All Aboard! 2017 Is Just Ahead

2017-trainI struggled a few days in searching for my 2017 word. I wanted it just right! I wanted something that would cause my mind to go into motion, and in a positive direction when I heard the word. I pondered the word “potential” for a few days and I looked strongly at the word “purpose.” Both of which are mighty fine words and I still consider them to be sub points. But when pursuit came into my head it stirred up the imagery of chasing God’s plan, seeking His will in the direction of my life. Most of the time in scripture, if not all the time, pursuit is used in the form of “pursuing the enemy, as to overtake them.” I’ve felt like that’s been me for the most of my life, with my focus being on my enemy’s pursuit of me. Feeling I was about to be overcome; always on the brink of destruction. That’s a frustrating life to lead. It always wears me out!

So for 2017 I’m pursuing God. And the great thing about that is He’s pursuing me back! He’s not running from me, He’s running toward me. The pursuit is in seeking the next step of God’s plan.

Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow. Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:16-19 KJV

That new thing! That’s what I’m pursuing. Isaiah spoke to Israel about the flight out of Egypt, a time that they were being pursued and God drowned the enemy in the sea. For me, I want the enemy drowned in the sea of forgetfulness never to rise again or be remembered. 2017 is unchartered territories, it may be wilderness, rivers or dessert. But God will make the way if I seek His will for my life.

I’m in pursuit of purpose to reach my full potential in the Lord Jesus Christ. He, Who pursued me through the Holy Spirit, He Who erased my past and cast my sins as far as the east is from the west.

Pursuit doesn’t have to be your word for the year for it to be your plan action. I found the following quote in a recent study that said “Allowing God’s plan shouldn’t create more pressure, but rather lessen the burden to figure things out.”  I love that! If I stop looking backward, or steering forward, the pressure is off me for direction. Pursuing will hopefully look more like train ride. I just need to get on board and let the Engineer do the work. When it comes to a stop; get out, do the job at hand and then get back on board for the next adventure.

All aboard! 2017 is just ahead!

Just Keep Going

ruth

The coming of the New Year always brings with it the potential for change and opportunity. I’m not one to make resolutions, more like intentions; because I know my history of follow through, and it’s not good. But that mindset is likely a part of my problem. I’m always quick to concede that a battle is over rather than seeing it as an opportunity for a new or revised plan. I grow weary in the waiting and the wanting and wonder if it was merely wishful thinking. Wow… that’s a lot of “w” words. But they’re not my points. My point of today’s blog came to me courtesy of the book and story of Ruth, the Moabite. A Gentile gal chosen by God to be in the lineage of Jesus, a woman with purpose because she just kept going.

She lost her husband… and kept going.

Times were bleak… but she kept going.

She didn’t know how or if it would work out… but she kept going.

She didn’t know the people in her future… but she kept going.

I have a Ruth personality, but I often times get a Naomi mindset. Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law who had lost her husband and two sons, she was depressed and frustrated and decided to head back home to Bethlehem. She tried to make Ruth stay with her own family, but Ruth had adopted Naomi as new family and she was going where Naomi was going.

The book of Ruth is just four short chapters. I recommend you read it and not take my word for it, but while you’re here with me, let me tell you the impact this story has for me and the coming New Year. I don’t talk a lot about the frustrations of life because I don’t want to be a discourager. But trust me when I say that I have more than a few. When my jobs quit me… I didn’t quit working, God told me to and I didn’t listen, so my jobs quit me. Funny thing about your jobs quitting you… so does the income. Huh… who knew! And living on one income isn’t fun. But God has done amazing things with nothing. He is the only One who can. I have been provided for in amazing ways. And yet… there’s always room for a few woe is me stories. Naomi had a reason to be sad. Her husband had taken her into a land that ended up being a land of famine and then had the nerve to die on her. How rude! Followed by the death of her only other providers, her sons.

