Do you have evidence?

Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11).  Did you see that?! Faith is EVIDENCE!  That is an incredibly powerful truth.  Faith is not a wishy, washy hope; it is evidence. Faith is a foundation to build your life on. Faith is also a powerful motivator and fuel. Acting on what we believe is the substance of our lives. It is why James said, “I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18)

We must learn to examine the fruit of our lives for evidence of our faith!Sometimes we say we believe things that never show up in our lives. If there is no evidence that we believe something, the fact is this: we really don’t believe it.  We may know it, but we don’t believe it. When we claim faith in Christ but have anxiety or shame or anger or depression — the evidence of our lives indicates our claim of faith is faulty.

That is not a statement of judgment, it is a statement of hope!  Until we know we have a need, we can’t receive the answer to that need.  Don’t despair when fault lines are revealed. Simply find the truth in the Word of God that provides evidence you need — and step out in faith!

So, what does all this have to do with “Advent” and the anticipation of Christmas? Perhaps more than we would like to admit.

Odds are that you are making tangible preparations for ‘Christmas.’ You have your calendar jam-packed, a to-do list that steals sleep, gifts bought, and decorations in place. You feel the ‘spirit’ of the season, smiling at strangers and giving cards and gifts to those in your life.  You have much evidence to show you know December 25 is approaching fast. But does that evidence point to faith in Jesus?

Christmas is a season of miracles, and as Christians, it offers great missional opportunity.  But our faith must be evidenced in this season if there is to be any fruit.  Christmas is the one time of the year that the majority of people celebrate — whether they acknowledge it or not — God’s glorious plan of redemption! If we say we believe that Jesus is the greatest gift of all time — but none of our Christmas activities reflect that belief, the evidence of our faith is negligible.

When God created this world…when He first proclaimed, ‘let there be Light,’ He followed His words with action. If we proclaim we have faith in Christ but proceed to live as if we have faith in ourselves…or faith in kind actions…or faith in the government…or faith in whatever idol we serve…our lives will proclaim where our faith actually lies. Words alone do not produce substance; they must be followed up with action.

Let’s use this Season of Advent as a time to focus our eyes on all God has done on our behalf.  That focus will nourish our faith and result in overflowing joy and action! It will produce a light from our lives that guides others to the Source of our joy.

Let’s be sure we make preparations for the Christ of Christmas in the coming days. Schedule time for Jesus on your calendar. Consider what gift He would love to receive from you. What gift would He like to have you give in His name. Ask yourself this question, “Does my life show His presence to a watching world?”

The promises of God include peace, patience, joy and self-control (Galatians 5). As believers those fruits are evidence of our faith…if they are missing, a fault-line is exposed. Find the Truth you need to repair those exposed fault lines and receive the Truth because that’s the real gift of Christmas…that’s the reality of receiving Jesus. When Jesus is received, the Light of the world bursts forth from us. We must not miss receiving and giving the greatest gift of all!

The birth of Christ brought us a priceless treasure; the very glory of God will radiate from our lives as we quiet our hearts and meditate on the Gift we have received. Spend time this week contemplating the Light of the World and let His radiance pour forth from your life!

Worship-filled Waiting

Waiting is a common – and usually unwelcome – experience.  We certainly dislike waiting for the results of lab tests or phone calls, but even waiting for good things frustrates us.  Our minds fix on what we do not have yet, making us unable to enjoy what we do have.  Doing that is a waste of the precious, limited commodity of time.  We fuss over unknowns, allowing our perceived lack to consume our minds.  While we wait, precious moments of time pass unnoticed.

That is not true for God; He is both timeless and yet, wholly present.  For we earth-bound creatures, time is often a burden and pain.  We complain of not having enough time and complain when time passes too slowly in periods of waiting.  From God’s perspective, though, each moment we call time is but a thread in His eternal plan.  Today is simply a vibrant piece of His story.  Like a page in a classic novel, the richness of today has no empty spaces but builds to the perfect conclusion.  The victory of Christ concludes our stories. So, how do we learn to resist letting time slip away while we ‘wait’ in faith?

The season of Advent helps us grasp the concept! Choosing to use the days before Christmas to focus our hearts and minds on the loving plan of God revealed at Christmas is the key to ‘waiting’ well.  It applies to much more than Christmas! Waiting is not wasted when the coming of the King is our confident hope.

