December 25 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – God’s Triumph Through Christmas

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Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Luke 2:6-15, Matthew 2:1-12, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and 1 Peter 1:19-20 God’s Triumph Through Christmas! When we celebrate Christmas there is a sense of wonder we should have in how God fulfilled the Promise of Jesus Christ. First we remember the prophecies He revealed through the Prophets of Old. Then there was all that the angel spoke to Mary and Joseph. Now we come to see everything that God said would be has come true. What we celebrate is really to us the culmination of the truth of God’s word. That God would send His one and only Son into humanity in the human form of a baby! Everything that God promised and foretold would happen have come true! Praise God that it is so! We first see the reality of it all in the town of Bethlehem. In the very town that the prophets foretold- Mary gave birth to the Son of God and named Him Jesus. (Just as the Angel told her to.) He was really born in a manger because due to the census they all traveled to Bethlehem to partake in; there was no room for them in the inn. God still provided for their needs still keeping with the fulfillment of the promise. Next we see real witnesses of the actual time and places surrounding the Messiah’s birth. Besides Mary and Joseph themselves, God sent the angel once again to announce the birth of Christ. He came to the Sheppard’s telling them that a Savior was born for them who is Christ the Lord. He gave them a sign telling them where the Messiah would be and what He would be dressed in. After the angel left, they left their sheep and went straight to the very place where the angel told them He’d be. They witnessed the Christ child, Mary and Joseph. They left there worshiping and praising God because what they saw confirmed what the angel had told them. Can you imagine being a part of what they experienced? What a humbling experience it would have been! The next witnesses were brought to the Christ child sometime after His birth. A star led them to the Christ Child. God used this star up in the heavens to lead the magi to Christ where they worshiped Him and gave Him gifts. Then on top of this, God protected Jesus, Mary, and Joseph from Herod’s jealousy, envy and wrath as He sent the angel once again to Joseph in a dream, warning him of Herod’s plan telling him to flee from there and go to Egypt. Here again God provided in His infinite wisdom a plan to protect His Son until the appointed time some thirty plus years later when He would die for all mankind’s sin. Joseph was obedient again and left in the night to Egypt where they would await the angel’s word, which would confirm that it was safe to return. It seems that God also provided protection to the magi, as I believe He gave them the wisdom to go home by a different route. A route by which they’d find safe passage home that would avoid contact with Herod and his pending wrath, as he aimed to kill the Christ Child. All of God’s promises came to reality, with physical and written proof. God is faithful and we can celebrate the triumph of Christmas through our Savior’s birth! My prayer for all of us is that the reality of all that God spoke, wrote, planned, and fulfilled, will keep us in awe of His power and majesty. Each year, may our Christmas become more worshipful and thankful as we celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ- the Fulfillment of God’s Promise! What God promises, you can always trust will take place down to the very last detail! God keeps His promises! Questions To Get Started With:
  • How do the scriptures confirm all that God promised which is why we celebrate Christmas at all?
  • How does the knowledge of God’s fulfilled promises impact your Christmas celebration?
  • If you don’t know Him, then don’t you think it’s time that you receive His free gift – especially during Christmas! The best gift of all is Jesus!
  • Maybe you do know Him but have taken a step away from your faith and relationship with Him? Don’t you think it’s time to recommit yourself to Him and truly celebrate Christ’s birth?

December 24 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – An Announcement from Heaven

