Season’s Greetings

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My Musings – Over the years Christmas traditions have slowly eroded, the victims of commercialism, cynicism and political “correctness.” Not that the Christmas story has lost its relevance or is no longer significant. Or that its meaning is no longer needed or has gone out of style. On the contrary, the need has never been greater or more urgent. But unless we overcome the commercialism and cynicism and look past the political correctness, unless we reach beyond tradition, the birth of the Christ child remains a quaint little story lost among the glitz and glitter of the season, or just one more holiday tradition that must “coexist” with all the others. To do so, we must understand that the season of His birth, “a time to be born”, was the beginning of the season of His death, “a time to die”, in order that He might save His people from their sin.

My Advice – I’ll have to admit that I too have been known to get bent out of shape when others say “Season’s Greetings” rather than “Merry Christmas.”  Don’t these people know that Jesus is the “reason for the season?”  Well, maybe they don’t.  It could be that they are adversarial to Christianity, but maybe they are just lost and in need of direction?

Rather than respond in irritation or anger, perhaps we should do our best to explain what Season’s Greetings means to us:  The birth (“a time to be born“) of the Christ child (Merry Christmas), who came into this world to bear our guilt and shame by dying (“a time to die“) on the cross and being raised from the dead (Happy Easter), so we can be born again and overcome the second death.  Let’s try not to lecture the lost.  Let’s try speaking the truth in love.  That’s how we can truly show the spirit of the Season’s.

Over the next few days we will explore how the “season” of His birth connects with the “season” of His death.

Joy In Sharing

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My Musings – “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” (Robert Louis Stevenson).  Giving to those in need is “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

A Fragrant Offering – Be mindful of Christ and imitate how He gave of Himself.  “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1–2, NRSV 1989).

An Acceptable Sacrifice – Give sacrificially.  “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:43–44, NIV 1984).

Pleasing To God – Give cheerfully, without reservation.  “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV 1984).

My Advice – First, picture yourself in the same situation whenever you see others in need.  Then decide how you can be of help. “Love has no meaning if it isn’t shared. We have been created for greater things – to love and to be loved. To love a person without any conditions, without any expectations. Small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace. To love, it is necessary to give. To give, it is necessary to be free from selfishness.”  (Mother Teresa).

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Steve Persson’s sermon on December 1, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

 

 

Desperately Seeking Human Kindness

Screenshot (1513)My Musings – “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”  (Harry S. Truman).  Do it out of the kindness of your heart.  Do it simply because there is a need and you can help.  Do it for the Master.  But do not do it for the praise of men.

My Advice – The picture above could be you or me.  Care like you would want others to care if it were you.  For “what good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14–18, NIV 1984).

Bouncing Back

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My Musings – Outside the Garden of Eden, Peter’s denial of Christ was perhaps the greatest recorded failure in the Bible (although David was a close contender).  And yet it was not too long afterwards that Peter and John astonished the religious leaders by boldly proclaiming Christ, causing them to take note of the impact that being with Jesus had made in their lives. Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”  Peter had fallen far, but through the power of the Holy Spirit bounced even higher.

I am sure Peter remembered his betrayal of Jesus all the days of his life and wished he had never denied Christ at all.  He could have wallowed in shame and guilt for the rest of his life, but he chose to learn from it and let it go.  And unlike the comic above, God’s “pencil” has a giant eraser that never wears out.  He erases them from our record (as far a the East is from the West), but not from our memories. “The real test is not whether [you avoid failing again], because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” (Barack Obama).

My Advice – When you fail, and you will, ask yourself two questions.  What can I learn from this?  What can I (in the power of the Holy Spirit) do to prevent this from happening again?  “Let’s face it, we’re all imperfect and we’re going to fall short on occasion. But we must learn from failure and that will enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes. Through adversity, we learn, grow stronger, and become better people.” (John Wooden).