“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
That verse is known as the golden rule. In a world that has lots of hatred, the golden rue is needed today. If we simply followed this practice, it would eliminate many problems we have today.
If we treat others the way we would want to be treated, we wouldn’t lie or gossip or steal or harm someone. We would love another more. We wouldn’t be so busy pointing out the flaws others have.
In our nation, at this time, we need to live the golden rule. Christians, this needs to start with us. We can’t expect a non-believer to do this. But we should practice it.
Years ago, a prominent judge in Dallas, TX passEd away. Floral arrangements poured into the funeral home where his service would be held. After the service, a judge who knew the deceased man well stood and watched as a funeral home employee loaded the flowers to take them to the cemetery.
As he watched, he said, “Judge so & so sure does have lots of flowers, doesn’t he?”
The employee said, “Yessir; but he’s been planting seeds for those flowers a long time.”
We are planting seeds every day in the manner of how we treat people. Let’s treat others the way we would want them to treat us.
How do you determine what a person is like? You do it by evaluating what a person does. Jesus said, you know someone by their fruit. He said, “You can identify them by their fruit…that is, the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.”
Think about the last sentence…”A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” What kind of fruit are we producing? If we are believers, our lives will produce fruit. Paul said “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…”
So, is the fruit ofthespiritevident in our lives? None of us are perfect but our lives should be marked by love and peaceand patience and other things. Hatred is not the mark of a Christian.Dishonesty is not the mark of a Christian.
Jesus said, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” May our lives produce fruit from the spirit and actions that glorify God.
As Christians we serve and believe in God who created the heavens and the earth. We may pray to God. We sing praises about God. But what is God like?
There are many names used for God in the Bible and one of those is “El Shaddai”. In Genesis 17, God is known as “El Shaddai.” The name means “the God who suffices” or “the God of heaven.”
Think about the name “the God who suffices.” This means that God is sufficient. God is all we need.
God loves us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son; that whosoever believeth in him will not perish but have everlasting life“ (John 3:16).
God provides for us. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalms 23:1).
God provides direction for us. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalms 23).
God helps us, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come” (Psalms 121).
God is all we need. Today, may we all know that God loves us, provides for us and guides us.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
Have you slipped? Have you made mistakes and you think it’s over. I love the following story about Abraham Lincoln;
He lost his first job as clerk in Denton Offutt’s store, when Offutt’s business enterprise collapsed. In 1833, Lincoln and Berry, a successor store, failed, leaving the partners in debt. Lincoln spent the next seventeen years of his life paying off the money he borrowed from friends to start his business. In 1832, in his first campaign for the state legislature, he finished eight from thirteen candidates. In a campaign document he stated that if he were to lose, he “was too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined.”
In 1835 Lincoln was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
In 1836 he had a nervous breakdown and spent six months confined to his bed. The middle part of Abraham Lincoln’s life was spent in Springfield. There he became a successful lawyer and made a brief foray into national politics. He still faced identity issues. He broke off his engagement to Mary Todd and, as a result, experienced a profound depression. However a year later he reconnected with Mary and he went on to marry her in November of 1842. Lincoln and Mary had four children.
In 1836, Lincoln won election to Congress. After his term ended, Lincoln spent the next five years focusing on his law practice. In 1854, he came back to the political arena and one of the first things he did was to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to extend slavery to other states. In 1855 Lincoln ran for the Senate but was defeated. The next year he ran for vice President and was also defeated. Lincoln’s years of persistence and hard work eventually paid off in 1860 when he was elected as the sixteenth President of the United States of America. However, failure characterized the first two years of Lincoln’s Presidency. The radicals pushed him to declare emancipation a war aim while conservatives tried to pull him away from making it a “a war about the Negro.” His party suffered losses in the mid-term elections. Gradually, Lincoln grew into the President who saved America.
Have you ever been humbled? I was…it’s not easy or pretty but it is good for us. Several years ago I was going through a time of instruction and correction in my life. I was bitter..I was hurt…confused.. I questioned God… I wondered why certain things were not happening.
During this time, God put me on my face. God stripped me down to show me things. God humbled me. It wasn’t fun but it helped me. When you are humbled, you are willing to admit you are wrong and need help. Humility is the first step to giving your life to Christ.
Jesus said, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Think about that verse….Jesus is teaching us the value of being poor in spirit. He is referring to humility. This is the first step to becoming a Christian… we must humble ourselves to the place where we realize we need Christ.
