DECEMBER 5, 2005

by Pastor George Van Alstine

In last week’s Messenger I encouraged you to consider this Christmas season to be a time of revival in your life. I suggested you think about three areas for potential revival:
Revival in your faith
Revival in your relationships
Revival in your commitment.
I thought it might be helpful to expand on these three aspects of revival during the remaining weeks of Advent.

The word “faithâ€? is used in two ways with reference to our experience of Christianity:
1. the things we believe, and
2. the activity of believing.
The things we believe are important, and Christmas challenges us by confronting us with Christianity’s most stupendous claim: that God became human and lived among us. This fact, known in church circles as “The Incarnation,â€? is the basis of all other New Testament claims about Jesus and the salvation he offers.

The Virgin Birth of Jesus is an important Christian belief, but it is only the gift-wrapping of the more profound truth, The Incarnation, God in our flesh, walking where we walk, feeling what we feel. In order to be our Savior, he got inside our skin.

Christmas puts this great fact right in our face. All the tinsel, the lights, the Santas and the gifts can’t obscure the greatest Christmas truth—that the Baby who was born in Bethlehem that day was Emanuel, “God With Us.â€?

The second aspect of faith, the activity of believing, can also be revived at Christmas time. Maybe we’ve been kind of passive for most of the year, but here in its last few weeks we feel a special inner urge to get a little more excited about our belief in Jesus. We find it easier to express our appreciation to God for coming to earth to save us, and we worship him in the company of shepherds and wise men and angels. People who are closet Christians the rest of the year come out of the closet for Christmas.

Well, why not build on that spontaneous little outburst of spiritual energy and pray for a revival in your personal faith that will last throughout the new year ahead?

We’re probably all familiar with that word the Apostle John used in the Book of Revelation to describe the Laodicean church: “lukewarm.â€? What an awful description! We all identify with the impulse God had to their lukewarmness, as John described it:
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.â€? (Revelation 3:16)

This Christmas, examine your own faith. Might it be described as lukewarm? God doesn’t like lukewarm. If thinking of Christmas has made you want to become closer to God, pray that the Lord will heat up your faith.

A revival in your faith this Christmas season will be a blessing to all those around you. This revival should focus on both aspects of faith, the things you believe and the activity of believing. Be revived in your belief that in Jesus’ birth God entered your world of human experience. And believe this great truth in a super-heated way.

Such a revived you will guarantee a revolutionary 2006!