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The Gift of His Life

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

God has not only provided the gift of a baby this Christmas, He has also provided the gift of a perfect example of living life His way.

God knows us so well. We can be so predictable. Since the beginning, God has known that what we see, we desire; what we focus on, we are drawn to; and what we think about, we become. While after generations of other Christ followers, we have current day examples from whom to learn; through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we still have the perfect example to follow.

Ultimately, Jesus taught us to love one another. That love is shown through sharing the truth of His Word, serving those in need and suffering for the good and glory of God. Sharing the truth and serving others are easy when there is no resistance; no temptations, trials or troubles in our life. But add suffering to the mix and things can suddenly change.

Our character is who we are at all times. Does suffering cause you to change your words, actions and behavior? Can your outlook on life go from rosy to bleak in the blink of an eye?

Through the gift of Jesus, the living example of God’s grace, truth, love and righteousness, we can see a man just like us. He had family, friends, celebrations and troubles. He worked, was tired, hungry, in need of alone time and rest. But nowhere does Jesus complain about the troubles He faced. He talked about the reality of the troubles, but He did not complain. Why not?

He knew these troubles had to take place. He had absolute certainty that God would see Him through His suffering and God’s purpose through Him would be accomplished. That is joyful hope!

There is a difference between wishful thinking and certain hope. Wishful thinking leaves room for worry and doubt. What we hope for might not really be true. But, if we profess to believe in the hope God’s love for us has accomplished through Jesus, we will have peace because what we believe is true. We are resolved to continue in the path God has laid out before us regardless of our problems.

How do we know if we simply wish or truly hope in the truth of Jesus? By how we stand up under suffering. Do we worry or rejoice? It is easy to rejoice and be glad in good times but can we still do this when times are difficult, conditions unfavorable and our circumstances down-right painful?

As we allow Christ’s example to be our reality, our character grows and becomes more like His. He trusted the Father completely, seeking His will and following His lead. He trusted in the hope that through His suffering, we would come to know the Father and His love for us.

Something to Consider…

Jesus willingly endured for our benefit and He patiently showed us grace and mercy in our weakness. God has poured is love out for us through the blood of Jesus and in that we can have true joy and gladness regardless of our circumstances.

Consider your temptations, trials and troubles. How can you rejoice because you have hope that through your suffering, you can lead others to Jesus?

The Gift of a Baby

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 (NIV)

Do you know someone, a friend or your children perhaps, who won’t take your advice? They continually do their own thing even though you’ve been there, done that, and have great words of wisdom for them on how to avoid the mistakes you’ve made. Do you ever want to throw your hands up and walk away? “Do whatever you want. I don’t care. It’s your life!”

I’ve been there many times. Oh, how the anger and frustration can rise! But then, I remember God’s grace and love for His people who have done this very thing over and over again. They weren’t just going through a phase or having a little pity-party, they were down-right rebelling against God and His commandments. If He can offer grace and move forward in love, shouldn’t I?

And just as my children argue with me, I argue with God.

There is something about the peace we have when making up after an argument. We know we don’t want to be mad, not talk, or feel tension and stress when we are around the other person so we choose to make it right. We apologize, offer forgiveness, and reconcile. The best though is when we fully acknowledge the truth of the situation and our part in the problem. We don’t always do this when we apologize…it’s like we say we’re sorry with our fingers crossed behind our back. “I’ll apologize but it’s still really his fault.”

There is a difference when fully acknowledging what we’ve done, why we did it and what it will take to make things right again regardless of what the other person has to say. I know when I’ve been able to do this there is a feeling of relief, but also a bit of fear that my efforts to reconcile will be rejected. Maybe they will agree that it is all my fault and take no ownership in their part of the problem. What if they don’t want a real relationship with me? What about me do they not find acceptable or worthy of a relationship?

God’s ways are right and true. He has nothing to apologize for yet He wants to be reconciled; He longs for a relationship with you.

While God’s people were continuing to do their own thing, living their own life, God was making a way for them to be reconciled to Him. While they were arguing with God, He was thinking of the day when there would be peace. Jesus would bring that peace.

Grace and truth, the heart of our loving Father, has come through Jesus Christ. We can turn from the truth and reject God’s plan for reconciliation; God does allow us to do that. But how much better it is when we accept His gift of grace and embrace His truth.

Something to Consider…

God sent His Son as a gift for me and for you. Have you accepted, unwrapped and embraced this gift?

At Christmas, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Through faith we have been made right with God and it starts with the birth of this baby. Choose to thank Him today for this new way He has made.