Christmas 2020 troubled?
For many, 2020 has been difficult. We need God’s help. I’m struck by the various encouragements of Christmas—mercy, salvation, and hope among them. You probably know these things. I’m saying them as a reminder of the encouragement we have in Christ.
The first Christmas showed God coming to a small nation, oppressed by Rome, that hadn’t been given a biblical prophecy for about 400 years. The people of Israel probably felt down, even hopeless. Various incurable diseases swirled around them, poverty and pain—from within and without— assailed them. They, like many of us, needed help. God didn’t just help, He came close. He wanted to be with them, and still wants to be with all of us now.
Emmanuel is a name of Jesus—God with us. God’s salvation for every need of every heart, for every situation, came close back then. He didn’t just want to save, He wanted to be with them and remain with them. God came to people then, and is still here, still available. If you need His help, may I encourage you to reach out to Him and tell Him you need Him. I can promise you, based on His word, He’s an ever present help in times of trouble.
Keywords: trouble, help, Emmanuel, God with us
Staying focused on Jesus as seasons change
While losing focus on Jesus can happen at Christmas time, this post is more about losing focus at the change of spiritual seasons: bad to good; good to bad; difficult to easy; plenty to little; and so on. Christians tend to do better when they keep Jesus as their focus because He is our source of life and joy.
Most Christians know that He is our source, but get distracted. The key to returning to a good focus is not simply following a checklist, nor is it simply trying to think more about Him. Thinking about Him is not bad. It must, however, be done in the context of a relationship that is living and vital.
All Christians are given a doorway into that relationship in Christ. Many then treat following Jesus as something that they do every now and then — usually at church or sometimes during prayer or even regular quiet times.
What God offers us is so much bigger and better. While He is always with us, He wants us to always know and experience His presence.
He calls us friends. We are not slaves, simply there to perform tasks of obedience. Rather, He calls us to an exciting life of serving and loving others with Him. We live and work in a vital, sustaining relationship with Him. He wants us with Him always, and died to prove it. Because He rose, we are members of His family, perfectly and fully loved.
Distracted? Lost focus? Then remember. Remember that you are part of His family, and He calls you sister or brother. He loves you with an everlasting love, calling you friend — the close kind. So close that He takes up residence in you. Ask Him to keep reminding you of His love, presence and friendship. Also ask Him to continue to reveal greater depths of His love an friendship, and how that revelation affects how you live. Do your part — seeking to know His friendship.
When we know we are truly loved for our benefit, we tend to respond lovingly. This response refocuses us, giving us the ability to properly live out our relationship with our Lord and friend, Jesus Christ.
p.s. Knowing you are in or out of focus often takes monitoring your attitudes, thoughts and actions. Regular short times of reflection can be enough, using even the simple question, “Is my priority of my relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit being lived out in my attitudes, thoughts and actions?”
Keywords: Christian, discipleship, love, friend of God, re-focus
You’re worth it
God gave Jesus for all of mankind. He had and has infinite worth to God. What does that say about the worth of each individual? About your worth to Him?
Infinite worth, divided by any number of people on Earth, results in every person always having infinite worth (though I believe that Christ’s life paid fully for each one of us). This means that to God each person on Earth has infinite worth.
John 3:16 speaks of God so loving us that He gave His Son for us. To Him, you’re worth it. He knows everything about you, knew what you’d do before you did it, and loves you. His opinion is more important than any, and He thinks you’re worth paying/giving the life of His Son, Jesus. That means you’re worth it.
Keywords: Love, God wants to relate, you’re worth it
How much does God love you and me?
He loves you so much it’s difficult to properly describe. The Bible gives us great help in seeing that love. Psalm 22 contains a prophetic description of Jesus on the cross. In part of it, Jesus looks forward to telling his brothers and sisters about the salvation that they can have. Yes, He was looking forward to being with us and was talking to us while He was on the cross.
Hebrews 12:2 (WEB) says:
looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Please note the phrase, “for the joy that was set before him.“ That was not about taking up His eternal position again – He had already had that and would not have gone through everything He did to simply regain what He already had. He was wanting to gain, and that gain was you and me. His entire effort was to make a way for your salvation. His joy, then, must have been and must still be the people that He loves.
That is How much He loves you. You are so special to Him that even when He was on the cross He looked forward to being with you. You brought Him so much joy that He could endure the horror of the cross itself — the physical pain — and of becoming sin — the spiritual pain. He did all of that so that He could spend eternity with you and others. He loves each of us fully, as well as fully loving His entire church. The extent of that love for us is further shown in John 17, in which Jesus is intent upon asking that He could be in those that He loves. He, the perfect One, chose to give up everything and endure the most excruciating pain while thinking of you and me He chose to make his dwelling place inside those who believe and fully yield to Him (who follow Him as Lord and Savior). That is how close He wants to be to you and me. All of the things above show how special you are to Him and how much He loves you.
Keywords: God’s love for us, God in us, cross, crucifixion, God wants to relate
The hallmark of a Christian is love
Christians don’t need to compete to find their value. So what should they be about? A Christian knows the love of God, and loves back in response. The relationship produces a simple and pure devotion to Christ, characterized by loving God and people. Love is the hallmark of a Christian – a result of being loved.
Keywords: God loves you, relationship, value, competition, simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