Dear Church Family,
At the time of this writing, we just finished celebrating eight baptisms and five new members joining Grace Baptist Church. For me, this was a big celebration and one I am grateful God allowed us to experience. It was a personal encouragement to me and, hopefully, one to you as well. It was great to see God working in people’s lives. But what about those times when seeing God is harder?
Is God still faithful when we aren’t experiencing growth? Is God still faithful when we don’t see or experience spiritual milestones? Do we only see God work when we experience moments like we did this past Sunday?
History tells us God was “silent” for 400 years before Christ was born. 400 years of not hearing from God. 400 years without prophets recording a special message from Him. 400 years of silence while being under foreign rule; while being under the authority of a government they disagreed with religiously and philosophically. Was God still faithful? Luke 2 tells us very clearly He was. We read in Luke 2:10-11, And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Things seemed quiet but God was doing something incredible.
God may not have been doing what the people expected or hoped for over 400 years, but God was still doing. Today, you may not be where you thought you would be at this moment, but God is still doing; He is still faithful. This Christmas season let’s remember to worship and praise God not just for what we can see, but for what we can’t see. Let’s praise Him for our hope. Let’s praise Him for our salvation. Let’s praise Him for His faithfulness. Let’s praise Him for “doing” even when we can’t see it.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
I love you all!
Well, it is December. The elections are over, but all that advertising has been wholly replaced by Christmas. Americans have spent an ever-increasing amount of money on Christmas, but most of it is not directed at what the holiday is meant to celebrate. In 2000, Americans spent $405B, in 2010, $520B, in 2020, $776B, 2021, $887B and this year it is projected that $1.1 trillion will be spent on Christmas. This does not even include travel costs. For many people, “Christmas” is one of their biggest annual expenses. Some save all year, while others just charge away on credit cards to enjoy the holidays and then spend months paying down the bill that was racked up. In November, we finished another Financial Peace University (FPU) class. We walk individuals through principles on getting out of debt and living a debt free life. While this sounds like common sense, it is not the prevalent way Americans live today. Most families have multiple credit products maxed out and are living month to month without any cushion in their income to expense ratio. Meaning, when unexpected things happen, as they do, they just go further into debt. America currently has $15.9 trillion in consumer debt. The average family has approximately $24K in non-mortgage consumer debt. If mortgage debt is added, that average is $93K as of 2020. This may seem like a weird Christmas December article, but Christ came to set us free from the debt of our sin so that we might have peace and freedom in Him. That freedom came at a heavy price to Him. We should be remembering why He came at Christmas. But how many of us feel peace or freedom during November, December, & January? Most are so stressed by the financial burden of the holidays, family issues, the constant bombardment of commercialism that there is no peace at all. We often hear calls to remember the true reason for the season, but that is difficult when our personal worlds are being crushed by debt. I want to encourage you all to start seeking that peace through practical ways so that your hearts and minds are free to seek the peace and freedom God offers us spiritually. Every year we facilitate an FPU class, but there are many other resources available to help you work through the practical issues of life. I know it might seem far-fetched, but the Bible has a lot to say about how to live life and meet the practical issues life brings. Jesus spent much of His ministry on earth meeting the physical and practical needs of the people He encountered: feeding them, healing them, providing advice on how to live. Much of the time He met those physical needs before He ever addressed spiritual issues with them. Let this Christmas season be the time you restart your journey to follow Jesus by facing the practical daily issues of life like debt, so your heart can be free to follow Jesus and celebrate the peace and freedom He offers.