Peace

The Coming of Christ

By Kristi Sullins

On that night so long ago the angels were charged with proclaiming the miracle of Christ’s birth. He had finally come, the Messiah sent for all mankind. It was the end of the wait, but for everything else, it was just the beginning.

Christ is the beginning of hope, bringing the possibility of a life more abundant than anything we can think. He is the promise of security in the middle of chaos, and strength to journey through any season of life.

He is the beginning of peace. For those who belong to Christ, we have been promised a peace that passes all understanding. That peace finds its beginning and ending with Jesus.

Christ is the beginning of joy for all those who believe. True joy is found in Him, and cannot be shaken by the things of this world. It is His joy that is our strength and our song. It is a joy that survives the changes and struggles of life because it is founded in the One who loves us.

He is the beginning of love, sent from the Father Himself. Love comes from God. His love for us is unwavering, indescribable and undeserved, and the proof of this love was first found in the manger.

The beginning of hope, peace, joy and love is life changing. For the followers of Christ in the Bible, it was compelling enough for them to change the way they worshiped and believed. They changed tradition, which caused many to be rejected by family and friends. Persecution was real for followers of Christ, but what He brought them was worth any struggle.

Christ and His love were too life changing to ignore.

We have that same new beginning. Christ offers us the same hope, peace, joy and love, based on who He is and not on what we deserve. The promises of Advent don’t have to be packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations but are meant to encompass our current days. Those who are followers of Christ are called to face the future without fear, and the celebration of Advent is meant to remind us that there is no need to fear because the good news proclaimed by the angel in the book of Luke is still the same.

Are you looking towards the coming year with the anticipation of a fresh start and new beginnings or do you feel anchored in the past with its poor choices and scars?  No matter where you find yourself, it is important to remember that the news of the angel, on that holy night, was a message of good news for all people. Christ, our Messiah, has come to set us free, and to give us a hope and future, our new beginning.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.

Why I Praise Him

By LuAnn Edwards

If you attend Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church, you may have seen me singing in the choir or with the Praise Team. You may have asked yourself the question, “Why does she raise her hands?” There are several reasons why I praise my Lord. A few of them include: (1) The truth has set me free (John 8:32); (2) He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3); and (3) Praise makes the enemy flee (2 Chronicles 20:1-24).

Christ set me free; I am so thankful to Him for this.

I was heading the wrong way in life and have a pretty good idea of what my life would be like without Him. He rescued me from a miserable existence. Had I continued on the path I was taking, I would be living without hope, trying to fulfill myself with meaningless relationships and material things. How can I not praise Him for all He has done for me?

The Lord desires my worship, and praise is an expression of that worship. Praise brings me into God’s presence and fills me with His joy and peace. To sincerely praise Him, we must do so in humility and true devotion; how can we truly praise Him and have animosity in our hearts toward others? Praise allows me to lift up the Lord and glorify Him. Do I only praise Him in church? No! I praise Him at home and in my car and even when I am alone at work. At times, I praise him loudly with singing; or I may worship Him quietly while listening for His still, small voice. I believe He desires this of me, and I totally enjoy honoring Him in this way. (Psalm 34:1; Psalm 98:4; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 150:4; Eph. 5:19-20.)

Praise sends the enemy running! The story of Jehoshaphat (found in 2 Chronicles 20) crying out to God for the people of Judah shares a wonderful truth from God’s Word. Jehoshaphat heard that armies were coming to attack them, and he knew they did not have the power to fight back. He prayed and looked to the Lord for help. The Lord spoke through one of the men saying, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v 15). God told them they were to march down against the enemy, but they would not have to fight. Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah bowed before the Lord and began to worship Him. Some stood and offered praise to the Lord with a very loud voice. The next morning they went out to face their enemies. Jehoshaphat stood and told the people to have faith in the Lord. He then appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise Him saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever” (v 21). As the people began to sing praises, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies causing them to kill one another, and they were defeated! Judah did not have to fight!

What battle are you facing today? Try giving thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever. He will inhabit your praises, and His truth will set you free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abundant Life

By: LuAnn Edwards

Are you filled with the peace of God? Are you overflowing with joy and abounding in love? When we abide in Christ, He lives through us and we bear His fruit. I believe this is the abundant life Jesus talks about in John 10:10.

The Christian life is not just an adequate life; it is full of blessings – God blessing us and us blessing others.

When we allow Him to lead us and we rely upon Him with complete trust, He will work through us. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20a). In addition, each one of us is a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). No longer should we live in the past or the ways of our past. We should now live for Christ and desire a deeper, personal relationship with Him.

An abundant life comes as a result of abiding in Christ so we will bear fruit. To abide in Christ means we completely surrender ourselves to Him and walk in obedience. We bear fruit as we continue in our daily walk with Christ. This daily walk should be one of personal commitment and getting to know Him better through prayer and Bible study. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Bearing fruit, such as peace, joy and love, honors the Lord and brings gladness to our hearts.

Peace abides in us if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord. In John 14:27a Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus has personally given us this gift; He is our peace! Peace is a special place of knowing He is always present, along with believing He is working all things together for our good. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” (Romans 15:13a).

An abundant life is filled with joy.

When others see this joy in us, they long for it too. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).We should always be joyful, for the joy of the Lord gives us strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy also comes through loving others.

In 1 John 4:11-12 we read, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Our love shines outward as we deny ourselves and our selfish desires and put others first. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). These verses portray a beautiful picture of love.

An abundant life is a life growing in Christ. It is a life dedicated to prayer and gaining knowledge through His Word. Through this walk of surrender, trust and obedience, Christ richly fills us with His peace, and we experience overflowing joy and abounding love.