Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Real Story Of Christmas

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  There are many things that make Christmas special, like spending time with family and friends, people giving to one another and showing love, and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.  All of these things are great and worth focusing on.  But it would be nice if people spent more time with family and friends during the whole year.  It would also be nice if people were more loving and giving during the whole year.  And it would be wonderful if people recognized all year long, and not just in December, that Jesus came to the earth to save mankind.

People tend to go to one of two extremes about Christmas.  Some people see it as just a gift giving holiday while others tend to over spiritualize everything about Christmas.  This second group of people will not have a Christmas tree; they dislike anything that is secular and in their eyes takes away from the emphasis being on Jesus.  But is it possible to find a balance between all of the things the world focuses on and the spiritual truth we find in Christmas?  I believe we can enjoy the celebration time with family and friends, and the giving and outpouring of love while still keeping our focus on Jesus. 

The real story of Christmas is that while Jesus came to us as a baby He was and is the Son of God.  All year long it is good to remember that Jesus was more than a baby born in a manger; Jesus is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.  Whatever we need, all year long, Jesus made it available for us!  The real story of Christmas is more than just a story about a baby born sometime in history; the real story of Christmas is that it is a never ending story, a story of good news for all people all year long.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Who Do You Promote?

"Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV)

Some people are very impressed with themselves, you can tell that by the way they talk.  It seems like some people are they own best publicists and they are intent on making a great name for themselves.  But if we are the only one singing our praises, so to speak, then maybe that is a song we should consider not singing.  While we do not seek praise from other people or live by the things other people say about us, we should leave compliments about ourselves to others.  With the things we say and how we act, do we promote ourselves and our agenda or are we promoting others?

It is easy for us to talk about how wonderful we are as a spouse, a friend, or an employer or employee but the question is how others see us.  In this type of situation, what we say about ourselves is not really as important as what others say about us.  If we really are so wonderful then that is something we should be hearing from others and not from ourselves.  Instead of spending time trying to promote and build up ourselves we should be promoting and building up others for the good things that they are doing. 

It is easy to fall into pride and get puffed up with our accomplishments, if we do that then we are focusing too much on ourselves.  We need to be the kind of people who are ready to cheer on, encourage, and promote those around us for what they do.  Certainly no one is perfect and we are all growing and developing but if we are quick to promote and praise others, like our spouse, our children, our friends, our coworkers, our boss, and our pastor, then we will be doing things the right way because we will be promoting and helping others instead of ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Reward Are You Looking For?

"By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward."
Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV)

Everyone knows that while both gold and silver are valuable, gold is more valuable than silver.  Economy class, business class, and first class seats may all be available on an airplane, but given the choice people would fly in first class instead of either economy or business class.  These are some natural examples of things we deal with in life; there are some things that are good but there are other things that are even better.  Sometimes we have to let go of one thing to be able to get another, sometimes we have to leave the good behind to have the best.

Hebrews 11 tells us that Moses rejected the treasures of Egypt but looked to the reward, which seems like a contradiction.  The treasures of Egypt were a reward but it was not the only kind of reward that was available.  Moses perused one reward while forsaking another.  Moses could have taken the treasures of Egypt and avoided some suffering, but Moses understood that there was a greater reward available to him.  We too have choices about what we will pursue.  What kind of reward are we looking for?  The best things to have may not always be the easiest things to get.

There are times when we will face choices about what we pursue and often the choice comes down to a quicker but not so valuable reward as opposed to a better reward that we will not receive as soon.  This could be compared to someone putting aside immediate gratification to reach a long term goal.  There are some things that may look like a treasure to us, and it may even be a good thing, but is it the best thing?  Is what we are pursuing a truly godly goal that will bring us a true reward?  Keep God's plans and purposes for your life in first place and even if like Moses you leave behind some "treasure" you can be sure you will still reap real rewards, now and in eternity.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Should You Say?

"Then they said to Him, "Who are You?" And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him."
John 8:25, 26 (NKJV)

Every day we face situations that are less than perfect.  From the everyday circumstances of life to things happening in our family, with our friends, or something we have to deal with on our job it seems that there is always something going on.  What we say in these situations is vitally important.  What we say will help us succeed in life or bring us down to defeat.  We could think of it this way, in every situation we find ourselves in we have a choice about what to say; there are some things we might like to say but there are some things we should say, things we really need to say.

In John 8 we read about the Pharisees asking Jesus to explain to them who He was.  The response that Jesus gives is a great example for us.  Jesus tells the Pharisees two different things.  First, Jesus says that He is exactly who He has always said He was.  Jesus was continually speaking about His identity in relationship to God.  Second, Jesus told the Pharisees that there were many things He had to say but what He would say were the things He heard from God.  In other words, Jesus said He only spoke what God directed Him to speak.

When we find ourselves in a difficult situation the words we have been speaking about ourselves all along will help us or harm us.   When we find ourselves in a difficult situation we need to listen to the direction God will give us by the Holy Spirit and say the things that God guides us to say.  We may be reminded about a verse from the Bible, God may give us a question we can ask to clarify things, or we might have some direction from the Holy Spirit about how to speak positive words into a potentially negative situation.  No matter what you may be dealing with, don't just say anything that comes to mind, say the words that God directs you to say and allow Him to help you win every time!