From the book “The Master's Indwelling” By Andrew Murray
Chapter 9 (in part) DEAD WITH CHRIST (and Risen with Christ)
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ... (words in italics added)
We often ask earnestly: How can I be free from the self life? The answer is, “Get another life.” We often speak about the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us, but I doubt if we fully realize that the Holy Spirit is a heavenly life come to expel the selfish, and fleshly, and the earthly life. If we truly want to enjoy fully the rest that there is in Jesus, we can only have it as He comes in, in the power of His death, to slay what is in us of human nature, and to take possession, and to live His own life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Christ died for my sins, He was judged for them as my substitute, only He could do this,
God's Word takes us to the cross of Christ, and it teaches us about that cross, two things. It tells us that Christ died for sin. We understand what that means, that in His atonement He died as I never die, as I never can die, as I never need die; He died for sin and for me.
1 Jo 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his NIV Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (to be judged as our substitute).
Christ also died to the sin nature and wants to conform me to it, to free me from sin’s power,
He also died to sin, and in dying He conquered sin. Now, I cannot die for sin like Christ, but I can and I must die to sin like Christ. Christ died for sin. In that He stands alone. Christ died to sin, and in that I am to have fellowship with Him. I am crucified, I am dead.
Rom 8:3 …God…condemned sin in human nature (judged it and sentenced it to death) by sending his own Son, who came with a nature like man's sinful nature (and then He died to it, on our behalf) to do away with sin. TEV
Phil 3:10 That I may know Him...being conformed to His death (to sin),
2 Tim 2:11 This is a faithful saying: for if we died with Him we shall also live with Him.
Christians are largely ignorant of Christ’s death to sin, therefore sin still reigns over them,
If we want to have the real Christ that God has given us, the real Christ that died to sin for us, in the power of His death and resurrection, we must take our stand here. But many Christians do not understand the 6th chapter of Romans. They do not know that they are dead to sin. They do not know it, and therefore Paul instructs them: Do you not Know that as many of you as are baptized into Christ Jesus, are baptized into His death? How can we who are dead to sin in Christ live any longer in its power? (Rom 6:2-3). We have the death and the life of Christ working within us. But, alas! most Christians do not know this, and therefore do not experience or practice it. They need to be taught that their first need is to understand and to believe what Christ did about the sinfulness of their human nature on Calvary, and what that means to us when we are united to Christ.
A person must begin to say, even before he understands it, “In Christ I am dead to sin.” It is a command: Reckon (believe) yourselves to be dead to sin. (Rom 6:11). Get hold of your union to Christ; believe in the new nature within you, that spiritual life which you have from Christ, a life that has died and been raised again. A person’s acts are always in accordance with his idea of his nature. So I cannot live the life of a true believer unless I am conscious of this new nature every day: “I thank God that I am dead in Christ. Christ died to sin, and I am united with Christ, and Christ lives in me and I am dead to sin.”
The Adam life I inherited is alive to sin, but the Christ life in me is dead to sin – if I know it,
What is the life Christ lives in me? Ask what is the life Adam lives in me? Adam lives in me the death life, a life that has fallen under the power of sin and death, death to God. That Adam life lives in me by human nature as an unconverted man. And Christ, the second Adam, has come to me with a new life, and I now live in His life, the death-life of Christ. As long as I do not know it, I can not act according to it, though it be in me. Praise God, when a person begins to see what it is, and begins in obedience to say, “I will do what God's Word says; I am dead, I reckon myself dead,” he enters upon a new life. On the strength of God's everlasting Word, and your union to Christ, and the great fact of Calvary, reckon, know yourself as dead indeed to sin. A Christian must see this truth.
Rom 6:10 For the death that He (Christ) died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Gal 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh, the godless human nature with its passions and appetites and desires. AMP
Gal 2:20 (I believe God’s word and hence know that) I am crucified with Christ... KJV
Rom 6:7 For he who has died (with Christ to sin) has been freed from sin.
John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free (from sin), you shall be free indeed.
Matt 1:21 ...You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.
