Isaiah 9:6: – “ For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
This Holiday season will not be like any other we have ever seen. The one thing I’m sure we will all try to continue to do is give gifts. Even if we can’t be there. I guarantee either you will be the giver, or you will be the receiver of an unwanted gift! It may or may not be intentional, depending on the allotted gift budget, the nature of the relationship and the time designated for shopping. But it does happen.
I love and serve a God who knows exactly the perfect gift to give. He knew humanity would need a Savior, a Redeemer, a King, a Lord, a Friend, a Shepherd, a Comforter, a Deliverer, a Counselor, a Provider, a Healer, a Banner, a Victor, a Shield & Buckler, a Battle-axe, a Way out of no Way, a Strong Tower, and a Rock in a weary land. Jesus Christ is the that special gift. Please make sure he does not get lost!
The mentality of society nowadays, is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Jesus is able to provide everything you need. In a world where our youth have fallen so far off the mark that they neither respect another person’s property nor another person’s life, He is the way, the truth and the life and no man can get to the Father, but by Him. In a world where the economy is so bad, unemployment is at an all-time-high and hope is nowhere to be found, He is our hope for tomorrow and our joy in sorrow! In a world where there are fewer people than ever before who no longer worship the true and living God and who have turned completely away from His precepts and examples of Godly living, He is still the living Word that changes not! In a world where family values and family ties have been replaced with an increased number of dysfunctional families, He is our brother and joint heir to the inheritance of God. He will stick closer than a brother! He is the gift that keeps on giving!
Often gifts that we receive at Christmas will break, tarnish, lose their functionality, spoil, melt, turn colors, and tear. They are gifts that are either too big or too small, something we like or dislike, something that we want or not want and even something that we feel was too cheap or much too expensive for our taste or budget!
This very special gift was given over 2,000 years ago. I officially received my very special gift when I was seven years old, although I believe deep in my heart that I have always had a love for Jesus as far back as I can remember! I never once have been dissatisfied with my gift! And I honor it daily as if I received it for the first time. He brings me joy when I’m sad! He lifts me when I’m down! He keeps me company when I’m feeling lonely! He protects me when I’m in harm’s way. He loves me when I didn’t love myself. He fills me with his power! He covers me with His blood! He gives me peace when there is confusion all around me! He gives me hope when I want to give up and throw in the towel! He is the best friend I could ever have! He will never change, even when I’m wrong; He will never leave me even, in the midst of trouble. He will never betray me, because He wishes above all things that I prosper and be in health, even as my soul prospers (3 John 1:2). Who wouldn’t want a gift like that?
As you celebrate the birth of our long-awaited Messiah this Christmas season, please be ever so thankful that God loved you so much that He gave you this very special gift that you can richly enjoy and cherish on your Christian journey. Jesus Christ is that special gift which I offer to you today! Will you receive the gift and live with Him forever? Merry Christmas to you and your family! And guard the gift!
1 Thessalonians 5:18: – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When I was a child, I remember my mother teaching me to say, “Please” when I asked for something and “Thank you” when I received it. She taught me that this was a way to let the giver know that I was grateful for what I received. Even if the gift was not something I liked, I was taught to still say “Thank You.” She told me that no one has to do anything for me, but if and when they did, to always say, “Thank you.” Well, the day arrived, and I too became a Mother. I instilled the same values in both of my children. When they asked for something, I would hold on to the object that my son or daughter was reaching for until they said, “Thank You.” Then I would release it and say, “You’re welcome.” And off they would go!
