December 23, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Handel’s Messiah Hallelujah Chorus)

Submitted by Susan I. of Gracepoint Minneapolis

Revelation 11:15

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,

and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Right now, the kingdoms of the world are under the spell of Satan and his lies, with sin and sorrow infesting the ground. However, Christ’s reign has already started in history, through his followers, and one day, that reign will be complete. What implications does this have on your role as a disciple of Jesus?

The fact that Christ’s reign has already started in history, through his followers, and one day, his reign will be complete has implications on my role as a disciple of Jesus that Jesus reign in me, and to help bring about Jesus’ reign in this world. Being Jesus’ disciple isn’t a one-time decision, or a static state, but it is Lordship every moment, over every value, every thought and every decision. Jesus has rescued me from the infestation of sin and sorrow in my life, but I need to keep confessing my sin, keep turning away from my old ways, and keep surrendering my life to God. I also need to be an agent of God’s love, bringing God’s kingdom with this good news of salvation and forgiveness and helping to usher others into God’s kingdom. As Christ reigns in me, as Christ reigns in our church here in Minnesota, we can represent God to the U, to the Twin Cities, and we can share God’s love and invite others to follow God.

Reflect on what the passages below tell about who Jesus is, this one who came into the world as a baby in a manger who now, and will forevermore, reign over all. Write a response after each passage.

Colossians 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

This passage shows me that Jesus is supreme. The definitions for supreme are 1) above all others in power, authority, rank, status or skill; 2) of the greatest or most admirable kind; 3) greater than any that have gone before, or the greatest possible; and 4) in the highest degree or of the most unmitigated kind. This passage from Colossians describes Jesus as supreme over all creation, over the church, in his identity as the Son of God. I don’t always think of this picture of Jesus as supreme in his power and authority. I often think of Jesus as the good shepherd, as the mediator, or as my Savior. But meditating on this passage during Christmas reminds me how great is God’s love as I see how great was his descent to come to earth as a baby, in order “reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” It was God Himself who came and died for me. V. 16 says that all things were created by him – “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities…” But Jesus limited himself for those he created. I am amazed and humbled that Jesus limiting himself is this huge, this grand.

Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is the true king and ruler of the universe, of all mankind, and of myself. There is no better government or rule. In history, in our lives, and in our own hearts we see the ravaging effects of sin and pride, of greed and selfishness. History is full of terrible things we have done throughout the generations. My own life story is a tale of regret and shame because of my sin, infliction of pain on others because of my selfishness. I tried to rule my own life and thought I would find freedom and independence but I found myself enslaved to sin and my desires instead.

Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor who showed me and taught me the truth, who opened my eyes to the true state of my heart, and he gently led me to Him. He helped me to understand who I am, and who God is. He helped me to understand truths from the Bible that I had known for years, but didn’t come to personally understand until my college years.

Jesus is Mighty God – God Himself came and died for me to rescue me from my sins. Jesus is Mighty God and was able to defeat sin and death with his death and sacrifice on the Cross.

Jesus is my Everlasting Father. Growing up, I thought God was an angry policeman, or a disappointed authority figure. But in my junior year, I came to a point of helplessness and hopelessness about my sin, and through that point of desperation, I heard the message of the gospel clearly – that God wants a relationship with me and is grieved by my sin and is my heavenly Father, waiting for me to repent and return home. Since that time in my junior year, I have discovered more and more that Jesus is my Everlasting Father – his love is unconditional and isn’t determined by my behavior, my abilities, or my progress. I have sinned and fallen hard, I have gone through some dark periods of wandering away from God, but have found again and again that God’s love is real, that God’s heart is for me to be right with him. God is always ready to forgive me, to cleanse me and to receive me.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace bringing true peace into our hearts and in our relationship with God. Without Jesus, I had no peace because I couldn’t reconcile the image I tried to portray vs. the reality of what was inside my heart and thoughts and imagination. I had no peace because of my guilt, because of the ways I had wronged people, because of the ways I had grown calloused to sin, because of all my regrets about myself and my life. But Jesus brought me true peace by allowing me to be reconciled to God. I don’t carry the stain and weight and burden of sin anymore because I have been forgiven. I am not separated from God anymore because Jesus took my punishment and died the death I deserved.

