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Give, Give, Give…

Give, give, give. We all know this is the season for giving but for some, just hearing those words might make a person cringe, feel badly, or be anxious as there may not even be enough funds left to toss a few coins into the oft seen large red kettles. Maybe we could start thinking beyond our normal idea of material things when we consider the area of giving. I didn’t look up the actual definition of the word, but to “give” makes me think of relinquishing something I have within my ability or possession for the sole benefit of the receiver. With that in mind, there are endless possibilities for us to give. Beyond the obvious financial giving, we might think of giving our time, although during this busy season even that may be hard to come by. The really good news is that gift giving can come in many different forms…we can come bearing gifts in many other ways that would greatly benefit others. Gifts like kindness and thoughtfulness are priceless treasures. In one casual conversation, we can extend encouragement to another person simply with our words. We can offer someone patience who seems frazzled and harried even when we bear the brunt of their behavior. Helping someone even when it is inconvenient is really such a great blessing. We can give someone who looks forlorn a smile or a hug. We could hand out gift bags filled with forgiveness or grace or mercy to people who we might feel are undeserving of it. All of these little gift packages can be given over and over, they can be regifted, and they can be given to anyone at any time. Although there is most often some amount of sacrifice in true giving (especially when we don’t really “feel” like doing it), the bottom line is it won’t cost us a penny, but the rewards will be great and farther reaching than we will probably ever know. God intends for us all to be generous givers, in more ways than one. May we keep our eyes open to the opportunities ever before us and our hearts sensitive to what ways His Spirit may be leading us to “give”. So here’s to the season of giving, in ways we all can afford!
Peggy Lago 12/20/16


A Gift Like No Other

“A Gift Like No Other…”

One of my all time favorite scripture references is the account of creation; not because of the controversy between creation & evolution, although I will freely admit my bias as a biblical creationist, but because of the process of creation itself. Everything we know, see, smell, and touch is the result of God’s desire to spend time with us. Mortals, with free will to love our creator, or not; to listen to and learn from a being that can speak the very fabric of time into existence with a single word. I think for the most part humanity itself has little, or no, understanding of the scope and value in creation. In many ways our desire to be in control of all that is around us, to find a reasonable explanation for everything and anything, as long as it does not involve God, clouds our appreciation for the immeasurable complexity of even the simplest thing.

Within this brief history of humanities beginning is a line that is almost always looked over, or just plain ignored, is the differences in the creation of man and woman. I’m not going to be exhaustive here, but I would like to point out a few things and leave you to find the appropriate level of appreciation for you.

Let’s start with Genesis 2:7, “7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being.”(NABS)

Mankind, in our limited existence, is a three part being: Body, Spirit, Soul. Our bodies, like all of creation, were formed from dirt, sustained by dirt, and in the end will return to dirt. So when God was forming the body of man, He was shaping the vessel that would connect us with the rest of creation. Then He breathed into us the breath of life, and we became a living being. This part is important because it highlights two things. First, that the life given to us is different from all the rest of creation. The rest of life on earth is relegated merely to biology. The life given to us goes beyond biology and into eternity. It is the living breath of God, a tiny piece of His eternal existence. A type of life that is incomprehensible on this side of eternity. Secondly, the life given to man at this moment was the life that was taken in the fall. Death was promised to Adam if he ate from the forbidden trees. We know they ate, and we know that God is not a liar. So, what happened, what died? In John 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus that we must be “reborn” of the spirit in order to see the kingdom of heaven. Looking at both sides of this coin it should be easy to see that we must regain what was lost. The life we gain in Christ is due to the atonement of our sin, the renewal of the connection between man and God, between creation and creator. In the next few verses we see God extend His heart toward man in a truly amazing way.

