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Many Hats

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6b

Teaching in a Christian school community means wearing many different hats.  I wear one “hat” as Mr. Gibson, humanities teacher.  I wear another “hat” as Mr. Gibson, yearbook staff adviser.  Still another, anytime I coach a co-curricular activity, and yet another as a colleague.  For several years, I also wore a youth leader “hat” as I helped out with the local Middle School youth group.  These, of course, are all different from the “hats” I wear as a husband, or as a son, or brother, or friend.  This isn’t to say I fundamentally change who I am depending on the situation, but the responsibilities of each role are different; what is required of me is different.

 

Because I’m only human, the more hats I wear, the thinner I am spread.  I know I can never perfectly wear every single hat.  Wearing so many different hats gives me a much greater appreciation for who Christ is.  He succeeds where I come up short.  He is the perfect counselor; perfect in power; perfect in His steadfast, unwavering love for us; perfect in His reign over us.  Christ came to rule and He came to serve; He came to teach and He came to obey the will of His Father; He came to encourage the oppressed and He came to correct the oppressors.  Depending on the situation He found Himself in, He wore more hats than I could possibly imagine.  And He wore them all with perfection; He met the needs of all and nowhere is this more obvious than in His death on the cross.

 

This ancient promise was not merely about the coming of a prince, but the coming of The Prince, the multi-dimensional ruler who will fill our deepest needs and the most desperate aching of our hearts.  Today, may we truly reflect on and appreciate every “hat” that Jesus Christ wore, and rejoice in the fact that He wore each one to perfection!

 

Our Hope in a Baby

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
Isaiah 9:6a

It is amazing to me that God would choose to come into this world as a baby.  He could have come like some kind of mighty superman, or a Greek god with wings on his feet, or something else that fits our image of God’s power.  However, he chose to come as a weak, delicate baby.  God chose to become an infant.  Jesus is LORD, but a baby cannot walk or talk.  A baby is completely dependent on its parents for protection.

 

In Japanese, “child” can be translated as “Midori-go”.  “Midori” means “green” and “go” means “kid”.  Green brings up the image of sprouts or young leaves—this is the image of new life, of budding potential.  With this in mind, the choice to become a baby is one filled with tremendous hope.  But this hope was not for His own sake—it was for ours.  Christ was born for us.

 

Christ came to serve us.  If He came as a muscular superhero, we would struggle to understand and recognize His service.  Because He became a lowly baby, because He became one of us, we can better appreciate the way in which Christ served.  Praise the LORD that He came down to this world in a form that would have the deepest impact on us!

 

As I read our Japanese-English Bible with its side-by-side translations, I noticed something very interesting.  The English NIV translated the verse as “and the government will be on his shoulders”, but the Japanese used the word “shuken” rather than “government”.  “Shuken” translates more closely to “sovereignty” or “dominion”.

 

This passage is trying to impart the fact that Christ reigns over all the earth; in the birth of this baby boy, God shows us how powerful He truly is.

Written by Tomomi Gibson in Japanese, translated by Nate Gibson, with help from Tomomi.

A Great Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

At age 23 I was in the darkness. I knew it. How could I know the maker of all things? I could never be good enough. Then the light broke into my life.  My Christian friends told me it had nothing to do with my acceptability and everything to do with my need.

I heard the living word. Jesus, the light of the world who through all things were made, and in him was life and that life was the light of men and of me. He made me acceptable by paying my debt I could never pay.

The sinful woman who spread perfume, tears and kisses on Jesus feet knew she wasn’t able to save herself. She had seen a great light. Her savior.

Did the Samaritan woman at the well after 5 husbands see the light shining in the world when Jesus told her that the water he gave her would become in her a spring of water welling up to eternal life?

The man who was born blind could see after years of darkness. Jesus healed him and he could see the light. Jesus asked if he believed in the son of man. He said he believed and worshiped Jesus. He recognized the true light of the world.

And when the end will come, Jesus will take those who need him more than themselves to their eternal home where there will be no more night. “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” We have truly seen a great light and he is Jesus.
~J. Lovegren

We Can Be Lights

See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
 Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Isaiah 60.2-3
A few years ago, I had the pleasure to be on a backpacking trip to Yellow Aster Butte.  From our campsite, we could see across a valley toward Mt. Shuksan and to our right, Mt. Baker.  I was fortunate to get up early the next morning and sit on a rock looking across the valley and see the sun rise.  At first, just a sliver of the sun’s rays were able to peek their way over the mountains, but then the sun, shining in all it’s splendor, shone it’s rays into the valley, turning everything a brilliant pink and orange.

