I love new things! New clothes, new Bible, new coffee, new restaurants, new shoes, new friends, etc. "New" is a way to a fresh outlook, a fresh start, a way to begin again. Beginning again is an important element to life and it is very much a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” I’m so glad that God has created a way through His grace and His forgiveness for us to be made new again. I’m not sure where or in what way you need a fresh start or a new beginning, but it's available to you. It’s a new year! Let there be a new YOU!
They are saying that it might snow today. Now, we are used to the promise of snow and then are usually let down by the lack thereof. Today's promise of snow is even more compelling as we are in the midst of celebrating Christmas. There is something about Christmas and snow, especially for us in the Pacific Northwest as we just don't get much of it. So this promise of snow for this afternoon makes it all the more desired. I can't help but think that this hope for snow at Christmas time is a very small reminder of the world that the Christ child was born into. It was and remains to be a world that is longing for, hoping for, a Savior, an answer, a deliverer from all the hurt and suffering that comes with living in a fallen world damaged by what fallen people do to one another. Well, the long awaited Messiah came as promised and sadly then and now many are missing out in recognizing Him. I pray that this Christmas we will all come to a better realization that the Messiah has come as promised and He is Emmanuel, "God With Us".
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about elections. On one hand I feel grateful for the opportunity to participate in the forming of our government, yet on the other hand I feel anxious about the outcomes and by how quickly we can go negative. It didn't take long at all for social media to blow up with judgments, conclusions and arguments over what the results would mean for us. There is no question in my mind that every election past, present or future is a season that God wants to get our attention: to call us to repentance, to call us to prayer, to call us to faith, hope and love. We must remember that our nation is only one of many that make up what is going on in our world; that there are believers in Christ all around the world and that when God looks at America, He sees us through the filter of seeing all nations at the same time. When He sees me He sees all of you at the same time. Sometimes we need to step back a bit and take a breath and quietly trust in God. There is an old song I remember my parents always used to listen to, it was called "Because He Lives". The chorus of the song goes like this, "Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, just because He lives". I'm glad He sees it all and He holds the future.
I know my faithful readers are well aware that I love the Fall season. I'm sure I have written about it and I know I have spoken publicly about it. I love it because I love the colors of Fall, I love the cool nights of Fall, I love the falling leaves of Fall, I love the sweatshirts and jackets that come with Fall, and of course I love the football that begins in the Fall.
But, today can I write to someone out there that might have had a tough Summer and needs things to change for them? In a spiritual look and application of the Fall let me attempt to encourage you. What I love abut the coming of Fall is how subtle but yet suddenly it comes. It was just a few days ago it was 94 degrees and the heat seemed unbearable but then I wake up one morning and I notice a cool breeze, a mist and dew on the ground that hints that a change of season is coming. Then, a couple days later I wake up and some trees that just a few days earlier were a solid green have a few leaves that have begun to change colors. And here in the Northwest where in the Fall you can still get some warm days, there always seems to be a cooling breeze reminding you that a change has come. One season is nearing it's end and another is right around the corner.
Friends, just as I have seen the signs of the end of one season and the beginning of another, may you as well begin to see this past season of struggle as drawing to a close and a new season right around the corner. It may be subtle changes, but then suddenly it will come and you feel a refreshing cool breeze letting you know Fall has come.
In Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses instructs Joshua and the people to be strong and courageous. Sometimes in life the most courageous thing we can do is not give up. It seems lately I am hearing of people giving in to their fears, their pain, their desires, their anger and in the process they are giving up former commitments, relationships, ministries or opportunities. Why is it that at times it is easier to give up on the things we value most for things that matter so little? May I suggest that one of the reasons is that the devil hates you. And second, the things that matter most in your life are the things God gave you and the devil wants to destroy those things and all he has to do to win is for you to give up.
We sing a worship song in church that includes a verse that declares that God is always fighting for us. That verse may come from 2 Chronicles 20:15 where it says, "The battle is not yours, but God's". That being true, we need only to not give in and give up.
If you do only one thing today let it be that you can say, "I did not give up."
