The Reason For The Season!

The Reason For The Season!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there 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 guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:1-11 NIV

Those of us who understand that being a Christian means we follow Christ know why we celebrate this season. We are not concerned with saying, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays (specifically for the secular segment of society) but in knowing that at some point in time, over 2000 years ago, we were given the greatest gift that could ever be given, and it couldn’t be purchased in a mall for any amount of money. The birth of a Savior, God coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, to save all who choose to believe in Him. Though He made the sacrifice–giving His life for ours almost 34 years later–we still celebrate His birth for without it–there would not have been a crucifixion or a Resurrection–paving the way for us to enter into Heaven.

Today, on the eve of the celebration for many of us–I just wanted to remind people that we do indeed have a reason to celebrate this season for it had not been for The Lord, where would we be?

Fortunately, for us–He loves us enough to respect our choices in doing whatever we do–whether He approves our choices or not–He respects our right to choose–both what we do and the consequences. I really wish–we who proclaim to be Christians–followers of Christ–not people–could get to that same place of understanding. We don’t have to agree or approve what others choose to do, but we should respect their right to choose–just as God does.

Personally, I’m thankful that God allowed me to choose some of the paths I’ve taken in life–though I know He didn’t approve–He allowed me to make the choices and deal with the consequences and in dealing with those consequences, I learned just how much He loves me. Who are we to get in the way of those who will learn from the consequences of their choices, no matter what they are?

I encourage all Christians (true Believers) to think about how we can best encourage (not command or make) others to believe in the Savior we know. The best sermon–as many have said before me–is the one we live, not the one we talk about. If I never utter another word about how good God is–I would hope that everything I do–says it much louder than I could ever hope to say and more people would turn to Him–not me, because of who He is!

This is the time of year we should think even more about the plight of others and make a commitment to help those who are simply not in a position to help themselves. Thoughtfulness, consideration of others–is one way we can live The Word, instead of just talking The Word.

For tomorrow–I’m spending time with family–as I prepare our dinner–doing things that families do. I’m praying for peace in the world and joy in the hearts in every person and for those who feel abandoned in shape or form, know that there is someone praying for you and if I knew who you were, I’d invite you to share our dinner because we always find room and food for more.

Enjoy this day doing your last minute shopping! Stay safe and alert for the enemy would love to steal your joy by destroying hope and faith in Jesus by influencing someone to do a dastardly act. And then spend tomorrow loving others and enjoying life while we live. Luv2LuvU!

 

 

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Life, Light and Love!

Life, Light and Love!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 NIV

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6 NIV

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:9-11 NIV

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.1 John 4:7-13 NIV

There is no improving upon God’s Word and when and if we ever learn to take it to heart, studying for understanding and acting with the Wisdom received from Him, we will understand Love and live–loving all as He loves us.

Where there is no love, darkness and hatred reign, but light dispels the darkness and there can be no light without love.

Isn’t it time, we walked in the light of love towards all people–regardless of their religious beliefs or the color of the skin or their ethnicity? Until we learn to love, the world will never know peace. Until we learn to accept the fact that no one group of people is superior to another, we won’t love as God loves–unconditionally.

Talk is cheap–and by the multitude of words is a fool known. Let’s stop talking about love and start living love so the entire world will see God in everything we do!

Enough said!

 

Practicing Living The Word!

Practicing Living The Word!

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curseRejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:6-18 NIV

This is how we know–who’s practicing their faith in Jesus Christ–by living according to The Word!

The gifts–are spiritual gifts–poured upon those who are called and anointed to minister The Word of God in various leadership roles and others. There are people in churches who are not part of the leadership team, but they are gifted to encourage and know how to love, all.

What does it mean to other a person above yourself? Mothers can probably best relate to this simply analogy. When there’s a limited amount of food for a family to eat, most mothers–even though they cooked the sparse meal–will not eat until all others in the family have eaten. The love of a mother surpasses understanding because it is an inherent gift from God. So from godly mothers–we learn how to put others before ourselves.

Everything we do–whether in a spiritual setting or in a secular setting–in church, home or office–we do as a service to The Lord–promoting Him and not us.

We live with hope based upon our faith and encourage others to hope in Him–who provides us with all things.

We are faithful in communicating with Him about all matters that concern us and then we listen–patiently–to what He has to say to our hearts or through His Word before we do anything.

We have no problem sharing what we have with those in need because we know–as Believers and doers of The Word–it is our responsibility to take care of the poor and the needy.

We welcome strangers into our midst as members of the family–loving them all–not turning them away or making disparaging remarks about them.

We know how to smile through the negativity projected towards and tell those who do it–we love them–sincerely, but we do not respond in kind to evil.

We know how to rejoice with others in times of great joy and comfort them as they mourn, allowing empathy to rule the day.

We know how to live in harmony with others without trying to drown them out with our opinions–or expectations–for them to conform and be like us. We embrace diversity and find ways to make harmonious living work like the strands of music orchestrated by the finest musicians.

