At Last, The King (the Gray Havens)

“To the serpent low, said the King upon His throne:
‘You’ve deceived and lied.
My child has gone into exile.
But I will go,
I will make a way home…’

In the dark,
in the shadows,
Light has come.
In the quiet,
in the dead of night,
Glory, glory sang the angels in the highest –
At last, the king
is born to us to overcome exile.
Born to us a virgin’s son, this child
born to give His life for us…
Good news, good news, so glorious.”

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.-Isaiah 9:2

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.-from John 1 

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Why He Came

My seven year old loves to be in charge when he’s playing with his younger brother and sister. Usually, he names himself as Pirate Captain/General/Master Ninja/Top Spy/Sheriff/King, etc. In other words: the Boss.  It’s interesting to eavesdrop and hear how he uses that power. Sometimes it’s to ‘train’ the others, if he happens to decide they’re on his team for this round. He’ll let them become his assistants, his workers, his back-up team to take down the bad guys.

But pretty often, he just likes to ‘lock’ them up in jail.

Having power and authority (even just over your own two siblings) can go to a person’s head. I think we can all look over history and see proof of this. Something in human nature just gets greedy when given influence over others…and, pretty often, power becomes all about selfish gain. Doesn’t our world tell us to go for whatever we want? Aren’t we supposed to get the most stuff, the best stuff, the most followers, the biggest fan-base?

It’s fascinating to know that the most powerful King of all flipped all of that upside down.

Jesus, King of Heaven and Earth, had started His ministry. He had a handful of close followers (nobody too special) and His authority had been established. God Himself had declared that this man was His Son. Demons were terrified in His presence.

With all of this, I’m sure that those who knew Him best waited for a great proclamation of power. Maybe they expected Him to gather those followers and train them into generals. Perhaps they woke up every day, hoping that this was the day He’d announce His Kingship and demolish the Roman empire.

But instead?

From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. ~Matthew 4:23-24

He led no revolt because His Kingdom, one without end, did not depend upon the state of the Romans. The Kingdom of God did not require toppled governments, but transformed hearts. His timeline was eternal, and He knew that those who were admitted into His country would one day see Him declare His authority and glory over a new heaven and a new earth. But that time had not yet come. He was not there to free them from foreign rule.

He was there to free them from sin. Not many understood at the time, but His death on the cross was the greatest victory of all time–there, His power redeemed us.  

With His power, He delivered their hearts from captivity. He did not do this to bring honor to Himself, but to His Father. With His power, He healed their hearts, their minds, and their bodies. He did not spend His days with those who would benefit Him, but with those He could benefit.

The King who could’ve ruled the world with ease did not make a move towards a throne.

Instead, He stood at the doors of scarred hearts and waited to be let in…so that He could fill that heart with hope, peace, and love.

He’s still standing there now.

Will you let Him into your life?

Whatever your pain, your sin, or your sorrow — He came to heal. He came to forgive. He came to restore.  He came to love.

And He came to do all of that for you.

When He Speaks

 I woke up this morning from an anxious, fear-filled dream. I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t get my mind to let go of it. Throughout the entire morning – while I made breakfast, double-checked back-packs, found matching socks – my brain kept creating spin-offs of this dream. What-if scenarios that made me queasy with worry wouldn’t stop filling my head.  I tried telling my brain to be quiet. I tried thinking of other things. I scanned radio stations for an upbeat song as I drove the kids to school, trying to snap out of my dread. But I could not come to a place of rest.

Back at home, I sat down at the kitchen table with my coffee and a book. I thought that if I could hear someone else’s voice for a bit, maybe then my thoughts would stop running around in circles. And this is what I read: “If we allow our mind simply to listen, we perhaps begin to hear our heart speak – faintly, beneath the clatter. It says, “I am so weary, so lost. I have no energy to redeem myself. How I long for rest.” Our mind hears these words and realizes it is of no use to ask God to give us energy to make our way back up the cliff over which we have fallen. We need the Good Shepherd to come and get us. If we allow our heart to give our mind the words to pray, we say, “Jesus, help me…give me the water of life.”

It was then that I sat the book down, pushed my coffee away, and was still. And, finally, I spoke the name of Jesus. 

Immediately, it was like a weight lifted off of me and I could breathe again. The negativity crowding my mind was replaced with peace. 

Calling on Jesus should’ve been my first reaction.

You and I need to call on Him the moment we feel fear and stress.  Those emotions can bind us up in knots and would, if allowed, motivate our entire day. If satan had his way, we’d be paralyzed by dread and frozen in our helplessness. We cannot face his warfare on our own. We can’t rescue ourselves. We need Jesus. Every day. In every circumstance. It is by Him alone that we even exist — and His strength alone equips us to fight these battles that are not against flesh and blood.

When we call on Him, we don’t have to fear this battle. You better believe that demonic spirits know exactly who Jesus Christ is…and they know that He is all-powerful and all-victorious.

Check out this instance from Jesus’ early public ministry from the first chapter of Mark:

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

    “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”

The King of all was present in that synagogue and evil was forced to flee. Jesus is the authority over heaven and earth — and when He speaks in His authority and power into our lives, the schemes of our enemy are destroyed. The storms are calmed. Death turns to life.

If our God us for us, who can be against us?

Our Savior is our protection and refuge. He saves me, daily, from my fear. From carrying the weight of my problems.  From facing life in my own (puny) strength.  I cannot climb the cliffs myself. Neither can you. So our Good Shepherd waits, in all of His might and glory, for us to call on Him so that He can lovingly carry us out of our suffering and into His joy.

Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Don’t wait for another person to solve your problems. Call on Jesus. He is the Answer.