If someone were to ask you, “Do you love life?”

What would you say?

 

How about Good Days? Do you See Good Days? Looking back on this week, did you see more good days, bad days, or so-so days.

I think we all want to live a life that we can say we honestly love. To love our family, our work, our neighbors, who we are and what we do. We all wake up every morning and hope that we have a good day, that everything goes as planned, that we cross a few things off our To Do lists. That we have fun. That we enjoy success in all we do.

Peter, in the Bible, wanted his readers to love life and see good days. In 1 Peter 3:10-12 he reminded those who would read his letter, of something King David had written many years before-

Whoever would love life

and see good days

must keep their tongues from evil

and their lips from deceitful speech.

They must turn from evil and do good,

they must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

So there it is. Five simple steps to loving life and seeing good days.

Let’s review. To love life and see good days we need to:

1. Keep our tongues from evil.

Evil – profoundly immoral and malevolent; harmful or tending to harm.

This definition reminds me of Ephesians 4:29,  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Keeping our tongues from evil means that we never say harmful words, only helpful words.

2. Keep our lips from deceitful speech.

Deceit – the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.

These first two principles for loving life and seeing good days both involve restricting what we say. James 3:2 says, “Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”

If we want to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from deceitful speech, silence is the key. Dallas Willard, in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines  writes a lot about the spiritual discipline of silence and shares the testimony of a young person entering the practice of silence – “The more I practice the discipline of silence the more I appreciate the strength of silence. The less I become skeptical and judgmental, the more I learn to accept the things I didn’t like about others the more I accept them as uniquely created in the image of God. The less I talk, the fuller are words spoken at an appropriate time.”

I think this young person loves life and sees good days.

3. Turn from evil.

We already looked at the definition of evil. Here we are directed to “turn” from evil. This makes me think of repentance, which many define as turning from one type of bad behavior to a good type of behavior. I like Dallas Willard’s definition of repentance in his book The Divine Conspiracy, “Radically changing the way we think about something.” We can never really turn from bad behavior if we don’t radically change the way we think about that behavior.

4. Do good.

Good – to be desired or approved of; pleasing and welcome; appropriate to a particular purpose; possessing or displaying moral virtue; showing kindness.

Psalm 100:5 says, “The LORD is good and his love endures forever.” From this verse I get the idea that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Our natural response to His love and goodness is to love others and be good to them.

5. Seek peace and pursue it.

The “peace” that Peter is referring to comes from the Hebrew word shalom, which is defined as “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace and success.”

We seek, pursue and find true peace through Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Romans 5, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Experiencing peace with God makes it much easier to experience peace with our neighbors, co-workers and family. 

Pablo comes to mind when I think of these traits.  Pablo came here to the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico, about four years ago after graduating from the FFHM Bible Institute in Baja, Mexico.  He started working as a house parent for the little boys and later for the teenage boys. He also helped and continues to help with grounds keeping and maintenance.  He preaches and teaches here as well as at rehab centers in the area.  He is a fountain of encouragement and prayer for those men struggling with addictions.  He does a lot of good. 

But that wasn’t always the case.  As a young man he was himself addicted to drugs, did a lot of bad things, and rarely saw good days.  His life was miserable.  One day he came to the end of his rope.  People had been telling him about Jesus and His great love and power, and how Jesus could give him new hope and a new life.  Pablo asked Jesus to take over his life.  Jesus did and Pablo became a new creature in Christ.  He radically changed the way he thought about life and God.  Now everyday is a good day and he loves his new Life in Christ.  

When you go to bed tonight, think about your day. Did you see a good day? Did you love life today? If not, tomorrow might be a better day if you reach out to God and ask Him to –

 

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your lips from deceitful speech

Turn from evil

Do good

Seek peace and pursue it

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I have chicken coop dreams and orange tree visions. Am I okay?

My Father-in-law, Artimeo, gave my wife, Anita, and me, a piece of property shortly after we were married ten years ago. It’s right outside a little town called Union Zapata. It’s kinda small, the town and our property. Our piece of land is about one acre I guess, but is in a beautiful location. The piece of land is on top of a hill, with valleys on either side and mountains all around as far as the eye can see. It is surrounded by thorn bushes, cactus and dumb bird trees. What you can’t see are other houses. Our nearest neighbor is about a quarter mile away, which I love. The downside is that there is no electricity or water. Well, it’s a downside for some. For me it is kind of adventurous. I imagine us living off the grid with solar power and a huge cistern full of water to get us by.

