Today is the last day of the year. And as we reflect on the happenings of 2021, many are more than ready to say goodbye. Yet the same things we are so eager to be rid of, will undoubtedly follow us into 2022. But we needn’t fear. For the Savior we celebrate at Christmas is the same One who will safely carry us into the new year ahead. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We all, Christians included, will have rough times. But whatever circumstances the new year holds, we know the Lord has a purpose in them. And His glory will shine through each one. I love how Dr. Charles Stanley says, “God’s blessings are worth the sacrifice and obedience. And we cling in hope to the Lord with eager expectation for the rewards that accompany our faith.” So as we venture into the unknown of the new year, we can have confidence knowing we won’t be venturing alone. Happy New Year!
1 Timothy 2:5
Many celebrate Christmas around the world. Yet not all celebrate the reason for the season. The reason being the birth of the One, True God, who came in the flesh to save the world. This is the foundational belief of Christianity, and known to Israel as “the Shema.” The Shema is Israel’s statement of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Faith that Jesus isn’t just another made up deity. But instead, He is the one and only, God Himself. The Lord came as a humble servant to offer us the gift of salvation and to become our Mediator. A Mediator who established peace between us and God. As our great High Priest, and the only way to our Creator, Christ provides the path of reconciliation between us and our Father in heaven. So not just on Christmas but every day, we too can look to the words of the Shema. And not just acknowledge the Lord as God, but love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and might.
As we get ready to put 2021 behind us and move on to the new year, may we go in to it with the examples displayed by our Savior with His birth. Including humility, obedience, and the greatest of all, love. Jesus sat on His glorious throne in heaven, where He was surrounded by constant worship and praise. He wanted for nothing, and enjoyed perfect peace at the side of the Father. Yet willingly, He left it all behind to come to this wicked world and save us through His great love. In His humanity, Christ endured great suffering, even unto death on a Cross. He was rejected, ridiculed, and betrayed. And He suffered all of this to glorify God and to comfort and provide for us in all things. (Heb. 4:14-16) So as the new year brings with it a new start, may our resolutions, be filled with “Jesus goals”. Goals to be be better, do better, and have an “attitude in yourselves which was also in Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 2:5)
1700 Year Old Good Shepherd Ring Representing Jesus Found In Israel
A stunning “Good Shepherd” ring that depicts a young Jesus holding a sheep, was found when archaeologists explored two shipwrecks that sank off the ancient port of Cesarea, Israel dating back 1700 years. The ancient city of Cesarea figured prominently in the Bible, in the Book of Acts in connection with Peter, Philip the Apostle, and, especially Paul, who is known to have been was imprisoned there before being sent to Rome for trial, where he was subsequently martyred. Its green gemstone at the center was carved depicting the figure of Jesus as a young shepherd, dressed in a tunic with a sheep around his shoulders. Read more about the ring here.
Satanic Holiday Display Installed In Illinois Capitol Building
When many government buildings refuse to allow nativity scenes for Christmas displays, Illinois says yes to a satanic holiday statue. The display, which was placed inside the capitol’s rotunda on Monday, portrays the deity Baphomet laying in a make-shift crib as an infant, an image similar to the birth of Christ. The move has sparked protests from a Catholic group, who argues that such installations should not be allowed in the capitol building or any public space. “The Capitol welcomes a diverse religions every year to display holiday statues, so we wanted to join in on that,” Satanic Temple of Illinois Minister Adam said. Read more about the display here.
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu Passes Away
Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon, an uncompromising foe of apartheid and a modern-day activist for racial justice dies at the age of 90. While Tutu was best known for helping to end decades of institutionalized segregation and racism in South Africa, and for heading the truth and reconciliation commission that came in its aftermath, he was also celebrated for lending his voice to other injustices and oppression globally. Tutu’s death “is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Read more about his legacy here.
