"Peace on earth, goodwill to men..." These words were sung by the angel choir, declaring the coming of Jesus, the one who will bring Peace. But what are we talking about? Because throughout history there has never been a time of peace. Well, there was, in the garden, before Adam and Eve sinned. In Genesis we see Adam and Eve able to walk and talk with God in the garden. Once they ate the forbidden fruit, they hid from God, were banished from the garden, a curse was placed over everything and the first blood was shed when a poor innocent animal died because they needed to make clothes for themselves to cover their nakedness. SIN breaks peace between humanity and creation and worst of all, it breaks the peace between us and God. The truth is we don't like to do what others tell us so we go the opposite way and do what we want. It's the same with our view towards God. So our natural tendency is to hide from God. As a people we are banished from the garden and sin continues to disrupt the peace between God and self. That's why Jesus came 2000 years ago. He is the "Peacemaker." He provided THE WAY for us to have peace with God. Apart from Jesus there is no peace with God. As the saying goes, "NO Jesus, NO peace. KNOW Jesus, KNOW peace." This Christmas, may you receive the greatest gift of all... the restoration of peace with God that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus. (Read Romans 3:23, 6:23, 10:9 & 5:1 and message me with any questions).
The message of Joy and Peace go hand in hand for where there is true joy there will be peace and where there is peace there will be joy. The peace that Jesus gives us is a different kind of peace than that which the world seeks. The world views peace as a lull between the storms or a cease-fire during a war. Its that period of time where everything is calm, that state of mutual harmony being free from any strife or dissention whether it be on a personal or national level. This type of peace is at the mercy of the uncontrollable and ever-changing circumstances around us. This type of peace suggests the absence of something. However, the peace that the bible talks about is not the absence of something but rather the presence of something... JESUS. True Peace is found in Jesus and He came to us as a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago. Jesus brought Peace with Him back then and He is still bringing peace today. This Christmas, may you experience the true peace that comes from a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
When Jesus came on the scene 2000 years ago, He turned the world upside down. What a person thought was right was actually wrong. He didn't come to put a damper on joy but rather He came to give us true joy and to set us free from the enemy who holds us captive by his cunning schemes and counterfeit joy. That’s what the "joy paradox" is all about. A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself but remains true. The Bible is filled with paradoxes: Lose your life to find it. Die to live. Give to receive. The least is the greatest and the greatest the least. The humble is exalted. The weak are strong. The wise are foolish and the foolish are wise. And though you are free you are a slave.
So it is with joy. Joy does not come by having more stuff; it doesn't even come by having all you want. Rather, joy comes by giving up all you want and trusting God for all you need. You and I know that things will come and go. How sad it is if our joy comes and goes just the same. This teaches us not to place our trust in things. Instead we place our trust and hope in the solid Rock that is never shaken. Only then will we see our JOY remain. That is TRUE JOY.
This Christmas season may we remember where true JOY comes from... “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)
So how does Jesus bring JOY? Well, the very name "Jesus" means "God Saves." Because we are ALL sinners (Ro 3:23), the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus is that He paid the price for our sins. When we believe in the good news, we receive forgiveness from God through Jesus. Apart from Jesus there is no forgiveness. Read Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9-10 and see what God says. The JOY comes through the release of guilt by the forgiveness of your sins that sets you free to live for God. When you understand this, then you too will see how Jesus brings true JOY. That's why we celebrate Christmas.
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
But the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! --Luke 2:10-11 (TLB)
Based on the angel’s message to the shepherds that first Christmas night, the most joyful message to ever be announced is the coming of Jesus. So who is Jesus? And why is the message so great? The more you spend time reading God's word, the more you will know who He is. Jesus says to "ask, seek and knock and it will be given to you." Don't settle for a limited view of His greatness but dig into the scriptures daily and see how infinitely amazing Jesus is. Know that Jesus is ALL-sufficient for your joy. If you needed something else plus Jesus, then Jesus would not be sufficient. If Jesus is not sufficient then He is not superior over all things and would be lacking as the main joy-giver for humanity. If He were lacking in anything that we need then He would cease to be God. As John Piper says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." In other words, God wants to satisfy those who come to Him hungry because then we glorify Him all the more. So really, if Jesus is not sufficient for our joy its not because He is INSUFFICIENT in Himself but that we are lacking in our understanding of who He is.
This Christmas may we understand the greatness of this message and experience the all-sufficient JOY of Jesus.
