They say that the only thing that is consistent about our world today is that change will happen. Cell phone plans are changing, the world stock markets have been changing (hourly) and our access to information can change our point of view in an instant. I can’t take credit for creating it but I’ve been repeating a phrase for years about the fire service – we must be Semper Gumby; always flexible. It seems that things are changing so much that everyone must have a little Semper Gumby in them. How do you react to change? Are you a resister that has to be convinced that change is good or are you one of those people who jumps right on board with the change? There are a few people out there who are the objectors and will fight change right until the end. It’s important to know what role you play when change comes knocking.
The opposite of change is consistency. There is a lot to be said for being consistent; it can also lead to routine and ruts but lets stay positive. As a worker, a spouse, a family member or a supervisor, the people around us appreciate a little consistency. No one likes guessing which version of a person will show up from one day to the next. Consistent quality of your work is important too. When people can count on you to deliver consistent work products, you not only improve their lives but you raise your worth or value for to them. For as often as things can change, they can stay the same too. People say that history often repeats itself, which for me means, there is a little consistency out there. The specific names and places might be different but the circumstances are often the same. So, while things around us are changing at what appears to be a break-neck pace, know where you fall in the spectrum of change but also embrace the consistency of life to be that one person people can count on.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
This verse can become a great anchor point for our lives as we struggle with the constant changes around us. The world markets went on a wild ride this past week and people started worrying about the future. Thousands of people sold stock out of fear despite the warnings that the ride was temporary and was a needed adjustment. It was almost the example of quitting when things got bad. Do you cut and run when things get bad? The devil would like you to do that; turn from God and take matters into your own hands. If we turn away when things get bad and rely on our own ways and not God’s, we have taken the temptations of the devil.
We have consistency in God, through His Son Jesus, that we will be protected and have eternal life. There are no recounts in the bible of God’s love changing or of Jesus changing His ministry. Jesus remained consistent to the Prophet’s teachings right through His own death. God remained consistent with His desire to have His children close by Him and providing for their needs; even when His children disobeyed Him. God’s continued grace and mercy was given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, given to die for our sins, so that we may have consistency in an eternal life with Him. Sure, the world has changed over the thousands of years but God’s love has been consistent; we are free from sin and have eternal life through His son Jesus Christ.
It’s so hard to determine what the truth is anymore. Our connection to current events is almost instantaneous and right away someone is analyzing the what really happened and then telling us the “facts” behind the story. A recent study shows that young people are being driven away from organized religion in huge numbers. More than half of those surveyed do not consider them selves Christian anymore. We see moral decay all around us in the news these days from public officials under investigation to, and as friends pointed out this weekend, long time marriages breaking up. Our friend pointed out that technology has made it too easy and tempting to look for greener grass. It seems as though people are having a hard time telling truth from fiction anymore.
Leaders have a responsibility to be truthful at all times. People deserve the truth and when leaders are truthful, their followers can begin to understand what is at stake. Trustworthiness is the number one personality trait that people look for in a leader. People have to trust you as their leader; your word is your truth. No one wants to hear the latest spin you’ve got or the “company line” when they ask questions or see you in action; they want the truth, plain and simple.
John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is the truth.”
Fortunately, the bible is filled with God’s truths. We have been given examples of God’s promises and his fulfillment of them. There is no spin on anything in the bible and the only “company line” is “Love the Lord Your God”. The devil would love for you to begin creating your own version of the truth or even your own “take of God’s word”. Life can create doubts all around us; sometimes we are not sure who or what to believe anymore.
Despite all of this confusion and our own lack of understanding, God keeps His word and provides for all of our needs. He gives us eternal life in exchange for one simple act: Love the Lord Your God through your faith in Jesus Christ. This truth gives us a life better than we can imagine here on earth. So, despite all of the uncertainty around us, we can all rest comfortably knowing that we can find our truths in the bible and in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
What does being rich mean to you? For some, it means having money to anything and everything that they wish. To others, it means having enough to be satisfied or content. And to yet others, it means having a life of blessings and little worry despite having little money. Many people focus on making money because the old adage says “money can’t buy everything but it sure makes everything better”. When we focus on getting rich or making money we often forget the other things of importance in our lives. People who focus on their careers so much in order to provide “financial stability” often miss out on the important things. Have you heard people say “I’m working so hard to provide a future for my family”?
These people rarely have time for the present day family that they are working so hard for. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m glad my parents weren’t around when I was a kid so I could have this great inheritance check now that they’re dead”. Everything in our lives is about balance. The right amount of money, the right amount of time and the right attitude generally always pay off. The right amount of exercise and the right amount of rest keep us healthy in the long run. What do riches really do for us? Sure, not having to worry about paying bills would be great but what kind of life do they have working or worrying about work constantly. Monetarily “rich people” often don’t seem happy. Watch a young family with few “riches” and you will see hugs, laughter, smiles and they will find fun in the little things. You don’t need money to be rich; you need the right perspective on life and a little faith in your future.
“4Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. 5Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone…” Proverbs 23:4-5
These are the words of wisdom that turn our attention to the most important thing in our lives – God. He warns us often throughout the bible not to be misled by the things of this world. St. Paul writes in his letters about how this world will lead us toward destruction. Jesus taught us to focus on the words and promises of God and showed us how the men of this world were leading us astray.
If we focus on riches only, they can be gone in a glance; leaving us with nothing. If we focus on God and His word, we are never alone and always content. The same Proverb in verse 12 tells us,” Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Jesus often said to keep focused on God and place our faith in Him alone. God is on our side and He will provide us with what we need and will never give us more than we can bear. His plan is in motion for our lives, we need to have the wisdom to allow it to unfold and keep our attention where it belongs, on God.
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.