Monthly Archives: December 2011

Day-by-Day Obedience

Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

Rom 1:4-5 ESV

Obedience is synonymous with the idea of surrender: we choose to yield our wills, desires, and goals to the control and leadership of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is driven by the desire to please our Heavenly Father through our attitude and actions. We value the leading, guiding and directing of the Holy Spirit more than our personal preferences and opinions. Obedience not only involves acquiescing to the direction of our Father, but also involves delighting in his purposes for us. We acknowledge that God’s Word is true and always trumps our our selfish wants and wishes.

In the experience of conversion you have yielded to the limit of your capacity at that point, in faith, and you have received Jesus Christ as your sovereign. But the faith which yields to Him at conversion, if it is genuine, will always be followed by obedience; day-by-day obedience to the indwelling Spirit, who sealed you at the moment of your conversion, who baptized you into the Body of Christ, into the Church–and from that moment onwards the genuine evidence of your salvation will be that you obey the Word of God. Every step of faith and every act of obedience only enlarges your capacity for more of Him. That is what it means to know a progressive experience of the fullness of His indwelling.

Alan Redpath, “Full of Faith . . . Grace . . . Power,” Keswick Week 1957 (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1957), 155.

Mere Grace

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:11

Grace is God’s undeserved, loving commitment to rescue us from his wrath and judgment. In Christ, God delivers us from sin and transports us into his loving kingdom of forgiveness. Grace calls us to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, the one who has taken all our sin and just judgment upon himself. When we trust Christ by faith, his work of forgiveness begins by releasing us from our debt, transforming our hearts, and freeing us to live for him. Grace flows from the Cross: Christ death, burial, and resurrection was a costly grace.

All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are of his mere grace, bounty, or favor; his free, undeserved favor; favor altogether undeserved; man having no claim to the least of his mercies.

It was free grace that “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul,” and stamped on that soul the image of God, and “put all things under his feet.”

The same free grace continues to us, at this day, life, and breath, and all things.

For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.

“All our works, Thou, O God, hast wrought in us.”

These, therefore, are so many more instances of free mercy: and whatever righteousness may be found in man, this is also the gift of God.

John Wesley, “Salvation by Faith,” Preached at St. Mary’s, Oxford, before the University, on June 18, 1738.

HT: Fred Sanders

An Extraordinary Child for an Ordinary People

An Extraordinary Child for an Ordinary People

Sermon Outline

Rev. Canon Glenn E. Davis

Christmas Day

December 25, 2011

Introduction: God did not stay aloft in heaven, look down on our pain, and say, “All the best to all of you. Work life out the best way you can.” No, the Lord sent his Son, who took upon himself our weaknesses, temptations, battles, and pain. Jesus did something about our suffering world and our embattled lives, he entered our world. Jesus became fully human to God’s glory and for our salvation.

Illustration: “Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.

Thought: God placed in the heart of an ordinary priest, the extraordinary desire to become one with pain-ridden, disheartened, ostracized ordinary people.

Text: Luke 2:1-20.

Premise: Ordinary people living ordinary lives doing ordinary things while living in an ordinary age. Judea is poverty-stricken, backwater country, full of poor peasants barely living above subsistence.

Verse One to Three) The child was born during an ordinary time–census time–ordained by an extraordinary God. The purpose of the census was to register everyone for paying taxes–nothing more ordinary than paying taxes. The Lord orchestrates a census to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem that prophecy might be fulfilled.

Grace of God defined (Titus 2:11-14):

“No one can understand the message of Scripture who does not know the meaning of grace.  The God of the Bible is ‘the God of all grace’ (1 Pet. 5:10).  Grace is love, but love of a special sort.  It is love which stoops and sacrifices and serves, love which is kind to the unkind, and generous to the ungrateful and undeserving.  Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make him sit among princes.”

[John Stott, Understanding the Bible, Revised  (London: Scripture Union, 1984), 127.]

Verse Five) The child was born to a woman with an extraordinary heart. Mary’s heart was word-saturated, heart surrendered, purposefully yielded, and trustfully mindful of God’s faithfulness. Mary’s heart was revealed when the angel Gabriel announced God’s intention of a virgin birth, “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38 KJV).

Verse Six to Seven) The child was born in an ordinary cave/barn/one room house under strange conditions, but conceived by an extraordinary Spirit.

Virgin Birth- Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father. Matt 1:18-20, 24-25; Luke 1:35.

Verse Eight) The child was born and an extraordinary announcement was made to ordinary workers (i.e., shepherds).

Note: Shepherds are the unclean, low-income, non-influential, and ignored part of society. We are like the shepherds: no state funeral, no palaces, no political power, and no money. The world does not notice them or us.

Verse Ten) Extraordinary announcement for ordinary people: “good news of great joy.” The Savior, Messiah, Lord, is wrapped in strips of cloth lying in a feeding trough. The extraordinary has come in the ordinary to save the everyday man and woman.

Verse Eleven) Extraordinary child born in ordinary town with extraordinary titles to save ordinary people. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). “Savior,” means divine deliverance of God’s people. “Christ,” is Greek for promised Messiah, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. “Lord,” indicates that the child is divine and omnipotent.

“The Shepherds were welcomed at the manger. The unclean were judged to be clean. The outcasts became honored guests. The song of angels was sung to the simplest of all.”

[Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 37.]

Verse Thirteen) The child was born as ordinary workers experienced extraordinary worship.

“Heavenly hosts” are not angels in choir robes, but angelic armies. They are spiritual armies with swords drawn, ready, and prepared to return earth back to its rightful owner-God.

Verse Sixteen) The child amazed the ordinary workers; they saw that an extraordinary God had sent an extraordinary child for ordinary people.

Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. My selfishness has brought my ruin as well as hurting God and others. The amazing truth is that the offended God sent his Son by his grace and mercy for the purpose of freeing me (Matt 1:21).

Sin is selfishness and rebellion caused by our choices and by being a descendant of Adam. Sin turns the world upside down: it says that everyone and everything should revolve around our desires, needs, and wants, yet God in his grace has reached out to us in grace.

“Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only for many sins.”

[William H. Smith, “Christmas is Disturbing.”]

How do we know that Jesus was extraordinary for the ordinary?

Verse Eleven) He is extraordinary by being the Savior: Divine Deliver, Messiah: Anointed one from God, Lord: Allmighty who is Lord over everything.

Verse Twelve) He is ordinary by being fully human: a baby wrapped in cloths (Ezek. 16:4) and lying in a animal feeding trough.

Definition: The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person and will be so forever.

Conclusion: An extraordinary God sent an extraordinary son to ordinary people in order that they might have an extraordinary, grace-filled relationship with him.


“We Lepers . . .”


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15 ESV

God did not stay aloft in heaven, look down on our pain, and say, “All the best to all of you. Work life out the best way you can.” No, the Lord sent his Son, who took upon himself our weaknesses, temptations, battles, and pain. Jesus did something about our suffering world and our embattled lives; he entered our world. Jesus became fully human to God’s glory and for our salvation.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.

He moved to Kalawao – a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.

For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think

HT: Darryl Dash

Fully Human & Fully Divine


Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14

The doctrine of the virgin birth states that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father. He is both fully human and fully divine in one person and will be so forever. The virgin birth guarantees the divinity of Christ for through the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived.

This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary, but his existence comes totally from God.

He is fully man, made from the earth — to use a biblical symbol — but comes from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith, because it shows that the initiative is God’s and above all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel says: “For this reason he who will be born will be holy and will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus are reciprocally guaranteed.

Pope Benedict XVI, “The Virginity of Mary and the Divinity of Jesus are Reciprocally Guaranteed”

The Great Act of God

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 ESV

Incarnation means enfleshment: Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. The great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our human nature. Incarnation means that God is with us, near us, transforming us. The incarnation means that God cared and came among us to deliver us from ourselves.

Jesus Christ is God-Man. God in Essence cannot come anywhere near us. Almighty God does not matter to me, He is in the clouds. To be of any use to me, He must come down to the domain in which I live; and I do not live in the clouds but on the earth. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God did come down into our domain.

The Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the exact expression of God, was manifest in the flesh. That is the great doctrine of the New Testament—dust and Deity made one. The pure gold of Deity is of no use to us unless it is amalgamated in the right alloy, viz. the pure Divine working on the basis of the pure human: God and humanity one, as in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oswald Chambers, Shade of His Hand: Talks on the Book of Ecclesiastes (Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1936).