Jesus gives LIFE! I'm not talking about mere existence, I'm talking about a fullness of it! Exuberant, fulfilled, content, overJOYed, meaningful, blissful! That's the LIFE Jesus gives. Jesus said, the thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have LIFE! (Jn 10:10). That word LIFE in the Greek is ZOE. Zoe is the LIFE that comes from God Himself that is also in Jesus. That LIFE was in Adam and Eve BEFORE the fall, but Satan tempted them, they sinned and they lost ZOE. Satan STOLE it from them bringing DEATH in exchange for LIFE. In the same way, Satan stole it from us as well. That's why when Jesus CAME to earth 2000 years ago, He came to bring ZOE. Yes, we still have life apart from Jesus. But that word in the Bible, which describes life in general is "psoo-kay", which simply means existence. GOD WANTS YOU TO DO MORE THAN JUST SURVIVE! HE WANTS YOU TO THRIVE!! Thats why He sent His Son, that whoever believes in HIM (JESUS) will not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE (ZOE). Some 2000 years ago Jesus brought us LIFE. This life is full of HOPE and JOY and its yours for the asking. This Christmas, may you find the greatest gift ever... LIFE! Message me and I can help you with any questions you might have. Merry Christmas!!
Just as we said last week that HOPE is not mere "wishful" thinking, Joy is more than merely being happy. Happiness depends on circumstance, whereas joy is deeply rooted within. Joy comes with the hope that Jesus brings. The hope that there is something more gives us a joy that no matter what comes our way we know we WILL overcome. That kind of assurance and that kind of hope and joy can only come when we understand and place our faith in the good news of Jesus. Only when we place our faith in Christ can we rise above the mere "Pursuit of Happiness" and experience a lasting JOY that is NOT dictated by the ever-changing circumstances around us. This is the JOY that Jesus brought to the world when He came some 2000 years ago. May we place our faith in HIS good news of Hope and Joy and may we experience Christmas like never before.
As was spoken to the shepherds by the angel that first Christmas night: "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!" (Luke 2:10-12)
The message of Christ represents a far greater joy than we can conceive. But unless we understand who Jesus is then we cannot understand the joy behind this message, let alone, have the audacity to call it the greatest news ever to be announced. However, this IS the greatest news ever to be announced. This message is universal and timeless and some 2000 years later, still brings hope, promise and joy to the world. Come and see for yourselves how to experience true and lasting joy then we can all sing along with the heavenly hosts the most joyful and greatest news ever announced... Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hope is a longing for something more; for something better. Hope says, "I'm not satisfied with the status quo." Hope is the drive within us to achieve, to outperform, to become or experience something more. This drive is also part of our sinful nature. It is prideful, boastful, selfish, covetous and envious. Although hope is a very good thing our sinful nature blinds us of what true hope is all about. If everything we know of will pass away, including our very lives (and we know we can't take anything with us when we go), then there must be a greater hope than this.
When Jesus came 2000 years ago, He brought hope. That hope is not found in "stuff." The hope He brought was the promise of eternal life. For people who can always get what they want, and who are living comfortably, maybe eternal life does not sound that impressive (unless they can take all their goodies with them). But for the other 88% of the world who are in poverty, oppressed and treated unjustly, eternal life might be their only hope... their LAST hope. I don't know what you place your hope in, but for me, eternal life with Jesus is the greatest hope I can possibly think of. Even greater than all the comforts and money in the world. Why? Because all this is temporary. This Christmas, may you find what true hope is all about. It's not about the presents, it's about the presence.
So how did Jesus bring hope 2000 years ago when He came as a little baby? History AND the Bible shows us that Israel was under Roman rule during the time when Jesus was born. Evil King Herod oppressed the Jews with high taxes. This kept Israel as slaves in a land that was their own. On top of that, God had been silent for 400 years. The last words ringing in their ears were that spoken through the prophet Malachi on the judgement of Israel due to their turning from God's ways. Israel's oppression seemed to be evidence that God had forsaken them. Yet in the bleakness of every passing day, a faithful remnant remained, those who would not give up hope, those who knew that God would deliver Israel. Then John the baptist shows up shouting, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" The long awaited, promised Messiah was coming.
What is holding you down today? What burdens do you carry that keeps you bound and oppressed? The promises of Jesus brings hope. These promises are more than wishful thinking. It is God telling us, "I love you so much that I sent my Son to die for you." All you have to do is believe. Read God's word for yourself. Get to know Him and claim those promises and you will soon see the hope that Jesus brings.
Snippets are what pops in my head while having my daily quiet time with God. I write it down to maybe encourage, challenge or inspire others to read God's word. Please feel free to share your snippets as well. Enjoy and God bless!