By my belief in this truth, and the power of the Holy Spirit I’m kept free from my sin nature,
And that is what the Holy Spirit will teach us and work in us. If I have accepted Christ in faith by the Holy Spirit, and yield myself to Him, Christ every day keeps possession, and reveals the full power of my fellowship in His death and life in my heart. To some this comes undoubtedly in one moment of supreme power and blessing; all at once they see and accept it, and enter in, and there is death to sin as a Divine experience. It is not that the tendency to evil is rooted out. No; but the power of Christ's death keeps us from sin, and destroys the power of sin. As we believe God’s word, the power of Christ's death will be manifested by the Holy Spirit's always putting to death the deeds of our human nature.
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to your human nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body (your old self), you will live.
I get asked if, after this, spiritual growth is still needed. Yes it is. By the Holy Spirit a person can now begin to live and grow, deeper and deeper, into the fellowship of Christ's death. New things are discovered by him in areas of which he never thought. A person can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and yet still have great imperfections in him. Why? Because his heart, perhaps, has not been fully prepared by a complete discovery to him of sin. There may be areas of pride, self-consciousness, impatience, or other qualities of his old nature which he has never noticed. The Holy Spirit does not always cast everything out at once.
Out intellects won’t accept our human nature is riddled with sin and God’s curse is upon it,
Here is one of the reasons why the Church of Christ enters so little into the death of Christ: Christians do not want to believe that the curse of God is upon everything in them that has not died with Christ. People talk about the curse of sin, but they do not understand that the whole of human nature has been infected by sin, and that the curse is on everything. My intellect, has that been defiled by sin? Terribly, and the curse of sin is on it, and therefore my intellect must go down into the death.
Rm 8:6–8 The mind of the flesh is death…because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s Law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh (and it’s intellect) cannot please God.
I believe that the Church of Christ suffers more to-day from trusting in intellect, in human wisdom, in culture, and in mental refinement, than from almost anything else. The Spirit of the world comes in, and men seek by their wisdom, and by their knowledge, to help the Gospel, and they rob it of its crucifixion power. Christ directed Paul to preach the Gospel of the cross, but to do it not with wisdom of man’s words. The curse of sin is on all that is of human nature. If there is a minister who delights in his preaching, who does his very best, who gives his very best in the way of talent and of thought, and who asks, “Must that go down into the grave?” I say, “Yes, my brother, the whole man must be crucified.”
Matt 16:24,25 (Jesus) "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (every day reckon, believe himself dead, crucified with Christ to his sinful human nature, primarily his human wisdom) , and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life (natural life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (their life in Christ).”
It is very hard to give up a thing to the death, and it is hardest of all to give up my life to the death, and I never will until I have learned that everything about that life is stamped by sin. And let it go down into the death as the only way to have it quickened, brought under the life of God, and sanctified, made Holy when given to God as a living sacrifice.
Col 2:11–13 In Him (Jesus) you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh (old man) was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism (in death to the sin nature), in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. NIV
Don’t look for crowds before dying to Self – God is rarely with the crowd but with a remnant,
Do not wait to see what others do; if you wait for that,—alas! I desire to say it in love and tenderness,—you will not find much company in the Church of Christ. Pray incessantly: “Lord Christ, let the power of Your death come into me.” For God's sake, pray the prayer. If you want to live the life of Heaven, there must be death to sin in the power of Jesus. There must be a personal entrusting of the soul into His death to sin, and a personal acceptance of Jesus to do this mighty work.
1 Thes 2:13 …the word of God (Jesus Christ) , which works mightily in you that believe.
Shall we not come into personal contact with Jesus, and shall not each one of us just speak before the world these simple words: “Lord, here is this life; there is much in it still of self, sinfulness, and self-will, but I come to You; I long to enter fully into Your death; I long to know fully that I have been crucified with You; I long to live Your life every day.”
Rom 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with...For he who has died has been freed from sin.
The Devil said to Jesus if you are the Son of God turn the stones to bread (Mat. 4:3). The Bible clearly says Jesus Christ the Son of God is the BREAD OF LIFE (John 6:35). In (John 6:49) Jesus said your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness but I am the true bread, if any man eat of me, he will never hunger. Jesus is also the Chief Corner Stone -Matthew 4:1-4.
At the Passover feast Jesus Christ offered bread as His Body. The devil tempted the Lord with who He already is, JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE.
