Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon

Jesus is our help

I recently read 1 John 3, a poignant biblical chapter, which highlights that people who say they are born of God do not keep on sinning,  but practise righteousness, love their neighbours, and help those in need.

The sentiments conveyed in 1 John 3 are much in line with the Christian faith and the Christmas story, which demonstrates God’s love for humanity, and His desire to save men from the destructive elements of sin through their believing in the birth of the Christ, who would and does save people from their sins.

When you’ve been a Christian as long as I have, it’s noticeable that the Christmas season has become hijacked by businesses and corporations, parties and festivities. The focus seems to be on buying presents and spending money one may not necessarily have; attending lots of parties dressed in the clothing, specially produced for the season; as opposed to the real reason for the season, which is to spread hope, let people know they are loved by God, and to remind people they don’t have to be slave to their sins, because Christ was born to save them from them.

I would encourage you not to allow the commercialisation of Christmas to take you away from the core reasons for the season, which are to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child, who came to let the world know that God loves them; to bring peace, and to show the world that there is a better way for humans to live with and amongst each other.

So make sure you take some time out to attend one of the many Christmas services that will take place during December, so that you can give praise to God and to thank Him for sending His precious Son, Jesus, to Earth.

Also, take some time out to show some love to someone; extend a hand of help to those in need; spread peace and goodwill and, if you can, give a gift to someone who least expects you to do so.

The message inherent within Christmas remains a very simple yet profound one: God loves mankind.  Mankind needs help, and that help can be found in Christ.

Have a blessed and happy Christmas.

More images like these, please

The Internet went crazy, when pictures of Pope Francis praying for a man suffering from boils were published online.

Most major news outlets published the pictures, and people – believers and non-believers alike – took to the Internet to voice their opinions (most of it favourable), with one woman tweeting.  “I’m an atheist, but the more I hear about Pope Francis, the more I like him.”

popeThe public’s response highlights that there is a deep yearning for people to see religious leaders behaving like Jesus. Whilst there is an expectation and requirement for religious leaders to comment about political, social and moral issues; make prophetic statements; preach great sermons, as well as hobnob with the rich and powerful, it’s obvious that people long to see high-profile Christian leaders engage with the poor, the powerless and the vulnerable in a meaningful, caring and compassionate way.

When a religious leader is seen to act in this way, it provides a visible example of the guileless way human beings can relate to each other, as such interactions forgo much of the artifice, superficiality and the ‘What’s in it for me?’ attitude that can characterise our interactions with each other. Instead, individuals get a glimpse of how God wants people to relate to each other: out of a selfless heart that aims to show and give love, expecting nothing in return.

It’s time to be real

Christians can sometimes be really good at hiding how they feel.  Ask a believer what’s happening in their life, and they’ll either reply, “I’m blessed and highly favoured”, “God is good” or “Life is fine”.

This is the case, even when an individual feels their heart is breaking; feels confused and unsure of what to do, and is experiencing depression, family issues, work problems or any other subject that assails the human psyche.

EarWhy do we do this?  Why are we frightened of being open, honest and vulnerable to our fellow brother and sister in the Lord, and why, when people do open up, are Christians quick to tell individuals to pull themselves together, to not be negative, and that everything is going to be alright?

It’s often said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason – and that reason is to listen more than we talk.

There will be times when people want to remove their masks and honestly share how they are feeling and what they are experiencing, and not be berated for doing so. That’s why it’s beholden to Christians to be caring, understanding and discerning listeners.

If a situation arises, and an individual person shares their heart with you, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a discerning ear, so that you understand what they are trying to say and, via your responses, help them to feel better. Proverbs 20:5 states, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” This insight and sensitivity can be provided by the Holy Spirit – if we ask for it.

Let 2014 be the year when churches allow its members to be honest and real. This can happen, if we listen with God’s heart and ears.

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