Mighty God

“ . . . And he will be called . . . Mighty God  . . . “ Isaiah 9:6

The birthday of our Lord is quickly approaching! I pray this Christmas will open for you a new revelation of who Jesus really is. He is so much more than I ever thought He was. I hope you will also discover that Jesus is full of delightful surprises. He won’t just meet your expectations. He exceeds them!

Last week, we saw that Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection paved the way for the Wonderful Counselor to come, the third person of the Divine Trinity. Adam’s choice to step outside of God’s will withdrew the Spirit’s presence from mankind and left us disconnected from God, but Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sin released Him to dwell within man once more. The fellowship of the Garden has been restored! God now resides within all who believe in Jesus by His Spirit, sealing us as His own, and guiding us along the path of His will.

But God’s perfect counsel in our lives isn’t the only gift Jesus gave us. The outpouring of God’s Spirit on mankind also opened up another new way we can know and experience God. Acts 1:8 teaches,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Dear one, the manifestation of God’s power accompanies the advent of the Holy Spirit! When we put our faith in Jesus, the might of God comes to rest within us. The ordinary becomes extraordinary as the natural meets the divine. What had been impossible becomes possible as we become living, breathing witnesses of God’s glory “to the ends of the earth.”

We often gaze back at the wonders of the Old Testament with envy. How awesome it would be to see the waters of the Red Sea pile up revealing dry ground! To witness water bursting forth from a rock to quench our thirst! To experience God’s daily provision as bread literally fell from the sky . . . the Israelites even walked the desert for forty years in shoes that did not wear out.

Pretty amazing, I admit. But our longing for the days of old often ignores the great reality that accompanied the Israelites through those miracles: they were miserable.

Even with the glory of God revealed before their very eyes, they doubted Him. They turned away from Him and rebelled. They repeatedly grumbled against God, saying, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt!” (Exodus 16:3)

They saw visible evidence of His presence, yet still they rebelled. How could they have been so callous toward God?  

Because they’re just like you and me. They had a heart condition, one that Christ came to heal and restore.

God still desires to do wondrous works in the lives of His people, dear one. But He redirected the focus of His power with the coming of Jesus. Now He has set His gaze on restoring the deceitful human heart.

Beloved, the miracles of today are no longer limited to the external works of old—the parting of seas or even the calming of storms witnessed in Jesus’ day. A far greater miracle awaits those who will yield to the work of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, God now raises what sin has left dead.

Ephesians 1:19-20 describes “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Beloved, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Christ from the dead now resides in you. And it’s available to you. In fact, God is just waiting for you to choose to use it so He can show Himself mighty on your behalf. He seeks to work within your very being, fixing what’s been broken and recreating you into someone completely new—the “you” He created you to be.

So why do we seem to witness so little of God’s mighty power? Most of us simply refuse to admit how desperately we need it. Our pride convinces us that we carry no baggage and we have no need to seek God for His healing power.

Would you open your heart to the possibility that you have been deceived, dear one? Would you consider that a miraculous work bearing your name awaits you from God’s hand?

Perhaps Jesus has brought you here to heal some wounds you can’t yet recognize you carry. Trust Him with your heart, dear one. Offer it to Him and give Him permission to do His mighty work. You just might be amazed at what He shows you.

And as the heavy chains you’ve carried fall broken to the ground, you will discover a new and wondrous joya joy you did not know you could feel. And your heart will leap in celebration as a new understanding of freedom in Christ is revealed.

Beloved, God wants to show Himself mighty in you!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Wonderful Counselor

“ . . . And He will be called Wonderful Counselor . . . “  Isaiah 9:6

Have you ever wished you could have your own, personal adviser? I’m not just talking about financial advice or help in making major decisions. I’m talking about someone who holds every answer, even to the questions you don’t know you need to ask.

What if you had access to unfailing guidance in every situation? Guidance that would always prosper you somehow, that would steer you away from pitfalls, and would direct you straight into the heart of God’s plan for you?

Allow me to introduce you to one of the amazing gifts God offers through Jesus. Meet the Wonderful Counselor.

I am humbled and awed each time I consider the lengths God took to preserve my life and yours. Sin’s pull on our hearts is so strong, it’s nature so destructive, God knew we could not overcome it without divine intervention. So He sent us Jesus. The Son of God left His throne in heaven, wrapped Himself in human flesh, and entered our world on a lonely night in Bethlehem to save us from ourselves.

No throng of worshipers greeted Him. Instead, the voice of the Word made flesh first graced the ears of stable animals near to His infant cries. Unwelcomed at birth, the world He created would also reject Him at His death. Jesus would one day exchange the rough wood of the manger for the splintered beams of the cross.

Even the angels’ announcement proclaiming Jesus’ arrival to the shepherds foretold His fate.

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

Jesus came to the earth to save. He was born to die, a perfect sacrifice that would defeat the power of sin and death, restoring sweet fellowship with God. Not only would Jesus’ death and resurrection provide for our forgiveness and restoration, but His return to the Father would usher in the release of the Wonderful Counselor.

This was the gift the Disciples didn’t know they wanted.

As Jesus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry, He tried to prepare His followers for His departure. As you may imagine, they didn’t take it well. In their defense, would you?

