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
Do we trust God every day? I like to think that I try to, but when there’s a bump in the road, a disappointment or something doesn’t go as planned, I’m often questioning what happened and why. I might complain, feel the circumstances are unfair, doubt, or try things my own way.
In Sunday school, our grades 2-5 have been on the journey with Moses as he leads the people through the desert to the Promised Land. I can’t even imagine the pressure and sense of responsibility Moses must have felt each day. To be chosen to lead a group of people who were sometimes doubtful, disobedient and difficult, would be tough for sure.
This Sunday we are at the part of the story where Moses is punished. As you may recall, God had asked Moses to gather the people at the rock with his staff and to speak to the rock. Moses did gather the people there, but ended up striking the rock twice. Moses perhaps was frustrated and disobeyed God’s instructions. As a result, he was told that he wouldn’t be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land.
I can totally relate to some of the people in this story. I can see myself lacking in trust for God’s provisions and showing doubt….and even complaining. I can see how Moses may have had a moment where he thought his way was best and became frustrated.
Even with all that, God still loved and cared for Moses and the people. I believe God understands when we fall short or have feelings of fear and doubt. We can definitely trust Him to meet our needs everyday.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family and Childrens Ministry
Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him.
Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.
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