by pastor david
“And He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
As everyone knows, we are quickly approaching that marvelous day known as Christmas. The streets and stores are decorated with the beautiful colors and ornaments of the season. The children are anxiously waiting to see if they will receive that one special gift for which they have been asking. The Hallmark Channel and others are showing one made-for-television Christmas movie after another.
While we are watching the various Christmas specials, the advertisers are bombarding us with an endless array of “must have” gifts for those we love. The cost of those gifts somehow corresponds with the degree to which we love them – or so the advertisers say.
Churches are also busy decorating for and celebrating this event that is so fundamental to our faith. There are musicals and dramas, pageants and presentations, sermons and songs, all pointing us to the moment in time when the Word become flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14); and so there should be.
I am thankful that in this one area and at this one time of the year the Churches of America are not backing down from their stand for Christ. All of us are working hard to keep Christ in Christmas.
We are still pausing to offer thanks to God at the family Christmas dinner. We are still taking time to read the real Christmas story to our children – you know, the one from the Bible. We are still playing Christmas music on our car radios and iPhones. Pastors and preachers are still proclaiming the message of Luke 2:11, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”.
Think about it.
• “Savior” –a title of Acceptance
• “Christ” –a title of Access
• “Lord” – a title of Authority
Yes, this is all very exciting and refreshing to those in whose lives Christ is Savior and Lord.
If Christ is to have the “preeminence” in all our lives, all the time, should He not have “preeminence” especially during the Christmas season?
Christ is the central figure of Christmas and every other day of the year.
Yes, Christ is the central figure of time and eternity. He stepped out of his eternal home in heaven to become flesh – the God-man. He was 100% God and 100% man. He was the One and only One of all time, the God-man. Because He was God, He could touch God. Because He was man, He could touch man. While hanging on the cross, with one hand stretched out to reach God and the other hand stretched out to reach man, Jesus reconciled God and man by His sacrificial and substitutionary death.
All of this was possible only because of what happened in Bethlehem 2,000 plus years ago. God joined us on planet earth. Yes, Christmas is still about the Babe of Bethlehem. Let us never forget this, whether it is during the cold month of December or the blazing heat of July. In all things, Christ is to be preeminent!
"Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”
What is spiritual maturity? Are you spiritually mature? Spiritual maturity is, "The growth process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing process of surrender and obedience."
Paul begins the passage above by addressing those who are "mature". It translates the Greek word, "telios" meaning, "to end or complete". The same Greek word is used in (James 1:4) "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (telios-mature) and complete, lacking nothing."
Keep in mind, however, that Paul has already declared, in (Philippians 3:12-13), that he has not yet arrived at this point of maturity and Christ-likeness: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended…”
Herein lies the Paradox of Spiritual Maturity. In other words, only a maturing person will recognize his immaturity (Philippians 3:12) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended…” We are moving toward maturity, as we recognize our immaturity and seek to move forward in our Christian development. Please understand that the more Christ-like we become, the more we realize how little like Christ we really are. Dr. Lehman Strauss said, "It is a work of the mature mind that recognizes its immaturity." In other words, as we recognize our immaturity and seek to move forward in our Christian development, we are moving toward maturity.
The real question is not, "Are you spiritually mature?" but "Are you maturing spiritually?"
You might say, "I've been a Christian for many years. Surely I am spiritually mature." Well, the years you have been a Christian tell how long you have been on the road but not how far you have traveled. Many are like the Hebrew Christians addressed in (Hebrews 5:12), "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food."
May I kindly say that you are never too old to grow up? It makes no difference if you have been a believer for just a few months or for many years, let us keep moving forward toward the goal of Christ-likeness and spiritual maturity.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
December 6th is a very special day for me. If you have heard me preach for very long you will recall my mentioning December 6, 1959 as my birthday. Oh, it’s not my physical birthday but my spiritual birthday.
You see, on Sunday evening December 6, 1959, at the Welch Ave. Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, after the pastor’s sermon, I walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar. Since the previous Sunday, God had been convicting and convincing my heart that I was a sinner and needed a Savior. No one prayed with me (although my mother knelt beside me and prayed but never said a word). No one shared the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws or anything else for that matter. It was just the Lord and I.
I remember distinctly the prayer I prayed that cold, winter night, while my mother prayed and the congregation sang, “Just As I Am”. Over and over I repeated, “God forgive me! Please forgive me!” It was that simple, because I knew I was a sinner and in need of His forgiveness.
After a few minutes, my mother and I stood and the music stopped. It was then that the Pastor did something I didn’t expect. He asked, “David, do you have a testimony you would like to give?” I was eight years old! What would I have to say? But spontaneously, without having ever given it a thought, I found myself saying through my joyful sobs, “I’m glad I’m a Christian and I want you to pray for my brother that he would get saved too”.
Since then God has fulfilled His promise in the verse sited above. He has been faithful to keep me safe in His arms and to continue His work in me, even during the times that I was not faithful to Him. He kept His promise to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5) and to “supply all my needs according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). His work of sanctification is still going on today, as He helps me grow in my relationship with Christ each day.
You might ask, “But how did you know that Christ had indeed come to live in your heart and life?” That’s a good question. As I ponder the answer, two thoughts come to mind.
Very often, I allow my mind to take me back to that cold winter night – not because I am entertaining doubt but to remember and rejoice in what God did for me; and is still doing for, in, and through me. One day, I will thank the Lord face to face for His magnificent gift of salvation.
By the way, Christians back in those days took professions of faith very seriously. About four or five weeks later, in the middle of January in Ohio, I was baptized in the Olentangy River that runs along The Ohio State University. Maybe that’s why am I still an Ohio State fan. “Was it cold?” you ask. Well, let’s just say that God didn’t perform any thermal miracles that day. Yes, it was cold! We didn’t have to break the ice as some used to do but ice formed on my clothes on the way back to the car!
What God did for that little eight-year-old boy fifty-eight years ago set me on a course that I would never have found on my own. I am rejoicing today in God’s awesome gift of justification and sanctification. I’m thankful that Christ saves us from the penalty of past sins, the power of present sins, and will one day save us from the presence, propensity, and possibility of sin.
Rejoice with me as I celebrate my spiritual birthday and think back to the day you came to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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