Our Home

Psalm 87 speaks to the glorified position that Jerusalem has in the eyes of God.

The Psalmist speaks about the great and wondrous events in the history of God that occurred in Jerusalem.  From the days of Isaac’s willingness to sacrifice Jacob, Kind David’s rule, the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as where the apostles launched Christianity.  Jerusalem is the epicenter of our faith.

Where is the city, town, or home that is special to you?

Home has become an important part of our lives over the past year as that is where we have spent the majority of our time since COVID-19.  Our family activities, travel, clubs, sports, hobbies, and even church have been cancelled or moved online.  Some homeowners are remodeling, expanding, painting, upgrading, and evening buying new homes, because they are spending so much time or have extra time to work on their home.  Many are working on their “home” to make it a place where they want to be.

Reflecting on the word “home” for this journal, I prayed to receive wisdom about this chapter.  I have been reflecting on the fact that no dwelling, structure, town, or city is my home.  My home is in Heaven with our Savior.

The greatest joy and comfort to me is to know that this life is temporary.  Yes, I love my family deeply and want to stay here with them on earth as long as I am able.  I want them to stay on earth as long as possible to experience the love and joy that comes from our relationships.  I live with conviction that when we die on this earth, we will see each other again in Heaven. Honestly, I long for my true “home.”  I want to live in Heaven with my savior Jesus Christ.

The Bible speaks of Heaven in both the new and the old testament.

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16 

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”Revelation 22:1-5

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Our home or city on earth is where we hope to feel protected, comfortable and at ease.  Our home in Heaven will be beyond what we can comprehend.  I yearn for a “home” with no pain, no heartache and no sadness.  I yearn for constant celebration, adoration, joy and peace with our Lord.

May the promise and hope of your Savior wash over you with His presence and peace to know that through Christ, you are saved, and will dwell with Him forever, in the “home” He has prepared for you.

My favorite Christian song about Heaven is by Chris Tomlin called Home.

God’s Righteous Judgment

Faith in Jesus Christ requires humility and reservation, which are not always traits that I possess.

As we go about life, we witness many around us who appear to “get ahead” without sacrifice.  Perhaps their business ventures take off with grand results.  Perhaps their family goes on lavish vacations.  Perhaps their social media posts profess happy times without what appears to be much sacrifice.  Every time you hear from them, their kids are going to great colleges and schools, their spouse just got promoted, and they just finished remodeling or buying a new home.  Life is good for them no matter what happens.

On the contrary, you struggle.  Your life seems to take two steps forward and one step back.  You do the right things.  You pray the “right” prayers.  You are kind and non-judgmental.  You tithe or give back to your church, charities, or those around you in need.  You do not wish for material things, but you don’t seem to accomplish or succeed at advancing comfort or solace in your life.  You lost your job.  Your family member is sick. Your children are struggling, and you cannot seem to get a break in your life.

Or worse yet, you see people perform terrible acts and seemingly never suffer the consequences.  A criminal is acquitted of a crime. A thief gets away with taking valuable items.  A murderer is never caught or forced to “pay the price” of their crime.

Where is justice for the believers?  Why are the trials and struggles a part of the lives of true believers in Jesus Christ?  Shouldn’t the “bad people” and the sinners suffer on earth?

True belief and faith require us to give all of our trials and tribulations to God.  Our Lord says in Psalms 75 titled “Thanksgiving for God’s Righteous Judgement” says the following:

4“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully, And to the wicked, Do not lift up the horn. Do not lift up your horn high; Do not speak with a stiff neck.’”

Scripture tells us that our reward for faith and loyalty to our God do not come on earth.  No matter the sacrifice and cost of our time on earth, our true reward will come in heaven when we stand before our Lord and hopefully hear, “well done, true and faithful servant.”

