Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas To Me

1 John 4:7-10 (NCV)Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God's child and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God's love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.

William Gilmer-
Christmas to me is not about the gifts
It is not about the drama or the mood shifts
Christmas to me is about the love I received
The moment God reached out and I started to believe
The day that he told me He wanted me to be His son
He wasn’t concerned with all of the sinning I had done
He told me He loved me and wanted to give me life
He told me He loved me so He would give me a gift to make me right
This gift changed me—it caused me to see things differently
In one shining moment I started to see
That my life wasn’t luck—it was orchestrated by the Creator of us all
That I was fortunate to be here and I needed to listen to this call
He showed me He loved me by the many things He had done
My family, my life and all the moments of fun
Were gifts given to me just to get me to this place
This place where I would look up and realize His grace
Is shown through His Son and the people He places around me
His grace is shown through acts of love that span all of history
Do you see His love on this Christmas day
He wants me (us) to be His love on this Christmas day
Are you grateful for all of the people He has placed around you
Do you recognize that God gave you His Son and He uses people to reveal this to you
Christmas to me is the best time of the year
We can share God’s love and remind all who are near
That the Father, He loves us—each and everyone
The Father, He loves us—and He gave us His Son
The Father, He wants us to show and share His presence
I pray that we remember His love as we open each of our presents
1 John 4:21(NCV)  And God gave us this command: Those who love God must also love their brothers and sisters.”

Merry Christmas, I, like my wife, love this time of Year. Be blessed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another Week In the life of A Believer

Another Week In the life of A Believer
Another week has gone by; a typical week filled with many highs and momentary lows. A week where I, a believer in Christ, had victories, failures, joy and anxiety. This week, a week where I had high expectations, my heart was hurt on many occasions by things that I hold dear.
Is that odd to you, that I have things that hurt my heart? Sometimes we, especially men, don’t like to admit things hurt our hearts. Our wives/husbands, children, friends and job expectations often leave us feeling empty and void. Instead of talking about these hurts, we hold our emotions in; instead of talking about our hurt we offer cold glares, stretches of silence, anger, tension and anxious moments for those who are close to us.
Holding these emotions in makes living another week in the life of a believer very hard. Hard because, when we hide our hurt and emotions they do not disappear, they often manifest themselves in some way that will hurt us and the people that are in our lives. The life that we are given, Christ’s life, is a wonderful life, but there are moments where it is just like C.S. Lewis described it, hard and easy at the same time.
“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours’… Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do.” C.S. Lewis

Our Daily Fight
This body often craves the things it shouldn’t
Those things that cause me to pause and say I couldn’t
It cries as if it is going to die
It is unending it always says to give sin a try
My body it fights against my godly thoughts
Why is it that this war was something I wasn’t taught
In discipleship class I was told about being pure
I was instructed to read 1 Thessalonians four
I was told that my sinful nature died with Christ
I was told Romans chapter six speaks of this new life
So why is it that I continue to struggle?
My mind and my flesh—I am in a serious trouble
When I walked that aisle I longed to give my life to Jesus
My pain and heartache—my life was ripped into many pieces
When I prayed that day I felt so relieved
But I feel so bad--the evil part of me didn’t leave
And now I am struggling—with desires that shouldn’t be
Can somebody explain what is happening inside of me?

Romans 7:15(NCV) “I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.”

I know this isn’t written by the great Apostle Paul
Surely he didn’t write about his struggles or falls
There is no way this is the apostle that my pastor talked about
He never struggled with his flesh and this I will never doubt
But if it isn’t Paul then who could it be
Did this great apostle have problems with sin just like me?

Romans 7:21-23(NCV) “So I have learned this rule: When I want to do good, evil is there with me. In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner.”

Galatians 5:17(NCV) “Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”

I could have never imagined the depths of this war
It seeps through my veins and tries to escape through every pore
My heart and mind will be fully devoted to the things of Christ
I wake up in the morning desiring to do what is right
But alas, I am caught with my struggles again
How come nobody taught me about the depths of my sin?
Lord what do I do I don’t want to stay in this place
I am crying to You because You are the Author of this race
Speak to me Lord—I want to be free
From every plague, sin, transgression and iniquity

Romans 7:24, 25a (NIV) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Lord is it true, could You delivery me from this pain?
Could You remove the hurt and take away every stain?
If I turned to You would You honor First John 1:9?
If I put my trust in You would Your joy once again be mine?
Lord I don’t want to give up I believe through Your Son I’m forgiven
As I look at First John 2:1, 2—I have a renewed reason for living
But I cannot stop there—I don’t want to continue living against Your will
Lord please give me the right words to meditate on until sin loses its thrill
Words to Help Me (Us) in This Fight
Develop a Desire to Live Like God:
Ephesians 4:23, 24(NCV) “But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.”
Ephesians 5:1, 2(NCV) “You are God’s children whom he loves, so try to be like him. Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.”
Develop a Desire to Love Others Like God Loves You:
John 13:34, 35(NCV) “I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8(NCV) “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always remains strong. Love never ends.”
Galatians 5:13, 14(NCV) “My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”
Develop a Desire to Forgive others like God has Forgiven You:
Matthew 18:21, 22(NCV) “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, when my fellow believer sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive as many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I will tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times.  You must forgive him even if he wrongs you seventy times seven.’” (Also read Matthew 18:23-35)
Mark 11:25(NCV) “When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.”
Colossians 3:13(NCV) “Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.”
Develop a Desire to Honor God by Staying Away From Sexual Sin of any Kind:
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8(NCV) “God wants you to be holy and to stay away from sexual sins. He wants each of you to learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable. Don’t use your body for sexual sin like the people who do not know God. Also, do not wrong or cheat another Christian in this way. The Lord will punish people who do those things as we have already told you and warned you. God called us to be holy and does not want us to live in sin. So the person who refuses to obey this teaching is disobeying God, not simply a human teaching. And God is the One who gives us his Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:3(NCV) “But there must be no sexual sin among you, or any kind of evil or greed. Those things are not right for God’s holy people.”
Develop Patience: Learn to Control your Temper and the Words You say to Others. Your Anger is Not Something that Brings Forth God’s Glory

Ephesians 4:26, 27, 29, 31(NCV) “When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.  Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.”
Colossians 3:8(NCV) “But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk.”
Proverbs 14:17, 29 (NCV) “Someone with a quick temper does foolish things, but someone with understanding remains calm.” “Patient people have great understanding, but people with quick tempers show their foolishness.”
James 1:19-21(NCV) “My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. So put out of your life every evil thing and every kind of wrong. Then in gentleness accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts, which can save you.”
Develop a Lifestyle that will not require You to Lie to Others:
Ephesians 4:25(NCV) “So You must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body.”
Colossians 3:9(NCV) “Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before.”
There are many more aspects to this Christian life
And no matter how hard we try no one gets it exactly right
There will never be a believer who apprehends it all
Our minds and bodies were severely affected by the fall
Sure there are those who have done great things to advance the faith
It started with the apostles and traverses centuries through many great saints
But like Paul we must agree that we aren’t exactly what God wants us to be
But thanks to His grace we are much better than we used to be
So we press on and will keep seeking the very fullness of this life
And Lord willing we will not quit until we sit face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ
Philippians 3:12-14(NCV) “I do not mean that I am as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.”
William Gilmer