Themes for 2010

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The beginning of each year is a good time to reflect on our lives and select some areas to start anew. A look at the most common New Year’s resolutions reported at shows that most are in relation to physical things:

Lose Weight
Manage Debt
Save Money
Get a Better Job
Get Fit
Get a Better Education
Drink Less Alcohol
Quit Smoking
Reduce Stress Overall
Reduce Stress at Work
Take a Trip
Volunteer to Help Others

These are all worthy goals yet they do little to promote our spiritual welfare. We read in Joshua 24:15 that the faithful leader Joshua made a resolution, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This is such a simple statement, but it reveals the commitment Joshua had for living a God-filled life. We would all do well to resolve to live a life of service to God, wouldn't we!

Like 50% of Americans, every year I take stock of my life and decide on a few areas to improve. This year in lieu of writing behavior specific goals, such as, reading the Bible through, I am going to focus on a theme for 2010: a Purpose-filled Life. I look forward in the coming year to searching scripture, praying, reading books, soul-searching, and seeking counsel from others about what God purposes for my life. As part of my service to God, I want to share these strategies with others who are struggling to find meaning in life and to discover what God’s purpose is for their life.
I urge you to determine a theme for 2010 and ask God to show you how to live an intentional life during the coming year. You might consider some of these:
Treasure Hunting
Possibility Thinking
Positive Attitude
Choosing Happiness
Or you might choose to follow Rev. Rick Warren's plan for spiritual growth:
G - Go to God in prayer daily.
R - Read God's Word daily.
O- Obey God moment by moment.
W - Witness for Christ by your life and words.
T - Trust God for every detail of your life.
H - Holy Spirit - Allow Him to control and empower your daily life and withness.
Remember those who have the greatest success with resolutions:

Write it.
Commit to it.
Share it.
Plan for it.
Evaluate it.
Celebrate it.
Have a blessed New Year!

Blessed Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What do you know about Jesus’ birth?

Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem?
The Bible doesn’t say. It only says she came with Joseph to Bethlehem.

Did Mary arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth? The Bible doesn’t say. Mary and Joseph could have arrived there weeks earlier. Luke 2:6 says, “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”
Did Joseph or Mary talk to any innkeepers? The Bible doesn’t say. There is no biblical record of an innkeeper at Christ’s birth. They may have stayed with family members who were also participating in the census.

Was Jesus born in a stable? The Bible doesn’t say. It only mentions that Jesus was placed in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The Greek word kataluma means guest chamber. Mary and Joseph may have stayed in the guest room of family members.

Did angels sing to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem? The Bible doesn’t say. Luke 2:13 says an angel appeared and spoke and “a multitude of the heavenly” praised God.

Were angels present at the birth? The Bible doesn’t say. We may assume that there is no evidence that Mary and Joseph saw the angels.
Did three kings riding camels come to Jesus’ birth? The Bible doesn’t say. There is no mention of kings or camels. The Bible says that wise men or magi came, but we do not know how many. The magi did not arrive until after Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem.
Was Jesus born on December 25? The Bible doesn’t say. It is unlikely that shepherds were “abiding in the field” at this time of year. Normally flocks were kept in the field from spring to autumn.
Christmas carols, movies, stories, and manger scenes don’t always get the facts straight about the birth of Jesus. However, we know that the birth of our Savior was a marvelous miracle. We must read God’s Word to know the true story, the greatest story ever told. Jesus was born of a virgin in the humblest of means in a tiny village. The Son of God had come in human form in order to die and save us from our sins.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Let us follow the example of the first visitors to Jesus: the shepherds. After the angels announced to them that the Savior of the world had been born, they hurried to see him and then they spread the Good News glorifying and praising God. This week let us feel the sense of urgency to spend time with Jesus. And let us be bold in spreading the Good News of our Savior.
Blessed Christmas!
Source: Paul S. Taylor, Eden Communications

Unwrapping Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of our biggest stressors during the Christmas season is in shopping for the perfect gifts for our friends and family. Think about the stress the very first Christmas shoppers, the Wise Men, must have experienced as they looked for a gift for the Son of God. As we focus on the actions of the Magi, let’s see how we learn how to unwrap Christmas this year.

They looked for him.
These wise men saw an extraordinary star and went in search for someone very special. Their long journey required much sacrifice, probably discomfort, and danger, but their hearts were bent to look for Jesus. God took extraordinary measures to lead them to Jesus. He guided them right into the presence of Jesus.
How will you look for Jesus this year? God will take extraordinary measures with us to lead us to Jesus.
They rejoiced over him.
Matthew tells us that when they realized that the star led them to Jesus, “they were filled with joy.” One version says, “They were overjoyed.” Another says, “They rejoiced with exceeding great joy!” “Let the hearts of those rejoice that seek the Lord.” Psalm 105:3
How will you rejoice over Christ this year? Will you be filled with joy? Will you be overjoyed? Will you rejoice with exceeding great joy?

