Andy Williams ,a.k.a., “Old Blue Eyes” smash hit “Its the most Wonderful Time of the Year” has finally been put away until next November. I remember,as a child, feelings of great anticipation and excitement building through that corridor on the calendar between Thanksgiving and December 25th, ‘crescendoing’ all week into New Years Eve. Decorations have being put up, special treats and meals prepared, packages wrapped and a flood of family and friends have come and gone. But now as the presents are no longer secrets to be kept, the lights have come down and the “Most wonderful time of the Year” is over (one wonders what that means for the rest of the year), the well wishes for a Happy New Year linger on. We truly want a Happy Year this year, but the cold hard fact is that it may not be, that is, depending on your deﬁnition of ‘Happy”. In Bible terms God uses the word ‘blessed’ , which means ‘happy’. It is comforting to know that the creator of the universe desires for his people to not only be ‘happy’ in an uncertain world, but to also provide the means for true and enduring ‘happiness’ through any and every trial possibly faced. So just what is the recipe for an abiding happiness? Matthew 5:1-12 contains the ingredients and the directions.
First start off with a generous portion of Humility. Those who have a humble spirit, who are gentle and kind, and those who have compassion for the needs of others will ﬁnd good in difﬁcult circumstances. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” A humble spirit will be at peace for “God gives grace to the humble”
Next add a heaping measure of Righteousness which is something that the children of God actually practice, it is what they do. This is an indicator of their love for God and their brothers. A hunger and a thirst for righteousness in God will always produce happiness.
Lastly, pour in gallons of Mercy. Those with a pure heart seeking the well being of others, peace between men, and enduring persecutions and insults have a focus on the kingdom of heaven. They know their heavenly reward will be great, far better than any possible earthly reward.
We all have the potential for great blessings from the Father of Lights, the Lord our God. The above recipe is actually a summary of how Jesus viewed the world. We would do well to ‘resolve’ to live like Him! He has given us everything and will continue to bless us as we diligently live for His will. Happy New Year!
Josiah was the boy king of Israel who upon hearing for the ﬁrst time in his life the unadulterated word of the Lord, could hardly believe that his nation was so far from the will of God. God himself accused Israel of forsaking Him and making offerings to other gods. One wonders “How could this have happened?” Well, the same way we forsake God. We get wrapped up in our busy lives, slowly conform to the ways of the world, not realizing that bit by bit, we ﬁnd ourselves making offerings to other Gods. Not me! you say? Consider these examples. The god of the TV. The god of the work place. The god of entertainment. The god of leisure. The god of food. The god of sex. The god of selﬁshness. The god of social media. The god of the internet. These are all powerful gods in our lives that demand we make offerings to them. And we do, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes perfectly willingly. Each one possibly not a sin in and of itself, but when we are making offerings to them, in place of God, they become idols just as wicked as the Baal and the Ashera worshipped by faithless Israel. The offering of time, money and attention to these activities is an indicator of just how much of an idol they become. I once heard in a sermon, “Show me your checkbook and video cabinet, and I will tell you who you worship”. When the young king realized how far Israel had drifted from the will of God, he “tore his clothes” and ordered the priests to “inquire of the Lord” on their behalf. God recognized this ‘penitent man’ in his humility. When we have drifted into idolatry, this is exactly where the Lord longs for us to be, repentant and humble before him. He will forgive us and restore us just as he did with Josiah, the man of whom scripture says “was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might”. Beloved, check the areas of your life which demand the most of your time, the best of your attention, require the most of your money, and absorb your deepest devotion. If these areas of your life are consumed by anything other than the Lord, Jehovah God, tear your clothes.
Sitting in my lawn chair. Toes in the sand. The sound of the surf washing up on the shore line. People walking. Kids swimming. The sun shining. What a picture perfect day of relaxing and having fun! Another lazy summer day as life goes on without a care in the world! Or does it? We live in such a beautiful resort area and have so many blessings. It does us good to pause and praise God for the peace and the comfort we enjoy.
Coming off our recent mission trip to Guatemala and Missions Camp (which was another fantastic rally), we are reminded that most of the world’s population lives in abject poverty and misery. Peace and freedom are mere dreams. Most people struggle every day to eek out an existence.
In the face of such disparity I wonder, what do people think about? Some, obviously, think about the basic needs of life while others plan on the next fun activity. But how much do we think about or plan for the ‘great and terrible’ day of the Lord?
Truly there will be a day. A day in which the heavens open up, Jesus appears, every knee will bow and tongue confess His name and Lordship. Rich or poor, young or old, ALL will see Him in His glory!! This will be a day of joy and gladness for those in His church, and a day of terror and suffering for those not.
Jesus likened this day to the experience of Noah. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be like in the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away”. Sadly, many minds are focused on worldly things and ignore the will and word of the Lord. They disregard the wrath of God and the destruction of the world and “all the elements therein”. As disciples of Christ, our obligation is to share Jesus in a way that He becomes the very essence of thought, the object of aspirations.
Looking up and down this sandy stretch a song rings through my mind, “So many souls, so little time”. No. This is not “Just another day at the beach” . The Lord is coming again! What are we going to do about that?
In the early 1950ʼs a radio show became popular and then later turned into a live television program known as “This is your life!”. The concept was simple yet daring. Ralph Edwards, the showʼs ﬁrst host, would “surprise a guest, and proceed to take them through their life in front of an audience including friends and family.” Imagine that. A synopsis of your entire life, put on display for the whole world to see! Some guests responded pleasantly after the initial shock and welcomed being reunited with old friends and neighbors. Others were infuriated! “How dare you show my life to strangers without my consent!”. The broadcasting company probably had good lawyers. Hebrews 4:13 comes to mind. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from Godʼs sight”. He sees every single thing I see, He hears every thing I say, He watches everything I do. I can only pray for forgiveness at the end of each day, and praise Him for His mercy and grace. Thank God He forgives His children. But what about those who have not obeyed Him and are not ʻaddedʼ to His kingdom? “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2Cor5:10. Rest assured. We will ALL stand before God and our entire life WILL be presented, before the heavenly realm, wide open! No where to hide, nothing to cover up our deeds. Instead of being embarrassed in front of millions of viewers, we will receive that which we have earned, the wrath of God. (read Rev20:12-15). However, Jehovah God has given us a way to be covered, to blot out our past, thereby protecting and saving those who love and obey Him. Our conversion is where we are clothed with Christ! God no longer sees our old life, instead He sees what we are IN Jesus!! Col3:4 says,”When Christ, who IS our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.”! Jesus IS my life. He motivates my every move, every decision, my every thought, my every word, or at least He wants to. I want nothing more for all of us, than to have God on judgement day, in front of all of heaven, yell out loud and say “This is your Life!”, and be pointing at Jesus.
The primary goal of the camp is to provide an unusual setting, apart from the routine and often un-Christian surroundings of daily living. In this setting, the Word of God is taught and principles of Christian living are emphasized on a continuing basis.
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