The month of November is here. We are already thinking about the delicious turkey dinner that we will be preparing. But let us not forget to give thanks. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. There is no unnecessary pressure, no gifts to buy, no packages to wrap, no credit card bills to pay 365 days after the fact, and no end of the year deadlines to meet at work. It’s the time of year when you can easily stop, turn from your everyday hustle and bustle and turn toward God and see his mighty handiworks. The weather changes from summer to fall. The color of the leaves begins to turn from green to orange then brown. Some trees shed their fruit and flowers begin to fade away. It is simply breathtaking! It’s almost like watching a giant sunset! Psalm 118:23 says, “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”
This is the season where we, as bible-believing Christians, can actually reflect on the goodness of God, and how in the midst of chaos and adversity, He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks! We should still be determined, no matter what, to open up our mouths, lift up our hands, raise our voices and thank Him for what He has done, what He is doing even now, and what He is yet going to do in our lives, in our finances, in our relationships, in our physical bodies, in our minds, in our spirits, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our communities, in our cities, in our states, and yes, even in our country! Life’s circumstances do not always unfold as we would like them to, but He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks!
When your spouse works your last good nerve and your kids are about to make you lose your mind “up in here, up in here,” remember He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks because there is someone else who would love to be married with children, but has no spouse, no significant other or even a prospect in the radar zone nor do they have the physical capability to ever conceive children. When your boss always points out your errors, but never gives you credit for cleaning up his/her mistakes, remember He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks because there is someone else, possibly that you know personally, who has no job to go to. When your body starts telling you what it will and will not do when you thought you were controlling it, remember He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks because there is someone else who has a body that does not function without some assistance, or their mind does not function in a way that it can communicate to the body what it should do! When you’ve come to the end of your rope and feel all hope is gone and there is no way out, remember He is still God, He is still good, and He still wants us to give thanks because He promised to keep you in perfect peace if you keep your mind on Him because you trust in Him.
I challenge you this month to come in agreement with me and let’s make November a month of Thanksgiving. Let your mind be free and think on all the times He brought you out, all the times He made a way for you, all the times He came to your rescue, even in the ninth hour, and all the times He never let you down! More importantly, think about the great sacrifice He made just for you because He loved you so much and wanted you back in right relationship with God the Father. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Do not ask him for anything; just give Him thanks for everything. Happy Thanksgiving!
2 Peter 2:17– “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” It is our duty and responsibility, as believers, to share the love of God in any situation and in every situation we find ourselves. It is a mandate that is on our lives as Christians. Even when the hatred is targeted at us! Now I know that is pushing the envelope a bit, but God needs us to rise above our circumstance and let His love shine through at all times and in all places! The text gives explicit instructions on how we are to share that love with the Brotherhood. Before I share the instructions, let me quote what the Urban Dictionary had to say.
“Brotherhood” is the epitome of good will and faith. As humans we are not defined by our faults or sins, but by the capacity for love that we have for one another. When one is within the brotherhood, one abides by the law of the word. We all raise our fist when we hear the call. We are all equalized under this truth, and the supremacy of the call’s benediction binds us. What an interesting concept.
HONOR ALL MEN: Peter continues to encourage his readers in their Christian conduct. Christians should respond to God’s saving action in Jesus with behavior that honors Him – they should act like they are indeed his people and representatives. All people are deserving of respect, for all are created in God’s image. (See Genesis 1:26-27). Being created in the image of God distinguishes people from all other earthly creation. God’s image is not described as being possessed in part or given gradually; rather it is an immediate and inherent part of being human.
FEAR GOD: We fear God with the fear that a child has for his father. It should be like the tremendous respect and love that a child has for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. We should have the fear or an anxiety of offending the one we love, not because we are afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because we are afraid of displeasing the one who is the source of security and love.
HONOR THE KING: Although the Emperor may cause them to suffer, believers must respect his/her position. Case in point. Many believers in these United States were not happy when Donald Trump was elected as our 45th President. We were not happy with the policies that were being put in place nor the removal of legislation that has worked in the past. We did not stand behind his decisions nor did we agree with his personal presuppositions and biases. However, we were still held accountable for the things that came out of our mouth about him and judgments that we placed upon him. Like Christ, believers are to be respectful even in the face of insult and hardship, for this gives them the opportunity to show the true character of Jesus.
God so loved us. And we are to love one another. The strategy is set… THIS IS HOW WE DO IT!
Main idea: continued sin and rebellion against God bring loneliness and disaster, but He is always available for those who seek Him. Let’s see what God does.
