A Glorious Hope

Christmas is not just a date on the calendar. It is the celebration of the event that set heaven to singing, an event that gave the stars of the night sky a new brilliance.

Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah declared: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). It was the promise of the coming of Christ and the light that was to dawn upon the world. It heralds the entrance of god into human history. It is heaven descending to earth. It is as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced to a despairing, hopeless, and frustrated world the coming of the Prince of Peace.

The Hebrews prophets not only believed in God but they worshiped God. They believed that God could be seen in nature. They believed that He had made the world. But all through the centruies they seem to have been saying, “I wish that God would become personal.”

This is precisely what He did that first Christmas night. He became personal in Bethlehem. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). At a specific time and at a specific place a specific person was born and that Person was God of very Godk the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the lips of Jesus came these word, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Like piercing trumpets these words herald the breaking in of the Diving into human history. What a wonderful and glorious hope we have because of that first Christmas!

  • Decision Magazine, December 1985


THE BENEFITS OF HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.  –               1 Peter NAS

Peter writes “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility.. .for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (I Pe 5:5-7 NAS). Peter expressed 4 very important thoughts. And he combined them for a reason. Let’s look at each:

(1) “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” Peter’s expression “clothe yourselves with humility” referred to a white scarf or apron typically worn by servants. Did you get that? We’re called to be servants, not celebrities! “All” lets us know we all stand on an equal footing before the cross.

(2) “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Those who are self-centered find themselves at odds with God, while the humble enjoy His blessings.

3) “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” The phrase “The mighty hand of God” is used in Scripture to symbolize 2 things: God’s hand of discipline, and His hand of deliverance. And you need both. So submit to His discipline today and you’ll experience His deliverance.

(4) “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Peter addresses the core issue—worry that if we don’t look out for ourselves nobody else will. But if we really believe that God “cares for us,” we needn’t worry about serving our own interests. We can focus on the needs of others, confident that God will spare nothing when it comes to meeting our needs.



MIND PRAYERS

Through faith in him we may approach God with.. confidence.  – Ephesians 3:12 NIV

Did you know that you can pray in your mind without having to speak a word out loud? All of us know the power of unspoken communication. Many of us grew up with parents who didn’t have to say a thing to make their will known. It may have been the way they cocked their heads, a certain look in their eyes or some other signal. But whatever it was, we knew exactly what was being communicated and how we were expected to respond.

Our goal in prayer should be to maintain such a close relationship with God that we can communicate back and forth no matter what the situation, the time of day, or anything else. And we don’t have to shout, or use the right words in the right order, because our hearts are in tune with God’s heart.

It’s like the story of the little boy who wanted a bicycle for Christmas. He was praying one night at the top of his voice, telling God the kind and color of bike he wanted. His mother said, “Son, you don’t need to shout for God to hear you.” He replied, “I know, momma, but I need to shout if grandpa’s going to hear me and buy me that bike!” The truth is, we don’t need to shout for God to hear us—and we don’t need to try and make our own answers to prayer happen either. Jesus said our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask. He gives to us because of our relationship with Him, not just because we say it at a decibel level loud enough to be heard!



MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT!

This one thing I do.  – Philippians 3:13

Edgar W. Work said, “The real tragedy is not in being limited to one talent, but in the failure to use that one talent.” To make the most of your life:

(1) Maximize what God’s given you. Edison set himself an ambitious goal: to come up with a major invention every six months and a minor one every ten days. When he died he had 1093 patents. Edison made his dreams a reality by sticking to what he did best. Are you doing that?

(2) Start where God put you. After losing a baseball game, cartoon character Charlie Brown pours out his heart to his friend Lucy: “All my life I’ve dreamed of pitching in the big leagues, but I’ll never make it!” Lucy replies: “You’re thinking too far ahead, Charlie Brown. Set yourself more immediate goals. Start with the next inning, for example. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk to the mound…without falling down.” Success staffs with one step. Exercise your faith and take it.

(3) Focus on what God called you to do. Music was everything to Brahms. He collected music and studied compositions going back to the 15th century. He worked day and night to perfect his craft, refusing to publish anything that didn’t meet his exacting standards. That’s why he didn’t publish his first symphony until he was 40. And he never married, saying it would distract him: “I am in love with music, I think of nothing but, and of other things only when they make music more beautiful.” Is that fanaticism? No, it’s focus; it’s what makes your life count! It’s why Paul said, “This one thing 1 do.”



CHANGE YOUR WORLD

Do not love the world.  -1 John 2:15 NAS

John writes, “Do not love the world.” But what does that mean?

First, let’s look at what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly use. Loving the Lord more doesn’t mean loving those around you less; or feeling awkward around them; or losing touch with them; or not knowing how to communicate with them; or alienating them by giving off signals that you are somehow spiritually superior to them. If “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co 2:16) shouldn’t we be as attractive to a lost world as Jesus was?

As the world of finance, politics, education and entertainment, etc. gets more off track, we have 2 choices: condemn it or influence it! Become what we’re supposed to be—light! It’s the end of the game and Jesus, the head coach, is calling His best players onto the field. Isaiah the prophet spoke into the lives of kings. The 3 Hebrew children changed the politics of Babylon. Joseph the economist saved Egypt from famine. Yes, Satan is at work taking Christ out of Christmas, prayer out of schools, and God out of government. But he won’t win, and he knows it. His strategy, however, is to convince you that he can win. He doesn’t want you to see the real battle between light and darkness. He doesn’t want you to feel a sense of urgency and personal responsibility. But the God who promised to “crush Satan under your feet” is raising up an army of spirit-empowered believers who will demonstrate what it’s like to live in a different kingdom. Will you be part of His army?



WINNING THE BATTLE

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 NIV

How can you win in the unrelenting battle between your flesh and your spirit?

(1) By acknowledging that there is a battle! Your flesh will always crave satisfaction in the very things God hates. This age-old civil war rages on. Your flesh never takes a holiday.

(2) By admitting that you are powerless to win without God’s help! By consciously submitting to God you draw on His strength in the first moments of each test. And your ability to do that will grow as you keep practicing this spiritual discipline. The closer you draw to God, the stronger you become when faced with temptation.

(3) By deciding that self-discipline is a personal matter! You can depend on no one else to develop it for you. Paul writes, “I run.. .1 box…l discipline my body” (I CO 9:26-27 NAS). This is something only you can do. If someone else has to restrain you, it doesn’t work!

(4) By understanding that ignoring the consequences invites disaster! Lack of self-discipline will inevitably lead to embarrassment for you, and those you love. So before you indulge, consider the fallout!

In ICO 9:27 Paul speaks about being “disqualified.” What does that mean? It means losing respect in the eyes of others. It means limiting God’s ability to use you for His purposes. It means hurting the cause of Christ in the eyes of a world that’s always watching. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet said to him, “By doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt” (2Sa 12:14 NIV).

Want to win the battle? Keep these things in mind!



FAMILY MATTERS (4)

 
No one can come to me, unless the Father… makes them want to come . . . John 6:44 CEV

Coming home from a bar late one night a young man got on a bus where he encountered his very self-righteous aunt. Caustically, she said, “Do you know you’re headed straight to hell?” “Oh dear,” he said, “Don’t tell me I’m on the wrong bus tonight again!” Seriously, we all want our families to share our faith, but it can’t be forced. Jesus said, “You’re not in charge. . . The Father.. .draws people.. -that’s the only way [they’ll] ever come” (Jn 6:44 TM). Does that mean you should stop praying for them? Of course not! But despite your prayers and best efforts there may still be family members who decide not to follow Jesus, and some of those who do may join other denominations. Throughout history countless wars have been fought over religion; don’t turn your home into a combat zone as well As former French First Lady Yvonne de Gaulle once said, “Even the presidency is temporary, but family is permanent!”

You don’t have to condone somebody’s lifestyle in order to let them know you love them and are committed to them. But don ‘t withhold acceptance from those who’ve been good to you just because they don’t worship God the way you do. Maybe they haven’t always made the wisest choices, but when the chips are down, chances are, they are the ones who’ll be there for you. Don’t beat them over the head with the Bible; just live it by setting an example they’ll want to follow. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up.. .1 will draw all people” (Jn 12:32 NCV). Instead of tearing your family apart, make your faith the glue that holds it together.

 

It’s So Bad

The economy is so bad that: I received a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

CEO’s are now playing miniature golf.

A large corporation laid off 25 Congressmen.

A celebrity adopted a child from America.

They renamed “Wall Street” the name of a large well known retail store.

A motel will not leave the light on anymore and a picture is now only worth 200 words



FAMILY MATTERS (3)

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  -Ephesians 4:26 NLT

God doesn’t deny us the right to our emotions, but He does hold us accountable for how we handle them. For example, it’s never okay to abuse those He’s entrusted to your care. Paul said, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.. .anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Satan would like nothing better than to gain an entry point into your home, then turn it into a living hell. And every time you fly into a rage you lose ground to him. Hot words don’t result in cool judgment. Solomon said, “A hot temper shows great foolishness” (Pr 14:29 NLT). The key to managing your anger is in finding ways to express it so it doesn’t end up in an explosion. It’s okay to share your feelings, but you must do it the right way. Ultimately the issue is not about who’s right or wrong, (or who can yell the loudest), it’s about finding the answer that’s best for everyone. Nobody can be everything you want them to be, all the time. It’s impossible to have a long-term, loving relationship without learning to accept human weakness. So instead of dwelling on one another’s shortcomings, focus on your collective strength as a family. Clinical psychologist Dr. Paul

Pearsall says, “Most of us would give our lives for a family member. Yet too often we live our daily life as if we take our families for granted.” Learn to control your temper; your family’s worth it. After all, who else loves you regardless of what you do? And where else can you find the comfort that comes from such a support system?

 

“A Senior’s Ode to medication”…..A row of bottles on my shelf caused me to analyze myself. One yellow pill I have to pop goes to my heart so it won’t stop. A little white one that I take goes to my hands so they won’t shake. The little blue ones that I take a lot….tell me I’m happy when I’m not. Some capsules tell me not to wheeze or cough or choke or even sneeze. The red ones, smallest of them all goes to my blood so I won’t fall. The orange ones, very big and bright prevent my leg cramps in the night. Such an array of brilliant pills, helping to cure all kinds of ills. But what I’d really like to know is……what tells each one where to go!  Really?. I would like to leave you with this one piece of advice and it is IMPORTANT!””””’Do not take a sleeping pill and an laxative and turn in for the night. You will be sorry.



FAMILY MATTERS (2)

Bearing with one another in love… Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV

Nearing the end of his life when he should have been preparing to bless his sons, Simeon and Levi, Jacob told them: “I.. .curse.. .you because of your.. .angef’ (Gen 49:7 CEV). But their behavior should have been no surprise; after all, the apple never falls far from the tree! The fact is, Jacob had already shaped them by his own example when he deceived his father (See Gen 27) and his father-in-law (See Gen 30), and his mother facilitated the deception. Behavioral patterns are passed from generation to generation, and “a house divided against itself will fall” (Lk 11:17 NIV). Mom, Dad, your actions and attitudes will either bless or blight your children. So “Teach [them].. .the right path” (Pr 22:6 TLB). Otherwise they’ll in-

herit more than just your eye color, they’ll end up with your emotional disposition and volatility!

Don’t involve your children in your marital disputes. Solomon warned, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecc 7:9 NKJV). Your kids are an easy target for your misdirected rage. Even when your emotional outbursts aren’t aimed toward them, they still suffer the effects. For example, your boss reprimands you at work, and because you can’t retaliate you come home like a bear with a headache and make

everybody walk on eggshells. Even if that’s what you experienced growing up—you’re not a child any more. Lower the decibel level! Don’t let your anger run amok. David prayed, “Watch over…my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to…evil” (Ps 141:3-4 NIV). And James says, “Submit. ..to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). That’s the only way you’ll ever change the steps in your family dance.



FAMILY MATTERS (1)

Keep the unity of the Spirit. – Ephesians 4:2-3 NKJV

When it’s easier to talk to outsiders than it is to your own family, something’s wrong. Your family should be a support system—a safety net to catch you when you fall. We like to envision “family” as a hard-working dad, a stay-at-home mom, 2 children, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. But for many people family means money problems, troubled kids and warring spouses. That’s why Paul writes: “Walk… with.. .longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.. .keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It takes a big dose of grace to make it all work! So, start praying for your kids, instead of just setting boundaries that create distance between you when you don’t see eye to eye. You won’t always agree, but you must learn to respect each other. When God said, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Pr 22:6 NIV), He didn’t say what qualifies as “old,” or when your investment would start paying off. Every family has its ups and downs. And every family tree produces a few nuts! In fact, sometimes the best part is underground! But if you bail out when things get tough you’ll miss the rewards you’d have gotten by hanging on. Often the child that blesses you most is the one who didn’t reflect your views, married someone you don’t like, and doesn’t invite you over to dinner! In the long run none of that matters because your family is a life-long investment. What’s important is to love and support one another unconditionally right now.




 

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