When a person is poor in spirit, they are humbled to a point that they realize they need help. When you are humbled, you are willing to do things differently.
Humility doesn’t mean walking around with a “poor, poor pitiful me” attitude. It means acknowledging that we need help. It means acknowledging that we are not the center of the universe. We humble ourselves to receive the teachings of Christ.
C.S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
As we begin this new year, may our hearts and lives be filled with humility.
When a person gives their life to Christ, they do it so that their sins can be forgiven. But in addition to having ours sins forgiven, the gospels tell us we should repent of our sins and stop living the way we once lived.
In the gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist was baptizing people at the Jordan River. One day some religious leaders came and John asked them why they came? Then he said “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Matt 3:9).
What does “repent” mean? It means to turn our back on our old way of living. It means to change and begin living for Christ.
None of us are perfect….we all have flaws…we all slip….but it is my conviction that Christians have slipped here. We will say that we believe in Christ…we love Jesus but gave our lives changed?
Now, you may ask, “What kind of change are you referring to?” Our talk should change. Yes, we may slip at times but it should bother us when we do. The bottom line is our words, our conversation…grows out of our heart. If our heart has changed our speech will change.
Our lives should be marked by love…tenderness…compassion….like Jesus. We should be honest….The bottom line is our lives should be different. But are we?
It is my conviction that one of the greatest needs in our country is for Christians….you and me….for our lives to change and reflect Christ. The Christian message has been watered down some. The bar has been lowered some. I encourage you to join me in living for Christ this year. To watch our mouths…to be filled with mercy and grace.
Do you ever feel God can’t use you because of your background? Are you embarrassed because there are some bad apples in your family tree? Someone said when they looked up their family tree, they wanted to cut it down. Well, there were some bad apples in Jesus family tree as well.
In Matthew 1, Matthew opens his gospel by providing a genealogy of Jesus. Rahab the prostitute was listed in the genealogy. The Bible says “Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab.” So, there was a prostitute in the lineage of our Lord.
If you have ever felt God can’t use you, you are wrong. God can use anyone regardless of our past.
Moses had killed an Egyptian but God used him.
David committed adultery but God used him.
Matthew was a crooked politician but God used him.
I could go on but you get the picture. God can use us if we are willing.
John Newton, author of the hymn, “Amazing Grace” said, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”
My mother-in-law, Emma Zell Knighton, lives in Centreville, Ms. She is 95 and doesn’t get out much but, she can talk to people on the phone. My three kids are eight hours away from her but, they will call her at times. When they do, “Muh,” as she is known by everyone, will tell my wife, “Robert or Will or Sarah called me today.” Now, she has other grand-kids, and I’m sure she says the same about the others but all I know about is my three.
So Muh loves to hear from family. She delights in hearing from her family just like any of us do.
What if I told you there is someone who would love to see us today? Someone who would love for us to sit down and talk with them? That should warm our hearts that someone loves us and wants to hear from us. Well, that person is Jehovah God!
Psalm 149:4 says, “God delights in His people.” God loves and enjoys His people. Think about that verse…it should warm our hearts… God delights in His people…
God delights when His people praise Him. This Psalm opens with the Lord saying, “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing His praises in the assembly of the faithful.” So God delights when we praise Him.
God delights when we spend time in prayer. When we pray, we are talking to God. Our God delights….rejoices…when we spend time in prayer.
God delights when we spend time in Bible study. When we read God’s word, we are listening to God. God delights..God loves for us to read His word.
So today, spend some time with our Heavenly Father! Open His word and listen to Him. Spend time in prayer with Him.
Our Heavenly Father cares for the poor. There is an expression that grows out of that truth; it is that God helps those who cannot help themselves.
Proverbs 19:17 affirms this; He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17 KJV).
James said, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27 KJV).
God cares for the poor and wants His children to do the same.
Proverbs 31:8-9 reminds us to speak up for the poor; “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
How do we speak up for the poor? By helping them…by ministering to them. Much of this is done at Christmas but it needs to be done throughout the year.
Several years ago the church I was Pastor of at the time did a Thanksgiving ministry that was a blessing. We put together boxes of Thanksgiving food. We worked through a local school to provide us with names of needy people. It was a blessing to be able to give people a box of food who needed it.
Every day, let’s ask the Lord to help us be sensitive to the needy. Not just at Christmas but year round.