I’d like to end this decade with a reminder for us all and another departure from my usual format. Let’s start this week with the verse, very appropriate for both the Christmas holiday that just past and the start of a new year.
“God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19
This is why we had Christmas – so God could reconcile with the world. His people, born of sin, could not be with Him in eternal life unless we had a savior. This is great news! But think about what this verse means for you in 2020. God is NOT counting your sins against you! Sin is not measured by severity; every sin is the same and we can’t stop ourselves from doing it – no matter how hard we try. Just as we think we are living really good lives and following the commandments, we will sin again. If you become so confident that your godly life is more pleasing to God – you’re sinning. The complaining that you do about your boss or that one family member – you’re sinning. We can’t help it!
There is an old saying, “what would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?” We can be so afraid of ourselves or of our lives that we simply give up trying. For some people, this fear can be paralyzing. They are afraid to try things or to explore new ideas because they are afraid to fail. Others will get so down on themselves because of sin that they give up on getting to know God. They’ll say, “God could never forgive me for what I’ve done”. God has already forgiven them, you and me! Our sins have been erased through our faith in Jesus Christ. He took them all to hell and left them with the devil. Sin has no place in our lives. God does not and will not count them against us because He loves us as any Father would love His children.
Start 2020 confidently and don’t worry about sin being an anchor in your life. We are all special people in God’s eyes, so go strongly, boldly and confidently into the next decade – like you can’t fail. Trust in God, rely on Him for guidance and strength and see what happens. Happy New Year!
Father’s Day was yesterday; I hope that every one of the “dads” enjoyed it. Men have a funny way of expressing this day to each other, especially if you compare it to how women express Mother’s Day to each other. Men will simply nod and smile to each other if it comes up and if we don’t mention it, well, that’s okay too. When it comes to celebrating the day, we’re okay with simplicity. No brunches or special events. A good, or should I say smart, man will treat Mother’s Day much differently. Men are providers, we are “fixers”; we will just do our thing and keep moving. A father’s role in the family is different and so is his reaction to any celebration. Few men seek accolades and often don’t know how to respond to someone who offers them. I notice that women love the attention of a restaurant staff who lead a birthday song but watch a man and he’ll slowly slide under the table. We’re just funny that way I guess.
I’m not writing about the differences between men and women; this is more about how we react to things. The “fixer” inside of a man wants to perfectly plan a course for their lives and then follow it to the letter. When things don’t go according to plan, we lose hope and get frustrated. As men, we view our role as being there for everyone else but when we are the ones that need fixing, we throw our arms up and scream: “why do I bother!” The simple answer is that we bother because we are, by nature, fixers. Don’t kid yourselves, mom’s are the ultimate fixer – just ask any man who gets sick or hurt. Next time you feel like things aren’t going as planned or when you don’t have control over the direction (whether you are male or female), just remember, it always eventually works out.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Being confident in all things is often known as being arrogant or cocky. No one likes someone who is arrogant; they are often hard to be around. Having confidence on the other hand, is being sure of your self. The words, being and having, change the value of the word confidence. “Confidence” is more valuable to others when you have it rather than being it. Overall, I have confidence in my decisions and understanding of municipal government, which allows me to speak with authority. What is giving St. Paul the confidence as he wrote this verse? Why is he “being” confident?
Verse 5 says “because of your [Philippians] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”. St. Paul is being confident that they have found favor in God’s eyes. He is expressing his confidence (having confidence) that God will not abandon them and will carry them forward until the coming of Christ Jesus. St. Paul isn’t “being” confident, he is “having” confidence in the Word of God. How do we obtain that level of confidence? Being in God’s Word and accepting that salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Reading the bible gives us an understanding of the plan that men try so hard to control. God is THE “fixer”. He not only orders things in this life, He fixed our relationship with Him for all eternity. He sent us a savior to fix our inability not to sin. Do you have the confidence to go through life knowing that God is at work in it? I do.
I am in this group so I can say it, some of us are simply too old to change. It’s not easy to admit but I am generally too practical to see the positive in things. I ask “why?” a lot or look at things from such a practical application that I fail to enjoy the moment because I’m looking for the lesson in the experience. On the flip side however, I have an awesome sense of humor. I hope it balances things out. Do you know what kind of person you are? Being self-aware is so important today. I think that people are loosing the ability to know or understand who they are or how they come across because we are having fewer “in-person” experiences. We are having fewer phone calls and conversations but more e-mails and text messages. “Social media” is making us less social. It’s just another example of me being too old to change and too practical. Without a little self-awareness we have no idea how people receive and perceive us. When people see you, do they hide or do they seek you out? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you have a little work to do. Listen to what you say, if you use the word “I” often or you are regularly critical of others; rethink your view of the world. Your spirit tells a lot about you think is important. I’ve always said that you can leave a mark just make sure that it’s not a skid mark.
“For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
God has given us everything we have and need for this life, but most importantly, He gave us our spirit. God wants us to be confident in Him and not ourselves. God has given us the power or strength necessary to survive in this world, the love in our hearts to reflect or mirror the love He has for us and the self-discipline to keep our lives in order. God does not want boastful disciples that are selfish or who live lives full of chaos. He wants disciples who can live a godly life of faith putting Him before all others. What do people see when they see you? Do they see a cross necklace on someone who is difficult to work with or who doesn’t lend a hand because they are too worried about their own goals? God gave us this spirit of power, love and self-discipline because we were created in His image. There is no better way to witness to others than by showing your spirit everyday in everything you do. Timothy is not telling us to be self-confident or self-righteous, he is telling us to be strong because that is how God made us. He reminds us that we are not timid; we do not lack courage or confidence. We should have confidence in God to be with us and it’s in that confidence that we have the power to face what this world puts before us.