While we celebrate the fact that Jesus came to earth as an infant to fulfill a holy plan, it is important to remember the bigger picture, the culmination of that holy plan. He came once before, and He will come again. The entire Bible is a message that points us to that very completion.
God has always had a plan for us. That plan was put into action immediately once sin entered the world. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, resulting in a separation from Him. In his grace, however, he set about to reconcile the human race to Himself. In fact, the very first mention of Jesus, the means of reconciliation, is recorded in Genesis 3:15. We are not free from the consequences of humanity's fall, but we have hope knowing that our relationship with the Creator will be restored.
Because he is good and just, God established covenants with His people to symbolize his offer of eternal fellowship. Noah was assured that the earth would never again be destroyed. Abraham was promised to become a great nation with many descendants. Even as the Israelites continued to rebel, God promised to protect their future. King David was guaranteed that his kingdom would never end. And though the Israelites continued in their rebellion and ingratitude, God promised them a new covenant based solely on His grace.
Throughout this special season, it is easy to focus on the magic of nativity story and the coming of a holy baby. Indeed, it does deserve a special place in our hearts. But let us not lose sight of another coming. The Bible is a love story written to a rebellious creation by a holy Creator, and in his wisdom and mercy, He has not left us to reap what we have sown. Now, like the Israelites waited for the baby in a manger, we wait. We wait for the coming of a King who is our Savior. As you celebrate this holiday season, pray that God will prepare your heart for His coming.
Sometimes, we all want to hide. I'm sure you can think of many occasions in life where you need to hide or seek shelter. Severe weather, attacks, war, or sometimes just being fearful. Most of the time we have a set place to hide for each situation.
REFUGE - a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
Living in a sinful world, we encounter pursuit, danger, or trouble on a daily basis. The only place to truly seek refuge and find peace is in Gods hands. The almighty hands of Jesus Christ and nobody else. Often, we we encounter these times in our lives, we withdraw from God and possibly even remove ourselves from going to church. We want to "get it together" before we go back because we don't want to pretend to be happy. The truth is, God did not establish his church for us to "get it together" on our own. God established his church for us to use it as a place of refuge from anything and everything this world can throw at us. But, how many times to we fail and only run to God when we feel we have it together?
New International Version
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
New Living Translation
You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
English Standard Version
You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
New American Standard Bible
You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.
King James Bible
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
International Standard Version
You are my fortress and shield; I hope in your word.
American King James Version
You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.
American Standard Version
Thou art my hiding-place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
We have the best hiding place that could ever exist. The hands and word of Jesus Christ. So, wherever you stand today... Worry, fear, stress, overwhelmed, regret, unhappiness, lack of true joy... GO HIDE. But hide in Him. Hide in his word. Hide in HIs Church. Hide with His people. Don't wait to "get it together". Gods Church and His word is meant for the BROKEN, not the perfect.
So, as we're all broken and fall short... GO HIDE!
Many times in the Bible, those who were favored by the Lord were blessed with peace in their homes and the surrounding areas. In Leviticus, God promises to give peace while His people rest comfortably. But the past was no place for sleep. In fact, throughout most of history, nighttime was incredibly dangerous.
Once Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, humankind had a more difficult time acquiring food. They were no longer under the safety and comfort of their previous home. Until they became skilled in agriculture in this new, often dry, land, people were constantly on the move, searching for sources of food and trying to avoid predators. Because they moved often, there was no time to build up fortifications for protection. This meant that humans were at the height of vulnerability while they were sleeping. For God to allow His people to sleep without fear, they must have had the utmost trust in Him. Even if they were surrounded by an enemy's armies or stalked by fierce predators, He promised to keep them from harm.
God offers this same peace still. Even today, if we only trust in Him and keep our minds fixed on Him, we will be given that same peace. As counterintuitive as it sounds, peace is something we must fight for. We have to make a conscious decision every day to trust God so that He will give us a peace that passes all understanding. How can we practice trusting Him?
Fear and fighting are common hindrances we all face, but thankfully, God provides a way for us to conquer them. Focus on Him, trust His power, and allow His peace to fill your hearts and minds.
The Bible shows clear distinctions between Jews, biological descendants of Abraham, and Gentiles, or non-Hebrew descendants of Abraham. Once Jesus was sent to the cross, however, those distinctions became blurred. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For [we] are all one in Christ Jesus. In fact, Christ's death on the cross meant the death of hostility among God's people.
But the reality is that we live in a world with people who are very different. In the United States alone, we are surrounded by rich and poor, black and white, young and old, believers and atheists. So when we consider the outside world as well, how can we focus on becoming a unified body of believers?
We can start by:
Remember, without diversity, unity is meaningless. It's easy to portray a Christ-like example of unity with those who share the same backgrounds and similar views, but we are called to establish that unity with all believers. It's time to step up, be the Church, and unite our town, our nation, and our world.
There are times we may not always be happy with our lot in life. In those instances, it is normal, maybe even beneficial, to wrestle with God. Genesis 32 is a perfect example of one such wrestling match. Jacob, who is living in fear of his estranged brother, decides to split up his household to give them better odds of survival. Then, he spends the night in prayer.
At some point during the night, Jacob finds himself wrestling a stranger, a stranger who turns out to be Yahweh himself. By dawn, God tells Jacob to release him, but Jacob refuses. That's right. Jacob refuses to release God until God blesses him.
Before his wrestling match, Jacob was filled with fear and dread. But by the end of the match, he was left renewed and reassured. God does not want us to miss out on His blessings. Like Jacob, He also pursues us. So when you find yourself in the middle of a wrestling match, wait it out, and receive the blessings.
In two short days, CrossPointe will be sending a group to International Youth Convention in San Antonio. Pray for the group, and pray that God will invite them to a wrestling match. Pray that God will set a fire in their souls and use them to build His kingdom.
It's hard to grasp the idea that a loving God would punish His children. But even though He gets angry, it is not long-lasting; his favor is for a lifetime.
God took Moses to a mountaintop to show him the land that he would never enter. Moses died just outside the Promised Land. Although God's anger is temporary, His favor is forever. Moses may have missed out on settling in the land he had spent most of his life moving toward, but the loss was only temporary. In the moments after Moses was blocked from the promised land, he was taken into eternal life with his Father. God carried Moses to eternity.
Just like with Moses, our disappointments will not last. The God of justice, forgiveness, and salvation will carry us too. Joy is coming.