened as just part of the Christmas season, in reality, these wise men didn’t show up at the birth of Jesus but at while later. Sorry, but they were not gathered with the Shepherds around the manger while the cattle were lowing. I take the time to point this out because the lessons I want to share with from the Wise Men are much more than sweet little Christmas devotionals for December.

THE WISE SEEK HIM

The first lesson seems quite obvious and has become a cliché: “Wise men seek Him!” Or another way to phrase it is: Wise men and women go out of their way to encounter God! The religious scholars lived just 5 miles away from where Jesus was born, but not one of them traveled that short distance to see Him. Meanwhile, these Magi went at least 900 miles, not in a beautiful, comfortable Cadillac but on a camel’s back. It had to be uncomfortable, but they determined it was well worth it! How about you? Are you ready to allow some discomfort in your life in this next season? Why ask this? Because the last time you were uncomfortable was the last time, you grew! To get in better shape physically requires a measure of discomfort. The same is true emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As we enjoy this season and look to enter a new year, we need to make a quality decision that being in His presence is worth every mile, every dime, every discomfort. We will spend ourselves to encounter Jesus like never before!

THE WISE LIVE BY FAITH

The second lesson is also a very familiar one: Wise men and women travel this journey with FAITH! There is no way these men would risk their reputations, their lives, and their fortune if they did not believe prophecies concerning the star and the King it represented. Faith is crucial in the lives of the wise. Hebrews 11:6 teaches that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” It isn’t just difficult, it is impossible, to live a life that pleases God outside of the faith place. More than once the Bible instructs that the righteous “shall live by faith.” [See Ro. 1:17, Hab. 2:4] Corrie Ten Boom described the power of faith this way, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Faith honors God and God honors faith. Therefore, let’s make a quality decision that we will live like our God is bigger than our enemies and any circumstances we face. We will live like He is faithful to fulfill every promise He makes. We will live like there is nothing impossible for Him. Let this next season be the season of the big ask! Ask big, believe big and receive big for His glory!

THE WISE ARE WORSHIPPERS

The third lesson we learn from the wise men is regarding worship. The wise men were bold in proclaiming that their purpose for making the journey was merely to worship. Wise men and women understand the true essence of worship! For many today worship is about what God does for us and what we get out of it. But the wise men understood two essentials of true worship: First, true worship is not about being served but about serving. Second, true worship is not about receiving but about giving. They traveled nine hundred arduous miles to simply see the baby and give him gifts valuing hundreds of thousands of our common currencies. What did they hope to receive from their worship of Jesus? Only the honor and joy of serving and giving to Him. They considered it the highlight of their life and worth all it cost them to be part of God’s plan. They counted it an honor to use their resources for His glory.  This is worship! I pray that you and I will make a fresh and quality decision to live the lives of real worshippers.

My prayer for you is that in this season and the upcoming year, you will walk in a new and ever-increasing level of wisdom. As you put these three keys to work in your life, you will become known in Heaven and the earth as someone counted among the wise.

 

Do You Believe In The Impossible?

Keith NIxThe Lift

The Bishop stepped to the podium with a determined stride. It was evident to all in the building that something had stirred him and they were about to hear it. With a scowl on his face, Bishop Wright, in holy indignation, boldly rebuked the College President who had just spoken.

“That is, without a doubt, one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard,” began the Bishop, and he didn’t stop there. He continued,  “How foolish for any man, much less, an educated man to make such statements as One day in the future men may fly through the air like birds.” The Bishop went on to tell the Methodist gathering, “If God had intended for humans to fly, He would have created them with wings!”

When Bishop Wright returned to his home in Ohio, he related the foolishness of the College President to His wife. He also told her how he had set things straight and soundly rebuked him in the hearing of the entire gathering. They smirked over the preposterous idea that men would one day fly through the air. What foolishness!  Although they scoffed at this ludicrous idea unable to see it’s potential, two of their sons, Orville and Wilbur,  would one day dream the impossible dream.

“What if?” the boys asked. “Could it one day be possible that men could fly through the air? What if? True, God did not create us with wings, but did he give us the power to create wings with which to fly?”

These two young men dared to dream the impossible and through their diligence opened the door for one of the great marvels of the modern era. Flight!

Although I have taken liberties to reconstruct the conversation, the above story is factual. By all I have read, Bishop Wright and his wife were faithful Christians and wonderful parents. They just couldn’t see! This man of God could not see the jet age which we now experience. But, Orville and Wilbur dared to dream an impossible dream and birth it into reality. If we hope to make a difference in our generation, we must also dare to dream the impossible.

I love how little children dream. Have you ever watched a small boy with a toy train? He’ll make train noises as he moves it around the track, complete with whistles and bells. He’ll load the cars then chug around and around, deliver the load and start all over. How about a little girl with a doll? She’ll talk to that toy, wash it, hug it to herself, discipline it, and change its diaper, and want you to help her take care of her baby. This is not mere child’s play; it is preparation for the future.

I don’t believe God wants us to grow up and forget how to use the power of imagination. It is a God-given gift to prepare us for ever better and bigger things. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” [Mark 9:23] Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [Proverbs 29:18]

We were created to dream. Or as Walt Disney would say, “Imagineer!”

Here are three keys to dreaming God’s way:

  •  Dream big! It honors God when we believe HE is big enough for us to imagine big, ask big and act big. As Dwight L. Moody said, “If God be your partner, make your plans big.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.” Eph. 3:20
  • Dream God’s dreams for your life. We must surrender our thoughts and let Him birth His ideas in us. How do you know it’s God’s vision? “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” [Ps. 37:4]
  • Hold on to the dream and don’t give up! If you hold on to the promise, the promise will hold on to you! One way to hold the dream is to write it down. God said, “Write the vision, and make it plain…” [Habakkuk 2:2]

Keep dreaming! What past generations could not even imagine, you may be the catalyst to make it a reality. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Luke 1:37] If you stopped dreaming, let God resurrect the Imagineer in you. Let’s become like childlike, and let God train us for the preferred future He sees. It is filled with mind-blowing possibilities! Through Jesus, we can and we will accomplish the impossible!

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