Sometimes it’s good while praying to stop and think about what you’re saying to God. At least, good for me anyway. Many times while praying I’ve caught myself asking God to please remember a friend or family member or someone’s health problems. But God doesn’t need to be reminded. God knows all our circumstances, whether good or bad, at every second. He knows and he remembers. He doesn’t need my reminders. He isn’t forgetful like me and for that I’m so thankful! Not only does he not forget, he knows others’ needs and our needs before we do ourselves. He’s already working on the solution before we realize there’s a problem. Our good and faithful God!
Are you mean? Dallas Willard said the reason more people don’t go to church is because Christians are mean, self-righteous know-it-alls. I could add judgmental to that as well, although it’s akin to self-righteousness. What’s wrong with us? As soon as the Holy Spirit begins working with us, we forget what we were spiritually rescued from and get proud of ourselves! What did ourselves have to do with it! We can be proud of anything, being rich or being poor, well-educated or not, and unfortunately, good Christians or not. Jesus had a lot to say about pride, which includes self-righteousness. He told the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector at prayer. He used little children as examples. He hung out with people the religious leaders looked down on. If one of those persons comes to our church, let’s be different like Jesus.
I’ve read straight through the Bible more than a dozen times. As it’s been a while, I decided to read through it again in 2022. It’s not a huge task, a few chapters a day, unless you get behind. It’s important to read the Scriptures as a whole because being familiar with the Old Testament and its prophecies gives you a more complete understanding of the significance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection recorded in the New Testament. Without being familiar with God’s promises to Abraham, Jacob, David and many others, we may not be aware they were fulfilled in Christ. And, how could we understand the need for Christ’s sacrifice without knowing the limitations of the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NIV).
Thousands of babies have already been born in January 2022. We call them New Year’s babies. They are precious in God’s sight—new, one-of-a-kind human beings unlike any born before or after. It’s a cold, hard world they’ve come into but they don’t know that yet. My prayer is that they will all be sheltered and cared for and loved. And, when they learn this life can be tough and even sometimes dangerous, that they will know who they can turn to for help. They have a Father who loves them and will always be faithful to them, no matter what. May God bless all our New Year’s babies!
It’s a brand new year! I know, it’s just one day past 2021, but it still feels like a new start. I’m using my new planner, desk calendar (daughter Shara always gives me one with horses on it) and 2022 checkbook record. I chose a word for the year. Last year it was love, this year it’s joy. Not everything was lovely last year and not everything will be joyful this year, but it’s good to have a positive focus in life. As my New Year’s resolutions rarely change, I have only one this year, to ask God every day to guide me to do his will, not my own. Living up to that will be hard enough and only through God’s grace! May you have a blessed New Year!
Four of my great-grandchildren (and they are great) performed a Christmas program for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and me on my porch Christmas Eve. Invitations decorated with snowmen were given out with time, place and date. Fold-up chairs were placed on the lawn for us to sit. Nine-year-old Sadie along with 8-year-old cousin Ella worked out the words, music and choreography. A surprise to all was how the girls somehow got their little brothers, 7-year-old Eli and 6-year-old Wyatt, to agree to be in the program too. The younger generations give me hope. Yes, they are cute and fun and precious but they are also significant to our future. Notice them, encourage them, pray for them! Jesus upheld little children as fit for his kingdom.
Christians are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord, to sing for the joy within us. Hearing the beautiful Christmas music on classical radio the last few weeks has added joy to my life. Our community choir was shut down because of the pandemic, so we couldn’t perform our usual Christian concert. But hearing the lyrics without having to worry about timing, pitch and harmonization allowed me to really think about what the words meant. Our director frequently reminded us to think about the meaning of what we were singing, but that’s not easy when you’re trying to remember so much else while performing in front of an audience. So, I’m passing his advice on. The next time you hear or sing a familiar hymn, think about what the words mean. It will bring you joy!
Have you fallen short this week? That character flaw you thought was overcome pops its ugly head up again. Maybe what you did even shocked and surprised you. You thought it was not a part of your nature anymore. I’ve been there. We may be shocked and surprised by what we did, but God wasn’t. He knows our ilk, our fallen nature to the core. That’s why Jesus had to become fully human and overcome the ugly nature of sin in his own body. And, even now, when we lose our battles with sin, he is still there as our high priest, covering our sins with the shed blood of his holy sacrifice. May the joys of this season remind us of the marvelous Gift we have been given. Merry Christmas!
Peace was the Advent theme last week. Our pastor’s sermon was titled “People in Pieces Can’t Be People of Peace.” I’ve had to ask myself, does that describe me? I have to admit, many times it does! I get stressed out over the sorry state of the world. Division bothers me, whether in relationships, religion or politics. And, there’s the pandemic, which ebbs and flows on the CDC charts and never seems to end. Lord help us, because peace among us begins with peace within us. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Col. 3:15, NIV).
I received a postcard from one of my stepsons. It was one of those “having a great time, wish you were here” cards with photos of azure seas and exotic beaches. You know, the ones that really make you want to be there! Unfortunately, the card came two months after the fact. So, while I was dreaming of his international sun, sea and sand adventures, he had been back home for two months! Earlier this year, the mail didn’t arrive at my home for two days. That lapse was so unusual I talked to a staff member at the post office. She said our carrier had COVID and they were so understaffed they couldn’t cover our rural route for those two days. Two days, not two months! So whenever you think about complaining about your mail service, be grateful for the U.S. Postal system!