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Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2 An Announcement From Heaven That Solves A Serious Dilemma.  We’re once again reminded of a story that we’ve heard many times. An angel, sent by God, comes to Mary to make an announcement that would change her life (and the world’s) forever! She was a virgin betrothed to marry a righteous man named Joseph. She was troubled by what the angel Gabriel told her. She had a lot of questions I’m sure. The angel comforted and reassured her to not be afraid then laid out everything for her, even what she should name the child. Once she was put at ease she stated, “Let it be done according to your word.”  What a powerful and Faith Filled statement she made. I wonder if she knew how incredible her statement was and if she was familiar or not with the prophecy she would play a part in fulfilling? Here again we witness God’s Word in action. Real people fulfilling what God really said and recorded for us in the scriptures! Everything is fulfilled according to God’s Word. Miraculously, Mary would remain a Virgin until after the baby was born. She also would have most likely faced some ridicule in the process because she was pregnant before she and Joseph were married. She persevered and treasured all the angel revealed to her. Even if she didn’t understand all the implications of having this child meant, she showed great faith and courage, as she was willing to do what God wanted her to do. In comes Joseph, He was the one betrothed to Mary.  He has a dilemma on his hands because he finds out that she’s pregnant with who know whose child. “What should I do? He asks himself.” Should I put her away (divorce her), because by this time they were joined together according to scripture? He was rightly troubled because he desired to do what was pleasing to God. He showed that he was very honorable because he did not want to ruin Mary’s reputation either. He had a real dilemma on his hands. But, here again, God sends an angel to intervene and set things in place so the promise of God may be fulfilled through the birth of the Christ Child. In a dream, the Angel makes everything clear to Joseph as he explains what the situation with Mary was. The angel explained what the prophecy said and that Mary was the one who would bear the Messiah conceived by the Holy Spirit. He went on to tell him that it was OK for him to take Mary as his wife. Joseph awakens and goes to take Mary as his wife as the angel of the Lord commanded. God sent the angel to talk with Mary and Joseph, announcing The Promised One from God was coming and whether they fully understood it or not, God would be using them to fulfill the prophecy and to bring His one and only Son into the world. This is an amazing thing God chose to do for mankind! The stage was now set for the entrance of the King of Kings as promised by God. It’s truly incredible how God works out all of the details, isn’t it?! God continues to show Himself faithful to reveal and fulfill the promises in His Son. The Messiah would be born of the Virgin Mary according to His Word! Questions To Get Started With:
  • What kind of faith was evident in Mary and Joseph?
  • How would you describe their faith by their actions?
  • What do you think was going on inside them as the Angel came to them with this news?
  • Do you think they completely understood what the announcement from the angel meant?
  • What do you think you would have done if you were in their shoes?
  • What do these announcements tell you about God’s Fulfilled Promise?

December 23 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – Fulfilled Prophecy

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participate:

Christmas:
The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Genesis 3:15, Habakkuk 3:13, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1 and Micah 5:2

Fulfilled Prophecy 

A promise was made long ago, revealed through the prophets and dating back to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. 

A Savior would be born. He’d be born to repair the damage that mankind inflicted on himself because of the sin that entered into the world through Adam and Eve. He’d be born to be the only way of salvation!

The Prophets foretold that His name would be Emanuel “God With Us”, and He’d be born in a small almost obscure town named Bethlehem. The Messiah of the world was to come to us born of a virgin to save mankind from its sin and separation from God. The Messiah was God’s own Son. Long before all these things would take place God said they would happen; revealed to us and all creation that our God would be with us. God always shows Himself faithful as His Word is true and comes to life in a very real fashion. Just as He spoke light into the darkness and it happened, He spoke to the hearts of the prophets through His Holy Word to begin to reveal the plan He had in place. 

We know that roughly two thousand years ago God’s One and Only Son was sent to us fulfilling the promises that the prophecy of the Old Testament stated would take place. He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin named Mary. 

Our God is with us!

As we enter the Christmas season we should have a sense of awe and reverence in how God fulfilled everything according to His Word. He keeps His Word!

My Prayer is that we’ll continue to be in awe of these incredible truths and that we’ll instill the truths of God’s revelation to our family, friends, or whomever God so chooses to place in our path. Especially during Christmas time!

When we celebrate His birth may we all share the true meaning behind what the world considers as just another holiday. May the truth revealed in prophecy be communicated and known through us.

Praise God for revealing Himself and that we can have the true honor and privilege of worshiping Jesus and celebrate His entrance into the world during Christmas. Let us all have a true “Birthday” celebration for our Savior this year and every year for the Lord our God fulfilled His promise through His Son Jesus Christ. 

Questions To Get Started With: 

  • What do the scriptures I just read teach me regarding how Christ’s birth fulfilled the Old Testament Prophecies? 
  • How do God’s Fulfilled Promises build my faith in the trustworthiness of scripture?
  • How do these truths change my understanding and perspective on celebrating Christmas?
  • What can I do the share the true meaning of Christmas this year?

October 20 – I Will Remember: He Takes My Right Hand, and Then I Take His

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I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Isaiah 41:13, Romans 5:8

Many of us have heard the concept of the “upside-down kingdom.” Often, this is referencing key truths such as the weak will be made strong and the humble will be raised up, and vice versa. Whereas the world loves those who are powerful and successful, God’s eye is on the marginalized, the widow, the poor, the powerless. His eye is on the sparrow—that which is utterly dependent upon him. 

Isaiah 41:13, however, teaches us another way in which God’s kingdom is upside down: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (italics for emphasis).

