A Christmas Message From Marty Martin, Lead Pastor

This time of year I usually write a personal letter to all of you and believe it or not, I look very forward to it. It is an opportunity to honor each of you and to wish you a merry Christmas.

During this season, we have been celebrating Christmas Classics, songs that have the messages of hope, peace, love and joy. I pray that our reflection on the classic Christmas songs would provide you with opportunities to reflect on your own faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Whatever it is that our hearts and souls desire, whether we realize it or not, our ultimate desire is Jesus Himself. For this reason, we are filled with joy at Christmas to know that all that we hoped for has been fulfilled in the person of the Christ Child.

In 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, we read: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” That is my prayer for myself, my family and I pray the same for you. That we will stand firm and let nothing move us in our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord this year, we also celebrate that the Lord brought all of you into our lives. This Christmas we thank you for being our family and our friends, and showing us relationally the power of God’s love. It is an awesome sight to see His love in all of you.

Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment to Northstar. As I look back over the year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m grateful just to be a part of this community and to get to walk this journey with you. I feel so privileged to be part of a group of people who are honestly and passionately taking on the challenge to follow Jesus in all the trials, joys and complexities of modern life.

Thank you for serving sacrificially again this past year. Whether it’s leading groups; shepherding children; serving coffee; setting up for worship; playing music; or any one of the countless other (usually unseen) tasks that keep our church running, I am grateful. Thank you so much for all you do!

Thank you for giving sacrificially as you always do. Your generosity has enabled us to pursue our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.

And I just cannot praise God enough. This Christmas, as in all previous years, we celebrate “Emmanuel” (God with us). Without Christ’s presence among us we would be in trouble. Through God’s presence gently, sometimes not so gently, working within us, we are being transformed, made bold and seeing lives changed by His gospel. How can we praise Him enough? How can we contain God’s love without going out and sharing it?

From our family to yours, Angela, Andrew and Ashleigh and I wish you the very best that life has to offer, a life grounded and rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May this be a Christmas that brings hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ richly and abundantly into your family. And may the grace and love of God surround, nurture, and keep you this Christmas Season.

Marty

Discussion Questions:
1. Pray for our church leadership that God will continue to guide us.
2. Pray for our church as we move into 2015.
3. Thank God again for the gift of His son.

Just Do It

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” – Ecclesiastes 9:10.

When Solomon says, “Whatever your hand finds to do,” he means that there is always work to be done. There is always something to do. Famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories.” I believe this verse challenges us at Christmas time and any other time to grab hold of the day-to-day responsibilities we face, and do them to the best of our ability.

Some of us grow bored with the ordinary. Many of us dream of greatness, of someday being someone important, someone respected for their accomplishments. Here’s the rub: we live in the here and now. I believe it is better to take this day in hand and “do it with all your might” than to waste hours dreaming about what we would rather be doing.

Reformer Martin Luther said, “A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God. If your job is shoveling manure, than do your best and shovel that manure for the glory of God.” Luther’s point is that if we do our job well each day we honor God just as much as the brain surgeon who extends someone’s life.

Even though none of us wants to hear that we are going to the grave, it is a fact we all need to face sooner and later. This life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one chance to do whatever we’re going to do here on planet earth. Our time on earth will be over sooner than most of us care to admit. Nobody wants to have a legacy of “I was fixing to do that” or “my intention was to do that soon”or “I wish I had dome more to show the love of God to others.”

“Whatever your hand finds to do . . .” Judges 9:33 reads, “Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.” In 1 Samuel 10:6–7 Samuel tells Saul, “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”

The idea expressed here isn’t to do whatever we want to do. But at some point, we have to entrust ourselves to the Lord and do what our hands find to do. Another way of understanding this phrase is to do “whatever you are able to do” with what is right in front of you. If you’re a student, apply yourself to your studies. There are many other examples. As Christians, there are opportunities right in front of us to make others Christmas a little more merry and bright. We just need to do it.

It is not easy, but don’t worry if these acts of giving seem unappreciated or unrewarded. We don’t have to make sense of it all, because we know God works all things for the good of those who love and wait for Him. In this way, Paul writes in Colossians 3: 23-24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Discussion Questions:
1. Read Ecclesiastes 9:10: how should we treat everything we do ?
2. Who is your ultimate master, boss, employer? To whom do you give your best energy, time, and resources?
3. Pray that the Lord might enable you to “work at it (God’s calling on your life) with all of your heart… as you are doing it and giving it for the Lord?

4. What can we do this Christmas to make a white Christmas for others?