What would you say is the most significant, the most important decision you have ever made in your life? Pretty tough question huh? For me and many others it was the day I said yes to Jesus and began to live my life for Him. I think about following Christ and the fact that He lived, died and rose…man that is huge. The resurrection is HUGE! It was a game changer. A game changer is a term we hear in sports where something happens to change the direction of the game. It shifts momentum to the other side and the opposing team just can’t adjust for the new game play. The resurrection changes EVERYTHING!
For one thing it gives us the confident hope of life after death. Not only are there eyewitness accounts of Jesus death and burial but also eleven of Jesus disciples SAW Him, SPOKE with Him, TOUCHED Him and even ATE with Him after His resurrection and even under the pain of death stuck to their story that “He is risen” but over 500 people over 40 days saw Him as well…Huge!
For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died – 1 Thess. 4:14
Many religions promise life after death only one founder came back from the dead. That is why Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die”.
The resurrection gives us a chance at a New Start; a New Life. Change isn’t easy. OK…it’s hard. We want to change yet there is something inside us that enslaves us and pulls us backwards to old habits – this happens to everyone. This is life…until the Resurrection. The scriptures say that we can be free from the old life. (Any man that is in Christ is a New creation, The old is gone the New has come – 2 Cor. 5:17) The bible doesn’t talk about what effect the Resurrection will have on you and me when we die nearly as often that it talks about the effect it has on us right now. Completely changed inside out in an instant…not a little by little change that takes us 50 years. It’s not a gradual change. We are changed all at once and rest of your life you are learning how you are changed and how to live as a changed person.
Lastly, it a relationship not religion. What is it that makes me Christian? Because Jesus lives inside of me. I have a peace and joy that cannot be taken away or robbed from me because Jesus lives in me. I am a citizen of heaven because Jesus lives in me. I have courage why? Because Jesus lives in me.
Christianity is not an Ethics course or Philosophy 101. It is a living relationship with someone who is alive. Christianity is not signing a statement of faith or joining a church; it is a living relationship with Christ and because He is alive He can save anyone. Paul said thin in Romans 10…
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved – Romans 10:9
Lord, I pray that these words may encourage someone and as they read they will find freedom in You as their Savior! Amen.
Go out and stand before me on the mountain” And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper – 1 Kings 19
A mighty wind, an Earthquake and a raging fire – in these ways and more the Lord God revealed Himself – He made Himself known – Elijah’s fire from heaven – a pillar of fire and smoke and the voice of God as the blast of the loudest trumpet. Then thousands of years later even after 400 years of silence…He came. I was inspired after hearing the song “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad to consider how He came to us.
- He came in a way that no one could have ever expected a King to come. He could have come like a mighty storm bursting through the sky, lightening, rain and thunder
- He could have come like a hurricane tearing through the trees, breaking limbs and uprooting.
- He could have come like a forest fire with searing heat and smoke out of control consuming everything in His path.
- He could have could like a tidal wave flooding and defying the rules that say to waves “stop here”
- He could have come the way the Kings should come
But that is not how He came at all is it? He came like silent snow fall. No parades. No cheering crowds. But instead of coming with a lot of noise and the display of human excitement brought, He quietly brought Joy to the world. Joy is described in the Holy Scriptures like that of a war cry, a shout SHOWING gladness and rejoicing that overtakes our heart and that joy benefits us through encouragement of hope.
There is a joy that is caused by an occasion. A special moment – A wedding – A child’s first words – Good News like the birth of a child. This joy is caused not only by an occasion but also by a person. This person would be responsible for that joy; the One bringing the good news and it causes GREAT excitement! He is called Jesus! In the book of Luke 2 we read a very familiar passage that says…
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”
Did you catch that? Not just joy but “Great” joy; the word great is “Mega” joy and this joy is to All” people. Jesus knows what we need…better than anyone. He wants you to not only receive Him and experience the joy, peace and hope that he brings but but to hand over the reigns of your life and let him be Lord. And as Lord of our life we can true sing…
Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
Cuba, Vietnam, Granada, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea – these are places in my life time that our country has either been at war with or at least been the threat of war. I am sure there are others that I did not mention but I think that you get the idea.
There is a lack of peace in the world however, that extends beyond the military battlefield. That battlefield is in the home and the work place and even the church where there is unrest and strife and worries and these things rip the peace out of our lives and cause terrible unrest.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world – John 16:33
Peace means much more than the absence of war. Peace paints a picture of harmony and completeness. It is a promise of peace; to make whole and restore. To have Peace or “Shalom” is to have a fulfilled life in every way. It is a state of safety where your life is put at ease by the Lord Jesus Christ – the One that we celebrate at Christmas. The One bringing this peace has the power to carry His plan of peace out.
With “Shalom” peace there is no fear; no worry, but instead a sense of harmony and oneness. Everything is exactly the way it should be. Things are in their proper order. This is “Shalom” – this is the peace that Jesus brings – Our Prince of Peace.
Jesus didn’t come so that we could give gifts on the 25th of Dec. He didn’t come that we could sing “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is coming to Town”. He came to give us peace with God and He came to give us peace within ourselves. How about you? Have you ever said yes to Him? He stands at the ready offering His peace and wants to be a part of your life. Say YES to Him today. It’s the greatest gift you could ever receive.
