Friday, December 23, 2011

Less is More

The world equates grandeur and power with showy displays of wealth, force and excess. Worldly success is measured in mega-numbers, whether dollars in bank accounts or bodies in church pews. Music is blasted at deafening volume, and even food is super-sized.

But God, the source of all power, wisdom, love and light (1 John 4:7-8; 1 John 1:5), is often understated and subtle when He speaks. If you’re distracted by the world’s fanfare, you can miss what He has to say.

He spoke to Elijah not in the roar of the wind, in the shaking of the earthquake or the blaze of the fire, but in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

God first brought His only begotten Son, Creator and Ruler of all, to this earth not as a conquering warrior, high priest, or revered king, but as a lowly infant. The Son first appeared not in the battlefield, temple, or palace, but in a filthy stable, born among the animals (Luke 2:7). His first utterance was not a declaration of leadership or an eloquent sermon, but the helpless cry of a newborn.

Yet that humble beginning marked the greatest story ever told – Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). God the Son left His throne in Heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35), and wrapped Himself in human flesh. His earthly life and ministry reflected self-sacrificing love, forgiveness, humility, and self-control. He was born not only to teach us about God the Father, and about how He wants us to live, but He was born primarily to die. He could have summoned legions of angels to rescue Him from an agonizing death (Matthew 26:53), but He went meekly as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7, Acts 8:32) arguing nothing in His own defense.

His holy, sinless life was the perfect, and only, sacrifice that could reconcile Holy God to sinful man (1 John 4:10). As His death on the cross paid in full the punishment due all our sins, past, present and future, He redeemed us from sin and death. When God the Father looks at those who trust His Son, He no longer sees our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 8:1-4).

He died not just to pay for our sins, but to rise again, that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13), and abundant life (John 10:10) the moment we repent of our sins and place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

But for us to receive the full blessing of being in His perfect will, we must hear what He has to say. If our own voice clamors for attention, we will drown out His still, small whisper (Psalm 46:10; Zechariah 2:13). If we fill our life with our own grandiose plans for accomplishments we believe we can achieve in our own strength, there will be no room for Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yielding to Him, preparing our heart to receive and cherish Him, will allow His light to shine through us (Matthew 5:16) and His living water to flow through us to bless others.

If we are king of our own life, we, like Bethlehem, will have no room for the Holy Infant, Emmanuel (Luke 2:7).

We must decrease so that He can increase (John 3:30), our lives becoming vessels emptied of self and filled with His glorious presence. We should rejoice in our frailty, knowing that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, allowing His power to rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This Christmas, my prayer is that each of us will receive the Gift of His Son (2 Corinthians 9:15), and that we will give back to Him the gift of our own lives, so that our fleeting time on earth (James 4:14) may be transformed from our own inconsequential purposes to His eternal glory (Romans 5: 1-2; Romans 15: 5-7;15-17; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 5:10; Psalm 84:11 ).

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

25 comments:

  1. I wish You blessed time in this Christmas, God's blessings and happy, peaceful time with Your family and friends.
    Greetings for You

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Zim, Thanks so much, dear friend! May you and your family also experience the joy, love, and peace of Christmas throughout the season and beyond!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wishing you a very Happy and joyous Christmas

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Amrita, Wishing Christmas joy to you and yours and may God bless you in 2012 and always!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Merry Christmas Laurie....wishing you His best.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Sarah, Love to you and your family at Christmas and beyond! God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wishing you a merry Christmas. God bless,
    Frank

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, Frank! Merry Christmas and God's blessings to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Merry Christmas, Laurie.

    I appreciate your blog and the scriptural stance. I suspect God speaks softly because those who are listening will hear anyway, and those who are not will block it out no matter how loud he speaks, as can be seen with children whose parents yell at them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Merry Christmas to you, dfish! Your blog is a blessing to me also because it is Bible-based.

    I love your analogy -- a mother can hear her infant's soft cry even from several rooms away because she loves him so much and always is vigilant to hear his voice. But spoiled children have tuned out the yelling of their parents or other authority because they don't care. We can only grieve or quench the Spirit for so long before He stops speaking to us.

    May you have all blessings in 2012!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  11. I pray your Christmas was sweet, Laurie. This emptying of self you describe is something I must deliberately do periodically. Amazing how weak I am and how soon I fill up life with all the noise that drowns out His voice. Lovely, lovely thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Laura, Thank you for your prayers and kind words. We had a blessed Christmas, and I pray you did also! It is so easy to get distracted, and to forget to be still, and know that He is God.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm always humbled myself when I think of the King of Kings being born in a stable. From that lowly birth to death on the cross -- each step was made for humanity. How blessed we are.

    ReplyDelete
  14. God loves to surprise us at times. With Him he often keeps us guessing. David the youngest and probably the one least liable to be selected in man’s eyes, was God's choice. May we receive with joy all that awaits us in the coming year!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Amen, Pamela! It is amazing and humbling that the Creator loves each of us so much that He left His throne to become One of us, yet fully divine and without sin.
    May you and your loved ones have all blessings in 2012!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear A Joyful Noise, How true -- His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Praise God that He has infinite wisdom, power and love, bringing all things together for our good.
    Wishing you love, joy and peace in 2012 and beyond!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  17. "...Emptied of self...filled with His presence." I'm working on that -- not there yet, but yes, less is more.

    Blessings,
    Pamela

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well said, Laurie. These are truths we must never forget and always share with others whenever possible. Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks, Charlotte! May we all be bold to spread His truth with others this coming year and beyond.
    Hope you and your family had a blessed Christmas, and wishing you love, joy and peace in the New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Laurie:

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I pray many blessings for you in the upcoming year.

    You know we would have probably chosen to be born in the finest hotel, but the Savior chose a lowly, dirty stable. The King of Kings humbled himself enough to come to earth and die for our sins. I could never repay Him enough, but yet because of His grace, I don't have to repay Him. However, I want to walk in fellowship with Him each and every day.

    Blessings,
    Joan

    ReplyDelete
  21. Beautifully said, Joan! You have touched on so many mysteries of His grace, humility, and servant's heart, contrasting with the omnipotence of the Creator. Praise God that He desires fellowship with us and is there whenever we draw near Him.
    Thank you for the Christmas wishes and New Year's prayers. May you and your family be richly blessed in 2012 and beyond.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  22. Emptied of self and filled with His presence -beautifully said!
    Thank you for linking this lovely post to LACE, Laurie.
    I pray you and yours have will a happy new year and know God's abundant blessings and joys :-)
    grace..Trish

    ReplyDelete
  23. Beautiful truths, Laurie. Thank you for sharing your heart and directing others, me, to see the real important.

    Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dear Trish,
    Thank you for your kind words, prayers and encouragement. My prayers are with you and your family to enjoy all of God's blessings this year and until He comes again.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dear Rachel,
    Thanks so much for your kind comment. Wishing you, your family, and your ministry all blessings of love, joy and peace this year and beyond!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete