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Entries in Jesus the Savior (3)

Monday
Dec242018

Christmas: He Lives!

As I (Dawn) think about this Christmas, I can't help but think of people all over America, all over the world, who are without joy and hope. Yet I am also overwhelmed by the gracious gift God gave to humankind.

The offering of salvation. The opportunity for total transformation. The power of the Gospel to change everything!

The good news is, Jesus lives.

Jesus is as alive today as He was in that manger.

That does have the potential to change everything in our lives—better than the best "upgrade" you can imagine! Our hope is in Christ, "because He lives." (Don't miss the song at the end of this post!)

Though my blog is all about upgrading our lives, I hope you understand it's not about becoming "better" to win brownie points with God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We will never be made right with God through good intentions or works.

God's plan to save us does not encourage our comparing ourselves with others or becoming a person God never intended us to become. He has a unique plan and gifts for each of us, and it begins by receiving His free gift of salvation in Christ.

We are saved only by God's good grace; and an authentic Christian is "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

I don't know how that makes you feel, but I know what it stirs in my heart.

I am profoundly grateful for God's mercy!

I rejoice today—

  1. Because Jesus was willing to lay aside His glory and come as a tiny babe in Mary's womb (Philippians 2:7; Luke 2:1-20).
  2. Because Jesus obeyed the Father in Heaven perfectly, even to the point of going to the cross (John 12:49; 14:31; Hebrews 5:8; 10:7; Philippians 2:8).
  3. Because Jesus died on the cross as our substitute (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
  4. Because Jesus rose again to certify our victory over Satan and death—HE LIVES! (Acts 2:24; Romans 6:5-10; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Hebrews 2:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Revelation 20:14)
  5. Because Jesus lives forever as our great High Priest, Lord and King (Hebrews 7:24-28; Isaiah 9:7; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 19:16).
  6. Because Jesus is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:3).

The truth of the Gospel message is this: Only God can change our hearts.

When God UPGRADES us, we become more like Jesus.

Though we think it all began with the baby in the manger, our "upgrade" really began in the heart of the Father long before the arrival of Bethlehem's Babe: 

"... he [the Father] chose us in him [Jesus] before the foundation of the world..." (Ephesians 1:4a).

He has blessed us in Christ and adopted us according to the good pleasure of His will "to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved [Jesus]" (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Take a moment or two today and talk to the Father.

  1. Say thank you for His mercy.
  2. Say thank you for Jesus, our Savior.
  3. Commit to renewed holiness.
  4. And take some time to praise the Lord for "his glorious grace."

We often sing “He Lives” at Easter, but I am taken by how it fits the Christmas season too!

"God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus...."

And He's coming again!

Because He lives, we can face anything.

Here is a beautiful song sung by Joni Eareckson Tada and Gracie Rosenberger—women with great disabilities, but also great purpose and joy. In “He Lives,” Joni and Gracie rejoice in the victory and hope we have in Christ. I pray this music will touch your heart and encourage you today.

Christmas Blessings to you!

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of Kevin Carden at Lightstock.

Thursday
Dec252014

A Gift Too Wonderful for Words

Although the gift of Jesus is "too wonderful for words," take some time today to try to express your gratitude.

Imagine where you might be—now and in eternity—without our wonderful Savior.

To start your praises, why not pray with me: Thank you, Father, for your unspeakable, indescribable gift: Jesus!

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of Upgrade with Dawn. She is grateful for the wonderful women God has brought to the UPGRADE website, encouraging all of us to walk in faith and obedience, and become more like Jesus.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of sritangphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Monday
Dec232013

The Greatest Upgrade of All

As I'm pondering the meaning of Christmas on this Christmas Eve, I'm thinking about the ultimate UPGRADE.

The greatest upgrade of all time originated in the heart of God. He desired to transform our minds and hearts so He could have a relationship with us. But to do that, He had to do something about our desperate sin problem.

So "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14). God didn't send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). This perfect baby would grow up to be our restitution with God - the "atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 2:2; Romans 6:23). This had to happen because God could not have a relationship with sinners like you and me; we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), alienated from the Creator God.

The Author of Life loved us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8) and desired to give "forever life" to us, but we cannot receive His gift until we believe in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in the power of His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 10:9-10). We need to place our trust in Jesus' work for us.

God's salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8). There are no good works or attempts at self-help that can make us right with Him. Self-help tends to cultivate independence from God, and much of it can lead to unbiblical thinking - being "wise" in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:5-7).

God says we can be justified - legally declared righteous by Him - on the basis of Jesus' shed blood (Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:22). We receive God's mercy and forgiveness, and His purposes for us are all wrapped up in our relationship with Christ.

The miracle is, God exchanges our sin for Jesus' righteousness. It is the greatest, most transforming upgrade of all time ... if we will receive it.

And then, God does not leave us alone in our daily struggles. He gives us another gift, the Holy Spirit,  and He sanctifies us - He makes us holy (John 17:17; Romans 6:6; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Jude 1:24). He makes us "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our loving Father God continues to work in our lives to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

We have the joy, privilege and opportunity to cooperate with God in His work of making us more like His Son.

In other words, we "upgrade" in our daily choices whenever we trust God, surrender to His control and obey the truth principles and commands of scripture in every area of life: finances, marriage, attitudes, parenting - everything!

"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Everything we will ever be and do to glorify God is accomplished through our union with Jesus. We will glorify and enjoy the Father as we learn to "fear" Him properly, look to Jesus, walk in the Spirit and become wise in the Word (Proverbs 9:10; 16:6 Hebrews 12:2; Galatians 5:16; Colossians 1:9-10).

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson once wrote, "The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions .... We glorify God when we live to God." We can glorify Him in the ordinary ... the everyday choices we make. And that is the purpose behind all the "upgrades" you will see on this blog and website.

This Christmas - remember:

Your transformation began in the heart of God, and He is pleased when you cooperate with His work in your heart!

The Father's love was poured out to us in a lowly manger in Bethlehem, and His love continued to pour out when Jesus died for our sins. We still hear His words echoing through the ages:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life" (John 6:47).

What an upgrade!

How has God changed you ... encouraged you ... challenged you ... and made you more like Jesus? I'd love to hear your story.

Or ... do you still need to trust the Savior? You can do that today. Here is a suggested prayer you might pray:

"Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to make me a new creation and to prepare me to dwell in your presence forever. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in You alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life. I ask You to teach me how I can now make choices every day to please and honor you. Thank you, Jesus."

Friend, if you have prayed that prayer, let me know so I can rejoice with you.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. In these ministries and as President of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry (NEWIM San Diego), Dawn encourages, edifies and energizes women with scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. Dawn and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons and three granddaughters.

Note: The Heart Nativity Ornament is from Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, Michigan.