In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: "Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you."
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest will hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said, "Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say."
Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38 (Msg)
Celebrating the birthday of Jesus together,
The gift of being a Host.
The gift of being a Berean.
The gift of being a Brother.
How important was it for God's family in the Old Testament to plan, organize and implement all of the Feasts God instructed them to do? What were the purposes of the Feasts? Each had a specific purpose along with the purpose of worshiping God and relating with each other as the family of God. How important would it have been to be a host to welcome people, seat people, assist people to connect with God and with each other, to foster relational joy and celebration?
This week we celebrated the life of our longtime friend, a founding member of Southtown and true servant of Jesus Christ.
Bob Sell was one of our amazing hosts who every Sunday and at each of our free neighborhood BBQs and Desserts would purposefully make sure each and every person felt included and cared for. He would make his rounds to meet each Southtowner, checking to see how they were doing, saying a prayer with whomever needed one, always giving an encouraging word. Bob always identified every visitor, introduced himself, made them feel special and then introduced those visitors to other Southtowner's. These are just a few examples of how Bob was an amazing host.
"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11
In our culture and in every culture, how important is it to check every culture value with Scripture? How important is it to make sure we are seeking God's values and not letting culture's values be ingrained in us? Bob Sell was a true Berean. I saw his love for Jesus come alive as he brought every cultural, religious and civil value back to Scripture to see if it would honor Jesus or was in conflict with Jesus. This was a gift Bob provided that most people did not appreciate because it went against all natural human tendencies that desire to go along with culture. I loved Bob for his gift of being a Berean.
"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Pr 18:24
Co-workers, civil servants, potential romantic options and family members are all needed. Friendship can easily be seen as a possible addition to our lives, but not necessary. How natural is it to have relationships that we absolutely need and not have time for friends? Bob Sell was an older brother to Glenn by fifteen years. Bob was not just a brother to Glenn, he was a brother to so many throughout his lifetime. Take a moment and think how Bob was a friend closer than a brother to you.... I am grateful to have had Bob as a brother to me.
It was an honor to worship Jesus and celebrate Bob's life this past week together. It was and is important for us to get together to grieve as people who have hope. We have hope because as Jesus has been raised from the dead, Bob has been raised from the dead. We have hope because just as Jesus said to the one thief on the cross, "Today, you will be with me in paradise," Jesus also said to Bob on December 6, 2016, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."
As Rev 21 reminds us, Heaven is a place of no mores; no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, no more temptation, no more suffering, no more sickness, no more blood transfusions, no more cancer, no more dementia, no more....
According to Jesus, Heaven is a place of total satisfaction, laughter, relationships, feasting and adventure.
Most importantly, Heaven is a place to be in God's presence.
Hopefully, all of us have a greater desire to be where Bob Sell currently is; with Jesus face to face.
Grieving and celebrating with the hope of Jesus,
As John spent time with God, God gave him a vision. First, he saw a very pregnant woman. Then he saw a frightening dragon trying to kill that woman, especially her offspring. Then he saw the baby born and exulted to the highest and most important position in the universe. Read it in Rev 12.
Who is the woman?
Who is the dragon?
Who is the child?
The Christmas season reminds us of the most important event in the history of the world, God's greatest gift, the world's deepest and most desperate need; A Savior, The Messiah, The Christ, The Promised Conquering King.
All throughout history, there has been an adversary seeking to prevent, alter, derail and at all cost, stop God's plans and purposes. The adversary is brilliant, overwhelmingly attractive and most strategically cunning according to Ezekiel 28 and Genesis 3. He also leads a well oiled, talented team of experts on each human being. This team knows how to influence, push, nudge, give powerful little thoughts that can grip each person in the most attractive way.
But, this adversary is no ying to God's yang. He is just a created angel, made beautifully by God. Yet, in his pride, he rebelled and is on an all-out search and destroy mission. He is not even close to the enormous majesty of God.
The woman, I believe she is the nation of Israel culminated in the chosen virgin of the baby Jesus.
The dragon, I believe is the adversary who has been seeking to stop God's plans and purposes.
The child, I believe is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior.
The Christmas child, born of a virgin, given at the right time for the best reason; Savior of the world. Jesus, the eternal one, the revealed one, the victorious one.
Since the dragon could not get the woman nor her child, he refocused his attack. Rev 12:17 "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus."
God invited and continues to invite His family to join Him in the spiritual battle by praying, loving and serving others and sharing the story of Jesus.
Are you aware of the spiritual battle that we are in?
Do you ever sense the battle for your attention, your time, your resources?
Do you ever see the battle in the loved ones in your life?
How do you see Jesus bringing victory? How are you seeing the lack of victory?
What does Jesus want you to do this Christmas season?
Joining the battle,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.