The Cost of Christmas

What do you think about when someone says Merry Christmas? Does it take your mind to warm and fuzzy places? Does it make you anxious? Fill you with joy? Make you sad? Excited? The Christmas season seems like a time that is highly influenced by our history, our gains and losses, and our present circumstances. 

Christmas brings us back to the power of the gospel

The season gives us a chance to enjoy traditions, gift-giving, and precious time with family. We might even take in a special Christmas service to remember the story. But it’s about more than that – so much more.
 
For believers, Christmas brings us back to the power of the gospel. It encourages us to look at the Christ child in light of the cross. It wasn’t glittery, it was less than ideal. Full of wonder, but unexpected. Beautiful, but messy. 
 

Christmas reminds us that sin has a cost.

Without this miracle – the Word becoming flesh – we would be utterly lost, without a way to be reconciled with God. We had dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t climb out of. The cost was too high. But God made a way – He sent a Redeemer.
 
Because of God’s great love for us, He gave his only son to pay the steep price of sin once and for all. Jesus, who laid aside His glory for the glory of the Father, became our Emmanuel. God with us – now and forever! Check out how this translation reads:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17 (The Message)
 
This is the good news the angels were talking about when they appeared to the scared-out-of-their-mind shepherds in the field. 
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2: 10-12 (NIV)

 

Christmas led to sacrifice

The kingdom of God came in the form of a baby. God became man. The Word became flesh. I don’t think the disciples saw it coming that the Messiah – the one they’d been praying for – did not come to build the Kingdom on earth by revolution. Rather, the real revolution was one of the soul – our sin covered by Jesus blood once and for all. Only the Lamb of God could take away the sin of the world. We now have the opportunity to be clean and free from our past, reconciled to God, and alive in Him forever.
 
Does it mean life is perfect now? Nope. But because of the babe who became a man – this Jesus – we can now live a transformed life in and through His grace alone. We don’t have to earn it. But we can be transformed by it if we choose.
 

So when we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember this gift. The gift that brought healing of the soul. The gift that came at such a high price. Like his coming, our lives may be messy, but because of Jesus, they are beautiful.

 
There’s only one God that stepped down from His throne out of love, to save a world torn apart by sin. There’s only one King that did that for me – His name is Jesus. Do you know him? Check out this song by Marc Martel called How Many Kings below. It talks about just that.
 
If you don’t know Jesus and would like to know more. Please contact us. We’ve love to share more about how He has transformed our lives with you.
 
Author:

Michelle Marx

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Read more...

We Know How the Story Ends

As I listen to the news and the increase in Coronavirus cases, a fast declining stock market, and additional layoffs, I also watch the birds in my backyard. I am struck again that they don’t seem to worry about what they will eat or what they will do next- they just do it. The birds simply follow the instincts God designed into them and they get fed (Matthew 6:26). 
 

Our human instinct

God also designed humanity with certain instincts including to run, hide, and fight during certain crisis situations and I know I have done this well, and sorry to say even against God. Until we get our new bodies as promised in the Bible, our instincts are corrupted by sin. As a consequence of our fallen human state (even though saved perhaps) during this time of great uncertainty, we worry because there is trouble! We worry about how to avoid illness, being able to provide for our families, and yes – even if we will have enough toilet paper to ride out this craziness. 

Are we surprised by this current round of trouble? It certainly could perhaps become the worst many of us have seen in our lifetime, but should we be surprised?

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

 

Do we believe what Jesus is telling us?

One of the two criminals crucified next to Jesus discussed in Luke 23 asked that Jesus “remember him when He comes into His kingdom” and since that criminal placed his faith in Jesus and believed him, Jesus response was, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”.  

Revelation 21:4 tells us how the story ends and the ultimate paradise where, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 

Jesus knew we would face troubling times

Jesus knew we’d have trouble – that’s why he warned us about this and reminds us that He has overcome! The Apostle Paul further reminded us in his letter to the Philippians that “our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (3:20)

Back to Matthew 6:26, Jesus tells us to “look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

 

We know how the story ends

Do you believe Jesus?   Give Him a chance and you will find Him faithful in times of crisis. It is His nature! He stands ready to draw you unto Himself and transform your heart and mind – even in the midst of troubling times.
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly

Read more...

