New Hope Notes
'Twas the Day After Christmas
Pastor Elwin Ahu
'TWAS THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Pastor Elwin Ahu
December 27, 2009
Now that Christmas is over and the year is ending, what do we do now? More importantly, was Christmas just an event or was it an experience for you? Or better yet, has the spirituality of the United States changed in any way after Christmas? A study from 2008 and 2009 shows says after the Christmas season, church attendance declined by eleven percent. And this tells us for some, Christmas was just an event more than an experience.
Chuck Swindle sums it up this way, in his “Twas’ the day after Christmas”. 'Twas the day after Christmas when all through the place there were arguments and depressions. Even mom had a long face. The stockings hung empty and the house was a mess. The new clothes didn’t fit and dad was under stress. The family was irritable and the children no one could please. Because the instructions for the swing set were written in Chinese. The bells no longer jingle and no carolers came around. The sink was stacked with dishes and the tree had turned brown. The stores were full of people returning things that fizzle and fail. And the shoppers were discouraged because everything they bought was on half price sale. Twas’ the day after Christmas the spirit of joy had disappeared. The only hope in the horizon was twelve bowl games in the New Year!
As Christians, we know that Christmas is not just another holiday. But an experience that lasts a lifetime. Let’s apply this to the day after. And through the coming New Year. First, let’s take a look at what happened the day after Jesus was born.
The Bible tells us after Jesus was born, everything returned to the status quo. “When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luk. 2:39-40). This tells us everyone returned and went about their business. In other words, everyone’s lives went back to the norm.
Yet, here is where the faithfulness of God shows up, despite the fact that we don’t change. Yes, it is the presence and the power of God in Jesus being introduced into the world. Which continues to carry on till today, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8). Isn’t it so amazing how God continues to do His part unto today? And what about us? Maybe it’s time we do ours.
Therefore, for this coming New Year, let’s change some of the things we do. Let’s start off the New Year with a goal in mind. Here is a list of top ten things we can do after Christmas.
TOP TEN LIST TO DO AFTER CHRISTMAS
Yes, the first is to clean house! Listen, the kings in the Old Testament knew the ones who did right with the Lord. Because the first thing they did when they assumed their role was to clean house. “Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God, for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim…” (2Chr. 14:2-3).
In our home, Jared loves un-wrapping his gifts. But, he hates cleaning it up. Nonetheless, we have a rule in our home. You don’t get to play until you clean up your mess. Well, the same goes for us with gifts God has given us. Because we won’t be able to enjoy those gifts until we clean our homes.
You may have a beautiful home, but if you’re a pack rat you won’t be able to enjoy it because it’s littered with junk. Last year I said, it’s going to be fine in 2009! And for this coming New Year I say, clean the pen in 2010! Yes, let’s get rid of stuff we shouldn’t be holding on to.
Did you know self storage place is where the rising price of real estate is? Yes, their popping up all over the place. Let’s face it folks, we live in a society of storage junkies. We love to keep stuff. So, for a change let’s keep the stuff we should and throw out the rest.
Let’s do this for ourselves as well. Because God wants us to get rid anger as well as unresolved issues. All we need to do is lay all before Him. When we do this, He will remember them no more. Therefore, as you take out the tree…..
Yes, continue the spirit of doing things for God. It is how we keep the light shining. The Bible says it this way, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16. There are many random acts of kindness, good works, generosity and good will that can be done for the coming year. What random acts of kindness are you able to do for others? Listen, faith without works is dead. So put works into your faith to keep it in action. And do them in a creative or innovative way.
And as you keep your lights on….
“The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.” (Luk. 2:20). This tells us they must have seen miracles when Jesus was born.
Have we experienced any miracles in 2009? Listen, just being here is a miracle itself! God doesn’t work by coincidences. And, nothing is by chance. But, there is a purpose to everything.
