faith in Jesus
Have you ever wondered about how the holidays have evolved into such a frenzied and hectic time of year? Well, celebrating Christmas did not start out this way, it began as a proclamation of peace and wonder to the whole world.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When it came time for the fulfillment of this prophecy the people who received the announcement were so moved with awe and wonderment that they stopped what they were doing to go and see this newly born Savior.
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that 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.” (Luke 2:15-16)
Celebrating Christmas began with receiving a gift from God in the birth of His Son, Jesus and it caused the people to pause from their daily routines to take time to worship and praise God for sending a Savior into a needy and lost world.
This holiday let’s join in with the multitude of the heavenly hosts who praised God by saying;
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Take time to celebrate the Gift of Jesus more than the gifts we expect to receive this Christmas!
“He is the radiance of the glory of God…” (Hebrews 1:3)
So often we think of success in terms of attaining wealth, position and honors but what does it take to build a lifestyle of success that has a lasting effect on those around us and possibly the world? It is in how we choose to go about achieving the outcomes we desire.
King Solomon, arguably the most wise, successful and wealthiest man on earth, understood the importance of seeking wisdom from God in how to live a successful life.
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiates 12:13)
Solomon understood that every deed of man would come under the scrutiny of God’s judgement, not that we should live in fear but that we would be encouraged to embrace the wisdom of God’s definition of successful living. That by choosing His ways over our ways and living our lives in fellowship with Him rather than away from Him, we would live a life of lasting honor and not one resulting in judgement.
“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7)
If we walk with God He promises to be a shield of sound wisdom in our lives that will protect us from straying from His best for our lives.
“Guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:8)
Your life may not appear all that successful at the moment but if you choose to trust in God, to live according to His ways, your life will be honored and the people around you will be blessed in ways that wealth and position can not, even though these may be a byproduct. God’s way of living is the most successful decision you will ever make. His way of living is purposeful and fulfilling, a faith journey of discovery that teaches us true success. Our greatest accomplishment and goal is to live a life with no secrets and no evil deeds that will bring us into judgement at the end. (Ecclesiates 12:14) This is successful living.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
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There is power in a name based on what it represents. The name of God is no exception.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
God declares that His name is established forever and so powerful that whatever we perceive to be the greatest enemy in our lives is weak before Him and will have to acknowledge the incomparable name of God.
His name is representative of all creation set in place by Him and yet He cares about and for all mankind.
“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
Mankind is a picture of God’s loving-kindness and grace. He has crowned us with glory and honor and given us dominion over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet. (Psalm 8:5,6)
How then are we to live in such a way that honors this magnificent gift of dominion to rule and manage all that God has entrusted to us? We are to glorify His Name with the understanding that we have only what has been given to us to manage here on earth. To do this properly we must agree with God and His purpose for creating mankind. We must believe by faith in the name of His Son Jesus, the Savior of the world.
“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Magnifying the name of God happens when we fulfill His purpose for our lives. Are you living in the light and power of Your namesake? If not, choose today to live and walk in a manner worthy of your calling. (Ephesians 4:1)
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
The word prisoner carries a negative connotation and yet in the context of faith in God it is a positive attribute that points to a lifestyle of built on hope. Whereas a prisoner loses his/her freedom to choose and are held bound to obey a higher authority, God followers are invited into a lifestyle of eternal hope.
Hope anchored in God is described as a stronghold; a well-fortified place, a fortress and a refuge from anyone whose aim is to keep us from fulfilling our destiny according to God’s will. It is also a place of restoration in the aftermath of great lost.
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zechariah 9:12)
In seasons of hardship its easy to forget that our position of strength is to remain in God’s stronghold of protection and His promise of restoration to all those who have placed their hope in Jesus, His Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of our hope.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus).” (2Corinthians 1:20)
Who is your stronghold and in whom have you placed your hope? In God we have the full assurance of hope until the end, the fulfillment of His promises. (Hebrews 6:11)
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
He is Hope Eternal
“What is truth?” This is one of the most important questions of the ages. It was asked of Jesus by Pilot, the governor of Judea over 2000 years ago and still resonates in hearts today. (John 18:38)
Truth is sought sincerely early in life but it seems that once life complications set in (through influential relationships or circumstances) we are easily swayed into forming our own truth. Not realizing that our truth can never acclaim to the height, depth and width of God’s truth we sabotage our future potential and impact the outcomes that we were created and designed to have. Our version of truth becomes as natural to us as breathing and we miss out on God’s best for our lives and fulfilling His purpose.
Our form of truth is not liberating, it leads to a fear based bondage. Real truth is found in God Word.
“The sum of Your word is truth…” (Psalm 119:160)
“I am…the truth…” (John 14:6)
Jesus also said
“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” (John 18:37)
Truth is found in Jesus. In receiving Jesus we receive truth. Once we enter into truth our ears are opened to listen to Jesus’ voice. Then and only then are our hearts satisfied, we have found truth and the empowerment to build a life based on truth and the freedom to enjoy a blessed life!
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
From the moment we gasp for our first breath at birth we announce our need for a Savior. With the second breath our struggle begins with embracing it. Instead of embracing this need we strive toward building a self-sufficient lifestyle that conveniently obscures our view of the One who has known us since before we were born, who saw our unformed substance. (Psalm 139:13-16)
The crazy belief around building a life of self-sufficiency is the false belief that independent living is possible, that creating enough resources to get along without help is obtainable. And yet we find that in the last chapter of our lives we suffer regret over relationships that have been sacrificed for gain in life.
We were created for relationship and dependence upon God from the beginning.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
God also provided the resources that we would need during our life on earth and the abilities, gifts and talents to bear fruit, to live a prosperous life balanced in spirit, soul and body.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1)
In our pursuit of self-sufficiency we presume that our resources have come about from our own hard work, gifts or talents. God warns us that when we trust in our own ways all that we build for ourselves will be destroyed. (Hosea 10:13) He encourages us to turn from pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle to one of dependence upon the One who owns it all.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10)
At the age of 14 God showed me my need for a Savior and the futility of trying to build a self-sufficient lifestyle. I believed falsely that it would protect me from being betrayed by others and the world in general. God was inviting me to journey through life with Him as my provider and One in whom I could depend on for provision that would result in works that would not be destroyed. His invitation was simple;
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Everyone needs a Savior and His name is Jesus.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Have you ever been asked by God to choose the less traveled road that seemed to include sacrifice and loneliness? If you obeyed His voice you know that it required a faith deeper than you had at the moment of acceptance. And you had to come to terms that obeying came with no guarantees on the desired outcome compared to the labor that it seemed to involve. Did you know that God promises that the labor that He calls us to will not be in vain?
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
When God calls us to labor on His behalf it is assumed that we know it can only be done in the Lord. Otherwise how can we be ‘steadfast, immovable, always abounding’ in accomplishing what we have accepted to do?
The call to labor encompasses every arena of life and relationships. Some are called to labor for their marriage, family, children, health, home, career or ministry. Whatever the call, whatever the sacrifice involved we are admonished to be ‘steadfast, immovable and always abounding’ in our labor in the Lord.
Labor can involve suffering and hardship, yet it is not in vain. Our faith is tested in the Lord and when we endure we come forth pure as gold, through the refining fire of God’s love. We may not achieve our initial desired outcome but God always delivers a far richer outcome than we could have imagined. Knowing Him more, being transformed into the image of Christ and reaping the divine fruit of faithful labor in the Lord.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
Your labor is not in vain!
Are you a ‘doer’ first and a listener second or a ‘listener’ first then a ‘doer’? Are you all about accomplishing tasks throughout the day based on what’s important to you and your priorities? God has a lot to say about those who are not willing to listen to His voice before moving through life with a personal agenda that is void of His influence. He longs to have a voice in your life. He knows that without Him we can’t possible make wise decisions all the time. We don’t have nor ever will have the mind capacity to know everything we need to know when we need to know it. The bible tells us that its foolish to think that we don’t need to listen to God. He is All-Knowing.
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.” (Jeremiah 5:21)
Like a parent assigning a task to a child that runs off without instructions, we tend to charge through life without taking the time ask God for His instructions. If we don’t ask or listen we will always come up short of God’s best for our lives.
Jesus lived His entire life on this earth based on what He heard from God. To the very end it was all about fulfilling God’s will and not His own. He was so in-step with God and His will for His life that He said:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)
Jesus listened and followed God’s instructions for His life. He was fully obedient and surrendered to accomplishing the work that God sent Him to do.
In a similar way we have been called to follow Jesus’ example, to listen and obey, to do the will of God for our lives.
“This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)
Become a listener and you will accomplish what God sent you to do!
“When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers
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