Friday, December 30, 2016

HUNGER FOR GOD IN THE NEW YEAR



 I pray your hunger for our Lord and Savior this new year will be strong and compelling and life-changing.

Eternal Perspectives          by Sally Bair       

Hunger

Outside my window I watch the gray squirrels scamper from bird feeder to bird feeder, eager to fill their empty stomachs. At night the deer come out to pick at their share of seeds, probably happy to find food of a different taste than they’re used to.

With the new year here, if you’re like me you’ll be wanting to change your hunger pattern for the right kind and amount of food in order to lose some excess weight. After all, it is resolution time once again. It seems our biggest problem is hungering for the wrong foods. And at this time of year, less-than-healthy foods abound. The phrase “sugar blues” comes by its name rightfully.

The wrong foods, whether for the body, soul or spirit, can be dangerous. They can affect our physical, mental or spiritual health in many adverse ways.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). What does He mean by those words? How will He fill us? 

We’re all born with the basic instincts for food, for love and for God. The Bible teaches that we were born in sin, yet we each are given a passionate hunger for goodness. Society and other outside forces may change that hunger into one for riches, honor or pleasure. Perhaps even for retribution and evil. How we display or express our inner hunger to those around us becomes a visible sign of the position of our heart. And when our heart and soul hunger for God, it not only pleases others but pleases God.

In fact, He rewards us by filling us with His indescribable gifts of His righteousness, inner peace and joy. The word “filled” means to feed or fatten, as cattle are filled with green grass. And the green grass of His Word symbolizes growth and good health. The more we feed on His Word, the healthier we become not only spiritually but in all other ways.

The word hunger will be uppermost in my mind during this new year because God laid it on my heart. My most heartfelt prayers will be that my loved ones, friends and all others I meet will have a hunger for God so strong, they will be unable to resist Him.

Lord, thank You for filling our hungry souls with Your love, goodness, peace and joy. Keep us so passionately hungry that we are compelled to partake of Your life-sustaining Word and presence each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.



Monday, December 19, 2016

JESUS IS MUCH MORE THAN A BABE IN A MANGER



God’s Word gives us an endless list of His attributes and personality. Here are a few for your meditation and further study.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

More than a babe

What is Christmas without the songs and pictures of Jesus as a baby lying in a manger? The sight of Him as a baby brings a smile. Yet there is much more to Jesus than His birth.           

A Bible reference such as a concordance will show that both Old and New Testaments refer to Jesus as having a part in the creation of the world, and as being our Savior and Deliverer, a Banner for the people, and the Author of life. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the First and Last. Jesus is Lord of the harvest, of the Sabbath, and of peace. Handel’s famous oratorio, The Messiah, taken from the book of Isaiah, tells us Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, and Almighty God.

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus referred to himself as the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Gate, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way and Truth and Life, and the True Vine. The Bible is filled with dozens of other names which describe the different aspects of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man.

Indeed, there’s much more to Jesus than a babe in a manger. The book of Revelation gives us this description: “…in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass…and His voice as the sound of many waters…out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” (Rev. 1:13-16)

The implications of the revelation of John the Apostle are that Jesus was, is, and will be eternally pure and righteous, and will judge everything that is impure. How different these descriptions are from the one of Jesus as a babe in a manger. Perhaps the world and many churches have managed to emphasize this milder aspect of Him at the expense of forgetting the other, more authoritarian one. Knowing Jesus means getting to know every aspect of His personality. Such “knowing” means spending time with Him through His Word and prayer so we see Him as much more than a babe in a manger.

Lord, thank You for being everything we need. Reveal to us the true nature of Your holy being. In Jesus’ name, amen.






Saturday, December 17, 2016

BETHLEHEM MEANS "HOUSE OF BREAD"



Bread is sometimes called “the staff of life.” Good bread is filling and life-sustaining and tasty. But it can’t compare to the Bread of Life, which is Jesus, for it is eternal. I think of this every time I eat a slice of bread. If we had the choice, would we who live in the Spirit choose His bread—His Word and Spirit—over a physical loaf? We do have a choice. He is our staff of life.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES        by Sally Bair

House of bread

As Mary and Joseph walked to Bethlehem to pay their taxes, they must have met dozens of others along the way. Tax-paying time was a busy time, which meant good business for the innkeepers and merchants, since the travelers had to find somewhere to stay and eat while traveling. Cooks and innkeepers probably baked uncounted loaves of tasty, energy-giving bread for those who stopped along the way.

Imagine the disappointment and frustration of the sellers who ran out. They may have lost money and perhaps future customers. So they must have worked around the clock to make sure their supply would exceed the frantic on-surge of travelers. Innkeepers also had to make sure beds were changed and meals fed on time. When Mary and Joseph showed up, the harried innkeepers might have let them sleep in the stable without a second thought.