That is the first thing that popped into my head when I read over Isaiah 60.2-3.  The shady valley, like the earth, and the sun, like Christ, and the gospel, shining light into us, so that we might reflect that light to those around us.

Recently, I did a report on the persecution of Christians in Somalia.  Though they suffer bitter persecution, they are able to still shine the light in a dark place. Through Christ, and thanks be to God, we can be lights.
~Hans Tamminga (age 13)

The Light of Hope

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

I enjoy this time of year when the days are getting longer. Seeing the sun peak over the tree tops and feeling it shine into the house, chases away the dark of winter. The sun energizes both man and beast, bulb and herb, readying us for the coming season. It’s easier to get out of bed and face the day, regardless of the world news.

The world news in Isaiah’s day wasn’t all so rosy. Isaiah lived during the decline of Israel and while the Assyrian empire, well known for their fearsome army, was expanding.  Yet through Isaiah, the Lord spoke a message of hope and of future glory to His people.

Early in Israel’s history, the Lord showed his glory and light in the dessert by daily providing a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night as a sign of His guiding presence. No matter what was going on in camp below, the cloud was always there.

God remains constant. It may be dark for a season, but Jesus is coming back to set all things right. While you wait for that day, you have a choice to make: You can turn your face to the Light of hope, or turn your back on God and embrace darkness.

Arise! Shine! You can live this day, each day, for His glory.
~Ruth Siebring

Finding Faith

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

Malachi 3:2

The other day I received a message on my computer; evidently I had done something that fouled the computer and it could do some irreparable harm if not corrected immediately. I called my daughter Nancy, our computer person, and she came and rescued me.
We receive messages all the time. Most are non-threatening but occasionally you get one like the one about my computer.
The most important and sometimes frightening are the ones we get from the Lord. Such was the case with Malachi’s message to Israel. He came as a messenger from the Lord with a most alarming message. To an unfaithful  people, the Lord, the messenger of the covenant, would come, and would come suddenly. And he would come as a refiner’s fire to see if there were any who in faith revealed something of the likeness of their Lord. In the words of Jesus, “would he find any faith?”All he found were unrighteous, self serving covenant breakers. To keep covenant was to love God and their neighbor, but there was no evidence of this. Consequently God said, “I will come near to you for judgment.”(3:5)  But there is a word of hope a promise of rescue: “But to you who revere my name the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in it’s wings.”(4:12)
For us today the sudden coming of which Malachi predicts will happen once again. Once again the question Jesus posed will be valid, “Will he find any faith on the earth?”(Luke 18:8)
We live in a difficult day for Christians. Our testimony to the Truth is being challenged and abnegated with venom. Speaking the name of Jesus in the Public Square will, by some, cause you to be charged with Hate Speech.  We are going to be challenged openly and viciously at every turn. It will come to the point that our very lives will be in danger.Are you and I willing to give our lives for the Lord Jesus?  The “rescuer” says, “Fear not I have overcome the world.” I wonder if this is why Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
~Pastor Jack Matheis

Shaking It Off

“This is what the Lord Almighty says:
‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth,
the sea and the dry land.
I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come,
and I will fill this house with glory.’”
          – Haggai 2:6-7
The pop singer Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off” has become quite a hit.  It is a song about how she deals with her critics:
The players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake
But I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off!
That’s not bad advice for God’s people.  There will always be critics; there will always be hatred and injustice; and there is not much we can do about it.  So, shake it off and go on doing what God has called us to do.But God’s response to those who hate him and do injustice in his world is different.  He doesn’t have to just ignore it – shake it off – he promises to make it right!  That’s what he said here in Haggai 2: he will shake things up in his universe; he will shake out everything that opposes him; and the only thing left intact after that judgment will be his glorious kingdom.But this is not just a warning of coming judgment.  This is a description of what God’s promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ — the One ‘desired of all nations’  — will do when he comes.  And we know that when Jesus came, he did not just come to shake-up and judge the world.  He came to save – to forgive, renew, and bring those alienated from God into his kingdom, before he returns to judge.

That’s why we who are in Christ, can endure the injustice, love our enemies, rise above the nastiness of the world – in short, shake it off.  For, he has made us citizens of the kingdom that cannot be shaken.  And, that gives us hope, even in the world’s darkest days.
~Pastor Albert Hitchcock
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