Be the Hope – Our Response in Troubling Times

When troubling times arrive at our doorstep, what is our response? Do we fix our eyes on the hope we have in Christ or do we focus on the circumstances around us and wring our hands in worry? As Christ-followers our perspective can – and should – be different than that of the world. We do not have to be slaves to fear. This world is not our home!
 
So can we decide to look at troubling times as an opportunity rather than a obstacle?
 

 

We have a hope that endures

I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand and pretend the hard stuff isn’t happening – that would be denial. We need to be discerning, wise and responsible in light of the challenges presented to us. What I am suggesting is a faith-filled response to the tough stuff life will most certainly throw our way.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
 
As Christ-followers, we have a hope – an anchor for our soul – that the world doesn’t have and cannot give. This hope and peace we have through trusting in Jesus gives us confidence and endurance through trial, not of our own doing, but through the power of the Spirit that resides within us. This confidence comes from the reality that God is still on the throne, still maintains authority, and has eternity in His hands. Big or small, the challenges in our lives are no match for the incredible love and security we have in Christ.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
 

An invitation for growth and maturity

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5: 3-5
 
Make no mistake, the hard stuff will come. Sometimes we see it coming, while other times it feels like a major gut punch out of nowhere. There are seasons when we may wonder if the punches would ever stop! The scripture reminds us to not be surprised when the hard things come, but rather to take heart because He has overcome the world.
 
Regardless of how trial rears its ugly head, we are instructed to rejoice – not in the pain itself – but in the fact that we are given an opportunity to grow, to develop perseverance, and build true character. If we are to continue to dive deeper into spiritual maturity, which is God’s will for all believers, nothing grows us faster than hard times if we choose to grow through them rather than duck around them. We have the opportunity to guard our hearts and minds with the truth of the unchanging Word of God, daily let go of our anxiety in exchange for His peace, and stare trial straight in the face knowing who holds the future.
 

A faith-filled response

So how are we to respond in times like these? When the world itself seems to have gone off the deep end, as Christ-followers we can react differently. We can choose to act on faith, not fear. We can choose to be informed and use wisdom. 
 
We can…
  • Dive deep into scripture, cultivate our relationship with Jesus, practicing His presence 24/7
  • Be motivated by love, kindness and gentleness
  • Cling to the Word of God and the truth that will never change
  • Spread hope in whatever ways we can
  • Find ways to encourage and support one another – practically and emotionally
  • Meet needs as the Lord bring them across your path
  • Stay connected in creative ways
 
Remember 2 Corinthians 1:4. The Lord brings our our troubles full circle and redeems our pain.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
 
God bless you and your families as you face these uncertain days ahead, and find ways to bring comfort and hope to others in your sphere of influence. Hang on to Jesus… and be the hope.
 
Author: 
Michelle Marx
Writer/Editor
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Read more...

Exercising Your Faith

What does it mean to exercise your faith? Personally, I think it’s putting your faith into action. Just like the muscles in your body will atrophy without use, so will your faith muscles.
 
Let’s look at 2 Kings 4: 1-7.
There was a widow whose husband was a servant to the prophet Elisha. She says to Elisha, “you know your servant, my husband, feared the Lord and since his passing the creditor is coming to take my sons to be his slaves for payment.” So, Elisha says to her, “what would you have me do? What do you have in your house?” She responds by saying she has nothing in her house but a jar of oil. So, Elisha tells her to go and borrow vessels from all her neighbors – empty ones – and do not gather just a few.
Once she has all she can borrow, she was instructed to shut the door behind her and her sons. Then, Elisha told her to take the jar of oil and fill all the empty vessels she borrowed. So, she did as the prophet had instructed her to do. She started to fill the first empty vessel. When that one was full, she went to the next and the next until she asked her son for another. Her son said there were no more to be filled. Suddenly the oil stopped flowing from her jar. She did as Elisha said and sold the oil. She had enough to pay off her debt and live on the rest.
How did the widow exercise her faith?
 
  1. She asked for help – She knew Elisha was a man of God and knew some kind of help might happen.
  2. She obeyed – had her sons go borrow all the empty vessels they could from their neighbors.
  3. She exercised her faith – she physically started to pour the oil out of her jar into the empty borrowed vessels.
 
Do you think her faith was stronger after she filled all the empty vessels with her little jar of oil? I think she took her faith to new heights.

In Ephesians it says to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. So, it’s not what we can do, but rather what God can do through us.

