1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1 (WEB)
Sometimes you just need to go back to the beginning and look at the fundamentals. The start of a new year is a good time to do this. For a Christian it is going back to the Bible. Daily devotions and prayer are great ways to start or end the day, but Bible study is needed to understand God and His love for His creation. Start the year out right by not just reading the Bible but studying the very Word of God. Study what God is saying in each passage and as a whole. This takes work and time, but in the end it will grow a stronger and joyful relationship with God and that makes it well worth the time and effort.
15 When the angels went away from them into the sky, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” - Luke 2:15 (WEB)
What a sight, the sky full of angels! That is what it sometimes takes for us to understand things. The shepherds knew that something big has just happened. They wanted to see for themselves what this thing was, it was the birth of a king. That king was Jesus! They did not wait til morning, but wanted to see Him now!
This Christmas season, let us all remember that all the gift giving, meals and festivals are because of Jesus Christ. Do not forget to go see the thing that “the Lord has made known to us.” Do not wait, do it now!
16 [I] don’t cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. - Ephesians 1:16 (WEB)
Thanksgiving is almost here. We live in a truly blessed nation. Sure we have our problems, I will not try to sugarcoat what is going on in Washington DC and we do face many daunting problems, yet we still have many blessings to be thankful for. We have plenty of good quality food and water. We have free and fair elections of leaders. We can worship as we wish. God has been good to us and it is right to give thanks for the many blessings.
Paul prays for the Ephesians and gives thanks for their faith and support of his ministry. Take time this month in prayer and thanksgiving for the blessings and faith that God has given to each of us.
Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you he will in no way lose his reward."
- Matthew 10:42 (WEB)
Nothing, to me, is more refreshing than a cold glass of lemonade, in the hot summer. I recently read about a lemonade stand in Cincinnati, Ohio, that raised $148 for a children's hospital. That these children would care so much for other children, shows a great deal of love. But what is truly remarkable is that when this was posted on-line, the hospital received another $25,000 in donations, because many other people wanted to give! One lemonade stand made a great difference in peoples lives.
Jesus tells us that giving a cold glass of water to someone, in the name of a follower of His, can do great things. Simple things, like a glass of water, can effect and change someones life, for the better. Most of us are not called to do “great” things, when following Christ. Many times it just takes handing out a glass of water, or lemonade, to someone who is thirsting for life.
10 Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, “Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more.” - John 8:10-11 (WEB)
What an incredible act of forgiveness! The accusers, convicted by their own sins, walked away and left the woman alone with Jesus. Jesus asks her “where are your accusers?” He knows that all have left her and He will not condemn her either. Yet, He does not leave it at that, Jesus adds the statement “From now on, sin no more.”
Forgiveness is not an open act of acceptance of sin, but a chance to repent and change our lives. Forgiveness, by our loving God, means that we are to repent (change) and move from the sinful way of live to the true way of life, by living God's commands.
In a world where sin is so often glorified, Jesus' words are not easy to follow, but with any act of love and forgiveness, we must respond in ways that move us from a sinful life to a life with Christ.