As an example of the ultimate humility and sacrifice, Jesus came to earth and lived His life as a man.  He endured pain, heartbreak, temptation, ridicule, betrayal, lies, and ultimately, He was put to death for no viable reason.   I ask you, does our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ understand our trials and sacrifices?  Can he relate to our hateful co-workers, negative neighbors, and spiteful relatives who always seems to outdo us?

As we approach Easter, let us recognize the significant and meaningful turn of events Jesus endured the week of His death.  On Palm Sunday (yesterday), He came to Jerusalem with the Jews waving palms and throwing their cloaks on the ground as he entered the city.  Four days later, the same Jews were screaming, spitting, and hitting Him asking for Him to be killed.  Yes, our Lord, knows what it feels like to be betrayed and the “bad people” get away with “bad things.”

Let us study the Easter story this week and hear the counsel of Jesus as he prepares us for the greatest, most unselfish sacrifice of any human, ever known to mankind.  Our Lord sacrificed every ounce of His being so that you and I don’t have to suffer, for eternity.

Joy in the Fellowship of God

Joy is an impactful word, and it only has three letters.  It is a short word, but it has unmistakable meaning.

Delight, jubilation, triumph, exultation, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, and bliss are all words to describe feelings of great pleasure and happiness.  Joy.

What things in our lives bring us joy? What aspects our lives consistently deliver happiness?

Few things deliver satisfaction on a regular basis.  Our tendency is to seek happiness and fulfillment through earthly things.  Perhaps a new car will make me happy.  Perhaps a new job will solve my feelings of discontent.  If I could just make more money. If I could just have a bigger, nicer house.  If only I could only <fill in the blank with your own wish list.>

The “if only’s” are a trap.  Satisfaction and joy will not last with “things.”  “Things” wear out.  “Things” put us in debt.  “Things” may make us happy for a short period of time, but the feeling of satisfaction and happiness wears off.

Knowing that you are loved, regardless of your actions, regardless of what you deserve, can provide an amazing sense of peace and contentment.  Joy. Knowing you were created out of love and adoration, can bring us gladness knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us eternally.  Joy. Knowing that you are accepted, with your sins and flaws, can provide peace. Joy. The peace and endless happiness that comes from a committed relationship and faith in Jesus Christ, “surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.” (Philippians 4:7). Joy.

The question I think that needs to be asked is “Do we understand what brings joy in our lives?”

Psalms 63, entitled the “Joy in the Fellowship of God,” was written by King David while he was in the wilderness of Judah.

David exclaims, in Psalms 63, verse 1“My soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you.” In verse 3, David exalts “Because your lovingkindness is better than life.” Verse 8 he proclaims, “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

I have found, in my life, the more committed I am to “go all in” on my faith, the more contentment and joy I experience.  Much like many things in life, committing halfway does not provide achievement.  Skepticism, uncertainty, and doubt are not emotions that exhort positive outcomes.  A lack of commitment is a self-fulfilling prophesy with any activity or relationship.  We will be disappointed every time if we cannot commit and trust our Heavenly Father.

Joy is knowing you are saved from your sins.  Joy is feeling a sense of peace that no matter how bad your life gets; God has got you.  Joy is acknowledging that life will never be perfect and knowing that you can accept the good with the bad.  No matter how horrible, sad, disappointing or excruciating your circumstances, God has a purpose and plan for your life.  There is a reason.  We will not always understand.  We will not always agree. But God tells us in John 3:16-18 the following:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Joy. We have a choice.  Trust and believe, and we experience jubilation and peace.

Confession of Our Wrongdoing – Not So Easy

Making mistakes is a part of life.  At times, we make the wrong choices and there are consequences for our actions.  Sometimes the consequences are small, and unfortunately, sometimes the consequences are immense.

2 Samuel 11 outlines a salacious story about King David, a chosen leader of God.  David, who was king of Israel, saw an attractive woman on the roof of her home.  Being a man of great power, David called on the woman, who he found out was the wife of one of his leading warriors.  Even though David knew of her marriage to one of his loyal fighters, Uriah, David had a relationship with the woman, Bathsheba.  Bathsheba became pregnant. Discovering this, David arranged for Uriah to be sent to the frontline of battle where he knew he would be killed.  David not only slept with a married woman, but he also had her husband “murdered.”

