15 January 2018

EXAMINING THE GENUINE CALL OF GOD PART 1


Eph 3:1-6

A boy grows up in a wealthy family in a major city of a sophisticated culture. As a child he is immersed in the orthodox religion of his country and attends one of the most well-known worship centers in the land. In that setting he becomes a disciple under one of the most influential leaders of this tradition. He becomes a zealot for his faith, passionately devouring its teachings and passionately pursuing its enemies. And, then, something amazing happens. Somehow he becomes convinced the very persons he has been opposing were right about their faith. And through they are small in number and despised by his religious leaders and culture, this young man joins the ranks of those he had zealously opposed. He enters into a period of intense study, praying and fasting in order to fulfill a calling he believes he now has to take his new faith to others.
In subsequent years, although his convictions and his actions cost him his reputation, his comforts, his freedom, and ultimately his life, this man of faith never wavered from his calling. 

What was his name?
His name was not the apostle Paul, if you were thinking that as I was reading this story. Life sounds pretty close to Paul’s conversion……… but it’s not Paul.
His name was Jibreel al-Amreekee. He grew up in Atlanta attended a well-known Baptist church before becoming a Muslim, joining allies of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and dying in 1997 while participating in a jihadist attack intended to “plant a flag for Islam” in Kashmir.
His life transformation sounds very similar to the conversion of Saul into Paul on the road to Damascus.

The biggest difference was their calling of God. The parallel in the lives of these men of faith are quit striking. Each had different cultural, and religious backgrounds that both felt compelled to promote to others. Each one was willing to study, strive and sacrifice for the calling he believed his God had placed upon his life. But we also realize that these conflicting callings cannot be both from God. This causes us to stop and ponder the facts and identify what kind of calling is genuine and what is counterfeit.

How does scripture identify a genuine calling?
Does examining the call of Paul, a blueprint to our genuine calling in the Christian faith?

Because…..
You and I were never blinded by a strong light on the road of Damascus.
You and I never had Jesus, Himself, stand before us and speak audibly.
You and I were never given special revelation to pen 13 letters of the New Testament.

I’m not suggesting the same kind of confirmation is necessary for you and me. BUT! I am suggesting that we can see the calling of God graciously opens for examining the effects of a true call on the life of a believer. And by examining Paul’s call, we can see and examine our own calling that it leaves on one’s life and one’s heart.

A True Calling is captured by God’s goals (v1-v6)

When compelled by the beauty of the gospel a believer is captured or captivated by God’s goal and desires. As Joshua said “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15. In John’s gospel we read “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:61-69

What Joshua said and the response from Peter is as a beautiful picture for us to see what it means to be captivated by God’s calling on our life through the gospel. Though Paul resides under house arrest because of a bogus charge. He was arrested on false charges made by Jews from the province of Asia who were visiting Jerusalem. They accused Paul of taking a Gentile into the forbidden area of the temple, though he had not done so. Paul has faced numerous hearings before the Sanhedrin, before Roman governor Felix, before Felix’s successor Festus and even before King Agrippa. Paul was allowed to stay in private quarters with a soldier to guard him as we see in (Acts 21-27 & Acts 28:16)And although Paul was arrested on Jewish charges, Paul did not consider himself a prisoner of the Jews.
Although he was imprisoned by Roman authority, he did not consider himself a prisoner of Rome. Although he had appealed to Caesar, he did not consider himself Caesar’s prisoner.

Who was Paul a prisoner of? (v1) “I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you gentiles.” Paul was a minister of the gospel that was bought with a price and given a special calling to preach the gospel to the gentiles. With these words of “imprisonment to Christ” reveal to us the genuine heart and desire and intentions that God instills in His called children to die to self and serve and proclaim the glorious news to others. Our passion has to be God’s passion and that passion is what? “Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:4. And that begins here in Paul’s letter to Jewish/Gentile believers in Ephesus.

A True Calling is willing to die to self (v1- v2)

Paul’s willingness to die to the priorities of his own glory is evident in the titles that he used to describe himself. The first title was his name change from Saul to Paul. Before his name change to Paul, he had same name as the first king of Israel who was chosen for his strength, demeanor and stature above his peers. This was a picture of the apostle before his conversion…..people feared him and for good reasons.
The name “Paul” means “small” This Jewish holy man has gone from “Big Saul” to “small Paul” and with that it brings no narcissistic glory for one-self. Isn’t that a beautiful name? To be described as someone who is hidden in Christ and pictures for us a child who depends upon the strength of another to live? See dying to self involves a willingness to sacrifice privilege, prestige and glory. Paul gave up all his own personal glory, because he truly understood what it meant to be a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see this over and over again in the scriptures…..“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Cor 15:9

