#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,