The Christmas season can be the most wonderful time of the year for some, and the most stressful or contentious for others. We hear Christmas songs about ‘peace and goodwill to men,’ but sometimes those can seem like concepts far removed from our own personal situations. As Christians though, we know that through Jesus and His victory over death we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). We know that Jesus gives us the peace of God.
Jesus wants you to love him, live for him, and follow him with all your heart. He wants you to love others, to life generously with your time, talents, and gifts. He wants you to put him first in all you do, to learn his ways and model them to others. He wants you to be part of building the Kingdom of God on this earth. What are you building your house on?
The first thing that your spiritual enemy wants to do is to cause you to doubt your identity. He wants you to question if what God says about you is true. That’s what happened for Jesus and that is what happens for us. The devil doesn’t like it when we move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. He will do anything in his power to erode the truth of God’s word in your life. That’s why it’s so important to follow Jesus’ example. Be rooted in prayer and in God’s word. And take hold of the authority that we have been given as God’s beloved children.
Transitions happen all the time and they take on many forms. Maybe you’ve started a new job, moved to a new home, country, or city. Perhaps you are one of the many who got married during the pandemic, or maybe you just got a puppy. You’ve had a baby, started school again, or your kids started having kids of their own. Maybe you were forced into early retirement. Transitions are an inevitable part of life, and it’s impossible to grow without them.
We have everything we need in order to finish well, but we need to choose to do so. We need to stay firmly planted in God’s word, in His house, and in His family. As followers of Jesus, we can run the race of life with our eyes fixed on Jesus until the very end. Our story doesn’t have to end like Solomon’s. It may be hard to stay on course, to stay obedient, to finish well, but it is more than possible with God’s help.
When faced with pain and suffering it’s natural to ask what the purpose of it all is. Paul tells us that we can be absolutely sure that God is working in our lives through it: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Have you ever wondered why we call our weekend gatherings at church a service? If you are new to church or Christianity, this may seem like an odd description of the time where we stand and sing, and then sit and listen to a sermon. Many churches are moving away from using the term service and replacing it for more palatable terms like the “church experience,” or “gathering.”
There will be moments in all our lives that demand courage. We will all face situations that are larger than our experience or ability. The great news is that we don’t have to walk through these situations in our own strength, as believers, we have the power of God in us. The Bible is filled with stories of ordinary men and woman that reveal how we too can be courageous.
I’ve got to be honest, this passage never really filled me with much joy or hope… I mean James paints a pretty bleak picture of how incapable we humans are at controlling such an unruly part of us. Reading this as a teenager hit pretty hard. Teenagers already have a hard enough time believing they’re good enough at doing stuff, here was another thing to add to the list. How many times did I crack a joke trying to fit in that really ended up being unkind? Why did I say that? It was frustrating to reflect on at the time, and then James went on to describe the tongue as a relentless evil full of deadly poison. Yikes. Was there any hope for any of us, I wondered?