Paul classified his own personal gain and prestige as nothing compared to knowing Jesus Christ. “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:3-11

Remember what Paul called himself in the letter to the Romans? Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Rom 7:24-25. This man who was known for prestige and power now sits in a Roman prison cell awaiting his accusers to call for his death. Yet while destitute, despised and forsaken…Paul viewed his life in this moment as fulfilling God’s call upon his life for the glory of Christ. Even while under arrest he took every opportunity in his incarceration to proclaim the good news of the gospel to people who would not otherwise hear the message of hope and rest. It’s taking every opportunity captive for the glory of God. We live in a world that would question this calling on God. The world system at large would view this new changed lifestyle as a negative and not a positive. He was a man who uses to order Roman soldiers around and now he is under their commands. He used to be a man admired by his people and now he ministers to a world about a crucified Rabbi from a forsaken world and people groups. He once was a man to be served but know he is a man who serves others.

Now please here me! I’m not claiming anything when I say this or thinking that I’m just like Paul! But I know what it means to lose or too willing give up the pleasures of this life for the sake of the calling. I had a great job where 6-10 guys who looked up to me every day. I had the privilege to travel all around Canada, stay in the nicest hotels and hang out with some very interesting people. It was sort of the glamorous lifestyle in the Auto Industry. The pay/benefits/prestige and the people around me were my friends and it’s where I called home. But the Lord had other plans for this man who thought he had his life all figured out at the age of 30. Now this doesn’t mean that this will be the same for all of us here! Some and many of you, God has and is calling you to different means of sacrifice for the glory of Christ. But Julie and I, and even my kids, can relate to not knowing if daddy will still have a job at the end of the week. Not knowing if we will be able to pay our bills because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Living a life where people will accuse, make false claims against me or about me, and even stab me in the back if they have the chance. The calling of God removes all the glory from oneself to the sustaining Lord of the universe for the glory of His name and His gospel. What I’m trying to get at is this…… Paul is demonstrating for us that a genuine calling requires a willingness to forsake personal privilege and honor. This is true whether you’re a pastor like me, businessman, an athlete, an educator or a mom, dad or young person. As the hymn song goes “be content to fill a little space if God be glorified” How do I know if my calling is genuine because many counterfeits are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cause?

For example a Kamikaze pilot in World War 2 or a Middle Eastern foreign /domestic terrorist who sacrifice themselves with dynamite strapped to their body in a crowed place. But the true test to that is if personal sacrifice is necessary than who gets the glory in the sacrifice? Dying to self also involves a willingness to deny merit. A great way to see this in action is consider the various ways that people handle their loss of privilege. Some are willing sacrifice as long as they earn or get something in the end. Yet Paul’s willingness to die to self-included not only a willingness to forsake privilege, but also a willing to deny himself of any merit. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” Phil 3:8. Whatever he did and whatever he went were under Christ’s control. He gave up everything and he lived with total trust in God’s purposes whether they were good or bad, according to our present world system. Paul’s denies that what he has done, suffered and sacrificed earns him anything and that is how we are to examine our calling. Our lives are for His glory and His glorious message as prisoners of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can and are you truly dying to self for the glory of Christ?

A true calling is willing to live for others (v3- v6)

A called life is willing to die to self with a desire and passion to live for others. Remember Paul said “I, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the gentiles. Paul says the message he brings is an extension to God’s sovereign grace and He has given Paul the stewardship to minister that message to the Gentiles. A called Paul sees his life as a prisoner for Jesus Christ and a stewardship to others with the gospel.

A beautiful example of this is found in a man named Martin Burnham.
Martin and his wife were missionaries for New Tribes Missions for 17 years to the Philippines when they were captured and made prisoners of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group for 376 days. During that time Martin was often used to carry the terrorist’s supplies in dangerous and treacherous terrain. But while bearing their loads he never complained, viewed even his servitude as a calling of God and an opportunity for the gospel. Though the Burnham’s were increasingly weak and malnourished, when relief agencies managed to get food packages to them, Martin would share their food with other captors. At one point Martin even repaired a satellite phone for his captors.

Martin in these times would say to his wifeThe Bible says serve the Lord with gladness. Let’s go all the way. Let’s serve Him all the way with gladness.” The impact they had on their captors were playing on their heart strings as they would debate about who would chain him up every night. Each captor hated to be the one to chain him, because every night he would thank them.