God reaches down to take our hand and whisper words of comfort. We don’t just lift up our hands. He first reaches down. This is akin to the idea of a parent holding a child’s hand while they cross the street. Although the child is holding on, who is doing all the work? The parent. This is true with us as well. As we go through difficult seasons of life, we must not run away from God. We must reach out to him and hold on as best we can to his big, strong hand. But don’t be deceived. It is God who is doing all the work. 

We go through life thinking that we have to reach out to God and that we have to do better and be better for him to hear us and to help us. The better we are, we muse, the more God will love us

This, of course, is anathema and goes counter to the very message of the cross. Romans 5 in fact tells us that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us. 

Sometimes, the first step in walking through tragedy and trauma isn’t about us at all or anything we do. Sometimes, the first step is to simply close our eyes and to consider what it means that God is taking hold of our right hand. Our powerful, omniscient, all-knowing God calls to us, “I’ve got you. Do not fear.” Only then do we grab back, believing that he will never let go, in good times and in bad. 

Questions for Reflection

What are the implications for you as you consider the fact that God reaches out to comfort you even before you are reaching out to him? 

How can you offer this truth to those around you today? 

September 24 – Anxiety – Promise of His Presence

Read Isaiah 43:1-3

As I sit for a moment before work, watching Mattie eat his breakfast, I pray that he grows to know the Lord but, not just that, that he grows to know and live in the confidence that Christ is always with him. Since I was a young girl, I always knew and believed who Jesus was, but it wasn’t until I surrendered my life that the confidence of God’s presence always being with me was the truth for my life.

Before surrendering, I doubted often that He was with me, I feared often that He would leave me and I cried often that I had done too much or seen too much to be considered holy. I pray and plead that Mattie and our soon-to-be-born, Emma, never go through what I did when it comes to knowing that Jesus is close. 

As I watch Mattie, I think of the song “It is well” by Bethel. Some of the lyrics go “far be it from me to not believe even when my eyes can’t see and this mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea. Through it all, through it all my eyes are on You. Through it all, it is well”. 

I sing this, or think of this, because, when it comes to things that he and Emma may one day face, I want them to know the truth that, no matter the mountain or waves that they face, they will be okay because their eyes will be fixed on Jesus. 

This is hard to do, it takes practice and constant renewing of your mind and heart. For someone who struggles with anxiety, it is especially hard to keep eyes fixed on Jesus because it means surrendering all of yourself, all of your control in order for Him to move within your life. 

The holiness in that brokenness is that, as my life began to change, my faith began to grow as did my knowledge of God’s character. I have grown to know that He will never leave me or forsake me. I’ve grown to live in the confidence that His presence is accessible because He is always near. I’ve grown to know that nothing will separate His love and care for me because He does love and care for me and has proven it time and time again. Sometimes I just have to open my mind, heart and eyes to see just how much He has come through. His faithfulness has outweighed the outcome of my anxiety and I’m able to rest on His word, His truth and His love. 

There have been people in my life that have asked me, “How do you just know that God is there?” My answer often points back to the promises of His word but also just the fact that the gift of faith has grown as I have grown in Him. 

The gift of faith is something that does not come easy for me either. I am a doubter -a big-time worrier – and I often question the motives of most everyone. It took a long time for me to realize and practice that faith and logic do not go hand and hand. Once I was able to realize and stand firm in the truth that, no matter what is happening around me the Lord is with me, my anxiety dissipates. 

So, if you too, struggle with anxiety, if you struggle with the emotions that render from the unknown, I ask you to reread Isaiah 43:1-3. Read it over and over again until your mind clicks. Until you are able to read those words and stand firm, acting on that truth. 

I pray and plead that, through it all, your eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Kelly Lawson

September 22 – Anxiety – Trusting God

Read Isaiah 26:3-4 and Proverbs 3:5-6

Peace.

The very thought of peace brings with its expectations of unhurried serenity. It is freedom from the pressures and anxieties of life. Peace is not necessarily the absence of howling winds of turmoil that might surround us. It is, however, the calm that is possible in the eye of the hurricane. Most all of us yearn to experience more peace. But real peace is not the result of changing our circumstances. Instead, it is the byproduct of changing our focus and attitude.

Isaiah describes it like this:

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

(Is. 26:3)

According to Isaiah, God is the source of peace. If we try to generate it by controlling our environment, we will work frantically and, ultimately, in vain. Although God can use the insights and counsel from others to calm our anxious thoughts and wandering hearts, He is the definitive source.

Isaiah also outlines a description of those who receive His peace. They are those who trust in Him. These are children of God confident in the care of a loving Father (1 Jn. 3:1), Who gives good gifts to His kids (Matt. 7:7-12). Those who receive peace recognize that even adversity gives way to the good that God is working in them (Rom. 8:28).

