Tag: faith

The Faith, Hope and Love of Christmas

Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be for all people, for today in the city of David there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10).

And now abide faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The birth of Jesus Christ brought the good news the world had been waiting for. We needed a Savior. God had promised He would come. With His coming, the world would never be the same. Now reconciliation with God was possible. Through faith in Him, our sins could be forgiven. His coming brought hope of everlasting life with God. And most importantly, His birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His resurrection from the dead spoke volumes about the love of God.

The good news (the gospel) announced to the shepherds on the first Christmas has been celebrated throughout the centuries. Mary was chosen by God to bring the Son of God to the world. An angel told Joseph that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples that although He was leaving, He would still be with them because His Father would send them the Holy Spirit to help them, teach them and help them remember the things He had said. The Holy Spirit brought gifts with Him to enable Christ’s disciples to carry on His work. There would be specific, individual gifts but the abiding gifts of faith, hope and love would be given to all believers.

Faith

Faith is the revelation of the good news.

Through faith we see God for who He really is. His nature is revealed to us through faith. Faith is not blind. It allows us to see the miracles that God has wrought through His Son. As C.S. Lewis says, “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.”

When you believe in the miracle of the Incarnation and invite the Christ who chose to be born in a manger to take residence in the manger of your heart, you experience the greatest miracle of all – forgiveness of your sins, reconciliation with God and a place in His forever family.

In faith, the servants of God in the Old Testament looked forward to this miracle and the revelation of God’s presence. Disciples in the New Testament and followers of Christ ever since that time have all come to God through abiding faith.

All we need to know about God we see in Jesus. Through faith in Him, we see the nature of God revealed.

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ (Colossians 2:9).

Hope

Hope is the fulfillment of the good news. We hope because of God and God does not disappoint.

God’s word in the Old Testament prophesied of God’s salvation through the coming Messiah. His word in the New Testament recorded that salvation obtained through the miraculous birth, sinless life, sacrificial death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the men of old believed God would deliver what He promised, men today look back upon that accomplished fact in history. The Son of God gives all believers the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Like Abraham, our faith is in a God who fulfills His promises. Our hope is not a “hope so,” but “I know He will.” Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance…. We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure (Hebrews 6:11-12, 19). Peter calls our hope a living hope (1 Peter 1:3).

Paul said of Abraham: He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:20-25).

Love

The greatest of these is love. Love is the good news.

God does not need faith. Neither does He need hope. We do. He provides what we need so that we might see the love He has for us. We love Him only because He first loved us.

There is no other religion that speaks of a God who loves His people so much that He chose to send His only Son to die on their behalf in order to have a relationship with them.

God is love. It was love that brought Jesus to earth. It was love that enabled Him to endure temptations and shame so that He could be our perfect substitute. It was love that led Him to the cross. It was love that resurrected Him from the dead.

He loved us and wants us to love others the same way – sacrificially. As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love that this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you (John 15:9-14).

The King of kings chose to be born in a stable because of His love for us. There is no greater love. Love is the gospel story.

© Stephanie B. Blake

December 2014

Scripture references are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

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Men of Faith

The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him                      (Proverbs 20:7).

Dad

A little over two years ago, my father passed away at the age of 90.  If anyone was ever ready to go to Heaven, it was Dad.  For years he was fairly consumed with looking for the Lord to come get him “in the air.”

Although a layman, he was a great student of the Bible.  While in his 80’s, he wrote and published a book entitled “The Unveiling: How the Symbols of Prophecy Reveal What Happens in the Last Days.”

Dad loved God and is the primary reason I am a believer today. He had a steadfast dedication to the word of God and serving Him.  Recently this inscription was discovered in one of his books: “Frank, there are no words to express our gratitude for your care and concern. You are the finest example of a true servant of the Lord that I have ever personally known.”

As part of “the greatest generation,” I am also very proud of his service during World War II. I miss him.  He was a great man of God.

Uncle and Cousins

Dad’s brother’s spiritual strength was also notable.  My grandmother single handedly raised godly sons along with their two Christian sisters. My uncle’s sons still participate in the ministry of their church: one as a Bible study teacher and the other as part of a gospel quartet.

Brothers and Father-in-Law

Through marriage, my sister gave me one of the kindest men I have ever known as a brother. He is a believer and an active church member. My husband provided me with three more brothers who have given themselves to serving God. All four of these men have been what brothers should be: supportive, encouraging, and light hearted teasers.   And I couldn’t ask for a better father-in-law. His sons followed in his footsteps in their allegiance to the Lord. He is still faithfully serving God.  Like Dad, he is also part of the “greatest generation,” having served our country in WW II and beyond.

Sons

My two sons are all I had ever hoped they would be, incredible men of faith who are loving, strong husbands of Christian women.  Along with their wives, they are raising three boys in a Christ-like environment.  I count myself blessed to be their mother. They are already seeing the fruit of their commitment to Christ, as one grandson recently invited Christ into his heart and the other two, I am sure, are close behind as they are faithfully taught to love God, His word and His church.

Husband

And then there is my husband.  The things I have learned from him are too numerous to mention.  Dad led me to faith in Christ, but my husband continues to help me grow as a Christian.  Through the years, I have watched his loyalty to Christ grow stronger and stronger.  He is the best preacher I know and loves God unreservedly.  I believe his priorities are His Lord, his family and bearing fruit for Christ. It is an honor to be his partner.

These men are not perfect. None of us are.  However, as I travel and hear others tell their family stories, I believe I have a rare blessing in being able to truly say I am surrounded by men of faith in my family.  I thank God for such a special gift and their influence on my life.

Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father (Proverbs 17:6).  This reflection started with my Dad.  However, his relationship with his own father was fairly non-existent, tainted with the fact that his dad was an alcoholic.  In a day when divorce had a great stigma, his mother went through that painful process in order to provide a godly environment for her two sons and two daughters.  My grandmother raised her children by herself, just as many women do today. God richly blessed her for her devotedness to that task.

I share this “reflective focus” about my family because bad patterns can be broken and new godly patterns can be established.  The Bible gives many examples of the value of positive influence of fathers.  Today’s society does not make it easy, but the perseverance of a man of faith does bring forth fruit.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper (Psalms 1:1-3).

© Stephanie B. Blake

Scriptures are taken from the NKJV (Dad’s favorite!)

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