Everlasting Father 5

Luke 2:1-7

I have been learning a lesson these past few weeks. I have learned that I need to be faithful to God no matter what happens in the world. In spite of financial worries, in spite of fears for our economy, in spite of the frustration we have experienced with our 10-2 Grow e-mails, in spite of the depression that threatens when area teens and people I have known die unexpectedly – and so close to the holidays – still I must trust in God and obey His commands. I must be faithful to my heavenly Father no matter what.

I must be faithful because my heavenly, everlasting Father is faithful to me.

It is interesting that the Christmas story that we are so familiar with, that we have seen acted out by young and old alike in our churches, is presented only in Matthew and in Luke. It is in Matthew that we see the dilemma that Joseph faced, the fears of his impending marriage to a woman who is pregnant. In Matthew we see the angel visiting Joseph, giving guidance and reassurance.

In Luke the focus is on Mary. In Luke Mary is visited by the angel. In Luke Mary’s cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant.

The first real encounter we have with Joseph in the Book of Luke is in this passage, the beginning of the second chapter. We are presented with the reasons that Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem and why the baby was placed in a manger. We see the genealogical connection to the house and line of David.

But to me, the key verse is verse 5. “He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Joseph carried through with his duties, his responsibilities, his obligations. He registered along with the woman to whom he was not yet married and who was with child. If we do not read Matthew’s story then we would have no idea that angels had guided Joseph.

But in this simple statement we see Joseph being faithful. His bride to be is already with child, yet he registers with her and marries her. He carries through with his pledge regardless of what was happening, in spite of the pregnancy and the strain of the census. He was acting as a faithful and loving father.

And this can be a reminder to us all that our heavenly Father is faithful and loving. This can be a reminder to us that the baby Joseph raised is also the everlasting Father to each of us. He gives us love, and he is eternally faithful.

Let us follow the examples of Joseph and Jesus. Let us be faithful too. And let us never forget the love of our everlasting Father, Jesus.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How does the everlasting Father show you His faithfulness?

Everlasting Father 4

Isaiah 11:1-2

Members of one of our adult Sunday school classes invited us to join them on a tour of a nearby courthouse. The courthouse was built in the 1920s with an open, three-storied central stairwell complete with a dome of stained glass. The walls were adorned with intricate carvings and gold leaf decorations. But over time this amazing building began to show signs of age.

Then our guide explained how they had recently renovated the courthouse, restoring it to its original beauty after the years had taken their toll on the building. The beauty that had faded was restored, the incredible splendor of the work was brought back.

This prophecy from Isaiah is a prediction of hope and joy for the Israelites. The family line of their greatest kings would be restored, the former glory brought back. In fact the past glory would be exceeded. Who is Jesse? What will the Messiah be blessed with?

The part that Jesse plays in the history of Israel begins in 1 Samuel 16. This is the story of Jesse’s son, David, being selected to be king. And David will grow to be one of the greatest kings ever. We then learn in the genealogy presented in Matthew 1:1-16 that Jesus is a descendent of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jesse, of David, and so on.

This prophecy is a message of restoration. This great line of leaders will again bring forth another great king, Jesus Christ. Jesus will be born and will be the everlasting Father, the Son of the Most High. And through this lineage we see the eternal nature of God.

God has blessed His children from the beginning, from the time of Abraham, down through the centuries. And His blessings continue with Christ. In fact, the blessings will exceed the past blessings.

The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the everlasting love that God, the Father, has for all who believe in Him. It is an eternal love that stretches back over the centuries and also covers the days to come.

The baby born in Bethlehem is our eternal Father, the very image of God. He is an expression of love that transcends all time, that existed in the past, exists now, and will be with us forever.

Let us be reminded this holiday season of the eternal love that God has for us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can God restore you with His love this Christmas?

Everlasting Father 3

John 1:15-18

My wife sent an embarrassing picture of me to my sister, who in turn sent it on to other family members. Eventually we got a response from a cousin whom I haven’t seen in years. She commented that I look like my father.

