What are you worth?

In his book “Like Christ” Andrew Murray writes:

“Thou art as much worth as the price He paid for thee, that is, the blood of His son; He therefore attaches the highest value to the least thing that concerns thee, and will guide thee even in what is most insignificant. He longs more for close and constant intercourse with thee than thou canst conceive.” – Andrew Murray

As I read this I thought about building cardboard arm-blasters, paper airplanes, play dough lizards, lego build sessions, and doing many other things with my boys. Or dancing and being silly with my daughter and playing with her little tea set while she giggles. These activities are beyond my maturity level as a grown man. But I don’t care about any of them, except for what they do to bring closeness with my children. What joy it is to spend time with them doing… whatever!

Once while I was out walking the dog, I felt God telling me he was present even in my dumb hobbies or on walks with the dog if I would let Him be there. Often we live in a way that excludes God from our lives as though He only cares about the things we do for Him or the “holy things” that we think give us value to Him. This reading from Murray was a great reminder of the nearness of God and the incredible reality of friendship with Jesus.

It is convicting to me that God places such a high value on you and I, loving us and caring for us even in our sinfulness. And yet how selfish am I so much of the time that I am only interested in doing what I want to? Sometimes my kids act in this way too. One day I told my son it was time to come in for dinner, and after a few minutes I noticed he did not come inside. When I went out, he was gone and so was his bike! I yelled his name as loud as I could down the street. A few minutes later he came riding down the sidewalk. He had rode off with his friends to some neighbors house. He forgot the value of our home and its protection, of a warm meal waiting for him with loving family that values him in return.

God has great things in store for those whom He loved enough to redeem with the precious blood of His own Son. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV) That does not always mean everything will go your way. Remember, Jesus, His most precious son, was sent to the cross. But no matter the trial, God is in it with you, He has not forgotten you, and you are a valued child.

“Jesus, thank you for valuing me so much to pay with Your own blood. I am not just a wretch that is begrudgingly forgiven. I am worth every ounce of Your blood shed for me… because You said so! Friend, I am so sorry that I am so often selfish in our time together. Teach me to yield more and more of what concerns me to that which concerns You! Amen.” – Tom Hartung 

Advent Day 25: God with us

Friday, December 25th

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”
(which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

God is with us indeed! This passage comes just after we see Joseph struggling with the
idea of his wife having been with another man. Think about that! There was no precedent for such a thing… aside from an old prophesy in the writings of Isaiah… who has heard of a virgin conceiving without what would have been the ultimate betrayal to Joseph in his betrothal to Mary.

So here we see an angel come to comfort and reassure Joseph, explaining that Mary was indeed being used by God to give birth to Immanuel, the Son of God, God with us. God… With… Us… and with the coming of the Holy Spirit and the covering of Jesus blood, that is indeed what every person that believes in the name of Jesus has been given! We celebrate Christmas today because God is with us. We rejoice in the fact that God’s plans to redeem are being fulfilled through Christ. How frightened Mary and Joseph must have been! Yet, in just 33 years, Jesus would be dying on the cross, rising from the grave, and conquering death. Sin would no longer have power over each and every one of us. The beginning of the end for sin starts here with the birth of Christ. It is time to celebrate!

Author Ian Jeffries and Thomas Hartung

Advent Day 24: Imagine

Thursday, December 24th

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire
Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

The Baby Who Turned The World Upside Down | Taylor S. Brown

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)

Grab your family or find a cozy spot with just you and Jesus to read through Luke 2:1-20. If you have heard this story dozens of times, pause a moment, and read it with fresh eyes. Read it like it is your first time experiencing this passage of scripture. Imagine the wonder of this moment! Imagine being Joseph, Mary, or one of the shepherds. Imagine yourself there in that place… witnessing what had been foretold in prophesy for hundreds of years… the coming of God incarnate… the messiah… the perfect Lamb! Wonderful… Counselor… everlasting father… prince of peace… all wrapped up in those swaddling cloths and resting in a manger in the most humble form of a baby. Consider what a momentous moment in history this is. Stay there for a moment… and remain a moment more… Now as you leave, what is God speaking to you? How is this gift impacting you? How can you share that with those around you?

Author Ian Jeffries And Tom Hartung

Advent Day 23: His Name…

Wednesday, December 23 rd

1 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Last year, Westside went through these powerful names that are given to Christ. If you
were not with us last year (or if you don’t remember what these names were) we want to
encourage you to go back on our website and check out these powerful messages. From this
passage we know that Christ is a:

-Wonderful Counselor: Christ is with us. Being fully human, He knows what we go through on
this earth. Go to Him in your struggles and hurts.

-Mighty God: Though fully human, Christ was still fully God! Spend this Christmas in awe at
who He truly is and the power He has over the Earth.

-Everlasting Father: This also shows the power that Christ has. He is everlasting. Just as
important as dying on the cross, Jesus rose from the grave! He is with us to the end of time.

-Prince of Peace: Through Christ, there will be no more pain, no more sin, no more suffering.
Revelation tells us that when Christ comes again, there will be a renewing of the Earth, and all of His followers will be with Him. Let this comfort you and give you peace.

Advent Day 22: Saved

Tuesday, December 22nd

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. – Matthew 1:21 (NIV)

We have been saved from our sins! What a powerful phrase, yet so hard for each of us to
understand sometimes. We live in a world where you can be held accountable for any little
wrong. We hold grudges against our closest friends and family members. Yet Jesus, the most
perfect person to walk this Earth, has saved us. God no longer holds us accountable to our sins as long as we have faith in Christ Jesus. Through Him, we are saved!

Author Ian Jeffries