From the Pastor
Message from Jim
Message from Pastor Jim

CRELIN, JIM

 

From Pastor Jim

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.”  Luke 1:68

 

I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving celebration. This year at Desert Palms there was much giving… at our Turkey Day event we collected 251 turkeys, a ton of dry goods, $7,000 in donations and one ham. This was all given to two food banks: Agua Fria and Valley View. Our giving made Thanksgiving a truly joyful experience for hundreds of less fortunate people. Then on Sunday, November 18, we discussed the other element of Thanksgiving which is expressing gratitude. As we all gathered around our Thanksgiving dinner tables, my expectation is that we were able to offer our thanks to God for His many blessings.

On the church calendar, Thanksgiving leads into Christ the King Sunday, which comes right before Advent. During our Advent celebration this year, we will focus on Emmanuel. Emmanuel is the Romanized version of the Hebrew name, Immanuel, meaning “God with us”! This topic has been the focus of the Presbyterian Women’s Horizon Bible study this year. What a wonderful opportunity for our entire congregation to join in recognizing God’s sovereignty and presence in our daily lives.

The name Emmanuel reminds us that God came to us. What a staggering thought! It is really the essence of the Christian faith and the Christian life. All other religious ideologies essentially tell you that you must do something: Do this, and you will find inner peace. … Do this, and you will reach nirvana. … Do this, and maybe you will make it to Heaven. But Christianity says it is done--done for you at the Cross, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ came to live, die and to live again for us.

Being a Christian is not merely believing a creed; it is having Christ himself live in you and through you, giving you the strength to be the man or woman God has called you to be. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The message of Advent, and of course Christmas, is God with us. That is important to know, especially during those times when we are going through great difficulty. The psalmist said, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9–10). It is great to know that God is with you wherever you go.

The Bible never teaches that we will have problem-free lives as followers of Christ. But the Bible does teach that we never will be alone. And because of that, we don't have to be afraid. As Ray Stedman said, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy.”

At Christmas we sing, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The angels were heralds of God’s message on the night of Christ’s birth. Today we, too, are heralds. Our message is a message of hope, love, joy and peace. Our message which this sin-sick world needs to hear is Emmanuel--God with us.

 

--Jim

 

Last Published: November 21, 2018 1:14 PM
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