I. He remembers (what has come upon us) – Verse 1
the first thing we see in the text is a plea to the lord to remember what is come upon Jerusalem
Jeremiah has a birds-eye view of everything that has happened! And it is happening because of sin. He sees a nation that was once considered a great nation filled with people and consumerism to now being a tributary nation that bows in subordination to other nations. They find themselves isolated, desolated, and miserable. When Jeremiah looked at the temple and the city of Jerusalem – once the center of activity and now empty, separate, solitary and alone — his heart is filled with compassion and he weeps!
Does this sound familiar? Let’s look at our own nation. The United States of America — a nation that was once revered and looked upon with pride and great strength — a place where everyone and anyone who was oppressed and bound by the unjust laws of man, were eager and determined to place their feet on this soil! A land that had opportunities for people to fulfill their dreams of prosperity and liberty! Like Jerusalem, we are crying out to God to remember what is come upon us. Why cry out to God for help in the midst of tragedy? Because only God can do it!
II. He considers and beholds our reproach — Verse 1
“reproach” is defined as to find fault with, blame or discredit to, disgrace, scorn or contempt
The Lord is angry. He, like a good parent, has given His children numerous chances to do the right thing, to obey His commandments and follow His laws. But there comes a point in that child’s life, if they have loving parents who want to see them do good and succeed in life, when the parent has to enforce some type of punishment in order to correct inappropriate behavior. The more severe the disobedience, the more severe the punishment.
Jeremiah witnesses the wrath of God as He has swallowed up, torn down, brought down in dishonor, cut off every horn, and withdrawn His right hand and purposed to destroy the wall. God refused to protect His people. Their sin brought on this suffering.
III. He forever reigns (remains) – Verse 19
In the midst of the devastation and travesties that are surrounding Jerusalem, there is a remnant of people who recognize that no matter what they see around them, there is a God who still reigns and will remain God forever!
Only God can restore the land to overflow with health, wealth and prosperity! Only God can take a remanent people who love Him, who are willing to obey Him, who will follow Hm, and will turn to Him in prayer and use them to rebuild, to refocus and to reclaim their place in the kingdom! Only God can mend the breach! Only God can restore the years you’ve sown in tears! Only God can return everything the enemy has stolen! Only God can restore your joy when you’ve experienced sorrow! Only God can bring peace in the midst of confusion! Only God can renew our faith when it has wavered under your present circumstance! Only God can reclaim your soul and make you whole again!
When entrenched wickedness leads to agony and continued sin by God’s people brings His wrath, know that only a conviction that God is with us can lead to peace and serenity in the midst of pain.
John 4:10 (NLT) – “Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
In this text, Jesus left Judea, and departed again into Galilee because He must needs go through Samaria. Why did Jesus need to through Samaria? Because there was a divine hookup that was predetermined to happen at Joseph’s Well. A Samaritan woman needed to have an encounter with the Messiah. You see, the necessity to go through Samaria was not for Jesus, but it was specifically for this woman’s liberation! Let’s look at the text and see what takes place.
