HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR
The past two years things have changed dramatically. We are a divided nation. A pandemic had a lot to do with that. So did politics, negative news and social media. So, what will 2022 bring? I have no idea but I do know God is in control. Galatians 5:22 & 23 shows us a way to get through it all.
Choose love – Love God, your family, your friends, this church. For others, pray for them because no occasion justifies hatred and no injustice warrants bitterness.
Choose Joy – Do your best to refuse the temptation to be cynical. Do your best to see people as human beings created by God. See any problem as an opportunity to talk to God.
Choose peace – Live forgiven. Forgive so that you may live. Do not judge and hopefully be not judged by others.
Choose Patience – Rather than complain that the wait is too long, thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of letting others frustrate you, pray for them.
Choose kindness – Be kind to the unkind for that is how God has treated you.
Choose goodness – Go without a dollar before you take a dishonest one. Be content to be overlooked before you boast or brag. Look at your own faults before you accuse. Tell others about Jesus.
Choose faithfulness – Be faithful to God. May your spouse and family not question your love or your friends your friendship.
Choose gentleness – If you raise your voice may it only be in praise or song. If you clench your fist, may it only be in prayer.
Choose self-control – Be impassioned by your faith. Be influenced only by God.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Commit to these in 2022. If you succeed, give thanks. If you fail, seek His grace. Do these things and you will have a Happy New Year!
WE ALL NEED CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR
Get out of your house and go to a quiet place. Escape the pandemic and politics, diversity and division. Escape the negative news and nothing worth watching on TV. Escape all the social media “stuff”. Escape your smart phone and computer. Escape the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
Take a hike up one of our many Ozarks hills and gaze over the beautiful valley below. Feel the warmth of a campfire as you watch the flames dance and sparks float hypnotically upward into a dark night sky filled with thousands of twinkling stars. Pull up a log and sit on a gravel bar. Let the flowing water calm you. Go to one of our many area lakes and enjoy watching an eagle out fishing. Climb a tree and sit in a stand whether you hunt or not as the animals go about their daily lives not even knowing you are there. You can also just close your eyes and go to these places in your mind.
Now, look around at all you see before you. That did not happen because of some cosmic explosion or any other theory. God created the great outdoors for all of us to enjoy. Travel in your mind to a dirty, smelly stable in the city of Bethlehem. Close your eyes and imagine what Mary must have felt like when she touched God’s face and held His hand. If God was willing to be born in a stable surrounded by cows, sheep and donkeys then have faith that He is here among us now in this messed up old world. There is no limit to His love. All we have to do is believe and accept God’s gift to us of Jesus. When Christ was born, so was our hope. In a changing world that has not changed.
Enjoy the Christmas tree and all the decorations. Go to our Christmas Eve service. Hear the story of a baby born in a manger. Sing the joyous Christmas songs. Hold your family close. Take comfort in the real reason for the season. We all need Christmas this year!
STORMS OF LIFE
Most of the time life is going along just fine. Suddenly without warning, storms of life happen.
Mark 4:35-5:1 tells us about a terrible storm. The disciples were with Jesus on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus slept a furious storm came up and the disciples were afraid for their lives. Did God not care? Weren’t they handpicked by Jesus and closest to him? Weren’t they obeying Jesus who told them to go to the other side? Why then were they going through such a turbulent time?
The disciples initially feared the storm but the storm brought them closer to Jesus. The disciples said, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Not a one of us are exempt from the storms of life. A lot of us have been through some storms lately. Some are still going through them.
We may not understand why God allows storms of life to happen to us. Just know that we, like the disciples, can come to be closer to God through them.
For some the storms have ended, for some the storms are still to come, for others the storms continue and the boats still rocking. The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor. Through the storms of life, the Son still shines!
GOD’S GIFT OF AUTUMN
To me, autumn is a gift from God. It is a time that lingers in your heart and mind. God gives us cooler temperatures to refresh body and soul. He paints the landscape with brilliant colors of red, yellow and orange. He makes the sunsets coppery.
God created the beautiful harvest moon to enjoy as we take an evening walk or sit outside wrapped in a sweater enjoying the moonlit night. He also created it to give farmers more time to harvest their crops before winter comes.
Autumn smells are everywhere too. Apple cider and hot chocolate. Smoke from burning leaves, chimneys or campfires. The singed pumpkin of a jack-o-lantern plug. A slight hint of the smell of decaying leaves and plants fill the air.
The sounds of autumn are distinct too. Crickets sing their song of summers ending. Crisp dead leaves begin covering the ground and crunch underfoot. Squirrels chatter and raise a leafy rattle as they scurry around burying acorns.
Bucks vying for dominance fight and their antlers clack and scrape. Migrating geese fly across the autumn skies in wide V’s belting out calls of reassurance to one another. The chorus of honks fills the chill air first softly, then loudly and then fades away. A new fleet of geese takes up the call then passes too and the V’s continue.
Have you ever wondered why geese fly in a V formation? When each goose flaps its wings that causes an updraft for the bird that is behind it helping the other goose fly with less effort. So, each goose helps the other and the whole flock is able to fly much farther than one goose could by itself.
Also, you never see the same goose flying at the point of the V. When the lead goose gets tired they take turns. And, all that honking noise you hear. Well, that’s their way of encouraging each other.
If a goose gets sick or shot and flies to the ground two geese will join that goose to watch over it until it is able to fly again or it dies. As Christians, like the geese, we need to realize we really need one another.
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