Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Day!

As we quickly approach the dawn of 2009, many are taking this time to reflect on 2008 and make resolutions for the coming year. For the Christian, this time should take on particular significance.


There isn't anyone alive who wouldn't acknowledge that 2008 has been a challenging year. Newspapers, television, radio and online outlets have constantly extolled the effects of the economy, oil prices, elections, layoffs etc. Even closer to home, there are those of us who have experienced illness, the death of loved ones and interesting turns in various relationships. To put it succinctly, there is no shortage of bad news.

As Christians however, we are taught to be a thankful and joyful people despite our circumstances, Col 3:17, James 1:2. Focusing our minds and hearts in this way will surely have an affect on how we view things. Not only will be better able to think of the glass as half full, we will be able to be grateful to God for having a glass and having something in it at all. God is our portion and gives us all things pertaining to life. He sent His son that we might have life and that more abundantly, John 10:10.

Coming to the passing of a year, one of the most common and important lines of demarcation, gives us the opportunity to count the innumerable blessings we enjoy. If there were no difficulties or challenges in our lives, it is unlikely that we would be able recognize them at all, instead, taking every good thing for granted. How has the Lord blessed you this year? How have you used those blessings to expand the borders of His Kingdom? What miracles have you been privileged to be a witness to or a part of? How has your life changed for the better?

If we can set aside time once a year to spend precious moments with the Lord and reflect on His goodness, it is a good thing. But you know how we are. Things slip. What if we could make it a part of our routine to do this daily? Now that would be a great thing. What if we kept a log of these things so that at the end of the year we suffered no memory lapse about the the things God has done and is doing in our lives and the lives of others? It is sure that this exercise will not only aid us in our Christian lives, but equip us to do the work of the Lord, 1 Tim 4:6.


Another thing that is commonly done about this time of year is to make promises, usually to ourselves, about what we plan to do in the coming year. After all, it is a time when things are new, the outlook is hopeful and the desire to do and be better is strong. It is an excellent time to put away the bad and the past and reach forward to the good and the future. Even the word "resolution" involves an earnest and determined decision. Unfortunately however, studies show that most resolutions have a shelf life of about 3 weeks.

What are we so resolute about? Most speak in terms of weight loss, quitting of bad habits, establishment of an exercise program, being a better person and other things that typically benefit the individual. As Christians, these things can actually be useful in a spiritual sense and have benefit beyond ourselves. Hebrews 12:1, 2 says,
  • "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (weight loss), and the sin which doth so easily beset us (bad habits), and let us run with patience the race (exercise program) that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (be a better person) the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

God has seen fit to allow us continued access to his manifold blessings for another year. Though it is a free gift and not one that can be deserved or earned, the Christian should not view it as one that is without obligation on our part. To be sure there are things God requires of us, but out of love and gratitude, we should go above and beyond to conduct ourselves as His children in all things. Further, we should daily seek ways to exemplify the greatest commands given to us, Matt 22:37-39.

As every day sees new blessings from our Lord, as every day grants new opportunities to reflect on the benefits of His love, everyday also reveals the privilege we have in Him to not just resolve, but to perform His will in our lives.

I therefore wish you, not just Happy New Year, but Happy New Day!

Strengthening Our Faith

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas?

Well family, we have once again arrived a the time of year when the weather turns cold, hope springs eternal, joy is effervescent and everyone seems happier. Perhaps the person who takes your order at McDonald's ensures that you have hot fries when they ordinarily wouldn't. Perhaps the clerk at your favorite retail outlet smiles and wishes you seasons greetings instead of the brisk and understated "thank you" normally offered before irritatedly helping the next customer. Perhaps there is a change even in you.

Somehow it seems that we are all, if not at our best, certainly better at this time of year. Lights, decorations and the anticipation of gifts under a tree, whether given or received, seems to lift our hearts and our countenances. Whether you are a believer or not, it is understandable that most of us experience a lift during the holidays.

What of the Christian though? What is really on our minds? Are we also caught up in the commercialism of the season, or are we taking the opportunity to remind people of the "reason for the season?" Are we thinking more about PlayStation and jewels or a broken body and spilled blood possible because of a divine birth?

It's true that no one knows when Christ was actually born. It is also true that nowhere in scripture are we commanded to commemorate his birth. The reality however, is that society has presented us with a golden opportunity to do what Christ HAS commanded, Matt 28:19. Here are a few ways those of us who call up0n the mighty name of Jesus can ensure that those with whom we come into contact will have just a little bit of the Lord during this season dedicated to his birth:

  • Send Christian themed greeting cards to all of your acquaintances.
  • If you opt for the popular cards made from family photos, take the picture at or in front of our edifice.
  • Include a scripture in your greetings. Simple curiosity will send people to their bibles if they do not already know the text.
  • Include invitations to worship, bible studies, prayer services or congregational activities with the gifts you give.
  • Consider giving bibles, bible reference books or Christian literature as gifts.
  • Also consider giving Christian oriented DVDs and CDs, many of which are available at Christian book stores, on line and at other retail outlets.
  • Bring up the subject of Christ at holiday gatherings of friends and family.
  • If you host a gathering, make prayer a part of the event

Though this is certainly not an exhaustive list of ideas, trying a few of these and perhaps others you can think of will keep us focused on what this season should really be about. Likewise, we can serve as reminders to others about the love of God displayed through the giving of his only begotten.

Many lament the fact that thoughts of giving, thanksgiving, peace and good will are confined to this season. Let us prove with the joy of knowledge and faith that the love of God supersedes all seasons.

Merry Christmas!

Each One Reach One

Each One Teach One