2 Samuel 12 addresses how God sent the prophet Nathan to confront King David about the horrible sins he committed. Nathan outlined to David how God would bring punishment upon him and he would suffer greatly for his sin.

King David was rich, was the most powerful person in Israel, and was accountable to no man.  He was accustomed to getting what he wanted.  He was accomplished and things typically worked in his favor.  His expectations of his life became bigger than his accountability and commitment to God.

Perhaps that might sound like you.  I know I can relate. When things in our lives are going well, we can become comfortable with the good things, and lack appreciation and humility to God.

Whatever the transgression, our God still loves us.  God hates the sin but loves the sinner.  Even though God loves us, He may punish us and hold us accountable for our actions. 2 Samuel 12:14 tells us that Nathan told King David, “the child who is born to you shall surely die.” 2 Samuel 12:16-23 tells the story of the birth and death of King David and Bathsheba’s first son. Although God was furious and punished King David, 2 Samuel 12:13 says “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

That brings us to our reading today which is Psalm 51 “A Prayer of Repentance.” King David poured out his heart to God, acknowledging the sins he committed related to the relationship with Bathsheba and Uriah’s death.

Taking accountability for our actions can be difficult.  Our actions may have negatively impacted a relationship, emotionally hurt a person, physically injured another person, or even worse, killed another person.

God wants us to repent.  God wants us to concede our transgressions and show that we accept responsibility.  God wants us to turn to Him in times of trouble and ask Him for forgiveness.

Admitting we are wrong can be a hard “pill to swallow.”  Humility is not always a common trait. When things are going well for us, we must not “move away” from God.  Life will throw us challenges and strife, along with happy times and hopefully prosperity.  The constant in our entire journey is that God loves us and wants us to give Him reverence and praise for our blessings.

It’s hard to think that God punishes us.  It’s difficult to understand why God would “want bad” for us.  For me, I believe it comes down to responsibility and loyalty.  Everything I have comes from our Lord and Savior.  If I disobey His commands, clearly laid out in the Bible, I expect to be held accountable.

Our relationship with our Lord is no different than the relationships we have on earth.  A relationship is built on love and trust and should be valued and protected.  Our relationship with our Lord is no different.  If we mess up, apologize and ask God for forgiveness.  When things are going well for us, give praise and thanks to our Lord for our blessings.

Swift to Hear and Slow to Speak

Today’s reading continues our journey through Psalms, chapter 39.

As a previous journal writer indicated, I found myself being a bit dismissive and somewhat bored while reading through recent chapters in Psalms.  Most of the first thirty-nine chapters of Psalms are cries for help, preservation, faith, shelter, and protection. David continues to pour his heart out, crying out to God, bearing his trials and challenges to the Lord.

Then, I truly read and absorbed the words of Psalms 39.  This chapter reached me at a time when I have been working on myself, in this exact area of my life, that David spoke about.

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue;

I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,

While the wicked are before me.”

2 I was mute with silence,

I held my peace even from good;

And my sorrow was stirred up.

3 My heart was hot within me;

While I was musing, the fire burned.

Then I spoke with my tongue:

4 Lord, make me know my end,

And what is the measure of my days,

That I may know how frail I am.”

You see, one of my many challenges is the sin I commit with my tongue. Many times, I speak without thinking, I react with emotion, and I say things that are not centered on Jesus’ command to us, the day before He was crucified.  Jesus commanded in John 13:34-35

34 “A new commandment I give to you,

that you love one another; as I have loved you,

that you also love one another.

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples,

If you have love for one another.”

