A Season to Change

Isaiah 11.pngA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with the righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give with justice he will give decision for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.        Isaiah 11:1-5                          I will baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, who sandals, I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirt.                                              Matthew 3:11

Once again, we have entered into the season of advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus and hoping that soon very soon that the promise of peace on earth would become true, but can we change our own lives if not the world. As we stop and look into the manager of a tiny little baby perhaps we can say to ourselves what does this all mean. We can pick up a newspaper, watch the television to take notice and to say where is this peace on earth? So much violence in our world and at times so much hate, where is this love that people seems to be talking about especially that we seem to hear it more during this season. As we begin to prepared for this season in many ways such as baking with our children or grandchildren, going shopping in a crowded mall where at times people can be a little crazy, okay you may be thinking they can be nuts at times, the beautiful lights we all see, and the music that is playing on our car radio, and even the movies on television which reminds all of us this season. I personally love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree in my home, which reminds me of the season. Are all the different traditions that we have in our own families does this tell others and also us that we are ready to make a change in our own lives? Are we showing others of what we do or say that we are followers of Jesus, we are his disciples. Even thro this is a beautiful season there are so many people who are hurting this time of year and need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus. Christmas is a profoundly beautiful season, but for some it also highlights the losses, griefs, and heartbreaks in their lives. In Isaiah 11, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a ruler who would be a descendant of Jesse. Jesse was the father of ancient Israel’s great King David. This descendant would rule with true justice and true faith, and he would establish true peace. This peace would be so great that even wild animals would be able to lie down next to one another and even a child will lead them. This descendant would also become a standard for people throughout the world. And, this descendant would be sought by people throughout the world. As Isaiah talks about this future King, he is telling us that he will be able to look into the hearts of people and judge based on the truth. The poor and oppressed will find a champion in him. This ruler to come will stand for justice and will impose punishment of evildoers. This King will not be clothed in royal purple or anything so fancy, his garments will be righteousness and faithfulness. As we heard from the gospel of Matthew we come to learn that John the Baptize was the one to prepared the way of the coming of the Lord. In most households when someone says, “Company’s coming! Everyone works and clean up the entire house in preparation of their guest. The gospel of Matthew has John proclaiming, “Messiah is coming! But do not go and clean up your house. Instead, mend your heart! Clear your lives of any obstacle that would hinder his coming.” Housework requires the right tools to use. The type of tools John has in mind are repentance and baptism. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means change of mind, to change one’s life completely. Repentance is like driving down the wrong road, then turning around and going in the opposite direction. Baptism is the symbol that one has repented and been cleansed of sin. This was important to John’s ministry that he became known as John the Baptizer. How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, return the purpose of Christmas to the focus of Jesus? How do we prepare for his birth and for the second coming, it is not by having parties, decorating our houses, and giving gifts wrapped in fancy paper, but instead by giving ourselves anew over to the way of Christ? I suppose giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ begins with God’s gift of grace to us. It is something we feel inside. Some call it a moment of conversion. Others call it baptism by the Holy Spirit. John Wesley the founder of Methodist called it assurance. Maybe during the season of Advent, we could call it the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts. But whatever we call it, we will know when it happens to us, because it does cause us to confess our sins and turn ourselves away, over and over, from the trappings of this world so that we can reorient ourselves back toward Christ.

Grace and Peace yo You My Friends

 

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Through the Eyes of God

James 4b.pngNow listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it sin for them.    James 4:13-17

Have you ever taking the time to think of how God sees you? I would say we have all been guilty of this as well, because we can see the good in others, there talents, but when we come to us to see what God sees our view and opinion of ourselves falls pretty short. I believe that this happens after we have been hurt by another, from a situation that takes place in our lives we begin to believe the lies from the devil himself, I am not good enough. The way you see your life shapes your life. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships. I have read more than once the book call The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren a well known author, if you haven’t read it as of yet I do encourage you to do so. As Rick Warren shares in his book, we don’t know all the test God will give us, but we can predict some of them, based on the Bible. You will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies. I know that in my own life that God test my faith in many ways, through having a chronic ill child, times of challenges in my marriage, the disappointments I went through with people, but during these times my faith gets tested over and over again of being faithful to my Creator, my Lord and Savior, and through these times as I look back on my life I have grown closer to Christ more than I could ever image I would be able to do. Every time you or I pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward you in eternity. In the book of James he tells us “Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will received the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.                                                                                                   Our culture today says, “If you don’t own it, you will not take care of it. But Christians live by a higher standard, “Because God owns it, I must take the best care of anything I have because all gifts are a blessing from God, in other words everything and I mean everything I have and own comes from God and God alone. Rick shares with us in his book that Christians should carry spiritual cards (called a green card), to remind us that our citizenship is in heaven. God says his children are to think differently about life from the way unbelievers do, all they do is to worry about life here on earth, and for us as Christians is to look forward to the day when we are reunited with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not sure how God sees you and how precious you are to him, a simply suggestion for you to do is ask him, and believe me he will tell you. He loves you so much that he sent his one and only son Jesus into this world to die for us all so that we will never be separated from him once we leave this world. Remember when life gets hard and really hard for you, and you are overwhelmed with doubt, remember you are not home yet, and when the time comes and it will in a blink of an eye you will return home to the Father, “The Great I Am”

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends