What a joy to see daffodils and tulips and flowering trees! The cherry trees outside Holy Faith’s front doors are ready to bloom! Praise God for the budding and sprouting of new life all around us. And in this Easter season, the new life within us through Christ’s resurrection and our Baptism into Him!
Easter celebrates restoration. Our heavenly Father has kept His Word! He promised to send a Savior to save the world and He did! He promised that the Savior would live among us, suffer for our sins, and He did! He promised that our Savior would die just so that you and I would be forgiven, and He did! And He promised that Jesus Christ, our Lord, would rise victorious from the grave. And He did! Easter celebrates that God kept His Word for us, His loved ones.
God’s love ones we are! A higher price has never been paid for anything or anyone. The suffering and death of Jesus, our focus during Lent, tell us how valuable we are in His sight. No amount of money or gold could bring about our transformation into God’s children. Nothing we possess or accomplish, nothing we do or say can change us from the inside out. Only God, in His continued grace activity for His love ones, can cause new life within! He takes what Jesus has done and makes it ours. Through His “kept” Word, He moves us to believe and hold fast to His fulfilled promises.
So that we can rise to new life as His People of Promise! Christ’s resurrection gives eternal significance to everything we say and do. We are empowered to live joyfully and triumphantly! Not only are we equipped to handle any obstacle the world might place before us – yes, even death – we have His transforming gift to share as those around us struggle and fall. In fact, God counts upon His People of Promise to share His transforming power in Christ. Because He lives, we live also! (John 14:19)
Yes, the end of winter is here! Spring has sprung! And along with it, Easter! Live now and always as God’s People of Promise! Alleluia!! Christ has Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Pastor Craig
He is like a strong river that never runs dry,
and like the sweet rain that falls down from the sky.
As He daily refreshes my body and my soul,
so my testimony can be strong and bold….
Bright like the sun always lighting my way,
warm and embracing with each golden ray!
He tends to my soul with such deep loving care,
There is nowhere I go that He is not there…
There’s no pain that I suffer He hasn’t felt first,
No loss, or sorrow, no hunger or thirst.
He holds all my days, in the palm of His hand,
All My hurts and my sorrows He understands,
I will serve Him with all of my heart and soul,
For His love to me is more precious than gold…
Thank you Lord Jesus for loving me so,
For planting your seeds and helping them grow!!
Thank you one day I will see you in glory!
Help me till then to share your sweet Gospel Story,
For by sharing your love with others I can plant salvations seed,
And assure others that For them Christ did intercede!
Then on the day when at last I’m called home,
Finally I will be able to worship before your throne!!
Thank you Lord for all you have done,
Especially for the gift of your precious Son!
By: Barbara Janis ♥️✝️♥️✝️♥️✝️♥️✝️♥️
Christmas is over! The presents have been unwrapped. The mess around the tree, fallout from an explosion of celebration, has been cleaned up. Maybe we’ve begun routine again, perhaps at a slower pace with another holiday, New Years, yet ahead.
Here’s a question for you: Did you get what you wanted? Did you receive that present long anticipated? Maybe it was a car (don’t I wish!). Perhaps it was that ring, filled with sentiment and symbolism, from your honey. Maybe it was time with a person you really care about. I received an invitation to a Christmas party where the invitation emphasized not to bring gifts. The host stated she wanted the greatest gift of all: my presence (go figure).
Yet God has given us the most important gift of all! The most important present I received this Christmas was not something material. It was the presence of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Christmas Day’s message in worship was summed up with these words of the Bible. God’s greatest gift: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as His children.”
When the time was just right, God sent His Son Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, to be our Savior. He was born of a woman, Mary, so that He could keep God’s law perfectly, to earn the right to stand with us in the punishment we deserve. As the sinless Son, He then died under the law, not for any wrong He had done, but for those doomed to punishment. The Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes becomes the Savior enveloped with the sins of humanity. True to His name Jesus, He dies to save and set us free! In Him we have life and a place in our heavenly Father’s family!
Let me ask another question: What do Aristotle, Babe Ruth, Gerald Ford, Steve Jobs, Faith Hill, Edgar Allan Poe, Nelson Mandela, Nancy Reagan, Shania Twain, and Simone Biles all have in common? I’ll bet you’re thinking it’s something to do with writing, politics, sports or country music. But it’s none of these. These famous people were all adopted as children.
Because of God’s greatest gift, we have that in common as well. Some children wait many years to be adopted and some parents wait many years to adopt. The long anticipated Savior, God’s greatest gift, came in His time, when it was just right. Even He was adopted by an earthly father, Joseph. The reality of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection means that in our time, even as we enter the new year 2022, we have God’s presence in the person of His Son. We have been adopted as God’s own because of Jesus!
