Thursday, January 30, 2014

Greater Is He That Is In You

Life of Christ 13

          The life of Christ, when you look at it in depth, is by turns convicting, comforting, motivating, heartbreaking, frustrating, and enlightening, and sometimes all of that happens in just one story. So it is, to me, with the visit of the Magi recorded in Matthew 2. There are so many precious truths conveyed here, and I want to give you just one more before we move on to the next story.
          What Herod the Great launched at the baby Jesus in Bethlehem was nothing less than a satanic attack, a salvo in the spiritual war that began in Eden and will culminate at the Great White Throne. As I said the other day, the fact that there is a spiritual war should drive our caution. The fact that there are innocent casualties should drive our compassion. But the fact that, as God's people, we have protection from that spiritual attack should drive our boldness and our gratitude.
          Jesus, at the tender age of two, was completely defenseless against a tyrant like Herod, and Joseph and Mary weren't in much better shape. Yet they were not left alone to face the music for their Heavenly Father had prepared for them an escape (I Corinthians 10.13). Illustrations of the providential watch care of El Shaddai, the Almighty God, are found from one end of the Scripture to another, and this is one of the sweetest.
          A couple of years ago I was walking between our church building here in the inner city of Chicago and our parking lot. They are separated by a block and a half, and I make the trek often. As I passed one of the houses in between a man came out who can only be described charitably as exceedingly strange. He was shorter than me, thinner, covered in tattoos, and completely shaved bald except for two spikes of hair stylized as horns on either side of his head. I am not a charismatic prone to seeing demons behind every corner, but as he looked in my eyes and I looked in his, I must admit a feeling of evil came over me such as I have never experienced in my life. All day long his image stayed with me, and not only did I see him in my mind, but I continued to see him in the neighborhood over the succeeding months. My family and I live right next door to our church, and although I had already often prayed for the Lord to protect them I must admit I became a bit more fervent in that prayer during this period.
          One day, months later, in my car this time, I saw him yet again. He seemed to stare straight at me through the window of my car, and our eyes held briefly. At that moment the Lord spoke a word of comfort to my heart that I have never forgotten, namely this: 'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world' (I John 4.4). What a comfort it was to me to know from that moment on that I and my family were under the providential watch care of a gracious, omnipotent God!

        This picture was kindly given to me by a church member years ago, and I had it framed. It hangs now in my sons' bedroom. I love to go in and look at it. It speaks to me of the terror and power of the storm, of the solidity of the lighthouse, and of the complete lack of fear in the man who is sheltered by the lighthouse from the storm. I genuinely believe that, when I am in His will, then, like Job, what comes to me must come through Him. There is great peace and comfort in contemplating the tender watch care of a sovereign God.

          Two thousand years ago the devil saw a defenseless baby and ordered up a haymaker punch of a massacre. That punch missed because that child was under the protection of God. Someday that devil will kneel before that baby and listen as that baby sentences that devil to hell for eternity. We are on the winning side no matter how it looks at the moment. Believe that, child of God, and be comforted by it.

            If you would like to listen to the audio sermon that accompanies this blog post you may find it here on our church website. Press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 5, 'Rachel Weeping for Her Children.'

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