Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #132

#132 "Careless In His Care"
January 29, 2008
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  (Matthew 6: 26-27)
J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them. What are you worrying about today?
An average person's anxiety is focused on 40% things that will never happen, 30% things about the past that can't be changed, 12% things about criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% about health, which gets worse with stress and 8% about real problems that will be faced.
In Matthew chapter six Jesus says, "Do not worry". God's Word is chock full of "do not fret"'s. The King James Version says, "take no thought". With it's origin in the Greek word "merimna", it is the idea of distraction. It means to have care or be anxious about something. A really interesting definition that I found said that worry was "to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts". The ancestor of our word "worry" is the Old English "wyrgan", and meant "to strangle". Perhaps, even today, you are taking thought for things that are tormenting your mind and strangling your peace. It's time to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (see 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5) Obedient to Christ when He says, "Do not worry!"
"But you don't know what I'm going through! I have to worry. I can't help it!" Is that what you're thinking right now? Well, Jesus says you must stop worrying. Sounds like a command to me. Let me ask you a question. Has worry ever gotten your prayer answered? Has the check ever appeared in the mailbox because you worried it there? Have you ever been healed because you worried health into your body? Scottish author, Ian Maclaren says, "What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it does empty today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. God gives us the power to bear all the sorrow of His making, but He does not guarantee to give us strength to bear the burdens of our own making such as worry induces." Worry affects your health and produces only negative results. It doesn't solve problems...it compounds them. If the check came, if you were healed, if your prayer was answered, it was because God provided, healed and rescued you. Your worry didn't achieve the results. God did!
Jesus tells us not to worry but He is so gracious to not just leave us hanging there. He gives us a strategy to make it happen. A strategy that if you will employ it, it works! He says, "Look at the birds of the air". Here in Michigan, it's pretty cold and snowy outside, but if you listen closely you can hear the birds singing. If you can't see them, man, you can hear them. But you have to have ears to hear. You must train yourself to listen, really listen. And Jesus was right. They don't plant. They don't reap. They don't store away in granaries. They just are. And God takes care of them. I love the Message translation of this verse: "Look at the birds, free and unfettered (free from restrictions, not bound), not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds." Careless in the care of God. Does that describe you today?
I know some of you personally and I am tender to what you are facing today. Many of you have serious health issues to deal with. Many are facing financial crisis in an ever shaky economic time. I hear the pain over divorce, breakdowns in parent-child relationships and the indescribable agony of loss. I don't have the time nor the room to mention all of the serious issues that I know we face on a daily basis. And we all face one or more at any given time, on any given day of the week. And you're worried. I know you are. But dear one, look at the birds! Listen for their songs. Encourage yourself with those words from the One who loves you so. He doesn't want you all pent up, nauseous and shaking with fear and worry. Remember that He did not give you a spirit of fear. Fear is the opposite of faith and is a tool of the enemy to distract you from the truth of the Word. Worry is worshiping the words of your enemy.
In Mark chapter four, Jesus said that, "the worries of this life....come in and choke the word (of God), making it unfruitful." There is a war on for your thoughts. The enemy wants God's word choked right out of you. You must get in the battle and let the Word work for you, replacing the words of the enemy. Paul said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 6-7) That peace will make you careless in the care of God.
Do what you can and let God do what you can't. If you are suffering the consequences of bad decisions, make it right as far as it depends on you, and leave the rest to God. If you are suffering as a victim, remember that God is a just God and He is your vindicator and justifier. And if you find yourself in a painful situation today, with no apparent cause, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your understanding." Do not worry! Listen to the birds! Your Heavenly Father loves you so much more than the birds. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die on a Roman cross for your sins. There is no greater love than that! If that's all Christ would have done for us that would be more than enough. But yet, He is so kind and gracious that He answers prayer. He heals. He provides. He restores. He mends. He does exceedingly, abundantly more. Rest in His love. If you are thoroughly, 100% convinced of His love for you, you'll never worry again.
Go ahead and say it out loud, "God loves me....God loves ME! I can be careless in the care of God!"  I pray that you will never see or hear a bird in the same way again. Christ is so awesome to let us clearly see His invisible qualities in His creation. (see Romans 1: 20) And if you are given to worry today, open a window...listen...Jesus is speaking to you.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #131

#131 "My First Love"
January 22, 2008
"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2: 4-5)
Somehow, no matter the time that's gone by, we all are able to remember our first, real love. The memories remain clear through the passage of time and the pain when it ended can cut the heart just as if it were happening today. What we wouldn't have done for that first love! Whether it happened during the teenage years or later in life, we were so taken by that love, that it will never be forgotten.
In their duet, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross put it this way: "My love, there's only you in my life, the only thing that's bright. My first love, you're every breath that I take. You're every step I make. I want to share all my love with you. No one else will do.. Two hearts, two hearts that beat as one...And love, oh, love, I'll be a fool for you. I'm sure you know I don't mind. 'Cause you, you mean the world to me. I know, I've found in you, my endless love." 
In Revelation, Chapter 2, Jesus implies that at one time, He was our first love. But He says that He has been forsaken. Was there a day that you can remember when Christ was your first love? When He was the "only thing" in life that mattered?  Today, is He "every breath that you take and every move that you make"? Is your heart beating as one with His? Are you abiding in Him so that He may abide in you? (John 15) Does He mean so much to you that you would "be a fool" for Him? That kind of endless love is what causes us to do some pretty remarkable things.
It is what made Noah build an ark when he didn't even know what an ark was, let alone rain?! Mrs. Noah must've wondered what in heaven's name her husband was up to for 120 years. While the folks in his neighborhood were living life as usual, there was Noah, working on his project because he loved God and did all that He commanded him to do. First love..endless love, is what made Abraham walk up the mountain and lay Isaac out for sacrifice when he had been promised that this only son would be the fulfillment of the promise that he would be the father of many nations. First love made Joseph hold on to his integrity and land himself in prison. That same love for God sustained him until God moved him from the pit and prison to the palace. It is what made stuttering Moses stand boldly before the most powerful ruler of Egypt and say "Let my people go".
First love, endless love, caused Esther to go before the king unsummoned, against protocol, and save a nation from annihilation. Only true love can cause a young peasant girl to say, "If I perish, I perish." It made Joshua look at the grapes instead of the giants. It made Gideon go out with 300 men and defeat the Midianites. David slew Goliath with a slingshot. Nehemiah supervised the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem amidst the taunts of his enemies, Tobiah and Sanballat. Only a deep love would have caused Isaiah to speak for God and be sawed in two for all of his efforts. Jeremiah was thrown in a pit and a prison and kept on prophesying. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to be thrown into a furnace rather than worship a pagan king. Daniel defied the king's edict and worshiped God and found himself looking into the mouths of some hungry lions.
A "first things-first love" mentality led Mary to say, "May it be done to me according to thy will." It made fishermen leave home and families to follow an itinerant preacher who had no place to lay His head. It caused a woman to pour out one year's wages on the feet of Jesus and wipe them with her hair because, "he who has been forgiven much, loves much." And ultimately, first love...endless love...caused that same Jesus to carry a one hundred pound crossbeam on His shoulders and let those who hated Him nail Him to a Roman cross.
Forgive me, but I need to go on....the song says, "I'll be a fool for you." Were those people fools? What about the first love attitude that causes a woman to hang in there with her unsaved husband, demonstrating God's love day in and day out because that's what the Bible says she is to do? First love mentality causes a husband to work hard, keep his integrity and believe for God's provision without compromising his beliefs, in order to support his family. It causes a teenager to face ridicule and bullying when he doesn't follow the crowd in his high school. Nothing but knowing Jesus as his first love could cause my pastor to walk the streets at night, alone, in order to reach the neighborhood for Christ. A not so safe neighborhood to say the least. Nothing but first love for Christ will cause us to love our enemies or give when we don't have much ourselves. What makes folks give up their weekends to hang with those less fortunate than they are? Like my dear friend who spends her Saturday mornings with women who have been discarded from society and need to be valued and cared for and loved. Only love for Christ would make a housewife spend years of her life studying faithfully and preaching to empty walls because she knows that God has called her to cities and nations and kingdoms. She just hasn't seen it yet. But oh, how she believes His calling! Only a deep, abiding, first love for Christ can make us do these "foolish" things! "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.." (1 Corinthians 1: 18) Other people may say that we're all fools. That we live an upside down life that makes no sense. But our motivation is love, first love, endless love. Christ! My love! 
Are you still "in love"? Or have you forsaken your first love? In Jeremiah 2:2, God says: "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown." That is the meaning of love. You'll follow Him anywhere. Through the desert, through the flood, through the rains and through the winds. In the good times. In the bad times. When you look like a fool. When no one else is following. First things are first. Jesus is first when He is truly your first love. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who know that God is first. (see Hebrews 12:1) Old time heroes of the faith and modern day ones as well. Those who walked in the dark, who had no light, who didn't understand, but trusted in the name of the Lord and relied on their God anyway.