“18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”(NASB)

This verse really has little to do with what I am talking about here, but I find it very funny. It’s as if God is looking down from heaven and all He has created, then He looks at the man and says to Himself, “I cannot leave this guy unsupervised.” Now, if that bothers any male egos out there I would like to apologize… I’m not going to, but you should at least know that the thought crossed my mind. The reason I am not going to is not because we are all a bunch of mindless cavemen, but because of what God does next, and guys you really need to pay attention to this part in Genesis 2:21-22, “21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.
22 The Lord God fashioned the woman from the rib which He had taken from the man, and then brought her to the man.”(NASB)

Here is the line that we all to often overlook: “The Lord fashioned the woman from the rib…” Did you see it, or are you scratching your head wondering what I’m all worked up for? Let me point it out in another way. Where did all the rest of life come from… DIRT!!! Where did woman come from… Life!!! Of all the life on the planet, women are the only ones not made from dirt. Guys, God did not want us to be alone so He gave us a gift unlike anything else on the planet, unique in every way. The translation of “formed” when it comes to woman means sculpted, compared to the formation of men which is basically translated “pressed.” For generations, women have been given second place in the life of the church because a man decided that, “women submit yourselves to your own husband” should apply to all women and all men, married or not, and society has gone along with it. The truth is that God created us to be equals in life, but with defined roles in family. I think that if we, and by that I mean men, want to really appreciate the incomprehensible complexity of our mortality just a little bit better than we do now, then we need to stop trying to control everything around us and appreciate, in the highest way possible,the gift of Woman. You might just find out that God knew what He was doing. More on this later.

Pastor George, 3-1-16


An Argument For Christmas Carols

For many years I fought the onrush of Christmas Music that floods the stores and elevators on the first of November. I would like to believe that a big part of my rejection was in protest to the over-commercialization of the HolyDay. One can hardly argue that the traditional celebration of Christ’s Birth, regardless of what time of year it actually was, has become a toy, candy, and ham driven economic resuscitator, returning many companies to the black after a difficult year. What should be a celebration centered around God and Family, has degenerated into a quagmire of capitalism and greed.

In truth, I never really saw the need for Christmas Carols. I’m not talking about Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Claus coming to town, I really mean that, as a Christian, I kind of thought that even the mainstays of our Church Christmas Services, “Silent Night”; “The First Noel”; and “Away in a Manger”, were entirely unnecessary and needlessly distracting from the Gospel. Blasphemous, right?

Let me elaborate, so that I am not excommunicated based on a misunderstanding. I always believed that Easter was far superior to Christmas in its meaning and message. After all, Christ came to die for us, right? He paid the ultimate price for my sin, He descended into Hell and stole the keys so that I could be free from sin and death and spend eternity with Him. Is that not much more important than the fact that He came to earth as a small baby in a stable?

I have come to believe that Christmas should hold as least as much significance for the believer as Easter does. While the sacrifice that Christ made is crucial for our eternal lives, the life that he lived is necessary for our temporal lives. If His coming had only been for the Cross, he could have shown up at age 30, delivered His message, and earned the enmity and envy that led to His death. This would have given Him enough time to teach, and to be the propitiation of our sins. Instead, He came as a baby and lived every day of those 33 years as a human being so that he could sympathize with us and show us a better way of life. What sort of credibility would his message have if it came from a man who never suffered as we have, never experienced the grief and the loss and the hurt that we as human beings struggle through every day? What kind of observer can understand an experience from behind the glass? Without that loving example to follow, how different would a Christ-followers life really be?

Not only was the Creator of Heaven and Earth willing to walk this dust in the same pain as every other man, but He did it in the full knowledge that those He walked among would eventually reject and crucify Him. For me, the cross is the picture of Love Unconditional, the Ultimate Sacrifice. But the birth and life of Jesus is the story that brings that picture into focus with a clarity that illuminates our own condition and need for Him. Take some time this Christmas to remember, not only the birth of Christ, but the life He lived for you.
 
Abel Larkin 12/15/15



 

One Response to “Devotions”

  1. Caleb says:

    good devotion

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