First, rejoice in the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah, Jesus The Christ. We rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy of heaven was so great it could not be contained (Luke 2:18-24).
Second, consider His influence in our lives today. Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our desire to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and of forgiveness. A time to consider the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the Word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties.
Third, look with expected anticipation of His return. While the Christmas season is typically a time for looking back and celebrating the birth of our Lord, it seems to me that it should also be a time of looking to the future. Let us look forward. Let us prepare for that blessed day when He will come again. Let us be as wise as the saints of old, who watched for His coming earnestly.
I pray that during this Christmas season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and display sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause in us a desire to renew our minds and to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our neighbors. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Redeemer.
TROUBLING TRIALS PART III HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND?
Let’s be honest, many of us respond by complaining or we are surprised and find it difficult to understand why these troubles are happening to us. [1 Peter 4:12] Peter then gives us the right response. [1 Peter 4:13-16]. So how do I get from complaining to rejoicing? This may surprise you, but it is impossible in our own strength. In fact, it is not natural, rather it is supernatural. These Scriptures are filled with accounts where Godly men and women experienced suffering and trials that were to the point of overwhelming. [1 Corinthians 1:8] & [2 Corinthians 4:7-12] The Apostle Paul gives us a very personal account of great pain and suffering and how the Lord gave him the supernatural ability to go from great sorrow to even greater rejoicing. [2 Corinthians 12:7-10] The key to responding positively to trials and suffering is to understand and trust God’s eternal purpose, and yielding completely to His plan. “…My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” All of us would agree that our desire is to experience God’s strength in our lives. It is the testimony of Scripture and my own personal experience that God’s strength is only released in our lives when we yield totally to Him. My greatest obstacle to experiencing God’s strength, provision, and direction for my life is ME! I suspect the same is true of you as well. This truth is not complicated nor is it simplistic. I have discovered that coming to the end of myself and yielding to God is a life-long process. [Philippians 2:12- 13] Let me leave this topic with one more encouragement.
[Colossians 3:1-4] [Philippians 1:20-21]
Until Next Time, Pastor Emeritus Jim Thomas
WHERE DO TRIALS COME FROM?
To begin with, we must understand that God is sovereign over all things. Romans 11:33-36 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all
things: to whom be glory forever. Amen. Colossians 1:16-17 “ For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him, all things consist.”
Next, we must understand that God is not the author of sin! James 1:13-17 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every
the perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
So Where Do Trials Come From?
God either sends trials or He allows trials. He sends trials into the lives of unbelievers as either a form of judgment or to bring them to the place of repentance. Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” The woman in Mark 8, who was caught in the act of adultery was humiliated and about to be stoned, Jesus intervened. Mark
8:10-11 “When Jesus had lifted up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man
condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” The first example was of
judgment and the second was to bring about repentance.
God allows trials to come into the lives of believers to correct us when we get off track. Hebrews 12:6-8 “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and
scourges every son whom he receives. If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, …...” He also allows all the circumstances [good, bad, ugly] that come into our lives for our good and His glory and also to mold and shape us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that all things work
together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son….” 1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
Finally, the Bible tells us that both believers and unbelievers experience troubling trials. Matthew 5:45 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Romans 8:22-23 “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Next time we will explore how we, as Christians should respond to troubling Trials.
Until Next Time
Pastor Emeritus Jim Thomas
EVERYONE FACES TRIALS & EXPERIENCES SUFFERING
In these articles, I will attempt to discuss the trials that plague both Christians and Non-Christians. To begin with, trials are inevitable. The Bible makes no attempt to say otherwise nor does the Bible teach that mature, dedicated Christian are free from the trials of life. Job 14:1 “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Further Job was the most righteous man of his day. Job 1:1 “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Paul tells us in, 2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:” God used the Apostle Paul to establish many New Testament Churches and write most of the New Testament, yet he experienced great persecution and incredible suffering.
I share this Scriptural evidence to unmask the false teaching that is pervading the Church today through so-called ‘Name it and claim it, believe it and receive it, health and prosperity preachers’. In fact, the Scriptures teach that believers will experience more trials and suffer then unbelievers. This is not a popular truth, but it is the truth. By the way, the Bible says, John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus warned His followers in John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
In future articles, we will explore the reasons for trials.Until Next Time
Pastor Emeritus Jim Thomas
In 1 Peter 5:8 we are reminded to, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. When Satan comes at us he doesn’t say, “hey, I am the devil; let’s ruin your life”.