..."And, yes, You'll be the Only One...because no one can deny, this love I have inside and I'll give it all to You...my Love, my Love, my Love...My endless Love." 
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #130

#130 "Choices"
January 15, 2008
"And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)  
At the risk of dating myself, how many of you remember the song, "One Bad Apple...don't spoil the whole bunch?" ...Donny Osmond. Cute song, to be sure, but thousands of years ago, one man, one woman, and one piece of fruit, affected every human being on the face of Planet Earth for generations to come. One man. One woman. One piece of fruit. One choice.
The word "choice" broadly implies that we have the freedom to choose from a set of possibilities or courses of action. We make so many choices every day. This morning you chose what you would wear from the numerous articles of clothing in your closet. You chose what you would eat for breakfast or even whether you would eat at all. You chose which route you would drive to work. You will choose whether to cook or get carry-out tonight for dinner. Will you read a book, watch TV or turn in early at the end of the day? Choices....some that really don't matter a hill of beans, but others will have consequences that can forever influence your destiny and the lives of those around you. Robin McGraw says, "You can make choices in your life; in fact, you must make choices in order to have the life you want. And whether or not you're aware of it, you do make choices all the time; even choosing not to choose is a choice." (McGraw, Robin. Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live with Passion and Purpose)
While I do like to involve God in every decision that I make throughout the day, I don't really think that He is so concerned with whether I eat broccoli or corn, or whether I wear red or brown today. My Heavenly Father wants the best for me and He sets before me the road to His best. Then it's up to me to choose. He wants the same for you and He says, "This day, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20) It's like having a multiple choice test in front of you. Question one is (a) Life or (b) Death. Question two is (a) Blessings or (b) Curses. And it's an open book test! The correct answers are Life and Blessings. You've been given the answers by the Teacher and it's up to you to make the right choice.
Ever since that fateful day in Eden, men and women have been making choices. Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." (Hebrews 11: 25) His choice laid the ground for his destiny as God's spokesman to Pharaoh and empowered him to lead his people to the edge of the Promised Land. When Ruth said, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God", she met her Boaz and her name is recorded in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Ruth 1: 16) When Saul disobeyed God and did not completely destroy the Amalekites, he forfeited his kingship over Israel (see 1 Samuel 15). The haunting words and decision of Esther when she said, "and if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4: 16), changed the destiny of a nation. David should have gone to war in the springtime like the other kings. Instead, he stayed behind and made the choice to follow his lust for Bathsheba and even murder her husband to have her for himself (see 2 Samuel 11). That decision, that choice, brought calamities upon his household that would trouble him until his death. Judas turned on Jesus for a few silver coins. That decision brought him guilt and a noose around his neck. (Matthew 27:5)  Jesus of Nazareth "made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross. [And] God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2: 6-11) Choices determine destiny. Your choices determine Your destiny! When you choose to bring your alabaster box to the feet of Jesus, your life will never be the same.  
The words of Eleanor Roosevelt ring true: "One's philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility." We can't play victim. We can't make excuses for our bad decisions. We are the ones who ultimately make the choice, for good or bad. For blessing or cursing. For life or death. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve. But God told Adam, "because you listened to your wife..." Adam had a choice. So do you.  
Our choices aren't always the big, monumental ones. The Bible says that it is "the little foxes that spoil the vines." (Song of Solomon 2: 15) What choices do you make when no one is looking? When no one would know? Character and integrity are developed when you make the right choice even when no one is looking! When you do the right thing because it is the right thing. When you do it even though no one else is. The prophet Samuel told Saul that the Lord delights in those who obey the voice of the Lord. "To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15: 22) Oswald Chambers said, "We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him." (My Utmost for His Highest (Updated Edition). 1995, 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd.)
Choices determine destiny. If you're not convinced, do yourself a little Bible study. Read Deuteronomy, Chapter 28. God spells out rather clearly the blessings that come from obedience and the curses that come from disobedience. Notice the length of each section. The destiny that you reap from your choices cannot be reversed or taken away by any one or anything. If God said it, that settles it! When you choose the Lord's way, you get blessing. When you choose your own way, you get cursing. If you reap the blessing, no devil in hell can take it away from you. But if you get cursing, the same is true. Nothing could ever reverse the effects of the wrong choices in David's, Judas' or Saul's life. Jesus said that Mary's choice to sit at His feet while Martha slaved over the stove was the right choice. He said, "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 42)  My dear friend, choose what is better. It will NOT be taken away from you!
I leave you with these words from C. S. Lewis:
"When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; It will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side."
