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Archive for December, 2018

There is no “down time” in the Christian life.

 

Pastor Bill

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Keeping God’s commandments is not the same as obeying Him.

 

Pastor Bill

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Christ needs to be the very “epicenter” of your life; not simply an extra or an add-on. How you live your life will demonstrate that.

 

Pastor Bill

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If you’re willing to give yourself completely and unreservedly to God, he will give you all of Himself that you need.

Pastor Bill

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There was no way of getting around it. The holidays were coming! Oh my! If only a person could just go to sleep at night and wake up to find themselves in the new year! Then you would not have to go through the Christmas season alone. Not just alone, but so very, very lonely! It did not seem fair!

If only you could have your husband home for one day. Just one day! Then it might not seem so difficult to get through the approaching holidays. But you did not even know where your husband was, let alone have any idea when he might return home—or worse—if he would return home. Why did there have to be wars? Why couldn’t people and nations get along with each other?

Desert Shield, they called it. Oh, sure! The longer this military “action” continued the more it seemed as if the "shield" just might fail! And no one could give you any idea how much longer you might expect it to go on. When he had left, way back in August, your husband had told you to expect him to be gone a couple of months, at the very most. Surely, at the very latest, he would be home by Thanksgiving! And even that period of time had seemed like an eternity to have to be by yourself—to be alone!

All your family and close friends lived far away from the Air Force base where your husband was stationed, and where you made your home. Sure, there were the people in the church they attended with whom she was acquainted, and they tried to be supportive, but they were all so busy with their own activities and their own families—except Nadine.

Nadine was one individual who knew what you were experiencing! Her husband was one of those who was overseas with other Air Force personnel like your own husband, and she had been married for less time than you had. You and Nadine had begun spending more and more time together as you found you had so much in common. It was not quite so lonely as you shared with each other your concerns, the challenges you faced each day, and the worries over your husband. And then came that evening which changed the entire Christmas season for you.

As you visited with Nadine that evening, each drowning in your own loneliness, a subtle change in the direction of your conversation began to occur. One of you mentioned that, if your husband did not happen to get home, you were thankful that you had been able to spend that very special weekend with him, several months before he left. Remembering that weekend stirred your hearts and minds and you both began recalling times that had been particularly meaningful to you and your husband.

At some point in the conversation one of you mentioned a Christmas with a large tree, covered with ornaments and lights, which had graced a corner of your small military housing apartment. Oh, that had been a grand Christmas tree! But you had made no plans for a tree this year. It just did not seem worth all the trouble where you were the only one who would see it. But, wait a minute! Maybe you should get a tree. Not a large one, but how about a "Charlie Brown" tree!

Suddenly you began to become excited at the prospect of purchasing a tiny, green tree. You would make sure it was not over two feet high. That is the kind of tree Charlie Brown would have! Decorations? Oh, you knew exactly what you would trim that tree with!

You would make your own paper ornaments. On each one of these ornaments you would write out a reminder of a special time God had blessed you and your husband with. In fact, as the days drew closer to Christmas, each time you thought of an occasion like that you would make a new ornament and add it to the tree. The number of those handmade ornaments grew steadily.

As you continued with your plans you were reminded of how good God really had been to you and your loved ones! Christmas did not have to be a dark, lonely time of despair. You determined you were going to make Christmas a time to look back on with positive remembrances, no matter what the future might hold. God was still in charge of your lives!

You also began to think of some of the other young wives who were alone. Many of them did not even have a church family to offer them support. You started thinking about what you might do to make Christmas a happy season for them, even during this time of such dreadful uncertainty and loneliness in their lives.

Ah, what about that young woman who was pregnant and had no family close to her? It was not long before you and Nadine had planned a baby shower for her. The group of ladies who gathered one evening shortly before Christmas shared not only gifts, but their love and concern for her. She was reminded in a beautiful way that she was not completely alone! Other people did care about her.

And then you learned about the young wife and mother who was experiencing a difficult time financially. You were not having an easy time of it either, but God impressed upon you to give her some cash. It would require that you "stretch" your budget a bit, but God had always been faithful, and you were convinced He would be again.

As Christmas drew closer, you found that you were caught up in a renewed excitement directly related to two things: remembering the blessings God had poured out upon you in the past, and your experiences in sharing with others.

In Acts 4:32, we read, "The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, ‘That’s mine; you can’t have it.’ They shared everything." (The Message)

Several months following the Christmas described above, the Air Force unit returned home from what had changed from Desert Shield to Desert Storm. Both husbands were reunited with their wives. God had been good to them, watched over them, and protected them

But you know something? God has been so good to each of us! Oh, don’t misunderstand me. Some are no doubt going through dark and difficult times in their lives right now but—even so, God is good to us and if we take time to consider how He had cared for us in the past, it paints the future with a strong tint of hope.

If we made paper ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree this year, each having written on it some way in which God has blessed us during the past twelve months, what would our trees look like?

And, would Christmas be any different if we very purposefully shared some of the many blessings God has given us, with others? Our Heavenly Father gave his only son, as a gift to all mankind! How can we show our love and thanks to God this Christmas, by sharing with another?

Prayer: Father, don’t allow me to forget all that You have done for me in times past. And Lord, help me to share with others you may “point out” to me during this Christmas season. Thank you, Father. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

* The above article was originally published in The Shelter Tree on Dec. 23, 1909.

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Don’t allow the rush of life, especially at this busy time of the year, cause you to lose your “God consciousness.”

 

Pastor Bill

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Self-preservation is a natural desire for humans, but it can truly come—truly—when we give ourselves to God completely.

 

Pastor Bill

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