But the trust required here is a steadfast conviction. It is a relentless posture where the person’s thoughts continuously come to rest on the immoveable and reliable Rock eternal. He alone can sustain us. He alone can calm our fear and infuse peace in its place.

So, what is the rock on which your mind comes to rest? I am not proud of the fact that my mind regularly seems to settle on the most recent concern about the unknown and fears about the “what if…” I must discipline myself to focus on the promises, character, and goodness of my Heavenly Father. He alone is the Rock eternal whose peace can replace my anxiety.

What about you?

Steve Kern

August 24 – Missions Spotlight – Tom and Sue Peters

Read Isaiah 58:1-14

Ministry: Helping orphans and vulnerable children in Africa to live for God and to love others.

Missionaries: Tom & Sue Peters

We hear a lot these days about poverty around the world. Much of what we hear tends to try and make us feel guilty that, perhaps, we have more than many of those people. But really, we shouldn’t feel guilty unless, of course, we are doing nothing about it personally.

In Isaiah 58, it is clear that the people of Judah were going through the motions of being religious. For example, they were fasting, but they complained that it was as if God had “not seen it,” or that He had “not noticed” their efforts (v. 3).  So, God explains to them what He really wanted, summarized in verse 10: “ if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

So, what does that mean?

  1. Instead of fasting (or being religious) to try and gain favor with God, reach out and help those who are in need around you.
  2. It includes not only meeting some physical needs (“the hungry”), but also meeting needs of people who are “oppressed.”
  3. When we act in such a way, it says that our “light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” This is very similar to what Jesus said in Matt. 5:16, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

You may ask yourself, “What can I do to make a dent in such an overwhelming problem as poverty and hunger?”  In fact, many quote Scripture to say that poverty will never be eliminated.  That may be true, but look at what Deuteronomy 15:11 says: “There will always be poor in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards [the] poor and needy in your land.” Notice that the key is that we are not just to acknowledge a problem, but we are to respond.

We are grateful that Grace Church has partnered with us in the VisionTrust ministry in Africa to respond to the needs of the orphans and vulnerable children. Praise God that His light is being seen on that continent as you help us! Keep up the great work!

Pray: Please pray for God’s provision for the VisionTrust ministry so that we can help these kids to grow to live for God and love others around them!

Tom Peters

February 24 – Meet the Team – Mike Molter

Read Isaiah 41:10

Hello, my name is Mike Molter and I’ve been asked to do a brief bio on myself.

First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also been married to my wife, Denise, for over 31 years. We have three daughters- Kathi, Nicole and Leah – and three grandkids – Lincoln, Scarlet and Colton.

My job title is Network Engineer and I work for an organization called TCCSA which helps with technology needs in virtually all of the school districts in the area.

Growing up, my family didn’t go to church and I wasn’t all that interested. When I was still in high school, I joined a bike riding group because they did long rides and it sounded like a good challenge. It turned out they were a Christian group and I also found out they were a singing group which is a whole other story. I ended up being introduced to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. I started to grow spiritually but didn’t get plugged into to a church and things didn’t go well for years after that.

Fast forward about 15 years and I married Denise. She felt we should look for a church home and she wanted to visit Grace. I have no idea why but I didn’t even want to visit Grace. To make a long story short, we visited, came back the next week and have been going ever since. I’m so glad God led us to Grace. There have been such great teaching and growth opportunities through the years. Opportunities like being involved in outreach ministries, leading classes and going on mission trips to New Orleans, Canada, the Czech Republic, Kyrgystan and Cambodia.

Another reason that I’m very glad I’ve been involved in a church and small group became apparent over the last few years when I’ve had some significant health issues. Had I not been part of these groups, I don’t know how I would have made it.

For many years I’ve been encouraged to read God’s word, spend time with Him and turn to Him in both the good and bad times. So, when the hard times came, I had already been filling my life with God’s truth and had relationships with people who cared about us and stuck with us during the hard times. I believe one of the very significant ways that God showed His love for us was through the people I just referred to.

A verse that has become very important to me and illustrates this well is Isaiah 41:10:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God has helped us, strengthened us and lifted us up and He did much of this through those wonderful people we are very close to. So, I highly encourage you to get involved in a church and small group and build those important relationships with God and people.

God never intended for us to try to make it through life on our own. Start the process of joining a group by filling out this form here: https://gracechurch.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/25/responses/new

 Mike Molter

February 13 – Meet the Team – Bria Wasson

Read Psalm 139:23-24; Isaiah 3:1-3

God was about to peel away the rust and debris from His people. He was about to shake them down until all they had left was nothing but all that they needed – the one true God. Then He would rebuild and produce beautiful and abundant fruit from the very core of who He’d make them until all that could be said of it was how good His work is.

