Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Isaiah 58:7

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Luke 14:13-14

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Leviticus 25:35-36

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.

 

Cold

Not too long ago, I heard someone list three things that tell the truth: small children, drunk people, and yoga pants. I’m not sure if there was an inference in there that all others lie, but the statement itself seems to be true (at least on its face).


In this day of fake news and alternative facts, it’s always nice to know when the truth is being told (as long as it’s not some negative truth about yourself). If you read the reactions to my e-letter from last week (see below), you’ll note that even I was called on my facts.


That is as it should be. None of us should toss around inaccurate statements. In this case, my general assertion was true, but way overstated. I’m glad it was pointed out to me. It will cause me to be a better writer in the future. Kudos to my diligent readers!


But back to the yoga pants. Truth tellers are not always met with overwhelming joy. Take Jesus, for example. As is also ascribed to George Washington, he could not tell a lie. It always got him into deep doo-doo. Eventually, it got him crucified.


Jesus’ problem was he often spoke out when silence would have helped him avoid most messy situations. Of course (had he done that), he could not have carried out his role as Messiah. Then where would we be?


While I can avoid yoga pants (and drunk people, sometimes), I can’t avoid the truth of Christ–at least not without negative consequences. He once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) While it’s one thing to know the truth, it’s entirely another to be the truth. If what he says is correct, he is the very embodiment of the truth. There is no truth without him.


A preacher once told a congregation, “If God would strike every liar dead, where would I be?” After everyone stopped laughing he added, “I’d be preaching to an empty house. That’s where I’d be.” I guess we’re all guilty of not having enough truth within us.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words. “
Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” (Romans 3:4) We seem to be on a neverending quest for the truth. If Jesus is the truth, it might be a good strategy to begin with him.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16 ESV)

God chose Bethlehem for Jesus to be born. He did not choose a major city like Jerusalem or Rome. Even today, it is still not a likely city one would associate with a place for the Savior of the world to be born. God did not seek super stardom for his son’s arrival. Nor was there a Facebook entry with thousands of followers and press reporters that converged on the sight.

Humble shepherds saw the angelic messengers and then paid homage to the Child that would become the Savior of mankind. Joseph did not have an internet reservation at a five star hotel. He had to make do with what one would least expect: A manger and animals! Imagine the outcry of child abuser activists today if one would use a manger as a crib.

Even two thousand years ago an earthy royal prince and future king’s birth would have been remarkably different from this. There would be the best materials for baby care: a cot, clothing, fine linen and woolen blankets and nursing care. There would be a royal doctor and midwives of the Court.

Joseph and Mary followed through with the honor God had bestowed on them to be the earthly parents of Jesus Christ. They trusted God to provide when there was not even accommodations and a place to put the baby to rest.

This biography tells us that opulence and materialism, especially shopping sprees at this time of year, draw our attention away from what God wants us to focus on, namely the Savior that was born into this world and stripped bare of what one would regard as basic essentials.

Prayer: Almighty God. We thank you for the greatest and most precious gift ever given to mankind, our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior from our sins. Help us to look beyond all the distractions of the material world and to focus on the real value of worshipping Jesus

Going a little further he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

How often are we faced with something in our lives that troubles us, grieves us, or simply we don’t want to do? I face this situation almost daily. Whether it’s not wanting to deal with someone at work, face rush hour traffic or do a necessary chore around the house. Most the time I think to myself that it would be nice if I did not have to deal with such things. They tend to be interfering with my plans or my will and bring about frustration.

When I reflect on the reading above (Matthew 26:39), I am immediately shamed into realizing how petty my so called trials and tribulations of life are.

Here we find Jesus asking God the Father to take away the immense physical pain and death he will be suffering. However, it is what Jesus says next that provides the most important lesson. He says, “Yet not as I will, but you will”. In other words, “God please don’t let me suffer a horrible death and find another way for me to save all of mankind, BUT only if that is what you want. If not, I am want to carry out your will.”

These 8 words from Matthew 26:39 shifted my entire paradigm of what it meant to be a Christian. I have struggled, continue to struggle and will probably always struggle with trying to assert MY will over God’s WILL. Yet, I want him to remove all life’s trouble and pain. It is inherent in our fallen nature as human beings to think this way. However, meditating on this verse helps me truly understand that God has a plan for me (us) and in end it is His WILL that we should be praying comes to pass.

Be sure to ask yourself daily, whose WILL shall be done?

We live in a very negative world, and not an easy world to live in. So to be positive may be quite a strain to you. But it’s not only the world that affects this, your temperament plays it’s part also. If you’re an extrovert you may have a bit of an edge on the introverts amongst us. And there’s one extrovert temperament (which Tim La Haye calls a ‘Sanguine’) who seem to be positive and happy nearly all the time!

