365 Days of Grace From God's Word

Month: December 2021

Christmas – A Time to Celebrate!

I love the Christmas season!  I love the music, the food, the fellowship.  I love it all!  I never feel as if Christmas celebrations start too early!  Why do I feel this way?  Well, what is the first part of Christmas?  Christ!  What I love celebrating is Christ.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we really could celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ all year long?  What if we could celebrate in July the presence of Jesus Christ as we do in December?  No doubt, some of you may be saying, “I’m not cooking pecan pies and pumpkin rolls in July!”  And, I suppose we would grow weary of the continual business of the celebration.  Or would we?

When we consider what we celebrate – the prescreens of God Almighty, who came to earth to pay for our sins and secure our place in heaven – perhaps we should strive to live out our lives in continual celebration for Jesus, our Christ!  I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul who said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).  I find it interesting that Paul says, “I will say it again!”  He stresses the again because sometimes we need to hear it again, and again. 

My prayer for each and every one of you this Christmas season is that you will rejoice!  I pray that you will rejoice again and again throughout the year, and every day, for what God has offered to you at no price – grace, forgiveness, and eternal life. 

On a personal note, as we reflect upon all we are thankful for during this time of year, Lisa and I would like to thank all of you for the way you have cared for us in what has been a difficult year for us.  We are so thankful for your kindness, grace, and patience!  You have enriched our lives, and we feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful faith community!

Blessings!

Posted by Ramón Torres

Taste and See

Psalm 34:1 – I will praise the LORD at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the LORD;
let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the LORD is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the LORD, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the LORD.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.  (NLT)

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that was so good that you just had to tell your friends?  Have you watched a movie that you enjoyed so much you soon shared your experience with somebody else?  Have you ever found such a great bargain while shopping that you shared the news with others?  I think we have all had some experience in life that we shared with others, but the question this psalm begs of us: Have we ever experienced God in such a way that we had to tell others? 

Here in Psalm 34, the psalmist has experienced God in such a way that he wants others to share his experience.  In verses one through three, the psalmist says that he will not only praise God, but that he will boast about God.  Then he invited others who have experienced God in such a way to share with others what they have experienced.  The verse from this psalm that really grabs my attention is verse eight: “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”

Maybe you haven’t much felt like bragging about God lately.  Maybe it’s been a while since you experienced God in some great way.  We all have seasons of life.  We have our ups and downs.  The psalmist reminds us that if this is the case for us, then we need to taste and see.  How do we taste and see?

We taste and see God by being disciplined.  Certainly prayer, Bible study, and worship take discipline, and these may help us to experience God – to taste and see.  For each of us, there may be other ways to experience God.  We must be intentional at looking for God.  For me, when I find myself stressed from life, I go hiking.  My wife has told me more than once to take a hike, and she meant it!  When I take time to get away and take a Sabbath walk, I begin to experience God once again.  Taking time to look for God’s greatness is something we should all do.

How do you look for, and experience, God’s greatness?  Let us be disciplined in our efforts to experience God.  Set aside some time today to taste and see that the Lord is good! 

Posted by Ramón Torres

Clear The Road!

Matthew 3:1 – In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” 3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”

4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.

6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. (NLT)

I’ve always found John the Baptist to be an interesting character.  I picture him as an ancient Middle Eastern mountain man!  Living as he did, and dressed as he was, he must have been a sight to behold.  His message, however, is what truly makes him interesting.  Today, I’ve chosen the New Living Translation because I like the way John’s message reads. 

He tells the people to prepare the way for Lord, and then he says something that really catches my attention: “Clear the road for him!”

First – prepare the way – our theme in 2020 was walking in the way. It is, indeed, a biblical theme.  We want to be people of the way. We want our lives to reflect the way of Jesus.  But to do this – to walk in the way – we’ve got to clear away those things that would keep us from walking in the way. 

Then note what John the Baptist says – clear the road for him!  Clear the road speaks to me.  It speaks to me of the clutter that we so often let take over our lives.  It speaks to me of the things that we let come between us and our relationship with God. 

Later, in this passage, John speaks of Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit.  We all need the Holy Spirit in our lives, for the Spirit directs us our steps.  We can never be led by the Holy Spirit, however, if we allow the clutter of life keep us from focusing on Godly things. We literally need to clear the road!

What are those things that are preventing us from living life guided by God’s Holy Spirit?  Today, let’s take some time to consider those things that are taking us away from the fullness of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Posted by Ramón Torres

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