Millions of individuals will be spending their Sunday not in worship but in standing in lines to return gifts or spending their gift cards. Stores will put items on sale to entice people back into their places of business to spend more money on Christmas purchases. Gifts that didn't fit or just weren't right will soon be returned so that those receiving the gifts will get what they want. But, there is one gift that was given to all of us. That gift came in the form of a small child who would one day take on the sins of the world and be our atonement sacrifice for all time. Have you accepted that gift of salvation?
As we approach the new year, it is time to reflect on things. We think back through all the events of this year. Some of them bring a smile to our faces while others tend to cause us uneasiness. Whether our memories of 2021 are good or bad, they are in the past and we cannot change them. The only thing we can do is to move forward in our lives and look forward to 2022. In order to help us get through next year, we all received a gift - a gift from God.
This gift was given to each of us out of love. God sent His son, Jesus, to live among us, to teach us and ultimately die for us as our payment for our sins. Indeed, Jesus is truly the best gift that anyone can receive and, most importantly, share with others. When you think about Jesus as a gift of salvation, he really is the gift that keeps on giving. He provides a path back to the Father and gives the opportunity to love others and share the Good News with all.
In the fourth chapter of Acts, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, says, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
The person who Peter is referring to is Jesus. It is only through Jesus that we can receive salvation. No one else is able to save another from hellfire and damnation. As a pastor, I have saved no one. I have merely shared the Good News with others. Jesus is the only one who can save. In fact, I cannot save myself. Salvation can only come when you accept Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord of your life.
When you think about the past year, what do you see? Do you see a life full of misery and fear? Do you see yourself sinking in a tempest of turmoil? If that is how you see your life, do you still want to live that way?
These are very poignant questions to consider and they must be answered. If you only see fear, uncertainty and doubt in your life and fear the sunrise because you don’t know what the day will hold, listen to my words today and allow Jesus to come into your life. You don’t have to live in fear and wonder what will happen to you when “that moment” comes.
The author, in chapter nine of the Book of Hebrews writes, “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.”
We all have an appointed time to die. There is no getting around that basic, immutable fact. Each of us will face that moment when we close our eyes for the last time. With all of the advances made in medicine, death cannot be overcome. It can be postponed through extraordinary intervention, but, in time, death patiently awaits us all.
The only way to overcome death and truly be victorious over it is to accept Jesus and live your life with a Christ-like attitude. When sins are forgiven, there is no need to continue with sacrifices. The one sacrifice has been made for all and has paid the debt of sin.
Many may see this message as dark before the end of the year, but to some, it will be light that shines brightly into their darkness. Many still walk in darkness daily and seek something more in their lives. Each has tried all of the different “isms” that the world has to offer and each has left all with more questions and doubts. Some will say that all roads lead to Heaven and to God. They are wrong.
Jesus, in chapter fourteen of the Gospel of John, says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
The world will offer you so much and deliver on so very little. The world will make promises that it cannot possibly keep. Don’t fall for the words of this world. If you do, the only thing it will deliver on is more misery and fear.
I implore you today to allow my words to fill your heart, mind and soul. Think about all of the things you are facing now. Do you feel dread daily? If you do, then I ask you to have a little talk with Jesus. He will show you the way to the Father and give you peace.
Paul, in chapter four of his epistle to the Philippians, writes, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
If you want the gifts of salvation and peace, don’t hesitate. Admit you are a sinner and ask for forgiveness. Ask Jesus to come into your life and be your friend. He will be your everlasting friend and will be there with you when times are tough. When you accept him as your personal Savior and the Lord of your life, you can rest assured that you will stand firm in His grace daily and have the strength to handle whatever tomorrow has in store.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.