What Should Our Perspective of God Be?

Our perspective of God should always be getting larger.

Have you ever been talking with a friend and suddenly learned something new about them that shifted the way you perceived them? Like: Finding out a friend, who has always worn dark, muted colors in clothing, actually loves buying office items in bright colors like pink and orange. Or discovering the friend you would have defined as the most American person you know actually grew up overseas. Or learning that the person you met at a conference, who seems like such a down-to-earth everyday kind of person, actually runs a multi-million dollar company.

We often see acquaintances through only one facet of who they really are. With friends we tend to get to see more sides of them through interacting with them in more settings and ways. Then there is family, the people who we know far better than most anyone else. Marriage I think though is the ultimate revealing of a person’s facets, because every situation faced together is another opportunity to see the person from a new angle in the light that reveals who they truly are.

How we perceive God is and should always be growing, kind of like the way our knowledge of people progresses through the type of relationship with hold with them. With God, we often start off as just acquaintances, but we should move to friends, then family, and as the church we become His bride. 

Our perspective and knowledge of Him should grow broader and more personal as we growing in our relationship with him. Examples

What we know about God as an acquaintance:

  • He created the World
  • He is God of the World
  • He speaks the truth
  • He created me
  • Etc.

What we know about God as a friend: 

  • He cares about me
  • He doesn’t walk away when the going get’s tough
  • He sent His Son to pay for the sins of the world
  • He wants to give me a gift of eternal life with Him
  • Etc

What we know about God as Family:

  • He paid for my sins
  • He claims me as His child
  • He loves me all the time no matter what
  • He gave me skills and talents and enjoys watching me use them
  • Etc.

What we know about God as our Groom:

  • He knows me inside and out and still wants me
  • He is a faithful provider and an incredible protector
  • He loves spending time with me and growing our relationship
  • He encourages me to be what I was meant to be
  • Etc. 

Challenge: As you read God’s Word in the following weeks, keep an eye out for the things about God that catch you by surprise. Take note of these things, and remember God wants to be fare more than just your acquaintance or friend. 

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Why Christians Should Love Themselves

As a Christian do you love yourself? Why or why not? Maybe this feels like a strange question to ask yourself, but actually it’s an important question to ask. “Do I love myself?”

Whether or not we are able to accept other people’s love for us has a huge impact on our lives, but we are also heavily impacted by whether or not we can love ourselves.

I remember years ago reading about self-deception: the reality that we can deceive ourselves so thoroughly we actually believe our own lies to be true. This concept shook me, because like most people I had always believed that, of everyone, I myself was the most trustworthy person I knew. I knew myself, and of course I would know if I was lying to myself, right? Wrong. Turns out we can lie to ourselves so effectively at times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Even when we do realize it, we may not on our own be able to actually distinguish the lies we have told ourselves. This is pretty terrifying when you think about it. If we can’t trust ourselves, who can we trust?

Interesting thing, God warned us about this human flaw long before we had psychologists to tell us about it. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Wouldn’t this then stand to reason that if our heart is deceitful and wicked we should not love ourselves? (Rom 12:9 “…Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”?)

When it comes to evaluating our own lovability as humanity, we tend (at any given moment) to fall toward one of two extremes. Either we lie to ourselves and believe we are one of the best people on the Earth, or we lie to ourselves and believe we are one of the worst people on the earth.

The truth is: we have sinned and do sin. 1Jo 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

But the truth is also: when we believe and accept for our ourselves what Christ did for us, we are made righteous.  Rom 5:18-19 “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s [Jesus] obedience many will be made righteous.

If we have accepted Christ’s gift we have been made righteous.

Do you believe you are and have been made righteous? Or do you see yourself only as a sinner? Or do you think you are without sin and don’t need redemption? Have you deceived yourself about what you are and what Christianity really means? Because neither can you deny your sin, nor can you deny your righteousness. You must accept both. In order to truly be a Christian (and not just a self-deceived depressed sinner or a self-deceived self-righteous person) you must accept that you are a sinner and are made righteous by Christ.

This means you can neither love your sin nor hate righteousness. Which I propose, then leaves only the option of hating your sin and loving what God has made righteous.

Do you love yourself? 1Jo 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us…” 1Jo 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

In Roman 6:13, it talks about how we are to present members (Christians), not as “instruments of unrighteousness,” but “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Self-deception must not be allowed to blind us to the truth of who we are and what Christ has done for us. We must seek the Truth and live within it: that we are sinners who have been made righteous (self-hatred is no longer justified, and if we hate ourselves then the Truth is not in us.)

