Tag Archives: Savior

True Hope

Amid the tumult we’ve seen over the past week or so, the rush of the holiday season has begun. As protesters in Ferguson burned businesses, looted stores and blocked traffic, and as many Americans exchanged accusations of racism and bigotry, television advertising was amuck with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” commercialism. Thanksgiving seemed all but forgotten amidst the rush of news, misinformation and retail advertising as many American consumers looked ahead to Christmas even before the sun rose Thanksgiving morning. As I ponder the current state of our nation and the frenzied rush to feed our lust for material things, I’m tempted to despair. But as that temptation begins to overtake me, I am moved to seek God’s Word.

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, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6-7

God’s Word reminds me that my hope is not grounded in humanity. My hope lies in Someone far greater than any human being or any human institution. That Someone, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, came to Earth to live, die, and be resurrected to save us from the very sin that is increasingly enveloping our society day by day. This passage from the prophet Isaiah is just one of many Old Testament prophecies concerning God’s promise to send His Savior into the World. That promise, given by God to men and women of all races, was fulfilled some 2,000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus.

Let us pray for our society. Let us pray for Michael Brown’s family and for Officer Wilson. Let us pray for awakening and revival. Let us pray for reconciliation. And as we do so, let us focus our minds and our hearts on Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise, the Baby of Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrate in just a few short weeks. For true hope rests in Him and Him alone.

‘Tis the Season! ~ John 1:24-34

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer_9462

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer_9462 (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

Christmas. What’s it all about, anyway? Is it stockings and toys? Is it stress over lack of money and time to buy and do all the things we want during the holiday season? Is it a beautifully decorated tree and lights on the house? Is it a man in a red suit that magically descends the chimney, leaves an abundance of gifts, and then magically ascends again? (When I was a boy we had no chimney; I always wondered how Santa was able to get into our house)! In the American tradition, Christmas is all of these things. Sadly, for many, this is the extent of the Christmas holiday.

The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29

Interior, St John the Baptist Church - geograp...

Interior, St John the Baptist Church – geograph.org.uk – 1096768 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indeed, Christmas is much bigger than the secular traditions of the holiday. Christmas is about Love. It’s about a Love so big that our human minds cannot fully grasp it. God in His Word reveals this Love. Here, in this passage of Scripture, John the Baptist tells us why this Love came to earth. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). We need help; we need redemption. That redemption comes only through the Child of Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.

I’m no Scrooge; I enjoy my decorated home (my wife is quite talented), giving and receiving gifts, and gathering with family and friends. But those things pale next to the birth of my Savior. As a wise person once said, “Jesus is the Reason for the season.”

May your Christmas season be filled with love and joy!

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus to save me from my sins. As I enjoy the holiday season, let me always remember and celebrate, first and foremost, the Holy Birth that is the centerpiece of Christmas. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Boldly Standing on Faith ~ Acts 24:1-26:32

But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” ~ Acts 26:22-23

These three chapters cover a span of just over two years, during which Paul was imprisoned in Caesaria. Governor Felix held him for two years because he didn’t know what to do with Paul, and he was hoping Paul would offer a bribe in exchange for his freedom. Felix was replaced by Festus, who promptly summoned the Jewish leaders to Caesaria to present their charges against Paul. After hearing the charges and Paul’s defense, Festus realizes that there is no merit to the charges, but wanting to appease the Jews he asks Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there. Paul, probably knowing he would never survive the trip, appeals to Caesar.

Festus recognizes that the charges against Paul have no merit, yet because of Paul’s Roman citizenship he must honor Paul’s request. King Agrippa pays a visit to Festus, so Festus discusses Paul’s case with the king. The king summons Paul, who presents his case and the Gospel. Festus and Agrippa agree that Paul has done nothing to deserve imprisonment or death. They would have released him then and there, but since Paul has appealed to Caesar, he would be sent to Caesar.

Cross Quilt at San Rafael's

Cross Quilt at San Rafael’s (Photo credit: lars hammar)

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today,” (Acts 26:6). Faith is one of God’s most precious gifts. Through faith we stand firmly on God’s Word in any place under any circumstance knowing that God will honor that. Through faith we share the Gospel with those around us – even if they happen to be senior executives or top government officials like Caesar. If we surrender our life to Him, God will work through us to advance the Gospel just as He worked through Paul. Our modern world sorely needs to hear the Gospel; honestly, fully, and completely. Think about that for a moment. If we simply live out our lives in silence, blending in with the world, we are of little use. Instead, let us stand boldly for Christ in faith. Let us be available to serve the Lord according to His good and perfect will.

Ponder this: In what places and under which circumstances might I serve the Lord?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for gifting me with saving faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. Let my life, in both words and actions, be a walking witness to Him. Show me, Lord, how you would have me serve You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Whom Do I Serve?

Devotion on Acts 1:1-11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus’ words recorded in Acts 1:8.

These are the last recorded words of our Lord before he was taken up to heaven. They are powerful words that reveal God’s ultimate plan for the Messiah to save all the peoples of the world “to the ends of the earth.”

Prior to His final statement, Jesus said something else: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4b-5. We live in a society that wants everything “now”. We are impatient and demanding. God often tells us to wait – wait for His timing, His purpose, His place, His blessing. When we trust God by obeying His command to wait, we are reminded that His timing and purpose are perfect and we, as a willing vessel, are an important part of His plan.

By now the disciples surely realize that Jesus’ ministry had not ended with His death on the cross. It was really just beginning, and they were chosen to be His first ambassadors to a post-resurrection world. The ambassadorship that started with Jesus’ disciples continues today with each of us. We all have a place in this world – a place in which we interact daily with people who need the hope that only faith in the Lord can provide.

Ponder this: What kind of ambassador am I? Whom do I represent? When people encounter me, do they see Jesus?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for the privilege of serving You. Keep me ever mindful of my attitude and approach to those around me, that I may be an ambassador that truly glorifies You. Should I be provided the opportunity to share my faith, give me the words that point directly to you. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

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