Peace, Love, & Joy | A Big God for Little People | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 5 of 27 | December 4, 2019

God wields an empire to bless His children” – John Piper (pg. 8)

For Joseph and Mary, to travel while in labour must have caused great inconvenience. But little did they know, beyond this inconvenience – YHWH was moving the entire socio-political system to bring Christ to His people. And YHWH did, exactly what he prophesied through the Prophet Micah – Christ was born in Bethlehem. (Mic 5) Isn’t that interesting, that Caesar Augustus, the authority of that time would be used (without his knowledge) by God, to glorify Him, and bless these unknown commoners that Joseph and Mary were.

Piper writes, “Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political and economic and social movements and of outstanding people with lots of power and prestige? If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy. For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people”. (pg. 8) But why? We find the answer in the Apostle Paul’s writings “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30, ESV) Isn’t that amazing? My heart screams both Hallelujah and Amen when I read this. Indeed, therefore, I find what Piper writes next as incredibly encouraging. He says, “He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (pg. 8)

It is true. Life is troublesome. And there are a lot of inconveniences that it throws our way. And it is also true that our natural faculty limits both our sight and our mind, to see only the trouble and nothing beyond it. But let us take heed to Paul’s advice, let us walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7). And let us learn to put our trust in this: “(that the) God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Cor 1:9, BSB) Therefore, “… be content … for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So, we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6, ESV)

Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy

Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope

Peace, Love, & Joy | The Confidence of Redeeming Hope | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 4 of 27 | December 3, 2019

For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done.” – John Piper (pg. 5)

The confidence of redeeming hope, is a beautiful wellspring of eternal courage. This is a unique brand of courage that only the faithful possess, after drinking from the fountain of life (Jn 4:14). Zechariah much like everyone else showed evidence of a disbelieving heart, upon the visitation of the angel Gabriel. (Lk 1:20) But only when he had witnessed the full proof divine work in his life, words of thanksgiving and prophesy flowed from his mouth. (Lk 1:68-71)

There is an interesting thing about Zechariah’s speech that Piper has pointed out. He notes, “filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming of the Messiah that he puts it in the past tense.” (pg. 5)

This is the nature of divine hope – that the believer believes that it has already been granted, even before it has been done. And how apt it is, that the Apostle Paul further clarifies this: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Cor 1:20, NLT) This is a hope that is not peculiar to Zachariah alone. This is a hope that is evident in everyone, whose lives God has touched. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1, ESV)

The birth of Christ, our Messiah, was a confidence building – hope securing visitation for the Patriarchs of our faith. If we profess to believe, yet are unable to live the reality of this hope in the past tense, how unfortunate that would be. Perhaps, it is unfortunate. Let us pray, and seek this divine visitation personally in our lives. For Christ has open the door for us to plead for such mercy. Let us not weary another day. Let us seek and ask, to receive this life affirming hope in us. “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24, ESV)

Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy

Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God

Peace, Love, & Joy | Mary’s Magnificent God | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 3 of 27 | December 2, 2019

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” Luke 1:46-48 (ESV)

One of the many temptations while reading the Christmas story is the desire to glorify Mary to the status of a saint. But we should avoid that, because it isn’t true. We learn that, upon the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary’s response was that of fear. And, fear upon heavenly visitation, (if we map through the scriptures) is the quintessential characteristics of a fallen-sinful human being. This characteristic is evidently seen in the Garden of Eden. The way Adam and Eve respond to God before and after falling in sin is marked by (a) ‘being willfully obedient to Him’ to (b) ‘hiding away from Him in fear’. (Gen 3:8, 10) In addition to her fearful response, we also learn that she doubted the heavenly message. And so, the angel instructs her to go see her relative Elizabeth; to make it clear in her head that with God ‘everything is possible’. (Lk 1:36-38) And it was so, only then, when she sees her barren relative bearing (herself) a child of promise, she began to believe. But the ultimate transformation of her unbelieving heart only occurred when she heard herself being referred as blessed by Elizabeth. (Lk 39-45) After which, we witness her glorious song of praise, now famously known to as The Magnificat. (Lk 1: 46-55) The point I am trying to make here is that: Mary was just another sinful human being like you and me, who was made blessed by the grace of God. The highlight of Mary’s life isn’t how saint-like Mary is – but how magnificent our God is.

I want to make here, a couple of notes on Mary’s response; which I find are important indicators of the change God works in our lives. But before that, I want to briefly discuss the meaning of the word humble here.

The word humble is derived from a Greek word tapeínōsis. It is a feminine noun. In its literal sense, it means feeling/made depressed. But it is here used in its metaphorical sense, meaning spiritual abasement. In other words, the word humble here means – leading one to perceive and lament his moral littleness and guilt.[1] So, when Mary says, the Lord has looked on my humble estate, she is saying, the Lord has had mercy over my iniquities – my sinful life. See, this humility is completely different from the non-biblical understanding of the word, wherein, being humble is seen as ‘consciously being modest’ to gain favour. People often think humility is a moral exercise. But that isn’t so – that is arrogance, thinking you’re wise enough to compel God to bless you, on account of your moral strength.

Now, coming back to the matter. The two points I wanted to make were:

  1. Mary knew of her humble estate. Reprobates aren’t aware of their depraved condition. (Rom 1:22, Pro 26:12) Being aware of one’s sinful state, and the need to be saved comes only with divine revelation. Mary demonstrated that.
  2. Mary accepted her humble estate. She wasn’t just aware of her inadequacies. She demonstrated her need of a saviour by accepting her failing condition.

When we look at Mary’s life, we see how miraculously God has preserved her life, for the glory of God and fulfillment of His divine plan. From being arranged to marry a man whose genealogy traces back to Abraham, to being the woman who fulfills the prophesy YHWH made to Eve, and finally, being called blessed throughout the generations. Indeed, her life is a remarkable one, just because the Creator of Heaven and Earth chose to look into her humble estate. Let us pray and hope, that just as Mary found divine favour, may YHWH find us favourable as well, when He looks down on us this Christmas.


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way

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