"So shall we ever be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:17
Even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are--and how transitory! One moment our eyes see him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see him, for our beloved withdraws himself from us; like a roe or a young hart he leaps over the mountains of division; he is gone to the land of spices, and feeds no more among the lilies.
"If today he deigns to bless us
With a sense of pardoned sin,
He to-morrow may distress us,
Make us feel the plague within."
Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold him at a distance, but see him face to face: when he shall not be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us in the bosom of his glory. We shall not see him for a little season, but
"Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall o'er our Saviour's beauties rove;
And myriad ages we'll adore,
The wonders of his love."
In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing forever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one's eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.
"Whose heart the Lord opened."
In Lydia's conversion there are many points of interest. It was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, but just at the right time for hearing Paul we find her at Philippi; providence, which is the handmaid of grace, led her to the right spot. Again, grace was preparing her soul for the blessing--grace preparing for grace. She did not know the Saviour, but as a Jewess, she knew many truths which were excellent stepping-stones to a knowledge of Jesus. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went when prayer was wont to be made, and there prayer was heard. Never neglect the means of grace; God may bless us when we are not in his house, but we have the greater reason to hope that he will when we are in communion with his saints. Observe the words, "Whose heart the Lord opened." She did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. The Lord himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it, and get admittance for himself. He is the heart's master as he is the heart's maker. The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to his salvation, which is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master. The next evidence was love, manifesting itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love to the saints has ever been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or his church, give but sorry evidence of an "opened" heart. Lord, evermore give me an opened heart.===
Today's reading: Hosea 1-4, Revelation 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Hosea 1-4
1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:
Hosea’s Wife and Children
2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel....”
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 1
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Greetings and Doxology
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen....===
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. -Luke 2:11
Some people think that "Christ" is Jesus' last name. Jesus Christ, like Joe Johnson or Audrey Smith. If you have thought that, don't feel bad. It is just evidence that over the centuries our understanding of Jesus as the Christ has become so solid in our thinking that we don't think of "Jesus" without "Christ."
Jesus is his name, Christ his title. Among all the titles he bears, Son of God, Son of Man, Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, it all begins in the gospel story with this one incredible announcement: "He is Christ the Lord." "Christos" in Greek, and thus, "Christ" in English; "Messiah" in Hebrew, which means "Anointed One."
But what is the meaning of "Anointed One"?
In the Old Testament, three kinds of people were anointed: kings, priests, and prophets. So when we hear "Christ," we should think of Jesus in each of those three roles. He is a king, ruling in people's lives not just because they are in his realm but also because he is in their hearts. He is a priest, one who stands between God and humanity-one who sacrifices; one who intercedes, the mediator, the bridge. And he is Prophet too. Prophets had brought the words of God to the people, but the Messiah is the Word of God to the people.
In those days, when the heavy hand of Caesar Augustus dominated the Holy Land, people were looking for the Anointed One to come. They were hoping for a large army, not a multitude of the heavenly host. They anticipated a bigger and better David, not the obscure rabbi who always seemed like an outsider when he visited Jerusalem. They probably expected an orator, but did not expect the speeches of this Messiah to leave people speechless.
The very best things God does in our lives usually come as a surprise to us. So wouldn't it be surprising if we, who think we know so much about Jesus, would be startled to see him in a whole new way. We picture him in a nativity set or as the subject of praise in hymns. We picture him in art, in stories. We experience him while reading the Bible, or while listening to a Sunday sermon. But we often fail to picture him as the living, breathing manifestation of God on earth. This, the angel said, was "good news of great joy." What could be better than God existing in the midst of our lives?
Prayer for Today:
Christ, you are the King above all other kings, the high priest who has made the ultimate sacrifice, the prophet who has had the last word. Let me be astonished this Christmas by knowing more fully than ever before, that you really have come and have changed this world, and are here still.