Waiting becomes worship when we have the right perspective.  Remembering that before God spoke the first word of Creation, He knew the joy of Bethlehem, the suffering of Calvary and the glory of the resurrection boggles our minds.   The Masterpiece designed from and for eternity is complete in Him; today is one vibrant scene in the weaving–we must not miss it!

Looking at the Artist, seeing His perfection assures us of the outcome.  A sweet hymn sings what our hearts cry, “What a strange way to save the world.”  Yet we rejoice that His ways are not ours for His ways are perfect.  His timing is not ours, and again, we trust His perfection.  With our eyes focused on His presence, the tyranny of time cannot disrupt us.

Christmas centers our hearts on the love of God and the promise of His presence.  But Christmas must not be confined to December 25th.  In reality, the focused anticipation of Christmas is applicable every day of the year. His ways are always perfect.  His purposes assured. Wait with worship and enjoy His presence every day!

 

Silence & Song (Advent Week 3)

Christmas Day is quickly coming!  We’ve spent the last two weeks focusing our thoughts on welcoming the events and people in our lives as direct gifts from God–for that is what they are.

This week, let’s concentrate on choosing only silence or song as the sound of our days.

sunset hands love woman

Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Instead of chatter, meaningless words or grumbling, let’s choose to sing songs of praise.  Instead of frantic rushing about with noises in our ears and in our minds, let’s choose quietness–that we will hear and celebrate our God more fully.

We live in a noisy world….quiet is a rare commodity, seldom experienced, appreciated or even sought.  God uses it often and well!  He calls us to quiet and promises us strength.

“…Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”  Isaiah 30

When our world is not noisy, the sounds that fill our world are not songs but the buzzing of schedules and negativity.  Every day is a day the Lord has made; praise ushers us into His presence.  As Christmas Day draws closer, be intentionally about quieting listening for God or loudly praising Him!

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…and how we can receive Him and share Him with others every day!

Mon.          Luke 1:67-79       Heart Focus:  Use your words only for the praise of God

Tues.          Job 37:14              Heart Focus:  In silence consider that one day every knee                                                             will bow before Jesus Christ!

Wed.          Hebrews 2:6-8     Heart Focus:  Rightly praising God requires ALL eternity!

Thurs.        Isaiah 9:6               Heart Focus:   True fulfillment & joy is found only in Jesus.

Friday       Psalm 81:1-3           Heart Focus:  What song (or story) is in your heart that                                                                needs to be told?

Saturday     Luke 2:8-9             Heart Focus:  Divine encounters are His desire…seek Him!

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

He’s Still Coming! (Advent Week Two)

The days before Christmas speed by as we add into our busy days the bountiful extras of the holiday season.  Last week, to start our Advent awareness, we set our hearts and minds on receiving the interruptions of God.  Trusting that the Sovereign God is involved in our days is a habitual thought we must incorporate into our lives.

This week we will focus on another precious concept:  opening our hearts to every person God brings into our lives.  God is a God of relationships–and we learn to love Him as we learn to love others!

We all know the story:  When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, the city was busy….and there was no room at the Inn.  Our hearts are the place Christ longs to live in today.  Sadly, many of us repeat the story of Bethlehem day after day.  The King of Kings found a welcome in a humble barn; His first resting place was a feeding trough.  Christ  longs to be our nourishment as well.

We receive Him when we receive those He puts into our lives.  It has been said, ‘We only love God as much as we love the one who annoys us the most.’  Let’s determine to love Him well this week!

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  Matthew 25:40

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…and how we can receive Him and share Him with others every day!

Mon.          Luke 1:44-45, 56       Heart Focus:  Speak & hear Christ’s name with joy

Tues.          Hebrews 13:1-2        Heart Focus:  Who can we open our door to today?

Wed.          Matt. 25:35-40          Heart Focus:  Seek to see the face of Christ in others

Thurs.        Proverbs 11:25        Heart Focus:   Welcome others in your life as Christ                                                                      welcomes – without pretense.

Friday        Isaiah 32:1-2             Heart Focus:  Who do you need to open the door of                                                                       forgiveness to?

Saturday     Luke 1:13,20            Heart Focus:  Quiet your heart & receive Jesus.