So we are trying to build a tiny house. At the end of last year I was introduced to the concept of The Tiny House, and I was enchanted. I thought we would have to wait many years to save up money to build a house. We had waited ten years and had little savings for a house. But a tiny house doesn’t cost so much and you can build a little here and a little there as you get a few pesos, or dollars. So we started in January with a fence, a slab of concrete and a little shed. That’s where we are now.

Our propery, fence and shed. No chicken coop or orange trees – yet.

But you know what we think of most? A chicken coop and orange trees. Well, Anita thinks mostly about the chickens she wants to raise, and I dream about the chicken coop I want to build for her chickens.  I know exactly where it is going to go and what it will look like. I also have visions of orange trees. We live in Southern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, where the average daily temperature is 85 degrees. We can grow oranges. I am the gardener at a home for needy children and here we have about a dozen citrus trees that I have planted and that the children enjoy. I look forward to planting a few of my own orange trees on our property and enjoying the fruit of my labor, if you know what I mean.

So my wife is drying stale bread and old tortillas which will make excellent chicken feed, and I am sifting through our rock filled dirt and making a large pile of rich soil which I can use to plant the orange trees in.

I read in the Bible the other day, Proverbs chapter three, which declares, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

That reminded me of a verse in Psalms 37, “Trust in the LORD and do good … Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Both passages use the phrase, “Trust in the LORD.” Trust in the LORD means to believe that God loves you and wants you to be happy. To enable this to happen he has given us his Word, the Bible, to show us how to be happy. His Son, Jesus, came to earth to show us how to be happy. Jesus said the most important things that you can do to be happy, are to Love God with all your being, and to Love your neighbor as yourself.

That’s all fine and well, but what about chicken coops and orange trees. How do they fit into God’s plan for my happiness. What does chickens and oranges have to do with loving God and my neighbor.

Well, I’m not really sure. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. You see, I really do love God and reading and studying and meditating on the Bible. I like to think that I “take delight in the LORD.” So if I “take delight in the LORD” then he will give me the desires of my heart. That can be taken in two ways. One way to think about it is that all on my own I have developed the desire to go to Mexico and help poor children and plant flowers and trees and build a chicken coop and grow oranges. Or, it could mean that GOD has given me the desire to come to Mexico and help poor children and plant flowers and trees and and build a chicken coop and grow oranges. I lean toward the latter interpretation.

All of these things have made me happy, either doing them or thinking about them, in the case of the chicken coop and orange trees, and God loves me and wants me to be happy. He created me. He hard wired me. He installed the hardware and software in me. He knows what makes me tick. And that is helping poor children in Mexico, planting gardens and perhaps, just maybe, building a chicken coop and planting a couple of orange trees. I don’t understand it all, but am just trying to trust in the LORD.

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The book of Proverbs, in the Bible, is all about getting wisdom and wisdomknowledge.The good life, the happy life, consists of growing in wisdom and knowledge and reaping the benefits of those traits. Proverbs compares and contrasts those who seek wisdom and knowledge and those who reject wisdom and knowledge. The Wise and the Fools.

Chapters 1-9 consist of teaching about the importance of wisdom and knowledge and how to get them. In my pattern of Bible reading, I read a chapter of Proverbs every Saturday morning. Yesterday I read about the Wicked Men and Wayward Women.

Verses 12-15 say, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”

Verses 16-19 follow with these words, “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth, and ignored the the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death, and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.”

Verse 22 summarizes what happens to wicked men and wayward women, “the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.”

I see the results of wicked men and wayward women everyday here at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico. Wicked men and wayward women don’t care much for their children. They are abused, neglected and often abandoned, and many end up in special homes for children. Verse 14 mentions that the wicked men delight in doing wrong. Almost all of the children here at the mission have no contact with their fathers. Their fathers delight in making children, and disappear sometime after conception or birth when they discover that raising children is not so delightful.

