THE GREATEST GIFT
Most people, over the span of their lifetime, have received that one very special gift that has left a permanent impression. The nature of that gift can be anything and is highly subjective, varying from person-to-person.
Perhaps what is important is not the gift itself, but rather the impression that it leaves on the receiver himself, or herself. As has been stated, the gift itself may be insignificant until it is coupled with a number of factors: the intent of the gift, the giver, the timing to recognize just a few of the possible factors that come with the gift.
Many consider Christmas to be the time when they’ve received that “greatest gift.” There is no doubt that Christmas is important, especially for the Christian. It is the time when we recognize that God has fulfilled His promise to send a Savior.
There is, however, one day that is far more important to the Christian than Christmas. That day – Easter. This is the day when your sins are forgiven and never to be recalled by God. You stand before Him in the state that He created man before the fall.
Can you think of any gift, no matter what type, that is more valuable than Easter?
Scripture: John 3:16
Your checkbook and credit card statements will show what is important and conversely, what is not. The order in which you spend your money and the amount spent say a lot about what is, and is not, important.
Matthew records the words of Jesus who states that “for where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He is speaking about storing riches in heaven as opposed to on earth where they can be taken away.
So, what do your financial statements tell you? Are you using the gifts that God has given you to glorify Him or to glorify yourself? One way to help answer this is to apply the 10/10/80 rule. The first 10% goes back to God, the next 10% goes to you (think savings) and the remaining 80% of your income pays for everything else that you need and/or want.
Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21
Spring Has Sprung
One of the beauties of God’s creation is the ever-changing rotation of the seasons. With each new day, each new season, God’s handiwork is displayed anew.
It has often been said that “I will only believe in God if you can prove that He exists.” For the Christian, there are a number of problems with this statement which follow from the fact that man cannot possibly prove the existence of his Creator any more than a piece of pottery can prove the existence of the one who made it.
The seasons, however, raise some interesting questions concerning the existence of God.
- Is it a cosmic accident that the crocus comes up the same time each year clothed in majestic colors?
- What causes the crabapple tree to be covered with beautiful blossoms?
- What is the source of the rain, or snow, that falls to nourish the earth?
- Who designed the process of conception that produces the newborn calf?
As much as man says that he is responsible and that he fully understands the mechanisms, it is only God that can make these things happen.
So, when you spot that first crocus bloom, don’t forget to take time to thank God for His handiwork.
Scripture: Psalm 104
Even a superficial reading of the Old Testament leaves one with the understanding that the basic unit of God’s structure for man is the family. Whether you are married or single, we all belong to a “family” of some type. The problem today is that those family relationships are being tested, and in far too many instances, broken. This is a problem with long-term consequences.
God intended the family, marital or otherwise, as the place where values are taught, where love is expressed, where there is safety, to name just a few of the facets of family life. It is a place that is bathed in love.
Each of us is a tablet upon which the other members of our family can write. When the family is intact, strong, and functioning well what is written is always couched in love. When the family is broken the messages are couched in anything but love.
The only way to keep the messages that are written on the tablets of our loves ones positive is to keep the bounds of the family intact. Can you live with strangers writing on the tablets of your loved ones with messages that are contrary to what you know should be written?
If not, then work at keeping your family healthy. Solve the problems that arise, don’t walk away from them only to carry that baggage into your next relationship.
Popular wisdom states that a couple should enter marriage wearing rose-colored glasses so as to not see the imperfections in their spouse. Perhaps we’ve got this backwards.
Over the years, experience has shown that it would be better, and healthier, for the marriage for both parties if they began with an honest appraisal of their spouse – warts and all. As the normal events of a new marriage unfold, and we learn to live with those imperfections, then it is time to don the glasses so that we can look past the flaws and concentrate on the good things that attracted us to our spouse.
The truth is that we are all sinners and no matter how much we love our spouse, he/she, like us, is going, to be flawed by sin. The consequence of that flaw is that we will fight, we will say angry things, and we will go to bed angry even though we shouldn’t. It says that there will be difficult days in the life of our marriage. This is a natural outcome of two sinful, loving people living in intimate contact with one another.