For instance, at this past Christmas Eve Services, over sixty-six hundred people were in attendance. In addition, over twenty-four thousand attended our Easter services this past year. And over thirty-seven hundred got saved at the Farrington Church campus alone. Not to mention six hundred ninety got water baptized. Therefore, is that a miracle or what! Yes folks, we are in the midst of a miracle! We’ve also seen addictions cured and marriages restored. Therefore, as miracles continue don’t loose your sense of awe. And as you stay in awe of Him, please don’t put him back in the box.
Although we place our ornaments back in boxes for next year, please don’t tuck Jesus back in the box. In other words, don’t turn back to the world. Just keep Jesus front and center of your life. The Bible tells us this way, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (Jn. 14:21). This tells us to love God and love one another.
In fact, that’s all we need to do this coming year. And everything else will flow from it, like forgiveness and being able to resolve anger. So keep Jesus front and center in your life. Because when you understand and discover this gift…
Unlike returning gifts that don’t fit or you don’t like the day after Christmas, Jesus is a no return or refund! Catch this, Jesus gave us a gift and it came in the form of grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8). In other words, you can refuse Jesus and walk away from Him, but God will never take back what He has already given you. It is the salvation we received through grace. It’s free which cannot be earned. It’s a gift not by our deeds but by what He gave.
This free gift was given to you when you raised your hands and received Christ in your hearts. Therefore, please treasure it and guard it well. Regardless of the mistakes and failures you have. In addition, don’t allow the enemy to steal the joy of salvation from you. In other words, don’t allow the circumstance you face define His love or His gift for you. Instead, re-define the circumstances by His love for you by His grace in your life.
Once you receive this gift, then re-gifting is okay.
What? Yes, it’s okay to receive this gift and give it away. In other words, be eager to share your faith with others. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Act. 1:8). Therefore, be bold in your faith and share it with others. The Jerusalem this pertains to is your surroundings that you are familiar with. And, Samaria is the risky place on the other side of the fence.
Lest we be like these, “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” (Jn. 12: 42-43). We too can be this way, can’t we? We hesitate to share our faith because we’d rather be approved by our friends rather than being approved by God. However, if we share our faith with others, God will multiply what you’ve just given away. Therefore, re-gifting is alright. So give unto others just as God has given you. And as you do these things after Christmas and for the coming year, please take time to relax.
“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” This tells us God rested.
What refreshes your soul? For me, it’s surfing and working out. Recently I’ve been getting up early in the morning and walking with my ipod for an hour in our neighborhood. And as I walk, I look up into the crystal clear sky and just worship listening to praise music. And while I’m worshipping, the stars are twinkling away. And it just refreshes my soul.
So take time to relax and refresh. And with all the things you’ve learned…
God does not only want us to receive what He gives us but to give it away to others. Remember, we are not a cul-de-sac, but a conduit so God can work through us. We are sent to make disciples of all nations. Listen, our greatest legacy is someone we may have mentored in this lifetime.
“The things which you have heard from me…entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” What we share with others is a continuum, a repetition and a progression. We can do this by mentoring our children or students here at Pacific Rim Bible College. Or students who’ve just graduated and are seeking employment. There is a need for mentors. For they train others in the way they should walk and in such a way that they shall never depart from it.
And as you disciple others….
This year has been nothing short of miraculous year. This time last year, I don’t think we would have imagined Pastor Wayne and the reach of this church would extend out to a Church in Oregon. And there is so much more ahead. The Bible tells us, “…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)
So what part will play for the year ahead? Please set something for yourself. Write it for number ten. This will be your response to the nine previous points. Write down what God has placed on your heart. In fact, write in BHAG. Which stands for, a big hairy audacious goal.
I think it’s good that we end the year doing this. We need to understand where we’ve been. And then, press on the goal God has for us. Yes, God is expanding our vision. Let’s move into the New Year as a light house as we continue worshipping Him and being in awe of Him. Let’s find a place of connection with one another and reach out into the world. Remember, everything was fine in 2009. And I pray God will bless you again in 2010!
Q1) What things do you need to clean out of your home and out of your life?
Q2) In what practical ways can you relax or find refreshment for the next year?
Q3) In what ways can you mentor others?
Q4) What miracles have you had in 2009?
Q5) What impacted you and how will you be different because of it?