They worshipped him.
When they presented themselves to him, they fell down and worshipped him. We do not read that they gave such honor to Herod. This honor went to a tiny baby, the newborn King.
How will you worship the King this year? Will you bow down before him?

They gave him gifts.
In the eastern nations when they paid homage to their kings, they gave them presents. The gifts seem quite strange to give to a baby, but the gifts were chosen with great purpose: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were rare, precious, and expensive. Let’s take a closer look at the gifts the Magi unwrapped for Jesus and see what we might unwrap for him this year.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, gold was even more prized than it is today. Their choice of gold must have provided Jesus and his family the financial support during the following years of travel through Egypt and it was seed for the most important work in the world. Gold is rare, has a shimmering beauty, an enduring quality, and can withstand even the harshest treatment as it goes through refinement in the fire. We’re much like gold. God’s gift to us is that he made each of us rare beauties with the endurance to withstand refinement in the fires we go through.
What will be your gift of gold to Jesus this year? What do you prize that you could offer him? Is it your time? Is it money? Is it service?

Frankincense is a very costly and fragrant gum obtained from the bark of a tree. This tree was so scarce that only those with a pure heart and mind were allowed to come near it. Highly fragrant when burned, it was used in Old Testament worship as a pleasant offering to God.
During this sacred season are we taking time to offer the gift of our time and worship as a “sweet smelling sacrifice” to our King?

Myrrh is an aromatic gum that comes from a thorny bush. This gift represents the human suffering that Jesus would endure. The Magi’s choice of Myrrh reflects how Jesus identifies with our pain and sorrow. This Christmas Jesus longs for us to give him the packages we’re having trouble unwrapping. Packages wrapped in the bandages of our pain and sorrows…those wrapped in the busyness of Christmas preparations…those wrapped in the glitter of too much materialism.
Are we willing to give him the parts of our lives that we keep underwraps?

Do you know what gift he really wants from us? He wants us to live in his presence every day and to worship him as the Magi did with love, respect, honor, and sacrifice.
How can you unwrap the presence of Christ at Christmas this year?

For Goodness Sake

Monday, December 7, 2009

It’s hard to find a city more beautiful at Christmas than New York. I witnessed the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple last weekend. Department stores display extravagantly designed windows. An enormous lighted tree adorns Rockefeller Plaza and stands guard over the ice skaters in the rink below. Little Italy celebrated the season with a parade featuring floats, bands, and performances. Bundled evergreens line the sidewalks ready for purchase by city dwellers. Churches and cathedrals promoted their sacred concerts and special programs, and chestnuts were actually roasting on open fires! Yes, the city that never sleeps provides a sensation for the senses at Christmas time.

Unfortunately, the American Humanist Association launched an advertising campaign in New York on Thanksgiving weekend that promotes the idea of being good without God. What an attempt to dampen the spirit of Christians celebrating the reason for the season. Ads blazoned on city buses feature smiling individuals with Santa hats on proclaiming “No God?...No Problem!” Some rail cars and buses feature the slogan, “Be good for Goodness’ Sake.” Humanists hold that you can be good without a belief in God.

It is comforting to know the author of Goodness is God. As God spoke creation into existence, He saw that it was good. God created goodness. The very first sin was committed when Eve saw the forbidden fruit was “good and pleasing to the eye.” She and Adam wanted to find their own “goodness.” Isn’t that what humanists are doing? Instead of acknowledging the goodness of God, they are promoting their own goodness, goodness without God. Now I believe anyone, believers and non-believers can do good deeds and demonstrate kindness, but the real root of goodness is found in God. It is worth noting that the original Saxon meaning for the English word “God” is “The Good.” The expression, “Thank Goodness!” is a euphemism for “Thank God!”

As humanists attempt to create new holiday tradition that leaves out the Christ of Christmas, we must be the living examples of the goodness of God. Let us be good and do good in Jesus’ name.

Be Good-
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9).
The Bible is our instruction book for righteousness or right living. By following it, we can learn to be good, like God.
Do Good –
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you" (Luke 6:27-28).

Christ expects us to do good to everyone even our enemies.

In this stressful but glorious season let us practice doing good to others through our kindness, thankfulness, peace, patience, cheerfulness, and love.

Be good for Goodness’ sake!

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