Today's Word for Pastors...
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Today's Preaching Insight...
When he launched Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Rob Bell began by preaching through the book of Leviticus -- not the obvious choice for most church planters! In an article for the PreachingToday newsletter, he explains: "First, I didn't want the church to succeed because we put together the right resources. I wanted the church to flourish on the power of the Spirit alone. I knew opening with Leviticus -- foreign words to today's culture -- was risky. But the bigger the risk, the more need for the Spirit and the more glory for God to get.
"Second, unchurched people often perceive the Bible as obsolete. If that crowd could discover God speaking to them through Old Testament law, it would radically change their perception that Christianity is archaic. I wanted people to know that the whole biblical story -- even Leviticus -- is alive.
"The Scriptures are a true story, rooted in historical events and actual people. But many people don't see the connection between the Moses part and the Jesus part. But Moses' Leviticus is all about Jesus. The whole story. Every message in my series ended with Jesus. Every picture is about Jesus. Every detail of every sacrifice ultimately reflects some detail of Jesus' life.
"This teaching hit home. Many of my listeners wanted to make sense of the Bible, yet they knew only fragments of the story. Leviticus taught us all to ask the difficult questions: How does this connect with entire biblical narrative? How does this event point to the cross? How do I fit into the story?
"We discovered that the Bible is an organic whole: these concepts do connect, these images do make sense. For the first time, many in our congregation began to realize, 'This story is my story. These people are my people. This God is my God.'" (Click here to read the full article.)
In northern Europe, a walk through a winter's forest is a bleak affair—white, stark, cold, lifeless except for occasional boughs of green holly bearing bright red berries. In Medieval times, these boughs were brought inside to brighten the interior of the small houses. As Christianity spread, people noticed that the thorny points of the holly leaves could symbolize our Lord's crown of thorns. The red berries, His blood. The green color, the new life He gives. Even the word "holly" resembles the word "holy."
How interesting that all nature points to Him who created the earth and died for the world. Romans 1:20 says, "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made."
As you see the blue skies today or the falling snow or the green boughs of holly in homes, stores, and offices, remember: The baby in the manger is the Maker of the universe, and the Christ child we worship is the creator of the cosmos.
(Turning Point Daily Devotionals, 12-20-08)
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