They had repeatedly witnessed the revelation of God’s miraculous power through Jesus’ ministry, proving Him to be the long-awaited Christ. Chains were broken, sick were healed, water turned to wine, and loaves multiplied. Even storms ceased at Jesus’ word. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Yet Jesus spoke these words in John 16:7,

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Jesus taught that what the Counselor would provide surpassed what Jesus could do if He remained here in His earthly form. It was in our best interest for Him to leave.

We often think how much easier the Disciples had it. They saw Jesus face to face! They could touch Him and hear His voice. While we struggle so much with our faith, they had the assurance of His presence among them to wipe away their doubt. Yet Jesus claimed that we have the greater gift!

What does the Counselor offer that the person of Jesus could not? Jesus explained further in John 14:16-18.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

No, we don’t have the physical person of Jesus walking beside us. But those of us who believe have the presence and power of Jesus dwelling within us! We’re no longer limited by the physical boundaries of our location. He remains wherever we are because He dwells inside us. And Scripture assures us that once we have Him, He’s here to stay.

Jesus kept His promise, dear one. He hasn’t left us alone. When we commit to follow Him, He makes His home in us as the Counselor, the Spirit of truth. Listen to what He desires to do in your life.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” John 16:13-14

Jesus promised that the Wonderful Counselor will guide us into all truth. Do you understand what that means, dear one? The Counselor will not only give us understanding of God’s Word, but He’s also available to warn us away from deception. His job is to steer us along the path of God’s will, thwarting the enemy’s plans to harm us and leading us safely through to God’s blessing. He speaks what He hears from Christ and makes it known to us. And verse 13 promises that He will even tell us what is yet to come!

Beloved, are you listening? Have you opened the gift of the Wonderful Counselor? Will you tune your ear to His quiet voice and follow Him on your path to blessing?

A Son is Given

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

I trust by now you’ve had your fill of turkey, stuffing, and apple pie—or whatever special foods your traditions dictate for Thanksgiving. And now, I’m guessing that ornaments, evergreens, and sparkling lights are quickly replacing your decorative pumpkins and fall leaves.  Today, in fact, my own home began its transformation.

December ushers in one of my very favorite seasons. The holidays have filled my heart with wonder for as long as I can remember. As we hung the lights and holly and evergreens made their way inside our home, the joy that flickered deep within told me that this time of year was special. Christmas simply felt different than the rest of the year.

As a child I looked forward to it with great anticipation. I loved the family gatherings that accompanied Christmas, complete with caroling, special foods, and holiday smells. But nothing inspired quite as much awe as the sight of the gifts spilling out from under the tree.

Lots of extended family gathered in our home for Christmas, and large numbers of people meant a large number of gifts! Packages and ribbons beckoned our exploration, and I joined my brothers to examine the nametags, searching for the owner of each new possession. Joy would ripple through me when I found my name. This one’s for me.

And hope would rise to the surface. Perhaps this is the one I have been waiting for!

Do you remember how it felt to experience Christmas with the heart of a child, dear one? Can you recall the sensation of sugarplums dancing in your belly, a delightful mingling of anticipation and hope?

For many of us, much of the marvel of the holidays has been replaced by routine. And let’s be honest; the work often overshadows the wonder! Some no longer even experience the thrill of surprise on Christmas morning, having purchased and wrapped the gifts bearing their name beneath the tree with their own hands.

And Jesus, the One whom we gather to celebrate, is almost forgotten, worked into our festivities with brief mentions and a visit to church on Christmas Eve.

Perhaps we have been missing something.

I’d love for you to entertain this thought with me. What if Christmas still holds something worth anticipating? What if its offer of joy, hope, and wonder extends to more than just children? What if you and I could experience that child-like awe as we unwrap the gifts the Christ-child came to bring?

Consider Jesus’ words to His disciples during His earthly ministry:

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3

Do you have a child-like heart, beloved?

Jesus said that unless we approach Him with the heart of a child, we will miss His kingdom. He wasn’t just referring to the eternal kingdom He will establish when He returns. He was also warning us that we can miss the kingdom blessings we’re supposed to experience on this earth until He does.

Jesus came to the earth to draw us to Him in divine relationship and reveal the glory of what’s to come. He came so people like you and me could know Him and experience a foretaste of heaven.

Have you tasted it, dear one? You’re meant to!

What if we tried a new approach this Christmas? What if we chose to see Jesus as the all-surpassing gift scripture claims He is? What if we opened our hearts to believe like a little child?

Let’s invite the wonder of Christmas to return! Gifts bearing your name await your attention under the tree. Jesus invites you to explore them so you can claim them as your own. This one’s for me.

We will spend the next four weeks unwrapping the gift God gave us in His Son. We will focus on the four names given to Jesus in His prophetic birth announcement proclaimed to us in Isaiah 9:6—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

Throughout scripture, the names of God appear as the people experienced that aspect of His character. These names, appearing in association with Jesus’ birth, tell us that we are now able to experience God in these ways through Jesus. His birth opened the way to a whole new experience of God!

Dear one, the entire season of Christmas we celebrate is a gift given for you. Jesus is the all-surpassing gift that will exceed your expectations when approached with a humble, expectant heart. What’s more, He’s the gift that keeps on giving!

This season, let’s renew our hearts with a fresh revelation of the true gift of Christmas: Jesus. Allow your heart to open with the wonder of an expectant child, approaching each gift He offers with hope and anticipation.

Beloved, these are the gifts you’ve been waiting for all your life.