Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

The year 2009 has come and gone, and 2010 is only hours away. Many are reminiscing over the past 365 days and trying to look forward to the next. Some of us are thinking about those things that we'll do different next year. We'll exercise more, manage our money more wisely, be kinder to people, read our Bible more often, and, gosh darn it, we're going to stick to a diet and really lose some of that stubborn weight.

This practice of making New Year's resolutions is a cultural tradition, not a Biblical one. (Note: New Year's resolutions actually go back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians.) So, what does the Bible say about New Year's resolutions?

Well, there is nothing in the Bible that directly forbids them. There are, however, warnings about making promises that you don't keep- let your yes's be yes, and your no's be no (Matt. 5:37). It also cautions us about presuming about the things of tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). As grandma would say, we should be careful to not count our chickens before they hatch.

With that said, if you are making resolutions, I encourage you to do these 3 things:

1. Godliness First. You must keep your priorities straight. Don't go in debt buying that new treadmill or weight loss program, don't become a grinch or a tightwod just to manage your money better, etc. Remember, Titus 4:8, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Make sure to seek and commit to godliness above all else.

2. Glorify God. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, not for men." If you are getting in shape to impress others or saving your money to flaunt your wealth, you are doing good things with the wrong motivation. Whatever you commit to, give the glory to God in it and stay humble.

3. Rely on Christ. Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Trust in Him to help you become a better person. Apart from Him, you will most likely give up and give in.

I pray as you seek a fresh start and commit to doing new and better things that God will mature and grow you into the man and woman of God that He has called you to be.

Celebrating the New Year Together,


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God With Us!

I suppose every Believer has their favorite parts of the Christmas story-those things that they enjoy most about the birth of Jesus and what Christmas really means to them. For me, my favorite aspect Christmas deals with Jesus as Emmanuel:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

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.”
Every other religion in the world tries to teach how man can get to God. Christianity is the sole religion that says God came to us.
For those who were at His Church this past Sunday as we finished up our series called "Open Before Christmas," you know that one of the gifts that God gives us when we come to know Him is the gift of His Presence in our lives. We discussed Sunday how God's presence also brings us:
  • Protection
  • Provision
  • Personal Relationship
After all isn't this the Christmas story? God came to be with us, and in doing so, He would protects (saves) us from sin and the consequences of it. He provides a way of escape from death and hell and give us a way to eternal life. All of this is ultimately so we could and would know Him personally.
My prayer for you and your family this Christmas season is that you will experience God's presence in your lives, and that His presence will bring you protection, provision, and a personal relationship with Him.

Celebrating the Birth of Christ Together,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Silent Night?

Everybody, well almost everybody, loves Christmas music. Whether we listen to it on the radio or on our iPod or have a collection of Christmas songs on CD's or, God forbid, cassettes, most of us have our favorites.
silent_night.jpgOne song that you'll undoubtedly hear this Christmas season is "Silent Night." Here are a few lines:
"Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright...
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace...
Radiant beams from Thy holy face..."

It's a traditional song that seems to bring peace to the soul. I admire this song in many ways, however, I sometimes wonder if this song was really written in Hollywood.

Silent night? All is calm? All is bright? Radiant beams from Jesus' face?

I know some of you have now labeled me a heretic but think about it- the song makes Jesus' birth so (picture) "perfect."

The Bible do say that Jesus was perfect in that He had no sin and His nature was pure and holy. It does not say, however, that he was perfect in every single area of life. Surely even Jesus missed a goal while playing ball or spilled a cup of juice at the dinner table!

I don't mean to sound sacrilegious . I just want to us to see the reality of the night in which Jesus was born. The song is half right- it was a holy night, but I doubt that it was silent at all.

After all, they were in a manger filled with animals, and Mary was giving birth to a baby who was crying, and there were surprise visits (from wise men and shepherds).

I believe, for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, the very first Christmas was not silent. No, I think it was probably noisy, crowded, and stressful.

However, in the midst of the commotion there was peace, and joy, and holiness, and serenity. There was something special about the night, for God was giving a Gift, His Son, Jesus, to the world. He was showing the most perfect and ultimate display of love.

You see, the gift of Love can take what is stressful, painful, noisy, and difficult and transform it to be peaceful, joyful, and triumphant. That is the story of the first Christmas, and it should be our story each Christmas, too.

As we celebrate God's gift of Love to us, let's share Love with others? In the midst of the Christmas chaos, let us bring the Christmas love, joy, and peace.

Continue to rejoice in God's Love and His Gift this Christmas season.

Celebrating the Birth of the Savior Together,