Eph 4:17-24  “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Col 3:9 “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Challenge:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

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Where Does Confession Come From?

Have you ever read the story of John the Baptist and wondered where the concept of confessing ones sins comes from? In most church settings we don’t really even think about confession because to us it is just part of repentance, but John isn’t preaching confession. It’s something the people do in response. But why? Where does this come from?

Mat 3:1-6 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’…Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”

I was reading in Numbers the other day and a verse about confession caught my attention.

Num 5:6 “Speak to the children of Israel: ‘When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the LORD, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.’”

A person is supposed to confess the sin against the LORD and give restitution to the one he has wronged. (Note: These are two different people.The wrong has been done against a person but that wrong is a sin against God.)

Leviticus also talks about confessing sin. 

Lev 5:5-6 “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin.”

Lev 26:39-43 “And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity…But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers…if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt— then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham.…”

Here is an actual confession from Daniel 9:4-5 “And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.…’” (He goes on, saying how they have sinned and seeking God’s mercy)

Confession, iniquity, guilt, sin, humility, and repentance all seem to be wrapped up together, and in Lev 5:5-6 we see that the confession and the trespass offering are so the priest can make atonement for the one who sinned.

Who is our priest? (Depending on the denomination you come from, you might be picturing your local priest or pastor.) But we actually have a High Priest who makes this atonement for us.

Heb 6:19-20 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Who made atonement for us “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pe 1:19) offering Himself as a sacrifice. (Heb 10:12)

1 John 1:6-9 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Rom 10:9-11 “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”

As far as I can find, there is no specific description in the Old Testament of how a person is to confess their sin. We are not told if it’s supposed to be out loud or silently, or if its supposed to outline every detail or just state the basics. I wonder if this is perhaps so that we can’t put it into a box and say “this is the way to confess.”

God is relational, and He does not respond to each person the same way. Perhaps different people will need to confess in different ways, and God wanted them to be able to do that.

Though it’s interesting to note in the New Testament there are certain instruction to confession like that you should “confess your trespasses to one another.” (James 5:16) Which would obviously suggest that confession of this nature is done out loud between two or more people. 

This passage could possibly also aline with the passage we looked at earlier in Numbers 5:6 where it talks needing to set right any wrongs made against someone else.

There is also Rom 10:9-11 “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” which also suggest an out loud confession.

Confession comes out of both the Old and New Testaments (Num 5:6 & 1 John 1:6-9), is part of salvation and seeking atonement (Lev 5:5-6), is a response of repentance (Mat 3:1-6), and can bring healing and health (James 5:16).

Challenge: True repentance of sin should bring confession of sin, and confession of sin with true repentance leads right relationship with Christ, His priestly ability to offer atonement for us, and our cleansing from all unrighteousness. (1Jo 1:6-9)

(All verses taken from NKJV )(emphasizes added)

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How to Have Confidence in Who God Is

Have you ever talked with someone who thinks they know a person you know and they make a comment like, “I don’t think that person cares about that kind of thing.”
And you get to say, “They totally care about that kind of thing and would definitely be there for you if you asked.”
Or that person might make a comment about how, “I’m sure they’ll be fine with it.” 

And you think to yourself, “Um, no pretty sure they will not be fine with that, and you are about to find out the hard way how not fine with them it is.”

When we spend a lot of time with someone and pay attention to the things they say and do, the result is usually that we know that person pretty well. The information we’ve absorbed about them is helpful in knowing them, maintaining a good relationship with them, and being able to express who they really are to others. 

Without paying attention to and gaining this information, we can get ourselves in a lot of trouble relationally and spiritually. When we think we know God but haven’t actually taken the time to really know Him, we risk jumping to the wrong conclusions about who He is, what He stand for, and how He’ll respond to us and others.

We need to be reading Scripture’s accounts about God, paying attention to the ways God interacts with others (in Scripture and outside of Scripture), interacting with Him ourselves, and putting all this information together. Because only with all this information will we have an accurate picture of who God really is.

Anyone can say anything about anyone, and yet when you know well the person they are speaking of you will be able to tell the difference between the truth and the lies. 

