“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
I Hope I Win the Lottery.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few people say to me, “I hope I win the lottery so I can pay off the new Antioch church building!” Never mind they have a greater mathematical chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery. I guess somebody has to win. However, I’m more interested in probabilities that play in my favor. How about a 100 percent guarantee I will win? Sounds good to me! What game offers those kinds of odds? The game of life.
Christian hope is a 100 percent guaranteed winner. The Bible calls the ability to maintain confidence in what we hope for “faith.” However, what exactly is this jackpot Christians are hoping for? Well, it’s not a thing.
It’s a person; the person of Jesus.
At the end of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi tells God’s people that a Savior is coming. Then there is a 400 year gap of silence between the end of the old testament and birth of Jesus. That’s a long time of hoping yet not seeing.
Yet for those that have experienced God’s character, we know that hope in God will never disappoint.
This week we begin Advent. A time of remembering the 400 years of silent anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. Let us once again be reminded that God is who He says He is and He will do what He said He will do. Our hope in Him will never disappoint.
What dreams, desires and hopes are you holding in your hands? Is your faith waning in the waiting? Press into Jesus and ask Him to give you confidence that anything from Him is a 100 percent guarantee.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
Every time I read Deuteronomy 6:4-7, I am reminded of the role my wife and I have as the primary spiritual leaders of our children’s lives.
It’s amazing that God chose us to be the conduit through which faith gets passed on to our little girls. Here is a simple family devotional that will fill your kids’ hearts with faith this Thanksgiving. The holidays are the perfect time to be intentional with your families.
Changing Our Focus
Worship – Go around the table and have each family member share something encouraging that God has done for your family. After each person finishes, have the whole family shout aloud, “Thank you, Jesus!”
God’s Word – Read Luke 19:1-10
- What happened in the story?
- What was Zaccheus doing with the people’s money?
- How did the people feel about Zaccheus taking their money?
- How did Jesus respond to the mistakes Zaccheus had made?
- Is it easier to focus on the things we want or the things others need?
- How can we change our focus to others’ needs this Thanksgiving?
Respond – We want to respond to this story through listening. Talk to God and ask Him to highlight one way He wants you to focus on others’ needs today. In Luke 19, Zaccheus climbed up a tree to see Jesus. Find a tree limb in the yard (or draw one on a sheet of paper) and place it in your house so you can see it throughout the day and be reminded of what God spoke.
GAME: THANKFULNESS ALPHABET
There are several ways to use the alphabet to express thankfulness. Engaging your kids in a game is a great way to speak their love language, and these games will help kids to have a thankful heart. Choose whichever option works best for your kids’ ages!
- Have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with the same letter as his or her name.
- Draw a letter out of a hat and have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with that letter.
- This one’s a bit more of a challenge! Starting with the letter “A,” go around the table and have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with “A.” Continue the challenge with each letter of the alphabet!
ACTIVITY: ENGAGE THE WHOLE FAMILY
Set aside a time during the day, maybe at a mealtime, with any extended family or friends you’re with this Thanksgiving. Take this time and encourage each person by sharing why you’re thankful for them. You might even consider going to the store or a park and sharing what Jesus means to you with someone you meet.
By Noah Hutchison, Children’s Pastor
In August 2012, my family and I took my oldest son, Michael, off to his first year of college. Michael, my wife Tonja and I had worked hard throughout his senior year and the following summer to cover all his freshman year expenses. Though we pursued many avenues to raise the money, the school year came and we unloaded Michael’s stuff, moved him into his dorm room, attended a parent orientation meeting and left him with enough money to cover the fall semester only. We had no idea where the money to cover the spring semester would come from.
Though spring classes were four and a half months away, I felt uneasy knowing we needed to come up with more than $5,000 in that time period. I tried not to worry, but kept feeling January would get here in no time. I prayed every day asking God for the needed resources. I regularly asked God if I should do something such as find some extra work or put together some kind of fundraiser.
Most days I would sense God saying I should trust him to provide the money. One day Tonja and I prayed together and felt we should send a letter to close family members asking them to help. Another day I felt God say, “Know that I am present with you.” We even felt the Lord encourage us to talk with a friend of ours who worked at the university where Michael attends. One day’s word was, “Be thankful.”
Between August and December of 2012 the following happened: several family members committed to helping Michael with school, a couple of anonymous gifts were put in Michael’s campus tuition account, the friend I talked to advocated for us and the school awarded Michael some addition grant money, the financial aid office suggested Michael drop one class and take it in summer school which then netted Michael a small refund which he could use to buy his books and a third anonymous gift showed up in Michael’s account.
In August, the $5,000 plus we needed for tuition looked like a mountain, but after each step of faith we took, the overwhelming obstacle became a mole hill. Whatever challenge you face, don’t try to take on the whole challenge at once. Just ask God day by day what to do and follow His direction.
By Vincent Carpenter
Administrative and Teaching Pastor at Antioch Community Church