It is ignorance that leads men to make wrong choices when tempted. Eve's ignorance led her to eat the forbidden fruit. The Devil said to her; if you eat of this fruit you will be like God but it is written in Genesis 1:26: "And now we will make man; they will be like us and resemble us". God made Man in His own image and when He breathed into Man, He did not just breath in oxygen. The Bible states He gave Man dominion (Gen. 1:26 -30), therefore God breathed in His potentials into Man. But the enemy tricked the
woman into doubting her already given potentials. Sometimes the Devil comes in disguise to tempt you with what you already have.
A young lady told me, my husband is cheating on me and I want to leave him, so I asked her does he come home to you every night. She said yes then I said to her so do you want to leave your home for the other woman to come in. It is a trick of the enemy to make you think you have lost what you have. The great God, majestic in all His ways promised in Isaiah 41:10 - "Fear not, for I am your God. I will give you strength. I will uphold you with the right Hand of my justice". It doesn't matter what comes against you, the great King will always protect you.
The devil bides his time until you are vulnerable, Jesus was hungry after fasting for 40 days and nights. It can be assumed that there was a stone right under His feet. So the Devil said; If you are the Son of God command that stone to become bread? But Jesus did not need to turn stone to bread to prove His identity, He choose not to be famous in Satan's eyes but to be obedient to His Father. He choose faithfulness above being famous. Besides the King of Glory is both the ROCK OF AGES AND THE BREAD OF LIFE.
Lord JESUS does not perform a miracle to boast. The Lord is not into appearances and has no pride in Him. The word 'compassion' was always attributed to His personality in various verses in the Bible. He had compassion on the multitude and fed them(Matthew 9:36).
More so, following the character of Jesus, one will ask, in the present day, do all Pastors or Ministers perform miracles to truly heal a person or to show off. Paul's letter to the Galatians, he wrote on the true meaning of Apostleship. Galatians 1:10 - "Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No Indeed! What I want is God's approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ." Your discipleship should not be aimed at showing off but a heart of faithfulness to God.
The temptation to turn stone to bread was also a test of provision, Satan tempted Jesus to use His anointing to provide for Himself but Jesus resisted the temptation when He said MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE BUT BY THE COMMAND OF GOD (Mat 4:4). There is nothing wrong with been hungry but you need to distinguish between a good work and a God work.
A God work is based on God's instructions. Jesus explained this when he said;“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [a]miracles?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:21-23). Brethren in Christ, at the end of time. The Great God will not be mindful of how many cars or houses you possess, but on what you did with what He entrusted to you with. Therefore no matter what you possess or accomplish anything done outside the will for God is sin.
The temptation to turn stone to bread is also a test of character. Since He did not get a permission from God so He remained content till He is granted. Power should not be used to achieve selfish goals. Selfish people turn stones to bread to quench their hunger, so in another word Jesus said; I am hungry but my Father's Word will fill me.
Furthermore, the bible states in Luke 10:38-42; Martha was busy in the kitchen but Mary was sitting on the feet of Jesus and Jesus applaud Mary because man shall not live by bread alone.
I pray; that agent of darkness sent to distract you with worldly pleasures to prevent you from receiving what God has designed for you shall be defeated in Jesus name.
To overcome temptation you MUST learn to be content, be obedient to the Word of God, identify who Christ is in your life and choose faithfulness above being famous.
God is the great revealer, Satan is the great concealer
Man gave control over the world to Satan, at the beginning, through disobedience to God,
God created all angels (disembodied spirit beings) and humans (spirits living in a physical body) with a freewill, the ability to choose, a will that is free to make decisions independent from Him. Satan and a third of the angels were cast out of heaven when they chose to rebel against God. Man transferred his God given dominion over the world to Satan in the Garden of Eden the moment he chose to hear and obey the devil’s words over the words he had heard from God. From that moment Satan became the god or ruler of this world and the source of all the evil that influences the lives of most of the human race. This is why in the temptations of Jesus, Satan could legitimately boast that “The kingdoms of the world …this has been delivered to me” (Luke 4:5-6 - and Jesus didn’t refute Satan’s claim).