John 1:1–4; 14; 18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

….

18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Jesus is God but “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus came to bring life and light to us, to bring God’s grace and truth, and to make God known to us. This is God’s heart – to come and be with us, to make himself known to us. God is not a distant God or an impersonal God. Though he is the creator of all things, the source of life and truth, God came near. It is because of God’s initiative that we are able to see him, know him and be restored in our relationship with Him. I have experienced this as God gave me his word and put people in my life to tell me about him. For most of my life, I wasn’t seeking, I wasn’t looking for God, but God kept coming near, and waited for me to turn to Him.

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus involves me in his mission. He came down, he came near, he showed me God’s love and gave me new life. But it doesn’t end there. As I have been saved, as I have experienced God coming near, Jesus sends me out to share this good news with others. I am to make God known to the people in the world through God’s Word and through my testimony. This is God’s heart – for all men to know him and to be saved, and as a redeemed child of God, this needs to be my heart, my mission as well.

PRAYER

Write out a prayer of praise for who Jesus is, and expressing personal worship and fealty to the rightful Lord of the universe, and pleading to extend his rule over his rightful domain.

Dear Jesus, God and Creator and Ruler of the Universe, I praise you as my Lord and my King. I praise you for your dominion and authority over all of creation. I acknowledge that all things have been created by you and for you – all things on earth, all people, and every area of my life. You are my rightful owner – You created me, You know me inside and out, and You know all my thoughts. And even though I have sinned, even though I still fall, You extend Your love and forgiveness to me as my everlasting Father. Thank you for being a good, merciful, and righteous King. Please have rule and reign over me. I need Your guidance and counsel in rebuilding the broken areas of my life, heart and conscience. Please bring Your order and light into my life. And please help me to see the world as you see it – as your creation that has been lost, ruined, broken by sin. I want to see the world with your eyes and to share in your heart – to go and to do whatever it takes to show people that you are the Mighty God and their Everlasting Father. I ask that you use me, that you use our church here in Minneapolis to extend your reign here at the U. I ask that you use all of our churches to extend your reign one person at a time, one campus at time. Thank you for involving me and sharing your heart with me. I commit to submitting to your reign and to being a minister of this good news. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Submitted by Andrew I. of Gracepoint Minneapolis

Revelation 11:15

Right now, the kingdoms of the world are under the spell of Satan and his lies, with sin and sorrow infesting the ground. However, Christ’s reign has already started in history, through his followers, and one day, that reign will be complete. What implications does this have on your role as a disciple of Jesus?

As a follower of Christ, I would want to see Christ’s reign extend in this world and to desire to do whatever it takes to make this happen. When I think about the joy that is captured in “The Hallelujah Chorus,” it is only possible if I see “the kingdom of the world” becoming “the kingdom of our Lord” as the best thing that could happen. And I will see it that way if I allow myself to be affected by the condition of this world, to see how victimized people are by Satan and his lies and the problem of sin in this world. I need to let my heart be broken by the condition of myself and people in this world. Christ came into this world to save mankind from their sins and his kingdom coming will push back the forces of Satan and free people from his clutches. As I talk and meet different students on campus, so many of them are caught up in the lie that academic or career success is the meaning and point of their lives. I want Christ’s kingdom to come to free people like this from Satan’s lies.