Obviously as humans, we can change and we do lie, so we need to be checking out what is said about people we know even if we thinking we truly know them well enough to be sure there is no issue. But God does not lie nor does He change, so when we read of who and what He says He is and has been, we can know this is who and what He still is. (Heb 13:8)(Num 23:19) We can and do stake our lives on His words, and we should challenge others when they claim He is different from what He says and does.

This is assuming of course we’ve spent the time getting to know God well enough to have accurate information and a complete picture of who He is. 

I think many people shy away from learning more about others because they fear if they keep digging at some point they will find the skeleton in that person’s closest, the dirt that just can’t be swept away, or the character that is really just a facade. We also hesitate to get close to others because the closer we get, the more trust we give, and the higher the cost of possible betrayal. And with humanity this is a risk.

But God is not like humanity. There are no skeletons in His closets, He is and has always been open and honest about Who He is, and He will never betray you. (Though, let me say: if you put your trust in an aspect of who God is rather than in Him, you will be betrayed by your own misplaced trust. Because one aspect of who God is does not make up all of Him and will therefore not always dictate the way He responds.)

For instance: Too often people put their trust in God’s love and forget about God’s justice (or vice-versa). If we place our trust wholly in love or wholly in justice, we will be betrayed.

Let’s say the person who thinks they know a friend you know, makes the comment, “I’m sure they’ll be fine with it.” 

And you think to yourself, “Um, no pretty sure my friend will not be fine with that, and you are about to find out the hard way how not fine with them it is.”

But then your friend comes along and instead of telling that person just how not fine they are with it, they instead offer grace and tell them, “I love you regardless, and I forgive you.”

And you want to scream, “But wait, I know Your rules. I know what You’ve said about Your position on this. You aren’t okay with this. Show them how NOT okay You are with this.” Knowing the persons’s stand on an issue(Like God’s commandments) is different from knowing the whole person. If we know God’s stance but not the way God respond to us and others [God’s Grace (Rom 5:8 Jn 8:10-11)], then we will find our confidence in who we thought God was shaken (but only because our knowledge was incomplete).

Learn and study God and know Him for who He is as a whole person. And don’t fear what you will find, because no matter how far you dig you will never come to something that will reveal God as untrustworthy or evil. God is faithful to all that He is. 

Challenge: So read and learn about all of who God is, that you might have confidence in Him and confidence to speak of Him.

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Why I Don’t Encourage New Believers To Do Devotions

As a young believer, I struggled a lot with the concept of reading my Bible daily or even weekly, and I often got annoyed when Christians harped about how important it was for me to be faithfully “doing devotions.” I knew reading the Bible myself had value, but I didn’t feel any desire or motivation to “do devotions.” Yet that didn’t stop people from telling me I should.

And then there are always those Christians who tell you about themselves and others who faithfully spend an hour (or more) every morning doing devotions and praying, no matter how busy their schedule. And of course the implication is clear, if you wanted a vibrant, godly faith, you needed to be “doing devotions” like this.

I’m sure their goal’s to encourage other believers to read their Bibles (which don’t get me wrong is a wonderful goal). But…there are two problems with this.

Problem #1: Pressure doesn’t equal encouragement.

When it comes to important matters, most people want to be free to make the decision themselves. In fact, for me, the more pressure a person applies usually the more inclined I feel to resist. And like most people, my desire to input into something is often directly tied to how free I feel in my ability to choose whether or not to input into it at all.

Problem #2: Devotion isn’t the pursuit of faithful Scripture reading. In fact, devotion has a far different cause-and-effect. What we more often practice when “doing devotions” is actually dedication to the pursuit of knowledge of God. If in fact, our devotion is to reading the Bible, our love and loyalty are in the wrong place. (I know it probably just sounds like I’m splitting hairs here, but stick with me a little longer.)

Here’s the issue: We are basically preaching the faithful pursuit of devotion as a means to gaining a healthy, godly relationship. But that’s backwards. Really it’s a healthy, godly relationship with God that leads to devotion.

Devotion isn’t a means to a result. Devotion is the result.

Why is this important? I’ll explain.
As a younger believer, I knew the God of the Bible had to be the True God, and I had accepted Him as my Savior, but this did not automatically transition me into desiring to, as Christians put it, “do devotions” Why not? Well, let’s considering what the word “devotion” actually means — “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.”

Christians often act like believers should feel devotion toward “doing devotions.” Like we should love it and pursue it enthusiastically, so that our relationship with the Lord will be vibrant. But remember what I said earlier? Devotion isn’t a means to a result. Devotion is the result. 

