times of past
when the altar call
of my life was made
I was made free.
Free to begin again,
free to start anew
– my life before
was just a preview,
of the greatness He
wanted to do inside,
to bid the old man
Saying goodbye isn’t always a bad thing. It is a time when we are able to clean out certain things in our lives that were hindrances and unprofitable. Even in our own character, there can be things we would like to rid ourselves of and start anew. When that newness starts with Christ, you can never go wrong. When the new I am seeking is found in Him, I may not be guaranteed a life of ease and success, but I am guaranteed a new life with a glorious future to behold.
Letting go. Saying goodbye is sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves. Especially if it is keeping us from something far greater.
I can’t guarantee you a lot in life, but I can guarantee that anything you let go of will pale in comparison to what you find in our Savior.
Goodbye, old man. It’s time for the new.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” Ephesians 4:22-23
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” Colossians 3:10
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year. There’s a special peace and happiness in the air as we come together with friends, family, and loved ones to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior. We get together to laugh, eat and enjoy one another’s company. Then, we have the privilege to exchange gifts that show the love we carry for each other all throughout the year.
Gifts, by definition, are something given voluntarily. I love you, and because I love you, you don’t have to twist my arm to make me show adoration towards you. I do it of my own will, without prompting, because you mean that much to me.
That’s what makes this time of year so special. (After all, it was God’s biggest gift to humanity that gives us cause for celebrating in the first place.) It’s not the big dinners, twinkling lights, or the carols (though we enjoy it all). It’s the love and adoration shown when gifts are given and opened with a rejoicing heart.
We go through much trouble to find and carefully select that perfect gift for that special someone. I mean, you just know in your heart that they are going to love it and you can’t wait for them to rip off that wrapping paper, rejoice with gladness over the special way you thought about them, and immediately start using that gift you gave.
Now, consider this. What if, when you gave your gift of love, they toss it to the side in disregard saying, “I’ll get to it when I get to it?” You would be so crushed, hurt, and disappointed over their uncaring way of receiving your gift.
What if God feels the same way? Not only did He give us THE BEST GIFT that we could never live without (His Son, JESUS), but in our relationship with Him, we have been freely given many other gifts. Not only is a gift something given voluntarily, but it is also a special ability or capacity; a special talent to be used for the edifying of Himself through you.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus told the parable of the talents. One man was given five, one was called to receive two and another received one. What is ironic is that the two to whom the most talents were given increased and prospered one hundred percent. Now, we would think their master was unfair in expecting so much from them. After all, he did give them more responsibilities than the other.
Through perseverance and diligent work, not only did they gain a little but they doubled what they started with. Sadly, the one who was only given one responsibility, only one job, one talent let fear stop him from increasing and prosperity. He said, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine,” (Matthew 25:25). Instead of being made a ruler, he was made a disgrace. Instead of living with abundance, he was deemed unprofitable and cast into outer darkness (vs. 30).
Living a life of unprofitableness is living a life of darkness. There’s no joy or peace, only weeping. This is not the life that God intended for us to live. The special stuff that God put on the inside of you and me was never meant to be buried and hidden from the world. We are meant to shine as a beacon of light into this dim, dark world and show them who God is and what He wants to do for all mankind through the abilities, gifts, and talents He has put in us.
What you have in you is too good to hide. Don’t keep it to yourself. “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” (vs. 29). To some, this may seem like an unfair statement, thinking, Why do they get more when they already have some? And, why are they going to take his little bit of stuff away?
Instead of questioning and overanalyzing the story, perhaps our time would be better spent if we were to pull out our own shovels and start digging. Dig for your talent. Unearth it from deep within and don’t give up until you have pulled out every treasure that God has put in you. If when you pull your treasure up, it turns out to be only one thing, then, you work that one thing with hard-pressing diligence until it has increased and doubled to two. Then, you work some more until that two doubles to four and so on.
‘Tis the season for opening gifts. God has already given them to you. Don’t let fear stop you from unwrapping them. God took great care in picking out the perfect gift for you and He can’t wait for you to rip off the wrapping paper and begin to use it. God gave it to you because you mean a lot to Him and He knows that you would be great in using it.
Don’t toss it aside. Whether your gift is humble or outrageous, open it and bring it to the Savior! You may be surprised at what you find.
We have just a little ways to go before we celebrate the best gift ever: JESUS! Soon after that, we will be bringing in a New Year. What better time to unwrap all that good stuff God has placed in you?
Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, always thanking God in advance for the greatest gift of His Son, our Savior, JESUS CHRIST!
Friends, this day is a day that we have never seen before. As each day progresses into the new, we all walk on unfamiliar ground. As we walk the paths that lead into each day, we never fully know entering in what its end will be. We never fully understand what will happen on the road ahead as we put our feet to walking forward.
But we are here, dear friend. We are at the beginning of a new day and already there is not lacking things that demand our attention, or things that stir up friction, trying to disturb the walk for the day before the day itself has fully begun.