And as I look at my own issues and struggles with sin, I want to see Christ reign come so that I can be free from my own sinfulness. I see in so many different ways that I am not the person that I want to be and how no matter how hard I try, I still fall back to old sinful habits and character traits. I see myself still selfish with my time and money when I should be generous with it. I am mean and careless with my words towards people. And I still find myself seeking man’s applause and being proud, when I should be humble and seeking only God’s approval. When I see myself like this, I want Christ’s kingdom to come and I can’t wait for it to happen. And as a follower of Christ, I not only should want Christ’s kingdom to come, I should also be willing to go and help it move forward. I am learning more and more about what that means each day here on the church plant. I used to think that this meant doing activities, getting things done for church, and inviting people to come find out. And while of course it does involve that, a lot of it just has to do with living a life of self-denial and love. Christ’s love gets expressed as I go out and love others and I can only love others if I stop loving myself. There are times when I feel tired and don’t want to meet with someone, but God calls me to deny myself and to go meet this student. Other times I feel insecure and afraid about bringing up a tough or uncomfortable subject with someone because I am afraid of his reaction, but God calls me to deny myself and to speak up. And it’s only because of my desire to see God’s kingdom reign that I take up my cross and deny myself. I’ve personally experienced the freedom and joy that comes from receiving the Gospel and I continue to commit to whatever it takes to bring the gospel to others as well.

Reflect on what the passages below tell about who Jesus is, this one who came into the world as a baby in a manger who now, and will forevermore, reign over all. Write a response after each passage.

Colossians 1:15-20

God reconciled himself to us through the shedding of Christ’s blood upon the cross. If I think about this fact, it’s pretty amazing because of who Christ it. He is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” It was through him that all things were created. Not only that, but he was “before all things, and in him all things hold together.” He is the very origin of all things and it is through him that Creation is made possible. He is also the “head of the body, the church.” He has supreme authority over all of us. And ultimately God’s fullness dwelt on Jesus. It almost seems too much that this person of Jesus who is described in this way would die for me a wretched sinner. Why would the Creator and Ruler of all things be willing to die on a cross for me? It is because of love. Christ died, setting aside the rights of his identity, in order that I might be reconciled to God. This is truly amazing and I can only bow my head in humble gratitude. There’s nothing I could do that would appropriately match this action. Any words I say and deeds I do in attempt to “payback” what God did would dishonor what Christ did. I can only go and follow this example of humble sacrifice by being willing to go out and love those around me in the same way.

Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is my “Wonderful Counselor” who guides me in times of trouble and helps restore me to my proper place. He is someone I can turn to when I need help, either because I don’t know what to do or because I am unable to do anything about it. I am no longer alone in this world, nor do I need to deal with my problems on my own. Jesus is right there and willing to be there and help me. So often, I deny myself this role of Jesus in my life because I am proud and independent. I want to do things or figure out things on my own. I’ve done this so many times and instead of meeting with success, I felt overwhelmed an unable to do anything and it is only then that I turn to Jesus for counsel. I get myself into unnecessary trouble or hardship because of this. This is foolish. Christ is my “Wonderful Counselor” and so I can turn to him in times of need and guidance.

Jesus is “Mighty God.” Jesus has the strength, power, and resources that come with being the Creator of the Universe. There is nothing that he cannot do. And so while things may be impossible with man, all things are possible with God! This should be the foundation of my prayer life. Things may look bleak or hopeless, but God’s might and power is made available to me in prayer and so I should access it! I shouldn’t let the limitations of this world have the final say in what is possible. God can do anything and so I should have that kind of faith when I pray with sin issues I am struggling with, needs in other people’s lives, salvation of people around me, needs of our church, etc.

Jesus is my “Everlasting Father.” This identity defines my relationship with Him. He is my Heavenly Father and nothing I can do will ever change that. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or any less. He loves me as a father would love a son, unconditionally. And so I don’t need to keep trying to prove myself worthy of his love. I don’t need to keep trying and do things to make him love me more. And at the same time, I should always trust that he loves me regardless of the wrong that I’ve done. So often the shame and guilt of a sin that I commit makes me want to hide and keep it to myself. But God doesn’t want to let sin interfere in my relationship with Him. He wants me to confess it so that He can forgive me. And so I can trust that God loves me because He is my “Everlasting Father.”

Jesus is my “Prince of Peace.” He is the source of true peace in my life. There is nothing else in this world that can bring me true peace because nothing else can fully deal with the problem of sin in my life. Sin is the ultimate disrupter of peace because of the problem of death. Because of sin, death happens and the reality of death robs me of any chance of peace in this world. But thankfully, God sent His son to die on the cross to deal with the problem of sin and give me life. That is why He is my “Prince of Peace” and so I am eternally grateful to Him.