Father, help us to discover the peace that came to the world, born in a feeding trough, lived a sinless life and offered Himself as a sacrifice for all the world. WHAT A GIFT! May we receive that gift as we repent and believe. Thank you.
In Jesus Name…Amen
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”– Luke 1:30-33
If you searched your heart, where would you find hope? What it is that you have based your hope? Job security, finances, significant other, stuff? I will go out on a limb and say that these things will at least at some point lead to disappointment, discouragement and desperation.
Our hope is found in the fact that God has keeps His promises. Hope began in the Garden of Eden where satan is told that from the seed of the woman would come a savior, Emmanuel and that Savior would destroy all of the doubt, sadness, pain and suffering and ultimately satan himself once and for all.
His name is Jesus!
He will do battle with Satan and even though the enemy would strike a seemingly fatal blow against Jesus, he will not defeat him. Jesus will crush Satan and his power. Jesus will destroy the pain of death and sin giving us hope as we wait confidently for His return.
Is there hope in this world? Yes! Hope was born to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Do you want hope? Do you need hope…real hope? Confident expectation? Do what the shepherds did so long ago. Make “haste” and bow before the King. Are you willing to humble yourself and bow in faith before the Lord Jesus Christ?
Some people think about Jesus each year at Christmastime. They are deeply touched by the season, the songs and the spirit, they promise to know him personally. Then Dec. 26th rolls around and the moment passes. Life’s pressure drag us away from the birth of Jesus, even His life, death and resurrection. Make the personal commitment that Jesus Christ will be your Lord and Savior. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? May God give you grace to make room in the Inn of your heart.
Lord, help us to put aside the pressures of gifting and receive Your sacrificial gift of love. Thank you God for loving me enough to leave Your heavenly throne and relentlessly pursue me. I surrender all to You. In Jesus Name…Amen.
On Christmas we celebrate the love, generosity and mystery of God. In the movie “The Polar Express” we meet a young boy filled with doubt, questions and flat tire faith concerning Christmas. While he lay in bed something miraculous happens. A train stops right in front of his house. He can’t believe his eyes. Even after talking to the conductor he still doesn’t believe that it is real much less that its destination in the North Pole.
Even still he somehow gets the courage to get on the train. See faith, even a little bit, a small amount is great and powerful. He finds the strength and courage to get on board. God, throughout the bible asked people to “Get on Board” and have faith,
- God called His people (Noah and Family) to get on the ark, to get on board to be saved. “When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.”Gen. 7:5-16. Noah “Got on Board.”
- Abraham “Got on Board” with God Being willing to sacrifice his son for God. Gen. 22
- Jesus “Got on Board” with God’s plan. Praying in the garden in Matt. 26:39 and Mark 14:36 Jesus cried out Abba Father, All things are possible for you, get me out of this! Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.
- Jesus “Got on Board” with God’s plan. When Peter slashed off the servants ear Jesus said, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11
These people and more got on board. But the train didn’t stop there. They received a wonderful gift from God – Life!
- Noah received life for he and his family. They were blessed by God, received the promise (a rainbow) and they populated the earth and Noah lived over 900 years.
- Abraham received life and he became the great nation of Israel and his descendants were greater than the number of stars in the heavens.
- And Jesus – Jesus life was taken…no…it was given that WE might have life eternal.
Now gifts are funny things. We receive gifts, sometimes we give gifts but we all expect gifts for Christmas. We go from Hot Wheels and baby dolls to bigger and better and more expensive stuff.
Other times we get things we don’t want (Socks and underwear) and can’t wait to exchange them. We don’t want that stuff. Even though someone took the time and spent their hard-earned money, we don’t want it.
We do that with God. We are willing many times to trade God. He has something good for us and what we KNOW it is the best gift and we trade it in for what is evil. Look at this passage from Romans –
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen – Romans 1:24-25
People exchange truth for what is convenient and comfortable; the truth of God tossed aside and consciously choosing something that is evil…sin.
In the book of Titus we read…
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” – Titus 2:11-14
We need to get on board with God’s plan. In the movie The Polar Express” the conductor calls out to each potential passenger, “All aboard”. I believe that the Lord is calling out to people right now the same thing, “All aboard” The question is, Do you have the courage and faith to “Get on Board“? Come on! Hop on board and see where the Lord take you.
Lord, I pray that we would find the courage and strength in You to step up to the train and get on board. Help us not to doubt or loose the wonder of faith as we look to you for the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Amen.
This is something that I wrote Tuesday morning and stuck to my bathroom mirror. It is the first place that I stand in the morning and will be a reminder of who I belong to.
These feet, these hands, this heart, these lungs, this mouth, these eyes and ears – are Yours Oh Lord. By Your strength….
…I will love truly
…I will walk in faith
…I will breathe as one with You
…I will speak boldly the Truth
…I will keep my eyes and ears pure
…I will fix my heart and mind on You
Thank You Lord for using these hands to build Your Kingdom. May You receive honor and glory for these.