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“I am the reason for the season!”

          The pastor made this profound statement during his sermon: “Jesus is not the reason for the season.”

          People in the congregation looked shocked. What was he saying: We all know that “Christ”mas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child—the Messiah.

          The point he attempted to make is that it was because of the sin of mankind that God promised to send a Savior to reconcile His people back to Himself. Since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, we are all under the curse of sin.

          It wasn’t something Christ needed to do for Himself. He came to die for me and for the sin of the whole world.

          Christmas is indeed a special time to remember that Christ came to earth to take on His human form—to live among men. He set the standard of how He wants us to live and love.

          This Christmas, may His love manifest itself in our hearts and shine forth in thankfulness for the greatest gift of all—salvation through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, I am the reason this season was necessary.

Luke 2:10-11: “And the angel said unto them, fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior Who is Christ the Lord.”

The Barren Tree

“In this is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8 KJV

Stark grey branches of the pecan tree stand out against the winter sky giving no hint of its species. Unless you are familiar with the genus of trees, you wouldn’t know that it was supposed to bear delicious pecan nuts.

In the spring, the pecan tree will once again send out leaves and flower buds which will begin a new the process of bearing its fruit (or nuts in this case).

The tree reminds me of my Christian life—barren at times. Could anyone tell that Christ lives in my heart? Do I bear any of the fruits of His Spirit such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, or generosity? We have opportunity to manifest our faith in action as we minister to those around us.

Perhaps, like the barren tree, we too can come out of the winter of our lives with the help of God’s Spirit and grow the fruit of his love.

Prayer: Father, help me to allow you to work in my life that I may bring forth fruit fit for your kingdom. Amen

When Christians Disagree

“In 1750 George Whitefield wrote: “After all, those who will live in peace must agree to disagree in many things with their fellow-laborers, and not let little things part or disunite them.”

“Upon the death of George Whitefield, John Wesley wrote a memorial sermon downplaying the two men’s doctrinal differences.”

“There are many doctrines of a less essential nature… In these, we may think and let think; we may,” ‘agree to disagree.’ (All above quotes from Wikipedia)

One of my favorite chapters in the New Testament is Philippians 4. God has used His word in this chapter to encourage me in some stressful situations in my life.
In this scripture Paul writes that he is troubled about two women, Euodia and Syntyche. They are both fellow servants of God, but they are having a serious disagreement or misunderstanding over some issue. The problem is not stated in this account. Paul’s desire is that they work out this issue.
Paul also asks that fellow believers help these women. (Sometimes God calls us to be peacemakers mediators to others.) I believe the news of this dispute saddened Paul as he loved them both.
When we allow spiritual issues to disrupt the harmony in our churches and lives, God’s Spirit is hindered in His work. Satan is delighted when this happens because it can ruin the witness of the individuals involved.
Is it essential that we all interpret or believe God’s word the same? We have many denominations in this world who hold different views on the interpretation of the Bible, and that’s why we have thousands of different churches. We cannot force others to believe the way we feel in our hearts is right. Ultimately, we are all accountable for accepting Christ into our own lives and how we live.
If our loved ones do not know Christ, we are encouraged to share the simple gospel truth with them. However, if they do have Christ’s Spirit within them because they have placed their trust in Him, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about God’s desired results in their lives—not us. It is hard for us to step back and allow God to work when we feel they are on the wrong path.

Philippians 2:12-13 KJV – “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.”

Prayer: Dear God, forgive me for trying to do the work of your Spirit in other believers. Help me to be faithful in sharing your word with the lost, reading your word and praying for those in my life who need your guidance. Amen

Reflection of Lent

 

          Lent is a time leading up to the remembrances of our Lord’s death and His resurrection. We consider and contemplate our spiritual well being. How does our life reflect our Christian beliefs?

          An acquaintance of mine told me a story about how she was raised in a Christian home, and she had made a decision to follow Christ as a child. She felt confident that she was a pretty good Christian. One day, she hosted a garage sale. She wore a tee shirt with a Christian message. Another friend showed up at her sale and when she read the message on her shirt, she said: “When did you become a Christian?” This was a wakeup call to her that she was not reflecting Christ.

          The more time that we spend with God in His word and in prayer—the more our lives will reflect a Christ-like attitude in our dealings in business, and with our friends and families.

          Lenten season is indeed a time to reflect. It serves as a reminder for spiritual housecleaning. A time to look back over the past year. Perhaps a time when we determine to grow closer to God.

          Some people give up something they enjoy during this season. Perhaps instead of giving up something, we could determine to do something productive to show our Christian faith. In Samuel 15:22, we find these words: And Samuel said, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

          Well, that’s pretty clear—“To obey is better than to sacrifice.”

          We cannot reflect what we do not have. I take many photos of reflections in water, and whatever the camera sees in the water is exactly what is on the land around it and nothing more.

          When we look in the mirror at our reflection, we may not like what we see, but what we see is the real us. When God looks at us, He sees exactly what is in our heart; we cannot hide it from Him. When our families and the world look at us, do we reflect Christ by our actions? Without the love of Christ in our lives, we cannot reflect this light to others.