Choose carefully today. Choose wisely today. Choose rightly today. Your future depends on it. Always remember that choices determine destiny.
Love you,
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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #129

#129 "2008"
January 8, 2008
"Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the Lord. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. (Isaiah 66: 9) 
It's a brand new year...2008...and I am so glad to be back at the keys, writing to you again. It's 57 degrees here in Michigan. What a literal breath of fresh air after the snow and more snow and some bitter cold temperatures. When I took Sylli out this morning for her morning constitutional, I was shocked to feel the mildest breeze on my face. She must have felt it too because she lingered longer than usual. The birds were a little confused. They were singing songs that rival any heavenly choir's sound. I was expecting the lilies on the side of my house to poke their noses out of the earth at any moment to see what was going on. I know that it won't last. We still have the long winter months ahead of us. But what an encouragement! This morning I was reminded of God's word in Genesis 8: 22: "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." I am reminded that it won't be winter forever. It's a new year and 2008 is going to be great!
I have been asked by not a few people what word the Lord has given me for 2008. Let me tell you, it's been a process, with a significant amount of prayer and seeking God, that has brought me to the point of being able to speak this word to you. I do not take God, His Word or any revelation lightly. I closed myself off to the words of any other preachers regarding '08 so as to be sure that I only heard the voice of God. I only want to speak what He would have me to speak. Otherwise, I would prefer not to speak at all. But I feel that He is releasing me to share the revelation that He has given me concerning 2008. I feel now that He is saying, "Go ahead..."
The Hebrew word for the number eight is "Sh'moneh", meaning "to make fat", "to cover with fat", "to super-abound". Eight is a super-abundant number. It is 7+1, associated with resurrection and regeneration, over and above the perfect completion of the number seven. Eight signifies a new beginning; a new cycle or series. How many of you are ready for a new beginning? I believe that 2008 is a year of new beginnings and a year for super-abundant completion...what was started in 2007, will come to over and above completion in this coming year. Things conceived in '07 will be birthed in '08. Glory to God!
All living things start with a seed. When God created the earth He created seed-bearing plants and trees that bear fruit with seed in it (see Genesis 1). Human life springs from a seed as well. And as it is in the natural, so it is in the supernatural. You may be able to look back at 2007 and see some things that were conceived. Maybe you saw a spark in the eye of a spouse that let you know that your marriage isn't utterly dead. Maybe your child spoke some word of wisdom that let you know that training him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord wasn't a total waste. Maybe you have worked hard to start a ministry and the foundation was laid in 2007. Maybe your finances have shown some signs of straightening out. Those seeds are growing. They will produce a harvest. God doesn't start something and leave it unfinished. He completes what He starts. As our opening verse states, He does not "bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery." The Message says it this way, "Do I open the womb and not deliver the baby?"
What seed did YOU sow in '07? Jesus calls His Word the seed that is sown (see Mark 4: 14). His Word is seed and if you have sown that Word into your life, it will produce a harvest. Obedience is a seed. Like when you loved your enemy and prayed for the one who persecuted you. (Luke 6: 27-31). You planted what I've heard called the "Do Good Seed." Maybe you obeyed the voice of God in an area of your life where any rational person would have told you that you had every right to respond in another way. But you obeyed anyway. Perhaps the seed was submitting yourself to the discipline of the Lord with the promise of a harvest of righteousness and peace (see Hebrews 12: 10-11). Whatever the seed, remember that "a man reaps what he sows". If you have sown to please the Spirit of God you will reap, that's a promise. So don't be weary in well doing...at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you don't faint. (Galatians 6: 7-9) And if you spent too much of 2007 sowing to the flesh, well, today is a new day...a new beginning remember? Start afresh today. God promises seedtime and harvest. Look at that...seed...time...and harvest. It's that "time" thing that we struggle with isn't it? Last year may have been "time". This year is "harvest"!
When a child is conceived and the mother goes into labor she goes into a phase called transition. This is the last part of labor where the cervix dilates from 8cm to a full 10cms. This is the most intense part of labor. Her contractions are very strong, coming every 2 1/2 - 3 minutes. Often she is shaking and shivering. What was conceived is about to be birthed. A child birth web site I looked at said that transition is where the mother begins to lose faith in her ability to cope. This is when she needs encouragement and support and a reminder that the end is near. Birth is about to happen. Maybe you're in that "time" before harvest...that "transition" before birth. Well let me be your coach and say, "keep on keepin' on"! It's the worst pain you will ever feel in your life. Your sick and tired of "time" and waiting and pain. But harvest is coming...delivery is about to take place...What has been sown will be harvested. What has been conceived will be delivered!