How could someone express so much joy and thanksgiving in a time like this?
The answer to that is over and over in the evenings Martin would patiently explain the gospel to his Muslim captors. Remember what Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:43-48

Like the Apostle Paul, Martin was living his life for his captors, and viewed his situation as a calling of God to minister the mysteries of the gospel to a lost peoples group. Unfortunately like the apostle Paul, Martin’s life and ministry was cut short. Friday, June 7, 2002 after radioing to their base for permission to liberate the prisoners, the U.S.-trained Rangers launched an attack. During the two-hour gunfight that ensued, Martin Burnham, 42, and Yap were killed, and Gracia Burnham was wounded. It was not clear if they were shot by their captors or hit in the crossfire. Gracia Burnham, was evacuated to a military hospital where she underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the leg. 

"I was so happy when I got out of the jungle," she told doctorsShe reportedly also and said her husband's death was "part of God's plan."

Living for others involves a willingness to reveal gospel mystery at any cost. For Martin is cost him his life and for Paul it cost him to be under house arrest for something he never did. It’s taking every opportunity to be used for the glory of God. That’s the beauty and the mystery of the gospel. “Mystery” is something that was previously hidden and according to Paul’s letter the gospel was hidden from the Gentiles, but now according to (v6) gentiles have been brought into God’s family and that’s been revealed to them through the Spirit. Paul knew how difficult it was going to be for Jews to see Gentiles as equal heirs with Christ in the Kingdom. …..(Eph 2:18-20). Especially when the Jews believed the Gentiles were created to fuel the fires of Hell. BUT! Paul, none the less knew that his calling from God, wasn’t about him and his comforts. It was all about the glory of God being magnified so that the gospel would penetrate the hearts of sinners to be reconciled to a holy God. This is what each and every one of us is called to, whether you like it or not. Our calling as God’s children is first to die to self and live for others to proclaim the gospel to a hostile world, even if that means you live a life that ends like Martin Burnham. Live your life willing to dies to self, to live for others and to delight in the gospel that unites sinners together. When we observe our calling through the lens of scripture a believer is not only captured by God’s plan and goals but also enraptured by God’s grace. As Jim Elliott before going off into a strange land, with strange people, not knowing what tomorrow will bring said these truthful words

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose...!!!”

01 January 2018

GRACE IS A STORY OF LOST AND FOUND


RUTH 2:4-18

What does it mean to fall under the blanket of God’s grace? There is only one place to find that answer! How does the Bible explain God’s grace?

God is the source of grace ...........1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus....”
Grace is God’s throne............. Heb 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace..”

Grace is God’s work in the believer........2 Thess 1:11-12 “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace is God’s Gospel........ Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
  
GRACE IS THE SOURCE OF:

Election (Rom 11:5)
The call of God (Gal 1:15)
Justification (Rom 3:24)
Faith (Acts 18:27)
Forgiveness of sin (Eph 1:7)
Salvation (Acts 15:11)
Hope (2 Thess 2:16)

To sum it all up! God’s grace is always sufficient for you and me in every situation and circumstance….without exception of anything. See grace is favour bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it..... Let me explain and let’s turn to the scriptures! Ruth chapter 2. Ruth fits that bill perfectly and so do you before and after Jesus Christ drew you to Himself as your Lord and Saviour.....

She is a poor woman who cannot offer or pay for anything
She is a foreigner in a strange land.
She is the lowest or the bottom of the barrel according to worldly standards.
She as no one and nowhere to go except her mother in-law Naomi.
Ruth is a poster child of all lost humanity.
Ruth is a poster child of a sinner who is outside the covenant family of God.
Ruth is a poster child of a world that is bankrupt with no acknowledgment or claim on God’s mercy.
That’s the grace of God to lost sinners like Ruth.........like you!
We know that this is a time of dark days according to what we find in the book of Judges and the beginning verse of this letter. (Ruth 1-v1).

But God’s providence we see a small remnant of those who desire to follow God and His truth. The same goes today! We are living in dark times but there still is a small remnant of people who love the Lord and desire to follow Him to the very end. Meaning……..You and me. The Gospel is still going forth despite the oppression from religious groups; to people who obviously hate the Gospel and those who follow Him. We come to the part of God’s plan where a man who is considered a Christ type comes on the scene for the first time. Boaz was a man whose name means great strength.........a great warrior....a Christ type! What we are about to witness is grace at work in a person like Ruth who clearly doesn’t deserve it according to worldly standards.

WHAT DO I MEAN?