The words we speak matter.  Jesus commands us “to love one another,” so His followers set an example for those that are not followers.  Verse 35 is clear, “all will know that are you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

I am focused on softening my heart, which I know impacts the words that cross my lips.  For me, restraint of my temper, impatience, and speaking words that I don’t think through is my daily challenge and burden.  I want to be aware of the moments when I let my guard down and not say something I will regret later. I want to love Jesus with my whole heart, each day, and not just on Sunday’s.  I want to be the type of Christian that non-believers look to with admiration, curiosity, and respect, not with mistrust and doubt.

This world tempts me to conform to its’ ways.

  • This is a “dog eat dog world.”
  • Don’t let people push you around.
  • Stand up for yourself, don’t be a “doormat.”
  • Hit first and ask questions later.

I am learning that I can advocate for myself, express my beliefs, make my point, all the while deliver my words with grace and love. Being nice does not cost me anything.  Being kind does not make me weak. Responding with vitriol words that hurt someone erodes the example I want to set as a follower of Jesus.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible, is James 1:19-20.

19 So then, my beloved brethren,

let every man be swift to hear, slow

to speak, slow to wrath.

20 for the wrath of many does not

produce the righteousness of God. 

My prayer is that by admitting my burden, in this area of my life, this somehow speaks to you.  My hope is that my admission of one of the sins I am trying to fix, challenges you to address some of things you might be considering in your life.

An Exuberant Declaration of Faith

We ended 2020 with the hope that 2021 would be better.   We could not wait to “close the books” on 2020 and put the year behind us.

Today is February 1, exactly one month into 2021.  Have all of your worries and concerns washed away?  Do you feel the sense of relief and exhilaration you longed for?

Yes, the election is over.  Now we have a whole new set of opinions, positions and agreements to debate about. Our problems did not disappear, only the uncertainty of who would lead our country.  The debates and issues are still the same and we are deeply divided and moving more and more apart each day.

If you are like me, not much has changed.  My family and I continue to “navigate the uncertain waters” of online school, remote work, wearing masks everywhere, debate the timing and effectiveness of the vaccine, and wonder when our lives will get back to what we consider normal.

Our world continues to throw at us uncertainty, duress, stress, and conflict.  Enemies come in many shapes, sizes, and forms.  Whether it is a job loss, addiction, difficulty in a relationship or marriage, sadness, depression, or feeling inadequate to handle the challenges before you.  We are “under attack” every day.

What I know is that the “enemies” we battle <insert your conflict here> are no match for our “exuberant faith” for Jesus Christ as our Savior.  There is no question, we will be challenged.  David tells us in Psalms 27:4-6

4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek;

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

An to inquire in His temple.

5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;

In the secret place of his tabernacle He shall hide me;

He shall set me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;

Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.”

Our God is a loving God.  We are sinful and He still loves us.  We can have hope that no matter how bad we screw up, no matter how horrible our actions or thoughts, our God will provide us rest.  We have “enemies” every day that divide us and try to pull us away from our God.

Explore scripture and look for the hope the Bible provides.  The Bible provides great examples of those that suffered because they did not have a relationship with God or did not follow His guidance.  The Bible also provides great examples of believers who followed God, worked through seemingly impossible circumstances, and were given peace and rest.

My prayer for you is to not give up on a relationship with God.  Turn to Him, lean in, in times of trouble.  Don’t question why He’s “putting me through this,” ask “what I am I supposed to learn from this?”

Live looking forward – not backward – and seek a relationship with Christ. Looking forward provides hope, positivity and encourages us to create our story for our future.   You cannot drive a car looking in the rearview mirror.  You drive a car with your eyes and attention fixed on the road ahead of you.

“Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

Proverbs 16:3

Why I Believe – Chad Bandy

Troubles and challenges happen in our lives.  There are times when we are pushed to our limits. What happens we don’t understand.  What occurred we cannot forget.  What we experienced; we can never erase from our minds.

I believe in Christ because true faith and belief relieves us from the burdens and worries of this world.  Christ cleanses our hearts and minds and provides us the true character and foundation to influence our perspectives of the world and the guidance as to how we are supposed to live.

