Make Time

February seems to have a little something for everyone.  Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, start of NASCAR season, some baseball teams begin Spring Training, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Ladies Tea, and so much more.

February is the shortest month of the year, yet there is so much that happens in February.  It got me to thinking about the brevity of life.  In the span of history and the scope of eternity, life is but a brief moment.  Brief, but filled with joy, sorrow, plans, and possibilities.

Life for some might be reduced to a series of events or accomplishments.  However, life shouldn’t be reduced to a resume, scrap-book, or obituary.  Life is for the living.  It involves relationships.  Taking time, even though there isn’t much to appreciate the world around us and the people we are blessed to know.

It isn’t wrong to make plans and have goals, but also do not forget to allow life to change, shape, and mold our days.  It may be in these “interruptions” of life that we see a little more Christ in the details, Christ in others, and are becoming more like him.

Life is short and we try to pack so much into our lives, don’t forget to enjoy the wonder of living, the blessings of friends and family, and the grace of Jesus Christ.  This brief life is the beginning of our journey from brevity to eternity in our continuing relationship with Jesus, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He is the “Great I Am.”

Don’t let the busyness of life distract you from the blessedness of relationships with Christ and others.  See Jesus in others and Be Jesus to others.  Stop, look, and listen as relationships will grow and strengthen through the years.  In the years to come it is the relationships that will make the difference, in life and eternity.

Make time and take time for each other.

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The Living Gift and Living the Gift

In the last two months we have talked about the Simple Gift and the Greatest Gift, recognizing the Living Gift of Christ, compels us live out that gift.

Job confesses, and we should acknowledge, “25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25

He is the Living Gift!  How shall we live the gift?  “the righteous shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4

Because Christ lives, so we should live for him.  Paul makes his appeal to the believers. 

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d] Romans 12:1-2 

How is this type of sacrifice possible?

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 

This type of personal sacrificial living also has an impact on the community of faith and the community at large.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, Philippians 1: 21-26

Paul shares with boldness…live for Christ, if we die, dying allows us to be with Christ, living in this moment should not be buying time, but a fruitful investment of our lives.  Paul confesses it can be hard to choose, although we may not be ready to die, few would argue to be with Christ would be disappointing.  Paul, shares that it is more necessary to remain, in a fruitful way for progress in the body and the joy of community.

Our Redeemer Lives!!  Jesus is the Living Gift, the new life we are given in Christ is the Gift that we should be living each day!  God bless you as we start 2019.  May we be people who are Living the Gift because of the Living Gift.  God Bless You in the year to come.

Taking the Advent Journey

Dear Friends,

This Devotional has been a labor of love and has been part of a personal journey of mine toward the celebration of Christ’s birth.  I want to thank each of you for following this journey with me and hope it has blessed your days as you also anticipate the birth of Christ and look forward to his coming again.  God bless each of you as you celebrate Christ’s love with one another.

Rev. Greg Soult, Pastor

Antioch Baptist Church, Sandston, VA

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 Christmas Night

1 John 4:7-16

Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

“As he is so are, we in the world” because we are his so should we be in the world.  Be love.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 Christmas Morning

Micah 4:1-5, 5:2-4

In those last days people will gather together at the house of the Lord.  The purpose of the gathering is that the Lord may teach us his ways.  People gather for many reasons, but his gathering is so that they may be taught the ways of the Lord.  Learning his ways would be pointless if we don’t walk in them.

He is also coming righteous judge between nations.  Because he and his judgments are righteous there will be no disputes.  They will exchange swords for farm equipment and spears for fishing poles.  The nations will not fight or go to war with other nations,  but instead will lay down their weapons of destruction and study or practice war no more.  They can attend to their land and not be afraid.

Where?  In Bethlehem the smallest of the places.  Out of Bethlehem will come the ruler, who is ancient of days.  Bethlehem means “house of bread” from the house of bread, come the “bread of life.”

He shall stand and shepherd the flock, in strength and majesty.  Because the good shepherd is here, we shall dwell secure.

I hope we can all celebrate a lasting peace, a righteous judge, and a good shepherd.  May we gather to learn his ways and walk in “The Way!”

Monday, December 24, 2018 Christmas Eve Night

Isaiah 60:1-6

Late December is the darkest time of the year.  All throughout Advent we have experienced a building of light as we look expectantly toward the coming of Christ.  We ourselves have been lighting candles each of the last four weeks building the light of Jesus and now the culmination tonight with the lighting of the Christ Candle.  Truly, we can say, “Arise, shine, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

The world is dark but hold on and hold out for hope.  Light is on its way.  There will be a restoration of hope and promise of a future because of Jesus Christ.  At his birth and in his early life he was honored a king.  Bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The arrival of good news and praises of the Lord flow.  The long-awaited, long-expected Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ is here.

Today many anticipated Christmas, but far too many for the wrong reasons.  It is easy to get caught up in consumerism.  Tinsel, trees, treats, and lights.  Looking for gifts and glitter rather than the true light the light that is life to all.  While we celebrate, let us be reminded we celebrate the light that gives life.  May we give our hearts to the newborn king.

Monday, December 24, 2018 Christmas Eve Morning

Matthew 1:18-25

Mary and Joseph were engaged but not married yet.  Before they had been with one another, Mary was found with child from the Holy Spirit.  Imagine the scandal that would surround this young couple.  Mary had received a word from the Lord but at this point Joseph was confused and hurt.  Not sure what to make of his bride-to-be, being pregnant.  Imagine the ridicule she would have faced.  Imagine how foolish he would look if he remained betrothed to her.  He loved her still and didn’t want to put her to additional shame, so he considered breaking off their engagement, in their day this was equivalent to a divorce.

Then the angel also appeared to him.  The angel said to not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, this was God’s doing.  The angel also gives the names and purpose of this child in the world.  Jesus meaning “he will save” his people, and also the prophecy stating, “behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel, which means God with us.

When Joseph woke, he did as the angel of the Lord said.  Mary became his wife, but he didn’t know her until gave birth.  Joseph’s costly faithfulness supported Mary and God was with us and came to save.  Thank you for courageous and faithful people like Joseph and Mary.