Embracing the Spirit year-round
By Pastor Sam Brooks
The New Year is a perfect time to celebrate all God has done in our country, fellowships, families and personal lives. It is good to give thanks to the Lord for He has done great things and is worthy of all praise.
It is easy to get caught in the expectancy of the upcoming year. However, can we keep our focus on what is truly important? And, why is it that just days after Christmas some have already forgotten the real reason for celebration?
Scripture tells us that, from the beginning, Jesus is the lamb that was slain so we might have eternal life. We know He came into the world through the miraculous events on that eve so many years ago.
We remember the majestic announcement of His arrival by the angels as they appeared to the shepherds. We remember the story of the coming of the Magi, who worshipped the One born King of the Jews.
We know how Joseph took his family and fled to Egypt, escaping the slaughter of innocent children. And, we marvel at His life, death and resurrection, embracing the promise of hope for all who believe in Him.
What is the ‘heart’ behind all of those events? Why did God plan and implement all the details of the most amazing story ever told?
I believe we gain insight into the answer from what Jesus, Himself, said: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
What an amazing verse! It is so familiar that it is taken for granted, so part of pop culture that it’s real meaning is ignored.
What would cause God to plan His Son’s birth for the sole purpose of being the lamb slain? The answer is His love!
We know God is just, holy and all together righteous, but it is because of God’s love, so alive and active, that He gave His Son. His action wasn’t based on our goodness or on anything we have done or deserve. It is who He is. God is love 1 John 4:8.
God’s love took action on behalf of those loved. He gave sacrificially.
The essence of Christmas is love that demonstrates itself in sacrificial giving for those who are undeserving. Can we not do this year-round? Our Father in Heaven has demonstrated His love for us through giving us what we needed most (eternal life) and by giving what cost Him most (His own Son)!
Throughout the year, let’s keep what is most important to the forefront of our lives and actions: His love and sacrificial giving. As believers, let His love and sacrifice be continually revealed through our lives.
First of all, we must have experienced His love through the new birth. We must have received by faith the forgiveness of sin we desperately need and His empowering Holy Spirit by which we live life.
We must be willing to surrender to His lordship and be available vessels of His service. Once His love fills and satisfies us, we allow Him to demonstrate that same love to others.
It might be by doing a particular deed for someone that calls us to give of ourselves and our time without any reward or recognition. Perhaps it is by extending kindness to ones who don’t deserve it.
It may be by encouraging others to surrender to the Lord and trust Him with all of life. There are thousands of ways it is demonstrated, but they all require God’s love and sacrificial giving operating through us.
Love doesn’t respond because the person being loved is deserving. It responds because the God of the universe, who loves in spite of our not being worthy, loves others through us. He gives what is truly needed in any given situation.
Sam Brooks is the pastor of Open Door in Lafayette.