We are not so proud of who we are that we belittle others or look down on them because they are not us. Believers–whose faith is in God, not mortal beings–do not think we are above others, but know it is because of Him that we can encourage others to become acquainted with Him. The difference between the unbelieving and the believing–the gift of love received from God!

We do what is right in the presence of everyone because we know God sees everything we do and will correct us when we are wrong.

When we have received the peace of God through Jesus Christ, we know how to live in peace and promote peace as a way of life.

In observing what people do and say, we can rightly assess who is practicing living The Word. For those who are practicing, know they have not reached perfection, but they are relentless in their attempt to do what is right before God–not man. If we don’t see any effort or attempt by others to practice living The Word--perhaps they have not come to a place where they realize–the only Savior is Jesus!

Let’s practice daily–being doers of The Word–in all we do–being the living letter for all to see just how good God is!

Living In Unity!

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 NIV

My immediate thoughts are about the marvelous work that can be accomplished when people can work together–focused on the same goals. Assembly line work also comes to mind–everyone knowing exactly what their role is and how what they do impacts the final product–the car that comes off the line, ready to be driven.

This is how God’s people–all The Believers–should live in unity–each knowing their role and how what we do impacts the end result–promotion of The Gospel and perpetuation of peace.

If we all understand our individual giftings and work within them and everyone focuses on what the end result should be and determines to make it happen–more people would be introduced to Christ and the more we know Him, the greater the opportunity for us to experience peace.

We’ve heard songs about coming together for the greater good of the whole by various artists; we’ve read poetry and books about the importance of being united; and now–it’s time for us to practice what we preach and what we’ve heard. For as long as we refuse to live in unity–on one accord–the enemy will continue to divide and defeat us–at every turn. Isn’t it about time we recognize who our real enemy is and fight back by unifying the Body of Christ?

I’m reminded of the song, “We Shall Overcome” and wonder when that day will happen. If we cannot live in unity, without bickering, complaining, backbiting, and tale-bearing, how will we truly ever–overcome–anything?

Let unity begin with us–those who Believe in the power of Holy Spirit working within us and focus on bringing unity in the lives of all around us--especially the Body of Christ, no matter what denominationalism reigns–the goal is unity–being on one accord, living The Word!

What I Used To Do!

“I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (Philippians 3:6,7 NLT)

When we acknowledge where we used to be and what we used to do–without Christ–we begin to understand that our journey becomes our testimony.

Once upon a time–I used to mock anyone who attempted to tell me anything about the bible. I believed in God and that I would go to hell for doing wrong things, and I believed in prayer, but no one–had taught me the value of reading and understanding God’s Word for myself. This is what happens when a person “just goes to church as a child” but nothing is ever really taught or explained–and in my case–probably because those who were teaching could only teach what they knew.

This is the reality we must come to accept–we can only teach people what we know and anything beyond that–is incomprehensible. And Paul acknowledges that with all of his learning–about the law–he lived what he was taught–under the law, but when he comprehended the work on the cross, the law lost its value. Had he not recognized that the law could not do what the work on the cross did, we would not have his written testimony of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ as encouragement for us to live–to please God–not man!

Many of us can sit around boasting about the things, “we used to do” and come away with nothing other than laughter and reflection and often changing thoughts about those who “confessed their faults” and shortcomings. In order to encourage others to live–pleasing God–our boasting should be how we were once blinded to God’s truth and how we were brought into the light of the Jesus Christ. This should be our boast–from coast to coast–across oceans and seas–up the mountains and down in the valleys–that we were once lost, but now we’re found–in the newness of life with Christ Jesus!

So, when I think about how I used to scorn those who tried their best to get me to understand, I understand why there are those who reject what I have to say about God’s Word. If anyone one of those people–who tried to get me to understand the bible had ever asked me if I had read it, I would have shut up and had nothing to say. They didn’t ask me–they just kept pounding away, trying to nail understanding with a flimsy hammer that didn’t have enough weight to sink the nail into my impenetrable heart.

But I’ve learned–from my journey–from what I used to do to what  now do–and I ask the question, “Have you read the Bible for yourself?” No two people can have an intelligent conversation about anything unless they both have some knowledge of the subject being discussed. I am intelligent enough to know this. Had I been asked–my “no” would have ended my mockery because I had no basis on which to intelligently discuss the bible. When people respond with a “no” to me, I suggest they read it first, then we can discuss it–with intelligence–even if we have differing opinions. End of conversation–no mockery, no foundation for intelligent discussion.

Perhaps, one of the problems with us trying to promote the Gospel and encourage others to live according to God’s Word is that we do not know how to acknowledge where we once were and what we used to do–before we read it for ourselves. We cannot continue to try to hammer The Word into people with just our experience; we must encourage them to read The Word (starting with the Gospel of John, hopefully), seek God for themselves and receive His love–developing a right relationship with Him. Then and only then will our “testimony” have meaning and we can be assured that others will walk in the light of Jesus Christ!

What did you used to do–before you found the Light and Truth?