As we grow older in life, years somehow seem to shorten and New Year’s Day approaches with an ever increasing tempo. The more mature we get, the more we realize that time is only relative; how we live means more than how long we live. Haply also we d…
“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new”. (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message).
[Renovation] takes solid work, requires real change in behavior, and sometimes the recognition that failing will be part of the journey. A fascinating and convicting book is “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard. It’s one to put on your reading list – and recognize that you might be reading one chapter over and over and over. He spends some interesting time thinking about the role of the will and the relation to the Holy Spirit in this “renovation”, in becoming “new creatures”.
The key to this renovation, however, as opposed to the fad of New Year’s resolutions, is that spiritual fresh starts are based in a power that is not our own power. In fact, we have to give up our “own power” in order to be effective, and that makes all the difference.
So looking at that verse again, we can be assured that when we unite with the Messiah, when we are reborn in Christ, when the Holy Spirit becomes part of our hearts and minds… we have a true chance at a fresh start.
— Lt. Colonel Carol Seiler, the Salvation Army
The day that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is a special and blessed day. Likewise, the day that we enter the heavenly places will be glorious and splendid. But what about the time between these two precious events? That space of time is occupied with the business of living life including its ups and downs. We awake each day to a gift from God. All of our interactions with life spring from our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. If we allow ourselves to stagnate in the Lord and in His Word and works, it shows in our attitudes and actions… The fact remains that “living” as a Christian is not nearly as easy as becoming a Christian!
— Pastor Gary Stone
Once I started toward God, I never really stopped and was never really in need of starting over.
Was I ever in need of confession and forgiveness and grace and a touch of providence itself? Certainly. Was I in need of turning toward God as though we were strangers to each other and had never met? No, not once. Which makes me no different from you, though it may well have taken me a lot longer to figure it out.
Once we start home toward God… we simply do not ever turn around and head in another direction. There is no other direction. And in the moments when we feel as if we are so turned around that we will never get home, somebody turns up and nudges us a couple of points to starboard, whichever direction that is. Suddenly, without being particularly conscious of it or faithful about it, we sense that we are headed toward God again full blast.
— Robert Benson in Between the Dreaming and the Coming True
Mary remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.” He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And He is absolutely dependent …
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”. We read this verse a little differently this Christmas. We look at the word “peace” and our hearts sigh. We wonder about the future of “good will toward men.” We feel the longing for something in our hearts — a longing for what made the angels rejoice as they said these words, and the shepherds stand in amazement as they heard them.
We feel a longing for Jesus — perhaps more than ever before. We feel this longing as we fall to our knees this holiday season. But we are not brought to our knees in the way anyone expected. We kneel not before other nations… and not out of fear…
We kneel before a manger that holds the Savior of the world. We remember once again how much we need Him, how He is our foundation and our strength.
We kneel before a cross. We see how much He loves us, and how He is unafraid of suffering and sin.
We kneel before an empty tomb. We realize anew how He conquered death and darkness — how He has made us victorious forever no matter what happens. Yet even as we kneel, we know that Christmas will be different. There are many who will be missed as we gather together with those we love.
There is a feeling that things will never be the same. It is this feeling that causes us to cling even tighter to the promise that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. The Meaning of Christmas will never change because the Meaning of Christmas is Christ. So we can still proclaim with the angels, no matter what the situation, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.
— Unknown, from a SOUND BITES subscriber in
Often I stand on the edge of light, afraid to believe, afraid to act, afraid that this story is too good to be true.But then in my better moments, when I listen closely to the story, move closer to the light, my fears seem to evaporate like an early …
“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….
God has broken into this world in an astounding story of divinity and humanity that boggles the brain even as it transforms the heart…
In the words of the late Samuel Hines, “God has a one-term agenda, listed in one expressive and inclusive word: reconciliation.” It is a bold statement. It suggests that God’s intention, purpose, and desire for the world can be captured in this one word.
Reconciliation implies that a relationship has suffered damage. It indicates division exists where there was once harmony. Such division marks all humanity. Through sin and disobedience, we have separated ourselves from God and from one another…
In Christ, through Christ, and with Christ that “dividing wall of hostility” [Ephesians 2:14] has been torn down. According to Charles Wesley, reconciliation is… the message of Christmas:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
— Kevin Baker in Hail the Heaven Born
Abundant life from Christ comes not in tangibles, but in grace-given presence. We are being changed from self-serving people, grasping, needing, to God-serving people, loved and freed, who in prayer and by the Spirit paradoxically gain by giving away C…