Tag Archives: #positivity

PONDERING CHRISTMAS

What is God doing?

Christmas music surrounds us with the message of grace and forgiveness. It can put the Good News on display, and sometimes, we do not even realize it. We’re in isle 4 picking out socks for Uncle Bob while swaying to O Holy Night. Thoughts of Aunt Susie’s ugly Christmas sweater are accompanied by thoughts of the true meaning of Christmas.

Mary, Did You Know permeates our ears with the truth of Christmas. It sends our thoughts to Jesus’ identity, and how God was working on that first Christmas. Luke tells us we’re not alone. Mary was thinking about this as well.

Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”

The last few months have been exciting. Mary has been visited by an angel, found out she was expecting a child, had to travel with Joseph for the census, and now, she’s given birth. There’s a lot of hype around her baby. Shepherds visiting and prophetic statements being made. In our day, there would be wall-to-wall coverage on the news networks, and Mary soaks it all in. What was God doing?

This Christmas season you may be wondering the same thing. All the activity in your life – the good and the bad – is causing you to wonder what God is doing. As you ponder God’s work, you can rest assured he has something great planned. You may not fully see it now, but it will be great because God is the one at work.

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faith’s root system

I was standing at the kitchen sink. The sun was coming in the window as it was a sunny, but windy day. I could hear the wind blowing and for just a second, the noise level increased. Thinking it was just a gust of wind, I went on washing dishes. Then from the next room comes, “The tree fell!”

A seemingly nice evergreen tree in our neighbor’s yard had been toppled by the wind. The tree’s root system was weak, so it couldn’t handle the force of the winds.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:6-7, “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him, then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

How is your faith’s root system? As a deeply rooted tree is less likely to be toppled by the winds, a deeply rooted faith in the truth of God’s Word is less likely to be toppled by the winds of life. Scripture encourages Christians to fertilize our faith’s root system by spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, and by overflowing with thankfulness.

When we realize how we have been blessed and the source of our blessings, the resulting response should be giving thanks. We are encouraged in Colossians to continually and habitually offer thanksgiving. We know the winds of life will blow, but a firmly rooted faith can help us stand tall. Even amid a storm in life, Christians have reasons to be thankful. There’s always a reason to give thanks.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown feeds Snoopy on Thanksgiving Day. He gives the pooch his usual dog food. Snoopy looks at it and says, “Dog food again. That’s all I ever get is dog food. Everyone else is having all kinds of food today, but I just have my dog food. Oh well, at least I’m not the turkey.” There’s always a reason to be thankful.

Thankfully, the tree that fell did so in an almost perfect way. Across our neighbor’s yard into our yard. The only thing the tree hit was an old, ugly bush at the corner of our yard. We wanted the bush removed and the tree knocked it over, so mark that off the to-do list. There’s always a reason to be thankful.

Challenge yourself to spend time fertilizing your faith’s root system.

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what would have happened if ananias stayed home?

The group was walking down the road. Their leader was confident he was doing the right thing. He was on a mission to cause much havoc and bring harsh persecution to a new group. Paperwork in hand, this man was well on his way to his next destination. Suddenly a bright light knocked the leader to his knees and a voice interrupted his thoughts. The once confident leader was now trembling before the Lord.

Acts 9 goes on to tell us Paul was then directed to go to Damascus. Blinded by the light, Paul had to be led by the hand to the city where he waited and prayed.

Meanwhile, “in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. For he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (Acts 9:10-12).

At this point, Ananias was probably thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. This man has caused a lot of hardships for Christians, and you want me to walk right up to him.” No one could blame Ananias for having these thoughts. Paul’s track record prior to this day is anything but pleasant. He’s oversaw a stoning, had believers thrown in prison, and caused great difficulty for followers of Christ. Yet, the Lord had a plan for Paul’s life that started with Ananias.

Acts 9:15 says, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

It is hard to argue with the Lord, so Ananias goes to the house. Ananias places his hands-on Paul, and Paul’s sight is restored. This begins Paul’s journey of following Christ. His zeal for persecuting Christians switches to exuberance for the Gospel message. Paul touched the world, but it was not before Ananias touched him.

What would have happened if Ananias refused to go?

You and I may have a “Paul” in our lives; individuals who we are influencing today to do something great tomorrow. Are we following Ananias’ example?

  • Befriending that coworker who is a little rough around the edges.
  • Trying to talk to that neighbor who seems a little standoffish.
  • Giving that applicant a shot even though we know she lives in the halfway house.
  • Allowing our faith to touch someone who may touch the world tomorrow.

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4 reasons to always have thanksgiving

While at the store purchasing a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, a little boy said to his mother, “Thanksgiving should come after Christmas, then we would have more reasons to be thankful.”

In the fast-paced, bad news culture in which we live, it is easy to overlook reasons to be thankful, yet there are reasons to offer praise to the Lord.

Always Have Thanksgiving

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to always have Thanksgiving. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name,” implores Hebrews 13:15.

Reasons to be Thankful

We are encouraged to continually offer thanks to the Lord. This is not because it has been a super year or everything in life is grand right now. For many that is not the case; however, there are still reasons to offer thanks.

  1. The Lord is continually with us. God promises he will not leave us or abandon us.
  2. The Lord is not changing his mind about his Promises. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
  3. Our current situation and circumstances are only temporary. The Lord promises he will come again.
  4. The Lord grants us life.

What reasons do you have to be thankful? Take a moment to make a mental note of your thankful list.

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.”

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