Tag Archives: Christian life

How to Have a Merry Christmas All Year Long!!!!!!!!!

Text: Luke 2:15-20 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (ESV).

To understand how to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must turn to the characters of the Christmas story, for they teach us much about having a Merry Christmas all year.

  •  Mary teaches us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must keep the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­AMAZEMENT of who Christ is in our heart. Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

What does the word “ponder” mean? The word ponder is a word that comes from an old Greek word. It means placing together for comparison. This meant that Mary took the events and the words that had been spoken to her into her heart and she began to meditate upon on these words and what they meant to her. She “thought” of these things often and anxiously. The word “ponder” means to meditate, to consider or examine attentively or deliberately. meditate implies a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply.

What does the word “treasure” mean? The second word used here is the word “treasure.” The word means to protect or defend. It is to place great value on the focus of one’s affections. To treasure does not represent shallow emotions but emotions that are rooted in the depths of one’s desires and hopes. To treasure Jesus up in our heart we must make room for Him and not allow the cares and issues of life to crowd Him out. For Him to dwell in us means we can know His love and generosity. The problem too often is that we cease to be amazed at God’s grace and His majesty, not for what He can do for us but for who He is alone. The issues of life can begin to crowd Him out so that He does not seem so amazing any more.

What do you focus on? It has been said that what we focus on we will worship and what we worship we will serve. And what we serve will begin to control our lives. Have you ever been driving on a long trip and you begin to focus on the car in front of you? If you have ever done this then you know that if the car in front of you starts to veer off the road, you do too, because you are focusing on that car. You must look beyond the car to avoid a problem.

Those who are farmers understand this best. If you want to plow a straight line you don’t look down at the ground but you fix your eyes on a point in the distance so that you will plow straight.

 Jesus said this in Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So where your focus is your heart will follow.

So where is your focus today?  Make it your new year’s resolution to follow Christ all year long.

  • The shepherds teach us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we must SHARE what we have heard and what we have EXPERIENCED. Luke 2:17 And when they saw it, they made known the sayings that had been told them.

We must not only make room for Christ and never cease to be amazed at who Christ is but we must share His gift of love and generosity with others. We must share His message.

If we found a great restaurant we would want to share it with everyone we encounter. If we watched a great movie we would tell everyone. If we bought a new gadget that helped us save time we would share our joy in finding the new tool.

To have a Merry Christmas all year long we must make it a point of sharing your faith with others this year. Do you have a story about God’s grace? Where have you seen Him move in your life? How have you changed since knowing Christ? Is there a passage of scripture that you have read that has changed your life? Use these things to share with others.

  • The Magi teach us that to have a Merry Christmas all year long we need to SEEK FOR HIM each day and find ways to worship Him in our heart which for us is in essence developing a relationship with Him. Matthew 2:2 We have come to worship Him.

God desires to have a relationship with us by way of our worship because He loves us and He enjoys us. The idea of worship here is founded in the fact that He desires intimacy with us. Can you imagine if I never talked with Michelle, my wife, nor ever spent time with her? Our relationship would deteriorate rather quickly. It would not necessarily mean that we did not love each other it would mean that we were out of fellowship and that our relationship was not growing.

To have a Merry Christmas all year long be a believer that worships Christ in all that you do. Worship Him with the way you live, the way respond to others and how you live when no one else is around. It in this regard that our character, who we are when no one else sees us, is a worship to God. Irwin McManus said that Jesus is not as impressed with our talents as He is our character. You see our character will speak louder than any word ever spoken.

To show our love to God we must seek Him and seek to worship Him at all times.

Conclusion:

What can you do to have a Merry Christmas all year long? Is Christ still amazing to you? Do you share with others what you have heard and seen? Do you search for Christ each day by worshipping Him as Lord?

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The Perfect Storm

Several years ago I was fishing with a friend of mine that owned a party boat out of Long Island. Captain Carl had called me the night before because he was taking the boat on an ocean trip, a trip he only took once or twice a year. The trip would consist of fishing the wrecks out in the Atlantic Ocean. As we left the docks that day, the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was hot but being on the boat we had a wind that was blowing that kept us cool, plus I was able to ride in the wheel house where there was air conditioning.

After a great day of fishing, (I had caught 20 -30 black fish and sea bass) Carl called for me to come to the wheel house. As I climbed the stairs to meet up with Carl, I could hear excessive chatter on the boat’s two-way radio. What Carl began to explain is that a storm had been brewing over the ocean and was moving up the coast at a far greater speed than anyone had imagined. The result was that we had to stop fishing and begin the race back to the dock.

As we neared the inlet into the sound, the waves were already 5 to 6 feet high which meant that the waves within the narrow inlet were more than 10 feet high. The inlet on a good day was a difficult one to navigate. We now had to shoot the gap with gale force winds and waves that were beginning to crash over the sides of the boat. I have to tell I was a bit frightened actually a lot frightened. All Carl would say to me is “please pray.”

In the midst of the storm, I watched as this seasoned captain navigated through the treacherous inlet. After we made it through, he revealed his secret to me. He had invested in very expensive radar and GPS equipment for just such a time as this. He did not take his eyes off of the equipment as he was navigating through the inlet. As a result, we safely made it through the storm.

As I later reflected on the day, I thought about the storms we face in our lives. Sometimes it seems that they last forever and others seem to come and go. Others blow in unexpectedly and leave just as quickly. As Christians, it is critical that we keep our eyes fixed on the One that can and will help navigate us through the storms of life.

The writer of Proverbs recognized this need when he wrote the passage that most of us can quote from memory. He said “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-9 (ESV)

Too many times, I tend to lean upon “my” abilities and on “my” experience to get me through life’s issues but when I do this I often crash against the rocks. However, when I stay focused on God and trust Him to lead me, He directs my steps even when I don’t understand what is going on. My challenge to you today is to stay focused on God and allow Him to direct your steps. You may not know where He is leading or what He is doing in the moment but stay focused and keep leaning and you will be amazed at what God does. He has a plan and He will see it fulfilled because He is God.

Things to consider:

Are you facing storms in your life right now? If so, what are you focusing on to get you through the storm? Is it God and His Word or is there something else?

Why do you think it is so hard to trust God when the storms of life blow in?

Can you share a time when you had a storm blow in and how you dealt with that storm?

What scripture passage do you hold onto when you are faced with a storm?

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God’s Detours Brings About His Purposes

When Michelle and I lived in NY, I will never forget the day there was an accident that blocked the roadway on which I was traveling. Because the accident blocked the entire road the police department was detouring traffic from the roadway to one of the side streets. However, the community they were detouring the traffic into had only one entrance and one exit. You guessed it…. we entered and exited at the same point. The problem of course is that the traffic inside the community began to backup until there was no longer any room for another car. So, we sat on this side street in this unknown community for more than an hour waiting for the accident to be cleaned up. I can now look back and laugh but not so on that day.

In life, we are often faced with what appears to be detours. We are going along in life and suddenly we find that we have to change course. We don’t want to change course but we must. The detours of life could be almost anything. It might the doctor’s report that suddenly and radically changes our life forever. It could be unexpected financial loss that comes from a job loss or forced retirement. The detour may come in the form of a death of loved one or spouse. It could be a change of occupation or location of work. Or, it could be the transition of a pastor that was have loved and admired. Whatever the issue, life as you know it will never be the same as a result of the detour thrown at you.

In 1 Samuel 22, we see the story of David who was on the run from Saul. David had been anointed by Samuel to be the King of Israel. He was anointed king but now he is on the run. But wait, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. He was suppose to be anointed King and Saul was to step down so that David could take the throne and begin his reign as king. But a different story is unfolding. It is a story that is hard to understand especially since God had personally selected David as the King. But, as always God has a better plan. He wanted to equip David in a way that he had not been equipped.

Instead of becoming king, David had to depart from Jerusalem and from there he escaped to the cave of Adullam. No kingdom just a cave. No throne just a rock. David experienced a detour in his life. While he was on the way to being king he landed in a cave alone and without anyone around him. He was chosen by God but His reign was yet to be.

But all is not lost. God had a plan as David had been enrolled in the school of leadership and trust. David just did not know it yet. You see God used the detour to change David’s life and to prepare him for his time on the throne. When experiencing God’s detour(s) we must realize that God brings change into our lives not to destroy us but to reroute us so that we end up where God wants us to be all along. In the cave, David feels worthless, useless, mistreated, and misunderstood but he was right where he was supposed to be. God designed this experience so that David would become a different kind of King.

It was here that God gave David a new assignment. In the detour, David was to reach those he would have never reached otherwise. In 1Samuel 22:2 we see that …everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. Look at who God sent his way. He sent those who were in distress or as the Hebrew word suggests those under pressure. Others were in debt. They could not pay their bills. And he sent those to David who were discontented. They had bitterness in their souls because they had been wronged and mistreated. What a crew God sent to David, a worn out depressed and motley group. David’s assignment was to train a new army that would be loyal to him. And he did. Had he never experienced the detour he would not have experienced this new adventure and this new call from God.

For some, it may seem that God has us on a detour but, the fact is, God has us right where he wants us. Seasons of transition and God directed detours are an opportunity for us to grow if we understand that God is at work. We will be able to more clearly define who we are and what we are to be about as an individual. It is often in the detours of life that we can reach those who have not been reached thus far. So while it seems we are on a detour, God is at work. Trust in Him and wait on Him for in the appointed time God will reveal His purpose.

Questions to consider

What detours are you experiencing?

Do you see the hand of God in the detour?

What do you see God doing in the detour that is preparing you for a mission that is beyond yourself?

Who is God putting in your life in this time of detour that you can minister to?

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