Is God On My Side and Does He Care?

Does God take Sides?

Yesterday, I watched the New England Patriots play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Foxboro, MA. The contest was one-sided so how many Steeler fans prayed in the stands during the game? We hear of high school students praying before a game and ask God for the victory. Surely there are soldiers in the midst of a battle asking for victory against their foes. Then, I wonder how many people pray to God so they can win the lottery?

All of these scenarios beg the question, “Is God on my side?” Theologians and philosophers could spend eons discussing this very topic. With all of the evil in the world, we need to know if the Creator works for our benefit. The trials of the world are seen in sporting events. There are the good guys(our team) and the bad guys(the other side). During the contest, referees ensure teams obey the rules. However, they are not perfect and when we feel the things are not fair, we rebel against the call.

Does God Care Who Wins?

We love winners in the United States and look at successful people as self-made individuals. We give awards to winners but losers get nothing. We look at winners with envy and wish to be them. The famous West Virginia lottery winner Jack Whittaker faced unlucky events after he won. The winner of $315 million lost over $500,000 cash at a strip joint by thieves breaking into his car.  His dead granddaughter, wrapped in a tarp, was found with illegal drugs in her body. His home burned down to the ground without insurance and was a total loss. He regretted winning the lottery a few years after winning at the death of his daughter. No matter how much he has, Jack Whittaker will one day die.

“I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”

                                                                  Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

God Cares Who Lives

The fate of mankind is God’s great desire in the face of his greatest enemies. Our simple wishes of sports victories or lottery winnings pale in comparison to Death and Sin. His desire is so important his plan required complete faithfulness by his Son, Jesus Christ. During the prayer in the garden, Jesus asked the Father if the cup could pass but willingly accepted his Father’s plan.

All of God’s creation will cease to live according to Scriptures. The flowers and grasses will wither and die but God’s creation of the animals and mankind will return to the dust of the earth.  However, man faces the chance of the Second Death–eternal separation from God. We have no understanding of what this means but God describes it in terrifying images. Death, Hell. and those who rebelled against God are cast in the lake of fire for eternity. Pain and agony encompass the lost but, a loving God wishes man will turn from their wicked ways and return to Him.

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THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IN CHARLES DICKEN’S “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”

Dicken’s Christmas Carol

Alastair Sim is my choice for Ebenezer Scrooge. A Christmas Carol reveals Charles Dicken’s hatred for the poor’s condition in 19th century Great Britain. Charles Dicken’s family live in Camden Town, the same poor section as Bob Cratchit. His father was imprisoned for debts when Charles was twelve. Alastair Sim gives a wonderful portrayal of this greedy and lonely man.

Memories of Christmas Past

We buried our sinful pasts in the past and are aware of the sins of others. Scrooge mistreatment by his father was for his mother’s death in childbirth. His younger sister’s intervention enabled Scrooge to leave his boarding school like Christ’s intervention freed me from the bonds of my sins. Scrooge saw things he rejected for the love of money.  His greed separated him from his first love, his nephew, and his fellow man.  The first ghost’s appearance along with Jacob Marley found this wealthy man alone in his room behind a locked door. A good picture for the heart of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Hopes for Christmas Present

The second spirit of Christmas shows Scrooge the joyful celebration of the day. Christmas celebrations are far different than those of today. The wealthy could buy extravagances like trees and gifts but the common man was glad for a special meal with family.  Singing, prayers, fellowships, and charity are replaced today with avarice and waste.  Children rip into packages without reading tags or giving thanks.  We remember the blessing from a small boy, “God bless us, everyone!” This handicapped child would die according to the second spirit unless things changed in the Cratchit household. Still, Ebenezer retained his greedy nature and rejection of humanity.

Expectations for Christmas Future

The third spirit for Scrooge was the ghost of Christmas future. This ghost frightened Scrooge because the future was unknown. Scrooge knows his life but the ghost showed him his fate.  Scrooge would die alone, unmourned, and into eternal damnation.  It was Scrooge’s promise to keep Christmas in his heart every day of his life that changed his future.