What’s actually happening is that by reading and learning more about the Lord we learn about the One who has literally sacrificed His life in order to show His love, loyalty, and enthusiasm for us. Our devotion should not be for Scripture but for God, and devotion comes as a result of knowing God.

Can devotion lead to a desire to learning more about God, yes, absolutely. But if we start with the idea that we are supposed to have devotion first and knowledge second, we’re actually destroying the very core of what makes Christianity so different from every other world religions.

Jesus did not come demanding us to blindly follow without knowledge. Jesus came preaching life and love and allowed those with an ear to hear and eyes to see to follow. 

My own perspective on reading Scripture, was eventually shifted by a comment made by a camp instructor, whose name I don’t remember. He said, “Don’t do devotions because someone tells you to. Do them because you want to learn more about God.”

Reading Scripture with this mindset does two things. For me it removed the pressure of “have to.” It also shifted me from waiting for a love and enthusiasm for “doing devotions,” to instead choosing to read the Bible simply to learn. Learning is at times a painful process of self-discipline and often frustrating particularly if you don’t always understand what you’re reading, but through choosing to learn regardless of enthusiasm I came to know my God in a deeper more vibrant way. And this knowledge, this understanding of God, it led me to Devotion.

Challenge: When it comes to reading Scripture, keep in mind that it’s not the effort of doing but actually the receiving that matters most.

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Let’s Rock the Boat

Well, it’s January 7th, and I’m back. We’ve entered the New Year of 2019, and yet the world feels pretty much the same as it did in 2018 and so does the church.

So what now?

As American’s we live in a culture that comes from a Christian heritage, where life is pretty decent (compared to a lot of the world). So we’ve no need to talk about life and death at the drop of a hat or live with life in one hand and faith in the other. Family unity is a little rough, but isn’t everyone’s. Because church and Bibles are still available to us, we don’t feel a need to pay too much attention to where there’re being censored. We’ve been trained to keep religion and politics out of the workplace and pretty much everywhere else that isn’t a religious based function. And in the end we embrace the godly laws left over from our founders, fuss when bad one’s come along, occasionally stand up and attempt good laws, but ultimately we try not to rock the boat too much lest we ruin the nice existence we have.

Even in the church, too often we dare not madden our fellow believers or risk our social status within our religious community to speak out against leaders who are living lies, abusing their power, preaching falsehoods, and/or contradicting the Word of God and the character of Christ. Instead, we make excuses, saying things like, “Well, parts of their message were good.”

We live as business owners who keep our religion out of our businesses because heaven forbid we damage our reputation or scare off our clientele by being too Christian.

We forsake real fellowship, because to actually have a conversations about Christianity would mean we would need to actually know enough about Christianity to have the discussion. And if we do know the information and attempt the discussion, we are treated as if we should keep our knowledge to ourselves in order to not offend others and harm the unity and fellowship of those who are content with less. So we hang out in groups and preach little past the simple Gospel so as to not challenge anyone  beyond their comfort zone.

We complain that people won’t commit or come to events, yet we treat them like a number to tally rather than an individual to whom we should be giving love, value, and connection. We’re too busy planning the next thing and posting to our own social media to notice the people around us silently screaming their depression and pain. 

We are Christians without sight, more disconnected than ever, silenced by evil, and too deeply invested in pretending all is well to risk saying it’s not. We doubt we will receive understanding and help from the church, therefore we dare not admit how devastated we really feel by the weight of the battles we face. The church isn’t training Christians how to fight and rarely speaks of God’s victorious power. Instead the church  responds too often as if the person facing the battle is to blame, as if the person is the problem and the one responsible for bringing the battle to the church’s door. (Whereas the church should be standing up and saying, “This battle wages within and around us all, and we will rise and fight it together in Christ.”)

As a Christian church…

We don’t fight as an army. We fight as an anarchy, that is, if we even fight at all.

We follow pastors instead of God. 

We allow the enemy into our camp and call it tolerance.

We lay down our weapons in face of evil and call it love.

We surrender to darkness and call it enlightenment. 

We despise those who leave the compromised church and call them backslidden. 

We embrace apathy and call it peace. 

We teach the truth but only in part. 

And we die having lived silent lives in a world starving for the truth.

Because our ultimate goal is . . . what exactly? To stay safe? To blend in? To remained liked? To avoid conflict? 

Why are we here?

If not to stand out, why? Why are we here, if not to make a difference eternally? If not to claim and live out loud the Love, Life, and, yes, Challenge of Jesus Christ, why are we here?

