My wife has saying “You don’t get if you don’t ask”. We have several stories in our lives when she’s used this philosophy while we were faced with dilemmas. one example is when our daughter was little, we took her to see a live character performance. She had gotten sick about half way through it and we had to leave. My wife called the theater to see if there was anything they could do. They had us come down the next weekend and report to a special area. We were then escorted into the venue and right into the front row. The whole thing was crazy but you can’t get something if you don’t ask for it. Many people don’t like asking for help or asking for things in general; oftentimes we feel like we’re taking advantage of things. In the corporate world, they say that employees should be asking for raises and not waiting for them to be given out. What is it that you want that you are not asking for? Our families don’t know what we want if we don’t tell them. Most of us were encouraged to write Santa Claus with our Christmas list and some of us were taken to the store or mall to see the “big guy” and tell him ourselves. As we got older, we stopped doing that with everything in our lives. As employees, we have needs or desires for our careers or professional development. If we don’t share what they are with our supervisors, we will never fulfill our dreams or reach what Abraham Maslow described as “self actualization”. Don’t let anything get in your way of at least asking for the things you want, you never know what might come of it.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6
It’s one thing to ask a venue manager for tickets to a show but it’s entirely different to ask God for help. Do not doubt God’s power and love for you; believe in Him and that He will do what is best for you. It’s sometimes hard to understand that what God believes to be best for you is not always what you believe is best for you. Ask God in confidence, He answers prayers; remember – on His time. God also likes to hear praise and thanks for the things in your life. In this verse we are reminded that when we doubt God’s power, our lives will be churned like the sea. I say this often, God has a plan for each one of us and He puts people and circumstances in our lives to help facilitate that plan. He simply asks for our faith and trust in Him through Jesus. The bible is filled with verses that demonstrate God’s love, that tell us how to live our lives and that tell us to have faith. If you doubt what God’s plan is, ask Him. Many times people turn to God when they are in trouble or in need. God tells us to always turn to Him in prayer. The stronger that your faith in Him is, the easier it will be for you to see Him at work in your life. You will never doubt again.
This week we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. God recognized that we couldn’t obey the law that He had given to us. God knew that we were simply too involved in ourselves to be faithful to Him. However, God also knew that He could not forsake us and that His love for us was greater than His disappointment. We learn throughout the bible that God foresaw this as He continued to tell of a savior in the Old Testament. His angels had been preparing the way. John the Baptist was busy in the Jordan River preparing for the coming of Jesus. Mary was spoken to by the Angel Gabriel in preparation for her role in saving the world. Elizabeth was given a child as a further sign by God of the miraculous things to come. All signs pointed to the new King and Jesus revealed himself as an adult when God was ready for Him to begin His work. The bible has been the most scrutinized “book” in history. It has been authenticated to within years of accuracy, closer than any other historical document. God so ordered the world to allow this “proof” to exist. The bible is God’s word, given to us as a testament of His love for us.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13
We have all been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. Now that’s something to celebrate! God gave His only Son to save the world; He gave us His Devine Word to read and understand; He gave us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Mankind has never done anything to be worthy of eternal life and never can. No amount of works or prayer or tithing can give us what Jesus Christ did. Only God’s promise and His love for all of His children is what allow us to be with Him forever in heaven. Jesus took all of our sins and all of our faults with Him on the cross and then left them in hell. When He ascended into heaven, he took us with Him there too, leaving us innocent in God’s eyes. We became marked with a seal only possible through our faith in Jesus Christ. We not only should celebrate the birth of our savior but we should celebrate God’s love for us.
I usually try to stick to one subject at a time but this week, these two seemed to go hand and hand – Love and Hate. Frank Sinatra sang a song made popular by the TV show “Married with Children” called Love and Marriage. The words tell us that “they go together like a horse and carriage” and often, so do the words Love and Hate. We throw them around as we generalize most things in our lives; “I love football” or “I hate spinach”. It’s when we use these words towards people that things change. Love and Hate become very powerful words that can change a situation in the blink of an eye. For anyone dating, the first time you say “I love you” is pretty powerful. The phrase is either repeated back to you in affirmation or left unreturned like an envelop with no forwarding address. The word hate is just as powerful when it’s directed at a person; to be told you are hated goes right to the core of your soul. We don’t mind if people don’t like us but no one wants to be hated. I’m not going to pretend that we will go around our lives “loving” everything or everyone but the act of love can be just as meaningful. I would submit that the “act of love” involves compassion, understanding, empathy, commitment and building a sense of community (being one). Today, we need more Love, less Hate. Use this time of the year when people are more open to acts of kindness to be more loving. Spread the joy of this season with the ones you know and then spread it with those you don’t. Say hi to someone at church for the first time, step in and help someone at work who isn’t expecting it, sit and listen to someone who needs a friend or be forgiving of past mistakes. This is the season of Love, so go out and spread the joy.
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” Proverbs 10:12 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9
I thought that I would share closely related verses this week since they both talk about Love and Hate. This is the last week of Advent; the week before we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ and these verses remind us of the Love that God has for us. God had so many opportunities to demonstrate his contempt with us and turn toward hate. We continued to deny Him and we disobeyed His laws until He finally took things in His own hands and sent us a Savior. He showed us the ultimate form of Love by sending His one and only Son to die for our sins. It was all Love. God’s inspired word is found in the bible, which teaches us that hatred stirs dissension. We’ve often heard about “the company we keep” and if we are around those that hate, we too soon will. We are encouraged to stay by what is good and to remember that love covers all. The wrongs of this world were covered by God’s love for us through Jesus Christ, His Son and our savior. His love is sincere and we must cling to that because it is good and righteous. No matter what you have done or what you have thought, God loves you and wants eternal life with all of His children who believe. Cling to God and nothing can separate you.