Blaze of Glory

The recent shooting that killed seventeen people at a South Florida high school has left many families looking for comfort and most of the country looking for answers. Why would anyone do something like this? The greatest needs of every person are to be known and to be loved. When we chase after glory, we’re really chasing after these things. When we hurt others, it’s often because we’re feel we’re neither known nor loved. We seek acceptance and approval from other people, but we ultimately want to be known and accepted by our Creator. No matter how hard we work, we will never be able to earn this acceptance. The good news? We have already been accepted by God in Christ. We are no longer outsiders or outcasts, and we’ll never be rejected by Him. This means we are known and accepted. This means we belong.

Scripture References: John 17:1-19; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 5:44; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 1:27; Matthew 11:28-29

Overcome

Jesus summarized the purpose of the long talk (Upper Room Discourse) He had with His disciples: to bring them peace and the settled assurance of over-comers. This word of peace is especially meaningful set in the context of conflict – tribulation and overcome both speak of battles to fight. He promises a peace which co-exists with tribulation and disturbances, a peace which is realized in and through conflict and struggle.

Scripture References: John 16:16-33; John 14:27, Ephesians 2:13, Philippians 4:6-7, Ephesians 2:4-5, Proverbs 3:4-5, 1 John 4:4, 1 John 5:4-5

Help Wanted

Imagine being with Jesus in person for three years - hearing Him teach, seeing Him heal, watching Him perform miracles. Now imagine He tells you He is going away, AND that it’s better for you that He’s gone. Huh? How are we supposed to do this on our own? Maybe this is a question you’ve felt or wondered at some point in your Christian journey. Fortunately, we are never alone. Jesus sent us His Spirit to lead us in truth and to empower us for the mission He gave us: to make disciples who live and love like Him. Are you still trying to do it on your own? Do you want to be a part of His great work in this world? Ask the Helper for help today!

Scripture References: John 16:4-15; Genesis 1:1-2; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:37-38; Romans 8:9; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:4, 8

Be the Difference

We all want to make a difference in the world. We can’t do this, however, without being different. Jesus promised His followers peace, purpose and power. He also promised them problems and persecution. Why? Because we no longer belong to the sinful, self-seeking system of the World, and the World hates us for it. The problem for many Christians today isn’t that we suffer for standing out; it’s that we suffer for being obnoxious, or that we don’t suffer at all. Often, there is little contrast between our lives and the lives of unbelievers. To make a difference, we must live and love differently. Let’s be the difference!

Scripture References: John 15:18-16:4; 1 Peter 4:12-14; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:21-23

Vine

Jesus uses an illustration of a vine to describe our relationship with Him.  He is the Vine, the life giving source to us the branches. We see in this illustration, that a healthy branch produces fruit but in order for that to happen it must stay connected and abide in the vine.  The result of abiding will produce real joy.  Are you connected and experiencing real joy?

Scripture References: John 15:1-17; Philippians 4:4; John 14:15; James 1:22; Luke 6:46-49

Proof of Love

Every Christian claims to love Christ. But are words enough to prove that our love for Him is genuine?  According to Jesus, if we love Him we will obey what He has commanded. If we want to know how deeply we love Him, we can examine how eagerly we obey Him. In particular, are we keeping the “new commandment” He left with us, to love one another as He loved us.

Unfortunately, our sinful nature keeps us from obeying and loving. Fortunately, His Spirit is our Helper and enables us to live and love like Jesus lived and loved. He brings us to a place where we obey Him from Love, not from Fear. He gives us peace in knowing we are secure in His love for us. Do you love Jesus? Love one another!

When Good Things End

All good things come to an end. The beginning of the new year is often a clear reminder of this fact. The preparation is finished and the celebration is done. Life gets back to normal…to plain, old, boring normal. This is why so many can struggle with depression after the new year. There’s a sense of emptiness and loneliness that we just can’t shake. How do we deal with the end of good things? How do we move forward when doing so means leaving a situation or season that we never wanted to leave? By remembering that the best is still in front of us, that we’ve never “arrived” here on earth. We’re always moving forward, always changing, always growing – until that day when we are in God’s perfect Presence forever. Until that day comes, we must continue to work the works of Jesus in this world. When good things end, the greatest things are still ahead!

Scripture References: John 14:1-14; John 17:3; Revelation 21:3-4; Philippians 3:12-14; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Isaiah 43:19

Present

Christmas isn't always what it's cracked up to be. In fact, there are years where the entire season is one big letdown. Often, it's because we struggle with the same things experienced by the characters in the first Nativity. Like Caesar, we try to control everything in our lives. We must realize that the weight of the world rests on God's all-powerful shoulders, not our own. Like Mary and Joseph, we might feel like our lives are insignificant, like we don't really matter. But God sees us. He has a plan and purpose for us. Like the innkeeper, we must choose whether or not we will let the Savior in. Christmas isn't special because of how we celebrate, but because of WHO we celebrate. Jesus is Emmanuel - "God with us." He is Present.

Scripture References: Luke 2:1-7; Micah 5:2; Acts 17:28; Matthew 11:28-29; 1 John 4:9-10; Revelation 3:20

 

Heaven Sent

God sent an Angel to the Shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus Christ and giving them directions on where He could be found.  Why were the shepherds chosen by God?  They were lowly, unknown and obscure.  Yet, the angel of the Lord appeared to them and they responded in simple faith came to worship the babe, and went on their way telling the good news.

Yet this is more than a heartwarming account of what took place nearly 2000 years ago.  It is an example for each of us today.  Do we look at the birth of Christ as some tradition that is trotted out every December, or do we sincerely accept the message and true purpose for Christ's coming to earth.

The shepherd's lives were changed forever on that night.  And unless the Christmas story changes our lives too we have missed its real meaning and purpose.

After visiting the newly born Messiah these Shepherds were then sent by to share what they had seen and heard. As these early Shepherds were sent to share the message of the savior, we too are sent by God to go and share the gospel message to all. 

Scripture References: Luke 1:8-21; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27; John 17:18; John 20:21; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8