This year, 2019, I challenge us to rock the boat! Let’s challenge the status quo of accepting apathy, of treating people like numbers rather than relationships, of tolerating evil rather than fighting for truth, and of living silently in the workplace rather than speaking life!

I challenge us to live out our Christianity in the way Christ called us to Live: Out Loud and Boldly for Him.

1Th 2:1-4 “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated…we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I know its a little early, but I had to get them in now because I’m setting aside blogging for the holidays and won’t be posting again until January 7th.

Holidays come and go, but what was given to us on Christmas doesn’t go away. As humans we deserved death (and still do deserve death), but we were given the gift of life on Christmas! It’s a gift that was given once and for all, for all time (Hebrews 10:10)(Rom 6:10). It does not wear out or expire. As long as you are still breathing, you have access to Christ’s gift. Christ’s gift is free, but in order to accept it we must give up the sin and death inside of us.

Where life is, death cannot be, and where death is, life cannot be. We must give up what we deserve and what we have been condemned to by our own sin in order to accept something we do not deserve but have been so lovingly given: Christ’s gift of new life. (Rom 6:1-11)

Rom 6:4 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Job 19:25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth”

Luk 2:10 “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’

Merry Christmas! & A Happy New Year!

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How to Survive Christmas When You Just Don’t Feel It

What do you do when you’re looking around and realize what Christmas should look like simply isn’t the reality for you? When all that holiday cheer seems to have skipped over you, how do you make it through the day? When all you really want to do is find some dark place away from all the lights, music, and laughter of those who seem to have such picture-perfect lives, where do you go? How do you survive?

Many days are hard, but why is it Christmas seems so much harder? Why is it depression and suicide seem to loom to the surface so much faster on Christmas of all holidays?

What if it’s not just what we’re missing during the Christmas season that’s the problem? What if its something that’s a part of Christmas that we don’t think about being there?

We see and think about the surface of what Christmas represents: lights, family, presents, parties, festivities, trees, decorations, nativities, carols, cards, cookies, etc. 

But… What if we looked beyond the surface of Christmas?

Have we ever asked why there’s a shift to say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

Have we ever thought about why Santa Clause and Reindeer get more attention at Christmas than Christ?

Have we ever paused to wonder what the adversary of Christ is up to on this “Happy Holiday”?

In the spiritual realm, Christmas was not, is not, and will never be a “Happy Holiday.” It was the startling beginning of the second to last battle in the WAR for all humanity. It was the moment every angel and every person in heaven and on earth who feared God had been waiting for and yet dreaded… It was the moment God took a direct, and ultimately final, action against evil, knowing it would literally tear His heart to shreds. 

But that’s getting ahead of the story, because that was Satan’s long calculated attack toward the end, but Satan’s initial desperate response to Christ and Christmas came much earlier.

When Satan figured out Who God had placed on earth (which began what we call Christmas), you know what Satan did? He tried to wipe Jesus off the face of the earth. 

Mat 2:16 “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”

It didn’t work though. Even though Herod obeyed Satan (2Ti 2:26), God’s people obeyed Him. The wise men took another route, and Mary and Joseph listened to God’s warning, packed up everything, and left for Egypt. (Mat 2:11-14) Jesus survived on Christmas and lived to accomplish the most unimaginable battle tactic every accomplished on earth, thwarting the power of sin, Satan, and death and paying the price for our freedom. 

Christmas is and was the beginning of the end for Satan, and he hates the holiday. Because no matter how hard he tries, Christmas does and will always point to Christ and how His life made a way for those bound in evil to be free to serve and live what is good and pure and right. 

Yet, as much as Christmas represents an Ultimate Gift of Salvation, only those who live to hear and accept it will take part in the Victory over evil God brought to earth and the Hope kindled the night Christ was born. The war continues though, and just as the two thieves on the crosses who died along side Jesus Christ had two choices before them, so do we. And just like those thieves we can either say to our LORD, “Prove You have power and solve all our earthly problems right here and right now.” Or we can say, “I believe You are who You say You are LORD and that what You have come to do means far more than a solution for today or tomorrow. This earth will mean nothing and my life upon it will gain me nothing, if You forsake the mission You have set out to accomplish. So do not turn aside for me or my comfort here, but for one thing I ask, that YOU OH LORD GOD would take me with You to where You rule and reign.”