The Bible has story after story where characters in the Bible did not follow God’s will and they suffered great tragedies and heartache.  There are other characters in the Bible who endured some of the greatest challenges ever imagined, they maintained their faith in Christ, and prevailed.  The word of God provided them the direction, rest, and character to endure their situation.

Psalms 15 is five verses long and is packed with direction and wisdom.

The Character of Those Who May Dwell with the Lord

A Psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?

Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

2 He who walks uprightly,

And works righteousness,

And speaks the truth in his heart;

3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;

4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,

But he honors those who fear the Lord;

He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 He who does not put out his money at usury,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

There are many prominent figures in the Bible who endured unimaginable circumstances yet maintained their faith and character.

  • Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery and spent years as a prisoner in Egypt; forgave his brothers and spared their lives (Genesis 39-47)
  • King David, conquered Goliath, ran for his life from King Saul, escaped from his son Absolom who attempted to kill him (1 Samuel 17; 1 Samuel 24; Psalms 69:14-16)
  • Job, devout to God but his entire family was killed at the hands of God (Job 1:13-19)
  • Apostle Paul, former Jewish leader and murderer of Christians, converted from Judaism to Christianity and wrote 13 books in the New Testament

The Bible provides us guidance and directives how we should live. God never promised a life of no pain and challenges in this world.  What Jesus taught us is that the more we search for meaning and understanding in this world, the more we will be uncertain and frustrated.  Life on earth will not satisfy us nor make us happy.

I believe in Christ because I know that our life here is temporary.  The eternal life that we will live in Heaven, because of belief in the risen Christ, will provide us unimaginable happiness and joy.  Heaven should be our goal.  This life is our test and challenge.

I have witnessed friends, acquaintances, family, and people I have never met, because of their faith in Jesus Christ, endure indescribable circumstances.  Faith in Christ provides a “peace beyond human understanding.” Their pain is unimaginable, their disappointment is open to the world, and their failure is public for everyone to see.  Yet, in spite of their circumstances, they persevere and press on with honor and character due to their faith on Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father.  Please wash over us with your grace and peace.  Thank you for sending your son Jesus, to suffer and die for our salvation.  Please help us turn to you in times of need and live with the character that you have demonstrated for us. Amen

Living With Hope

Life provides us daily challenges and difficulties.  The unexpected, the hard to understand, the situations where we have no answers, and the challenges that seem to have no end.

How can we believe there is a God when the world we live in is so troubled, sinful, and sad?

Our reading today is Psalm 3 in which we learn of an unimaginable challenge in David’s life.  As a leader who had done many good things in the name of the Lord, he was also a man of God who committed what seemed like unforgivable sins. In this chapter, David is attempting to escape from his son, Absalom, who is attempting to overthrow his father and kill him.

Psalm 3

1-2 – David cries out to the Lord in trouble

3-4 – David recognizes God’s grace

5-6 – Dave acknowledges the rest God provides in troubled times

7-8 – David gives thanks

For me, faith boils down to one word…HOPE.

  • The Bible exhorts hope that God is with us, all the time, and there is a reason for strife and challenges. (Colossians 1:5)
  • I believe that the bad things that happen have a purpose in my life. I will learn from them. I believe bad things can be used for good.  (Hebrews 11:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • I believe that our struggles will not last forever. (Romans 5:1-5)
  • I believe that the disappointments and failures in my life do not define me. (Romans 15:13)
  • No matter how bad this world gets, our Father has a plan and purpose for everything. (Romans 8:24-25)
  • All of things that are awful and unexplainable will someday be explained in Heaven. (Romans 12:2; Hebrews 10:23)
  • I believe that we cannot look for happiness and fulfillment in this world, because we will always be let down and disappointed. (Hebrews 6:18-19; Titus 1:2; Titus 2:11)

I encourage you to read the Bible and study scripture regularly.  God will provide you hope in troubles, strength in difficulties, and “pull you through” when it feels like you cannot go on.

