“Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” Eph 5:14

How do you prefer to be woken up? If someone really loves you, they will always do it in a way you need at the moment. It could be a nudge, a soft word or even a kiss. But if sleeping is putting you in danger from a concussion or being caught in a fire, you might get a dose of smelling salts, or a hard shake to revive you from a dangerous slumber! Not pleasant but called for and necessary!
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In one of our Advent texts this week in Matthew 3, Jesus comes on pretty strong! He calls the religious leaders a “pit of snakes” and talks of an “unquenchable fire” unless they “repent.” What’s going on? I thought God loved the world! Did Jesus actually love these Pharisees? Absolutely He did, for He cannot deny Himself nor His word (2 Tim 2:13). But He knew, based on their mindset, that they needed something more than a gentle nudge – they needed a strong “awakening agent” – a sort of “smelling salts.” They were so deep in a toxic stupor that they needed a strong irritant to their status quo of self righteousness in order to trigger an “inhalation reflex” and arouse consciousness!
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Jesus loved the Pharisees but He said that the prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners were going to wake up (“enter the Kingdom”) sooner, faster and easier than the religious leaders! Now that statement itself must have been a bracing splash of ice water on their faces!
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What was it that put them into such a deep intoxicated sleep, a state in which they could neither see nor hear and where Jesus had to use such strong language? At the root of the tree was the mindset of lack. It was the Garden Story all grown up and sophisticated; the characters weren’t fearfully hiding in the bushes but hiding inside religious garb (and garble!) Now as Paul often said to his churches, I assume much greater things than this narrow mindset of you! But, Pharisees aside, we all know we are often susceptible to the subtle temptation of believing in lack, of seeing through the lens of scarcity. And that is in direct opposition to all that God is and is about – He is a God of abundance, completeness, perfection, wholeness…holiness.
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The mindset of lack creates for all of us a spirit of accusation toward everyone, even yourself and ultimately God. It sows seeds of envy and self-focus and all kinds of very bad fruit (James 3:16).
What to do? First believe what the Father believes about you – this is to be the content of your faith! Believe the Good News of His pronouncement of you as “very good” which was simply an echo of the eternal pronouncement of the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, who said “It is finished.” Apparently you were found in Christ before you were ever lost in Adam! So don’t let a lens of lack ruin your day, your relationships, or your life! It is not your identity and it is NOT the reality of the Kingdom of God that is within you!
As you come to tables brimming with unusual abundance this Christmas season, let them remind you to “wake up and believe the good news of His Kingdom” that is right now overflowing with “all the spiritual blessings in Christ” that are all superabundantly YOURS! There are no limits on His love for you or His world and He continually invites us each to “Take, eat and be satisfied” (Isaiah 55).
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This Christmas, let the Lord gently awaken you to the glory of the true message of Christmas: He came in abundance. He is enough for you and you are enough in Him. He is enough for your family…He is enough even for those pharisees in your life! “He is not willing that any should perish but that all should awaken to the Good News”!

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“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!” Luke 2:10

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