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.
We have a God that loves us so much, and God’s love for us is expressed to us through His “covenants”. Also, God’s “covenants” reveal to us His grace and faithfulness. In today’s message, we will discuss God’s Covenant with Noah. A “covenant” can be defined as an “oath or promise of God”. In a Biblical covenant: 1) God establishes the Covenant; 2) God always implies that “I am your God, and you are my people” – God desires a personal relationship with us; and 3) God sets the covenant’s terms and rulers.
In Genesis 6:5-22, the corruption of humanity, through mankind’s sin after the Fall, became too much for God, and He became sorry that He made mankind. From Genesis, we know that God “grieved in His heart” because of human evil, corruption, and violence. However, Noah found favor in the eyes of God. Noah was righteous and blameless, and Noah “walked with God”.
After destroying all humans and all other inhabitants of the earth, except for Noah, his family, those animals that Noah collected for His arch, God “blessed Noah in Genesis 9:1-29; and God established His covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:9-1:10,11-13: “’Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you . . . that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’". Therefore, this covenant is not only with Noah and all other living things on the earth; but God’s covenant with Noah is with us too! The “rainbow” is a sign of this covenant between Noah and all humanity; and this “rainbow” is, also, a sign of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
In 1 Peter 3:18-21, the Apostle Peter relates Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, which is a redemptive covenant for our salvation, to God’s earlier covenant with Noah: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .". In this text from 1 Peter, we learn that our “baptism” represents our Salvation through Jesus. Like Noah and his family, we have been saved “through the water” not “by the water”. Therefore, “baptism” is another covenant between God and all humanity, through God’s Grace, to save mankind from itself if we accept God’s Grace. God does not see us, now, in our sin like humanity’s evil of Noah’s time; rather, God sees us through the eternal (like the “rainbow”) “Justifying” covenant blood of Jesus.
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13).
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Genesis 6:5-22; Genesis 9:1-29; 1 Peter 3:18-21; Psalms 28: 1-9.
WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S SERMON VIDEO: https://awordfromthelord.org/video-archives/
DONATE TO AWFTL: https://mygiving.secure.force.com/GXDonateNow?id=a0Ui000000DglsqEABAll Sermons by Archbishop Foley Beach