Formula for Hope

  1. Cry out to God when you are troubled
  2. Recognize that God provides hope in the worst situations
  3. Acknowledge that God will provide you “rest” if you turn to Him
  4. Give thanks to God for what He has provided you – know that He is with you and ask Him for strength

When writing this, I am aware that those reading this fall into different levels of faith and belief in Christ.  1.) You may be a devout believer, 2.) You may have have believed in the past but are wavering, or 3.) You do not believe in God and Christ at all and think those of us that believe are “brainwashed.”

I would encourage you to open a Bible and read the scripture listed in the Bible Journal posts like this one. Seek information so you can make an informed decision about Christ. Think about scriptures you read each day and try to apply them daily to situations, decisions, and interactions.  Find a great church community with leaders that walk you through explanations and study the scriptures. Attend church regularly in person or online.  (Cornerstone Chapel or Eastview Christian Church) The more time you spend learning, the more you can use the information to make an informed decision about your faith in Christ and most importantly, allow your faith to impact your daily life.

I have learned that my relationship with God is similar to my relationships here on Earth.  The more time I spend learning and listening, the stronger the relationship.  I find hope and faith when I seek answers. If I do not spend time reading and studying scripture, then my faith falters and fades.

My prayer is that we do not let our faith be framed by the place we live now.  My prayer is that our faith is built based on the HOPE and belief in the place where we want to live, Heaven.

The Bible was written by 40 different authors over 1600 years.  It is complex and it is can difficult to understand.  Seek guidance and interpretation of how to understand scriptures and you can learn how to utilize the message to impact your life today.

Faith Through History

As we near the celebration of the birth of our Savior, I continue to reflect on faith and how to reach those that do not believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God and was sent to save the world.

What makes it difficult for those that do not believe that Christ was the Son of God?

The history of civilizations is told through historical records and eyewitness accounts.  Events are chronicled through documents, archaeology of sites, and the reenactment and descriptions of what historians believe occurred.

I wrote a few weeks ago that the Old Testament, which provides historical accounts from prophets, predicted the coming of Christ at least twenty-three times.  The birth of Jesus was predicted and outlined hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

  • Genesis 3:15 Christ is the Seed of woman and we are told He will one day crush Satan
  • In Exodus, we learn of the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us
  • In Leviticus, we read of the high priests making sacrifices to the people, and Christ has become our High Priest
  • In Deuteronomy, Moses prophesied a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself
  • Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers
  • Job says that the Redeemer is coming
  • Christ appears several times in Psalms, including when David describes Him as “the Shepherd”
  • Joel describes Him as the hope of His people
  • Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations
  • Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom
  • Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance
  • Zephaniah says Jesus will be the king over Israel
  • Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt
  • Malachi is the one who calls Jesus the Son of Righteousness

One of the most pronounced and specific predictions came from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 9 verse 2.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah wrote this verse at least 700 years before the birth of Jesus.

The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 authors.  The books of the Bible leading up to the birth of Christ, in the Old Testament, foretold of Christ’s coming.  The books after Christ’s birth, the New Testament, outlined His teachings and provide eyewitness accounts to his birth, miracles, existence as a man who lived a sinless life on earth and corroborated his crucifixion and resurrection.  Never in human history has there be a person who has been more described, detailed, and written about.  The Bible is the greatest compilation of historical record ever produced by man, about a man, who happened to be our Savior.

As I have matured in my faith, I have come to realize that my struggles with faith are more about my willingness to humble myself and accept that I am not in control.  The historical record of the Bible speaks for itself. God created each of us with a purpose and our lives are a compilation of experiences that should lead us to glorify and praise Him.  If we choose not to follow and praise God, He will create situations in our lives that push us to need Him and want a relationship with Him.

Sometimes our lives are full of unhappiness and strife, and God wants us to turn to Him for solace and peace.  We have feelings of emptiness, loneliness, discontent, and yearn for understanding of a sinful and sometimes sad world.

