Trouble and New Beginnings

December 24, 2014

As we enter a new year, we are hoping to prosper more than we did the previous year and often we are wanting to forget the many trials and troubles we had as well. The Jewish New Year is on first and second days of Tishri (September-October). Though it is on a different calendar day, it means the
same to them as it does for us in a couple of ways.

We not only see the day a a new beginning, but also it is a day of judgment for us. We look back and based on our perspective we resolve to do differently things of a worldly or spiritual nature and sometimes both. We will vow to quit smoking, overeating or go to church more, read the Word more, give more to the poor, etc. All our resolves last at best thirty days. Hence, we often repeat the same as we did last year and lament the failures and problems we experienced for another year because we try to do them in our flesh rather than seeking the power of God to overcome them.

Many things come into our lives that we do not expect and have very little control over. These are called tribulations in the Word. Others we have control over, but we fail to see how we allowed them to happen. I remember when my father-in-law developed emphysema from smoking many years he stated, “I guess I brought this on to myself.” Sadly, he was right and many things we blame God for or some other person or circumstance for when in reality we brought it on ourself.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The various troubles and standard vicissitudes of life will be with us until the Millennium and even what they may experience will change. Jesus said that He had overcome them so is we seek Him and His will we will experience the same things as those who are not believers, but we will be able to access joy and peace if we seek it. Without God, you will have a truck load of problems! You may also have a truckload with Him, but He will help you unload the truck.

Amos 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Joe 2:25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
Joe 2:26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Joe 2:27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Joe 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Joe 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Joe 2:32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Maybe you have had troubles of your own making and you grieve over them and may even wonder if God loves you and will forgive you. God is a god of mercy and willing to make a new beginning for you if your turn to Him.

Israel’s problem that brought about the trouble they experienced in Amos was that they had turned from the one true God to false gods and trusted in their own thoughts and political covenants with pagan nations for their national security. Their sins were many so God sent trouble into their life to get their attention wanting them to repent and return. They didn’t and judgment fell.

What we see in Joel is God’s plan for them when they returned. He not only promised to resume blessing them, but also to restore what the palmerworms and cankerworms consumed. Only God can do that and He is eager to do so if you trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and freely confess them to Him seeking to let Him rule your life. Face it, we all pretty much stink at running our own lives so why not seek the One who knows all for the wisdom we need? Dump the pride and seek His guidance.

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

As it was for the nation of Israel, so it is with the individual. If you want a clean start you need a new heart cleansed by Christ. It will not matter what you have done in the past. He can wipe the slate clean and make a person so new that you will not even recognize yourself as He conforms you to the image of His Son.

In Galatians, God speaks through Paul to teach us that there is nothing we can do to appease Him either by our works or ethnicity. We are all sinners and that which is imperfect cannot bring about perfection and He demands perfection. Only one sin kicked satan out of Heaven and only one kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden and that puts us into deep trouble because we have far more than one on our rap sheet. When we place our faith in Christ the rap sheet is wiped clean and no sin past, present or future will separate from the love of God. New sins will bring trouble into our life until we confess them and if we don’t we can lose blessings here, rewards there and even get there sooner than we should have, but our salvation stands sure.

Need a new beginning? Come to Christ. Christian, have you strayed and need a fresh start? Come to Christ. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but we need to come to Him to confess. Will you do it?

Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

One day, all things will be made new. Even this old earth will be redone and all that was tied up with the curse on this one because of us will done away. It will be a great day for the saved, but not at all good for those who never had their new beginning in Christ. Be part of the new beginning, not a part of the ending. Come to Christ today and have a happy new life, not just a new year! Shalom! Maranatha!


The Gift or the Wrapping?

December 6, 2014

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitz-vo-tav
v’tzi-va-nu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.

We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who hallows us with
mitzvot and commands us to kindle the Chanukah lights.
Maoz Tzur
Ma’oz tzur yeshu’ati
Lecha na’eh leshabe’ach
Tikon bet tefilati
Vesham todah nezabe’ach
Le’et tachin matbe’ach
Mitzar ham’nabe’ach
Az egmor beshir mizmor
Chanukat hamizbe’ach.

O mighty Rock of my salvation,
To praise You is a delight.
Restore my House of Prayer and there
we shall bring a thanksgiving offering.
When you will have prepared the
slaughter for the blaspheming foe,
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn
the dedication of the Altar

Jas_1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Rom_6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eph_2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

The Gift or the Wrapping?

When giving gifts to little children we are sometimes surprised to find that they are often more interested in the wrapping and the box than the gift itself. We might be able to save some money and just wrap a box until they get old enough to appreciate the actual gift. 😉

I have found at that this season it is more evident than most days that people tend to be more wrapped up in the wrapping more than they are the gift. There is a lot of flurry and blurry shopping and wrapping gifts more than there is time spent with the One whose birthday we claim to celebrate.

In fact, He was not born on December 25th. It was a date assigned by men to achieve a goal. Indeed, we were never commanded to remember or celebrate His birth. After all, the Nativity was just God wrapping His gift until one day it would be on a tree instead of being under one. Yes, we have the history of it because it fulfills prophecy and gives us the gift card saying to the World from God, but it is only the initial wrapping of the gift.
For thirty-three years, God continued to put bows and ribbons on the gift. We see a few of them. One was at the age of twelve when Jesus taught the Doctors. Then we are not allowed to see any more of the bows and ribbons until the last three years of His life where we see bows of healing, raising folks from the dead and casting out devils. Yet, we are still just looking at a wrapped gift that many failed to even realize that He was a gift.

At the appointed time, God finished wrapping and decorating the gift and placed in on a tree. Unlike our gifts which are neat and pretty God tore His gift and pierced it making it look like the gift was destroyed and of no value. It was just a second phase of wrapping His gift. He then wrapped it again in a tomb and for three days it appeared to be a broken gift tossed into the trash.

Ah, but the gift was only being prepared for the appropriate time of presenting the gift to World. Indeed, God wrapped His gift and He unwrapped it because He rolled away the stone lid of the box called a tomb. When He arose is when the World needed to be excited for now they saw the true gift. It was a resurrected Son of God that conquered death and gave the gift of the new birth that brought forgiveness of sins, newness of life, fellowship with God and a home with Him eternally where they will live in a world of pure love with a new name known only to God and the Saint.

This is why we are called to observe the Lord’s Supper and remember His death, rising and return. An unopened gift may be pretty and intriguing, but not much use to the recipient. It is only when the wrapping is destroyed and the box tossed aside that you see the gift and benefit by it.

Many people celebrating this holiday will be excited by the wrappings and trappings of the Malls and even religion. Yet, few will actually open God’s gift by faith and receive the benefit. What a shame to spend a lifetime admiring the gift of God, singing about it and even giving gifts in the name of that gift only to die and find that because you never opened the gift you will spend eternity far from the love of God in Hell. (Matt 7:21-25)

Are you like those small children who find the wrapping and box more interesting than the gift? Are you excited about the stuff that goes on at this time yet give but lip service to Christ? Will you accept the opened gift of God by opening your heart to receive it? Have you received it, but somehow it just doesn’t seem to have the save shine or allure as it once had in the day you opened it? All of us need to give Him our hearts as a gift of gratitude for the gift He gave us. After all, it is supposed to be His party we are attending. He should be the One getting the gifts. Shalom! Maranatha!