John 1:1–4; 14; 18

Jesus is God revealed. God makes himself known through the person of Jesus. The one who was “in the beginning” and through whom “all things were made” became “flesh and made his dwelling among us” through Christ. God made this great descent into flesh in order that I may get to know Him personally. He took this step of humility in order that I may get to know Him and want to have a relationship with him. He did not remain up high and distant in the heavens. No, he came down to us. This is an amazing act of love, for which I am eternally grateful.

Matthew 28:18–20

Jesus, as the Son of God who died and reconciled me, is now the one I ought to follow. He is the one that I ought to go obey and imitate for this is the only appropriate response to what he has done for me. He died and saved me from my sins and there is no way that I can pay him back for what he has done and I am eternally indebted to him. But one thing I can do in response to the cross, is to “go and make disciples of all nations.” I can respond to the love that I’ve received from God by going out and loving those around me and sharing the Gospel message. This is what I am trying to do here in Minnesota. I want people to know what I’ve found and so I try to live that life of love that Jesus demonstrates.

Prayer

Write out a prayer of praise for who Jesus is, and expressing personal worship and fealty to the rightful Lord of the universe, and pleading to extend his rule over his rightful domain.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to die for my sins and allowing me to be reconciled to you. I was lost in my own sin and bound for death, yet you reached out to me and saved me through Christ. It was only through Christ that my salvation is possible. And it is through him that I have a Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. And even though Christ was with you in the beginning and it is through Him that all things are made, you made him descend to become flesh, to be bound in the form of a human baby so that you could make yourself known to me. Thank you for revealing yourself through Christ and taking this step of love.

You are not only my Savior, but you are also my Lord. The only appropriate response that I can have towards the cross is to offer you my life and to be willing to do whatever you ask of me. I know the kind of life that I lived when I was in control and I don’t want that kind of life anymore. I want you to be in charge and I will follow you wherever you go. I pray that you may give me your heart for this world so that I can response to this dying and sinful world as you did, living a life of self-denial and love.

As I look at this world, I see so many people ravaged and broken by sin, ensnared by the lies of Satan. Their only hope is in the Gospel message and I pray for their salvation. I see so many people chasing after empty dreams, basing their identities on false truths, and destroying themselves. You need to become their Lord and Savior and I pray that your kingdom can reign forever and ever, and that people properly put You as King of their lives. Amen.

Submitted by Caroline V. of Gracepoint Minneapolis

Revelation 11:15

Right now, the kingdoms of the world are under the spell of Satan and his lies, with sin and sorrow infesting the ground. However, Christ’s reign has already started in history, through his followers, and one day, that reign will be complete. What implications does this have on your role as a disciple of Jesus?

As a disciple of Jesus, I have hope in the victory that Christ has already won for us on the Cross. Yet, I have to daily remind myself that Satan is out there to take God’s people away from Him. Satan will do anything to discourage, crush, defeat, and even kill us so that we don’t come close to God. I can see this battle raging on as I minister to people here. University professors are telling our students that there is no God, dorm life is often laden with various temptations, the media is full of messages that tell us to indulge in the flesh and that our value as a person comes from how we look and what we have. I find that Satan is actively at work trying to diminish the good work that God has been doing in their hearts as they strive to live out their faith or seek after God. It’s very hard to see people drifting away from God and/or getting distracted, especially when I know that they had better days when their hearts were more open to God. But I am reminded through this Chorus, that God is the victorious One who reigns over all of eternity. Therefore, even though it might seem like such a difficult battle, I can cling onto the hope of God’s sovereignty and omnipotence in every situation, and keep loving and persevering with the people that God has placed in my life.

Also, the fact that this “kingdom of the world” has now become the “kingdom of the Lord” means that whatever that I think is mine or whatever investment I have on this earth should rightfully be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He has ultimate authority over my life as He is the King of Kings. Every area of my life belongs to Him as I am His disciple. It wouldn’t make sense to be holding back or hiding parts of my life if I’m declaring that I am His follower.