1 John 5:19 We know positively that we are of God, and the whole world around us is under the power of the evil one (Satan). AMP
2 Cor 4:4 In whom the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. KJV
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
In the end Jesus takes back the dominion of the world from Satan,
Rev 11:15 “The kingdoms of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” ESV/KJV
Satan, the concealer, does not want us to know if or how he operates in our lives,
Now Satan’s kingdom is a kingdom of darkness, meaning he operates where there is no light or insufficient light from God, who is light, in men’s hearts to expose his activities. God’s word makes plain to those who have light that Satan has an enormous influence in the lives of all the unconverted and sadly in the lives of many of those converted to Christ but who do not currently walk in the light. But all of these who Satan constantly influences for evil are largely unaware that Satan exists let alone is a dominant factor in their lives. Why? Because Satan is the master deceiver, and able to remain anonymous in the lives of those with whom he proceeds to steal and to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). Hence:
Luke 21:8 (Jesus) “Take heed that you not be deceived…”
Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived…
James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
These are multiple warnings, not to the world that is completely deceived, but to us Christians who also have the potential of likewise being deceived by the great deceiver:
Isa 14:12-17 How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer…You who weakened the Nations…Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners.
Rev 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…
Eph 2:2-3 AMP In which at one time you walked habitually. You were following the course and fashion of this world…following the prince of the power of the air. You were obedient to and under the control of the demon spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience…Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh, our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature, obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind…we were then by nature children of God's wrath…like the rest of mankind.
The extent of our ignorance of Satan’s operations shows how successful he’s been with us,
The scripture makes clear that Christians were all once under the influence of Satan as everyone else is without exception and, we like they, did not know that we were. Why? Because this master concealer operates through thoughts that he imparts into our thought lives, that we in our ignorance falsely assume to be our own thoughts. These are what the scripture calls the fiery darts of the enemy, thoughts which only the faith that comes from an active, deepening relationship with God can extinguish or take captive.
2 Cor 2:11 Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (the same greek word translated devices is translated as thought in)
2 Cor 10:5 …Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery(thought) darts of the wicked one.
Satan’s principal weapons are thoughts, and are the major source of all evil in the world! Not just thoughts of overt wickedness, but also more subtle thoughts that have the superficial appearance of rightness about them. But they’re thoughts designed to divert us from a full surrender to Christ and to challenge the authority of God’s words to us, just like he did with Adam and Eve. Satan can’t force his will on us, for we have a will and a conscience, but if we don’t know how to discern his influence he’s bound to have some control in our thought lives, particularly with respect to God. It shouldn’t surprise us therefore to learn that Satan, as the great concealer, can disguise the nature of his thoughts so that they appear to us to be both truth and light:
2 Cor 11:14 …Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! TEV
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (consume with his thoughts).
What are some examples of Satan disguising himself and his thoughts, which he imparts to people, as right and illuminating thoughts? Since there is only one mediator between God and all men, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5) Satan inspires all the other, seemingly right, religions to divert those he can deceive from becoming Christians. Then within the Church he sows the thought seeds of many, seemingly right, Christian teachings. But they are all false teachings that oppose God and keep Christians from being fully saved and eternally secure.
1 Tim 4:1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that…some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. NLT Therefore,
1 Tim 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine (teaching) closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
He is able to get away with these deceptions because all of the false doctrines that contradict God, that he imparts through thoughts, like - “the inevitability of sin”; “God is in control anyway”; “I can’t lose my salvation” – These teachings all have a strong appeal to and give license to our sinful human nature,
Inevitability of sin,
1 Jn 3:8 The one who practices sin is of (belongs to) the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the very start. This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the (sin) works of the devil.
Matt 1:21 …you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin.
Rm 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you… NKJV
God in control,
Matt 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done (because it is being hindered by the kingdom of darkness), on earth as it is in heaven.
Can’t lose my salvation,
Heb 6:4 …bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened, those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come, and who then turn away from God. NLT
As Christians we do not have to be deceived, provided we grow and walk in God’s light,
God has made it possible for every Christian to see through the deceptions of Satan and continue to walk in the light and not be snared by the subtle works of darkness. God’s two principal requirements to do this are: (1) A heart or spirit that remains tender toward God and receives daily the engrafting of more of God’s light giving words, and (2) A willingness to submit to and do God’s will and thereby remain under the leading and control of the Holy Spirit. Only such Christians as continue to hear and obey God’s voice, God speaking through His word and by His Spirit, and don’t listen to Satan’s thoughts or voice.