Tulsa Cops Rescue And Adopt Abandoned Christmas Puppies
A horrific Christmas find turned into five new fur-ever homes for a litter of puppies left in a duffel bag abandoned at an Oklahoma QuikTrip on Saturday, according to authorities. Someone allegedly zipped the pups up and dumped the bag on the store’s counter on Christmas Day, the Tulsa Police Department said in a statement. “Overwhelmed with Christmas feelings, 4 of the officers immediately adopted 4 of the puppies and the 5th went home with the [QuikTrip] employee,” the department wrote on Facebook. “These dogs have clearly had a rough 24 hours,” police said. “But, they are in good hands now.” Read more about these adorable pups here.
As we pack up Christmas and look forward to the New Year, let’s take time to reflect on the gifts of God. For His blessings are not limited to the birth of His Son. The minute we receive Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. And with Him, He brings some pretty incredible gifts. God’s church is made up of the body of Christ. And each Christian is a valuable part of that body. Why? Because the Holy Spirit bestows specific gifts unique to only us. Think of that! We have a God given purpose that only we can fulfill. Our Creator painstakingly equips us with marvelous gifts designed to work in harmony with the gifts of fellow believers. All with the goal of performing as a perfectly tuned orchestra for the glory and purposes of God. And He counts each one as valuable as the next!
How was your Christmas? Did you get that special gift you so desired? More than just a holiday of celebrating for us, Christmas is also the birthday of our Lord and Savior. So how about His gift? What do you think Jesus wants for His special day? We can find out through an encounter at God’s temple between Simeon, Mary, Joseph, and the small “Lord’s Christ”. First, Jesus wants our lives. Simeon waited a long time to see God’s promise fulfilled. But in the meantime, he lived in obedience and righteousness. Second He wants our praise and worship. When Jesus was placed in Simeon’s arms, the first thing he did was to joyfully thank and pay homage to God. And finally, the Lord wants our purpose. Simeon’s purpose was to proclaim the Good News of Christ. And our purpose is the same, to lead others to the saving grace of Jesus. Christ gave to us the greatest gift of all, so shouldn’t be eager to give Him the gifts He wants as well?
As we celebrate the season, we give thanks to God for coming in the flesh through His precious Son, Jesus Christ. But after the presents are opened, the meal eaten, and friends and family go home, Christmas isn’t over. Christmas is every day when we follow the example of our Lord, and let the Word become flesh through us. For God gives each of us the same calling He gave to that small Babe lying in a manger. To lead the hurting, sick, and desperate back to Him. Our Father in heaven wants us to be living examples of the Word of God. To let our lights shine brightly, becoming beacons for the way, the truth, and the life. All for the “glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So may we follow our Lord and Savior, and make Christmas a way of life, and not a story to be told once a year.
I once heard a preacher say, “If our greatest need was entertaining, God would have sent us an actor. If our greatest need was technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need was more things, God would have sent us a genie. But since our greatest need is forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.” Because our God is perfect, true, and the source of all love, from the beginning it was His plan to redeem His people. And so He promised to send a Messiah. A sacrificial Lamb who would come to give His life for all of mankind. A promise fulfilled in the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God in the flesh, Jesus came to be our Friend, Teacher, and Redeemer. He is the greatest Christmas present of all! May we give thanks and rejoice for Christ’s birth, death, and the salvation He freely offers to each and every one. Merry Christmas to you all, and may the light of Christ’s love shine upon you this and every day of the year!
I love the song, “Mary did you know?”. And my favorite lyric is, “Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.” As a baby lying in a manger, Jesus came as the perfect, unblemished Lamb of God. The only One who can take away the sin of the world and reconcile us back to God, Christ came to suffer and die for us. The Lord knew all He would endure at the hands of the very people He came to redeem. Yet He came anyway. And Jesus He did all of this to perfectly fulfill the will and plan of the Father, walking in perfect obedience and surrender to Him. And because of Christ’s perfect obedience, even to the death on a cross, we can be counted free. “Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”