Holiday

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Christmas. The very utterance of this word carries hundreds of images to the mind at once. Lights, trees, decorations, candy, fudge(white chocolate in my case), love, friends, family, comfort, Santa, and Jesus are examples of the kinds of images that would scurry through one’s brain at this word. There are so many topics I could write about under the Christmas category that I will not be able to expound upon them all. I’ll fit as many as I can in this post though.

First off, the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Watch any secular children’s Christmas movie and you’ll get a different spin on it. “It’s about getting gifts from Santa for being good,” and “The true meaning of Christmas is giving stuff to people you love,” are the most common meanings that the culture projects. Looking in from the outside, one can see that for the typical family, Christmas is a holiday filled with discontentment and spawned from greed. People will become angered if they don’t like what they got or didn’t get as much as they wanted. One might feel jealousy over a friend who received something better than they. One could become greedy, hoarding as much as he can get, giving nothing in return. For an unbeliever, Christmas is a holiday rampant with sin. This should be in direct contrast with the conduct of a believer on this holiday, or really any time. For a follower of Christ, CHRISTmas is just that: a designated time that we offer up praise to God for the gift of His Son being sent into this world, as a perfect and holy sacrifice for our constant sin. Really this is nothing we shouldn’t already be doing everyday of the year, everyday of our lives. Jesus Christ has given us the greatest gift that only God could give; why should we only praise Him for it once a year? No, as already stated, we should do much the opposite!

So then, why should we participate in the traditions of our culture? Why should we give gifts? Is God not enough? If we have accepted the free gift of God of eternal life, we know He is enough. As I have said before, “no money, cars, relationships can compare to joy in Christ,” to borrow from the Christian rapper Lecrae. Nothing we can possibly desire on this earth can match up to who Christ is.

Psalm 73:25-26, 28 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of Your works.”

See, to become discontent would defeat the purpose of Christmas: praising God because HE is enough! Each of us has been blessed beyond measure, so to sin in greed and discontentment would be like sneering at the Mighty God saying, “You are not enough. I want more! Your sacrifice was nothing.” How could we? Our Eternal Father deserves our lives and more for the boundless love which He has for us! We give gifts as a reflection of the gift we have been given, and should be proclaiming Christ the whole time we do.

In light of the fact that we must have this praise for Christ all the time, I believe many Christians should change their perspective of the Christmas season. To paraphrase John MacArthur, “When the world throws you a pass, catch it.” For the unbeliever, Christmas is a time of sin. For the child of God, Christmas is a tool. A tool for the furtherance of the gospel, of the good news of Jesus Christ, so that more may come to know Him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the only reason we celebrate Christmas. Far from it. We are finite humans, bound in weak flesh, and Christmas season serves to remind us of the gift of our Savior’s birth. We commemorate and celebrate the day of His birth at one time, together as a body.

I hope and pray that you will keep your focus on Christ throughout the Christmas season, throughout the year, and throughout your life.

Here is a little something I was shown on youtube. It’s a hilarious narrative of the birth of Christ by a British pastor. Enjoy!

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Struggles, The Word

Love As He Loves You. Forgive As He Forgives You.

To all of you who were wondering, the reason I haven’t made a post in a while is because I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling against the sin of the flesh, and it’s been harder than anything I have ever dealt with aside from when I first believed. Praise be to God, for He is strong when we are weak! The only way I can overcome these sins that infect my thoughts and actions is through Christ, as Colossians 1:13 and 14 say:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh, His beloved, precious Son, how I long to look like Him! I thank and praise my Father for giving me such hard times, because when we suffer and overcome our sin through Him is when we tend to grow the most.