That’s my story too. The time God peeled away the things I thought gave me support and security until all that was left was my dependence on Him.

“The Lord GOD of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and from Judah every kind of security…” (Is. 3:1)

It’s a scary thought, really, having everything I depend on for safety and comfort pulled right out from under me. I want to live like everything I truly need is only ever in God Himself. So when I read these words a few years ago, I knew I needed to take inventory. Then I asked God to search me because I recognized that, whatever I leaned on apart from Him, would only one day crumble.

Not long after that, He used a routine visit to the dentist to start answering that prayer. That led to a host of unknowns including lost teeth, several surgeries, and expenses beyond what we could pay.

Until that day, my teeth had let me smile big and broad and unencumbered. They’d helped build part of my identity and provided the kind of security I had asked God to remove from my life. The fake kind. And He knew that a full set of teeth was no match for the security He brings.

The day the oral surgeon pulled out so many of my teeth, God pulled out the support I found in the way I looked. He used that time to get rid of the things that would never provide what I really needed.

He also used the extensive expense to pull me out of full-time ministry. That’s when He showed me the shelter I’d found in my list of accomplishments. Sure, He’d used the work I’d done and the time I’d given, but somewhere along the way, I had built a wall of security out of the significance I felt from the things I wrote, the women I led, the people I taught.

Those two years proved among the hardest of my adult life. Still, I would ask God to do it again because my relationship with Him is the one security that will hold forever, no matter what.

Are you ready to take inventory? Are you leaning on anything that will not last? Anything other than your relationship with God?  Ask Him to search you and He will. He will prove Himself to be the one true source of solid security that will last forever and will never crumble.

 Bria Wasson

February 12 – Meet the Team – Kelly Lawson

Read Isaiah 26:3 and Colossians 1:16-18

To give a snapshot of who I am, I guess I should start with my upbringing.

I am the youngest of 5 children; I was raised in a Christian home. My father and mother were both followers of Jesus and were a part of many ministries. However, my father was unfaithful which prompted my parents’ choice to divorce. I was six years old when it became final. This played a part in my outlook on life and love.

I began at a very young age to see my worth in my appearance as someone close to me compared me to someone else. I began to fall into a pattern of self-mutilation at the age of 11. I began drinking at the age of 13 and I tried drugs for the first time at 15. Just after my 21st birthday, I remember reaching a point of hopelessness, a point in my life where I thought the only way I would find peace is if I ended it. So, I attempted to take my own life.

The morning of November 19th, 2009 is a miracle in and of itself. The Lord met me in a powerful way and I heard clearly, “Your life is worthy because of what my Son did. I’m not finished with you.”

I finished my semester, moved back home, and became a surrendered follower of Jesus. I began to lean on Colossians 1:16-18. It was and still is a verse I lean into, in order to stay the course and follow after Him.

You see, when our focus and perspective in our life is on ourselves, we begin to live a life that is self-centered. Yet, when we begin to focus on who Jesus is, what our purpose is in this life, we see the bigger picture. We begin to see life through our God-glasses. I challenge you to put on your God-glasses in today’s world, in what may be going on outside of your world, but also within it. I challenge you, instead of thinking in perspective of life now, have a kingdom perspective.

In August of 2014, I was going through a time of uncertainty of my future and a friend reminded me of Isaiah 26:3. It hit my heart and I began to live in it. I began to find comfort in the chaos because, in it, I had the peace that surpasses all understanding. I trusted the One who provides it. If you have ever been on the other side of hardship and wonder, “How did I get through that”, I guarantee it is because the Lord was able to give you a peace that surpasses this world’s understanding. With what is going on in our country and the decisions leaders are making, it can be very easy to fall into a pattern of worry, but I urge you to look to the Lord, trust in His authorship and soak yourself in the peace He provides.

Eleven years later, I have moved to Ohio, gotten married to the man who is literally God’s best for me, and had a son, Mattie. Life has not been boring. Quite different, at every turn, it keeps us on our toes.

I’ve had to lean on both verses time and time again. Through every ministry I get to be a part of at Grace, through every job I have had, for every day that I have been a wife and mother, through it all, the Lord is constantly teaching me that it is BY Him and FOR Him and He will keep those in peace, who trust in Him.

May we remember, it all belongs to God and He is our peace that changes everything!

Kelly Lawson