By Jeremy HoekstraThis Sunday we are on Chapter 15 of The Story which means we are about halfway through our journey this year. I think one of the greatest things that we can see thus far is that there are common themes that keep appearing: God speaks and things happen. Humans wander from and rebel against God. God welcomes humans back. We can see some consistencies in God’s character through this as well. God has a desire to be in relationship with his creation particularly with his greatest creation: humans. God is powerful and creative. God is just. God is merciful. As we look toward the New Testament, we can see that these are still apart of God’s character. God does not change. He is the same...from everlasting to everlasting. This week we’ll be taking a look at “God’s Messengers” or the prophets. Chapter 15 opens with a man named Elijah (which interestingly means "The LORD is my God"). Probably the most famous story that Elijah is a part of is the challenge against the god Baal. Altars of wood are built and the real god will set one on fire. Elijah is so confident in God that he even drenches his altar with water. And sure enough, Elijah prays and God responds by sending down fire and setting that thing ablaze! Baal is no where to be found. Our God is the one, true God. There is no other like him. Human beings are notorious for making false gods, though. We’ll make a god out of anything: money, food, status, other religions, other people, the Detroit Pistons...(did I say that?). It’s easy to do. But there really is only one God who is true, good, powerful, just, holy and worthy of our adoration and praise. That is the God of the Bible. As you prepare to come to worship this week, take stock of your life. Are there other gods that you serve? Are there things that are getting close to being gods in your life? If there are, confess those to the true God and declare him as the only God of your life. And take steps towards removing those false gods from your life. A good place to start is by asking for forgiveness and asking Jesus and the Holy Spirit for help. Then maybe confide in someone and ask them to help you and to hold you accountable. You won’t be able to do it on your own. But with the work of God and the support of other people those false gods don’t stand a chance. Much like Baal in the story we’re reading this week.
Christmas is here and gone…in many ways, so quickly. I know, I know – the music in the malls and all of the marketing that grabs a hold of one Christmas theme or character or tune, and the ubiquitous Christmas music (again, of whatever form) in some ways goes on and on.
But for the worshiper of God and the believer in Jesus, Christmas seems to come and go quickly. I was pulling my garbage can out to the curb last Tuesday morning (December 27) and looked off to the front porch of a home not far from mine, and was rather astounded to see a Christmas tree all wrapped in its disposable white plastic wrapping. That quickly, we’re past it!
All of which is to invite you to slow up a bit…still. Whether all of your Christmas decorations are already packed away or not, linger a bit near the manger and consider the wonder of what God did in sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Wonder at what God did when the Word became flesh!
On Christmas Day at First Covenant Grand Rapids, I sought to draw connections between Solomon and the Temple he built and the Incarnation of the Son of God. I just discovered a blog reflection on the very same theme from Christmas Eve 2011. Don Sweeting is a long-time acquaintance of mine, being a number of years ahead of me at both Deerfield High School and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. A Presbyterian church pastor, he is president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL…and a thought-provoking writer. Take a look at his reflections on Glory in the House: Solomon Sheds Light on the Incarnation.