Amy and I spend the past 10 days with our Bethel Church mission team at SI – DR Santiago. Part 1 is available now on our Live Alaska Youtube Channel. God has worked in so many ways throughout this time and we can’t wait to share each of those moments. Thank you for the continued prayers and support. We couldn’t do it without each of you:)
The world we live in is full of sin. Our very own nature is sinful. The result is that we face daily trials, disappointments and offenses. What is the biblical approach to overcoming those hurts, betrayals etc? How do we forgive and why is it so important to forgive?
The inability to forgive causes so much pain and entangles us making us paralyzed in continuing our walk with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:15 states “I am the foremost sinner”. We have to realize that we are the foremost sinner. There is no sin greater than another and when we truthfully reflect on ourselves it becomes evident that we fall short daily. And in this depth of sin, God showed His grace towards us. We didn’t deserve it. It was His love for us, that He gave His only son to die for us, so we could be reconciled to Him. God was merciful towards us and calls us to extend that same mercy towards others. Luke 6:36
Matthew 18:21-35 is a parable about forgiveness. In summary, it explains how a slave, who was forgiven a debt he was unable to pay by the king, went to a slave which owed him and choked him demanding the debt owed to him. The slave was not able to pay, just as he himself was not able to pay back the king, but rather than extending the same mercy he received from the king, he threw him into prison. The consequence of not being able to forgive is seen in the kings response. When he heard what the forgiven slave had done to the other slave, he handed him over to the torturers until he could pay what he owed. Until we have truly forgiven with the heart, our heavenly Father will do the same to us. When we don’t forgive, we are the ones suffering and in pain.
Trials are a gift from above as God uses them to sharpen us and shape us closer and closer into His image. 2 Thess. 1:5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. God promises us that we will be persecuted just as His son has been persecuted. We need to count it joy as it is a pledge of God Himself showing us that we are His. The story of Joseph is a beautiful example of God’s sovereignty as well as God’s ways to use what is meant for evil for good. Jospeh’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy, but God raised Him up to be the Highest Official in Egypt besides Pharao himself. Joseph continued to humbly walk with the Lord fulfilling His plans, and in the end extended forgiveness to his brothers. He had His eyes fixed on the Lord and trusted in God’s sovereignty.
If we want to forgive, we can’t have our eyes focused on our current world. We have to set our eyes on the things above. Collossians 3:2. This world is not our home. We are called to live a life set apart for the gospel. Hebrews 12:1-3 run the race with indurance getting rid of all the sin that entangles us focusing our eyes on Jesus, the perfector of our faith We are called to run this race alongside our brothers and sisters in truth, grace and love building each other up as we build God’s kingdom.
– Counting it all Joy –
We found this fun activity to do with your children: A 2018 Bucket List. What a fun way to get out of our comfort zones in the New Year:)
Growing up, we always had an Advent wreath. I remember so many nights sitting at the dining room table, eating my dinner and the candles of the wreath were shining; making this time of year almost magical.
Sometimes I was allowed to help decorate the wreath, or light one of the candles.
Even though it was always part of my December traditions, I never knew about the history,the Symbolism of the wreath, and the candles.
Our church hosted an Advent wreath making event, and I am so thankful for all the information I learned.
The word Advent comes from the latin word adventus , which means coming.
Throughout the last centuries the meaning of this season slightly changed.
It started out during the fourth and fifth centuries as a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany.
By the sixth century, Roman Christians associated advent to Jesus’ second coming, and at the Middle Ages, the focus shifted to Jesus’ first coming.
Today we use this beautiful and special time to prepare the celebration of Jesus, and to anticipate the return of Christ.
The Advent wreath itself was constructed by a Protestant Pastor, Johann Heinrich Wichern. His goal was to have a visual aid for Children, so that they understand how much longer it is until Christmas.
The typical Advent wreath is circular in shape. The circle reminds us of Gods unending, everlasting love.
It is made of evergreen which are a sign of life. They point to new life and hope of eternal life.
The five candles contrast darkness and light.
The four candles are lit each Advent Sunday. They are usually purple, the traditional color of royalty. There is one pink candle, lit on the third Sunday to represent joy.
Each candle hold symbolism
Week 1 – The Prophecy Candle. Which represents the Prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold of Christ’s coming.
Week 2 – The Bethlehem or a manger a candle, which represents love.
Week 3 – The shepherds candle, which represents joy.
Week 4- The Angels Candle, which represents peace.
The big , white candle in the center , also called Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It symbolizes that Jesus is the light of the world and the fulfillment of the promise.