How can we make the best out of these days if we have never navigated them before?
As God was preparing the Israelites for the conquest of the Promised Land, He gave Joshua, their new leader, incredibly detailed instructions on their going into this new territory. He said,
“When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore,” (Joshua 3:3-4).
Their story is such a great symbol of our daily living. Each day we enter is new to us: “You have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4, NKJV).
The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence among His people. The instructions were for them to leave enough space between it and them so that they could properly see it, follow it, and know which way to go.
God stood as their ultimate guide for going into the new, and He stands as our guide, too.
How many attempts are made daily of entering this fresh territory called today without proper guidance? Without connecting our eyes and hearts with the One who knows our days before we do?
Every day, as we are entering in, we need to look to God. We need to get connected to where He is leading, and then we need to follow His lead.
As the clock ticks on, and the hours go by, the days and years come and go – every single day that we open our eyes in the land of the living is new to us. To make the most out of each day, to successfully navigate this day, we need to focus on Him who has gone before us.
Take comfort, dear friend, that you are not navigating the days alone. As He once told the Children of Israel: “… he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8), I believe if we look to God, and follow His lead, we can be encouraged by the same promise. Instead of being dismayed by what is ahead, we can find joy because our God has gone before us, and daily His presence is with us (Hebrews 13:5).
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,” Matthew 5:6
As a mom, I look back and I can remember distinctly the graduations of my children. They were very proud moments for parents and students alike. As each graduate would come out during the processional, moving closer to the stage, soon to walk across it to receive their diplomas, you could see the look of accomplishment etched proudly on their faces. A sort of contentment had washed over each of them declaring, “I made it!” And with that, the feeling of fulfillment begins to set it.
Those joyous times that we get to celebrate achievements are wonderful. No one can take away the feelings of awe and satisfaction that come with that sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, as Christians, I think we place too much value on the accomplishments to satisfy us and not enough value in the Christ that is already filling us.
Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I stating that celebrating reaching goals such as these is wrong. As a matter of fact, I believe it’s a very healthy thing to set goals and be proud of the achievement that follows.
But, what of the times in-between? Most of our every day is what one would define as, “Humdrum.” There are times when we are not in the process of celebrating those wonderful graduating victories. We are not riding high on accomplishments and the like. What of that time?
This is where most will begin to feel a sense of loss, a sense of not quite being worthy enough, carrying a feeling of not measuring up to one’s self or another’s standard. These in-between times are when people start to lose their spiritual footing. Some may even begin to venture backward with the feeling of, “Why should I even bother?”
That is not what God wants for us. He does not want you to base your self-worth off of the things that you have done, but rather on who you are in Him. You are His child. You are the one that He allowed His Son to be sacrificed for. You are the one He chose to redeem. And, if God saw that much value in you to do all of that, how dare we look to accomplishments for satisfaction.
The Bible declares in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…” We don’t find who we are or content ourselves with anything outside of Him! When I wake up in the morning it’s not because of anything that I have done. The reason is that “in Him” I live, move, and have my very being. I was not designed, as a child of God, to feel the need to be fulfilled anywhere other than in Him!
We don’t need to hunger after the things of this world. We don’t need to feel like we can only be complete during those graduation victories. Jesus said, “They which do hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.” In other words, all we have to do is to have that sincere yearning within us to do that which is right for Him and live it. He will fill us! We shall be satisfied because we have found out where our real value lies. In Him!
Graduation victories and celebrations of all kinds are wonderful, but we can’t live there all the time. Day by day, I have to know that because I am His child, and because I am hungering and thirsting after righteousness, I can be filled. Whether it is a rainy Monday, a get-over-the-hump Wednesday, or a celebrating Sunday; because I am in Him and He is in me, I can always feel fulfillment in my life.
“And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.” Luke 7:16
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23
The day was not one she expected. Her only son was dead, and now it is time to lay his body to rest. What would happen now? Her life was left with many unanswered questions. Being a widow, and now with the loss of her only son, she doesn’t know about her tomorrow. As if dealing with sorrow wasn’t enough, her heart can’t process what might be up ahead.
A lot of us wonder about what’s up ahead for us. Many question their days with hard-to-find answers. What will life look like for me from here on out?
We can only imagine the swirl of emotions afflicting this poor mother as she followed the coffin of her son.
As the crowd moved forward, a commotion came from the front. With compassion written all over His face, a man stepped close to the coffin where her son lay.
Touching it, He peered inside and saw what no one else could.
He saw the brokenness the mother now carried. He saw the worries for the future. He saw the life that wasn’t but could be. He saw a better ending for this family than what they are experiencing now.
He speaks, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” (Luke 7:14). And life returned. Wholeness and healing had come for this family. Their hope for tomorrow was restored.
Seeing the miracle, the people rejoiced, “A great prophet has risen among us!” (vs.16). “God hath visited his people!”
The revelation of their praise was true, more than they could have imagined. The realness of Who was in their midst probably could not really have been fathomed.
Over thirty years prior, an angel encouraged Joseph about the babe Mary carried in her womb:
“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23)
“Emmanuel … God with us”
“God hath visited his people” were on the lips of those who witnessed the widow of Nain’s son raised from the dead.
Friend, God is with us. He has visited His people. He is still speaking life to those who are dead. And He is setting people up for a better future than what they see now.
When Jesus spoke, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), His focus was not only on the circumstances of the day but on all our eternal futures for tomorrow that’s coming.
When we recognize who it is with us now and offers us new life, we can find joy and peace for this abundant living like we never could before.
When we recognize the magnitude of “God with us” and align our lives and hope, in faith accordingly, we will not only find joy and peace now but also for all eternity.
Jesus spoke to the widow, saying, “Weep not” (vs. 13). If you have accepted Christ as your Savior; if you have welcomed into your life, “Emmanuel … God with us” – there will come a day when the Bible declares: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
That glorious future for tomorrow starts by recognizing and accepting who Jesus Christ is in your life today.
More than a prophet has come. God incarnate has taken the stage in history. Let Him take the stage in your life today. Because when God visits, things will change for the better, forever.
Father God, help many souls and hearts to see the true reason for the season: “God with us.” Our Lord came to be born, and to die, and to raise us to a new life in Him. The widow of Nain joyfully received her son back to life and we know that heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7) and starts life anew in You. Help many to hear, see, know, love, and accept Jesus Christ for themselves that they might have life, and have it more abundantly for all eternity. In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!
It will not last, my friends. The wickedness of the days we see, the corruptness in the land, will all one day vanish away for good.
In this world, we may see the unfolding of many evil deeds. At times, it may seem as if the leash has been cut, and like a made dog, the world is running rabid. But rest assured, dear friends, regardless of what it may look like, God will always have the final say and it will not last.
Psalm 37:12-17 expounds on this truth by letting us know:
“The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.”
Therefore, dear one, take heart in what your Lord has done and is doing. They may rage, but He laughs. They may try to come against His people, but it is the Lord who will come against those who come against His people. It is the Lord who will break their attempts and “uphold the righteous.”
When the weariness of this world gets you down. When you see things that you just cannot seem to understand. When it seems that things are out of control, remember God is for justice. God is for righteousness. And God is for His people.
There is a day coming when all evil will be dealt with and silenced forever.
Take heart, the wickedness you see today will not last. Zacharias prophesied of our Savior with this promise:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68-75)
Friends, let us remember as we have come into the Christmas season, the purpose for it all.
Our Lord, as glorious and celebratory the scene may be, did not come to stay a babe in a manger. He grew, and died, and rose to crush wickedness once and for all.
Fulfilling prophecies: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15; compare Hebrews 2:14).
Defeating darkness: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).
Ushering in victory: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Because our Lord grew out of the manger and raised out of the grave, the Christmas purpose has been fulfilled. The promise of our redemption has come and conquered, and victory over wickedness has been won forever.
“If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;” Deuteronomy 7:17-18
Is there something overwhelming before you? Are there new boundaries that you are looking to breach? Has fear caused you to miss out on the best that God has for you?
The children of Israel could have answered yes to all these questions. Forty years prior, they had a chance to enter the Promised Land. They had a chance to possess everything the Lord had in store for them. But they missed out.
A bad report from some unbelieving spies rendered the people’s resolve for the fight useless (Numbers 13:32). What they saw as an overwhelming obstacle and what they believed in their heart about themselves (Numbers 13:33) not only affected them, but their negativity spread throughout the entire camp (Numbers 14:1-3).
Because of this, they were made to turn away from what could have been, and they were forced to return to the wilderness of what was.
Approaching the verses above, they now are being prepared, forty years later, to take another shot at their promise. Moses, in reiterating all the commands of God before they enter, is also teaching them how to overcome any doubts and fears they may have about possessing their promise.
Their fathers couldn’t enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 4:1-3), but Moses wanted this generation to make it. He wanted them to gain everything God has for them.
They couldn’t do that if they didn’t remember. Remember who was on their side (Psalm 118:6). Remember who it was that was fighting for them (Deuteronomy 3:22).
Moses instructs them, when they cross over and when what’s before them seems to be too much for them – when they cross over and that whisper of fear begins to speak, he tells them to remember. Remember what God has already done and draw strength from those victories.
We may not be trying to dispossess nations to obtain a Promised Land, but in trying to progress or move forward into our own promises, we can let fear stop us. When we look across the borders of what can be, sometimes it seems daunting. Overwhelming. Down-right impossible.
In those times, we would do well to follow Moses’ advice: remember. Remember what God has already done.
You have your own testimonies of God’s faithfulness and workings in your own life. You have areas where His help stood out because of the circumstance you were facing. You have those moments when He spoke to your heart during desperate times, showed you His love, or ushered a victory in for you.
Remember those moving’s of God’s might in your life. Draw strength from His faithfulness and go and possess your promise.