Reflect on what the passages below tell about who Jesus is, this one who came into the world as a baby in a manger who now, and will forevermore, reign over all. Write a response after each passage.

Colossians 1:15-20

If I want to know God, all I need to do is look upon Jesus because he bears the exact image of God Himself. I am in awe when I think about God’s “divine limitation.” He squeezed all of who He is into the figure of Jesus Christ–first as a tiny baby, and ultimately as a man crucified on the cross–so that we can experience this reconciliation between God and us and find peace from our sins. And God did not do this begrudgingly. He was very pleased to do so. At the same time, I’m sure that He is grieved over my sinfulness because it hurts my relationship with Him. But, if anything, God wants me to be reconciled with Him, and He joyfully does so through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9:6

“Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace.” All of these titles are juxtaposed against the Nativity scene where Jesus came in such humble conditions (born in a stable to a peasant family, outside of home, under the threat of King Herod). You would think that these characteristics would be attached to a person born into a noble family with enough political power to control entire nations. Yet, God expressed Himself and came to earth in such a form so that He can be that Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace to us.

John 1:1–4; 14; 18

I’m always amazed by the kind of close relationship God wanted with us as I read these verses. “The Word” was there before time began and hovered over all of creation as it says in Genesis 1 (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”). Jesus didn’t just start existing when he was born in Bethlehem. He existed and was with God before time began. And this very God who hovered over the universe decided to create this earth for us humans so that He could express His love. But God did not leave things at that. He expressed Himself through Scripture and ultimately ended up coming all the way down onto this earth to literally live amongst us in this sinful and degraded world. This earth and my heart especially is no place for such a Holy God. I see in these verses a constant “diminishing.” God goes lower and lower, becomes lowlier and lowlier until he reaches a point where He places Himself into a filthy manger amongst sinful men. The fact that He made Himself visible as a human being describes the extent to which He wanted to relate with us at OUR level. Towards such a God, I give all the praise, glory, and thanks!

Matthew 28:18–20

The Great Commission starts with Jesus’ sovereignty over everything “in heaven and on earth” (as in Genesis) until “the very end of the age” ( as in Revelations). Even though there is so much sin in the world, Jesus proclaims that he has everything under his control, and assures us of his presence in our lives until the very end of the age. This brings a lot of comfort to me, especially as I strive to live out the Great Commission. As I try to bring this Gospel message to people around me, I bump up against variants of hardened hearts: resilience, hostility, distractions, apathy, suspicion. In the midst of all this, it’s hard not to become disappointed or discouraged, especially when all that I say to such people doesn’t seem to make any difference. I’m encouraged by these verses of God’s faithfulness through Christ in the promise that surely He will be with us. God has not abandoned us nor did He abandon His mission on this earth to make more disciples of His, but is in full control of everything until the day He comes back again. Jesus is our Emmanuel, and he will be with us to guide me, give me strength and courage as I try to lead people into His Kingdom and make disciples.

PRAYER

Write out a prayer of praise for who Jesus is, and expressing personal worship and fealty to the rightful Lord of the universe, and pleading to extend his rule over his rightful domain

Heavenly Father, I praise You as You are my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I thank You for the sacrifice You made to come down to us in the figure of Jesus, to stoop down so low as to become one of us even when You didn’t have to. Only You, Almighty God, can close the gap between us that I had made with my own sins. You could’ve left me in my sins, yet You chose to move towards me with Your grace and truth. You came to bring me peace when I was wrapped up in my own misery and restlessness. I am pleased to be able to serve under such a humble, righteous, noble, and gentle King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who desires to free me from the bondage of my sins. You didn’t have to, but You did out of the outpouring of Your heart. I thank You and praise You for the work You have been doing in me as well as in the students You have brought into my life. I pray, God, that You will continue to be with us, and that I will yield my life and all that I have under Your Lordship as I know that You are the Creator God and have ultimate authority over all of the earth. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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