Sunday, December 28, 2014

Good Enough for God's Love

Do you ever feel that you are not good enough to be loved by God? Throughout the Bible we are told of God's love for his people. We are given assurance time after time by his guidance and the leadership he sends to save his people from disasters. We have "blessed assurance" that Jesus was born to save us from the sin that condemns us. We are celebrating the birth of the Savior God sent us...Jesus Christ the Lord. His love is stronger than any doubt we may have and we are assured of our adoption into the family of God through his son's sacrifice for us. Instead of doubting, place out hopes in Jesus and strive to be more like him and not focus so much on being like the world around us. Listen for his voice and tune out the conflicting messages from those who choose worldly love and living.
"My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. 3 All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3
(The Voice)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Gift of Salvation

Salvation is God's perfect gift to us. It began with Jesus' birth. So we are celebrating salvation this Christmas. Salvation begins like an infant and over time it either grows within us or shrinks until we loose site of what the gift means to us. Who on your gift list either needs help in growing the meaning of their salvation or need to find it completely?

How can we give the gift of salvation?  One way is to live our lives in such a way that we are reflecting a positive Jesus so people will take notice and want what we have. We can invite our non-believing friends to attend Bible Study or church with us. Most importantly, we can pray for our non-believing friends that the Lord will come into their lives. We can ask him to use us to support his will in their lives. It is always God who brings salvation just as it is him who brought us Jesus. Salvation is brought to us through belief in Jesus as our savior. What a very special gift we can give through Christ.

"Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction." John 3:17 (The Voice)

"All we must do is to Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and be saved. John 3:16

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giving Comfort

How about another free gift suggestion. We really have a lot to receive and a lot to give. Who do you know who needs to be comforted? Perhaps a friend who has lost a loved one or has become an empty nester or who has just been diagnosed with a serious illness. What about the neighbor who just lost a pet they have had for many years. Have you visited a homeless shelter?

How often do you hear of or experience a situation where you can say, "there but for the grace of God, go I?" Yes it is by His grace that we receive comfort. In John's Gospel we are told that Jesus promised that he had to go away to join his father in heaven so the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, could come to mankind. We are to share this comfort with those who are in need. And of course,  be thankful. When we experience any affliction, think about the following:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gift of Healing

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    Our next Heavenly Christmas gift is also an Easter present. The Jesus whose birth we celebrate this time of year, went back to heaven to live with the Heavenly Father on Easter.. His calling was to be God in human form and, after being hung on a cross, to go back to heaven for the forgiveness of our sins. What diseases and deaths are related to sin? What about sins like anger, jealousy, gluttony, greed, sexual misconduct, etch. What about cancers associated with smoking or murders caused by a moment of rage or jealously? What about diseases caused by over eating or wrong diets? What about car accidents caused by drinking? What about illness associated with environmental factors or those related to worry and emotions? The list goes on and on.
    Yet, where do most of us go to be healed? Sure we use doctors and all kinds of medical and non medical practitioners. But when push comes to shove, we are usually on the prayer chain or asking friends to remember us in prayer. The Bible is full of references to healing by Jesus, the Prophets, the Apostles, etc. So we know that we receive healing from Holy Hands and Prayer. What a gift healing is for the patient and family. I'm sure you have a list you are praying God's healing intervention for you or you for them, including our beloved animals who have many of the same illnesses we have. Good health is wished for Christmas and the New Year in cards and greetings. So lets not forget to present the gift of healing prayers and wishes to those on our Christmas lists this year.
    "So in life and in death he healed us. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds (stripes) we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5

    Tuesday, December 9, 2014

    The Heavenly Gift of Forgiveness

    The 6th Heavenly Gift of Christmas is forgiveness. Jesus was our gift on Christmas Day from God. Can you imagine a love that brought his child into life just so he could later die a horrible death 33 years later so we could be forgiven and live in eternity with the father and son? Now that is unselfish love of the highest degree.
    What marvelous gift forgiveness is. It definitely mends fences and heals relationships. It blesses both the giver and receiver. How have you feltwhen you have forgiven someone? Did you feel a sense of relief? Did you feel a surge of love fill your soul? Did you feel you could hold your head up higher? Did you feel cleansed and refreshed? Who can you forgive this Christmas. Perhaps it is yourself.
    "Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you.
    More than any doctor, He heals your diseases and He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death.
    He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king." Psalm 103:3-4 (VOICE)

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    The Gift of Adoption

    Imagine that you are an orphan at Christmas. Right, you will get a lot of toys donated from various groups of loving people. But can those toys substitute for a loving mother or father? Imagine your disappointment as orphan after orphan is taken our for adoption and you are left behind. Are your own children like the orphan children...showered with toys and earthly treasures, but lacking in the deeper meaning of life?