 

The Final Chapter

As sinners, we denied our futures but God declared our guilt. The judgment of God was death and the eternal death but with Christ, our future is assured. Eternity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and all believers celebrating the wondrous works of God. Words cannot describe the plans and future will inherit but I know like Ebenezer I did not deserve the intervention which changed his life but like Tiny Tim I can say, “God bless us, everyone!”

Have Santa and Mrs. Claus check your children and grandchildren after Christmas and remind them again, Christmas is about Christ. 

Guidance from the North Pole

Guidance which leads

The tax forms arrived in the mail today from our accountant. John is a Christian and an approved professional with the Dave Ramsey ministry. His knowledge and expertise are why we call him every year. Is it John or the fear of the IRS?

Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 NIV

We trust our guts, our friends, or horoscopes in the newspaper as we search for advice. We look for opinions aligned with ours because we have already decided our path. This may feel good but never really leads in the right way. Godly counsel may be one-hundred and eighty degrees in the opposite direction and if we seek Godly counsel we may not like it.

Guidance which supports

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that can endure it.  I Corinthians 10:13 NIV

Things happen for a purpose if we don’t flee the difficult circumstance because God uses a circumstance to train or guide our life. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul uses the image of a building as a picture of God’s help. The word endure refers to the support beam of a house which held up the roof. The beam needed to be strong since the roof is used by the family as a place of prayer or entertaining. As we rely on his love, mercy, and grace, we learn how to endure the circumstance and see them as opportunities.

Guidance which loves

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 NIV

Christ lives inside me! What a wonderful thought!  Instead of looking for someone to give me guidance why not interact with Christ who lives in me? Maybe it is because his counsel will disagree with my plans.  He might answer me if I ask him and then I would be responsible.  This is the idea of living by faith.  Faith in the Lord means living by this faith. During hard times this faith reminds me over and over of his love.  If I can trust in his love then maybe I will accept his guidance.

 

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A Child Asks: Santa are the Real One?

Are You the “REAL” Santa?

I appeared this Christmas season before children asking, “Are you the “REAL” Santa?” It seemed as childhood disbelief, but children seek proof before revealing secret desires. What determines a “REAL” Santa?  Does an investment in large sums of money for a spectacular suit with real boots and fur cuffs make you a “REAL” Santa? Is it a “REAL” beard instead of a designer beard which makes you a “REAL” Santa?  Will children seeing a beautifully carved leather belt say, “He is the “REAL” Santa?”  I have an International Sleigh Driver’s License and credit cards with Santa’s name in the pocket of my royal robe. Taking time showing these things, I realized time may be the proof needed to authenticate the one in red.

Children spell love: T-I-M-E!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sacrifice is the act of giving up something of value.  Saint Nicholas sacrificed his own money caring for children and the poor; sacrifice describes a “REAL” Santa. Time is a commodity in this microwave society. Cell phones equipped with applications help with events plaguing our daily lives. At dinner, we see parents, teens, and tweens with cell phones ignoring family time and the smallest member of the family. Is this why children ask for cell phones to have time with their family?  Children spell love: T-I-M-E!

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles R. Swindoll, pastor 

Making a deposit in the life of a child

Years ago a deposit at the bank required a person to person transaction.  Face to face with a teller,  you brought your check and deposit slip. Today, I can take a picture of my check using the mobile deposit app and never see a person. I  get immediate credit for most deposits but with a child, it is not so easy. We pick up the children from school, drive them to their favorite fast food restaurant, and then to their next activity.

Parents, be  “REAL” Santas in children’s lives

  1.  Like deposits at banks years ago, you must decide to have face-to-face interactions with your child.
  2. Children will remember piano lessons, gymnastics lessons, and sports, but will they remember the time you deposited in their lives?
  3. You may need to decide which is more valuable: activities or personal time.
  4. Realizing your deposits are not immediate it will require T-I-M-E to earn interest. 
  5. Parents, you may have to sacrifice something you value to make these deposits. 

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