27 December 2007

The Gift That is Greater Because of the Giver

Trash and garbage bags everywhere! I know because I carried a dozen bags out from our collection. You see there were grandchildren in the house on the 25th. It was a joyous occasion but I am happy that it is now ‘Christmas past’. No it was not a white Christmas but it was a wet one. I mentioned to my wife that the rain that God sent was truly one of the best presents we could have received on a dry and parched land. Other gifts were great because they were from friends and family who love me. The giver is more important than the gift. It is good to be remembered and appreciated. Life would indeed be difficult if it were not for those we love so much. Pity the poor person who is alone and without anyone caring. The Psalmist certainly felt alone when he wrote, “Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

As we are now in the last days of this year it is good that we dispose of some our ‘garbage’ if such we have in our hearts and lives. The apostle Paul stated it in this fashion: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…” (Colossians 3:5-10). In other words we all need to take an inventory of our lives and make sure that we discontinue those habits and sins that hinder our running “the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, 2).

In the case of the gift and the giver, both are most important in spiritual matters. We are informed in John 3:16 that Jehovah God gave the greatest gift ever – His Son to die for our sins on the cross of Calvary. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just ponder for awhile what is said here. We were not friends of God when He gave the greatest gift, His Son; rather, it was when by our own sins we were alienated from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2). Not only that, the Gift (Jesus Christ) also gave Himself for our salvation (John 15:13). The motive was pure love of the Father and the Son.

Because we have been the recipients of salvation, “the gift of God”, (Ephesians 2:8), we should give ourselves in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are teeming millions of lost souls who need to hear the good news of our Savior Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-3) which “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). There are lonely souls who need our attention and affection. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” (James 1:27). The inspired writer in Hebrews 12:12 gave this exhortation, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees…” Being alone does not always infer loneliness. The children of God have this precious promise, “Let you conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

10 December 2007

Holidays & Families

As I look to my left and across the street I see the lights in my neighbor’s front yard. He has really worked hard this year to put up the ‘Christmas lights’ and decorations. It is the same as you drive through our small community and our entire city. It is indeed a festive time of the year. In fact I really like this season of the year. Why? Because it is when most families can be together. The young father across the street is especially happy this year because his wife gave birth recently to baby boy. Now the older son will have someone to play with – in time. I have so many fond memories when our four children were all at home during this season of the year. There were occasions when the older boys and I would go to some friend’s farm and cut a ‘Christmas tree’. Virginia and I would really enjoy seeing the children opening presents on Christmas morning. Virginia would have a delicious meal prepared which would be consumed by our very hungry group. Those were precious years when the children were young and were at home. How fortunate you are if you have sweet memories of family gatherings.

Now we look forward to the children returning home with their families. It is something else when our tribe assembles in one place. It seems that we ‘wear the house’ because the space is so restricted. What a wonderful sight to see grandchildren opening presents on Christmas morning. What a mess to clean up! How much food is required for so many hungry mouths waiting to consume grandmother’s delicious meats, vegetables, salads, pies and cakes? Well, it doesn’t matter. Her love reveals itself in the joy she experiences when she cooks for those who are so close to her heart. After all, what are grandmothers for? We want our grandchildren to have pleasant memories of Papa and Ma’s home during the holidays.

The Christmas – New Year holidays provide a break from the everyday and sometime mundane affairs. People tend to be kinder and friendlier. Friends get together and enjoy festive occasions. Parents attend seasonal musical programs at school. Old friends are remembered as well as new friends with Christmas cards. And everyone needs a new tie and/or underwear to wear. Ah, life is good. So enjoy this festive time of the year with your friends and loved ones. Yes, remember those family members who have gone before but don’t permit those memories to rob you of the blessedness and happiness of the present.

A New Year’s wish for you: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).

02 December 2007

My Place For Study, Meditation, & Writing~

This is where I sit for long periods of time as I read and write articles. I read the Bible and other books. I work on my computer and write articles to be sent to others and to various Christian publications. I pray as I kneel by this window in my office here in the early morning hours. I am surrounded by my books and material to be found in the filing cabinet nearby. I feel right at home in this particular section of my home. I can shut out the rest of the world at times. But not completely for you see I observe many things from the only window in this small room I call my study’. For example, there is a beautiful tree across in the yard of a neighbor. It is radiant with its leaves in red and golden colors. Further back I see Hickory trees, Oak trees and various other kinds of trees with foliage ablaze in full color. The Bradford Pear trees nearby are so beautiful but the Japanese Maple stands out among them all with the red leaves shining in the sunlight. Much to my surprise we have experienced one of the most beautiful autumns ever in central and south Alabama! There is a certain melancholy about the fall of the year and I suppose it is in knowing that winter will soon follow when these same trees will have lost all their leaves. But our autumn has been gorgeous! You know life is compared to the various seasons of the years. Many of us are presently in the ‘autumn’ of our lives but it is not a time to be depressed knowing that God is good. It is a time of reflection. There have been many disappointments but the good memories outweigh the bad. You are as young as you feel. How you think of life greatly affects how you feel in the ‘fall’ of your life. I love the mountains. I feel closer to God when I view His creation from a lofty height. Someone has suggested that youth is compared to the valley while adulthood is the mountainside. The view becomes better as we climb higher to the top of the mountain.

“As ripe fruit is sweeter than green fruit, so is age sweeter than youth, provided the youth Were grafted into Christ. As harvest time is brighter time than seed time, so age is Brighter than youth; that is, if youth were a seed time for good; as the completion of a Work is more glorious than the beginning, so is age more glorious than youth; that is if The foundation of the works of God was laid in youth. As sailing into port is a happier Thing than the voyage so is age happier than youth; that is, when the voyage from youth Is made with Christ at the helm.”
~Pulsford, Adams & Bray Bible Commentary