1ST BOAZ TOOK THE INITIATIVE (V5-V7)

He took the initiative to seek out Ruth “Whose young woman is this? Grace means that God makes the first move to come to our aid, not because we deserve it but because He loves us and wants us for Himself. “We love because He first loved us...” (1 John 4:19)

God took/takes the initiative when we were spiritually dead!
When we were without strength
When we were sinners
When we were His enemies
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” Col 2:13. I like what Warren Werisbe said “salvation was not an afterthought of God but which He planned for eternity.” Boaz sought out Ruth because He showed a great concern for her. “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Rom 5:15

2ND BOAZ SPOKE TO RUTH (V8)

It was Boaz who first spoke to her.......for she would not dared to speak to a man especially one who was a stranger. What right did a widow and an alien have to address a great man like Boaz? Nothing! But Boaz instructed Ruth in what to do by his grace and kindness. What right do we have to be a part of the grace that God bestows on us? Nothing! That’s why its grace........God instructs and speaks to us through His Word.

3RD BOAZ PROMISED TO PROTECT RUTH AND PROVIDE FOR HER NEEDS (V9, V15-16)

Boaz called Ruth “my daughter” this is a term of endearment.......he was treating her as a member of the family. A great example of this is David love for Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth in chapter 9 of 2 Samuel. David showed such love and kindness towards Jonathan’s son.... David showed such grace to the last remaining family member of Saul’s clan. A crippled son like Mephibosheth, by today’s standards if you were living in the province of Quebec or certain countries in Europe is a prime candidate for euthanasia.

They would see him as a…… 
A waste of time
A waste of air
An outcast to society
A person who doesn’t contribute to society

But David never thought for a second He said "Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father's sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually." (2 Sam 9:7). That’s a great picture of God’s grace towards sinners like us.......and Mephibosheth is the proper response to grace. He said (v8) Then he bowed himself, and said, "What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?" Lord why would you want to save this wretched man or this wretched woman.......Grace! It could only be by His sovereign grace to show such favour and kindness. It could only be by grace that Boaz welcomed a foreigner into the fold of his family and provide for her needs.

4TH BOAZ ENCOURAGED RUTH (V10-V13)

Boaz gave her a promise which ultimately encourages Ruth’s heart to give this humbling response. (v10) Ruth acknowledges her own unworthiness and accepted his grace. Ruth believed his promises and the future he promised and left everything to follow her mother in law. Look how Boaz responds to such a dedicated woman who left everything to follow her mother in Law. (v11-12) Sounds familiar to what Jesus asks of us! “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matt 16:24-26. Ruth had no need to worry because she found rest and security in Boaz. Ruth kept her eyes focused upon the God of the Israelites (v12) She found refuge in the Lord God of the bible........that same refugee we find or under today!
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,” 2 Thess 2:16. It’s like that hymn song Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face” She forgot her sorrowful past and problems and looked towards God’s protection and His grace.... fixing her eyes upon Jesus as the Hebrew writer wrote. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2
This is grace and it’s the same grace God bestows upon us every day.

Boaz looked past this poor Moabite widow and displayed to us the grace that God gives to each and anyone us so freely today otherwise you would be here! “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Cor 9:15 “Inexpressible” is the idea that no words can properly express the greatness of the gift therefore given on man. It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express.
Ruth and you...myself! Are undeserving of this kind of love...but that’s why He is God.

5TH BOAZ SAW TO IT THAT SHE WAS SATISFIED (V14, V18)

He knew Ruth’s whole story.........word doesn’t take long to get around a small town...does itHe saw her heart and commitment to her mother in-law. He knew she abandoned everything to follow the God of the Hebrews. Ruth knew Boaz  was speaking from the heart “spoken freely” in (v13) means “spoken from the heart” Ruth was satisfied because he spoke with genuine concern and care for a lost and hopeless state. That’s what the word of God does to our hearts today! It satisfies because it is spoken directly from the heart of God. The word of God and the Son of God can fully satisfy the heart of the believer. Psalm 36:7-9 says “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” The believer will always find complete satisfaction in the Son and the abundance of His grace that He bestows on each and every one of us all the daylong..... We just need to be like Ruth and humbly come into that refugee that He has prepared before the foundations of the earth. That He has prepared and completed through Jesus Christ our Lord! As the late great reformer Richard Baxter said “As we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love, and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our eternal rest...What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings. O, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory...So then let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell but on the door of heaven and life, “The Free Gift”.

So what does it mean to fall under the blanket of His grace?

His mercy is grace overflowing despite your offence and rebellion.
His provisions are filled with grace despite your offence and rebellion.
His refuge and rest is seated in grace despite your offence and rebellion.
His sovereign providence in our lives is grace abounding continually every day despite your offence and rebellion.

