Advent: Week One, Hope!

Hope is a loaded term these days. From politics to generic inspirational use, hope can now mean many things to many people. Defining hope with such diversity is not bad; after all, the opposite is dread. Since then some family and friends face sorrow during the Holidays; hope is dread’s alternative. Furthermore, since our culture uses hope so often, we Christians can speak about the greatest hope of all much easier: that hope being, Jesus Christ

Luke 2:11 reminds us, “Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” [1]

Two-thousand years ago, the world was in a period with little hope. God’s chosen people, Israel, had not heard from the Lord for over 400 years. This timeframe was known as the “Silent Years.” It was a dark period…until Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior was humbly born in a manger at the town of Bethlehem. 

As Jesus aged and matured, His ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, the nature of Christ’s hope made more sense. In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

From Romans 15:13 and many like it, today, we know that when we trust in the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, we receive hope, joy, and peace. A hope, joy, and peace that comes from God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Together, they are three-in-one, and our belief in Christ sustains our hope yesterday, today, and forevermore. 

We need no longer live today in silence or darkness. Instead, we should live with hope because the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born 2000 plus years ago, not just in the flesh, but forevermore! 

[1]All verses used in this post are from the New International Version 2011.

No Resolution, But My One Word Goal For 2017: Peace

HomeImage-OneWordIn 2015 I did not set any New Year’s Resolutions. Rather, I chose to focus on a “One-Word Goal” for that year; The word was hope. Over 2015 I focused on hope in a variety of areas. I read books on hope; I changed my view towards things, and I eliminated many influences that were negative. In other words, it was a success.

Despite the success, I didn’t set a “One-Word Goal” for 2016 due to some traumatic events at the end of last year. Fortunately, the transition from 2016 to 2017 are more hopeful (not pun intended), and I’m able to set a new “One-Year Goal” for 2017. My goal is simply, peace. Continue reading “No Resolution, But My One Word Goal For 2017: Peace”

Celebrating Independence Day With More Than Just Fireworks!

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)

“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Fireworks

Happy Independence Day! I pray that you are able to celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans just as you planned. I, however, am in store for a very wet and rainy Fourth of July. The weather forecast is calling for 100 percent chance of rain. As I tweeted last night, “100 percent chance is more like a certainty than possibility.” Therefore, my family and I may not get to see fireworks as usual this year. This means we are going to have to find a new tradition for celebrating the Fourth of July. After all there is more to Independence Day than fireworks. For example, we can reflect on our freedom and I like the phrase, “that all men were created equal” because every person is equal in America, and in the eyes of the Lord since we were all created in His image.

The phrase, “that all men were created equal” is recorded in the Declaration of Independence. This statement has been referred as the “immortal declaration” because it infers that human beings are created by an intelligent designer. Personally, I believe our creator is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of the Old and New Testament who gave His Son Jesus Christ as a ransom for many. Therefore the phrase “that all men are created equal” is not a humanist proclamation but a synthesis of Genesis 1:26, which says, “Let us make man in our own image.” In other words, all human beings are created in the image of God. This makes all people of race, background, nationality, or otherwise equal in God’s eyes. As a result, on this Independence Day we can celebrate how God has shared His very essence with us. This in turn means we should equally respect one another, despite our differences, because when we look at each person we are looking at the image of God. But, our celebration doesn’t have to stop with how we are created. We can celebrate our Christian independence as we celebrate our American freedoms.

There is no better way to remember that we are free than to recognize that as a Christian we free indeed! Galatians 5:1 tells us, “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Christians stand before the Lord and the world as free creatures. We are free because we have place out faith in Christ Jesus by repenting and believing on Christ. Therefore, as Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christians can celebrate that our independence is found in Christ dying for our sins on the Cross. We don’t have to live in the fear of being eternally separated from God the Father. Christ defeated death and sin. As a result, His liberation from sin and death is God’s redemptive plan for all of humanity and that is independence worth celebrating. In other words, we have many freedoms to celebrate today that are more than just fireworks.

So matter how you are celebrating Independence Day, let me encourage you to remember that God has given you His image. He has provided you with an opportunity for independence from your pain, sickness, sorrow, and death. All you need to do is to repent and believe that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for your sin and make Him your Lord and Savior. By doing so you will have an independence and freedom for this life and for eternity, than just for our nation.

In conclusion, let’s celebrate our nations independence, but I encourage you to not stop there. Instead celebrate lavishly by having another reason to honor the Fourth of July. Celebrate by embracing Christ today, either again or for the first time, and celebrate the freedom that Jesus brings to our lives and forever more. Let (His) freedom ring!