Faith

New Every Morning

Blog_SnowSunriseThe New Year brings with it the promise of new opportunities. When the calendar turns, we see a clean slate before us. Things we’ve been waiting to change finally meet the resolve that comes with a fresh start. As we reflect on the year that’s fading into memory, we consider the year to come and all we desire it will bring.

Unfortunately, many of the resolutions made with the turning of the year never come to fruition. A few weeks pass, and discipline wanes. Desire for change is overcome by the monotony of life, and it becomes easier to slip back into old patterns. It isn’t long before our resolutions are forgotten, and the guilt of not meeting our goals is buried beneath the tyranny of the urgent. “Oh well,” we think. “We can always wait…’til next year.”

Why must we wait? Why put off change for another year, when there’s an opportunity to change…now? God’s Word carries the good news that change is possible every day: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

With God, every day is New Year’s Day. He supplies the power we need to change. We don’t need to keep putting it off. When we stumble and fall—when we wrestle with our old habits and ways, we don’t have to wait long for another chance to turn it all around. Every minute of every day is a new opportunity for transformation. Today is the day of salvation, this moment is the moment for renewal and change. We don’t have to wait another second, another minute…another year. This is the time for new beginnings—a new season, a new day.

Yet with this hope comes the somber reality that tomorrow is not promised. We never know when we will take our last breath. So why not spend our every breath living the transformed life we desire, rather than living dead in the grave of regret? Change is possible. Today is a new day. We may not have tomorrow, so let’s make the most of the gift of the time we have.

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Restored and Renewed

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God has promised to make all things new. Because of Christmas, broken hearts can be restored, lives can be renewed. When all is lost, everything is gained. It’s then that we find life that is truly life—a hope that can never fade away.

So it’s not really over. Christmas is the beginning of all things new.

 

Photo Credit: Happy New Year And Merry Christmas Free Stock Photo – Public …

The Gift We Can Never Repay

Blog_ChristmasGiftsChristmas is a time of giving. As God gave the gift of His Son to us, so we give gifts to one another. The blessing of a gift is that it comes without cost to us. While there may have been great cost to the person presenting the gift, the gift is free to the one receiving it.

Too often we allow Christmas to become a contest in gift-giving. We want to see who can give the most costly or creative of gifts. If we receive a gift from someone, we feel obligated to give one in return—even if we had never initially intended to present a gift to them. A sense of guilt or shame comes upon the one who has nothing to give in return for a gift they’ve received.

God, unlike man, has given a gift that can never be repaid. Many times, we think that we can out-give God: that our earthly offerings can somehow surpass His offering to us. Even if God were never to give us more than salvation, it would be impossible for us to repay Him—for everything we have comes from Him. It’s like a child asking her Father for money to buy him a gift: truly, the child has sacrificed nothing to buy the gift. Her resources for her father’s gift came first from her father.

God has given us life and light. HE has given us all creation, and every good thing to enjoy. In Christ Jesus, He has given us abundant life here on earth and the hope of eternal life in His presence. What do we have that He did not give?

Our attempts to repay the Lord are an exercise in futility, because apart from Him we are bankrupt. He is worthy and deserving of our praise and thanksgiving: of our lives, and we give these gifts in humble recognition that He is the ultimate gift-giver. He is the source from whom we derive our being. When we give to Him, we are only returning what belongs to Him. When we give to others, we demonstrate God’s sacrificial heart. So let us gratefully receive the abundance He has given! And let us humbly give our lives to Him, knowing that all we have has first been given to us.

“For who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:35-36)

The Greater Gift

 

blog_christmasstockingsEven without the presence of presents or the glow of a tree, it’s impossible to cancel Christmas. It was never about all that stuff to begin with. It’s about a greater gift—one that can never be taken away. Our creator God bringing salvation to a lost, dark, and dying world: a more glorious theme than even the best of Christmas programming.

 

Photo Credit: Christmas Images – Public Domain Pictures – Page 1

Why We Can’t Save Christmas

Blog_ChristmasDisasterI’ve watched enough children’s Christmas programs over the past few years to notice a common theme. Somehow, all the gifts get misplaced, lost, or worse yet—stolen, and Christmas will have to be cancelled. Even Santa can’t remedy the catastrophe. Yeah, he may see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake, know if you’ve been bad or good AND travel at the speed of light delivering gifts to every child in the world between sundown and sunrise one night a year, but he’s powerless against this degree of loss. It will take a miracle to save Christmas.

Cue the average, insignificant kid, dog, reindeer, or one of Santa’s distant, unknown, and under-qualified relatives. If only they step up to the task and confront insurmountable odds in the nick of time, Christmas just might be rescued. There’s always hope, if only a faint glimmer.

These shows might be fun, colorful, and mildly entertaining. They may be likened to the macaroni and cheese of holiday programming. But they miss the central truth of Christmas. It doesn’t need to be saved. We do. And that’s why our savior came.

Just watch the news, read the papers, or scroll through the latest headlines and it’s clear. We need to be rescued. All the coexist bumper stickers in the world haven’t helped us to live at peace with each other. We need divine intervention. And that’s what happened over 2000 years ago in a manger in Bethlehem. God came down. He intervened on our behalf, changing the course of history.

Even without the presence of presents or the glow of a tree, it’s impossible to cancel Christmas. It was never about all that stuff to begin with. It’s about a greater gift—one that can never be taken away. Our creator God bringing salvation to a lost, dark, and dying world: a more glorious theme than even the best of Christmas programming.

It’s impossible for us to save Christmas. But because of Christmas, we can be saved. If only we receive the gift.

 

Photo Credit: 1905 Christmas Disaster Red Santa Sleigh Accident Raphale … | Flickr

The Hope of Christmas

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God has stepped into the darkness of our world, offering the hope of reconciliation.In Him, there’s hope even in the deepest depths of darkness, that we were created for something far greater than what we’ve settled for. We were made for a world where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Christmas, Candlelight – Free Image on Pixabay – 1050965

A Cry in the Darkness

Winter park at nightSometimes silence is the only appropriate response to tragedy. But sometimes our hearts cry out louder than the silence…piercing through the darkness, pleading for an answer. Where is God in the midst of all the hate and killing, the evil and the madness? Where are WE?

If God is good and loving, how can He allow horrific things to happen? We question how we can trust a God who allows darkness to prevail over our lives. But how can we NOT trust Him? The other alternative is to trust ourselves, to trust in humanity—but look what we’ve done to ourselves. How can we trust ourselves when we are capable of annihilating one another? Such evils have come at the hands of men intent on following their own selfish intentions. Yet following God’s ways, we would know and be empowered to “do to others as we would have done to us” and to “love others more than we love ourselves.”

We question what has become of God’s peace and provision. Where is His barrier of protection over us? But we are the ones who have erased the barrier. We’ve told God we’d much rather rule ourselves, even to the point of destruction. We’ve told him we don’t want Him in our homes, in our lives, in our schools…in our world, then we look and wonder why He’s not there when tragedy strikes.

God has stepped into the darkness of our world, offering the hope of reconciliation. In Him, we have the shelter of hope in the midst of our storms. There is no guarantee our lives on this dark earth will be safe. Men bent on following their own ways are constantly penetrating the barrier God has offered to provide.

And yet, in God, there is hope even in the deepest depths of darkness—that we were created for something far greater than what we’ve settled for. We were made for a world where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”

In times like this, we cry out to God in words much like those of this prayer by Max Lucado: “Lord…Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence…

“Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene…

“Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.”

(Originally posted on the Eternal Encounter blog in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy)