For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6a)
We’re in a four-week series exploring the vocations of some of the characters of Christmas. This morning, we come to the principal of the nativity scene: Jesus himself.
Now, you may be thinking, Hold up a minute, Jordan, this is a series on “Christmas Vocations” and Jesus didn’t yet have a vocation lying there in the manger. That is precisely what I want you and I to focus on today.
While Jesus would one day hold vocations as a carpenter, preacher, and king, for the first years of his life he had no work. Instead, the Creator chose to be entirely dependent on the work of his creatures. Theologian J.I. Packer marveled at this truth saying that “the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child.”
Do you see the absurdity...
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. (Luke 2:16)
Since our first date 16 years ago, my wife Kara and I go to the historic Tampa Theatre every December to see It’s a Wonderful Life. And even though the film is more than 75 years old, the theater is packed every year. Why? Because the movie’s protagonist, George Bailey, encapsulates a timeless desire of the human heart to do work that matters.
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the gist. George Bailey was raised in the small town of Bedford Falls, but he dreamed of doing “something big, something important.” But life got in the way and George remained stuck in his hometown working an obscure job he saw little purpose in. It took a literal miracle for him to see just how impactful his life and work had been.
Scripture tells us nothing about who made the manger Jesus slept in his first night on earth. But I’m willing to...
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed. (Matthew 2:1-3)
Those last words are one of the great understatements in all of Scripture. Herod was more than “disturbed” by the news of Jesus. He was apoplectic because this new “king of the Jews” represented a direct threat to his throne.
Herod knew there can only be one king in a kingdom. Either you are on the throne or someone else is. There is no in-between—no compromise whatsoever. Which is why, after hearing of this threat to his career, Herod unleashed one of the most grotesque campaigns of violence in history (see Matthew 2:16).
But Herod isn’t the only king we see in today’s passage. We’re also introduced to the Magi—the...
[Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7 KJV)
It may surprise you to learn that the infamous “innkeeper” of the nativity is never explicitly mentioned in Scripture. But clearly, someone had to deliver the news to Mary and Joseph that there was “no room for them in the inn.”
What can we learn from this nameless hotelier? At least two things.
First, God often chooses to reveal himself to us at work. Whoever this innkeeper was, they were undoubtedly swamped that first Christmas Eve as a census brought an influx of travelers to Bethlehem (see Luke 2:1-3). You can imagine the innkeeper rushing to check people in and clean out rooms, just trying to keep his or her head above water.
That’s when God literally showed up on the innkeeper’s doorstep. God didn’t meet the innkeeper in the temple but at their place of...
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)
The parallels between C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy are eerie, to say the least. Both men were Irish. Both went by the nickname Jack. Both were war veterans but ultimately gained fame through their writing and speaking. And both men died on November 22, 1963, within one hour of each other.
From that point forward, their paths diverged considerably. Kennedy’s death dominated the front page of every major newspaper on earth. In most papers, Lewis’s death wasn’t even mentioned. While more than 800,000 people lined the streets to watch Kennedy’s funeral procession, there was no procession at all...
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We’re in a four-week series exploring how God’s Word shaped the work of C.S. Lewis—the author of Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other beloved works. One of the most obvious ways the Word shaped Lewis’s work is found in today’s passage: For most of his life post-salvation, Lewis was in intentional community with other Christians.
During the 1930s and 40s, Lewis met on a near-weekly basis with a group called the Inklings, which was marked by three distinct characteristics.
First, the core members of the Inklings were all serious Christians, including Lewis, Hugo Dyson, Charles Williams, and Lord of the Rings creator, J.R.R. Tolkien. Notes from their meetings make...
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
Before heading off to WWI, C.S. Lewis made a pact with his friend, Paddy Moore: If either were to die on their respective battlefields, the survivor would look after the deceased’s families.
Shortly thereafter, Paddy died; and after being discharged on account of a war injury of his own, Lewis made good on his promise and moved in with Paddy’s sister and mother.
At first, the Lewis/Moore household was a happy one. But over time, Mrs. Moore became a thorn in Lewis’s side. According to one Lewis biographer, “He would be writing or studying in his room when he would suddenly hear a terrible crash from somewhere downstairs and a plaintive cry from Mrs. Moore. In great anxiety, he would run down to find that she had tripped over something and was not in the least...
[Jesus] told them many things in parables. (Matthew 13:3)
C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century. But up until his early thirties, he was an ardent atheist.
How did God bring about Lewis’s radical transformation? By appealing first to his heart and then to his mind.
It all started when a 17-year-old Lewis was waiting for a train in England. To pass the time, he purchased a novel titled Phantastes, and as he began to read, something remarkable happened. As one of Lewis’s biographers explains, “everything was changed for Lewis as a result of reading the book. He had discovered a ‘new quality,’ a ‘bright shadow,’ which seemed to him like a voice calling him from the ends of the earth.”
Lewis had no idea at the time that the book’s author, George MacDonald, was a Christian pastor. Because the novel was no sermon. It was a parable written to awaken desire in the soul...
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
I hope this series has inspired you to chase hard after the remarkable reward of your work physically lasting into eternity. But you may be thinking, Jordan, it doesn’t feel quite right to be motivated by these eternal rewards.
I know I felt that way for years. Before I address this feeling of guilt, I want to make it crystal clear that Jesus is the ultimate treasure of heaven—not our work being considered “the glory of the nations.” That said, there are at least three reasons why we should be comfortable unashamedly chasing after the rewards God promises us.
First, God encourages us to. If God didn’t want us to be motivated by eternal rewards, then why did Jesus spend so much time talking about them? In Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus mentioned three rewards in just six...
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
We’re in a 5-week series exploring this wild idea that some of the work has the chance of literally, physically lasting into eternity. The question, of course, is which work? Scripture doesn’t tell us explicitly. But it does give us some clues.
As we saw last week, it appears that some acts of evil will carry on, so long as in their redeemed state...