However, when we re-read what Paul has to say concerning the roles of a husband and wife in the marriage, obedience to what he has written automatically demands that we don the rose-colored glasses.
Have you got yours on and how are they fitting these days?
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-32
That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine
That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine is a song that dates back to the early 30’s, co-written by Gene Autry and Jimmy Long. It’s the lament of a son for the difficulties that he caused his father in growing up. He recognizes that it’s too late to atone for what he had done to his father. He wishes that God could give him back the time that he lost so that he could do things differently but he knows that that’s a futile request.
Could “he” be you? In recalling your relationship with your father, or mother, do you lament not having been a better son or daughter? Everyone has some things that we wished that we had done better, or kinder, or more gracefully. That’s just a part of being an adult.
The point is this: we only have one chance before time moves on and the opportunity to correct a mistake is gone, never to return. So, don’t waste it. Keep in mind that the four most important and powerful words in the English language are these: “I’m sorry” and “forgive me.”
Scripture: Exodus 20:12
That Blankety-Blank Driver
Anyone who has driven an automobile more than three feet knows the frustration of dealing with other drivers. Most drivers are just attempting to do the same thing as the rest of us – get safely from point A to point B. some, however, are not so fine; either going too fast or too slow and causing problems.
These few can indeed be frustrating! So much so that we’ve been known to use some pretty salty language in giving them a piece of our mind as we vent our frustration.
What if that other driver were God in disguise? Would we react in the same manner? Perhaps, just perhaps, God is using that person to suggest a change that we need to make. Do we need to adjust our “speed” or gain better control over our emotions and language? Is He suggesting that we need to re-prioritize what is truly important? Perhaps we need to re-examine how we treat our brothers and/or sisters.
Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:5
The Most Important Life Lesson Ever Learned
There are many lessons that we learn from God’s Word – The Bible. We can make ourselves dizzy just trying to remember them all, let alone putting them into practice.
At times, it is a good idea to just step back and take a look at what is truly fundamental in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus. Anna B. Warner did exactly that when, in 1860, she wrote these words: “Jesus loves me – this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to Him belong – they are weak, but He is strong.” We of course know this as the first verse to that children’s hymn – Jesus Loves Me.
These words are simple, direct, and fundamental to our relationship with our Lord and Savior. So, the next time that you have the opportunity to sing this hymn, do so with the gusto and innocence of the Child of God that you are.
Know that you are loved in spite of what you may have done in the past, what you are doing, and what you might do in the future. Allow that love to bring you to the confession of your sins and to guide you this day and every day that follows.
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-18
The Power Of Identity
Who are you – mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend, foe, old, young, etc.? Your identity is important! It informs others about you and to an extent, defines how they treat you.
As a Christian, what identifies you? How can others tell that you are a Christian and how does your identity determine how you are treated? In truth, there have been numerous books and articles written answering these two questions.
The answer to the question of what identifies you is your baptism. This is where you are linked to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This linkage changes your life. No longer can you continue in the ways of your former identity. You take on a new identity; the identity of being a Christian.
Others cannot help but notice the changes. Some will react positively, while others may not. But for you, these changes will carry you into eternal life as promised by God the Father.
Scripture: Romans 6:1-14
The Power Of Ashes
There is a story of a pastor of a country church who was visiting with one member of the congregation who, over time, had become less and less a part of the congregation. They spoke of many things that affected the parishioner but when the pastor steered their talk back to participation in the congregation, he was met with silence.
As he was leaving, the pastor stopped by the stove that heated the member’s home. Taking the tongs that hung by the stove, he plucked one, and only one, ember from the fire and sat it on top of the stove.
The following Sunday, the pastor looked out over his congregation and there seated in the back was this long-lost member.
What happened to change the mind of this member? Perhaps, it was watching that one ember that the pastor had removed from the fire die out when it was there by itself.
A true story? Who knows? True or not, however, it does illustrate the fundamental truth that as Christians, we need the community of others to keep our “ember” of faith alive.
Scripture: Matthew 18:19-20