Don’t be a Grinch trying to Steal the Hope of Christmas?

a- grinch      Most of us are acquainted with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the Green grumpy creature, which is intent on ruining Christmas for the village of Whoville. Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s written rhyme in 1957 has over the years been made into various movies. The green self-seeking creature is embedded in most of our memory as the one that would do anything to steal the joy, hope and blessing of Christmas. Though it is just a story full of humor and fun it brings out a message that we are faced with each and every year. There are always those who want to steal the message of hope during this incredible season.

Interestingly enough we read a very similar story in the gospel of Mathew. Even though there are no green monsters and the setting is not Whoville but Jerusalem. We read in Matt 2:1-3, “…in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? …When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled”. Jesus had been born a couple years earlier and now the wise men of the east had come to Jerusalem looking for the child King, to worship Him. King Herod was agitated and was shaken to his core at the Wise men’s report. Keep in mind every since the angels had announced Jesus was born King of the Jews to the Sheppard’s years earlier, the news had spread throughout the social media of the day becoming common rumors in the region. (Lk 2:8-20)

For an insecure King this new development only threatened him the more. He had worked and managed to become the representing King over the Jewish people for the Roman Empire and now the reality of the Jewish prophecies, the talk of the city and now the Wise men’s intentions have come to haunt his self-ambitions. The news that the “King of the Jews” had been growing up amongst them is more than he could grasp.

This troubled Herod turned into a raging maniac that wanted to get rid of any threat to his kingship. It was after he deceived and lied to the wise men that he ordered every male child two years and younger to be killed around Bethlehem and the region in hopes of doing away with any future threat. (v.16) Herod was so self-adsorbed and fixed on doing whatever he wanted to do that he became obsessed in not allowing any other King to threaten his kingdom and therefore tried to destroy any hope for the people and the nation. He was the real life “Grinch” of the ages!

How often have you allowed your insecurities or selfishness to steal the hope of this season? Have you been troubled or threatened by the Lordship of Christ? The scripture says in Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”. We can’t serve King Jesus if we are living to our own pleasures. The “Rich Young Ruler” went away sad because he was unwilling to bow his knee to King Jesus. We are only troubled and agitated by the presence of the King when we refuse to live a surrendered life before Him. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”. (Mk 8:34) It’s time to stop being the Grinch who is stealing others Christmas’s hope and surrender to Jesus’ Kingship and bow down and worship Him.

 

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Keeping the fire of God burning in your life

hqdefaultIn the midst of the early wintery conditions I found that my fire was essential during my time high on the mountaintop. It was at the foot of the summit overlooking a crisp mountain lake on one side and a steep intimidating ravine on the other, where I chose to set up camp. I had taken time out of my schedule to clear the clutter of the daily routine in my mind and refresh my passion for the Lord. Over the years I have found it necessary at different times to disconnect from the white noise of our society so to reset and re-ignite the fire of God in my daily walk with Him.

We read Gods instructions for the priests that He gave through Moses in Lev 6. It says in verse 12-13, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, … it shall never go out.”

In like manner as it was the priest’s responsibility to keep the fire burning it is our responsibility to keep a spiritual fire burning on the altar of our hearts, since our lives are to be “living sacrifices” as Paul declared. It was God who started the physical fire on


God Starts the Fire but we must maintain the Fire


the altar as we read in 2 Chr 7:1, the “…fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices…”. Therefore, it is the same spiritually; God starts the fire, but it is you and I who must keep it burning.

This simple but over looked responsibility became very real as I began my adventure on the mountaintop. That fact is when the fire goes out after the Sun goes down, it quickly becomes cold, dark and so quiet it becomes deafening. It is the same for the believer when our spiritual fire goes out we become spiritually cold, our lives become darkened by our surroundings and the things of God become silent to us.

The pile of wood that I thought would last all-night rapidly diminished in the grips of the consuming fire. I can’t help but think King Solomon himself must of experienced this same phenomenon when he wrote in Prov. 30:16 “… the fire never says, “Enough!”.

The intensity of work that it took to keep a fire burning in my camp was totally amazing. I have always loved sitting and enjoying the soothing crackling and popping of a campfire, but when it is a necessity you find that it goes from enjoyable to just plain work. A fire demands your time, strength and attention to keep it going. Getting plenty of firewood to last through the night must become a priority. You see once the fire goes out it is much harder to remake a completely new fire than nurturing one already burning or at least having embers that you can blow on to rekindle the flame.

In the same manner, as believers we must make fueling the fire of passion for the Lord, a priority! Though it can be exhausting and even inconvenient at times, it is our responsibility. It will take “roll up the sleeves” kind of work to tend the fire of your souls. Prayers, communion, worship and Bible study are all part of keeping the fire burning on the altar of our heart. For God calls each of us to be His ministers a flame of fire. (Ps 104:4) We must do our part! Remember, it is God who started the fire within us but we must keep the fire burning!

