Christmas is over for another year. The year 2019 has flown by, and a new year is about to begin. Before embarking on this fresh start do not forget there are still a few important days left before the year concludes.
One key to starting the new year well is finishing the old year right. Acts 20:24 says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” All people have a life course and finishing is one of mankind’s greatest achievements.
Derek Redmond is a retired Olympian. During his career, he set records and won medals, but he is most remembered for how he finished a race during the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, when he tore his hamstring mid race. In spite of the injury he continued the race. While limping painfully and with help from his father, he managed to complete a full lap of the track as the crowd stood and cheered. The judges disqualified Derek because of assistance from his dad and officially listed him as "Did Not Finish". Actually, this might have been his greatest finish, becoming an inspiring part of Olympic history.
You may have suffered many trials in 2019, or you may have had a great year of success. Either way, finish this year as strong as you can. Some great ideas for doing that are to attend your church this Sunday, read your Bible, and show love to the One who directs your course. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Like Derek, your finish can inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Hurting people are everywhere this Christmas. Tragedy, divorce, separation and death are found any direction we look. How can we celebrate the joy of the season when all we feel is hurt? How can we enjoy the most wonderful time of the year when very little seems wonderful in our lives?
The best verse that comes to mind is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The holidays are full of excitement and even chaos, and God is hard to see even in the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Sometimes in grief it is the stillness that we dread, yet that is the very time the Lord can speak to our hearts and show peace and comfort. Be still.
When stillness is not an option, reach out to those who are in greater need than ourselves. Often our hurt will make us only inwardly focused. Recognize that hurting people are everywhere and be intentional about finding someone else to help. Romans 12:10,13 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
Finally, do not give up hope. Not now…not ever. In the dark moments of our lives, it is easy to feel very overwhelmed. Jesus came as a baby in a dark time in human history, and He brought so much light that it extends through all of history. He wants to bring light to your life this Christmas. Psalm 39:7 says, “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” Luke 2:10 says, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
If you are hurting and need spiritual help, contact Heritage Baptist Church at (903)665-8865 and leave a message. We will be glad to pray with you and help you however we can.
We are all familiar with the story of the virgin Mary. The Bible account of her life and Jesus’ birth is read by millions every December, and the name Mary is given to countless people. Mary receives a special visitor, the angel Gabriel sent from God to ask her to make a very difficult decision. This decision would not only change her life but would change the direction of all humanity. Her answer to God’s request in Luke 1:38 was simple: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word…”
Mary was swift to follow what God wanted. As soon as Gabriel finished his message, she agreed without hesitation. She was willing to surrender her life completely to the Lord’s will without asking for time to think about it. Mary called herself a handmaid, which is basically an indentured servant with a lifetime commitment. She was willing to completely follow God’s Word sent through an angel without question or reservation.
William Carey, often called the founder of modern missions, said this; “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” Mary’s decision mattered, and she made the right choice. Doing what God wants is always the right choice.
This Christmas, are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Maybe He wants you to help a needy family, or give an offering to your church, or even volunteer for a ministry. Amy Carmichael put it this way: “Satan is so much more in earnest than we are--he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.” Where God guides He will always supply. This Christmas, let’s listen to the Word of God and make a difference in the things which truly matter.
Author E. B. White said, “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.” There is a lot of truth to that. We should fill the weeks leading up to Christmas Day with peace and happiness, but too often we experience a holiday of worry. People stress about which family to spend Christmas with, which presents to buy, and how to pay for everything afterward.
The announcement of the birth of Christ brought peace to troubled hearts then and still does today. Luke 2:13-14 says, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Philippians 4:7 shares, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Peace is something many want, yet few ever find. In a world filled with struggles, worries and fear, the believer can shine by living a life of peace. Peace comes in knowing who is in control of your life. When we turn over our problems to the Lord, He puts peace in our hearts. C. S. Lewis said, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
When you are making your list and checking it twice, make sure you are not filling Christmas with worry and stress. 2 Peter 1:2 encourages us, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” The best gift you can bring to your family gatherings this Christmas is the manifestation of peace in your lives. Jesus has overcome the world and brought peace. Let us live this truth this holiday season.
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.