December 2021 Message from Pastor Greg

‘Tis the Season (of Lights, Delights, Silent Nights, & Biblical Insights)

Celebrating The Glory of His Presence …By Focusing Our Eyes on Jesus!

     The Christmas Season has arrived once again and in a very personal way, I’m convinced that in my lifetime, there’s never been a time when the Christmas Message was more needed than it is today. I’m trusting that this comment doesn’t seem to be overly dramatic or an exaggeration, and to many of us, it might be relatively obvious. When we face the facts, there are so many things happening in our “world” that seem hard to believe and even more difficult to process mentally and emotionally. That’s why our culture needs a reason to be joyful and a reality that leads to hope. It seems as if our society is desperately crying out looking for answers and searching for something that will provide a sense of genuine hope! …But it doesn’t know what it really needs!

     As faithful followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, our understanding of God’s Word helps us recognize/realize that this world has nothing to offer that will provide authentic (or long—lasting) hope! By drawing attention to this truth, it becomes essential for us to find a way to look beyond what we see around us, what we hear from the news media (or other sources), and what we feel when we become aware of any of the challenges and changes our society is experiencing. Sometimes the distractions are difficult for us to avoid … and ignore!

     An important (and helpful) part of looking beyond the things that often distract us is taking a closer look at what God has revealed to us about what happened when our Lord Jesus Christ was born. The Christmas Message revolves around real people and real events that took place in real time 2000 years ago. Many different characters had an important role in helping to fulfill God’s plans and purposes and most of them were caught “off—guard,” not expecting to be part of such an important narrative that would change the course of history. It’s interesting to find that most biblical scholars identify the time leading up to Jesus’ birth as the “400 years of silence” because that’s the timeframe between the last prophetic writing of the Old Testament and when John and Jesus’ births were announced to their parents. Other than Herod’s attempt to kill the “Newborn King,” there was very little attention given to the Lord’s arrival. That’s why John the Baptist had the role of being His “forerunner” who would “introduce” Jesus as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus was God’s answer for hope then … and He remains to be the answer everyone needs to know!

     To be bold, direct, and straightforward, if we claim to be faithful followers of Christ, we also have a distinct role in helping fulfill God’s eternal plans. We’ve been called by God to “set our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Fulfillment of our faith.” We’re also instructed to “sanctify Christ as Lord of our hearts, always being ready to explain that trusting Christ is the only thing that will authentically lead to hope for the future.”

     As I draw this article to a conclusion, I’d like to insert the lyrics of a song written by Michael Card. It’s entitled, Could It Be?  If you want to listen to it, here’s a link from YouTube:

In the ebb and flow of living As we wander through the years We’re told to listen to a voice                      We can’t hear with our ears They say to live by something That you can’t see with your eyes
Is there really any purpose To this foolish exercise?

{Chorus} Could it be You make Your presence known so often by Your absence?
Could it be that questions tell us more than answers ever do?
Could it be that You would really rather die than live without us?
Could it be the only answer that means anything is You?

In our words and in our silence In our pride and in our shame To the genius and the scholar                       To the foolish and insane To the ones who care to seek You To the ones who never will
You are the only answer even still {Chorus} It’s a question you can’t answer An answer you cannot express That the gentle Man of Sorrow
Is the source of happiness You’ll never solve the mystery Of this magnetic man

For you must believe to understand {Chorus} Could it be the only answer that means anything is You?

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Faith is not a result of seeing, but seeing is a result of faith!” As we reach out to others and proclaim the glorious message of the Lord’s birth during this Christmas season, let’s pray without ceasing that God’s Spirit will open people’s hearts to help them trust in God’s only provision for hope. 

With prayer for God’s glory and praise for His grace … And also, with prayer for our ACEFC family,      Pastor Greg

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