The giving of gifts at Christmas time is a tradition practiced by many people around the world. Perhaps most of us are involved in this act of giving and receiving. Gifts are given for many different reasons and with various degrees of value.
However, there is one Gift given which is above all others. It is a gift that is beyond comparison with any other. It is the Gift of Jesus Christ to bear the burden of our sins. It is a gift that satisfies our greatest need and brings eternal satisfaction.
In light of the conditions of the world today, some may wonder what do we really have to be thankful for. We tend to be thankful when everything is going our way and most of our needs as well as wants are being satisfied. And indeed, we have very many material things for which to be thankful.
But suppose things are not going our way and we are forced to face many difficult situations of life, things that we would never choose, things that bring us great discomfort. What then!? Can we still be thankful and joyful? This is so important because we all face hard things of life, things that we would avoid if at all possible.
October 1, 2016
Time For The Trumpets?
The Bible has much to say about trumpets. They were warning signs of impending danger regarding an approaching enemy. Today we are more familiar with sirens that warn of us of some distinct danger such an approaching thunderstorm or even a tornado. Not all of the warnings we hear materialize, but some of them do. If we are wise, we do our best to heed the sounding sirens. Injuries and death occur sometimes because warnings are not heeded.
The warnings and sirens we hear are the best efforts of man to protect us. We should be thankful for them even though not all of them bring about what was warned of.
The trumpets of God, however, are always fulfilled. They are not given in vain. What God has said He will do, He will most certainly do!
There are times in all of our lives when difficulties seem to overwhelm us. We hardly know where to turn and we may feel confused and anxious about the future. While this is the plight of all people sometimes, believers have a strength and hope even in the midst of severe trials. It is our position in Christ and our personal relationship to Him that makes all the difference. Our position is that of a saint, that is, one who has been forgiven of his sins and thus has the assurance of eternal life. He is the one who is justified by faith and is a member of the body of Christ. Our relationship can and should be one of abiding in Him. When that is true, we can face our challenges with confidence.
There are so many sparrows!! Recently, sitting in my office at home, I noticed a rather large flock of sparrows descend upon our bird feeders. Their presence and habits captivated my interest for awhile. I got to thinking; what can we learn from them? After all, they are God=s creation and they are here for a purpose. A few months ago, we talked about the blackbirds, but sparrows are different.
As a pastor, I have had many desires for the people I have had the opportunity of ministering to. Among such desires would include John’s greeting to his well beloved Gaius, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in good health, even as thy soul prospereth” (III Jn:2). While prosperity may include such things as material well-being and good health, it may not necessarily be the case. We would perhaps be happy if our lives would include such things, but there are things that, in the long run, are even more important. Let me suggest a few:
Everybody achieves some kind of goals in their life. Some are worthy because they are truly of God and some are just the goals that are the outworking of a sinful life style, carelessness, laziness, and indifference to the known will of God. As satisfying as they may seem at a given time, they are sure to lead to disappointment and disillusionment. This may be true, not only of the unsaved, but of believers as well.
During the Christmas season we are reminded of many things. For many, it is a time of fellowship, feasting, parties, the exchanging of gifts, and a host of other things. This sounds so good and, really, in many ways it may be good, at least enjoyable.
And yet, all of these things may be engaged in with little or no real joy. We go through the motions of a joyous time without the presence of real joy itself. There may be an abundance of food on the table and gifts under the tree, but a great lacking in our hearts. The reason of many is the lack of the One who is joy Itself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most people, it would seem, enjoy the season of Thanksgiving. It is a time for family gatherings, good food, and fellowship with those we love. Those are all good things and are important in the enjoyment of life.
But I wonder about the spirit of thanksgiving, the reasons why we really have a day set apart special to give thanks. Is it possible that we enjoy the outward aspects of the season without comprehending the reasons behind such a time? Our culture, unfortunately, makes little place for God, His Person and His blessings.
We have some bird feeders in our back yard. We enjoy seeing the gold finches, blue birds, wrens, and a host of other small birds. We also have a hummingbird feeder, but so far we have seen only one lonely hummingbird! The birds are colorful and delightful to watch.
However, we also have other birds that frequent our feeders - the many blackbirds! They are very adept in consuming the bird seed meant for the other birds, and they frequently chase the other birds away. So far, we know of no way of being free of them. Any suggestions?!