SHE avoids the mess (v.6-7)
We all know HERstory! She was the talk of the town! Had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband! You could find the 411 on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and Clubhouse. She was ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable being around all the other “so-called” respectable women. She did not feel worthy or valuable enough to even be in their presence at a public place. So, she waited until she knew they all had come and gone before she went to draw her own water. To avoid the looks, the murmuring and whispers, she decided it was best to simply wait before she came to get what she needed. But on this particular day, it was meant for her to be there alone in order to receive something she never had before and did not even know she needed it! What are you in need of today? Oh, but if only you knew…
SHE ANSWERS THE MAN (V.9)
She was not only a Samaritan, but she was a woman! Leave it to the Radical Redeemer to break through barriers and opposition to reach the unreached, teach the untaught and save the unsought! Jesus is the one who opens and concludes their conversation! We already know the Samaritan woman would never have initiated a conversation with a Jewish male. But Jesus was on an assignment for his Father! Notice if you will that there are several things that take place in the conversation that cause her confusion. First, a Jewish man speaks to her. Second, she realizes that as He asks her for water, He himself has nothing to draw from. Fourth, not only does He ask her for water, but He tells her that He has living water to offer her! Jesus is speaking of the new life that He will give; a life connected with the activity of the Holy Spirit. What is your response to Jesus’ offer? If only you knew …
SHE acknowledges the messiah (v.19)
God’s Word has an undeniable way of making you look at yourself and see where you have come from, where you are now, and where you need to be in the future! The woman is engaged in a one-on-one with the Master! A man who knows everything about her past, present and future! A man who knows things that she has never ever uttered to anyone! Things that not even one of her five husbands was privy to! Yet He still needed to talk with her. Notice how Jesus met her at her point of need! He knew all about her marital status and confronted her about it. Once she was confronted and the truth was laid out before her, she was convicted, but was afforded an opportunity to confess her fault to the one man who would never hold it against her. The one man who would love her to death. The one man who could look beyond all her faults and see her need! Then she was able to see clearly and recognize that she was not just talking to a mere Jewish man, but she was talking to the Messiah, the one man who had the power to save her from her sins!
If only you knew the Messiah Jesus who is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you of all your unrighteousness! If only you knew the Master who can save from the gutter most to the uttermost! If only you knew that He loves you so much despite everything you have ever done in your life! He does not care about where you have been. He is only concerned about where you are going! It makes Him no difference who you were, because His focus now is on who you will become in Him! If only you knew who He was, you would not hesitate to drink from the living water that only Jesus can offer you and you will never thirst again! If only you knew!
Galatians 5:13 – “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
In Chapter 5 of the book of Galatians, Paul explains to the Galatian Christians: through grace, Christ has set you free. He tells them to stand firm and do not fall back into the slavery of the law. Who in their right mind would deliberately return to the place, person or practice that got them bound up in the first place?
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away and behold all things become new! That simply means that once you are in Christ and Christ is in you, all of the things that once had you wrapped up, tied up and tangled up were broken off of your life!
God needs you to be free of every opposition, every obstacle and every oppressor that has control of your mind, your words and your deeds. There is a spiritual battle engaged with your spirit and your flesh. Whoever you feed the most, will be the one who will have power and control over you.
Jesus wants us to have more of His freedom so we can experience more of His favor. Understand that with freedom comes Responsibility, Accountability and Sustainability.
FREEDOM FROM THE FLESH! – RESPONSIBILITY
You have a responsibility as a believer to walk in the Spirit. In other words, you have a responsibility to live by the Spirit. That means that everything you do, everything that you say and everything that you think should be prompted by the Holy Spirit and not your sinful self. When you find yourself indulging in sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, that’s SIN. When you find yourself engaged in idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, and factions, that’s SIN. When you find yourself acting out because of envy, drunkenness, jealousy and the like, that’s SIN! Sin is anything that is contrary to the will of God!
FREEDOM TO THE FELLOWSHIP! – ACCOUNTABILITY
What exactly are you freed to do? You enter into the sanctuary to worship but you should exit to serve. Once you are in Christ you understand that you were freed from yourself to help someone else! You are accountable to one another in the body of Christ! When you have experienced the unmerited grace of God, it makes you want to be more holy, not more sinful. You will desire to be more like Jesus. Which means you will be concerned about your sister and your brother. You will no longer be self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish, self-indulgent, self-interested, self-seeking, self-concerned, self-loving, and self-serving.
FREEDOM FOR THE FUTURE! – SUSTAINABILITY
It is your responsibility to model your freedom for the generations that follow. They should see how you live in freedom and because of that, they too will know how to live in the freedom that they have been called to. Every wise parent prepares something to leave for their offspring. Your legacy should include the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith that has been walked out in front of them, and an urgency to help others who are in need. Once you are free, you can live in the purpose and divine destiny that God has created for you. You are free to be all that God has called you to be. You are free to do all that God has called you to do. You are free to say all that God has given you to say! People of God, you are Called to Freedom!