My struggle was with three sins in particular: jealousy, bitterness, and selfishness. It all starts with the way I view my friends. For the longest time, I have viewed the majority of my friends as the world views them: sources of pleasure, wanting all of their attention to feel good about myself, feeling important, or even loved, in an ungodly way. What was this view of my friends coming from? Selfishness. I did not pursue relationships with them so that they would be built up in Christ, or encouraged by me to follow Him with more of a passion. If I may pause from the story to challenge you. Examine your relationships, your friendships. Have you sought out friendships to encourage the other person in Christ? Or have you chased them because that other person made you feel good about yourself. What about your love relationships? Have you truly kept Christ at the center of that relationship, so that the one you love will look more like Christ in every aspect? Or have you pursued that person they made you feel loved, important, beautiful, or handsome, as the case may be. Please, examine closely. If looking more like Christ is not at the center of your relationship, and it’s goal is not the glory of God, then your friendship with that person at this moment has no eternal benefit. What matters in the end of all things? That, in your life, you glorified God in all things. So glorify Him in your friendships.

So, as an effect of me not having my friendships centered around the right thing, when someone else came along, who was another close friend of mine, and stole the spotlight from me, what do you think my reaction was? Jealousy. The point of my relationships with these people was my own pleasure, so when a friend came along who was more entertaining than me in almost every way, my reaction was jealousy. When he was there, my friends ignored me for him. He deprived me from feeling good about myself. I tried to change how I acted, so that I could get that prideful feeling from my friends again, but it didn’t work. I was still ignored, and that made me angry. I wasn’t content with Christ, with how He had made me, and I still desired that prideful feeling I got from my friends so much.

But, I was also committing another sin towards this person in response to past sins committed by him. Bitterness. I forgave him for what he did, with my lips, but hadn’t truly forgiven him in my heart. I felt a festering bitterness towards him for what he had done, and this made it hard for me to even be around him.

Through help from my parents and the careful examination of God’s Word, I saw my sin, and I saw what I needed to change in my actions and thoughts toward my friends. Love. I need to love them as Christ loves them. As Christ loves me. Forgiveness. I need to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. If I am to be like Christ in everything, then I should not be hesitant to pour out forgiveness upon my friends. Christ forgave me of my vile sins against Him, an eternally holy God who loves me, by dying on a cross for my sins. So why should I be so hesitant to forgive a friend who has offended me? Here are some passages that have encouraged me, showed me my sin, and what I need to do to combat that sin. I have put off the sin, and now I put on Christ’s love, and forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8a: 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

I pray that you who are reading will examine yourself according to the Scripture here, and that you will be able to see through the Lord where you have failed, and where you have done well. If you have failed, repent, and pursue Christ’s righteousness, love, and forgiveness. If you have succeeded in these things, rejoice, give the glory to God, and continue to excel still more.

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The Word

A King

Something that we as Christians do not normally think about was brought to my attention just this last week at a camp put on by my church. Jesus is not only our God, but He is our King. He is proven to be a King, having been born in the line of David as prophesied in the Bible. Now a thought in reply to this statement maybe something like, “Well that’s a good thought, but how does that change the way I am living my life right now?” Well, we as Christians tend to do the things Christ commanded us to do out of obligation, not necessarily doing them with joy, but rather with a sense of duty. Now take the statement, “Jesus is our King,” and think about my previous sentence in that light. How do the subjects of a good king respond to the king’s commands? They do them with joy, hoping to please the king.

See, now it changes everything. From the things we say, to the urgency with which we do what our King has commanded us.  We should be desirous to do what Christ commanded us to honor Him as King, and we should be drawing others into Christ’s kingdom, that they may serve Him as well.  And there are many people who do not know His love.  Studies show that there are approximately 6 billion people in the world who do not know Christ.  That is our mission as soldiers of the King, to go out and make disciples of all the nations. Christ our King has shown us His extravagant love, and why should we be scared to show it to those whom have not heard? It is our flesh, using pride and fear of what others may think to stop us.  Ah, think of the difference we could make if we even just took the time to share with one person every other day. And we still have trouble doing just that.  Our flesh is strong, but He is stronger.  Though we are weak, wrapped and bound in these chains of flesh, we can through our strong and magnificent King, accomplish anything.

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