John 10:4-5 And when He (The Chief Shepherd) brings out His own sheep...the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger (Satan) but will flee from him for they do not know the voice (thoughts) of strangers...
1 John 2:26-27 These things I have written to you (God’s word) concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing (Holy Spirit) which you have received from Him abides in you and…teaches you all things, and is true, and is not a lie…
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God (your spirit clothed with the protective truth of God’s words), that you may be able to stand against the wiles (deceits) of the devil.
In particular Satan imparts thoughts that contradict the true teaching that every believer in Christ needs to be baptized with and remain full of and under the control of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is the only One who can cause the word of God to become truth and light in the hearts of believers and so expose all of Satan’s works of darkness.
Acts 19:2 Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?
Matt 3:11 …He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…
Eph 5:18 …be filled (continually) with Spirit…
Rm 8:14 …as many as are led (under the control of) by the Spirit, these are the children of God.
Satan does not want to be known, but God wants to be known, He is the great revealer,
1 Cor 2:9-14 ….No (natural) mind has conceived the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit…that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God…But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God…nor can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned (revealed by God’s Spirit to a person’s re-born spirit).
Matt 11:25 …Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (to those spiritually born again and willing to grow up in spirit).
Col 1:26-27 The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known…this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Everywhere in scripture our loving and redeeming Father makes indisputably clear His eagerness to reveal Himself to the hearts or spirits, but not to the intellects, of anyone who will allow Him to do so. This of course is the absolute worst thing from Satan’s standpoint and he will do everything possible to conceal this truth. He wants to stop people becoming Christians, and then if they do, to stop them becoming true disciples of Christ. Since they, with Christ actively living in them, will make others of his captives into Christ’s disciples too. Although Jesus Christ defeated Satan at Calvary he still controls the world and most of the Church because of their ignorance of his devices. And what is God doing? He is regaining control one soul at a time, as each soul turns at His correction so that He can make Himself known to their hearts by the Holy Spirit and through His word.
2 Tim 2:24-26 …the servant of the Lord must not strive (quarrel); but be gentle to all men (people), able to teach, patient, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if perhaps God may grant them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. NKJV
Prov 1:23 Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out My Spirit on you; I will make My words known to you (to make you holy as He is holy and to expose the beguiling thoughts of Satan).
Jn 16:33 Jesus, These things I have spoken unto you (the truths in this message!)…In the world you shall have tribulation (trouble, because of the world, our own flesh, and the Devil), but be of good cheer; I have overcome (All your enemies!)… NKJV
Thank you Father for revealing the truth and for making a way for us to be more than conquerors, and to always triumph “in Christ”, Amen!
At 5 PM, on Sunday, December 16th, 2018, the 29th Annual Living Nativity will be held, in the Sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, New York, where I am a member.
Many members of the Congregation will be taking part. Until a few years ago, we held the event outdoors on the front lawn. Some farm animals were brought in, and the high school girls who portrayed Mary, were seated on actual donkeys. Many people from the surrounding communities attended, seated upon bleachers that were rented for the event.
While I attended, I never could fully enjoy the activity. Late December here on Long Island, is just too cold to be outdoors any longer than necessary. A lot of members agreed with me, but the outdoor event continued anyway; until a few years ago, when a storm was predicted for that evening.
Then the event was moved indoors, to the front of the Sanctuary. A life size manger scene had been set up on the front lawn. Several of us men disassembled the construction, and rebuilt it indoors around the pulpit, where the event was held, exactly as it would have been outdoors; but in a warm place, and without the animals. That's how we've been presenting our Living Nativity ever since; and that's how it will be at this year’s Event.
This will be followed by a traditional Christmas Dinner, with all the trimmings, in the Fellowship Hall at 6 PM.
I'm normally one of the people who helps set up the tables and chairs, and then sets the tables.
A few years ago, on the morning before the Living Nativity and Dinner, just before worship began, the woman in charge of the whole event stood at the pulpit, requesting more volunteers to give a hand where it was needed.
She said, "We need more people to help set up the tables and chairs. So far, Bill is the only one who's signed up."
I sat there thinking "What? Me? Hey, wait a minute! I'm the only one?"
Then I thought, "I hope they don't mind eating off the floor."
Fortunately more than enough members showed up, and everything worked out much better than we'd planned; in spite of our best efforts.
That was also on the day when I'd helped move the Manger Scene inside.