Everyone wants delight. Everyone wants pleasure. Everyone wants joy. Everyone wants to rejoice. Everyone seeks these things. The book of Proverbs is all about these things. The wise find their joy and delight in God and following Him and His ways. The wise find pleasure in helping the poor and oppressed. They are generous to the downcast and fatherless; with the widow and orphan. The wicked – not so much.

We make choices everyday about what we are going to do to make us happy, to fill us with delight. Many think making money will make them happy. Money in the bank for security and money in the wallet to spend. Others, like the wayward woman, think ultimate pleasure is found in using their bodies in ways contrary to God’s Word and His ways. Sure, there is some measure of happiness and pleasure to be found in these things, but it is a fleeting happiness, and short lived pleasure. Usually the pleasures that the wicked men and wayward women encounter not only don’t last very long, but are ultimately harmful, painful and cause suffering for them and those around them.

Some of my favorite people in the world are those who come to this ministry in Southern Mexico to help for awhile. Some come with church groups for a week or so. Others come with family members and stay for a little bit longer periods of time. Some come by themselves and stay for months. All of these people have a joy that will never fade away, because, by giving of themselves and their time, talents and treasure to help the “least of these”; the poorest of the poor in this country, they are filled with a joy that will never fade away. Many of the visitors and volunteers that come to help the children say before they leave that they came to be a blessing to others and discovered that they had been blessed beyond belief by their time here helping others.

Psalm one presents us with two paths that we can choose to go down. The first is the path of the wicked which leads to destruction. The second is the path of the LORD, which leads to lasting delight and prosperity. God, help us to choose Your path and to meditate on your word, which you gave to us because you love us and want us to be happy.

wisdom2

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

The apostle Peter makes reference to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first three verses of his first letter.

In the first verse he writes that his letter is to God’s elect and in verse two he goes on to say, “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus and sprinkled with his blood.”

Whew. That’s a lot to take in. The part I have been focusing on these last few days is the sprinkled with his blood part. What did Peter have in mind when he wrote that? None of the followers of Jesus that were reading Peter’s letter had been sprinkled with his blood. What could he possibly mean? How did his early readers take that phrase? It must have something to do with the crucifixion, but what exactly?

The best book I have ever read on the crucifixion is called The Day the Revolution Began – Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion, by N.T. Wright. With regards to “sprinkled blood” he writes about the lid of the Ark of the Covenant and says, “This was where God met with his people; and, in order for this to take place, it was where the priest cleansed the sanctuary from the defiling effects of the past sins of Israel with the sprinkled blood of the sacrifice.”

So one thing that Peter is trying to communicate with God’s elect is that through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the chosen ones are cleansed and can meet with God. Cleansed, meaning forgiven of all sins. Purified, white as snow. That’s how God now sees his followers through the lens of the sprinkled blood of Christ.

One other thing that probably came to mind when Peter wrote about the sprinkled blood, was the great Passover, when the Israelites killed a lamb and sprinkled its blood on the doorposts of their houses. Upon seeing the blood, the killer angel would pass by and spare any firstborn male in the house. The results of this last plague, was freedom for the Jews from the Egyptian slave masters. Similarly, the result of the sprinkled blood of Jesus is that God’s elect are set free from the Evil Slavemaster called Sin, and are free to worship the one, true God.

With regards to the resurrection, Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Wow! New birth. Living hope. No more living in sin, being totally controlled by passion and pride. Because of the resurrection, we have  new birth, old things have passed away and all things have become new.

Because of Christ’s resurrection we have a living hope. Not dead hopes that many people in the world depend on. Dead hopes like a new job will make me truly happy. Or a new soul mate will fulfill my life. Or a good education is what I really need to live the good life. Those are just a few examples of dead hopes that people rely on to get them through each day. With the reality of the resurrection, Messiah followers have a living hope that brings true and lasting joy now and all the way into eternity.

Because God loves us and wants us to be happy, he has chosen us, sprinkled us with the blood of Jesus, rose from the dead with new life and living hope in his wake! No wonder Peter exclaims, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” and in verse six he writes, “In this you greatly rejoice…” And in verse eight, this, “You love him and believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Indeed we love him and rejoice greatly.

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God purifies his people in and through the shed blood of Jesus,

so that the covenant may be renewed,

and not just renewed,

but now effective for the whole world.