It says in Hebrews 12:2 “We should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
 

Bottom line is this, whenever your faith is tested; make sure you put your faith into action. You will build your faith in the Lord, but more importantly, the Lord is glorified through the action of exercising our faith.

 
How much exercise have your faith muscles gotten lately? When we take action build them, our faith will get stronger, we will feel more courage, and the Lord will be glorified through us.
 
Author: 
Elder at Faith

Read more...

Lord, Give Me Faith!

“I may be weak, but Your Spirit is strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God You never will.”

 
These are the lyrics to a song called “Give Me Faith” written by Elevation Worship. I’m not sure about you, but these lyrics speak to me every single day of my life. I can think of times where I let my wife down by something I said or did. Or times when I messed up by acting a certain way while competing in sports. Or the countless times in a day when I fail God by not trusting what He says.
 

“Give me faith, to trust what you say. That you’re good and your love is great.”

 
God’s word – the Bible – is full of wisdom and is truly the guide to living a life with Christ. I have to continually ask God to help me in my faith of what he says. From everyday situations like how I respond to someone who has made me upset, to major life situations like losing a friend or family member.
 

God tells us in His word that he will never leave us or forsake us.

 
There are countless examples of men and women in the Bible who trust God and live out their faith. We can look at Abraham and his predicament to sacrifice his own son. Was that ever God’s plan… I don’t believe so. God’s plan was for Abraham to take the next step of faith and trust in his relationship with him. We can look at the life of Joseph. Joseph went through a lot of trials and unfair treatment, but he never lost his faith in God and continued to trust him through the those times. GOD NEVER LEFT Joseph.
 

It’s easy to trust God when things are going well, but our true test of faith comes when life gets a little bumpy.

 
Just because we follow Jesus and are Christians, doesn’t mean life will be easy. But we can trust God’s word that He is good and His love for us is great. That he will never leave or forsake us and has a good and perfect plan for each of our lives.

I believe the first step in growing our faith and trust in Jesus is to recite the lyrics that I first mentioned. “I may be weak, but Your Spirit is strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God you never will.” I know in my own life that this is a daily process to acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Through my weakness, He is strong.

Please take the time to listen to “Give Me Faith” by Elevation Worship. Pour out your heart to God and ask him to Give you the faith to trust what He says. Because He is good and His love is great.
 

 
 
 
Author: 
Worship leader

Read more...

New Wine – God Pouring New Life into Us

In our church, we sing a song called New Wine. It has a lot to do with the condition of our heart. Jesus said in Mark that new wine is never placed into old wine skins because as the aggressive fermentation process permeates the skin – a previously used skin that is already worn and saturated will burst with the pressure.
 
Mark 2:21 – 22 (NASB) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Mark’s implication is that our hearts are like wine skins, and God is always looking to pour new life from Himself into them. If our hearts are worn and saturated with an older fragrance, an older fermentation, we are not able to receive the new life He wants to pour into us.

Lamentations 3:22 – 23 reminds us, “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions (mercies) never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (NASB)
In Isaiah He says, Isaiah 43:19 (KJV) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
 
As creatures of habit, it’s easy to slip into even spiritual patterns that eventually become stale. While we may be content with the stale condition of our hearts, that sentiment may not be shared by the One who knows us and loves us most.

What God is looking for from us is a soft openness to His continual outpouring of His mercies (Lam. 3). That softness is actually what creates a new wine skin in us.

David said in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.
 
Paul put it this way, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold, old things have passed away all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

That softness before Him gives Him the perfect conditions for creating something new in you and me. He pours in His newness of life and we are able to grow in Him as His Spirit permeates through the walls of our heart permanently becoming part of us down to the smallest fiber.

 
He instills in us a flavor and an aroma of His personal presence in us, and His character begins to flow from us as it matures into the fine quality of His vintage or timeless Holiness.
 
But, if we are stubborn, selfish, arrogant, rebellious or sullied by addiction to what we personally want, then He is unable to pour in Himself since the skins – our hearts- are too weak to sustain or withstand Him.

Today is a good day to start over… fresh.

 
Ask Him to create in you a new heart… to do something new in you… and show you how His mercies are new every morning.
 
check out The song, make it your prayer, and surrender to the work He is doing in your life today..
 

 
Author:
Lead Pastor, Faith Assembly

Read more...