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Then some of us are negative in our attitude, seemingly independent of the world and independent of our temperament type. Is it just because we WANT to be? The standard ‘test’ for this, of course, is to ask whether the glass is half full or half empty. You answer will tend to show whether you are a basically positive or negative person.

I see the half-full glass as more than half full *broad grin!*, so now you know which side I’m on. My primary temperament is that of an Introvert, but I have two sub-temperaments both Extrovert, so I can basically be either. I love the temperament that God and my parents gave to me, and I make the very best I can of it!!

Negativism is pretty awful really. I’ve read that it takes 10 positive words to overcome 1 negative one – isn’t that shocking! – so do watch your mouth, particularly with your children. When we feel and speak and act negatively ultimately no good can come from this.

Seems like God is well on the side of positivism. I was reading in Philippians and couldn’t help noticing these: Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice! PHILIPPIANS 4:4.That sure works for ME!! If you’re rejoicing, well, ALWAYS, then I can’t really see any room for negativism, can you? A verse or two later God continues with: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything – which seems pretty straight forward to me.

But how is this possible in our lives? Well the verse continues with the answer: but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition continue to make your needs and requirements made known to God. PHILIPPIANS 4:6. NOT your wants“, your needs“, okay! BIG difference!!

There are definitely people in the world who are ‘Positives’ and others who are ‘Negatives.’ Do you think the verses above may mean that God is perhaps a ‘Positive?’Okay, I don’t dare ‘label’ God like that – just saying it seems to be that way. Continuing in Philippians I come down to the verse that I’m going to kind of summarize, so that hopefully we may get the full impact of it:

Whatever is true; and honorable and good; and just; and pure; and lovely; and kind and gracious – think on these things (fix your minds on them.) PHILIPPIANS 4:8. Whoo-hoo!! I just LOVE all of that!

Does that mean that I manage to do all in that verse? No, I’m not perfect yet. But you’re a positive, right; so were you always like that? Tended to be, but no, I’ve had to LEARN to do (OBEY!!!) the things in these verses, along with many others in the New Testament that lead us to be so grateful for all He’s given us and done for us, and I’m now ALWAYS joyful deepdown which the Holy Spirit can and will give you as part of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

I pray for you all – as part of this Fruit, that you gain deep-down Love, Joy and Peace!!

fearWhen God asks us to do something, it can be doverwhelmng, terrifying even, and cause usanxiety. Maybe it is moving to a new city, asking someone if they know Jesus, or even quitting a job. This happened multiple times to Gideon, who was a Judge in the Old Testament. There is encouragement for us though. God didn’t look at Gideon as a failure because he was afraid and questioned God about the things he was supposed to do. In fact, each time he was afraid, God provided for him.

But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. (Judges 7:10 ESV)

In this verse we read that he was afraid to go down to the camp alone. So, God told him to go with one of his servants. God could have easily said, “You failed and I will use somebody else!” But he didn’t. Don’t feel as if you’ve failed when God has called you to do something and you are afraid. He will provide a way for you to make it through your fears and succeed. Being afraid is okay, but succumbing to that fear and being disobedient is not. God will call us to do hard things in our lifetime, but as with Gideon, He will be ever present and strong in our weakness!

Be encouraged today and trust our good God to equip you for the work laid before you! Below are some amazing verses on fear

  • Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

  • Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

  • Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

  • Psalm 115:11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD– he is their help and shield.

soulConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.—James 5:16

Have you ever been wrong and refused to admit ot confess the act? I have recently been put into the position where I am being persecuted to the point of disbelief. I watch these people accuse me, then refuse to admit they were, or did, anything wrong. While I wish I could get an apology from them, my biggest concern is for the damage they are doing to themselves by not admiting their sin.

No one enjoys admitting they are wrong. We hope our spouse or kids or friends will overlook our shortcomings and not call us out on the mistakes we make. We want to preserve the appearance of having our life pulled together. No one wants to say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry!”

But by avoiding those painful words, we miss the blessing that follows. When a wound is cleaned, the healing can begin. If we live with sin festering in our life, we miss the healing and wholeness that God has made available to us.

James tells us the next step after confession is also important for healing—we must also pray for each other. It’s hard to be angry with someone for whom we are honestly praying. By asking God to work through each other to advance his kingdom, we might find we can forgive as we have been forgiven.

Prayer

Gracious Lord, grant us the courage to admit our failings and to confess them to one another. Help us to forgive each other and to pray for those whom you have placed in our lives. Amen.