Tag Archive | “Good News of Great Joy” by John Piper

“Life and Death at Christmas” John Piper

Because I know not everyone’s Christmas is full of happiness, this third week of Advent I want to share something written by John Piper. There can be joy because of the hope found in knowing Jesus Christ.

3rd week of Advent
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it
abundantly.” —John 10:10
As I was about to begin this devotional, I received word that Marion Newstrum had just died. She and her husband Elmer have been part of Bethlehem longer than most of our members have been alive. Marion was 87. They had been married 64 years.
When I spoke to Elmer and told him I wanted him to be strong in the Lord and not give up on life, he said, “He has been a true friend.” I pray that all Christians will be able to say at the end of life, “Christ has been a true friend.”
Each Advent I mark the anniversary of my mother’s death. She was cut off in her 56th year in a bus accident in Israel. It was December 16, 1974. Those events are incredibly real to me even today. If I allow myself, I can easily come to tears—for example, thinking that my sons never knew her. We buried her the day after Christmas. What a precious Christmas it was!
Many of you will feel your loss this Christmas more pointedly than before. Don’t block it out. Let it come. Feel it. What is love for, if not to intensify our affections— both in life and death? But, O, do not be bitter. It is tragically self-destructive to be bitter.
Jesus came at Christmas that we might have eternal life. “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Elmer and Marion had discussed where they would spend their final years. Elmer said, “Marion and I agreed that our final home would be with the Lord.”
Do you feel restless for home? I have family coming home for the holidays. It feels good. I think the bottom line reason for why it feels good is that they and I are destined in the depths of our being for an ultimate Homecoming. All other homecomings are foretastes. And foretastes are good. Unless they become substitutes. O, don’t let all the sweet things of this season become substitutes of the final great, all-satisfying Sweetness. Let every loss and every delight send your hearts a-homing
after heaven. Christmas. What is it but this: I came that they might have life. Marion Newstrum, Ruth Piper, and you and I— that we might have Life, now and forever.
Make your Now the richer and deeper this Christmas by drinking at the fountain of Forever. It is so near.

What Does Jesus Want for Christmas?

20 days old baby sleeping in a christmas nativity crib

Jesus wants us to adore Him. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

For months now my pastor has been preaching about love-Christ’s love. Every week we pray the “Love Chapter” as a congregation; and every week I see new ways that I fall short of loving the way that Jesus loves.

My life verse and greatest desire is “to know Christ” Philippians 3:8. Out of that comes my desire that others know Jesus. That doesn’t make me special or unique. All Christians are called to lead people to Jesus. I have learned that this makes me unpopular. I get “un-friended”. I get called “holier than thou”. People also say things about me like: “you think you are perfect”, or ask me “is that the way a Christian should act/talk/think?”

This past week I have done a lot of self-evaluating. I have asked myself many times if I am forgiving enough, loving enough, merciful enough. The answer is always an emphatic, “no”. I can not out-love or out-forgive God. What I can do is look to Jesus as my example of how to love, how to forgive, how to show mercy. All while recognizing that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.

I also have to recognize that we are all sinners in  need of a Savior. It is my greatest need, and the greatest need of all of mankind. It bears repeating we all are sinners in need of a Savior. That statement does not make me less loving, less forgiving, less Christ-like. It is truth.

John Piper in his Advent devotional, “Good News of Great Joy” asks the question, “What Does Jesus Want for Christmas?” The  answer, he says, is in John 17:26

“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”

Dr. Piper goes on to say: “What Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for—seeing and savoring His glory.”

What is Jesus’ glory? His Father.  God’s name is holy, capitol “H” Holy. His Holiness is beyond our reach outside of salvation through Jesus. What is the glory of those who are called according to His Name? Our Father. We are to desire and to work toward attaining His Holiness.

I want everyone I know that does not know God to know Him through Jesus Christ. I want all those who know Jesus and are called after His name, Christians, to know Him better and to walk closer to Him.

That is love to me, capitol “L” Love.