Christmas Visits

Christmas visits were a big deal when I was a kid. They still are in my family. One of the traditions we observed on Christmas Day or Boxing Day was to visit family nearby to snoop at what everybody got for Christmas. It was a very exciting time for the kids especially because of the anticipation that more gifts were to arrive with incoming family members. In fact, as I think back on my childhood, visiting, Christmas or otherwise, was a major part of the social structure of life in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Visits were planned and unplanned. It wasn’t uncommon for family, friends and neighbors to show up at your door unannounced for a game of cards and a cup of coffee. In fact, that lifestyle was more common than not. Most evangelical churches back then sponsored outreach events called “door to door visitation.”
The coolest thing to me about being a Christian is that God makes house calls! He is a visiting God. From the earliest days of salvation history, the Bible records divine visits that changed the direction of people’s lives and even the course of human existence.
Remember the story of Abraham. God called him to leave the home of his forefathers and venture out to a new land that would become the elect nation of Israel. When Abraham was 99 years of age the Bible says that the LORD appeared to him as he “sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” This is literally God making a “porch visit.” The LORD visited him to promise a son and an heir. The son’s name was Isaac, who is ultimately the one through whom the lineage of Jesus was established.
Jump ahead many generations to a time in which Jesus visited planet earth as THE promised Son who was foreshadowed in his forefather Isaac. That’s the central fact of Christmas. God came to earth and visited us with life and salvation. Though our Christmas celebrations appear to be altered this year, nothing can dim the bright hope that dawned that first Christmas day. If anything, this year will cause us to treasure it more than ever before.
So, in keeping with one of my favourite Christmas traditions, this coming Sunday I’m starting a 4-part sermon series titled “Christmas Visits.” It’s quite simple. I will ask you to think with me about four of the more prominent visits that took place between heaven and earth on the first Christmas. They are: Gabriel visits Mary; Mary visits Elizabeth; The Angel visits Joseph AND the visit of all visits . . . Jesus visits the world when he arrived as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger.
Join us for a spiritual visit this coming Sunday on livestream at 9:45AM. The details are on our website. And if you can’t make that time frame, the service will be posted later that day on all our social media platforms.
Blessed Christmas, church family,
Pastor Deric

The Miracle of the Burning Bush

The story of the burning bush recorded in Exodus 3 is perhaps one of the most famous in all of the Bible. It’s a fascinating event for several reasons.
Moses was out in the fields tending the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro. Nothing impressive about that part of the story. And that’s probably the point. God often works His best stories in the common details of life. There is no such thing as “Heaven’s Got Talent.” Just the opposite. The Bible indicates that the need to be seen and heard disqualifies you from encounters with God.
From there the story lights up, so to speak. For the Bible says, “And the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” God initiates an encounter that will leave Moses forever changed. That’s what He loves to do.
But please notice what happens next. The book of Exodus tells us that “Moses turned aside to see this great sight.” Don’t miss the faith lesson. Too many will miss their Divine appointment because they don’t take the time to look at the great things that God has done. I suspect that many don’t investigate the Bible’s claims out of fear that they may find them untrue, but that they will find them true as true.
The lesser miracle in the text gave way to the greatest of all miracles. God speaks to the man who is wise enough to look at the evidence and listen for the presence in the burning bush. The greatest of all miracles in life is to hear the inaudible voice of our Great Shepherd. Jesus said in John 10, “my sheep hear my voice.”
Make note of the humility with which Moses, this great son of Pharaoh’s court, now a fugitive shepherd, responds to God. He takes off his sandals and gets as low as he can before the awesome presence of God Almighty. It’s a good example of how we need to deal with our pride and self-confidence. Moses hid his face for he was “afraid to look at God.” I often wonder about this detail in the story. Is it that Moses was afraid to behold the beauty of the Lord? Probably not. Who doesn’t like to catch a glimpse of an extraordinary scene? It’s more likely that Moses was afraid of seeing himself as he was in reality. It’s hard for us to see ourselves for who we are in totality, especially before the presence of God.
The story of the burning bush is a response that God initiated because of the suffering of His people. He heard their groanings and went to find a man who would serve the great cause of liberating them from their dark slavery. Of course God could have done it without Moses, but that wasn’t His plan.
God’s plan all along was to set a bush on fire from which He would light a fire in the heart of his servant Moses. When I read the story of the “burning bush” I see a man on fire with passion and vision to serve the true and living God.
Pastor Deric