To Survive This Christmas Season: My End of Year Goal

To survive this Christmas season,

Ending the year with a good reason,

Has become my current goal.

Because I want to be made whole.

But December has proven to be a rough month. Get out your snow boots.

Because I feel a drift coming on.

Thanksgiving was nice,

A time to celebrate

Family, friendships, happy times.

Success is a different story though. The lack of books sales says it isn’t ending with a bang.

As for writing, I don’t feel motivated.

Trials have gotten me down.

Encouragement came, followed by false accusation.

It’s all I can do not to drown in it.

I can’t really tell you how or when or who, but when I feel the heaviness pressing down on me,

I know It’s more than winter blues. It’s what others choose,

Not just what I read in the news,

But other worldly views. Can’t lie in bed

Because it’s hard to get the words out of my head.

Then they come back to haunt me, to taunt me. If you’ve ever had an angry finger pointed at you

Then maybe you know how I feel.

But it’s the start of Hanukkah.

I need to light a candle,

Let it shine. Light divine,

It’s Advent Time. Looking forward to Christ’s return. No room to spurn

The memory of His coming.  Much to learn.

He’s coming soon.

Look up, your redemption

Draws near. Have no fear, because this is meant to be a time of good cheer.

To survive this Christmas season

I can’t allow the treason

Of sins past, present, or future

To cloud my way. It’s a good day.

Blessings new every morning, though there come a storm warning.

To survive this Christmas season

Takes more than human reason.

So, lift your eyes. Deny the shame.

It’s time to rejoice. Lift up the name.

Jesus came once. He’ll come again. It’s more than just a season. He’s the reason.

 

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Prosperity and the Bible: What Does it Mean to Prosper?

I. What is True Biblical Prosperity?

The term “prosperity gospel” has become a magnet for dirty looks. These two words have gleaned a bucket load of  bad reviews – in some cases well-deserved. But it does depend on how you define “prosperity.”

In many people’s minds, the word prosperity evokes images of fancy cars, splendid clothes, mansions, yachts and private airplanes. People think of televangelists raking in big bucks promoting trinkets, books and baubles. Their misgivings are completely justified. I hate merchandising too.

Do you long for Jesus to drive those money-changers from the temple? If so, you’re not alone. Yet we can’t escape the fact that the Bible contains many references to prosperity.

The questions is, was does that word “prosperity” actually mean? Does it have anything to do with worldly wealth?

According to Chaim Bentorah, an online teacher of Biblical Hebrew Studies, “tsalach,” the Hebrew word for prosper, has to do with moving forward and/or making progress – not in a proud way, but through humble reliance on God.

 

II. When God Made Joseph Prosper, What Did That Mean?

Genesis 39:2-3 tells us that God caused all that Joseph did to “prosper in his hand.” In other words, Jacob’s son did well. He had success. It doesn’t tell us that he had a fancy room. Any fancy clothes he had got ripped off. Yes, he got “ripped off” more than once, yet despite that fact he remained faithful to God. The way he prospered blessed his boss. Joseph didn’t need a podium to get the guy’s attention.

That’s because God was with him. God gave him success. Then, in a strange turn of events, Joseph got promoted – to the king’s prison.

Wow- what stylish living! Not. Did this look like the so-called “American dream”? I don’t think so. But even in prison Joseph prospered. That’s because the warden put in charge of the other prisoners. Once again, God caused everything Joseph did to prosper. When the Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker told him their dreams, Joseph  told their meaning – with success. What he predicted, happened. The baker didn’t prosper, but the butler did. Joseph did too.

 

III. God’s Will For Us Equals Salvation Which Equals True Prosperity

But let’s move on and consider the best prosperity of all: when God’s word prospers in our lives.

Isaiah 53:10, a prophecy that Christians believe refers to Jesus Christ, declares that “the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Verse 11 continues. “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

Jesus caused God’s will to prosper (succeed, move forward). Herein lies true prosperity. What was God’s good pleasure in this case?

Hebrews 2:10 puts it this way: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as, “the author and finisher of our faith,” who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Salvation is God’s will for us and it is Christ’s success.

I believe that’s what the psalmist meant in Psalm 118:25 when he wrote, “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.”

(all verses KJV)

 

Christ Versus Cain: The Fruit of Their Own Sweat

(Cain Versus Christ: a stark contrast)

 

I. Cain Felt the Strain of His Own Pain

 

Though jealous Cain knew how to sweat, what sort of fruit did he beget?

For, God liked Abel’s offering, but Cain brought fruit that didn’t sing.

The soil in which Cain strived to toil somehow resulted in turmoil.

Alas, to have one’s fruit inspected and then totally rejected

Doesn’t make one feel accepted, but can that be overcome?

 

Some cave into rage to blot out their own pain, because cutting it off at the root is easier than facing it. But a slice of bad advice will lead to ruin in the end.

In other words, Cain clearly felt the strain of his own pain.

The fruit Cain did beget by his own sweat led to regret.

II. Abel Got it Right, But Not to Cain’s Delight

 

Because Abel got it right, but not to Cain’s delight.

Cain couldn’t be happy for him, therefore his countenance grew dim.

He coveted his brother’s favor, yet the feast he couldn’t savor

For his injured pride refused in any way to be amused.

 

In anger this man chose to stew. That’s what comparison will do.

Like worthless riches it will rust and leave you lying in the dust.

Had Cain repented of the sin which he’d allowed to enter in,

God might have sent refreshing rain and a blessing on his grain.

But there can be no true prosperity without heart charity.

 

Behold God’s message to him: “Do like Abel. Offer up a spotless lamb!”

 

Oh, if only Cain had believed! If only he had received the gift of grace offered freely from God’s hand! But Cain refused and wallowed in the strain of his own pain. And when he murdered Abel, the first prophet to be martyred, the very ground turned against him. He became a restless wanderer, having squandered the marvelous riches of God’s mercy toward him.

 

The fruit Cain did beget by his own sweat caused him to fret.

 

III. Jesus Came to Bless, Not Stress, Those Under Duress

After all, you can’t be blessed when you feel the stress that comes from being pressed beneath your father’s curse. A ground yielding thorns and thistles was Adam’s punishment for eating from the forbidden tree. The knowledge of good and evil, in effect, killed his joy for growing food. (see Genesis 3:17).

Cain knew evil and it really killed him. He felt the post-traumatic stress caused by his own duress. But God still chose to bless, even though Cain refused it.

“My punishment is more than I can bear,” Cain told the Lord (Genesis 4:13).

Fast forward many years later when Jesus the “second Adam” would take upon Himself the punishment no man can bear. He laid down his life as a completely pleasing offering to God. By the sweat of His own brow He redeemed us from Adam’s curse.

Much good fruit did He beget from His own sweat.

Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24). Let’s not waste the grace He has for us.