So let the rubber meet the road when I say that sometimes things happen because we’re not where we’re supposed to be. Naomi and her family should have been relying and serving God all along, but they’d chosen another path and so did I. When I finally set into the fact that God wasn’t going to allow me to work in the secular world I hit road block after road block and a few stumbling blocks of my own that haven’t allowed me to be “The Jesus Chick” to full extent that I desire. But as I approach 2017, the third year in service to the Lord, I approach it with a new mindset.

Three things happened that changed Ruth’s life when she kept going:

  1. The plan was a step of faith.

She leapt without the net appearing. That’s what faith is. And I need that faith for 2017 as I live bolder and braver for Christ and believe that God’s plan is going to come to fruition. I need places to speak, I need place to sing… God knows that. I believe He’ll provide. I need to provide an income for my family, not for wants but because a ministry costs money. That’s the reality of it. So the net that I’m counting on appearing is a net worth that will allow me to serve God unencumbered by the woes of the mighty dollar.

  1. The purpose of Ruth was faith

Ruth’s story is one of great purpose. She didn’t know it then, it was just life. But look at the impact her life has had. We’re still reading of her thousands of years later. She’s a grandma to Jesus! She shouldn’t have been there, she was a Gentile from a heathen nation of idol worshippers. But she stepped into her purpose in faith and God rewarded her.

  1. Her proposal came because of her action of faith

When Boaz proposed to Ruth, she had taken some pretty bold moves in the place of the threshing floor. She came in the night and laid down at his feet and ask him to cover her. She didn’t want anything that He didn’t want for her. She laid her life down, and Boaz bought her from the kinsman who was entitled to her by the culture she was in.

I’m very much living in a world that would have me for dinner and cast me aside if it had its druthers. A ministry for me is the unknown. It’s just laying myself at the feet of Jesus and saying Lord, if You don’t cover me, the world’s going to bury me. It takes a strength that I don’t personally have to step out and say, I’m the Jesus Chick. I believe that Ruth was saying “I’m Boaz’s chick” if he’ll have me. And he did. And the rest as they say is written in the book.

Are you living in God’s plan and purpose? Has He made a proposal for you, and have you accepted. That proposal starts with salvation… but then it continues with the plan of action. What potential lies before you in 2017?

I’m Sick of My Own Excuses

no-excuse-banner

2017 is just days away! Shocking right? I know that it’s not a big revelation that it followed 2016 but the way time has flown by almost seems surreal. Kind of like the fact that Obama is leaving office. So, for a few days I’ve been strategizing my coming year. Oh… I always make great plans! And sometimes I even get a few of them accomplished. My word for last year was unusual, and the year in review would prove that 2016 lived up to it. It was unusual in the sense that God opened unusual doors (like the wonderful state of Minnesota), allowed unusual circumstances to occur that changed the fabric of my life (such as people entering and leaving my life) and 2016 brought a vigor into my ministry desires that is carrying me into 2017. I’ll announce my 2017 word in a few days.

Yesterday I worked on the banner of my Facebook page and replaced it with one that read “2017 – Sharing Christ Without Excuse.” I’m sick of my own excuses for not sharing Christ more boldly. My aforementioned snarky comment toward the Obama administration was without regret, but I promise not to get hung up on it like he has with the fact he’s leaving office. But I can say it in truth that I have never felt so free to share my faith than after the election of 2016 – another unusual event! I feel like 2017 is going to offer Christians an opportunity to take back some ground that has been lost the last eight years.

Religion (I’d rather say faith, but I’ll use this term for now) losing ground isn’t new to the world. As I read in Judges this morning of Micah in chapters 17 and 18 it was quite parallel to what I’ve seen happening in America. Micah had stolen some money from his mother (which caused her to cuss) because she had intended to use for religious purposes. Ha! I guess she really did lose her religion!  But for whatever reason Micah decides to return it, and this odd woman blesses her son for his state of conscience. She had wholly dedicated this money to the Lord for her son to make a “graven image and a molten image.”

Did God not say not make any graven images? So how this woman thought that the money was wholly set aside is a mystery. Unless you look at religion today, where churches okay a lifestyle of sin, idolatry worship and Jesus combined. And then it looks pretty much the same.