When a baby is about to be born and it makes its descent down the birth canal, there's no stopping it. What has been conceived in your life cannot be stopped by any devil in hell. No person, no circumstance, no situation will abort the delivery of God's plan for your life. Jesus said that what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. (Revelation 3: 7) What has been conceived, planted and opened for your life in '07, will be birthed, delivered and harvested in '08. Be confident of this: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
Praying for super-abundance in EVERY area of your life,
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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #128

#128 "Apples and Bows"
January 1, 2008
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
Happy New Year! My husband Chuck has graciously allowed me the week off from writing "Tuesday's". I hope that you enjoy his insight and writing this week. God bless you and yours as you embark on 2008. It's going to be great! ... Donna
When Donna and I got married, our first Christmas trees were decorated with lights, ornaments, and a lot of bright red apples and plaid bows. The tree was always very pretty and very festive! I remember her saying that she eventually wanted a tree that was decorated only with special ornaments… our annual Christmas ornament, the kid's first Christmas, our eldest graduating, the paper ornaments that the kids brought home from school every year… gifts from our friends and family… ornaments that touch us… ornaments that have meaning. One year Donna said, “I think it time for these apples and bows to go!”  How many of us are hanging on to our apples and bows? How many are of us are holding on to our former lives… before Christ? Let me explain...
You accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you read your bible every day, you pray, you listen to praise and worship music, you have a fish emblem on your car, and you attended the latest Joyce Meyer Conference. You listen to gossip, you cuss out “that jerk” who cut in front of you, you keep the extra thirty five cents that the cashier overpaid you, you “just peek” at inappropriate web-sites, you tell your boss that you have to leave early because (insert your lie here…)!
Oopps sorry… kinda got the things that have meaning, mixed up with the old apples and bows.
Wasn’t your old life great? Partying all the time… doing whatever you wanted to do… lying and cheating… living the way the world dictated? You did whatever you wanted. Attitude didn’t matter, accountability didn’t matter, morals didn’t matter, faithfulness didn’t matter, integrity didn’t matter… you get my point. What’s your apple… what does Satan tempt you with… what is your forbidden fruit?
Is it gossip? Proverbs 20:19 says ”A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Proverbs 26:20 says “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down”. I think that most people gossip to make themselves feel better, superior to the people they’re “talking” about. Who’s avoiding you… what fight are you keeping alive? Think about this… what are the people you’re gossiping with saying about you when you leave?
What about honesty? Honesty is defined as honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair, showing uprightness and fairness; sincere, genuine, respectable, humble, truthful, and virtuous. Proverbs 12:17 says “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” Proverbs 16:11 states: “Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.” Proverbs 16:13 – “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth”. That just about covers it… If we profess to be children of the Most High God, and brothers and sisters of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, why are we acting like those who have no faith? 
How about anger? Psalm 4:4 states; “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent”. Psalm 37:8 follows with “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Anger was my job… it was my ministry! For over 40 years I was an angry man. From as far back as I can remember I was angry. It was my life. If I wasn’t angry, something was wrong. Why, you may ask? I don’t know. It was me. No reason, no logic. I just was. I eventually realized that it was my anger that caused me to lose my job(s). My anger disrupted my family and alienated my friends (except for the angry one’s…). It wasn’t until I almost destroyed every gift that the Lord gave me, that I asked Him to help me deal with my anger. The people I was angry at didn’t care. Most (if not all) of the time they didn’t even know that I was angry. I was being eaten alive by my anger toward so many things that I didn’t know any other way. But...
Christ shows us another way. His way. His perfect, loving and peaceful way. To me, apples and bows represent our lives before Christ. The special ornaments are all the blessings that God has given us. Like when He made sure that we were provided for when there were more bills than money. Like when He brings a wayward child back home. When He mends a broken relationship, restores a ruined marriage, when He is forever loving us with His boundless, limitless, unfailing love.  Loving us so much that he sacrificed His only Son for us.
Why do we hide our blessings? Why, after all these years, might you still be hanging your faded, old apples and bows ... your old way of life...in front of God’s blessings and His commands? Why do we take on the world’s persona when we’re in the world, but become "Christian" only when we’re with “church folk”?
Colossians 3 says; “2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 7 to 16, You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Hear this again… “Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” As you begin your new year, get rid of the old things, the worldly things you’re holding onto. Tell yourself that it's time for the apples and bows to go. Put on a new self… the self that Christ gave you when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. The self that He died to give you.


Happy New Year,