The few days following Christmas is like coming down from a sugar high. This Christmas season started right after Walmart put away their scary masks and it began in earnest the day after Thanksgiving. The weeks leading up to Christmas is filled with scheduling family gatherings, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and decorating. There is a lot of energy that goes into the Christmas season.
I love Christmas! I love most of the trappings of Christmas–I even love fruitcake but Christmas is not just about the trees, lights, presents, or even the family get-togethers. Beyond all these things, Christmas represents the great love of God for the world, manifested in the First Advent of His Son, Jesus Christ. The scripture says it so well, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).
No, it’s not a diet plan. It is so simple but requires some dedication–reading through the entire Bible every year. This is something I have done for many years and one of the best things I have ever done. The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). It takes some diligence but it has great rewards. Here are a few reasons I do it:
I remember feeling a burden and calling from God to do ‘something’. At the time, I did not know what the ‘something’ was and what it would look like but the ‘something’ was nagging at my heart. Eventually, I stepped out and began to do something. The genesis of Pathway Outreach Ministries began with a ‘something’ — reaching out to kids in a local trailer park. Pathway Outreach has evolved over time as God has opened more and different doors of opportunities.
We live in a world that celebrates bravado and even ruthless behavior. Even the word meekness is thought to be weakness by many. Biblical meekness is actually restrained power; having the power over someone but exercising mercy instead.
To be sure, Jesus spoke truth and at times He was very straightforward especially to the religious elite. But we see the tenderhearted Jesus dealing with the woman about to be stoned for adultery, when He challenged the religious leaders, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7 NKJV). He forgave the sin without excusing the sin by telling her to go and sin no more.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians encouraged Christians to, “…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV). This scripture is certainly a recipe for strength held in restraint (meekness).
So how does this play out in our lives? We give people a little grace when we could nail them to the wall. Instead of playing “gotcha” we can say, “I’ve got this!” We all need the benefit of a doubt from time to time.
In my own life, I can replay the times when people had the power to cause me trouble but were kind to me and gave me mercy. I need to pay some of that back if I can. But more than a payback to my fellow earth dwellers, it is the response of one who has been forgiven by God through the death of His Son Christ Jesus. Having received mercy, now I need to show mercy to others.
Today and next week, take advantage of opportunities to be kind, tenderhearted, merciful, and forgiving; when you do, you will look a lot like Jesus!
My prayer: Father, thank you for your tender mercies toward me. I did not deserve forgiveness but because of your Son, no stones were thrown my way out of judgment. Help me to walk away from the pile of rocks once stacked against me so that I take none with me to hurl at others. As one who was granted mercy and grace, help me to be likeminded as Christ. Let me give what I have received from Your hands-grace and mercy.
In the world of social media and in the nature of man, there is a desire by many to be recognized and perhaps even be famous. Many want to become the next YouTube hit or to have five thousand “likes” on Facebook. Perhaps we should be more concerned about being known in Heaven.
We should not seek fame but seek to be more like Jesus and to be obedient to the purpose He has planned for us. If we are faithful to His purpose then we will be among the known of Heaven even if we live in obscurity on earth. For sure, God can use fame for a platform if it is used with integrity.
One of the most important aspects of our lives is to be the fulfillment of Christ’s purpose for us. If He receives glory from the road we travel and the life we live then we are a hit in Heaven. Whether, I am applauded or ridiculed on earth is not important but if my life gives God glory then it is fulfilled. Seeking the fame on earth is the fleeting fancy of a fool but to be known in Heaven as a servant of God is man’s highest reward.
Engaged in the temporal work of earth outside the will of God is total failure but to be found in God’s perfect will, however large or small in men’s eyes, is to walk in the greatest fulfillment of God’s desire. Obscurity on earth may yield one of Heaven’s greatest illumination.
My prayer: Lord, let me walk on earth in obscurity if you so choose. I had rather shine in Heaven than be a star on earth. Allow my feet to walk in the dark corners of the earth so I may lead others to the glory of Your Son. If the next generation forgets me that will be fine just as long as they know You. Send me to the last, the least, and the lost so they will be the first, the greatest, and the known in Heaven.
We exist for God’s purpose not our own. Sure, we existed in the mind of God before He said, “Let there be light.” What a crazy thought but true. Yet, God does not exist so we can live happy, contented, and fulfilled lives. We exist for His pleasure and the fulfillment of His plan in and through us.
When we surrender our lives to His purpose and delight; we are then filled with joy and fulfillment. Our joy comes from being in His purpose. Our joy is generated from the joy that flows from His heart. It is as if our arteries are connected to His heart and the joyful fulfillment we experience is a result of being connected to the God of all creation.
Our circumstances do not determine our joy but being in a powerful life-flowing relationship with Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit gives us joy that is beyond any description. It all starts by surrendering to Him and to His purpose for your life.
My prayer: Lord, let your desires be fulfilled in my life by the power of the Holy Spirit.