Currently, I am going through the book of Romans with my Bible study group. We are using “In View of God’s Mercies” by Courtney Doctor and truly have begun to learn more about the gift of the gospel. I’ve been renewed by this study and more deeply encouraged by the mercy and faithfulness of God.
If I’m totally honest, I used to be someone who liked to do Bible studies on my own. I liked working at my own pace and not bound to a certain schedule. But the beauty of doing this within a multi-generational group has been it’s own beautiful gift to my mind and soul.
In the last few weeks, we read, studied, and rehearsed truths from Romans 5-7 concerning God’s gift of peace, righteousness, and new life. We rested in the glorious truths of Romans 8 of how God’s mercy holds us. “But now! …we live in the time of but now. Now, there is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ. Now, the saving work of Jesus is available to us through the ongoing work of the Spirit. Now, after salvation the Spirit of God dwells in the Children of God, teaching, rebuking, encouraging, directing, and helping us. Now, the Holy Spirit not only gives us new life (by uniting us to Jesus). He also shows us how to live the new life He has given.” Courtney Doctor.
But do you know what our “But Now” quickly turned into? But now… I need to shop for my family, I need to get the Christmas tree, I need to name your tradition, I need to send out Christmas cards. Even when we begin to refocus our attention on Jesus, sometimes we still treat this as a ‘to do’ list of I need to serve, I need to fill the bin for the food pantry, I need to do all the things we suggested on our last blog!
As soon as my Bible Study group approached Thanksgiving and Christmas, I saw how easily we forgot. We have been saturated in Romans and the gospel for the last seven weeks, but we still had to remind ourselves of the gospel in this busy season. So I bet you might need a simple reminder if you are anything like us and feeling overwhelmed with to-dos this holiday season:
If you have confessed that Jesus is Lord and believed in your hearts that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10), you will be saved. Salvation is the most amazing gift we receive, and we celebrate that because Jesus came. And we celebrate the coming of Jesus on Christmas! You have now been united to Christ and it is the gift that keeps on giving!
You have peace with God.
You have access to the Father.
You have hope in suffering.
You have been set free from sin and death.
There’s no condemnation.
So when you don’t get a great family picture, you don’t get the Christmas cards out, when your distant family is disappointed, when you run to find a pre-lit artificial tree because you couldn’t get to the Christmas tree farm, when you forget the thank you card, when you don’t get matching family pajamas, when you burn the turkey, when you meant to participate in the food drive and didn’t, when you _____________________ (fill in the blank with wherever you didn’t ‘measure up’), etc. When any or all of these things happen, remember Jesus! There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. “Because Jesus was not spared, because Jesus died and was raised, because the Father gave us Jesus, we are guaranteed that no one can come against us or condemn us… and not only can no one condemn us; nothing can separate us, either. The cross of Christ doesn’t just mean we’re free; it means we are deeply loved and securely held” (Courtney Doctor)
So let’s do this – take a few deep breaths with me and simply:
Prepare Your Heart: Listen to this playlist put together by Advance Community Church. Put it on repeat and play in the background to help you focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Love a Bible: Highlight these Scriptures: Matthew 2:13-18, John 1:1-18, and Romans 8:31-39. Soak in the truths of why we celebrate Christmas!
Invite and invest: Invite a friend who may not have a church home to attend a Christmas service with you. Plan ahead to meet them in the parking lot. And instead of ‘milk and cookies’ left out for Santa, invite them over to cookies and fellowship.