Christmas: A Time to Repent and Believe

Christmas: A Time to Repent and Believe

Even in the Christmas narratives there are encouragements to repent and believe. God has broken into our world to do a new thing, a mighty thing, a wonderful thing! The world is forever changed, and your life can be forever changed as well.

Think of the shepherds out in the fields by night. Luke 2:8-20 recounts these narratives surrounding the birth of Christ. There were shepherds out in the fields in the area near Bethlehem, and they were basically living out there so that they could share the shifts throughout the night to keep watch over the sheep so that they would not wander off, be stolen by thieves, or attacked by wild animals like wolves.

 
This passage is where we get the nighttime theme for so many of our Christmas hymns. They were out there in the middle of the night. It would have been quiet and dark in the fields, and that contrasts with what happens next, as reported in verse nine and following. They were out there in the middle of the night, in the dark, doing the same ol', same ol' and God broke into their lives! God broke into the world! The Savior was born.

And this recounts the normal sequence of events. This happens for all of us:
1. God makes Himself known
2. We rush to Jesus- Savior, Christ, Lord
3. We glorify and praise God
4. We spread the word about Christ

Christmas is a time to recognize (again and afresh) the wonderful revelation of God and to throw ourselves at His wonder and mercy. It is a time to not only repent and believe but to glorify Him and share this Good News with others. Repent and believe all the more this Christmas season, and glorify God and evangelize others as you go along your way!

Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Here is a message that brings great joy: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. . . .” We have inherited a great legacy from Christian men and women who have gone before us.  They trusted that the Child was born and that the Son was given. They trusted that He gave Himself for them, and we believe the same. The hope of the ages arrived, and peace has come on earth to those on whom His favor rests. That is a message worth rejoicing over!!!

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

What does it mean to rejoicein the Lord? How are we to do rejoice always?
Have you ever felt less than joyful? Have you ever gone to church services on Sunday and just really didn’t feel like singing or shaking hands? This is the human condition. We are weak and vulnerable, and yet we are told to rejoice at all times. I have two questions for us to answer:

1. What does it mean to REJOICE in the Lord?
To rejoice in the Lord is to have a healthy relationship with Him in the first place. David said in a Psalm “He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God.” Secondly, to rejoice is to adoringly respond to the knowledge that we are at peace with God through the blood of Christ. 

2. How are we to rejoice ALWAYS?
In all of the flux of the Christian life, whether in attacks from those who have strayed, personality clashes with fellow believers, hatred from the world, or even the threat physical suffering and death, we are to rejoice. Joy is something that is known and experienced in the Christian’s soul. So, whether or not there is a smile on our face or a song on our lips does not matter. We can rejoice in the deepest, darkest circumstances.

For example, each and every time we gather together for a church service, we should fill the room with joy. From classroom to sanctuary, handshake to hug, greetings and goodbyes—We need to allow our joy to show forth. What if every single one of us came to the assembly with excitement? What if we made it our goal each and ever week to be as joyful as possible? Can you visualize how lively our church would be? Can you imagine the people we would attract who would be interested in the source of our joy? Can you dream of the impact we could have in our community for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?

A people who truly exhibit the joy that they claim to have . . . that would be awesome. . . .

And if this was to happen and you were experiencing one of those downdays, you could not help but be built up by your brothers and sisters! This is actually what God wants for His people. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed!” We are free to love, free to worship, free to laugh, free to be rejoice!!!

This statement found in Philippians 4:4 is not just good advice; it is a command to be obeyed. So, I challenge you—As Christmas is around the corner and 2019 is just over the hill—Make it your life’s mission to be a Christian that is full of joy—So full that it floods out of you when we are together!  No matter the past, which is fixed, or the future, which is held in God’s hands, the Rural Hall Christian Church should be a people of pure, inescapable JOY always!!!

After Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving

How easy it is to dwell on the negative, the difficult, and what we have lost rather than setting our minds on the blessings and good that we have been given from above. Let me encourage you this Thanksgiving week to approach your prayers with gratefulness and begin your prayers with your thanksgivings. When we focus on what we have been given, when we recount the blessings of God FIRST, then everything else is viewed from a more appropriate perspective. Philippians 4:6-7 directs us, "Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus." The phrase "with thanksgiving" may be more clearly translated "after thanksgivings." Only after we have given thanks to God should we state our various supplications. God is merciful and gracious. For this reason and so many others, He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. Do not neglect this important discipline!