Monday, December 29, 2008

Living the Christian Life

Living the Christian life isn’t easy. Thankfully, Ephesians 4:25-32 provides a few guidelines for Christians to live by. The verses say:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehoods and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every other form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Living the life of a Christian is an ongoing process of studying, learning, putting learning into action, and constantly reflecting and evaluating your actions. It can be a very liberating process, but it can also be very daunting as well.

Getting back to the passage from Ephesians…..first, we are told to be truthful to one another, but notice the same section discusses how we are all members of one body. The reference is to the body of Christ….other Christians, not the body of mankind. I don’t think this is telling us it is ok to lie to non-Christians….not at all, but our Christian brothers and sisters deserve more honest attention from us.

Once we admit with our mouths that Jesus is Lord we are sealed. Nothing can undo the grace we receive at that moment because we are sealed…protected by the Lord. However, our lies and the other negative things we say grieves the Holy Spirit. Thereafter, we should only use our mouths to build each other up.

The part about not letting the sun go down on your anger…I heard my mother spout that bit of advice over and over as I was growing up. Part of her spill was the advice was always something her mother told her. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s amazing all of God’s instructions regarding life make sense. Hmmm….I guess it’s amazing because God’s plan for us is perfect.

Getting back to that anger thing…The longer you wait to settle something with someone the harder it becomes to face the person no matter who was right OR wrong. Anger allows too many other sins to creep in and gain a foothold. One sin that comes to mind is pride.

Work…work not just to provide for your family, but to keep your hands busy. This passage from Ephesians takes the idea of work one step further to becoming Christ-like though. Work to help others….work to be able to provide for others….work to make a difference in the world.

So, let’s see….as a Christian I cannot lie, I cannot be angry with anyone for very long without dealing with the issue, I must work not just to buy stuff but in order to be able to help others, I must watch my tongue and totally turn my back on any type of malice. I must strive to be kind always and forgive others as Christ has forgiven me.

The problem? While I am a Christian, I am also human. Professing Jesus is Lord saves me for eternity, but it does not make me perfect during my stay here on Earth hence the need for the constant study, constant learning, constant putting things into action, and constant reflection and analysis....oh, and constantly praying as well.

No….it’s not easy to be a Christian, but it’s worth it. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jesus or Santa?????

With just a few days to go before Christmas, REMEMBER: Jesus is better than Santa

1. Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.

2. Santa rides in a sleigh. JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

3. Santa comes but once a year. JESUS is an ever-present help.

4. Santa fills your stockings with goodies. JESUS supplies all your needs.

5. Santa comes down your chimney uninvited. JESUS stands at your door and knocks…and then enters your heart.

6. You have to stand in line to see Santa. JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

7. Santa lets you sit on his lap. JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

8. Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is “Hi little boy or girl. What’s your name?” JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future, and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

9. JESUS has a heart full of love. JESUS offers health, help, and hope. Santa says, “You better not cry!” JESUS says, “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

11. Santa’s little helpers make toys. JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

12. Santa may make you chuckle, but JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

13. While Santa puts gifts under your tree, JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It’s obvious there really is no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in Christmas.

Jesus is still the reason for the season.

May the Lord bless and watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas, and may He prosper and bless the works of your hands in the New Year.

Other bloggers are participating in Thursday Thirteen. You can view them here.

Many thanks to my friend Carol who forwarded the text of this 13 to me in an email.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Christmas Bell...

Christ Bell
I received this in an email. Isn’t it awesome. Someone took a lot of time setting up this message.
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are?
Keep this bell ringing...pass it on
'The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The LORD turn His face toward you
And give you peace...Numbers 6:24-26

Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday today….you can find them here.
Many thanks to my friends, Rosetta and Carol...They forwarded the emails to me that contained the message seen above. :)

More Scriptural Affirmations

The other day I posted 13 Scriptural Affirmations. Here are a few more.

The following list is a great reminder regarding how Scripture tells us who we are and why we are here.

1. I am valuable to God. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

2. I am a member of God's family. (1 John 3: 1-2; Ephesians 2:19)

3. I am God's treasure. (1 Peter 2: 9-10)

4. I am dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12)

5. I am being transformed. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

6. I am an heir of God. (Romans 8:17)

7. I am a friend of God. (John 15:15)

8. I am given spiritual blessings. (Ephesians 1:3)

9. I am God's delight. (Zephaniah 3:17)

10. I am invited to confidently draw near to God. (Ephesians 3:12)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa: Alive and Well

I received this from my pastor yesterday with the words, “This is too good not to share...”

He’s right.

I’ve written before at History Is Elementary concerning different ways to keep older kids believing in the magic of Christmas especially when everything around them is so often falling apart… such post is The Story Where I Prove Santa Exists...

I also enjoy receiving an additional story I can add to my treasure box of holiday stories, and this one is makes the grade.

I hope you enjoy it!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted.... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go.""Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous.

Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

See, my pastor was right. It is a good story.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

13 Things Concerning the Book of Nehemiah

1. In the earliest Hebrew manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were one book.

2. Nehemiah follows the outline set out below: Chapters 1-7:3 Nehemiah rebuilds the walls around Jerusalem, Chapters 7:4 – 10:39 Changes under Ezra, and Chapters 11:1 to 13:31 Nehemiah’s plans

3. Nehemiah is written in first person and appears to be a memoir.

4. Many scholars believe Nehemiah is written by the same author as Ezra.

5. The key word in the text is “walls”

6. The key text is found at Nehemiah 6:15…The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul.

7. Nehemiah had served as an attendant for Artaxerxes. The king granted him a leave of absence to go to Jerusalem and was given an official military escort.

8. Nehemiah is remembered as one of the greatest organizers of the Bible. He kept records regarding how the work was divided section by section.

9. Why was the wall so important? In the ancient world a wall made the city significant. This particular wall was extremely important as Nehemiah 6:16 mentions when the Israelites’ enemies heard the wall was complete….all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.

10. Nehemiah’s enemies were the Persian appointed governor of Samaria (Sanballat) and Tobiah. They accused Nehemiah of wanting to create a rebel city.

11. Nehemiah 6:15 tells us the project was completed in 52 days. There is archaeological evidence that Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day wasn’t as big as it is today, so it is possible the wall could be completed within that time frame.

12. The wall was celebrated with music as two large choirs walked around the town.

13. From the time the Hebrews were into captivity until the wall was finished 140 years passed.

Find other bloggers participating in Thursday 13 here
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