Welcome to 2020! Even yesterday I took the van in for maintenance and our service rep said "Happy New Year!" and it caught me off guard a bit. It seems like Christmas and New Years was so long ago. Yet, unbelievably, I went to a local Shoppers Drug Mart and saw Easter stuff out already!
Christmas seems to come and go so fast. All the anticipation and waiting has come and gone. All the decorations are put away and now we move on to the next thing. All the hope and dreams for a New Year are seemingly so far in the rear-view mirror that we cannot honestly think anything might change in this new year. We start asking, "now what?"
We ramped up for Christmas at Calvary thinking, "everything will be different once Jesus gets here". Because once we present the question of "making room in our hearts for Jesus" on Christmas Eve, surely people will respond and life is going to be completely different, new, and exciting.
But, in these few weeks after Christmas, after celebrating the gift of grace that God gave us in sending His one and only Son, have you noticed that anything has changed? It doesn’t feel like it, and we start asking, "now what?"
I know this seems like a little bit of a downer question to ask but as our culture hurries on to the next great thing, we are sometimes forced to ponder what difference did Jesus' coming into this world really make?
Our family has returned to our normal crazy routine now that Christmas is over. I have had to scratch out 2019 and write 2020 a few times but by and large, nothing much has changed. We have slipped back into the way things were. Sure, we gave a nod to the cataclysmic events surrounding our Saviour’s entry into this world, but now what?
I get a little bit of this sense when I read the end of the book of Luke when, before He ascends to heaven, Jesus says to his twelve disciples, "but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
In other words, Jesus says, "wait".
Had I been there to hear the commission and watch my Saviour return to heaven I wonder if I would be running off to tell everyone what Jesus had done. If I had witnessed the events of death and resurrection and told to wait I think my head would have burst.
But they waited.
They went back to Jerusalem and waited for God to send the power they needed for mission. Namely, a special empowering of the Holy Spirit to launch the church into mission.
I hate to wait. I hate not moving fast and getting on mission. I have a hard time resting and waiting for God to do what only God can do while I faithfully seek to follow Him. But sometimes God says, "wait, my son or daughter – wait until you have from me what you need for what is next." God is preparing you for what He has in store for you this year. God is doing a work that is far above our little piece of the puzzle but at the right time, He will turn our waiting into mission. He will turn our waiting into fulfillment as we see what His plans are for us, for our families, for our church. We need to only be faithful to what we know to do already. He has given us what our mission and priorities should be and while we wait for God to accomplish His will, we worship him and continue to help others come to worship Him.
Pastor Aaron Groat
On any given day I will throw out a half dozen fliers for companies I don’t frequent, and answer at least one phone call from someone who needs my valued opinion in a survey that will take “less than 30 seconds”. And then there’s the spam emails, promising one thing but delivering another...
Case in point: earlier this week the staff received an email from Pastor Aaron Groat with the subject PEACE. Naturally, we assumed it was our Pastor and friend sending information about the upcoming Peace week of Advent. Nope. Just some scammer who had spoofed Aaron’s name and was trying to steal from us. (Note: Pastor Aaron will never email you to ask you to buy iTunes cards, Google Play cards, or anything else!)
On the surface, I was promised peace, and I almost fell for it… but I didn’t. And do you know why? Because I checked the source. You see, clicking the sender’s name revealed that another email address was hidden below the surface. The author of that kind of peace was a liar and could not be trusted.
Man, it’s almost like there’s a theological lesson in there somewhere.
There are many things that promise peace at Christmas time. Spend time with family. Watch some cheesy Hallmark movies. Travel. Enjoy some Christmas parties. Light the tree. Hit the slopes. Relax at the spa. Have Sunday brunch with friends. Shop early, shop online, wrap it up and then you’re done.
I’ll bet that if you watched enough commercials, you’d think that peace was guaranteed if you follow those few easy steps. These things by themselves are wonderful diversions, but you can’t manufacture peace.
But you can receive it.
You see, Ephesians 2:14 says that Christ himself is our peace. He’s the source. He’s ‘it’. Jesus is the one who broke down the dividing wall of hostility between us and God and reconciled us to Him forever through his shed blood on the cross. He’s the giver and we are the receiver.
What Jesus did brought us peace on two levels: The temporal and the eternal. The now and the forever. The peace you receive when your sins are forgiven is now, and the peace you enjoy knowing your life is hidden in God is eternal. It comes when we stop living for ourselves, and we begin living for God.
Peace is the result of our surrender and the root of our relationship.
This Christmas I pray you won’t fall for a surface promise of peace, but instead you’ll look to the Author of peace himself. Receive Christ and His gift of peace, for now, and for all eternity.
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace"
PS One time I did reply to a scammer, and had a whole day of fun sending them a barrage of nonsensical emails. I don't recommend it, but it was a fun way to spend a Saturday! But nothing compares to the Infamous Red Toaster Email found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSoXEtFPTfI
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)
Have you heard this message of how great God is and of how we cannot be in His presence because our sin has separated us from God? The truth is that we all walk in darkness.
Some of you might be familiar with the dcTalk song, “In the Light.” This song lays out the stark truth about our human nature:
I keep trying to find a life on my own, apart from You.
I am the king of excuses: I've got one for every selfish thing I do.
What's going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions that I'm still a man in need of a Savior
And then comes the chorus:
“I want to be in the light as you are in the light…”
This song by dcTalk reinforces what we have already read in 1 John: we all are filled with excuses, we’re selfish, we walk in darkness and we want to live a life of our own design.
But don’t be dismayed or think you are without hope, because if we keep reading in 1 John we’ll see this:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)
Jesus died, bearing the punishment for the sins of all who put their faith and trust in him. And if we confess with our mouths that we are sinful, then we can be made pure and holy and be reconciled to God.
Did you catch in verse 7 the one expectation of us? “If we walk in the light,” then we are given the promise of fellowship with God. This is picked up in the song by dcTalk when they write that to ‘be’ in the light is to ‘walk’ in the light. Walking is an indicator of action.
This means that we don’t stop with confession – God wants people who demonstrate their faith through their action by choosing to walk in the light.
To walk in the light means to confess your sin before God and remove what is separating you from a right relationship with the Creator. It means to express gratitude for the presence of the Spirit, to follow the example of Christ and be in fellowship with God, and to commit to walking daily with the Lord.
Have you heard the message? If you have, how will you respond today? I pray that you demonstrate your response and your faith by walking in the light.
Matt Bean, Elder
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