    Think about  it. We have our imperfect earthly parents who provide for us in so many ways. Hopefully they will provide for us spiritually as well as physically. But we are blessed when we accept the heavenly father as our Lord. We become adopted sons and daughtersfor all eternity, not just our earthly years. We are forgiven of our sins and can live a much more joyous life. Accept your adoption. It is a gift from God. What about your own children. Have you shared them in their adoption? How do you  provide them this gift?

    "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." Romans 13:14-16

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

    The Gift of Hope

    "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." James 1:17
    Today's Heavenly Gift is one of my favorites. It is the gift of hope. Without hope we would live a very bland, sterile life. In fact I don't think we would be living at all. We would be walking around like zombies, with no direction, no feeling except profound sadness. What a miserable existence that would be. So many Christmas Cards list hope as a Christmas blessing. Wouldn't you agree?
    How do we give HOPE as a gift? One way is to be positive. If we think hopeful thoughts, we will be sharing our hope at all time. Encourage others, especially when they are experiencing negative times. Share our hope in the Lord. When we believe in and trust in him, we have hope. We are assured of his Love, compassion and forgiveness. We are assured of life everlasting. Sharing his message of hope brings blessings unmeasurable. Make me a blessing, Lord. Make me a purveyor of hope, hops in you, Lord.
    "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    Grace Abounding

    "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights" Ephesians 2:8
    Our 3rd Heavenly Gift is Grace. Grace, grace, amazing grace. We can't buy it, we can't sell it, we can only accept it. Grace is all about love, God's holy and unmerited love. Love that we don't earn. It's a free gift from God. Our only response is to accept it, to believe and to pass it on.
    What are some ways we pass God's grace along? How about sharing God's love? How about serving food to the homeless or taking them warm clothes in winter or helping them find shelter? What about praying for a delinquent child or troubled adult who is getting into serious trouble and helping with an intervention. What about leading someone to the lord? What about visiting a home for the elderly at Christmas. What about just showing unconditional love to your spouse or children? There are so many ways we can share God's gift of grace with others. I know you can come up with a million ways to express grace, especially this time of year.
    "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2:8 NAS

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    Living the Spirit for Others

    "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights." James 1:17

    Second of God's Heavenly Gifts to us is his Spirit. We are so in awe of the work of the Spirit. It is indeed the light of the world and of our lives. The Spirit guides and directs us. It provides us wisdom and protection. It leads us to God the Father and God the Son. It is  our comforter, counselor and closest friend. It is ever present in our lives. It convicts us when we go astray and warns us when we face trouble. We can depend on the Spirit to lead us to God's peace.

    How can we give the Spirit to others. First is through prayer for wisdom for us and for them. When we listen to that still small voice and respond to it's message, we are often the voice of God to another. Prayer is our greatest connection to the Spirit when we want to help or encourage another. What are some ways you can gift another with the Holy Spirit.

    "No one has seen God at any time: if we LOVE one another, God abides in us and we in them. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us his Holy Spirit." 1 John 4:12-13

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    God's Perfect Heavenly Christmas Gift...Jesus

    Worrying about finding the perfect gifts this Christmas season? Well, worry no more. Karol Ladd gave us the perfect gift list yesterday at her PCW Bible Study. It seems God has already given us the "perfect gifts." So how can we re-gift his "perfect" gifts this Christmas?
    "He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Rom 8:32
    The first perfect gift God gave us is his son, our personal savior, Jesus.
    He sent Jesus to earth to live a human life, being born on Christmas Day. Think about ways you can give Jesus to your loved ones this Christmas day and every day of the year. In giving up his life for our sins, he showed us the greatest love we'll ever know. So when we give unmerited love or grace, we are giving Jesus example to others. When we show forgiveness, we are giving Jesus to others. What other ways can we give Jesus as a gift this Christmas.
    "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" 2 Cor 9:15

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Time to Remodel

        The confession we repeated in unison at yesterday's service still rings well as a great way to start today. "We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved." Isaiah 64:8-9, Psalm 80:3

       Right. We can always begin again. God can erase our mistakes just like the sculpture can reform the clay. However, the longer the clay sits, the more it hardens and the more difficult it is to be reshapen. Don't wait too long to return to the Lord. Why make it harder on yourself and deny yourself of God's unconditional love and favor any longer? Give him the remodeling job. All that is needed is  probably just a little nip or tuck, not a complete makeover.  He is waiting. Begin a new year in newness of life.