[CF Devotionals]2008-12-25 - The First Noel

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

- The First Noel - est. sixteenth century
The last verse - author unknown

The author asks us to sing praises with one accord - in singular agreement we are asked to join together to praise God for two things.

The first is for His creation of Heaven and Earth from nothing. Today we understand the laws of physics more clearly than ever before. We understand, and are proving large sections of Einstein's E = mc2 equation where the amount of energy is released from the destruction of matter is equal to the amount of matter - nothing is wasted in the transition. We even begin to understand that the reverse application of the equation is true where matter can be created out of energy. The science-fiction transporter from Star Trek® would become a reality when we can properly apply the equation. But both of these concepts start with either the matter or the equal amount of energy already in existence. God started His creation with nothing at all, and spoke the stars and worlds into being with the power of a single thought - "Let there be ... ", and happened! When that thought is considered seriously, it is something we really can only begin to grasp.

The second praise is for purchasing mankind from the slave market of sin by the power of His blood. Christmas is really the beginning of Easter. The resurrection was only possible because of two things - the willingness of Jesus to wrap His glory in human flesh and be born into this world, and to live sinless life and die in our place to redeem us. This raises a few points as well. That sin is a reality. Many call it "the human condition", our inability to live our lives without deliberately violating God's laws. To anyone out there who believes themselves to be perfect, or even close, God will remind is that all our best actions are compared to filthy rags in Isaiah 64:6 (KJV). The phrase "filthy rags" is more literally translated "menstrual cloths". A woman who was menstruating was considered unclean and was not allowed to enter the Temple to worship. The Temple is a picture of Heaven. We all will stand before the Father acceptable only because we will be hidden behind Christ and His glorious perfection. Following on, sin required a sacrifice to be satisfied against the law, and Jesus paid that price for us with His perfect blood sacrifice.

This means that there is only one way to Heaven. If there are many roads to Heaven then we could take one of those other roads and get to Heaven without that sacrifice. If that is the case, Jesus did not need to suffer and die for us. That would mean that we can become perfect on our own. But we are born into a sinful race. This corrupt mortal flesh must be put off and our immortal bodies be put on before we will know perfection. If we were able to get to Heaven by any other means than the shed blood of Jesus Christ then Christmas was unnecessary and Easter was a cruel joke.

The topics of sin, and redemption are not what we call today "politically correct". Sin says that we have a problem. Redemption says that, on our own, there is nothing we can do about it. The idea that God created everything we see as opposed to it all evolving is also not popular. These ideas are exclusionary. They present us with problems that are insolvable.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (NASB)

Jesus uses the definite article "the" - singular. There is only one way to Heaven, not many ways. There is only one source of truth, not the situational, shifting truth that our society toys with today. There is only one source for eternal life, from the Jesus.

Jesus came to earth that first Christmas so that He could show us the heart of God, that God loves us, and to die a terrible death on a cross in our place to satisfy the law that showed us what sin is, and holds us accountable for our actions before the Father. But there is a way! Jesus made a way. It requires us to respond. Is there anything we must do first to get ready? No. He has promised to accept anyone who comes sincerely asking for forgiveness from their sins, who is willing to turn and deliberately walk away from those sins accepting His redemption and rule over their lives.

It's a Christmas gift available to anyone who will come. There is a cost - your imperfect, struggling life in exchange for peace in your heart, direction for your life and assurance of eternity with Christ. It's not under the tree - it's in the manger, and at the cross, and a heartfelt prayer away. Questions are welcome.

Selah. Merry Christmas.

Grace & Peace,

[email mike] jmhoskins@gmail.com