So back to the story and this is definitely a condensed version of it. Micah decides to use the money to make a couple of images and buy himself a priest. What?  Yes, that’s what he did because that way he and his momma didn’t have to go all the way into town to church. They had their own. I guess it was their version of a television evangelism of the day. And although the priest they hired was a Levite, he wasn’t necessarily called by God to be a priest.

Well long story even shorter, a group from the tribe of Dan hear Micah’s priest speaking as they passed by. The Danites inquire of him as to whether or not they can defeat the city of Laish, and following their victory, take him from Micah because he might come in handy in the future for more advice. They not only steal the priest but take his idols with them as well and incorporate that into their worship.

Now scroll to the modern day Christianity and compare.

  • People no longer go to church because it’s inconvenient.
  • A bible proves their faith in God, right? Even if it’s dusty…
  • A few dollars in the plate buys them a preacher who will preach what they desire to hear, or they’ll stay home until they’re over it.

That sounds pretty negative but it’s none the less the truth. Church attendance across America is on the decline because people are too busy or deceived into thinking that it’s not necessary for a Christian’s life. I write this to two groups of people, those in church and those not. So you surely fall into one of those categories, or perhaps in the middle because you “attend when you can.”

The children of Israel when into captivity because of their halfhearted faith and I firmly believe that America was just a few votes shy. So, what will we do with 2017? For me I want to live without excuse! If Jesus says go, I want to go. If He says do, I want to do. If He says speak, I want to speak. How about you?

Tune in in a day or two to discover my 2017 word!

 

 

The Angle of the Angel

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For the past few days I’ve been reading a book by Max Lucado, “An Angel Story” of the story of Christ’s birth from the angel Gabrielle’s perspective and the battle with Satan. Before that, Dr. Myron Guiler spoke of what the angel’s reaction may have been to the news of the Savior’s plan to save mankind at the Marietta Christmas Banquet on Monday. It’s stirred my heart with wonder like the many bowls of Christmas goodies being prepared in the coming days. Including mine today, for today is Christmas at my house with my children and grandchildren. But back to the wonder… it’s also with a heavy heart that I wonder as I watch the torments of Satan and his minions to destroy the spirit of Christmas from as many angles as possible.

Isaiah 14: 12-15

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

And weaken he has. Until the November election Satan had all but made Christmas an oath in the minds of the unsaved. Businesses dare not wish a Merry Christmas for fear of a law suit. It was beyond insane in my mind. And Satan’s plan nearly worked. Year after year with gotten more Christmas intolerant.  With “Winter Holiday” being the new political correct phrase and quite appropriate with the hearts of the nation growing colder and colder towards Christ. But then suddenly, almost as surprising as the election results, it was okay again to say Merry Christmas. Christmas trees were sprouting up all over the Washington D.C. scenes and I could almost hear the dreadful growl of Satan as he watched his plan unravel.

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

Proverbs 16:18 says that Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. And so it does. The arrogance of the liberals still abounds but it doesn’t thwart the fact that they fell and fell hard. It also doesn’t reduce the fact that America is still very much in a state of disarray, politically, spiritually, militarily, and the list goes on. Satan has done a number on a nation that began as a very bold, Christian land. The war on Christmas and Christianity is far from over. But it’s certainly been a merrier Christmas than the past eight.

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Satan’s angle has always been to win the heart of God’s people. He needs worshipped like the political left need binkies and blankies. What he continues to fail to understand is it’s all temporary. Just like his failed attempts at destroying Christmas, he has failed at destroying Christianity because God is so much more than Satan and the world understand.

But one battle that continues to rage on is the war to win families. Satan’s angle on that is working pretty well. He wins them with distraction, lack of interaction, greed, self… oh he has that wrapped up with a bow. So how do we untie it and take back the family from his grip. The opposite of what wrapped it up. The opposite of pride is humility. Humble pie is on the menu for Christmas if families want to come back together. If you made a mistake, admit it. If you’ve been hurt, forgive it. If you disagree, move past it. Just spend the time loving one another. For God is love. And that’s why we celebrate Christmas because it was the ultimate act of love, humility and a gift that surpasses every angle Satan can devise. Christ = Salvation. Satan = damnation. We win.