This New Year will bring joys as well as challenges. But whatever the year holds for us, God’s greatest gift, His presence, will make 2022 blessed. His promise is fulfilled and sure in Jesus: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). So that we can together do the work of sharing the gift: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching, and surely I am with you always,” Jesus says (Matthew 28:19ff). Share the presence and live a blessed 2022 in Jesus, God’s greatest gift! He is the presence above all presents!
As the Church of Christ, we find ourselves positioned between two great victories. Behind us is the victory of our Lord who died upon the cross and was raised again. That moment of human history spelled the end of the power of sin and death. Now we await the second victory, the final liberation of the world from sin, evil and death at the re-appearing of our Savior when He comes again at the end of the age. We are in a period of waiting and expectation, with the promise that the One for whom we wait will not disappoint us.
However, Jesus warns us that the interim period would not be easy. As the day of salvation approaches, he warns, there will be greater conflicts and outpouring of evil among people and natural disasters in the earth. These are the signs that should alert us to the fact that we live in a world that is in need of redemption. Jesus says, “When these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Look up! Raise your heads! That runs counter to the advice of the world and our own natural instincts. When things start flying all around us, as one Biblical scholar put it, the inclination is to duck, retreat, and keep your head down. Instead Jesus calls us to stand up, raise our heads, and be out in front. Why? Because as things get worse, and the need for a Savior becomes more obvious, it becomes all the clearer to those who believe that God will act to save His people. Simultaneously we stand to make bold witness that the Christ for whom we await brings redemption, salvation from all that threatens us. To lift up our heads is an act of faith and witness to the promises of God that await us and which have been assured to us in the first victory of our Lord at the cross and the empty tomb. In a year of covid struggle and isolation; with tragic hurricanes, wildfires, and erupting volcanos; terroristic acts and random shootings; a country that’s politicized in all things, now is the time for us to strike a posture of courage and hope. It’s not a time for us to take a low profile. With the worship themes of these last Sundays in the church year past and our entering the time of Advent in the new church year we hear God’s call to renew our expectation and hope in the return of our Lord, and to stand up boldly to call the world to look to Him for salvation! May we boldly share the forgiveness and strength that only Jesus can bring!
Maranatha! “Come Lord Jesus!” In His love, Pastor Craig
How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. Psalm 116:12-14
Can you believe it? Already there are commercials in the media pushing the world’s idea of Christmas! Coupled with the news reports that if we don’t shop now for gifts, we may not find them when Christmas arrives! It’s almost as if Thanksgiving and Advent run the risk of getting lost in our Christmas preparations. Yet there’s Thanksgiving and Advent ahead to prepare us to celebrate our Savior’s birth.
With November how important it is for us to remember Thanksgiving. It becomes the heart-set to the Advent and Christmas seasons to follow. This morning I read Psalm 116 in my devotion. The question raised by the psalmist gives us Thanksgiving pause: “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?”
During gift purchasing for the celebration of Christmas, many of us will jokingly complain about how hard it is to buy a gift for the person who has everything. The joking pun (especially by the fiscally minded like me) is to then say, “I will just give them the gift of myself. With God, it’s not just a joking matter, but a serious challenge. God does have everything! Everything, including ourselves, is the work of His creative hands. This puts us into a position of obligation. We owe our lives and everything we have to God. So, how do we respond to the psalmist’s question? How do we express ourselves to the God who has given each of us life and eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ?
Fortunately, we’re not left to guess. The Bible tells us what God is looking for from us. He is looking for nothing more than a sincere “thank you!” God expects us to receive His generous gifts with a thankful heart. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. How could we not be moved to gratitude when we think of the lengths to which God has gone to create us and then to redeem us in the death and resurrection of Jesus? Our heavenly Father loves us so much He gives the gift of His Son!
God in His Word repeatedly proclaims that He expects our thanks be given to Him in worship! After this time of covid and remote worship, maybe it’s too easy to brush off in-person worship with the comment, “I can worship God anywhere, at home or even on the golf course.” Well, no, the psalmist says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.” As I count my blessings this Thanksgiving, high on the list is to be back worshiping in person with my brothers and sisters in Christ. When we gather to worship, whether during the time of Thanksgiving at our Thanksgiving Eve Service at 7 p.m. on the 24th or during Advent with in person devotions at 7 on December 1, 8 and 15 or on Christmas Eve (5 and 8 p.m.) or Christmas Day (11 a.m.) or any Sunday, it is with the purpose of thanking and praising God, giving to Him the only thing which He really asks in return for His generous blessings: the grateful worship offered to Him in faith and love.
May our worship in November/December swell with the hearts and voices of God’s thankful people who take time each week to thank God for all His goodness to us! Love in Him, Pastor Craig