As we celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas, let us challenge ourselves to focus on the “Light of the world,” and remember that Jesus really is the reason for the season. It is so easy to get caught up in all the festive events, sales at the malls, finishing those Christmas lists, decorating the house, making travel plans, and visiting with family.
What is supposed to be a time to remember the Son of God entering the world becomes a time of exhaustion and survival. The joy of life and of the season is stolen; and, of course, the Presence of the Lord becomes impossible to detect.
Jesus said in John 8: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (ESV). The key is to follow Jesus as we traverse these holiday times. Keep Him always before you in your mind and your heart. Talk to Jesus often. Keep your daily time alone with Him. Ask Him for His guidance and blessing on your daily activities. Look for references to the Christ as you listen to and sing the carols and Christmas music. Don’t neglect your time of worship of Jesus with other believers. Reach out to those around you who are in need (not just physical needs, but emotional and spiritual as well). Remember, there are numerous military families in our community whose loved ones will not be home for Christmas.
Following Jesus through this wonderful time of year will bring out His love and joy in your life. Following Him will make all the difference between a Christ-centered Christmas or a cultural-driven Christmas. It will make all the difference between “getting through” the season or “being a blessing to others” during the season. Following Jesus will help you to see His Presence in and around you as you go about your business. It will enable you to be a blessing to others in their time of need. After all, didn’t Jesus say, in Matthew 5:14-15, that we, His followers, are also supposed to be light of the world: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."
Dr. Foley Beach is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (Canada, US, and Mexico).
In our busyness, we can neglect some important aspects of following Jesus, which would help us to know Him better, to understand Him better, and to deepen our relationship with Him. These aspects of following Jesus are usually not screaming for our attention; therefore, they are often overlooked in the hectic pace at which most of us live. While not an exhaustive list, these relationship attributes are offered to encourage you to go deeper with the Lord.
The Upper Room Part 3: The Promise of Belief (St. Thomas Anglican Church, Athens GA)
A primary component of Jesus teaching methodology was to ask questions. Most questions asked regarding Christianity are directly answerable. However, it is not “doubt” that constrains people from believing and following Jesus; but it is their “resistance to giving up their sins” that constrains their belief and acceptance.
Important questions were asked by Jesus in His several appearances after His Resurrection from His Crucifixion and death. In the first reference in John 20 to Jesus’ appearance to His Apostilles, the Apostille Thomas was not present. Therefore, when Thomas was told of Jesus’ appearance, Thomas said that he would not believe in Jesus’ Resurrection until he could see and feel Jesus’ wounds from the Crucifixion. Jesus, knowing Thomas’ disbelief without physical evidence of His Resurrection, asked Thomas to feel His wounds. Afterwards, Jesus asked Thomas the implied question regarding Thomas’ “belief”, and Thomas answered with an answer that has resonated throughout the centuries: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-29): “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’ Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”.
Jesus went on to affirm Thomas’ belief in the face of compelling physical evidence, but Jesus acknowledged the power of the belief and faith by those of us who follow Him without physical evidence through our faith. So, for us who do not have the physical evidence of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, Paul tells us, in Romans 10:17, that: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”.
Do you believe?
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM A CHILD OF GOD. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12f).
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): John 10:19-30; John 11:15-16; John 14:5-7; Romans 10:17.
WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S SERMON VIDEO (“Jesus said to Thomas: “Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen and Yet Have Believed” – Do You Believe?“): www.AWFTL.org/watch,
A WORD FROM THE LORD WEBSITE: www.AWFTL.org.
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