A life “walking with Jesus” leads to peace, hope, contentment, and being filled with joy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have it all figured out, but I am learning that life is empty without Christ.  Reading, studying, and listening to God’s word creates reflection and growth. Knowing that no matter how awful life gets and what struggles occur, we are loved and wanted by our Almighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  No matter how bad we screw up, Jesus will be there to “catch our fall.”

“You are made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

-Rick Warren

The greatest miracle in human history will be celebrated in four days.  Let us rejoice, give thanks, and praise our Heavenly Father for the gift of salvation, which began with the birth of Jesus.

Let’s not only celebrate the history of Christ told in the Bible, but help others experience the joy and exhilaration of knowing Jesus as our Savior.

His Birth Leads to Our Salvation

My family spent the weekend decorating for Christmas.  We have crates full of lights, Santa’s, mangers, ornaments, wall hangings, lights, and many other Christmas knick-knacks.

We decorate because we want to welcome family and guests to our home.  We are preparing for their arrival.  We want them to have a memorable visit and commemorate the season by making memories with the right atmosphere.

As we enter Advent, which leads to the birth of Jesus, we are reflecting on the many verses in the Bible that foretold the coming of our Savior.  Jesus was referenced at least 23 times in the Old Testament.   Here are a few of the Old Testament references to Jesus.

  • Genesis 3:15 Christ is the Seed of woman and we are told He will one day crush Satan
  • In Exodus, we learn of the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us
  • In Leviticus, we read of the high priests making sacrifices to the people, and Christ has become our High Priest
  • In Deuteronomy, Moses prophesied a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself
  • Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers
  • Job says that the Redeemer is coming
  • Christ appears several times in Psalms, including when David describes Him as “the Shepherd”
  • Isaiah details Jesus’ birth in chapter 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder, And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
  • Joel describes Him as the hope of His people
  • Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations
  • Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom
  • Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance
  • Zephaniah says Jesus will be the king over Israel
  • Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt
  • Malachi is the one who calls Jesus the Son of Righteousness

For thousands of years, God prophesied the coming of Jesus through His prophets, and many people of Jesus’ time still got it wrong.  They were not ready. God prepared them for the birth of Jesus and yet many did not believe or recognize Jesus was the son of God.  They were either in denial or not prepared for Jesus’ arrival.

What we know for sure is that Jesus will come again.  His return is referenced in at least eleven books of the New Testament which include Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelations, John, 1 Corinthians, and Thessalonians.  Christ is coming again, and we should prepare for His arrival.  When Christ comes back for the second time, judgment will be brought to those that believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and to those that do not.

What we know is that we worship a loving God.  He sent His only Son to live amongst us on earth, to suffer and die so that we may live eternally with Him in Heaven. Our God seeks a relationship with us through His love and care for us.  He wants to be our resting place in times of challenge and strife and relieve us of our burdens.  We live on earth not for this world but for our next life, in Heaven with our Savior. Our Lord is very clear though, we will not reside with him in Heaven if we do not believe that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.  We must repent of our sins by asking God for forgiveness.

Let us reflect during the Holiday Season of not only Jesus’ birth but also of Jesus’ return.  He will come to the earth to judge and separate the believers from those who do not believe.  Matthew 13:49 tells us “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus provides us the path for a happy and blessed life on earth as well as He saves us from hell.  His birth meant our salvation from a life of eternal damnation.  Let’s use this Holiday Season to remember that Jesus’ birth was the beginning of the promise of eternal salvation in Heaven.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the birth and sacrifice of your son Jesus.  We praise you for your desire to love and be close to us.  We recognize our sinful nature, and we repent and ask for your forgiveness.  Please wash over us with your grace and peace, to provide an understanding like no other.  Please move us to you, oh Lord, to see what we are supposed to see, hear what we are supposed to hear, and act on what we are supposed to do.  Amen