Judges, Grudges and Smudges – A Merrier Christmas for the Church

pigs-with-purpose

I read that headline and thought… “Wow Shari, that ain’t very Christmassy!” And it’s not, but it is real. And I like being real so long as it doesn’t take me to a dark place that leaves me and everyone else feeling worse than when we began. I love encouraging people. But I also feel that there are times when we need to take a look within and ‘clean the house before company comes,’ just like we do during the Holidays.

Holidays are a time that many families put aside petty differences for the sake of the season and bury the hatchet in the holiday ham rather than their brother in law’s head. But what about the church? Believe me when I tell you that I had to do a little holiday cleaning there myself this week. So it brought me to this blog to perhaps help myself and hopefully a few others understanding the spiritual impact of judges, grudges and smudges in the church.

These three culprits undermine the work of the Lord every day in churches across the land.

The Judges

Romans 14:10-13

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Judging is so easy and it sneaks up on you before you even know it!

  • Did you see what she wore…
  • Did you hear they said…
  • Do you know what they did…

I wonder if you didn’t have an image of someone’s face run through your mind as you read the bullet points. I did. Doggone it, why is that? Because we’re human and the flesh will rise again and again. But it’s our job to put it back in it’s place. And that place is yielded to the Holy Spirit. The scriptures says that we’re to give an “account of himself to God.” Not tattle to God and every one else in the congregation about what little sister seatsaver did that you thought was offensive. What is it that you’ve done that you need the mercy of God for.

The Grudges

Romans 14:14-18

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

So what if they eat pork. That comment goes a lot deeper. It says so what if they’re opinion differs from yours. So they didn’t vote like you do. Dress like you do. Eat like you do. If you’re vocal about your Christianity then you better know what the word says about it. God had said that eating the meats that had once been forbidden for the Jews was now okay. But some couldn’t get past the traditions of the law. And Paul said if it causes them to stumble and have evil thoughts, I just won’t eat it in front of them. Better that than cause an argument. For me this brought to mind a political ideal that when it comes to Christmas dinner, it might be better just to eat the fish than cause someone to eat crow. Leave the election out of holiday conversation.

The Smudges

Romans 19-23

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Paul’s asking the Romans. Are you a Christian only before God, and not before others? If in tearing someone apart for what they believe in you destroy your relationship with them and your impact for Christ, what have you gotten accomplished for the good of the Kingdom? Everyone sins. Everyone has need of mercy and grace. It shouldn’t just be at Christmas but it sure wouldn’t hurt to keep that in mind at Christmas dinners.

Finding More in Christmas

a-little-bit-more

I spent yesterday running errands for the church, visiting a friend in the hospital, running too and fro and fro and too, and then rushed into the church for Wednesday night youth group. I listened to preaching as my tires rolled merrily down the highway, and spent a little time just listening to the tires roll. I just enjoyed being away from the hustle, bustle of life and tried to make sense of how Christmas gets so messed up, even when you don’t want it to. My focus gets off kilter as I attempt to wrap Christmas up and tie it with a bow, wanting to make someone’s season bright. Yes, I know that’s not what Christmas is about, please don’t judge me… or anyone else for that matter. But for this moment in time, while it’s on our heart let’s reconsider Christmas and shift our way of thinking about the meaning of Christmas…

Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

He’d spoken in the synagogue before that day, but that day His words were about to shift that city’s way of thinking, and mine today. We know that Christmas is more than the cradle, we know that that is only where the story began. It ended at the cross with God’s final, one time gift which covered the sins of all who would believe on Him. But between the cradle and the cross God sat an example of everyday Christmas that we miss. He didn’t come so we’d have a nice story to tell, He came so we’d have a nice story to live out.

Prior to the Savior’s birth God had been silent for 400 years. I panic when I don’t hear from God for a day or two, imagine 400 years! No miracles were happening, no “thus saith the Lord messages.” Just silence. I’d venture a guess that many clung to the miracles of old and told the stories again and again to remind themselves of what God had done for them in the past. They’d tell the next generation and would tell them of the promised Messiah. Perhaps it was the darkest of age because the light of hope could barely be seen. By the time the Christmas story began Roman rule governed the land. Israel was in bondage not only physically but spiritually as well. An oppressed people. And then came Jesus that day in the temple…

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – He came with the power of God. He’d been tempted by Satan who no doubt stomped off in defeat, figuring He could sell ice to the Eskimos but couldn’t convince Jesus of anything. Jesus was God. He knew Satan’s game plan from the beginning.

He came to preach the gospel to the poor – Not the poor in finance, but the poor in spirit. In their oppressed state of life they needed hope and so do we. Religion is a repetitive action, Christ was about to kick religion out of the church and bring in the relationship.

He came to heal the brokenhearted. Tell me of a better Christmas gift than a mended heart? The world is filled with heartbreak. Some of it over the silliest of things, and some of it is gut-wrenching. But Jesus is the answer to all. In these uncertain days for which we live, we should be looking for opportunities to share the gift of Christ to broken hearted people.

He came to deliver the captives. I feel somewhat delivered myself this Christmas. As I was out and about yesterday I was wished a “Merry Christmas” by numerous businesses in West Virginia and Ohio. Glory to God!!!! I’ve missed that. We’ve been held captive in our own country for the past eight years when it came to Christian expression. The world didn’t want it. But God created the world and He has created us an opportunity. Wish someone Merry Christmas!

He gave sight to the blind. Not just physically but spiritually. This Christmas we have the opportunity to open the eyes of the blind by sharing the gospel of Christ. The angel which shared the glad tidings of great joy in Luke 2:10 said it was for all people. But the angel went back to Heaven, now it’s our turn to spread those good tidings!

He came to set at liberty those who are bruised. Tears threaten my eyes when I think about those hurting while I have a warm house and a family who loves me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the holidays and forget the purpose of Christianity. Christianity doesn’t begin or end on December 25. It’s a 365 day of the year task that we’ve been given until Jesus returns. It’s our job to meet a need, mend the broken, and most of all mention the Savior. We’re failing miserably as a church… our grade will improve when we began doing something individually.

He came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Perhaps this is our year to make a difference and bring more and more people into the Kingdom of God. Perhaps this is the year He’ll return. Perhaps not.

That ‘little bit more” that the Grinch found that Christmas is still being searched for by most of the world. We have it… we need to share it.

Searching for Christmas in the Chaos

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It’s a rare day when I have silence in the house. I’m not complaining… just stating a fact. I have a happy, busy home with a revolving door of guests. But the busyness at Christmas shoots to a mock ninety decibel (meaning it’s both fast and loud). There’s not enough time in the day to accomplish the tasks at hand, or there not enough mind in my head, that may be a more accurate description. It just gets crazy! But this morning I’m enjoying one of those rare moments of time where it’s just me and Jesus, and we got our own thing goin’ this morning.  While I’m here I’m searching for Christmas in the chaos.

I want a “Mary” Christmas. And no, spellcheck didn’t fail me. There are three notable Mary’s in scripture that have my mind affixed on how I’d like my Christmas to be.

Mary # 1 (Luke 1:27>)

The chosen mother to the Christ child who had obedience without question. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gift to give God in celebration of His birth. I struggle. I heard a statement from Steven Furtick (Pastor of Elevation Church) this morning who said “How many know that every time your heart tries to have faith, your mind tries to makes sense?”  There would have been no sense to make of Mary’s decision. It was a done deal with God and with her. She had been dealt that lot and had taken it on as a factual gift in obedience.

It’ likely did not stop her mind from going places it shouldn’t go. Like… “how on earth am I going to explain this to Joseph, my parents, my friends. During those days of others questioning her purity her mind had to have wondered why obedience had gotten her into such a trying place. But there’s no word of that in the scripture, only speculation on my heart. God just mentions her goodness, as if to say… leave her alone. She did as she was ask… you could learn.