After everything was set up, the woman who's director of the Church's Youth Group told me, "Now you can finally enjoy it all."
I said, "'Enjoy’? What is that?" (That was a joke. I'm not being a Grinch.)
The dinner will be prepared by a professional chef, who is also a member of our Congregation, and volunteers his services. He is also an executive chef. He knows how to assign work; so we don't have a lot of people just standing around, not knowing what to do.
The first time I helped set things up, I saw the amount of food being prepared and I thought it might be too much. Then when I saw how many people were in attendance, I wondered if there would be enough.
I originally wrote and posted this part of the article three years ago, on a different writers website, where it received this review:
“It's a pity I don't live in your city, I would attend your Life Nativity. I see you think that you will have more than enough food and some people can take some home. May I suggest donating this food to a homeless shelter, or make more than enough so some of these poor people will have something to eat? Jesus will be very happy and smile at you.”
In reply I stated:
“We do have our own food pantry, that's open to anyone in need. Also, the dinner is always open to the public, and people in need do show up.
Back in 2012, we had a pre Thanksgiving dinner about one week after Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island, and it was a difficult time for all of us. That dinner was actually the first hot meal that some of the people had to eat, since the storm struck.
A Merry Christmas to you.”
Now I return to last year’s Event:
Last year’s Living Nativity was very different for me. A few days before the Event, I got a phone call from a woman named Debbie; the one who was in charge of the Event that year. She told me that a certain member of the Congregation, who was supposed to portray one of the Three Wise Men, would not be able to take part. She’d called to ask if I’d like to take the part.
I told her that I was already planning to help set up for the dinner, which we’d be doing at the same time when the afternoon rehearsal for the show was going on. She told me that this time, members of the cast would arrive early. They’d be the ones setting up the tables and chairs and setting the tables. So that was the end of my excuses. I wouldn’t be able to get out of portraying one of the Wise Men.
When the day came, while we cast members were helping set things up in the Fellowship Hall, I noticed that the two who’d be portraying the other Wise Men, weren’t there.
I told Debbie, “I wonder where those other two Kings of Orient are?”
That very lame joke got a laugh out of her.
Then about an hour before the performance was to begin, the other Two Kings had arrived. We went down to the Choir Room and got into our costumes.
I got into a very long robe, which dragged along the floor. It had a belt around the waist, so I was able to lift up the garment, and draped it over the belt, so the hem came down to ankle length, and I wouldn’t be tripping over it. We also put on “crowns”. What I had on my head was a very uncomfortable circular thing, definitely not crafted by any hat maker.
I was also given some kind of elaborately painted empty jar, which was to be my offering to Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
Then we went upstairs to the Sanctuary, where a manger scene was set up at the pulpit, and surrounded by the fronts of buildings in Bethlehem. Members of the Congregation were dressed in Middle Eastern robes, portraying residents of the town; or shepherds. King Herod was seated upon his Throne, set up alongside the pews, about halfway between the entrance to the Sanctuary and the Manger Scene.
There were also children in white robes portraying angels.
Then the show began, which included recordings of Christmas Music and some live performances. The featured performer sang “Oh Holy Night”. She has a beautiful voice, and had been performing in the Pageant for several years, from her mid to late teens, and now into her twenties.
One of the Kings later complained that she had given up her membership in the Congregation, and now only shows up to sing occasionally. I explained that she is now a married woman with a family of her own, and living an entirely different life in a different community. He shrugged, but still wasn’t satisfied with my answer.
Then, as the final part of the Event, we Three Kings entered. We went to King Herod, asking for directions. Then we went to the stable in Bethlehem, and presented our gifts before the manger with the baby doll Jesus.
There have been times when the baby Jesus was actually portrayed by a new born baby, with his mother walking beside the woman portraying Mary.
Then the show ended, and everyone in the pews applauded, along with us cast members.
After that we went on to the dinner, which was held in the Fellowship Hall of the Christian Education Building, which stands beside the Church Building. That’s when something disturbing occurred.
One member of the Congregation showed up. He was someone who none of us had expect to ever see at the Church again, for a very good reason. The man had been unfaithful to his wife. She had divorced him, and gone to live with their grown daughter in Indiana. That was enough of a scandal for many of us in the Congregation, to be surprised to see him among us once more.
He came over to the table where I was seated with the man who’d portrayed Joseph; and the one who’d portrayed Herod; along with one of the other Wise Men, along with their wives. He sat at the end of the table, and joined in the meal with us.
That was obviously a very uncomfortable situation. What were we going to say? “You don’t belong here”?
The last thing any of us wanted was any unpleasantness. So we all just sat there being uncomfortably pleasant with him; treating him as if nothing bad had happened.
The woman Debbie, who was in charge of the entire Event, came over with a big grin on her face, and spoke with a laughing tone.
“What are you doing with this…” either “despicable” or, “disgraceful” or, “dishonorable” or, “disreputable” or some other word that begins with the letter D. “…guy?”
Then she walked away, and we continued our uncomfortably pleasant dinner.
Now I wonder if our unexpected guest was being repentant, and trying to make amends. If he was, he’d come to the right place at the right time.
The reason Jesus was born into this world, was crucified, dead and buried, then rose again on the third day, is so that we would all receive forgiveness for our sins. The forgiven ones, include the man who showed up, making us uncomfortably pleasant at the dinner; if he was truly repentant. The forgiven sins, include the sins of each of one of us who participated in the Living Nativity, as long as we are repentant, and accept Christ as Savior. Amen.
A Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
If anyone who’s reading this lives on Long Island; I welcome you to this year's annual Living Nativity; at the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn, New York; which is located on the southeast corner of Pulaski Road and Broadway-Greenlawn; in the Village of Greenlawn. The Nativity is scheduled for Sunday, December 10th at 5 PM, followed by the free dinner at 6.
There will be more than enough for you and your family to eat. You might even be able to take some home with you.
I like the Wikipedia definition of temptation which states, temptation is a desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment, that threatens long-term goals. What actually caught my attention in this definition is the word"... that threatens long term goals..." The Devil will come to entice you with something that looks easy but has long term implications. Let me say this; 'No wrong, is little'. In the book of Genesis 3: 1-7 when the snake tempted Eve with the fruit, it was just a bite that cost everything, man lost his place with God. Likewise When Esau was tempted, it was just a pottage (Genesis 25:29) that cost his birthright. Sin always promises more than it gives.
However, temptation itself is not sin but yielding to it is sin. Jesus was tempted (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13), but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Every man is tempted daily but to overcome we need to pray daily. In the Lord's prayer Jesus taught us to pray not to be led into temptation (Luke 11:4). In Mat 4:1 states; " Jesus was led by the. Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil". After a 40 days and night fast. God does not tempt anyone but He may allow it. One of the reasons God allows temptation, is to enable us conquer 'self'. Sometimes the struggle in overcoming temptation subconsciously engages you in self-improvement.
Temptation sometimes comes to check mate you on God's WORD. In Exodus 16: 2-7, the Bible states that the Israelite where tested (NOT TEMPTED) by God with manna and quails on whether they will obey His instructions or not.Though Moses told them to gather for each day and not leave left overs yet some disobeyed. Obedience to God is evidence of faith in Him. I agree there are some temptations that put us in very compromising situations. But what do you do when your love is under threat? Whose voice would you listen to? Will you take the easy way out and compromise because you know God is merciful or will you stand on the Word of God. Always pray not to be led into temptation but whenever you are faced with a temptation ask yourself these two question; 1. What will Jesus do and 2. Do I want to live a life that worships God?
Daily we are faced with different choices but we must not be ignorant of the schemes and devices of the enemy. The truth is, there are no short cuts, to believe in Christ is to live for Him. Am not talking about self -righteousness, but the ability to surrender to His authority.
In this article, the temptation of Jesus will be our guide to overcoming temptations because Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The Lord was not only tempted by the devil at the wilderness, He was undoubtedly tempted at other times (Luke 4:13; Matthew 16:21–23; Luke 22:42), and yet in all this, His goal was to obey His Father. The book of Luke 22 shows Jesus as the righteous Son of God at the outset of His public ministry and teaches us to follow Him in obedience to the Father.
Jesus did not only overcame temptation, He conquered self. The cross of Calvary was not the only place He displayed His love, He also did at the wilderness. The true test of love is what you do when your love is under threat. His unconditional love for the Father was unshaken. If you do not come from a place of love, lust will always eat up your resources.