 

Living a Life in light of the Resurrected Christ

images-70Isn’t it amazing how the weeks following the Easter holiday just slides back into routine? We find our children crashing from their sugar buzz from all the chocolate eggs and the new clothes aren’t new anymore. The family festivities all pass into sweet memories as well as the inspiring messages and church celebrations. The reality of the whole purpose also seems to fade so quickly into the next appointment on our agenda. I can’t help but think that this isn’t all Easter should be. A matter of fact, I believe the scriptural theme backs up a total different outcome. Easter wasn’t ever intended to be over and done with, but to increase more and more.

Several days of celebrating Jesus being falsely accused, scourged, crucified, buried and then risen from the dead for us, doesn’t fulfill the scripture purpose. Don’t get me wrong it’s good to celebrate and have a day of focus; but the whole reason for Christ dying and rising again is to give you and I a life more abundantly (Jn 10:10) as He intended not just an annual event. All of us were caught in inherited sin from Adam in the Garden of Eden, and plunged into a spiraling devolution. Paul describes all humanity


Christ’s death and resurrection is to give you and I a life more abundantly as He intended not just an annual event.


in Rom 3:10 as, “there is none righteous” and in Eph 2:17 “you who are far off”.   Bottom line is that we received a sin problem that separated us from our Heavenly Father, which we inherited through Adam. (Rom. 5:12) But through the incredible gracious and merciful free gift of God through Jesus sacrifice we are declared righteous and reconciled back to God. (Eph. 2:13, 1 Cor. 6:11)       Yes, we definitely have a great reason to be thankful and to celebrate our deliverance from enslavement of sin. But scripture teaches that being justified isn’t the end but a beginning of a glorious journey. Paul describes it as a great transfer. (Rom. 5:19) In what most acknowledge as Paul’s finest and most thorough work on doctrine, we find where he says in his letter to the Roman’s, in chapter 5:18 “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, … even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life”.

The purpose of Easter celebration, which is about our justification through Christ’s death and resurrection, is much more than a holy week or day. God’s intent was a change in the way we live, “a justification of life”. We are purchased from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, from death unto new life. Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away…” and in Rom 6:4 he says “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”. The cross is the beginning of


I choose to live a life of victory not just be a Easter believer


every Christian’s walk of faith. God doesn’t want us to stay at the tomb of Jesus who died for us. Jesus wants us to identify with His resurrection and live a life unto righteousness. We shouldn’t go back to the humdrum of mediocrity after Easter, but we need to move forward in victory of life. (Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:18) If we have been purchased by Christ’s own blood shouldn’t we live a life that reflex’s His great mercy and power. Yet, that can only be achieved when are eyes are opened to the living Christ. The two disciples were sad and perplexed in their journey to Emmaus until their eyes were opened to the risen Savior that walked with them. (Jn 21:13-35) It’s time to walk each day in the power of the risen Lord! (Titus 2:13-14)

 

We can’t Just Sit Here until we Die

INDIA-SOCIETY         I remember while I was in junior high school, I tried out for the basketball team. Though I made the team, it was to my disappointment that I was only good enough to be on the B-team. The coach challenged us saying that if we worked hard in practice that we might get promoted up to the A-team. I took the challenge to heart and began to practice my hardest, only to find that I was still on the secondary team.   After several weeks had gone by, with no advancement, I began to let my disappointment get the best of me. I soon began to settle for my lot in life, so I thought, and got content with being on the B-team, not trying anymore to be promoted. I knew at least I would get a letter at the awards banquet for participating.

Paul let us know our journey in this life wasn’t going to be a cake walk. For he said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He let us know we would have to fight, signifying it was an aggressive


Why should we settle for anything less than God’s best?     (tweet)


action to achieve God’s plan for our life. When you are willing to settle for the good instead of going for the best, the good has become the enemy of the best   The church has settled for the good meetings and good conferences for too long. We have allowed ourselves to settle for the average growth rate and average impact instead of going for God’s best! God’s best is God’s outpouring of revival on his church. Why should we settle for anything less than God’s best? What would happen if the church would get sick of being complacent and satisfied and quit bowing down to the norm of our society? Let’s look at a story in 2 Kings 6: 24–29; 7: 1–8, where Syria laid siege to the city of Samaria. In the midst of devastation, the man of God speaks the word of the Lord, declaring that deliverance was at hand. Then the scripture zooms in on four lepers sitting outside the city gate, for the law commanded them to dwell alone and Continue reading