The Secret of a Believer’s Holy Walk


Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Holiness is not legalism, holiness is the desire of our hearts to reflect in our lives the attitudes and actions of Jesus.

Day-by-day holiness is Jesus’ active obedience becoming our present obedience by the power of the Cross through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Holiness is the Life of God in us: we trust the indwelling Christ who changes our hearts. The Holy Spirit creates right attitudes producing right character leading to right conduct in and through us.

The secret of a believer’s holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety, and his daily intercourse with a crucified and risen Lord. All divine life, and all the precious fruits of it, pardon, peace, and holiness, spring from the cross. All fancied sanctification which does not arise wholly from the blood of the cross is nothing better than Pharisaism.

If we would be holy, we must get to the cross, and dwell there; else, notwithstanding all our labour, diligence, fasting, praying and good works, we shall be yet void of real sanctification, destitute of those humble, gracious tempers which accompany a clear view of the cross.

Horatius Bonar, “The Root and Soil of Holiness”

Paradoxes of Christmas


And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

A theological paradox is a Biblical statement that seems contradictory, or opposed to rational thought, and yet is eternally true. For many, the doctrine of the incarnation is a paradox: how can God become man and live in one person? The Christmas season is full of paradoxes, Puritan pastor and theologian, Thomas Watson reveals the paradoxes of Christmas:

He was poor, that he might make us rich.

He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.

He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.

He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.

He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven….

That the ancient of Days should be born.

that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle….

that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;

that a virgin should conceive;

that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,

that the branch should bear the vine,

that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,

and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;

that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God

Christ taking flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand till we come to heaven.

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us . Behold love that passeth knowledge! (Eph 3:19).

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (Banner of Truth)196, 198.

HT: reformation21

Wriggle and Make Noises

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Matt 1:20-21

The doctrine of the incarnation means that Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, is God in human flesh. The great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our nature (Phil. 2:6-7). The incarnation is the miraculous bringing together of humanity and divinity in a single person, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Wayne Grudem stated so succinctly, “Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever” (Systematic Theology, 529). Meditate on these thoughts: God in all his glory, came down from heaven and took on the all vulnerabilities and weaknesses of a newborn child: crying, wetting, hungry, and pooping.

The divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needed to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child . . . The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

J. I. Packer


Mary, Anna, and the Prophetic Word

And there was a prophetess, Anna . . . . She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna, a female prophet, lived her life in the Temple courts: she was dedicated to worship, fasting, and praying. Anna represents wholehearted devotion to God and commitment to enjoying his presence (Luke 2:37).

Like Simeon, her fellow prophet (Luke 2:25-35) spending time in God’s presence means knowing God’s heart, and to know God’s heart is to hear his voice, and to hear God’s voice is know his ways (Isa. 55:8-9). Immediately after Simeon’s word, Anna confirms that this child will bring about the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38). To be the redeemer of Israel is to be the Messiah, the chosen one, who would free Israel from her bondage. Anna’s word further confirms to Mary and Joseph that the God of Israel has major plans for their son, bigger plans than they can imagine.

Luke does not record the Blessed Virgin Mary’s response to these two prophetic words, but we know that in another situation, she chose the “ponder these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19 KJV). Pondering is not passivity. Pondering says to God, “I trust your prophetic word, I may not understand it, therefore I will not talk about God’s instruction until he reveals its meaning to me.” Pondering is faith, pondering is waiting on God, pondering is giving God opportunity and time.

The season of Advent is a unique time for hearing and obeying God’s prophetic word. Like Simeon and Anna, we are called to Spirit-waiting, Spirit-listening, Spirit-anticipation, and Spirit-obedience. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to Father-directed submission, Spirit-led action, and Christ-follower trust.

We may not identify with Anna’s call to prophecy or her living situation, yet her commitment to the Spiritual Disciplines of prayer, fasting, and worship–a life focused in mind, body, and activity on engaging God–is a commitment we all can pursue.

“Anna,” The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, New Revised Standard Version with Deuterocanonical Books, eds., Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene H. Peterson (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 1889.