Luk 23:43 “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”

Satan knows he is going to lose this war, and he knows that Christmas out of all the holidays we celebrate points directly to Christ, so just like everything GOD has ever made Satan has set out to twist Christmas into something that it’s not. He has set out to kill and destroy (1Pe 5:8) on the Christmas holiday particularly, because if he can influence toward depression and suicide on Christ’s Day of all days then he can do it anytime. Satan is making a statement, and he’s doing so at our expense!

So let’s stop looking at Christmas like it’s a party we’re missing out on, and start realizing it’s a battle we’re failing to fight. 

James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Jesus didn’t come to earth to throw a party, He came to earth in power and might to fight a war. So is it any surprise that when we look beyond the lights, family, presents, parties, festivities, trees, decorations, nativities, carols, cards, and cookies, that we see chaos? This war isn’t over yet. We are celebrating Light in the midst of darkness, because the Light has come! 

Luk 2:29-32 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

We celebrate not because today’s problems are solved, but because The Solution to the problems of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and all time was given to us on Christmas. Evil is not gone here on earth, but it can be gone inside of us when we choose to accept Jesus Christ our Savior as our LORD AND KING. And evil does not exist in heaven!

Surviving Christmas isn’t about whether we feel it or not, its whether we believe Him or not. And if we believe Him, we need to live Him and His light.

Luk 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”

We have something to Celebrate! So let’s celebrate it to spite Satan and to give Glory to God, Who Was and Is and Is to Come! 

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Lonely or Overwhelmed this Christmas Season?

Holidays can be a huge struggle for a lot of people. Many people, despite the hustle and bustle of the season, can feel very alone during a season that is really meant to be celebrated with others. Meanwhile people who do have others can often feel overwhelmed with the preparations and needs of all those around them, so much so, they walk away from the season just glad it’s over.

Neither is what it should be.

The very first Christmas Mary, Joseph and Jesus were alone (earthly speaking), until God sent a bunch of shepherds to celebrate with them.

Churches are often busy focusing outward on the local community at Christmas time, which is wonderful, but in the process those within the church’s pews who are struggling with loneliness during the holidays are often completely missed. Those participating in the outreach can also be very overwhelmed.

It’s not easy sharing a holiday with those you don’t know well, but what if those who are overwhelmed delegated the workload and share it with others and what if those without anyone else stepped outside their comfort zone and welcomed someone into their home or to the celebration? What if we didn’t focus so much on what’s normal during Christmas or what should be happening but shook things up a little and looked for a way to celebrate in new ways and even with strangers?
What if we didn’t fear so much what we’d miss out on, and instead looked for ways to get in on something new? Something bigger?

Christmas is a season of Good News, yet we seem to keep it all to ourselves. And really what’s the fun in that? The best part about the Good News of Christ’s birth is getting to share it with others!

Challenge: Try something new this year and find a way to share the Good News of Christ’s love with others, whether it’s letting them serve in your place because you’re overwhelmed or whether it’s stepping up and reaching out so you aren’t lonely. Just because someone’s not family doesn’t meant they don’t need family just as much as you do. We are all meant to be the family of Christ, so if we can, let’s make it a little bigger family celebration this year!

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More Than A Holiday

Its almost December and, since it’s after Thanksgiving, everything has already switched over to the anticipation of Christmas. As Christians we know what Christmas represents, but not everyone does. In the years and even days before Christ was born there was no Christmas. Can you image not having Christmas? 

Today people all over the world know and celebrate Christmas, but not back then, because Christmas hadn’t happened yet. 

The Jewish holidays we read of in the Bible were all about remembrance and recognition to point them and their children to all God had done for them and would do as He promised. The Passover is one of the major holidays to the Jews, and it’s all about Christ and what He would do for not just the Jews but for the whole world. Jesus was sent by God not just to be a baby born on this earth but to become The Passover Lamb. John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”

As we approach the Christmas season this year,  let’s remember to not just celebrate the holiday of Christmas but to actually take the time to remember why we have the holiday to begin with and to recognize what it means for us and the whole world today, tomorrow, and for all time.

Isa 9:6-7
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

We celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but the promises that brought about, among other things, His birth, life, death, and resurrection here on earth are not yet fully complete. There is more to come and the celebration is only just begun.

John 14:1-4 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Challenge: Celebrate Christmas this year for the One who was promised and who came to be the Passover Lamb once and for all, and celebrate it for His promises which are yet to come!

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