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

He’s Coming!

Anticipating the arrival of a loved one is a joyful time, isn’t it?  A Christian’s heart has the possibility of that joy every moment of every day…and at ‘Christmas time’ we have an open door to discuss that joy!  Are you ready to grab the moments that come your way?While we’ve never been part of a church that liturgically celebrated Advent, it is our family tradition to prepare our hearts in the days prior to Christmas. I wanted to share some of that with others this year.

We live in a world that has so secularized Christmas that its original intent is often obscured.  We must not let that happen to our own celebrations.  While the reality is that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th anyway, the world gives us an open door with its Christmas celebrations.  Even the secular world turns its eyes to God in this season.  Let us use the world’s preparations to proclaim the love, grace & mercy of Jesus Christ that more might be won to the Kingdom.

burning candle animated gif pic

When we fix our hearts and eyes on Truth, it flows into our days…and people see the Word in our walk.  That is how it ought to be.  When we celebrate richly, others will take note.  Today begins the Advent Season for this year.  In the midst of busy-ness, consider how young Mary welcomed God’s interruption of her life plans.  A young woman, betrothed to a man….and told by God she would soon be carrying the Messiah in her womb.  That was an ‘interruption’ that was likely to cost her impending marriage–and quite possibly her life.  But Mary’s response was “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

“Mary’s faith is a wonderful example for us.  Rather than resentfully looking at her pregnancy as unfair and embarrassing, she understood that she had been uniquely blessed by God.  John MacArthur, Jr.

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…

Monday          Luke 1:35-38               Heart Focus:  Obedient Submission to the will of God

Tuesday          Jeremiah 29:11-13     Heart Focus:  Trust in the plans of God

Wednesday    Proverbs 16:3,9          Heart Focus:  Enjoy the story God is writing for you

Thursday        James 4:13-15             Heart Focus:   Let God give you the details as He wills

Friday             Psalm 37:4-7                Heart Focus:  Be rooted & joyful in the love of God

Saturday         Luke 1:39-41                Heart Focus:  Loving others is loving God

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

Thank you for the Candle  Best Animations !

Thankful Unselfishness

We’ve just enjoyed our Thanksgiving holiday…the annual American nod to thankfulness that launches ‘Christmas’ consumerism into overdrive.  Thanks-living is a heart attitude we need to give much more time to!  In fact, it ought to be the perpetual norm for we who claim the name of Christ.  It is the very character of our Savior, who gave everything up to save us–His enemies!

Heartbreakingly, our actions show an attitude that is quite unlike our Savior.  For most of us there’s always something new or more we crave.  All that wanting erodes our thankfulness.  Christ never evidenced that trait. Examining His example helps us aim higher!  Consider what thankful unselfishness looked like in the life of Jesus Christ:

  • The One who always was willingly left heaven—and all its glories to be born in a barn to an unwed teen…
  • The One whose family had to flee for his life…
  • The One who had no place to lay his head…
  • The One who was rejected, spit on, whipped and killed for the sins of others (you and me)…

…that One NEVER evidenced an attitude of craving anything except the will of the Father.  Jesus trusted that God would give Him all that He needed to accomplish exactly what the Father willed…and for that He was thankful and unselfish with all He had.

That pierces me as I think of the many times I fall short of thankfulness–and unselfishness!

The Apostle Paul put it like this:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich 2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus gave it all so you and I could have great riches.  Too often, we forfeit our riches to chase after things that impoverish us.  Thankfulness for all Jesus has done ushers us into the inheritance that cannot be lost!  Check this out:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3

We are lacking nothing!  Now there’s a thought that sparks a thankful attitude!

Unselfishness is the next attitude goal to set our sights upon.  Everything that Jesus had He put on the altar for you and I…and all who would believe.  Everything we receive is to be held with the same attitude of thankful unselfishness…and offered back to God for His glory and good purposes.

To learn to receive and share freely – as beloved children of God because of Christ – is a necessary step in our transformation toward Christ-likeness.  Developing the character traits of thankfulness and unselfishness prepare us to receive more from our good and generous God.  He loves to give us gifts and He wants us to be like Him.  May we receive His gifts with unselfish thankfulness  and allow that sweet spirit to surround us as we enter into the Advent season and celebrate the Light of the World!