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Archive for December, 2014

Closing Out the Past

December 29th, 2014

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

As the year of 2014 comes to a close, we have to do something with the past - we must file it away in some way or another in our souls. It was said of Mary that she pondered the details of the birth of Christ, kept them in her heart, like a slow cooking cake turning them over again and again in her mind. And we often do this with memories in our own lives.

With sacred history the record is clear, as the scripture above tells us - it is given to us so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures we might have hope. We read the biblical stories of these Old Testament saints and we see their challenges and struggles, the examples of faith and obedience in difficulty, we are encouraged. I believe we also, however, through our lives have the opportunity to make similar contributions to those around us - in our individual lives we persevered and gained the blessing that God promised.

In today’s world people want immediate satisfaction - they want every thing either “Now!” or “Right now!” Sociologists tell us that in developed societies one of the values held by the people is the concept of delayed gratification - and, in fact, this trait is essential for the development of a nation’s economy. When the people of any society have accepted this as an important value in their national culture, it will lead to the advance and further development of the entire nation. People will seek greater education, invest savings and be economically conservative, and will commit to long, expensive, and involved building projects to improve the infrastructure. Their willingness to go without in order to achieve something of greater worth is important. “Stuttgart 21″ - the renovation of the central train station - comes to mind, that this huge undertaking will require several years to complete but there is the belief among most (not all, of course) that this “delayed gratification” is worth it to the development of the city.

What has God taught you this past year? What development projects that God initiated are still ongoing in your soul? How can you continue to grow and mature? How can your skills continue to be honed and perfected? The one thing we should always take with us from our past experiences is the knowledge that good things are more difficult to do that we probably thought at first. Gain the encouragement and hope that God gives. Did you achieve all of your goals? Probably not. But don’t be discouraged. Are you further along now than you were earlier? Let God continue to do His work in your soul. He who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion (Phil. 1:6). He has not given up on you, so don’t you give up on Him!

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The Challenges of Today

December 23rd, 2014

People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Luke 21:26-28

The world is always concerned with itself. Christ said that we shall always hear of “wars, and rumors of wars.” “Nation shall rise against nation” - that is the nature of warfare, when people of one organized nation rise against those of another, such as the conflict between North Korea and the United States. “And kingdom against kingdom” - that is a description of civil unrest with in a nation, as people claim loyalty to a different king, or a different cause, resulting in civil conflict and unrest - such as the rising of the Islamic group ISIS in Iraq.

These days we are witnessing the conflict in America between police and mostly black minorities, claiming they are treated unfairly. But worldwide we also see similar trends of people and ethnic groups who, regardless of whether their feelings are justified or unjustified, have felt left out of the economic advancement of their nation.

Every age has its worries, yet it seems to me that in many ways the problems of this world just continue to worsen, people become less patient, more suspicious, angrier, madder, and more violent. Where is the Christian hope in all of this? The Lord in the passage from Luke above proclaimed that for the believer the hope is the return of Christ. This world will not get itself straightened out completely until Christ returns.

Whenever possible I like to watch the sunrise. Every day there is a period of darkness, and in the winters of northern climes the nights are very long. We are at the period of the darkest time of the year, but even then we have daylight. No matter how long and dark the night, the sun rises, and this reminds us of the ultimate victory of Christ.

Christ said when we see problems on this earth they are occasions for us to lift our heads up and remember that our redemption is drawing near. We should do all that we can to be people of peace and unity - “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9) - but in the final analysis the problems of this world will not go way until Christ returns.

But thank God He will return one day. This is what the scriptures call “the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We do not see an enduring home here below, but we look forward to that future home with Christ in heaven. Let this truth encourage you today.

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