“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
On the night Jesus was born, Angels appeared to the least important people in ancient society; the Shepherds. Make no mistake, the wealthy and prestigious wise-men had seen a sign in the heavens as well, however the lowly shepherds received a message they couldn’t miss. I love that God communicates so we can hear Him, no matter our education or background.
On that special night, the angels communicated that a savior had been born. This was news all the people had been waiting for. However, before the angels left the shepherds to return to heaven, they said something amazing; “Peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
The peace of God can be thought of as both a blessing and sustaining power. Peace resides on the inside of us acting as a counter pressure against all the stress and anxieties of this world.
Jesus never promised that life would be perfect once we started following Him, but He did promise to be with us.
Where Jesus is, peace is present.
As we celebrate the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas, I want to encourage you to take time everyday to connect with the counter-pressure peace of God. Daily time reading God’s Word, the Bible, and speaking with Him through prayer is the only way to access the peace of God. If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, His favor, and therefore His peace, is available to you.
If you’re unsure about where you stand with God and want to explore what relationship with Jesus looks like, I would like to personally invite you to join us for the next Alpha Course starting January 6th, 2015. May God grant you an amazing new year, and give you His peace.
And don’t forget to join us on Christmas Eve as we celebrate the best gift we’ve ever been given; our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We’ll have services at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and kids are invited to join us in the auditorium for the service.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28
I’ve Got the Joy
We are now halfway through Advent and the anticipation of Christmas Eve is building! If you are celebrating with an Advent wreath and candles, you may be wondering why this week’s candle is pink and not red like the others. The answer is simple. It’s the happy candle. Meant to stand out. Meant to say, “let’s party.” Meant to say, “this is good news.”
Abraham Lincoln once said that if every person who had fallen asleep during church on Sunday was laid out end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. We can definitely forget there is a difference between a religious service, which can sometimes be less than inspiring, and experiencing Jesus, which is always a blast. Jesus said He came to earth to give us life and life abundant (John 10:10). In the midst of a broken world and in the midst of our own challenges, Jesus has promised us joy. A biblical definition of joy is: solid, unmoved internal satisfaction that Jesus is bigger than this world, my struggles and my emotions….and my life is in His hands.
Do you have joy? What areas of your life are ruled by feelings (which go up and down every day) instead of steadfast joy? Take some time today to exercise the joy promised to the righteous people of God in every area of your life. Then celebrate until your emotions arrive there as well.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
It’s a great time to stop and ask yourself this question; what season am I in? God created us to flourish and benefit from living life with an understanding of the changing of seasons. In the agrarian culture Jesus grew up in, not understanding the seasons meant the difference between life and death. If the farmer didn’t sow his seed at the right time he would waste his money and have no crop to feed his family or sell to pay his debts. In today’s world, ignoring seasons might not be penalized with lack of food to eat, but it can take a great toll on the amount of peace you experience in life.
Which season are you in?
- Are you in winter? This is a time when things slow down. Your soul gets the rest it needs. It’s a season of quiet. It’s a time to stop things, not to start things. A time to center your life around the people and values you cherish most.
- Are you in spring? New dreams and ideas are born here. Even old dreams find resurrection power is coming to life. Excitement is in the air.
- Are you in summer? Here is where you water and feed your soul. There is a lot of growth and lots of visible progress. It’s hot, but it’s fun!
- Are you in fall? It’s time to reap the benefits of resting in Winter, sowing in Spring and growing in Summer. It’s fruitful and a time to give thanks for all that God has done.
The Bible tells us that there is a season and a time for every matter under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1). If we can learn to partner with God through the seasons of life and allow those rhythms to guide us, we will live more fruitful, productive, peaceful lives. On the other hand, trying to force something out of season will not only cost you the benefits of the season you’re in, but you’ll also run the risk of botching an entire four-season cycle.
Do your current actions in life show you’re a good meteorologist? In other words, are you aware of which season you’re personally in? Do your plans, desires, dreams and expectations line up with the season God has given you to live in today? If not, what changes do you need to make today to bring your life into alignment? Here’s the promise we have for living in alignment with the seasons: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:27). All because his life is aligned with the seasons.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Zone Pastor
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5
I love celebrating the New Year! In fact, a still unknown neighbor of mine called the police New Year’s Eve because we were celebrating a little too much. Once lit, the Vandegriff Family Firework Extravaganza sounded like World War III had started in my neighborhood. We had one fuse for about 5,000 firecrackers. It was total awesomeness. The police were nice and almost apologetic for having to come by, but nonetheless our production was over. It was only 8 p.m. and totally worth it. Why? Because we were enjoying life. We were celebrating. A new adventure in a new year was about to begin.
In the book of Revelation, the apostle John writes of his encounter with Jesus. In chapter 21, Jesus uses two tenses, both a future tense (something He is going to do in the future) and a present tense (something He is in process of doing right now). In Revelation 21:4, we read there will be no more death and no more mourning at some point in the future. In verse five, we read he is currently making all things new. Jesus then tells John to write it down because this promise is “trustworthy and true.”
I believe God wants to do something new in your life this year. Something good. Something rewarding. Something freeing. Something loving. Something significant. Why? Because it’s His character to do so.
Spend some time today asking God about the “new thing” he wants to do in your life. Then write it down. Hold it as a promise and prayer request for the year ahead. His words are trustworthy and true. He’s not done with you. He is making all things new.
By Van Vandegriff, Adult Pastor