Archive for: December, 2012

Trust: God’s Christmas Present To Us All

Dec 17 2012 Published by under Ministry, Uncategorized

by Michael Goldsmith

Michael_Goldsmith_CROP

How about a well-deserved break from the Christmas hustle and bustle? Treat yourself to a favorite hot beverage, find a quiet spot, pull up a chair and let God give you a Christmas present to last a lifetime.  There are many incredible gifts hidden in the Christmas story, but the one I want to share with you is God’s gift of trust.

 Who among us hasn’t at times wondered where God is or if God cares when things are out of hand? Certainly Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, had to wonder. 

In Matt. 1, he’s been hit with the news that Mary, his betrothed, is expecting a child and the unbelievable part is this child is the son of God.  In verse 19 we read, “when (Joseph) had considered this…”  Can you imagine him up at night, pacing the floors, eyes bloodshot, mentally fatigued as he tries to figure out what is the truth and what is he going to do about it?  Four times in these first 2 chapters of Matthew, the chapters of the Christmas story, Joseph has a dream where God speaks to him.  Each time, God is giving Joseph the gift of trust.  There are four ways God builds trust in our lives.

 The first occasion is found in chapter 1 verse 20.  While Joseph is pondering his dilemma, God comes to him in a dream and builds trust by giving him comfort.  As the story reads, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph to reassure him that Mary is telling the truth, the child will be Jesus, the Son of God, and He will save humanity from their sins.  Those of us who walk close to the Lord are thankful each time He comes to build trust by giving us comfort and hope.  It is God who is able to dispel your fears and calm your doubts.  For whatever you’re facing, God is the God of all comfort.

The second occasion is found in chapter 2 verse 13.  This follows the birth of Jesus and the visit by the Wise Men.  God warns Joseph in a dream that King Herod has a plan to have the Christ child killed.  God builts trust into Joseph’s life by giving him the second aspect of trust, counsel.  God is never at a loss to direct our steps.  The Holy Spirit will lead us if we will allow Him.  God spoke directly and specifically to Joseph concerning the danger ahead as well as what measures to take to prevent catastrophe.  God seldom shouts to us, but through His word and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment we receive counsel.

The third occasion of God’s trust gift is found in chapter 2 verse 19.  This time, God comes to Joseph in a dream to announce that Herod is dead and that it is safe to return to Israel.  The third aspect of trust with God is confidence.   God gives confidence in order that we might courageously and boldly follow His plan for our lives.  Confidence is the breeding ground for courage.

 Finally, the last aspect of trust is given to us in chapter 2 verse 22.  Joseph discovers that Herod’s son is ruling in his father’s place.  Fear grips his heart.  He is uncertain about returning to Israel.  God, once again, gives Joseph the gift of trust by bringing to him the fourth aspect which is consideration.  I’ve wondered why God would tell Joseph to return to Israel in verse 19 and three verses later change His mind.  God doesn’t change His mind.  What became evident to me is that God saw the fear in Joseph’s heart and took that into consideration.  In knowing how much strain Joseph could stand, I see that God was considerate of the moment and led Joseph a different path.  I think God does that for us many times.  Sometimes the challenge is too great, the price too high, the wait too long and God gives us the gift of trust by considering our hearts and planning alternative measures.  You can know with complete confidence that if God is leading. He will see you through but it those moments when bending means breaking, God will ‘change’ the plan and lead you by another way.

Get yourself one more cup of coffee (or chocolate) and think about what you’ve just read.  In a few moments, these few minutes of quiet will be over.  It will be back to busyness as usual.  But hopefully, during this brief break, you’ve given God just enough time to unwrap His gift of trust in you.  Have the best of Christmases.

Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.   He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country.  You can reach him at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu

 

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Christmas Aglow

Dec 04 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

By Carolyn Hittenberger

 A few years ago after a bitter cold night,

just before daybreak we looked with awe from our front door

at the transformation that had taken place overnight.

Branches hung low with a double dip of winter-

first ice and then snow.

Howling winds blew drifts to blanket our porch

and mound up soft pillows of snow on the railings.

Swirling snowflakes continued to fall from the still dark sky.

 Our attention was drawn by the newest addition

to our holiday decorations,

a three piece, lighted nativity set for the front yard.

The plastic Mary and Joseph appeared half-frozen,

and their lights had gone out.

The Babe in the Manger

was completely concealed beneath the snow.

However, where it lay hidden,

just in front of Mary and Joseph…

A Light Set the Snow Aglow.

 The wintry blast was less cold and the night less dark because,

The light from the Babe in the Manger

refused to stop glowing.

 Into the howling realities of our world,

into the darkest nights of our lives,

The Light of the World Still Shines.

 I have come as a Light into the world,

that whoever believes in Me

should not abide in darkness.  John 12:46

 Though some would rule this Light out of our schools,

erase the influence of this Light from public places,

even outlaw the display of symbols of this Light,

He has come to stay!  

 And the Light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness did not overcome it.   John 1:5

Carolyn Hittenberger is Assistant for the Caribbean Regional Office at Global University and also works with University Communications. For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu.

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