November is here, and the Holiday season is upon us. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
Many of us will experience the holidays with family, friends, plenty of food, memories and traditions. Behind it all should be a spirit of Gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We are such a blessed people in so many ways. God gives so many wonderful gifts (especially His Son the GREATEST GIFT) to experience and enjoy (James 1:17) while on this side of eternity.
It’s not hard to notice that there are a lot of people around us who do not have the same experiences (spiritually and relationally) that we are blessed to enjoy. Because of this we will have opportunity to share our faith, invite others to church, and help them to experience the love of Jesus.
Paul encourages us to help bear the burdens of those who need help (Galatians 6:2) and do good to all men (Galatians 6:10). In other words, we should strive to make this a season of GIVING (action) and allowing others to offer THANKS (gratitude) to God (Matthew 5:16)!
God will present us with plenty of opportunities to help make a difference in the lives of others during this Holiday Season – my prayer is that we will seize the moment and honor the experience of Matthew 25:34-40!!
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” -- Matthew 25:40
Paul says - BE CAREFUL and BE THANKFUL!! “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” — 1 Cor 10:12-13
Aren’t you THANKFUL that God IS ACTIVELY working in your life? I am! Paul says that God WILL NOT ALLOW you to be tempted beyond what you are able to handle!! Satan, the “tempter” (Matthew 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5) IS CURRENTLY ACTIVE in tempting (1 Corinthians 10:13) according to Paul and would love to tempt you with more than you are able to handle. He would love to consume you with temptation. Peter shares that satan is ACTIVE in this world and long’s to consume us the way a lion consumes his prey (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Paul affirms GOD’S ACTIVITY in the affairs of our life by ACTIVELY PROVIDING a way of escaping the “tempter’s” tempting. We must ACTIVELY PRAY to God for strength and deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13) a concept that our Lord personally taught.
God’s power is amazing because He constantly uses it to provide a way for us when we are tempted by satan!
I’m thankful that Our God is a WAY-MAKER!! “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” - The Apostle Paul
It’s hard to believe that we are finishing up our 5th month of ministry with Westpark Church of Christ. We have experienced 5 beautiful months of life, love, and service together with you. Many of you have shared your table, time, and family with us and for that we are grateful. You have helped us to feel welcomed here during a difficult but rewarding transition in life. You have encouraged me personally in preaching, teaching, and ministering. You have given your support and expressed your appreciation for our desire bless the lives of children through adoption. Thank you for your prayers, partnership and support for us in this passionate pursuit of redeeming love!!
Here’s what I/we have learned about you so far….
- You have a deep and abiding love for the Lord and His Word.
- You have expressed love toward those who have visited.
- You have accepted those who have placed membership with us.
- You are committed to building a strong church family in Fulshear. And a physical church building!
- You love to fellowship with one another.
- You love to have fun together!!
These experiences will become stronger and ultimately help us grow as we move forward to meet our coming Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Here are 3 Life-Changing Words that could help TRANSFORM our life and the lives of people around us (Titus 2:11-15)!
1. EXPECTATION (Living above what people expect of us as Christians.) Living with EXPECTATION is important because God expects us to live self-controlled and spiritual lives. It also helps our family and friends know that we live with a Biblical standards of morality, serve with compassion like Jesus, and exist with a heavenly purpose. We must live above others’ expectations.
2. AMBITION (Choosing to dream big and achieve great things in God's Kingdom). AMBITION transforms us and our world. It is a hope or desire of achievement that requires hard work. Henry Ward Beecher said, “A man without ambition is like a beautiful worm--it can creep, but it cannot fly.” From a Spiritual perspective, the apostle Paul says that we need to be “zealous for good works!” He wants us to fly and goes on to say that we need to encourage one another to live lives with healthy ambition. Living with ambition helps others understand that we have purpose in our lives and that there is more to life than what we experience in this world. It helps others know that this world is not our home.
3. ANTICIPATION (Preparing for the life to come with earnest expectation.) With ANTICIPATION we know there is something more meaningful awaiting us than this life.... A home with God! We hope for a life better than this sin-sick world filled with death, sickness, disease, brokenness, heartache and separation. We anticipate the day our faith and hope become a reality. We live in anticipation of the second coming of our Lord when He comes back and calls us home.
Putting these 3 words into action changes us (personality and collectively) for the better!
“Leave it all behind” came across my mind as I studied from Luke chapter 5 about Levi the tax collector (AKA - Matthew, disciple, gospel writer, and Christian martyr) who was invited by our Lord to faithfully follow Him. In Luke 5:28 it simply states, “So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.”
Luke would later share a parable (5:36-39) that I reflects Levi and his commitment to “leave it all behind” and follow Jesus. The parable is quite simple in that it states that you don’t take the “new” and put it in with the “old” (cloth and wine) because it will not work and will eventually fall apart.
That is exactly what Levi did with his life. He left the “old” life of power, cheating, and taking advantage and embraced the “new” way of truth, life, and covenant of Christ. He lived this life of hope, love, and faith with diligence even to the end of his life. Tradition has it that Levi was killed for his faith in Christ in Ethiopia. It would have been so easy for him to deny his faith in Christ and live and go back to the “old” but when it was all said and done for Levi, the benefits were out of this world.
The lesson for you and me is this: embrace the new and don’t try to do patchwork with your life by trying to put the new life in Christ back into your old way of sinful living. Embrace the “New Covenant” and don’t go back to the “Old Testament” because under the “New Testament” what we have enjoy is so much better! So LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND even if it kills you! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” - THE APOSTLE PAUL (2 Corinthians 5:17)