How great the irony of that night! An inn chock full of customers waiting for bread to sustain them sat only a few yards away from the Bread of Life, Jesus. Innkeepers bursting at the scene of impatience, their energy waning from the push to please customers, stood on the very doorstep of the Savior who could feed their empty, overworked bodies and souls.

We see the same kind of rush today. Parents and children run to find the perfect gifts, prepare the perfect meals and host the perfect parties and pageants, trying to please everyone and missing out on the true Bread of Life, Jesus. As with the innkeepers in Bethlehem, our busyness in trying to meet exaggerated expectations results in our missing out on seeing the true Bread of Life, Jesus.

The bread the innkeepers provided fed the hungry travelers for the moment, but Jesus offers us the bread that feeds us for eternity. “I am the bread of life … the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51)

We can either accept or reject the bread He offers. It’s our choice.

Lord, thank You for being our Bread of Life. We want to make our home a true house of bread with Jesus at its center. We want to live eternally with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.



Monday, December 5, 2016

GIVING THANKS SHOULD BE A DAILY HABIT



I’m reading Psalm 116 each day this week as a reminder of the many reasons to give thanks to God for what He has done and does. How about you doing the same?

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES        by Sally Bair

Thanks a lot
           
No, I didn’t forget to write about Thanksgiving during its celebrated day. I didn’t forget, but I let other priorities get in the way. However, I did celebrate the day, as I’m sure most of you did.

Besides sometimes allowing ourselves to get so busy we miss the significance and pleasure of certain times, we tend to do the same with God. How often do we tell ourselves we’ll get to our Bible reading as soon as we finish this one, very important task? How often do we gloss over the importance of spending time to thank Him for the day, for our sound mind or for our family?

This Thanksgiving my pastor used Psalm 116 as the basis of his message about why we should give thanks to God. King David, the psalm writer, had many reasons to give thanks. “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice …” David said. (verse 1) What better reason do we have to love the Lord than that He listens to our laments and our list of needs and our oft-neglected praise?

Countless times David found himself surrounded by threats of death and by sorrow. Yet his troubles never stopped him from thanking God for His help. “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.” (verse 5)

God often plucked David from certain death by his enemies and dried his tears when loved ones rejected him. Yet he recognized that God’s salvation encompassed his soul as well. “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” (verses 12-13)

The term thanksgiving means public acknowledgment. “I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people,” David wrote. (verse 14) He acknowledged his thanks with passion, sacrifice and boldness, as we too can offer our personal thanks to God and to everyone around us. On Thanksgiving Day many families ask each person around the table to share one item they’re thankful for. Such a tradition is good, and I’m sure pleasing to God. But it’s a drop in the biggest bucket ever made when we think about the infinite list of blessings He has and continues to shower upon us each day, each hour, each minute. A friend, while on her daily walks, thanks God for fifty things. Why don’t we all try it?

Lord, we offer our sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise this day and tomorrow and every tomorrow You bless us with. You alone are worthy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

HOW FRESH IS YOUR LIVING WATER SUPPLY?



God would have all of us to be like a tree sustained through heat and drought by Jesus, our Living Water.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES        by Sally Bair

Trust

I’ve noticed when deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall, some shed them from the top down and others from the bottom up. And some species drop their leaves much earlier than others. Not being a botanist, I don’t know the whys and wherefores, but my guess is their seasonal habits have something to do with the trees’ water supply.

The Bible contains dozens of references to how our Christian faith compares with trees. One of my favorites is found in Jeremiah 17:7-8. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

These verses show us that when we trust in God, we won’t be free from problems and adversity, but God will bring fruit and blessing in and through our difficulties. In nature, many trees and animals become stronger from having faced such enemies as drought, wind or evil. God promises that we also will grow in character and strength when we go through adversity.

Our drought may come in the form of repeated rejections or disappointments. We may be forced to confront the “heat” of disease, family death or perhaps abuse. How we respond while in the midst of such problems will determine the rate of our spiritual growth. If we allow ourselves to live with anxiety and fear of change, we won’t yield the fruit God would have us express to others. How will we show His love, joy and peace, His kindness, patience and goodness when our hearts and minds are focused on our problems rather than on His promises and presence?

Jesus, our Living Water, overcomes the drought of our life problems when we trust in Him. Like a tree that will not fear during drought but remains fruitful in all circumstances, we too can stay healthy—when we allow God’s Spirit to boost our faith. Without His living Word and presence, we will surely die.

Lord, thank You for strengthening our faith in You during the hard times. Our seasonal habits may differ from those of trees, but like them we seek Your Living Water. Keep us thirsty for You so we will remain as fruitful as a tree that stands beside a river. In Jesus’ name, amen.