Part 1. The miracle of Christmas is more than the birth of a Baby. It marks the collision between Heaven and Earth. When all of Heaven invades the world and humanity with every step, word and deed, the Limitless God opens doors we never believed were there.
Every believer needs a Bible. In many parts of the world we have a free press and the Bible is available in so many formats to so many peoples and nations, so there is little excuse for not having a Bible. Unless you don’t want one. Sometimes people need the right version. Other times people need help understanding how it all ties together. And then there is the stray resource that helps you understand the Bible in a unique way.
I was intrigued by the concept of a “First-Century Study Bible.” We often talk about being “people of the New Testament” or striving to have a “New Testament church”. Yet we forget how far we’re removed from that time and culture. Even those statements are made from the perspective of the world that we live in. Would we really be able to go back and live the message of Scripture as they did?
To help us with such an endeavor, Zondervan partnered with New Testament scholar Kent Dobson to bring us the NIV First-Century Study Bible. Dobson is lived and studied in Israel, learning from both Christian and Jewish perspectives. He has been featured on programs for both the History and Discovery Channels. The result is a Bible filled with information you probably haven’t heard before.
One of those famous cartoons of the 1980’s, G.I. Joe was a paramilitary team of experts and super-geeks that fought the forces of Cobra who, like every villain, wanted to take over the world. But after all of the battles and rescues, just before moving on the next Saturday morning classic, the team had a lesson to teach the moldable minds glued to the television sets: “Knowing is half the battle.”
A boy played with a kite too close to the power lines. Girls were baking cookies and almost reached into the oven without any oven mitts on. Kids were running around in the dark near a busy freeway. One of the Joe’s would step in and help them out, and the children would respond with with, “Now we know.” But knowing isn’t everything.
Jesus said the World would know which people were HIs followers because of their love for one another. The Apostle Paul called love the greatest of the threesome that would endure beyond time. Scripture declares, “God is love.” Love is truly a vital element of our life in Christ.
We talk so much about how we are to love God. Even in our church I recently preached on God’s desire that we should love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, and also to love Him above all else. Another common thread is the importance of loving one another.
But I would dare to say that there is a love that is almost completely ignored, and certainly isn’t spoken about. Once a year we get close but never make the full leap. It is one of the reasons churches continue to struggle on for years, watching pastors and people leave in regular rhythm. Adding this love just might save our churches.