My father passed away 25 years ago, but if someone wanted to know what he looked like they need simply see me to know. If they wanted to know what kind of personality he had they could simply point to me. I am a reflection of who my father was.

We are children of our heavenly Father, but no one has seen God, the Father. We do not know if He is the familiar image of an old man with a flowing beard, or if He appears as a pillar of fire, or if He is whatever He needs to be in appearance.

But we have seen Jesus. We are familiar with the personality of Christ. We know what he valued. We know how he felt about most things. We know how much he cares about us.

John the Baptist was aware of the coming of Jesus, God in the flesh. What does John say about him? What goodness have we received? What has Jesus done?

God gave Himself as a gift in the gift of Jesus to the world. Christ is God in human form. He is God. As John describes him, Jesus is “God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side.”

Christmas is the celebration of God giving Himself to us so that we might know Him. He gave the gift of Christ as an expression of His love and grace for all mankind.

Jesus, in his love for us and in his teachings, has shown us who God is. Jesus has made God known. He has taught us the love that the eternal Father has for each of us. And Christ himself is the everlasting Father who cares for us and blesses us with his grace.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What part of Christmas reminds you of God’s eternal love?

Everlasting Father 2

John 1:10-14

My nephew and his wife are adopting a baby. He was born in Florida and now lives in Michigan with his new family. Although not born to my nephew and his wife, he is part of their family and will be loved and welcomed as their own. The mortal flesh is not important. The family of love and welcome is important.

And that is the message of today. That is the message of Christmas and our relationship with God.

How was Jesus received? How are those who believe in Jesus treated? What is said of Jesus in verse 14?

Jesus is the Son of God, and being God he was part of all that God has done. He was part of creation. He was part of the giving of life. He is part of all that has ever come before and all that will follow.

Yet his arrival on earth did not change the attitudes and lives of many. His birth took place in a small town in a place that few even noticed. His life impacted so many around him, yet so many refused to believe what they saw and heard. There were and still are so many who reject Jesus, who will not accept him as Savior or confess him as the Son of God.

And those who do not accept Jesus have missed the miracle and gift of Christmas. They have missed the gift of love and the welcome of a new family.

But to those who do believe, to those who recognize exactly who Jesus is, Christmas and Christ are a tremendous gift. Jesus came to earth to live with us as a human himself. And those who believe in him are welcomed as children of God. Our mortal families are not as important as our spiritual family and our connection with God.

It is no longer important who we are or who we have been. Our heritage is no longer important. What is essential is that we accept the gift of Jesus from God. It is essential that we receive the gift of love that comes with Jesus Christ, the gift of salvation and eternal life with the Father.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you accepted your new and eternal Father?

Everlasting Father 1

John 1:1-2 and Hebrews 13:8

If you've ever been on a long car trip with small children (or not so small children) you've proven Albert Einstein's theory that time is relative! It speeds up or slows down depending on how fast one thing is moving relative to something else. Time and space and light and age are all in a state of constant change.

This week we will be looking at how we can possibly understand the term "Everlasting Father." Eternity is a concept of time too complex for our simple minds to grasp. Everlasting is virtually incomprehensible to us.

Yet in John 1, it tells us that Jesus was already with God when things began. So Jesus (the Word) is older than the beginning. It's a paradox that we can't hope to fully understand. How can Jesus exist before the beginning? Yet the trinity have no beginning and no end.

And unlike Einstein's theories of relativity of time and space, we are told that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

He is before the beginning and unchanging throughout the whole span of time. It's so easy to say those words, but really hard to internalize. Mathematics and science can try to explain infinity, but even that is limited.

But the mathematical symbol for infinity (at right) might help.

Like Jesus, there is no beginning and no end. It is an endless swoop of balanced and symmetrical beauty. It's not just a symbol of eternity, it is designed to be one. Where does it begin and where does it end? It doesn't. The question isn't really even valid.

It's the same with God. We can't ask where does He begin and end because the question is irrelevant. God, like the infinity symbol is always constant, beautiful, and endlessly connected. He is before the beginning, after the end and eternally in the present.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you living only in the past, only for the future or only in the moment? Where can you see evidence of God's presence in all three in your life?