Trimming the tree with tinsel and glitter . . .
Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman . . .
Gift giving and receiving . . .
All make for good Christmas cheer.
But do you know that the best part of Christmas cheer is sometimes obscured by the good?
Before the world began, God chose to send His Son Jesus into the world on “Christmas Day.” Jesus was born to die to set us free from our sins if we will trust Him. And each year we celebrate the birthday of the One who loved us and gave His life for us.
Is Jesus your reason for the season?
If not, consider getting away from the Christmas rush for a few moments. Quiet yourself and read the Christmas Story in the Bible (Luke 1:5-2:20, Matthew 1:18-2:23).
Marvel at the miraculous virgin birth.
Gaze in awe at the angels filling the night sky, telling the shepherds of the new birth of the
Worship with the wise men the child who made unconditional love visible to all the world.
Make Jesus your reason for the season and He will make this your best Christmas ever.
To learn more about Jesus, read the Bible, talk to a friend who knows Jesus, visit a church where Jesus is preached as God with us.
The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
Proverbs 19:23 NIV
To be sure, trouble still exists. And we deal with trouble every day. But because we are in Christ the trouble of this world we live in cannot touch us. It cannot hurt our relationship with Jesus, (which is the sum total of life). God watches over us and He only allows the pain to touch us that He will ultimately use for us.
Don’t ask God for what you think is good; ask Him for what He thinks is good for you.
– God’s Little Instruction Book for Men
If we ask for what we think is good we are limited by our own finite experiences and imagination. But God is unlimited.
He knows everything.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your
thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV).
God knows our past in every minute detail.
He knows all our possible futures just as clearly.
And God is the One who put us together.
Not only our physical body, but also our inner selves: our minds, our spirits, our souls, our personalities.
And, God knows where we are at:
He knows all our thoughts, all our dreams and all our desires.
God has a plan for your life and mine.
All through history God has been working out a master plan of bringing the lost people He
loves back to Himself.
God has a part for you to play in this drama and He has placed you where you are in history and location, and designed your personality and giftedness and circumstances so that you would be perfectly suited to carry out His plan.
Since God knows who we are,
how we’re made,
where we’ve been,
and the best place for us to go,
He alone knows exactly what we need most.
And because He is all powerful,
He alone is able to grant it.
So call on Him today and instead of asking Him for what you want, ask Him for what He wants for you.
He will grant your request
and you will come to know the Lord in a new and powerfully life-changing way.
To learn more about God’s plan for you, read the Bible (Psalm 145:18-19, 147:5, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Matthew 6:9-10), talk to a friend who knows Jesus, visit a church that honors and preaches The Bible and Jesus as God, and, if you would like, write your comment on this blog.
When I first came to know Jesus I felt that everyone needed to discover that God loves them just as they are, and that He died so we could spend forever with Him and Him with us.
Twenty-nine years later I still believe that.
The difference is that now I don’t also DEMAND that everyone discover that God loves them. Jesus said that if you are persecuted in one city, flee to the next. He did not say to stay and fight and impose your will on them. Jesus respects our right to choose to enter a relationship with Him of our own free will or to choose to reject a relationship with Him by that same free will. He gave us that right. And it is the cornerstone upon which a love relationship is built (or conversely, self-destruction begins).
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” – Jesus, Mathew 7:6
I have experienced the above verse. God gave me a window to reach someone I love, with God’s love, because I begged Him. That person listened, did not believe, but did not attack me. A week later I tried again, this time God was clearly warning me not to talk to them about Jesus. I ignored His warnings and as soon as I brought up Jesus, I was scathingly attacked with all the fury of Satan. Jesus protected me from the attack but it was a very scary and humiliating lesson.
Now I tell God I want to want whatever He wants and to lead me to someone today who wants to know Him.
He answers that prayer every time.
A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11 NIV84
I was recently asked if my lack of retaliation when insulted was a strength or a weakness. In my pride I was deeply insulted that they might feel I was a coward letting others intimidate me. I wanted them to know it was my love for Jesus that motivated my absorption of evil. I verbalized to them that God in the Bible in Proverbs talks about wisdom overlooking an offense (I couldn’t remember the verse exactly). They cut me off by quickly saying, “it’s a strength” and left.
People who don’t know Jesus don’t understand us, His followers. They wonder how can someone be kind to someone who has just said to them, “I don’t like you, I don’t want you to help me, I want someone else.” Returning kindness when someone hurts you makes no sense. Unless, you have an allegiance to something higher than your own ego.
When I’m insulted I hurt. And the times I return kindness I don’t feel full of love at that moment. Many times I am dealing with the feelings of wanting retaliation as I am trying to express understanding to my attacker. Is this hypocrisy? Because my feelings don’t match up with my actions of love, satan tells me I am a hypocrite. He does this in hopes that I become confused and stop revealing the reality of Jesus to someone who desperately needs Him. However, the Truth is conflicting feelings do not negate the sincerity of righteous action. Feelings don’t think. They respond. Feelings follow footsteps. And when I am loving my enemy I may still be responding to the hurt he has caused me. As I continue to love my attacker, my feelings may catch up to my actions and I may eventually feel love for my enemy. Or, I may not. Either way I continue to act in the best interest of my attacker.
Because that’s what Jesus did for me when I was His attacker.
I have precious little dominance. I scored almost zero in dominance on a personality test. I hate directing people. I don’t see the big picture. I am better one-on-one, listening, empathizing, and encouraging.
One of the things I hate to see is someone with high dominance using their God-given strength to serve themselves. They can be pushy, rude, scheming, intimidating and more; with a trail of hurt people in their wake (and those hurt by them include themselves).
One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen is a person with a dominate personality with a servant’s heart. They don’t try to dominate you, they try to serve you. They use their personality to easily do the things I can’t do. They see the big picture. They anticipate problems and work on solutions while options are available. They warn you of the problems that are coming. They include others in decision-making. They know the strengths of the people they work with and strategically suggest the best way to use those strengths. Though they are essential they realize they are an equal member of the team, and deserve no more credit than those with other personalities and contributions who are just as essential.
Those who are greatest in God’s kingdom of love are servant’s of all. And we can all be the greatest, because we can all serve one another. God has given us different but equally valuable personality strengths. And when persons with dominant personalities use their strength to serve others, all the personality strengths are orchestrated for the benefit of everyone; to the glory of the God who designed us to complement, serve and love each other.
Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. Proverbs 14:22
When I read this verse I think: I don’t “plot evil.” That’s for James Bond movies’ villains. But what about when someone is very rude to me without reason? And I, consciously or unconsciously, decide I’m going to let them suffer the fruits of their own deeds. Instead of warning them of a problem they unknowingly are going to have, because they hurt me, I’m going to let them fall into it and suffer.
When I do that, (and I’ve done that or similar things more times than can be counted), I “plot evil.” Whether I am aware of it or not, when I plot evil my thinking is changed and I start “going astray.” I naturally start making decisions that will take me where I may not realize I do not want to go. I hurt more and more people and myself until I destroy myself.
What is the cure? If I “plan what is good” (and apologies may be the first thing I need to plan), my mind is changed and my thinking is corrected. I find “love and faithfulness”…
I find Jesus.