Peter Amsterdam has been active in Christian service since 1971. In 1995 he became co-director (together with his wife, Maria Fontaine) of the Christian community of faith known as the Family International. He has authored a variety of articles on Christian faith and theology. (Articles by Peter Amsterdam used in Activated are adapted.)
When the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children.1
God sent His Son into the world at a specific time and place to live as a human being, to die on a cross, and to be raised from the dead to redeem fallen humankind, so that humanity would have the opportunity to enter into His kingdom and into a special relationship with Him.
The Gospel of John doesn’t tell the story of Jesus’ birth, but it tells us the prequel—the story that precedes what we are told in the birth narratives. This Gospel takes us back to the beginning, before our world existed, and tells us something about our Savior that was true well in advance of His earthly birth in Bethlehem two millennia ago. Understanding this part of the story is what brings clarity to who Jesus was, why He came, and what He accomplished.
Life can be so incredibly busy, and that can hinder our spiritual lives. It can be a struggle to find the time to commune with God, to spend time in His presence and in His Word. It’s as if there is a strong gravitational force that keeps us tethered to the burdens of daily life, making it increasingly difficult to stop and enter His presence, where we could find the spiritual strength and stamina to gracefully handle the burdens of life.
“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’”1
Prayer was an integral part of Jesus’ life and ministry. There are numerous references throughout the Gospels of Jesus praying. He taught His disciples to pray, they saw Him pray, they heard Him pray for them, and He gave counsel about praying. Before many of the major events, miracles, and decisions in Jesus’ life, and right up until the time of His death, Jesus spent time in prayer. The fact that Jesus made a point to pray and to teach His disciples about prayer indicates that it is an important part of discipleship.
We all have many opportunities and possibilities to move forward in our faith, our relationships, our work, our inner lives, and more. Of course, making progress in any area requires determination, discipline, effort, sacrifice, and hard work, but the results are worth it.
Every day, when you step out the door to go to work or on an appointment, or to take the kids to school or the park, or when you’re at home working or cooking or cleaning, if you’re praying as you do so, you’re going to “the market,” so to speak, and you should take along a pretty big “basket” of faith and expectancy for God to work in and through your life to fulfill His purposes. Through our prayers we create a vacuum for God to work, and we should expect that He is going to respond according to His will.
When I come to the end of one year and am on the cusp of the next, I’m generally optimistic about what’s ahead. I like to rejoice in the victories of the past year, the progress made, the challenges overcome, and the joy experienced. I also try to set in the past those things which didn’t come to fruition—failures, unreached goals, unmet expectations—and start the new year with determination to do better, work smarter, progress more, and reach my goals.
Throughout our lives, we encounter situations and opportunities that have potential to open new doors for our future. Sometimes, it’s very clear that God is opening a door; other times, we simply have a sense in our heart. There’s often an accompanying feeling of excitement and positive anticipation that calls us to advance into unfamiliar territory.
When you’re experiencing a lot of movement or a lot of change, it can give rise to uncertainty, concern, even some fear, worry, or discouragement, wondering how you are going to make it and what the future holds.
Trusting in God doesn’t guarantee that the changes will be easy to go through, or that the hardship or difficult emotions will pass quickly, but it does mean that you are allowing Him to act in your life and circumstances and are putting yourself in the position where He can bring you to a new and fruitful future.
At this time of year, we celebrate the very heart of our Christian faith—the resurrection of Jesus. It is the central theme of the gospel, the key component which proves the validity of everything Jesus taught. The resurrection tells us that Jesus is the Son of God; that as believers we have salvation and forgiveness, we are God’s children, and we’ll be with Him for eternity in heaven.