N.T. Wright in his book The Day the Revolution Began

I read Psalm 36 today and David mentions the love of God three times.

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The fountain at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico

Verse 5 says, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens”.

Verse 7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!”

Verse 10, “Continue your love to those who know you.”

He mentions love in contrast to the wicked. David begins and ends this Psalm by talking about the wicked. The wicked do not fear God. They flatter themselves. The words of their mouths are deceitful. They plot evil and do not reject what is wrong.

God loves those who trust in Him and pursue righteousness. I always talk about how God loves us (those who trust in Him) and wants us to be happy. This is readily apparent in Psalm 36.  There are four results of God’s love that are listed.

One is a river of Delights. David writes, “you give them drink from your river of delights.” I love that. God doesn’t just throw His followers a bone once in awhile, but has a river of delights for them.  We sometimes sing a song here at the Home For Needy Children in Mexico, that says something to the effect that I don’t just want to put a toe in God’s river.  I don’t just want to go knee deep in God’s river.  I don’t just want to wade in up to my hips in God’s river.  I want to swim in God’s river.  One of the blessings of God’s love is that we get to swim in His River of Delights! One definition of delight is great pleasure; a cause or source of great pleasure. God wants His followers to enjoy great pleasure.

Second, He is a fountain of Life! The wicked just exist in their misery, trying to make others miserable, but the righteous have Life and joy and vitality and Shalom which come from the never ceasing Fountain of life. Here at the Mission,  we have a fountain in our courtyard. Every time I see it or hear the water splashing down, I think of the living water that Jesus talked about. I thank God that I don’t merely exist on this planet, but that I have Life that comes from the Fountain of Life.

The third result of Gods love is that He gives us light that allows us to see the light. The wicked meander in darkness, looking for delights in all the wrong places. Those who cooperate with God and His Kingdom plan, are able to do so because He has shown them the light, opened the eyes of their Spirit and understanding. They embrace truth instead of lies, which enables them to grow in truth and righteousness.

A fourth aspect of God’s love is mentioned in verse 6, “You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.”

I think that is great that animals are included in this Psalm. God’s great love that reaches to the heavens is not just for the preservation of people, but also for animals. I grew up on a farm and at various times we had pigs, sheep, cows and rabbits, not to mention the dogs and cats that were running around. I enjoy the animals in God’s creation and thank God that he looks down from heaven and not only cares for the people, but for the animals.


God loves us and wants us to be happy. He has made that abundantly clear. We are happy in Him when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. When we set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, then we are filled with joy. We swim in the river of God’s delights. We drink deeply from the fountain of life. We live in light and not in darkness. We are preserved and protected, us and Fido and Spot and the animals we love. How great is the love of God!

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God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.

 

I occasionally teach a baseball elective at Oasis Elementary School here at the Children’s Home in Oaxaca, Mexico. I finished up a class last week and made out the grades. Before the elective begins, the principal, Abby, gives the teachers a form for the grades and what the kids are to be graded on. To get a good grade the students have to show responsibility and a good quality of work. They must cooperate, listen and pay attention. They must also have a good attitude. I think having a good attitude is the most important.

I found an article in Spanish on the internet that I had my students read. It listed things that can help people have a good attitude; things like getting sufficient rest, dreaming, always remember that tomorrow is another day, be positive and developing friendships with people who have good attitudes. I thought these were all good ideas, but then it struck me that the most important thing one needs to have a good attitude, or at least that I need to have a good attitude, is God! God was not on the list!

Why do I say God is necessary to have a good attitude? I’m glad you asked. Below are ten verses from the Bible that help me to develop a good attitude. They are from God’s Word and most are about our relationship with God.

