Thursday, December 1, 2016
Can you imagine with me what it must have been like on an ordinary night in a field where shepherds were keeping watch? I imagine that they were settling in for a simple night of very little excitement except the sound of bleating sheep and the rustling of the wind. Then suddenly their sensory vision was overwhelmed with an explosion in the sky above! I have learned that our God always knows how to make a grand entrance. He will never be outdone by Hollywood, fictional writers or even the extravagance of earthly kings. No way! God was about to give the first altar call! He was putting forth an invitation to welcome the King of the world onto the stage. A King that would be born in the humble surroundings of animals, sewage, the harsh elements of nature and a world in need of redemption! Is this not the way God always does it? He always brings greatness from the foundation of humility. I believe that it is in the hibernation of holiness that produces real fruit, not on the stage of presentation, but in the cave where God does a lasting work! This little King would let out a cry from His tiny lungs that would cause creation to sit up and say, “HE HAS ARRIVED!” As the shepherds stood watch suddenly the angel of the Lord would declare, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on Earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:10-14)
Finally, mankind would be rescued from the grip and lies of Satan! This awakening in the night would lead them to a Lamb that would be led to the slaughter. This awakening in their hearts would lead to salvation that would later be purchased on a cross. Humanity would now know that God so loved the world that He gave His SON! Old Testament prophecy would finally be fulfilled! The Prophet Micah had told us it would happen in a tiny town called Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)! The Prophet Isaiah had told us that a virgin would give birth and we would call him Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14)! God had used 23,145 verses that comprise the 39 books in the Old Testament that would lead to the crescendo of angels giving the first altar call! It was the ultimate “O’ Come, all ye Faithful” moment that would lead to me being able to experience my “On bended knee I come!” transformation. Friends, dare we believe that Christmas is only about Santa, the elves, wrapped presents and hot cocoa! No! Christmas is about the beginning of all that we hold dear! It was the beginning of the tearing of the veil that kept us from relationship with God! Favor could now rest on the meek and lowly! Our restoration now lay in a shanty, a lean-too, a feeding trough so that we could now be temples of the Holy Ghost! Hallelujah to the Lamb! As you can see this first altar call was not an interruption of a “well-produced” one hour and ten-minute service that would not scare off the seeker, but rather a place where the seeker could find hope, restoration and freedom. This first altar call would alter all of humanity! There were not naysayers, scoffers, mockers or religious zealots invited so that they could use their “hipster” theology to explain away the divinity! No just humble and dirty men whom were awakened by messengers of light!
This encounter should awaken us all to the fact that no matter how many times we have fallen away, been wounded or left without hope God gave us a way to salvation! As the angels allowed their worship to spill over into Earth’s atmosphere that glorious night….
This opening of the sky would lead to the renting of a veil (Matthew 27:51).
This child wrapped in swaddling clothes (candle wick) would someday lead to a savior naked before mankind (Matthew 27:28-30) whom would set the world ablaze. The cry of a baby lamb would someday lead to roar of a mighty lion (Luke 23:24). This innocent little gift from heaven would become my doorway to God (Hebrews 10:20)! The Saints of Heaven were now robbed of glory so that you and I could now experience Him in our neighborhoods!
We must use this season to boldly approach the throne! Do not allow man or minions to keep you from the place the shepherds once beheld. The altar is open! Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The church must rebuild the altar! Have we now come to a place where doughnuts and coffee are more important than what the lowly shepherds were commanded to do? This is why I believe that leaders whom render the altar encounter a loss cause are in direct correlation with today’s churches that desire to have community over communion. We must desire to see God once again! Together we can restore the altar so that all of humanity can hear, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
My friends, we believe that this Christmas is the year where your family, friends and community can be saved! We stand with you! Now more than ever we must turn our trees into altars and our homes into sanctuaries. Dads, Moms, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles we implore you - do not let this season go to waste. Give your family the gift of eternal salvation (1 John 5:13)!