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

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jesus, the Bread of Life

My wife (Cindy) and I will sometimes go to a bread store about an hour from where we live. There is just something wonderful about going into this store and smelling the fresh breads that are being baked. They also give free samples of the breads so you can see if there is any particular kind of bread you may or may not like. We love the Swiss/Dill, Cheddar/Garlic, Cinnamon, and Dakota breads. The other day I was having a piece of the Dakota bread toasted with some peanut butter on it and it was delicious!
 

While I was enjoying the bread, the Lord laid upon my heart thoughts about the Bread of Life.

 
There are many verses in the Bible about this, and here just a few:

Matthew 4

Satan tempted Jesus by telling him to change the stones into bread to nourish his body. His response was that Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 26:26

Jesus took bread, blessed it, gave it to the disciples and said “take, eat, this is my body.

John 6:33

Jesus says, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” In verse 35 Jesus says , “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.” Jesus is talking about our spiritual lives here.

John 6:51

Jesus talks about being the bread that was sent down from heaven “that whosoever eats of this bread will live forever.” Salvation!

I Corinthians 10:17

“For we being many are one bread, and one body : for we partakers of that one bread” – speaking of Jesus.
 
Here’s the bottom line. Yes, we all need nourishment for these temples God has entrusted to us to use while we walk this earth. The most important part however, is our spiritual health – partaking of the Bread of Life everyday so we can walk the earth spiritually equipped to do His will in our lives.
 
So the next time you look at any kind of bread, take time to think about the Bread of Life – Jesus – and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the things God is wanting you to hear from Him. He alone is our sustainer, our salvation, and our hope!
 
If you need to talk to someone during these trying times, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to speak with you.
 
Author:
Ken Drew, Elder at Faith Assembly

 

 


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Entering God’s Rest – Our First Work

With the times we live in, it seems like everyone is on edge. I’m fairly certain you feel it. Life is fragile and uncertain, but God invites us on different path – to enter His rest.

Jesus knew His limits and adjusted His daily rhythms on a regular basis – and He was God! He lived by the Father’s guidance and found rest – even when (to the disciples anyway) it seemed as if everything was falling apart. If even Jesus was mindful of limits, why do we feel like we can keep relentlessly pushing without slowing down to tend to our souls?
 
We need God to bring us back to His still waters and restore our souls on a regular basis. This needs to be our first work before our earthly work begins. Check out these 5 practices to help you enter His rest.
 

Give yourself space to be quiet.

Most of us are not good at sitting in the quiet, allowing our soul to be vulnerable before ourselves and God. It can be a raw and frankly, uncomfortable place to be. Because we are so wired to solve problems and fix things, we often avoid what’s really going on inside us rather than quieting and allowing ourselves to hear.

In her article Solitude: A Place for Your Soul to Come Out, Ruth Haley Barton points out the importance of creating time and space for being with what’s real… “to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed my tears, sit with the questions, feel my anger, attend to my loneliness. This kind of ‘being with what is’ is not the same thing as problem-solving or fixing because not everything can be fixed or solved. Rather, it is to allow God to be with me in the midst of what’s real and to wait for Him to do what is needed.”
 

Enjoy resting in the abiding – rather than the doing.

You can relax in God’s presence. Allow yourself to soak in the security and calm assurance you have in Jesus. He says He loves you, He will never leave you, and says not to be afraid. When the Israelite people were faced with the Red Sea in front of them and no way out, Moses said to them, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13, 14) We can relax in the presence of Abba Father, knowing He in control of all things.

Notice the beauty around you – even in the smallest of things.

God speaks to us on a daily basis. Do we hear Him, see Him? All of creation shouts to the glory and beauty of God. Even the smallest of things can point us to His goodness. God is the Author of everything beautiful in the world – from tender affection to the wonder of delicate spring flowers on a mighty mountain. The cool thing about slowing down to notice is it cultivates gratefulness and wonder in our hearts, drawing us back to Him.

Embrace your limits.

Are you stressed and anxious? Tense and triggered? Our body often signals us in ways we often ignore. Lay these before the Lord and mentally/emotionally detach from the stress. Philippians 4: 6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps instead of stretching our limits in every way, we need to embrace them as God-given. Limits keep us grounded, keep us humble, and grows us in wisdom.

Drink in the scriptures.

In Psalm 23, David mentions God’s “rod and staff” and how he finds comfort in them. The good Shepherd guides and directs us through His Word. Find assurance, life-changing truth, and peace through taking in and meditating on His words. We often think in terms of “doing ministry” for Him, but He desires to work in you first. Be still before Him so he can meet you in the stillness – He has ministry to do in your spirit. The Lord is our shepherd – we have all we need in Him (Psalm 23).

Cling to Jesus friends. By entering into His rest first, a solid foundation is built. With His guidance, we find health, wisdom and maturity for all earthly work to follow.
 
Author:
Michelle Marx
Read more from this author on the Michelle Renee Speaks Blog.

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Our Safety and Hope

During this point in time, our days seem to be filled with uncertainty and fear. We all wait for the most recent Covid-19 updates. Most of us are being prudent in following the advice given to us by our government leaders. They tell us to wash our hands frequently, wear masks, keep our social distance, not to gather, and many other suggestions.

I know God wants me to be prudent in how I react out in public to keep myself safe, but I have to remember that it is God who ultimately keeps me safe. I can trust His sovereignty.
 
I was reading Psalms 4 the other day, entitled “The safety of the Faithful”. I’d like to zero in on verse 8.
It reads “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; For you alone O Lord make me dwell in safety.”
 
First of all, David had an awesome relationship with the Lord. The first part of this verse is our responsibility; I will both lie down in peace and will sleep. David was saying that when he would lie down, he would have peace and he would sleep.
 
Why could he say that? Well, let’s look at the rest of the verse.  “For you alone, O Lord make me dwell safety.”
 
David is saying that because his safety comes from God and God alone he can lie down in peace and sleep.
 

Proverbs 18:10 it says “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Psalm 91:1-2 says “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.

So, here’s bottom line: we rest and are safe in the arms of Jesus. By knowing this you can have peace and sleep well! Even though we live in a fallen world where we are not immune to the challenges of this life, we can rest in the assurance that God is in control and our souls are safe in His care.

 
Let’s continue to lift each other up in prayer every day and  encourage one another as we walk through this pandemic. We don’t have to be afraid. We have a God that is bigger than all of this. God bless you and keep you safe!
 
Author: 
Elder, Faith Assembly

 

 

 

               

               


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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

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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
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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