Monday, December 19, 2011

When You Face the Impossible...

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:34-38)

Mary's question resonates within all of us: Lord, how will this be? What fears or concerns are alive in your heart today? What's your reason for asking the Lord, "How will this be?" The details of Mary's conversation with the angel Gabriel are worth pondering for all of us.

Mary asked, "So I am going to have a baby boy that will rule will this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel declared, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…For nothing is impossible with God.” The angel pointed Mary to the fact that God is not limited in any way; he able to do anything.

And Mary was perfectly content with that. She believed what the angel said. She trusted the almighty God, and that she was simply the Lord's servant. "I will let God figure out how it will be," she thought. "My Lord can be in charge of the ‘virgins-having-babies’ department. I will take the role he has given me, and with the Lord in control, I will enjoy this chapter of my life in his peace."

When you ask the Lord, "How will this be?" let him be in control. Take him at his Word, for nothing is impossible for him. After all, he accomplished your salvation through the sacrifice of his holy Son; he took away your sin and made you a member of his kingdom by faith in Jesus. Enjoy your status as the Lord's very own treasured servant. That way, no matter what chapter in your life comes next – and it doesn't even matter what the details are – you will have the peace of God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to take you at your word like Mary did, that I might cast all my anxiety on you, trust that nothing is impossible for you, and live the next chapter of my life in your peace.  Amen.

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding Peace in Christmas

Read Luke chapter 2 at home today and really think about what was happening in Mary and Joseph's life at the time. The census was handed down. Joseph and his very pregnant wife had to go to Bethlehem. No peace there. They get there and there's no room for them. No peace there.

But look at Luke 2:6-7,
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Sounds peaceful right? When little children recite it. It definitely sounds peaceful. But have you ever been in a labor and delivery room when a child is born? Not exactly peaceful. Especially for the woman giving birth! Now put yourself into as dirty of an environment as you can think of after a really long trip and think about the peace there? No peace, except for that little boy who was born.

Look at Luke 2:8-15. 
Shepherds had a hard life. They were hard men with a hard job. No peace. Then there dark night was lit up by an angel. No peace there. They were freaked out. Wouldn't you be? But then, the angel's message. "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy..." Then a whole group of angels appear and praise God. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (vs. 14)

So what does all this mean? Peace to men. Peace to you. Peace that you can't find anywhere else, other than that baby boy who was born in anything but a peaceful way! Do you want peace? Jesus came to bring it. Jesus came to bring you peace.

Read Romans 5:1-2 . He came to bring you peace with God by removing your sins, and mine! He came to bring you peace with everyone around you. Do you have a relationship with someone that hasn't been the best? Give it to Jesus. He brings peace. Do you have something deep down inside that is preventing you from having peace with yourself? Give it to Jesus. He brings peace. He took all sins to the cross. He paid for all sins. You're at peace, whether you realize it or not. You're at peace, regardless of the circumstances you face. You're at peace because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the One who brings peace on earth to men. Believe in Him! 

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"Be joyful always."  (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

If you’re looking for a good biography to read over the Christmas break, consider picking up a copy of "Mark Twain: A Life" by Ron Powers.  It’s a fascinating book.  For the Christian, it can also be a thought-provoking one. 

Here’s why.  It would be easy to make the case that Mark Twain lived a charmed life.  His natural writing ability and riveting personality opened doors for him around the world.  He became wealthy.  He traveled where he wanted, when he wanted.  People packed any theater where he was going to speak.  He was a true celebrity, and he relished the part.  In addition, he married the love of his life, and together they raised children who adored him. 

But based on his statements about spiritual matters, it also appears that Mark Twain never came to know the peace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  As a result, his sense of happiness was always dependent upon how well or how poorly his life was going.  He rarely forgave anyone who ever let him down.  Guilt over his past failures haunted him.  And when death later touched his immediate family, he spent the closing years of his life in bitterness.

Mark Twain received virtually every pleasant thing the world could offer.  One thing he did not possess was lasting joy.

Let's be candid for a moment.  Many of you reading or hearing this will be lacking a lot of things this Christmas.  You may not have a job.  You may not have good health.  You may not have peace in your family.  You may not have money to pay off past bills.  You may not have an intact marriage.  You may not have the love of your life close to you. 

But you have the Christ Child.  You have Jesus.  And he has you.  And because he does, you are forgiven, you are at peace with God, you have no reason to fear the future, and you know that all will be well according to God’s purpose and plan.  It also means you possess what the world cannot deliver.  In Jesus, you possess lasting joy.

Prayer: Dear God, you were faithful to fulfill your plan of sending a Savior to us.  I praise you for Jesus who was born in lowliness that I might be exalted with the riches of your amazing love.  Amen.

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"Since everything will be destroyed [on the Last Day], what kind of people ought you to be? …Make every effort to be found…at peace with him."  (2 Peter 3: 11,14)

The camera captured the moment.  Up to this point, the cable program had been filming inside the home of a woman whose hoarding of material things had consumed her life.  There was virtually no place to sit, no place to eat, no place to sleep.  Even worse, she spent all her time with her things and no time with her adult daughter.  The woman had agreed to allow her daughter and a crew of cleanup experts to come and help.  As soon as they tried sorting through her possessions, however, the woman’s attitude turned dark.  In a frantic rage she began spouting every reason why nothing should leave the house, why everything should stay the same.  After two days of trying to reason with her, the cleanup crew drove away with empty trucks.

It was then that the camera captured the moment.  The daughter, exhausted and sobbing, said, in essence, “I’ve lost my mother.  She’s chosen this over me.  She’s going to stay here.  And one day I’m going to find her here, dead, surrounded by all her things.”

It was an uncomfortable program to watch.  But even more uncomfortable to watch is my own life – when the temporary things of this world begin to mean more to me than my relationship with my Savior.

How many times have I behaved like that woman?  How many times have I initially agreed that spending time with Jesus is more important than the accumulation of stuff?  But then, when push comes to shove, how many times has my attitude turned dark?  How many times have I come up with all kinds of reasons why the priorities in my life should stay just as they are?

I know how I have to answer that question.  I think you do too.

But here’s the good news.  Your stuff does not have to consume you.  The temporary things of this world do not have to have the last word.  Jesus died for all of your wasted moments.  His blood has washed clean all of your wasted years.  This means that, through faith in Jesus, you are free.  You belong to him!  It also means that you can begin your life again anew right now.

How?  Just step away from your stuff.  Step away from what the world thinks is important.  And get re-acquainted with the only Savior you’re ever going to have.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive my wasted moments and wasted years.  Empower me to begin again.  Amen.

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor