Archive for December, 2009

Forget Something? Good!

December 31st, 2009

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13 NIV

Forgetting is often where healing happens, and only you can make it so.

My thoughts today ask, “Forget something? That’s a good thing!”

Forgetfulness is not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it is the best thing. There are things that you do not need to remember, things that only bring worry or pain, things for which you have no answer or explanation. Such things accumulate like so much trash, crowding out more profitable memories that edify and encourage. Do you ever remember what you should forget, and forget what you should remember?

In my home growing up, my chore was to take out the trash, and my Dad kept me reminded to do so. I guess I needed to hear a lot more, “Son, have you taken out the trash?” than my Dad should have needed to say. At our home now that is still one of my jobs. Every Friday is trash day. Newspapers and old mail are thrown away daily, but the garbage truck comes Friday morning, so Thursday after work is the time to gather all the things needing to be carried out and thrown away. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about everyday life, whether or not that was his intent. I think life works better when you learn to take out the trash regularly.

Today is another New Year’s Eve. People across the globe will gather in private and public places to welcome in a new year. The world celebrates the end of each year in their wish for things being better in a New Year, different than they were. But wishing will not make that so. Things once done cannot easily be undone. The past can become a terrible prison where things hold you that you alone can no longer change.

The church gathers in homes or sanctuaries this New Year’s Eve, grateful to God that He has taken away the old mistakes and sins of our past, and given forgiveness and a new start in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, and all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5.17. Forgiveness without forgetting is not as freeing as God intends.

I love the story of Joseph. There was a lot of hurtful trash; some from his lack of wisdom, but much the family and others dumped on him. To survive and keep his dreams, Joseph had to learn how to take out the trash of his painful, unfair past. In Egypt, to Joseph was born two sons. Read Genesis 41:51-52 NIV. The first son, he named Manasseh, when he understood, “For God made me forget all my trouble.” Forgetting is often where healing happens. The second son, he named Ephraim, as he explained, “For God has made me fruitful in my suffering.” Counting your blessings is where celebrating begins.

Mistakes and mishaps, things you and others who may have said or done, may have shaped your appraisal of 2009, but you have the power of choice to greatly reshape a new year as God intends for you. A few days ago, a friend shared with me this Scripture for my new year, and now I give it to you, “His allowance was a continual allowance given him of the King, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” 2 Kings 25:30 KJV. That’s what I pray for you everyday!

My prayer for you is: your review will see only good, and your expectation be for the best.

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The Gate of the Year

December 30th, 2009

“To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20 NIV

“Place God at the center of your life, and you can be certain of His love and care always.”

My thoughts today are about “the gate of the year.”

Ahead is a new year, and we stand together at its edge – some fearfully, others hopefully. As 1939 drew to a close and England was at war, King George VI addressed his nation with these words of courage and encouragement, “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’ and he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way . .(The Gate of the Year, Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908)

King George closed with these words of his own, “And may that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.” Those words are as true and relevant today as when written 100 years earlier. Put your hand in God’s, and be certain the Almighty God will guide and uphold you always!

You will often need to be reminded of how you can be certain in uncertain times. You are at the “gate of the year” that is preparing to unfold with experiences and accomplishments, as well as challenges yet unforeseen. The close of a year can feel a bit uncomfortable. What is past at least became familiar. What is ahead is still unforeseen and unknown. At such times – and they are not reserved merely for the annual change of calendar – you need to remember the things of which you can be sure.

Be sure about God, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all (you) ask or imagine.” Jesus gave this advice in His Sermon on the Mount, “Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 The Message. Don’t borrow from tomorrow’s concerns until you receive tomorrow’s strength. When my Mom was ill and not expected to live, the Lord spoke His Word quietly into my heart, “Your strength will equal your days.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NIV. I continue to find that true, as will you.

As I was growing up, I often heard my Mom singing these words, “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow and I know He holds my hand.” I am sure her songs at home and church helped shape my personal theology.

Be sure about this: with God at the center of your life, you can be certain of His love and care at all times. Some people live their lives struggling and fearful with all that is yet unknown to them. Others, though with lives of similar circumstance, choose to live with courage and confidence.

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let it go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.” Hebrews 6:17-19 The Message. Hope is ever the anchor of the soul, when that hope holds firmly to God’s character and Word. See Hebrews 6:19/Psalm 42:1-11.

Minnie Haskins concluded her poem with this certainty, “So I went forth and finding the Hand of God, Trod gladly into the night . . So heart be still! What need our human life to know, If God has comprehension?” Now that’s a truth I can live with!

My prayer for you today is: walk bravely through this gate of the year holding God’s hand.

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The Internal Essential

December 29th, 2009

“Judge me, O Lord . . according to my integrity.” Psalm 7:8 NIV

“Transparency is the best safeguard of integrity.”

My thoughts today are about “the internal essential.”

You will meet people in every walk of life that are not always what they seem. In public, they may be careful to be what they should be; in private, they feel safe to be who they really are. That is a lack of integrity. Integrity is more than a matter of being honest with others; integrity is first and foremost being honest with yourself, and with God. It is the internal essential.

Today’s culture does not encourage or seem to widely value real integrity. People of the popular culture are content with image, what they professionally project for others to see. Whether on Main Street or Wall Street – in business, government, entertainment, sports, or just an ordinary person – playing loose with truth seems indulged until someone is dumb enough to be caught publicly in a scandal.  Then, like piranhas, the media and anyone with an opinion delights in tearing down the previous illusion and the person who hid behind it.

Whatever others may do, you cannot allow yourself to compromise integrity, even in the smallest and most hidden of things. Such breaches never remain small or hidden. Real relationships do not survive with less than integrity and honesty. Your relationship with God will not exceed your honesty with Him and humility before Him. That which is hidden separates you from others, and from God.

Integrity does not come naturally to any of us. We are all fallen and sinful by nature and have learned well the trick of covering up and hiding, as did our spiritual parents, Adam and Eve. See Genesis 3. David tried that after Bathsheba and it didn’t work out so well for him then. The goal is to become more careful so there is nothing to cover or hide, not to become more clever about doing so. Read Psalm 25:21 NLT/Proverbs 11:3 NIV/Proverbs 20:7 NKJV.

Jesus warned, “Beware of hypocrisy. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in the closet will be shouted from the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3 NKJV. Leave no secret places from God; it is useless to try that anyway.

Transparency is the best safeguard of integrity. To be transparent means you want only Jesus to be seen every time others look at your life. It is easy to be forthright when you are careful to be upright. It is a pretty good rule that whatever you would be reluctant for others to know about is probably not anything with which you should be involved. Can you be confident to invite God as David did, “Judge me, O Lord . . according to my integrity?” Psalm 7:8 NIV. It’s a good thing when you can do that.

My prayer for you today is to value your heart being always open and pure before the Lord.

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Your Point of View

December 28th, 2009

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

“Life is a wonderful tapestry that God is working throughout the whole of your life experience.”

My thoughts today are about “your point of view.”

With each year I live, I more strongly believe that so much of everyday life depends upon your point of view more than your present circumstance. A person is prone to interpret a given moment without viewing the broader context. Life is not a single, momentary experience but a wonderful tapestry that God is working throughout the whole of your life experience.

I enjoy the beauty and artistry of oriental rugs. Consider that the intricate design and exquisite merging of colors is the final product of its many individual threads, every one of them essential, not a single one extraneous.

While visiting Turkey a few years ago, we visited a place where fine, expensive rugs are hand made on ancient wooden looms. I stood alongside an artist weaving one of those rugs. Her hands moved swiftly but deftly, the ultimate design being translated from her thoughts and intent through her hands. I didn’t know what she had fully planned; I didn’t really understand what she was doing or how she accomplished her task, yet she worked busily and happily according to a design unknown to me yet foreseen to her.

That seems to me the way that God works. What if you saw your life from God’s point of view, rather than your own or others? Eternity reduces the magnitude of the moment, putting the present into its proper perspective. See John 13:7 NIV. Might troubles seem less than they first appear? Or disappointments smaller? Or delays less trying? Or failures less final? Or demands less urgent?

If you look carefully and listen intently, you can see God at work for good in everything that touches your life. Read Romans 8:28-29 NIV. It is not good when bad things occur and know this with certainty, God does not cause them, yet in God’s grace there can be good in the worst that happens to you. You can see obstacles or opportunities, problems or possibilities, setbacks or stepping stones. It all depends on your point of view.

In High School English Literature, I learned a poem that comes to mind.

God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines, Of never failing skill. He treasures up His bright designs, And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread. Are big with mercy and shall break, In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain. (William Cowper, English poet, son of an Anglican clergyman 1731-1800)

My prayer for you today is: remember the context of life and see God there at all times.

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A Joyous Christmas 2009

December 25th, 2009

“Do not be afraid. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people. Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, which is Christ the Lord . . and suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly Host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!'” Luke 2:8-20 NAS.

All the comments that I or others may share about the Christmas story could not add to the beauty and simplicity of the Bible narrative on this Christmas morning 2009. The message rings as clear today as on that first Christmas in Bethlehem – “good tidings of great joy . . for there is born for you a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” May Jesus be the source of your joy and center of your celebration as you gather today because your Savior was born.

May your day be blessed and your celebration of Jesus be without restraint!

A Joyous and Blessed Christmas, Pastor Allen and Gayle Randolph, EveryDay Life Ministry