         

Prayer: Almighty God, we bow before you in humbleness. Forgive us for when we fail You. Help us to reflect your light to all those around us. During this Lenten season and always, help us to strive as Christians to mirror Christ’s life so that others might come to know your Son and embrace the miracle of the resurrection. Amen

Christmas Blog

Lessons from Christmas Past – 2013
As I reflect on past Christmas memories, they are not all pleasant. Some, memories are painful to recall.
This year, I had friends and family members die. I have friends who are critically ill and they need miracles to get well.
One of my memories is the Christmas that I was pregnant and miscarried. We planned to travel to PA from Maryland to share Christmas with our families. I was not prepared the day before Christmas for the emotional loss of a baby.
The Lord touched the hearts of several friends who took time out of their own holiday celebrations to prepare food for us. I learned that year Christmas was about the love and support of friends when I was in need.
Another memory was the year my brother died suddenly two weeks before Christmas, and a week later my mother was operated on for incurable pancreatic cancer. She spent Christmas in the hospital, and I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Through the love and compassion of my husband who took over the preparations, God taught me that Christmas was not about me and how I was feeling, but about joy for the birth of a Savior who came as a gift for the whole world.
Another Christmas found my husband with the diagnosis of two aggressive cancers and facing a second operation and months of chemotherapy. At the same time, the company which I worked for eleven years went bankrupt. God taught me to take one day at a time and trust Him for just that day. He gave me a “peace which passeth all understanding” that year.
My 58-year old sister Dottie was diagnosed with liver cancer during another Christmas season. It was a heart-breaking time as our whole family got together to be with her for her last Christmas. I learned about the love which sacrifices to ease burdens and share pain for someone in need.
There have been other close family members who have died just before Christmas in the past several years. They are always remembered and missed.
Also, there has been the pain of divorces and division in our family. People, who we called family, no longer sit around our table. Again, God reminded me that it was not the circumstances of my life which I am celebrating.
This holy time of the year is about love, joy, hope and peace. The Prince of Peace who is able to give us that “peace which passes all understanding.” If your heart is heavy and you are sad this Christmas, focus on the real reason for Christmas, and know that God loves you so very much.
Lord Jesus: Thank you for coming to earth. Help us to keep our eyes and heart focused on you and not on our circumstances. You know our every need. Help us to trust you during this special time as we celebrate your birth. Amen

Thoughts for today–from Jan

Forgiveness 

“…And Jesus said unto her,” ‘Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.’

John 8:11 KJV 

            This morning I notice a typing error in an international devotional booklet. I had that moment of—even professional writers make mistakes. I know, however, that this publication does not make a practice of this, but instead strives for perfection.

             Sometimes, in our Christian lives, we use other people’s mistakes as excuses for justifying our own sins.

            When my children were growing up, I tried to teach them to avoid conflict. I told them, “If you respond to the people who wrong you by being mean, you are acting just like them. How are you any different?” This advice did not always go over well with them.

            God used this principle recently to teach me about forgiveness of others. When people slight us, say unkind things against us, or wrong us, we may hold onto these hurts. Perhaps, we feel justified in our hearts for not forgiving them.

            When we pray our Lord’s model prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, we are asking Him to forgive us as we forgive others. In verse 14-15 it says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus makes this message of forgiveness very clear. It’s what He commands and expects from us as believers.

            Christians also sin, but we should not make it a practice of deliberately sinning. We have the privilege of asking God’s forgiveness, and He will say—“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” Amen

 

© Janet R. Sady

 

God’s Book

I have made it a practice not to get involved on my blog or Facebook in political issues. This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, and God has impressed upon me several times in the past months to be His spokesperson for the innocent lives who are being taken every day across this world—innocent babies and children who have no voice. With God’s help little ones, I will be your voice today.
God’s Book
“You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book.” Psalm 139:15
My mother had ten children, and I was number eight. I know that I must have been an inconvenience to her. My parents lived in poverty, and “if there was one thing she didn’t need was another little hungry mouth to feed.” (Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto) No, we didn’t live in a ghetto; we lived in the country and thus were able to grow some of our own food, but we struggled. Did my mother think of aborting me?
When I was six years old, my aunt who had no children, told my mother that since she had so many children that she should allow her to adopt me. I love my mother forever for what she said: “I don’t care how many children I have, I’m not giving any of them away.” Hurrah for my Mom.
The scriptures Psalm 139:15 is an awesome thought to know that God knew all about me before I was even born. In His omnipotence, He sees the days He has planned for me, and the things He wants me to do for Him. He looks forward to the fellowship that we will have together.
Perhaps all along God planned for me to be doing what I do now—write devotions, books, speak to groups, and minister in churches. Praise God that He allowed me the privilege of showing my brother how to receive Christ before he died. Whatever He has planned for me in His book, I want to obey and to bring glory to Him.
It is a tragedy when a baby or infant is taken suddenly from us. Sometimes this is due to physical problems, but other times is done deliberately, or because the baby will be an inconvenience to the parents. What happens to the days recorded in the child’s book? What does God think about human intervention in the life of a child?
Jesus said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) Earlier in Matthew 18:1-3, His disciples asked Jesus “who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them…” I believe there will be many babies and little children with Jesus in heaven.
The taking of a life by human hands is frowned on and protested against by many who are do not believe in capital punishment for convicted criminals? They even protest destroying wild life, insects and plants. What about the life of an innocent baby whose book has already been written, but the pages for this child are deliberately torn out? The souls of these innocent victims cry out from their graves.
Father, Forgive our nation, for we have sinned and fallen far short of your glory. Restore in us a right spirit, open hearts and minds to see the truth of your word so that we might be obedient in your sight. Amen

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