Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus, the Reason for the Season

Let us take the time this Christmas to reflect on why we celebrate this holiday. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the many blessings he has bestowed upon us. Let us not give in to the business, the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We must not allow it to take over the real meaning of Christmas. We simply need to slow down. We seem to always be in a rush to get somewhere. Let us slow down and pay attention to what is going on around us. Let us look around and be willing to help those in need during these troubling times and show them what the true meaning of Christmas is. Let us show love to others as Jesus did for us and still does to this very day. Jesus is the reason for the season.

Matthew 1:20-25
But after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus; because he will save his people from their sins.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet : The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name of Jesus."

Luke 2:5-7
"He (David) went there (Bethlehem) to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

Luke 2:10-11
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

God gave us his perfect gift, Jesus Christ, His son. Let us bear gifts to one another this Christmas and the Christmases to come and remember the reason for the season. The wise men came bearing gifts for Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the hope of all the world. As we exchange gifts this year and the years to come, let us remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas. God has given us so much to be thankful for, let us not forget what he has given us and what we have in front of us.

He came to earth and then he gave his life upon the cross for our sins. Let us not forget the real reason we are here. May we help one another and share with those in need, not only during the holidays but throughout the coming years. God Bless each and every one of you during this holiday season. May God be with you and fill you with his peace and joy. Blessings to all and a very Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Connecting With God

Connecting with God requires sacrifices on our part. It also requires spiritual discipline. We are to practice spiritual disciplines such as the following: Prayer, Bible study, meditation and extended times of solitude, silence and service. Do we really spend time with God as needed? Do you spend time in God's Word everyday? Do you spend time in prayer each day with God? We must practice spiritual discipline if we want to grow in the Lord and develop a more personal relationship with Christ. It requires a daily sacrifice. We must discipline and train ourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
"Respect those who work hard among you who are over you in the Lord. Hold them in the highest regard in love. Live in peace with each other. Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. Do not put out the Spirit's fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything that is good. Avoid every kind of evil."

Romans 12:1-2
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I remember one of our youth services as we spoke on sacrifice and spiritual disciplines. We discussed the 3 purposes in life right now and I would like to take this moment and share them with you. This is very vital in our walk with God.

3 Purposes in Life Right Now:
1) Spiritual Formation - connecting with God in authentic ways. We must be willing to be vessels and be obedient to His calling upon our lives. If we are to receive the blessings we must be obedient to the call that God has placed in our lives. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zone.
2) Compassion and Social Justice - caring for the throw aways of our culture as Jesus did. I believe we need to develop the same love for one another that Christ expressed toward others. We must be willing to help those in need, whether it be the homeless or those of lower statute. We are to be Christ like. We are to care for others like Jesus did. It is time we start showing others, including our enemies that Jesus loves them. It takes getting to know them as Jesus did in His days. He was a servant to others.
3) Helping people, especially in the American church, focus on substance over glitz -by discovering and living out God's purposes instead of living a self-absorbed existence. We need to be humble servants of Jesus Christ willing to help others. We need to develop a spirit of humility and not be so full of ourselves.

We must be willing to make the daily sacrifice if want to have a personal relationship with Christ. It requires taking the time to thank God throughout the day for his many blessings, taking the time to say a small prayer throughout the day, and taking the time to spend time in His Word, not only reading His Word but studying it and applying it to your life. We each must do our part to spread the Word of Jesus Christ. We can each make a difference but it takes a sacrifice on our part. May God Bless you and keep you on the right path.

The Storms of Life

Why is it that at this time of year, there are so many people facing depression and have lost their joy? When do we allow the storms of life to take over? Have we truly given it all to God or are we trying to take care of it ourselves? We cannot do it on our own, we must seek the Lord's help. One of my favorite books of the Bible to read is James especially when going through storms of life. It is reminder that God is faithful and that we must persevere so that we may receive the crown of life.

James 1:1-8
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its works so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

James 1:12
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

I must say that lately we have been facing storms in our life. It seems that the saying "when it rains, it pours," is holding true but I know we serve a faithful God and he will get us through the storms. We have to remember what Scripture tells us and that is that we are to consider it pure joy when facing trials. That is very hard to do especially when going through trials and they seem to happen one after another. We have to keep pressing in and reading God's Word and be diligent in our prayer. We must believe and not doubt, in other words, know that God will meet our need, have complete faith in God. Romans 12:12 says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always, Pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances."

3 Points to Consider:
1) We must learn to overcome and completely trust God. Give it all to Him, simply put, completely surrender it all to Him. Don't let the storms of life take over and consume you.
2) Do not be afraid for the Lord your God is always with thee.
3) Satan can't stop what God put together.

We have to be reminded that Satan has no power over us if we are a child of God and we truly allow God to be first in our lives. We must claim the victory in Jesus Christ. He is Lord and Savior and will see us through the storms of life. We must remain faithful. He walks with us even when it seems He is not there, for He is there. We must seek Him in prayer and listen for what He has to say to us. I love the last point, Satan can't stop what God put together. God created us and designed us in his own unique way. We are special to God and Satan can't stop what God put together. No matter how hard Satan tries, he will not succeed. Keep your trust in God, seek Him daily, remain faithful to His word, keep his commands, and keep His Word in your heart at all times. Blessed are those who overcome for they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.