The bad news that is plastered all over the social media and news media stories will leave us disturbed and discouraged if we don’t remind ourselves of the good news of the Greatest Story Ever Told. Every day we must remember who Jesus is to us and what He does for us. The more we trust in the message of joy that a Savior and Lord has arrived to rescue us from bad and rule over us for good, the more we will experience real joy in our hearts. Today, don’t fill your mind with the garbage of this world but rather fix your mind on the glorious good news of Jesus. This will lead to great rejoicing for those who believe.
Advent is a time of hopeful waiting. The question is: what are we waiting for? Life will frequently leave us disappointed and dissatisfied if we are waiting for the right time when the right things have come and made us feel the right way. So… We wait. And we wait. And we wait our lives away. We will never find lasting satisfaction in the people, pleasures and possessions of earth. We weren’t mean to. As we wait for the second coming of Jesus, let us look to Him to be for us and give to us what this world never can: the gift of real contentedness. It’s not about what we have in our lives; it’s about Who we have in our hearts.
The sights, sounds and smells of Christmastime should cause us to pause and celebrate Christ. As we see the glow of lights, let our own hearts be merry and bright because the Light of the world has come. As we hear holiday music, let us smile because Jesus has put a new song in our hearts. As we walk past the Salvation Army worker, let us remember Jesus came to work for our salvation. It’s all there: the CHORUS of praise, the WRAPPING of swaddling clothes, the TREE made into a cross, the GIFT of eternal life. May every fleck of tinsel, note of a carol and morsel of a cookie remind us: Jesus is the reason for the season.
Our sin prevents nearness to God because it separates us from Him with no possible way from our side to get to Him. This is why Jesus came to live, die and rise… So you and I can draw near to God. We who are trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and freedom from sin are no longer distant from real peace, real hope, real joy, real comfort, real security, real wisdom, and real love because we are no longer distant from God where these things are found. Our Immanuel made a way for us to get forgiven, get real life, get to heaven and get to God. Rejoice today over this truth: When we could not get to Him, Jesus came to us.
Our thoughts have the power to shape us, for better or for worse, so we must let our minds land most often on Jesus. His Good News message is full of life-changing truths and promises that will guide us into a right perspective on every life issue. It changes how we see our past so we can know real freedom from guilt and shame. It changes how we see our present so we can know real purpose and peace in the midst of busyness. It changes how we see our future so we can know real hope as we joyfully anticipate what lies ahead. The more we think about Jesus, the more it will rewire how we think about everything else.
Even as Christians, one of the human weaknesses that we must continue to seek divine strength to overcome is our bent to be selfish. We need the mind and heart of Christ: a mind that regularly thinks of others rather than just ourselves, and a heart that is compassionate enough to serve and support others even at our own expense. It should be the golden rule, not the exception, to give up what we want so others can get what they need. That is when we are like Jesus. Today, go out of your way to do for others, joyfully remembering this: Jesus went out of His way from heaven to earth to the cross to do for you.
There is a three-word description that summarizes what happens from the moment we put our faith in Jesus until the moment we come face-to-face with Him: grow in grace. We are not meant to stay the same or stand still, but to progress in our experience of grace for the rest of our lives. There are countless observations, implications and applications that flow from God’s grace to us, and we have the delightful duty of discovery. Day by day, we are to prize, prioritize and pursue intimacy with Jesus. Progress does not come from fixing ourselves, but fixing our eyes on Him. This is how we grow: we set out to know.
The goal of grace is to unite us to God so that He is honored in us and we are happy in Him. Grace makes it possible for us to personally know God and enjoy Him, along with all the good gifts that He purposes to give us now and forever. He doesn’t give us what we think will make us happy, but rather what He knows will make us happy … Himself. Because of the grace of God, we get the God of grace! Therefore, the point of grace is to point us to God, so that we will be satisfied by Him, and He will be glorified by us. God gets the eternal praise that He’s always deserved, and we get the eternal pleasure that we’ve always desired.
You will either receive the grace of God or the wrath of God for your sin. There is no third option. By nature and choice, we sin against God by preferring things over Him and refusing to obey Him, which condemns us to hell. The only remedy is personally receiving the free forgiveness available by faith in Jesus, which ushers us into heaven. You get to choose between continuing in sin and continuing with Jesus. Whether you embrace this as the best news ever or dismiss it as foolishness, this is true: You need grace, and you can have grace. To reject it is to perish forever; to receive it is to have pleasure forever.
For all who trust in Jesus, there is a glorious eternity ahead in which bad things will be eliminated, good things will be perfected, and the best things will be unveiled. We have an eternity with Him that… Never gets stale. Never gets boring. Never gets routine. Never gets unappealing. Never gets finished. There will always be more to discover and enjoy from the immeasurable riches of God’s grace towards us in Christ Jesus. Don’t live for this day; live for that day. Don’t be discouraged by this day; be encouraged by that day. Take hope in this every day: For those who are trusting in Jesus, the best is always yet to come.
There’s only one reason we persevere through trials, troubles and tragedies in this broken world: grace. God gives us the strength, encouragement and provision we need to keep going when the going gets tough. He is always graciously working in us, working behind the scenes for us, and working all things out for the good of us. When He does not give us grace to escape problems, He will give us grace to endure them. We will keep going. We will get to the other side. We will make it through. This is our hope in Jesus… When the time is right, God will bring our hurting to an end and give us happiness without end.