Mary # 2 (Luke 8:2)

Mary Magdalene whom Jesus had healed of evil spirits had a wonderful Christmas Spirit about her. She loved to be around Jesus, she was found in service to Jesus and it was she who was found at His tomb to anoint His body. She told the disciples that she had seen the Lord after His resurrection. She was a busy woman! Not just during the holiday season but every day of the week because she was so thankful for having been healed of that terrible feeling inside. I should be so thankful. My busyness it’s just often that… busyness. Without purpose. Just a point “A” to point “B” kind of days. Every day of my life should be lived with the purpose of glorifying and serving Christ for taking that evil spirit that caused me such heartache and misery away.

Mary #3 (John 11:12)

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who was also the same who anointed Jesus feet with the oil of the Alabaster box and wiped His feet with her hair. She who knew the power of worship and the worthiness of sacrifice. She aggravated the religious who seen her worship as a waste of money. What greater spirit of Christmas could there be than one who is willing to spare no expense for her Lord and Savior. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the sacrificial gift. Religious people try to make sense of faith, and it can’t be done.

So this morning while I went search for Christmas in the chaos I found my Mary Christmas, having a heart’s desire to live obedient, willing to not ask why… with a servants heart, willing to not ask how… and heart of sacrificial worship, willing to not ask when or where, just willing to be ready. The beautiful gift of Christmas came at the expense of the cross. Help me to keep that in view.

Pass it on!

exhortationI love the holiday season! I also love the chaotic insanity that comes with it when friends and family gather, my kids and grandkids traipse in and out leaving behind a trail of leaves, mud and toys… well maybe I don’t like the trail left behind, but the joy of the visit is always welcome!   It’s the season of lost senses. I love encouraging and being encouraged; bringing joy to someone if only for a fleeting moment. All of which lead me to a wonderful gift, given to every child of God, but not always used. The gift of exhortation.

The word “exhort” isn’t found in the Old Testament. Even a likeminded word like encourage is only found nine times. And most often refers to encouraging themselves or others in the service of the Lord. But “exhort” is found 33 times in the New Testament and usually in a context of encouraging the believers in service and faith in Christ. It’s first found, and not by chance I believe, at the onset of Jesus’ ministry.

Luke 3:15-18 ~ And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

The gospel of Christ is about to hit the scene, and John is the Master of Ceremony exhorting the people on what’s about to take place. It’s a new day! That Baby in the manger is now a grown Savior. He’s set forth a new standard that religion couldn’t hang with; the standard of grace. The ultimate gift that is non-refundable, paid for on the cross at Calvary by God himself. Our human, selfish selves can’t understand why He would choose to pay that price, but it should cause us to extend a hand of grace and mercy at every opportunity and should give us the desire to exhort one another in these trying days as we wait His return.

So how does one exhort one another during this crazy season?

In Faith

It’s an indictment against our nation that the words “Merry Christmas” are considered offensive. So it’s important as Christians that we stand up for the rights given to us by Almighty God and those who have died for it on the battlefields of earth. I love wishing store clerks and businesses a “Merry or Blessed Christmas” whether or not they are allowed to reciprocate. I look forward to various church events and play that allow me to fellowship in faith. It keeps me ground in the purpose of the season. And most of all the Word of God should be given a place and time to exhort ourselves during this hectic time of year.

In Forgiveness

That word is almost as bad as a four letter word in the mouths of some Christian folk. We all want to receive it, but it’s not often we enjoy providing it. What if every wrong and hurt that came into our mind was followed by, “I forgive that,” and from there we just moved on. What joy would fill our hearts and homes and what new and wonderful works could God do with us?

In Fellowship

It doesn’t cost anything more than time (and sometimes a little gasoline) to spend time with people we love and care about, and especially people who have no one to love and care about them. But the opportunity to exhort one another during this season abounds! Makes sure that the focus of this season isn’t on the monetary as much as the moments we get to share with one another.

Exhortation is a gift we’ve all been given. Let’s pass it round this season and make everyone’s Christmas merry and bright.