Monday, December 15, 2008

Words of Encouragement

The cross of Christmas.  Have you ever thought about the fact that if there were not Christmas, there would be no cross?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! - Romans 5:8-10

Jesus in Christmas. J is for Justifed. We need to see Christmas as being attached to Easter.  The one leads to the other.  Christ had to first come so that he could fulfill God's purpose of salvation.  As we celebrate Christmas let us see the vast importance of what was given in this season.  Christ came so that we could be justified.

We were enemies of God when Christ entered the world.  We had no way of reconciling ourselves to him.  We stood guilty and accused. The blood of Christ is what justified you and I.  To be justified means that we were made acceptable and right before God.

Wrapped up in that bundle was more than a mere baby.  The ability for mankind to be moved from guilty to set free was there.  We were not acceptable and there was nothing we could do.  It was all because of the name of Christ.  All that we are able to accomplish and to have is because of the gift of Jesus Christ.  This season, let us thank God for sending justfication to the world.

Prayer: Lord it was your gift of Christ that make me justified.  I was moved from unacceptable to acceptable.  I was moved from unrighteous to righteous. From unfaithful to faithful.  None of this is because of my own doing, but because of what you have done in me. Help me to give thanks for the gift of Christ.

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. - Psalm 93:1-2

Jesus in Christmas. E is for Eternity. We were on a course of spending eternity in damnation.  As much as we may believe we are able to determine our future, we really on determine where we end up. I can believe I am a good person and deserve good things, but if I am not willing to accept the way of salvation as offered through Christ I will reap no good thing unto myself. 

As we draw closer to Christmas we can rejoice in knowing that there is a future planned for me.  God has set aside a wonderful future, if I only accept it.  That future that God has for me is to spend eternity with him because of the gift of his son.  Jesus's gift to the world was peace.  No so much peace in the way we think.  But a peace that past our earthly understanding.  We have a gift of peace that gives us assurance that we can spend eternity with God.  We do not have to worry or fret because we can be assured that since Jesus justified us by his blood we are no longer condemned to destruction but are moved to the path of eternity with Christ. 

As you celebrate this season be reminded that no matter what you face in this life, God has assured you a eternal home where there will not be any more tears, no pain and no sorrow.  Hold to his hand and he will see you through.

Prayer: Lord today I am thankful for the wonderful gifts that Christ came to bring into the world.  His coming was because of your unfailing love for mankind.  Help me today to see it but also to share it with someone else that does not know you as a forgiver of sins.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:1-3
Jesus in Christmas. S is for Salvation. The writer is telling us to grow up in our salvation.  We have been saved so now we should grow up and seek those things that are worthy of the calling we have.  We have tasted or experienced the goodness of the Lord.  In doing so, we should desire to have more.
Jesus opened up a world to us that was closed.  You and I could not truly understand the goodness of God.  We could not truly understand what it means to experience the goodness of Christ.  Yes, we see miracles but we do not comprehend them completely in a darkened state.  It is not until the light shines in us that we are able to discern these things.  It is the salvation that Jesus brings that begins us on this process of learning and experiencing the goodness of God.
So the mandate is then, you have tasted, you have experienced now grow up.  Walk upright.  Move away from those things that draw you back into the darkness.  Continue to walk in the light.  This holiday let us make sure that we do not pick up behaviors that draw us back into darkness like behaviors.  What can we do this season different than before that will show that we are indeed growing up in our salvation.  It does not matter how long you have been saved.  Is there something TODAY that God wants you to do differently?  If so, let us remember we have experienced him and we want more of that.
Prayer: Lord today, help me make a difference like I have never done before.  Help me to say something or do something that changes another just as you change me.  Help me to let go of something I am holding onto today.  Let me release the control of something I am trying to work out.  Help me this day realize you are my savior. You are the one that does the work.  Help me to trust in your work you want to do in me.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15:4-6

Jesus in Christmas. U is for Unity. One thing about Christmas that I always find encouraging is people tend to become a little less selfish.  Oh I know there are many things that go wrong during this time, but you find people that would never say anything nice greeting people.  You see strangers that would never speak, speaking and giving Christmas cheer to people.  I think we sometimes do not even realize it, but there is something different in the air.  There is a more outward look.  Oh if we could only bottle that for later.

But this should not be the body of believers.  We should not only be unified once or twice a year.  We should be the evidence of God's unifying power day in and day out. We are to be one in purpose, one in spirit and one in Christ.  As the body of believers our purpose is to preach Jesus, Jesus only.  We are not preaching our agendas, our ideas or our ways.  We are called to be the body so therefore the Spirit that leads us should be God's Spirit.  We do not become the followers of deceptive spirits or spirits of division.  We are one in Christ.

This was not possible without Christ.  Had Jesus not come you and I could never be unified.  It is only through Christ that the body can fulfill her purpose to be unified.  We are not where we need to be, but day by day let us seek to make that our goal.

Prayer: Lord when we show unity we show the world you.  We should the world your power and ability.  Lord today help us in our small circles begin to look more like a unified body.  We cannot expect the entire body to be unified in Christ if we cannot even be unified with 5 or 10.  Let us take this season and pray for your Spirit to unified us as one.  Make us one in purpose, to preach Jesus.  Make us one in Spirit, to be seeking to learn your word, teach your word and live your word.  Help us to be one in Christ.  For this is what gift you gave to us on that first Christmas morning, the right to become your sons and daughers. Help us now to live as a family should live.

 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.- 1 Corinthians 6:10-11

Jesus in Christmas. S is for Sanctified. The scripture reminds us today that the sinful will not inherit the kingdom of God.  The reminder is also don't turn your nose up, because we too fit into this category.
Oh but today we can rejoice because we where changed from what we were to what we are and what we will become.  We were saved.  We were washed.  The old stink of sin was washed away.  We were sanctified, made holy, set apart for God.  We were justified.  We were no longer guilty but now we were made righteous through Christ by the Spirit of God.
It was all done in the name of Jesus Christ.  What do we celebrate Christmas? Is it for the toys, the trinkets, the gifts and friends?  Is it for the food, the lights and the spirit of the day?  While all these things may be good, they pale in comparision to what we have been given.  We have been gifted the keys to eternity.  We have been gifted the keys to changing our courses in life.  We were first headed for eternal damnation but the key that unlock the door opens the door to eternity with God. 
We were found guilty and enemies of God. We were in need of saving but unable to do it.  Then one day a babe was born.  This babe did not seem like a king, but he was.  This babe may not have looked to many to be God, yet he was.  Jesus Christ took on flesh so that he would gift us freedom from ourselves.  Today let us rejoice in knowing that Jesus Christ is the only true reason for Christmas.  Without him it is simple a dull light show.
Prayer: Lord, you are the true light that came into the world.  The bulbs on the trees do not compare to the light you come to bring into the dark lives of mankind.  Today thank your for placing your light in me.  Now Lord help me to be that light that shines brightly helping others to find their way to you.