  1. The LORD is good and his love endures forever. Psalm 100:5        God created you, me and the entire universe. He is powerful and good and he loves us. If we give that a long think and we can’t help but have a good attitude.
  2. Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 106:1       A thankful heart is a happy heart. When we think of all good things God has given us and thank him for them, we will not only have a happy heart, but a happy attitude.
  3. Come let us sing for joy to the LORD. Psalm 95:1        When I’m feeling a bit frustrated or upset, I sing a song of praise to God and my frown is turned upside down. Try it for an effective attitude changer.
  4. Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33         Having right priorities results in right attitudes. Putting God first in our lives puts us on the path of maintaining a good attitude.
  5. Do not worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34         Worrying about the future is a good attitude killer. Our heavenly Father has everything under control. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future!
  6. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Submit to him and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6        God doesn’t ask us or expect us to understand why bad things happen to us sometimes, but he does want us to trust him in the tough times. Knowing that he is walking alongside us goes a long way towards a good attitude.
  7. Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the LORD and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:1-2         The word “blessed” is often translated as happy.  Meditating as much as possible on God’s Word will fill us with the Truth and lead to a bright outlook and happy attitude.
  8. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3,4      When we are feeling down, depressed and blue, nothing helps improve the attitude than helping others, especially those who may be more blue than you.
  9. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28      No matter what happens to turn our attitudes south, if we remember and focus on our loving God and that he promises to take our sour lemon experiences and somehow, someway, make lemonade out of them and that results in a sweet attitude.
  10. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18      We all suffer at some point and it’s not conducive to having a super attitude, but thinking of the Glory of heaven and one day being in the immediate presence of our Savior who will wipe away every tear and heal every hurt, can change our outlook and our attitudes.

These verses have helped adjust my attitude through the years and I hope they help you have a happy, healthy attitude. Get an A+ in the grade book of Life!

What comes to mind when you think about the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of God?shalom They are connected. The Gospel is the Good News about the Kingdom of God. About the King. We constantly need to remember who is the King of the kingdom. I think the Good News about the Kingdom is that the King is also our Father! Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven … your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10). I think that news blew the Jews away. We read a lot about kings in the O.T. Some good, some bad. Some who strove to be righteous and others who were very evil. Some powerful, some weak. But none of them were portrayed as a loving Father. In Jesus sermon on the mount, which is all about the Kingdom and Gospel, he uses the word Father as a title for God more times than it is used as a title for God in the whole O.T. God as Father was almost a totally new idea for the Jews of that era. God as King – of course. God as Judge – they knew that God. God as Creator – Right on. But God as Father – What a concept!


Why are Gospel and Kingdom so important?  Why is knowing God as a loving, compassionate Father something we need to embrace. Because God wants us to be happy. Because God wants Shalom. I have been thinking and reading a lot about Shalom lately. That word is generally translated as peace. It is a Hebrew word that is used throughout the Old Testament and it means so much more than what we think of when we think of peace. It is the glad result of Kingdom and Gospel. Shalom is the goal of God for everyone. Shalom is happy wholeness. Shalom is harmony and prosperity.  Shalom is all encompassing. Shalom is living in peace and right relationship with God, ourselves, our family and community. Shalom is whole, right relationships between rich and poor, powerful and weak, black and white, Jew and Gentile.


Alas, we see far too little Shalom in the world today. Why? Because human beings in and of themselves do not have the power to live in and practice Shalom. Power is defined as the ability to do something. We have no a ability in ourselves to live in right relationship with God! And as for loving our neighbor – We despise our neighbor! I think this is why Jesus and Paul talk so much about the Power of God. There is no Shalom without that power. Shalom is the Good News that that power is available. When Jesus said the Kingdom is near, I think he was saying that Shalom is available to all who come to the loving, compassionate Father in an attitude of weakness and realization that without the Fathers power, we will live sad, miserable lives full of conflict and strife. Jesus is proclaiming Shalom and telling the people the Good News that God the Father is inviting people into the Kingdom of Shalom!

It is kind of like what we do here at the Home For Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico.  We take in poor children who are broken and by the power of God and our love, they are made whole.  Children come who are hurt and angry, confused and abused, betrayed and shamed.  Here they experience Shalom. They grow into complete, happy people, full of smiles and laughter.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It can be a long process.  But when the children hear about the love of God and experience the compassion of their Heavenly Father on a daily basis, and depend on His power for their wholeness, then they live in peace and contentment.  They live in Shalom.

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I pray the Lord’s Prayer every morning. I especially like the part about “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Kingdom of God on earth is Already – But not yet. It already exists.  It started with the new born King whose little body was laid in a wooden manger in Bethlehem and whose adult body was crucified on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem. It started out as the smallest of seeds, starting to grow over 2000 years ago, and is still growing, just like Jesus said in Matthew 13:31-32.  It has not yet come to completion.

