The True Meaning of Christmas
Well, it’s that time again, good ol’ December has come again, with all the joys of Christmas. But what is to us the real meaning of Christmas? Is it all the gifts under everyone’s trees, our lights in our windows and outside the house, the cards that we get in the mail or could it be the ham or turkey dinner with family and friends, the white snow or green grass with decorations in the yard, stockings hanging over the fireplace or hanging in our living rooms, and all the great food that’s passed or even thrown across the table, the shouts of “Merry Christmas” to all those who may pass by here or there? Is this really Christmas? I think that’s just a part of it.
The definition of the “true meaning of Christmas” can be found in The American Magazine Volume 28 from 1889.
“To give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas.”
The true meaning of Christmas is love.
John 3:16-17 (NIV) says…
“16For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.
HAPPY EASTER 2021
Well, in my mind and from what I have seen over the last year with Covid-19, a lot of people need this Easter to bring about a change. Easter can mark the official start of spring for many, the return of the sun, the warmer weather. These are the days that will melt away the last bits of cabin fever we’ve had from being locked up. Now the earth wakes up from a very long winter sleep. Let the Easter message shared in churches this Sunday be a wakeup call to our tired spirits. You can all feel hopeful because of the springtime warmth and because Jesus lives.
A lot of flowers will pop up and open everywhere we are. This Easter, take time to say a prayer to thank God for all He has done, yesterday, today and in our tomorrows. Without God, this season becomes not much more than a bunch of chocolate and talk of bunny rabbits. With God, it is SO MUCH MORE. He has given each of us the gift of new life, if we are only willing to receive it. He will fill our spirits with peace and carry our burdens if we let Him. Look around for those who need hope, we all can take that little bit of time, with a smile on our face and kindness in our heart, to share the message of God. The hours of daylight is much longer for a good walk with your loved ones. Don’t ever forget what God has given us. It’s a perfect time to share that part of our heart for a Happy Easter and the Easter message I wanted to share with all the people I love.
1 Peter 1:3
Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.
God Bless & Be Well,
Minister D. LeVanseler
Fear is our human reaction to the trials and dangers that we will face in life, but God promises us that we can experience peace in every situation. His peace “surpasses all understanding and will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philipians 4:7).
Fear is hardwired in all our brains but it isn’t an automatic response, it is part instinct, part learned and part taught. It is healthy to experience fear and it is a natural, powerful and primitive human emotion that alerts us to the presence of any danger or threat of harm, both physical and psychological. Fear is an inherently unpleasant feeling that can be mild or extreme. We don’t need to be in any type of danger to be scared. Fear can cause a person to take action, as in flight or fight, or to freeze, afraid to move. Or it can cause someone to be anxious, with worries that become debilitating.
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
So as we sit or stand around getting fearful of all that is going on in the world, take a step back and a deep breath and think that God is here for all of us.
(Reference: Psychology Today, Theo Tsaousides Ph.D. “Smashing the Brainblocks”, Blog “7 Things You Need to Know About Fear” Posted Nov. 19, 2015.)
It Ain’t Over Until God Says It’s Over
Just because things don’t go or work out exactly how we planned them sure doesn’t mean that our loving God is not working in everyone’s lives in all different ways. It may be big or small but look and see that God is with you. I’m very excited and encouraged in my spirit today because God is good, not only that, He is faithful, He’s merciful, He is a very loving God. He’s so kind and a provider, a make, a deliverer and He’s a healer in different ways. This means a hopeless situation does not mean God has left you.
John 14:1-4 Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I’m going.
John 14:27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart and the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So do not be troubled or afraid.
Challenges come our way, looking like things are stacked against all of us and if it feels like there’s no way out. There is. I know that the issue seems unchangeable that there’s just no reason to have hope, there is. The impossible situations are our loving God’s chance to work miracles. So you just know…
It ain’t over until God says it’s over.
It ain’t over until God says it’s done.
It ain’t over until God says it’s over.
Keep fighting until your victory is won.
