December 2017 Ministry Update (Looking Back, Up, and Ahead)

Bob Roane

Dear Praying Friends,

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support! Hurting and lonely people often feel worse and families often feud more than ever at Christmas time. You make it possible for us to bring them Jesus’ good news (in word and deed) all year long! How blessed we are that Holy Scripture says:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned, received, or seen from the Lord—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).

English writer Charles Dickens (1812-1870) asserted, “The New Testament is the best book the world has ever known or ever will know.” Dickens’ ever popular A Christmas Carol reminds me of three dimensions of biblical Christianity and I often use these truths in teaching, at Jester III Prison, and in pastoral counseling:

We can look back and rejoice that God’s Son really came down in the flesh to save us from our sins (past tense with ongoing significance). That’s the greatest miracle! Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension all happened in history. You could have taken videos of these events. When the set time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem us from the curse and to adopt us as God’s sons and daughters (Gal 3:13; 4:4,5). So even in sad, hard, uncertain times, we can praise God, give thanks, and be glad because of Christ’s finished atonement!

We can look up (present tense) to the Risen Christ every day and rejoice in Him. Christianity has deep historical roots, but we can’t live in the past, wish for it, or get stuck there. Corrie ten Boom reminds us, “If Jesus were born in Bethlehem yet not born again in me and walking with me, I’d be eternally lost.” Though you have not seen Christ, you love Him, believe in Him, and have joy greater than words and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8). Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us live this way. Jesus promises, “I will be with you always. I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Matt 28:20; Heb 13:5)

We can also look ahead (future tense) and rejoice in advance in our Savior’s Second Coming because Christ promises He will return for us with all believers who died before us. Jesus’ coming will be personal, physical, and visible, and we will meet Christ on His triumphal re-entry to earth. The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with God’s trumpet. We will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord and so we will always be with Him (1 Thess 4:16-18). John Chrysostom (347-407) remarked, “In His first advent, God veiled His deity to test and prove the faithful. In His second advent, He will reveal His glory to reward our faith.” So we pray with confidence, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)

I am very grateful for learning and serving together with you and for your donations, prayers, and many kindnesses! In 2018, let us gratefully re-commit to showing and telling Jesus to others as we prepare for His certain return. Thank God, Christ still bridges the gap between Himself and our lost and dying world. He doesn’t write us off, even though we deserve that. What a gracious, merciful, and peace-giving Lord we have! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with us to the end!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In Christian love, Bob Roane

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