We sing a song in church that is called "Christ is Enough". It's a powerful song which declares that no matter what is happening in my life, no matter what I am lacking or needing, that Christ is always enough for me.
In thinking of this song I am reminded of Paul's words when sharing that there was an issue in his life that he called a "thorn in the flesh". He says he asked God three times to take this issue from him and this is what Paul records that God said to him, "But He said to me,' My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2Cor. 12:9
In essence Paul was told by God that "I am enough for you". Paul didn't get the answer he wanted but he got the answer he needed.
I had a conversation with someone going through a difficult moment when their faith was being tested. They said to me that they sing this song Christ Is Enough but they were doubting whether they could fully mean it as they sang it. The great thing about what God said to Paul and about this song is that we may at times struggle believing that Christ is enough; but when God said "My grace is sufficient for you", He was ultimately saying, "I am enough for you".
I felt led to say to this person that they may be in doubt about whether Jesus was enough, but God meant it when He said He was enough for us and whether we are sure or not, God would come through because He is faithful when we are faithless.
So friends, God means what he says even when at times we don't mean what we sing.
Spring is here! Now, not everything about Spring is great. There's the pollen that, for at least my wife, is no fun as it brings on sneezing attacks that are awesome to behold. Then there is the return of bugs that we don't like. Then those pesky weeds start to pop up and thrive and so on and so on.
But Spring is still a great season as baseball is back and the weather allows us to get outside more. The scent of flowers, the blooming of plants and the blossoms on the trees make Spring feel like everything has come back to life. Yes, I believe the blessings of Spring outweigh the negatives.
Spring is a lot like life. The same things that make up the good of Spring possible require there to be the negatives of Spring. The blessings of life sometimes require the conflicts that come along with it. Personally, I think if we could shift our focus from the conflicts in life (or trying to avoid them), and start seeing conflict as a partner with blessings then we might have a lot more peace.
After all, the blessing do far outweigh the negatives in life.
"And the crowds who went before him were shouting, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" Matthew 21:9
We celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend. We celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem as the triumphant King. But we all know that the cheers will quickly turn to jeers as they will go from cheering 'Hosanna' to jeering 'Crucify Him'. And crucify Him they will.
But because of the known outcome, His victory over death, whatever you're facing today that is difficult, that is painful, that is daunting, you can walk into it and through it Triumphantly.
The history behind Valentine's Day is shrouded in a bit of mystery. It is historically assigned as having to do with a priest named Valentinus who was martyred for having committed a great act of love by selflessly placing himself in harm's way for the sake of others and was killed for it. There are multiple stories of just what that act of selfless love was. Whatever it was, his act of love has become our Valentine's Day holiday; and what a holiday it is! Over 150 million Valentine's cards will be exchanged, making it second only to Christmas in the sale of cards, not to mention the millions spent on candy, jewelry, flowers ect. And guys, we get the short end of the stick. According to a national survey, we will spend double on our Valentine than our Valentine spends on us. Anyway, if you are fortunate enough to have a Valentine, you are blessed and should use this holiday to honor and bless them. And for all of us this holiday should remind us all of the greatest selfless act ever committed on our behalf. Thank you Jesus for laying your life down for me.
Happy Valentine's Weekend!
So, I am sitting at my favorite Starbucks preparing Sunday's message and I am listening to worship music as loud as my ears can stand it(I can't seem to ever write anything if I am not singing while I write and occasionally air drumming with my pencils). Anyway, this song comes on that grabs my attention and I have to repeat it over and over as I get lost in it's wonderful message. The song is called "Deliverer" by Matt Maher. You should all go look it up. I wanted to share a portion of the lyrics with you.
"O God, You're my Deliverer
the One, the One who carries us
The sinner that's inside of me,
has lost all his control of me
From the flood and from the fire
You brought me out
I am alive
with the faith just like a child
I'm not afraid
I'm running wild
for everything that will be done
I am Yours
And You are my Deliverer"
What an amazing thing when we are brought alive again to the amazing Love of God that sent Jesus to deliver us from all our sin.
When was the last time you became overwhelmed once again by the thought of your deliverance?
I hope you will look up that song and have a worship experience like I just did.
May God bless you today with the thought of your deliverance.