When George Bush was President he promoted a 1000 Points of Light program. I like to think of the Kingdom of God on earth as a Million Points of Light program. Everywhere that Christians gather together to glorify God and love Him and love their neighbors is a Kingdom Point of Light.

I live at a Home for Needy Children in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of those Points of Light. We take in children who are poor, abused, neglected and abandoned. They are hurt,sad, angry and confused when they come here. Here they experience the love of God and of Christians who care for them.  Here they are transformed.  We give them a safe place to live with plenty of nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink. They receive a good education and spiritual direction. Our goal is not just to make them into good people, but to make them into faithful disciples who love God and want to cooperate with Him in growing the Kingdom.

My wife and daughters and I spent Christmas day with a half dozen of these children, all under the age of 6. They are new comers to our little Kingdom Point of Light. Most of them are brothers and sisters who had been separated and put into different children’s homes in Oaxaca. Now they are reunited, happy and healthy, living in a loving Christian community that meets their every need.

New Kids at the Mission

Brother and Sister Reunited

God’s Kingdom is coming everyday in many different ways all over the world. In 2018 He may choose to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment; to completion. Then He will be the one to wipe away the children’s tears and there will be no more need for children’s homes. If that doesn’t happen in the new year, then God’s Kingdom will continue to come, on earth as it is in heaven. Little light by little light. Followers of Jesus will continue to spread the joy and peace of God and people all over the world will be coming into relationship with God, glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever. He is the One who truly puts the Happy in the New Year!

 

Psalm 16 is one of my favorite Psalms. In verse 2, David writes, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; Apart from you I have no good thing.’ ”

It’s Christmas and everybody wants Good Things! Kids look longingly at all the presents under the tree, thinking about all the good things that that they will receive. Adults want good things too. As the saying goes, That which separates men from boys is the price of their toys. True for women and girls too, I’m sure.

The best Good Things come from the LORD. Psalm 16 is like a Christmas tree with lots of gifts underneath. Gifts like –

security (vs5)

boundary lines in pleasant places (vs6)

delightful inheritance (vs6)

Godly counsel (vs7)

glad heart (vs9)

a body that rests secure (vs9)

no fear of death (vs10)

path of life (vs11)

joy (vs11)

eternal pleasures (vs11)

and the best Christmas present – God’s presence (vs11)

These gifts are way better than an iphone 10, Play Station or a Sony 50” TV. How do we go about acquiring these Good Things?

David tells us the secret in verse 8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD.” That reminds me of Hebrews 12:2, Let us “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Also sounds a bit like Colossians 3:1-2, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above.”

To get the Good Things of God we need to keep our eyes on the LORD, to fix our eyes on Jesus –

Jesus in the manger

Jesus turning water into wine

Jesus walking on water

Jesus multiplying the bread and fish

Jesus’ compassion on the sick, blind, and demon possessed

Jesus’ love for the sinners and tax collectors

Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead for our justification

This Christmas, instead of asking Santa for good things in our stockings, lets thank Jesus for the Good Things He has already given us, and that are available to us in abundance if we keep our eyes on HIM.

Merry Christmas from the

Schwab Family

Today is Tifani’s birthday. She is my oldest daughter and I dedicate this post to her. In Romans chapter 12 we find five ways to be, five ways to treat one another and five Do Not’s. Considering and living out these 15 admonitions from Paul we can all experience happier birthdays, merrier Christmas’s and happier lives.

The Five Be’s

Be devoted to one another in love.

Be spiritually passionate, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope.

Be patient in affliction.

Be faithful in prayer.

Five Ways to Treat One Another

Share with one another.

Rejoice with one another.

Mourn with one another.

Live in harmony with one another.

Live in peace with one another.

Five Do Nots.

Do not be proud.

Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Do not take revenge.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

God loves us and wants us to be happy. He inspired Paul to write these words so that we would take them to heart, put them into practice and live in right relationship with God and our fellow human beings. I think of them as 15 gifts  around the birthday cake or presents under the Christmas tree. Each one to be carefully unwrapped, treasured and used daily.