What does that mean for you and me as we start a New Year? That grace will continue for another year, and another year after that and forever. So praise Him for His grace in your life this past year and the year to come for we live by faith through grace that only God supplies for His glory. 

“Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.” Jonathan Edwards

25 December 2017

THE CHRISTMAS BLUES



As the traditional saying doesn't go: 'Tis the season to be … gloomyAre you feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. During Christmas there are many lonely people who are truly crying or dying on the inside. Sadly a majority of us don’t see it because they hide it so well. Tim Tebow said "The holiday season can often go from a season of thanksgiving, to a season of being more aware than ever of the things we do not have. Before long, we begin to believe lies about ourselves, and the discontent becomes consuming," the article reads. " God has orchestrated your life, your family and your story to be perfectly individual. When we compare ourselves to others, we rob ourselves of the joy that exists in being exactly who God created us to be."
  
Many single people dread Christmas season! One person wrote this “My family live too far away to visit, and my friends disappear to spend time with their own families. For me, Christmas and new year are the loneliest times of the year…” For many single people, struggling with loneliness this is the toughest part of being single. Evenings alone on the sofa, Sunday lunch for one, no one with whom to share holidays and sometimes the festive season, too. The Christmas and New Year season whether your single or married this is a time of year when loneliness, depression and sadness can take root in the lives of Christians.

Several factors can produce Christmas blues.

Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress.
Overspending can produce financial pressure.
Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.


We know by the word of God that we shouldn’t feel this way… But we are human and it can and will happen if we don’t take the necessary steps to guard our hearts and mind. God never intended for us to feel this way at this time of year, but unfortunately there were individuals that did feel this way. Not necessarily at Christmas time, but they were real feels and it affected their Christian walk none the less. Here are some helpful ways to battle the Christmas Blues…..


MEDITATE ON THE PRECIOUS SCRIPTURE TO NOURISH YOUR WEARY SOUL.

Meditating on the word of God will guard your mind from falling into depression and fill you with the joy of Christ so that you will be able to enjoy the Season. The word will strengthen you and give you hope as you meditate on it. Psalm 119:28 "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."
  

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING AND LEAVE YOUR SORROW WITH A HOLY GOD WHO IS WHERE WE FIND TRUE PEACE.

The believer knows that prayer works! Pray about your situation and leave the rest to the Lord. He will work everything out, no matter how difficult the case may be, for your own good. Remember who you are praying too! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28. Phil 4:6-7 reminds us of this truth! “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  
DON’T FORGET WHERE YOUR HOPE IS EVEN IF YOU FEEL DRAWN TO THE BLUES OF THE SEASON.

In Genesis we read that God originally created a perfect world. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Gen 1:31. But it was soon marred by Adam and Eve’s sin and the consequence for sin was death. “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen 2:17. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:23. However, even during the darkest day in history, God offered a message of hope in the very first gospel message.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” Genesis 3:15

God promised that He would send a Savior who would conquer Satan and deal with the problem of death and suffering. Even though some of us may feel lonely or isolated during the Christmas holidays, it’s important for us to remember the hope that Jesus brings. The Incarnation, God becoming a man, is the very reason why we have hope. Without Jesus, we have no hope and only death/judgement to look forward to. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess 4:13-18

Here is my Christmas recommendation to you to overcome the Christmas blues!

Why not take time now to dedicate your Christmas to God?

Rest in Him
Find peace in Him
Rejoice in Him

As the shepherds did that night when they were sitting with their sheep in the field without any hope at all. “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:8-20

This is a season or a time to reflect the wonderful blessing that flow from Heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ. Who came to this earth to die a death we deserve and he did this through the Cross. But death could not hold Him for He rose again on the third day and we too can be raised with Him in the end through repentance and faith in Christ alone.

Not relying on getting better
Not relying on gaining favor with God
Not relying on my good works
Not relying on my circumstances.

But solely I Christ Jesus.

As Peter said “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. There is no reason to have or go through the Christmas blues. And you might say “Mike you don’t know what I’ve gone through this year?” And you are right……but God does and He knew you were going to here today to hear His good news of grace and hope through His precious gospel. If you apply these simple truths to your life I guarantee you will be able to say “Tis the season to be jolly”

PLEASE remember! You are not alone and we have a holy God who loves you and gave Himself for you. All He asks of us is to repent and believe the gospel truth this evening. Surely that is the best reason to smile and have a merry Christmas filled with hope this year….God with Us! God bless and Merry Christmas on behalf of my family and the Calvary Baptist Church!


Here is that video I was trying to explain during the audio session of last night.....about the seriousness of lowliness at Christmas time for many people and sometimes the only way we respond is when its too late. Merry Christmas and to God be glory.