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On Faith: Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving

Merry Christmas and God's blessing on you and your families.

The Bible, in Isaiah 9:6, says "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of peace."

What wonderful words to focus on during any time but especially during this Christmas season. Jesus is the reason we celebrate. He is the reason we live. Jesus is why we know the reality of our salvation. He came to earth as a child, God incarnate, in the flesh, born for us that he might forgive our sins, by his grace and mercy and love for a world truly in need of a savior.

We really do have a lot to be thankful for when you look at our lives in relation to Jesus' purpose for coming to the earth. We have been given the opportunity to live each day in his presence, to enjoy his creation wherever and whatever that might be to you. For me. It's the joy of nature - the four seasons, Lake Superior, the wildlife, the people. That's just here where we live. How about extending that to the heavens, the stars, Aurora Borealis and wherever you might want to take it - the mountains, oceans, the joy of creation.

We are given so many blessings, what about the church? The joy of worship, singing, sharing together in the word, the fellowship of the body of Christ, and the gift of prayer.

As you reflect on what Christmas means to you, especially in 2020, think about the many blessings you have. Many want to reflect only on the bad things that have happened or are happening in their lives, but take the time to look to Jesus.

John 3:16 states "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever would believe in him would not Perish but have everlasting life." Combine this verse with Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are you saved through faith and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Do you see the gift, freely given to be received by all people? The gift of Christmas is Jesus for all who believe. Not just a select few but Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. We are all sinners in need of a holy God and he loves you and everyone you'll ever see enough to die for them.

How about us? How do we show our love for each other during this holiday, this Christmas season? Reach out, be a giver, be an encourager, spread joy and love and let others know that you care about them. How often do you go around with a smile on your face, a jump in your step and joy in your heart that others might see that the reason for the season is Jesus? His love is evident in you.

May God bless you this Christmas season. You are loved by the creator of the universe and he has spread his arms and reached out to hold you and your family with an everlasting love. Thank you for the joy of Jesus that is evident in you.

Pastor Bruce Bergstedt's church is Esko Apostolic Lutheran Church.

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