He never said it would be easy
But you’re a winner in the end.
(Lyrics from song “It Ain’t Over” by Maurett Brown Clark, from album “The Dream” 2007)
So everyone, what does the Bible say about love? Well according to the Bible we all have been given an abundance of Bible verses about loving others, so we can assume it’s important. John 13:34-35 says “and I am giving a new commandment to you now–love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” With all the trouble these days, this is the time to put away the greed and hate. Start loving each other. God, love and family can get you through this. If you have no family, you can be a part of my family. If you need someone to talk to, message me. I’ll be there. Everyone needs someone to care and love them. To get through this Covid-19 virus, we need someone to lean on. Let’s love each other. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Little gestures, like a smile, a compliment, a greeting or a note saying you are thinking of them could go a long way. You have to go to the store, let the check-out person know that you appreciate them. Just say to them “Have a great day.” “The more positivity, love and light you reflect, the more light is mirrored your way.” (quote from Suzy Kassem) When you are walking around with your facemask and staying 6 feet apart, just say “Hi”, “Hello” to people going by you on the sidewalk or even in the store. Every time you say nice things to a stranger, you’re opening your heart, telling people you care about them, whether you know them or not. By loving each other, we make the world a better place to be, for ourselves and for others that cross our paths.
Responsibility For Your Health
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not only the absence of disease or ailment. Sometimes in the Bible we read that promises of health and blessings are tied to being obedient to God.
Exodus 15:26 says: if you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all these decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.
Proverbs 3:7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
But that doesn’t mean that if you get sick that you were disobedient or that God is punishing you. In the story of Job, his friends figured Job must have crossed God somehow to end up in such miserable shape.
Bildad says in Job 8:4 Your children must have sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved.
Zophar says in Job 11:4-6 You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure’ and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’…Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Often God is more focused on our spiritual health over our physical health. That doesn’t mean that God wants us to be unhealthy and suffering from disease.
3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health as it goes well with your soul.
While all of us may be working to be spiritually strong, we all need to glorify God with our physical selves as well. The Bible teaches everyone how we should treat our bodies in a way that God intends us to. God gave all of us our human bodies on this earth and He wants everyone to take care of them, providing them with healthy foods and having habits that are good for us. Even if we mess up and make choices that are not in line with our best health, God still loves us and wants us to try again, as many times as we need to so that we can make the best of the body we were given. (April 2020)
Feeling Good About Yourself
Loving yourself is being thankful for what God made. You are God’s creation, His masterpiece.
That means loving that person you actually are and the person you are meant to be, the inside and the outside. If you’ve made mistakes or spent years being self-critical, it will take hard work and some, or a lot of, major adjustments to your thinking to learn to accept yourself and address any unhappiness that’s in your life so that you can feel better. Do you want to feel good about yourself? Start with identifying all the thoughts, the emotions, the behaviors that could block you from feeling your best about who you are. Do this If you want to create a lifestyle where you feel loved and very fulfilled. Some days will be better than others. On the days that you feel like less, you might end up being more hard on yourself, but talk to yourself like a friend. Don’t let your self-talk tell you that you are not good enough. God isn’t putting those thoughts in your head, the devil is doing it. God asks us to put ourselves into His hands so that He can shape us into who He wants us to be. Try not to let life’s changes throw you off your track. Believe in you, the you God made. Feeling great about yourself when things are not going well requires overcoming fears and not listening to the enemy’s lies no matter what obstacles you face. But being a little scared can also make you better and stronger. These feelings may be warnings that you are in a situation that is not safe for you, that there may be consequences you’d be better off avoiding. Be alert to the signs God lays out before you to help you make the best decisions on your journey through life. As they say, life continues to bring challenges but with challenges come new opportunities, knowing that each time you wake up, you, yourself, have another chance to make things better all the way around. So don’t waste it. Keep on loving yourself as much as you can each day, because no matter what, God will never stop loving you.
Amen (Minister D. LeVanseler)
Are we the salt of the earth? If the salt loses the saltiness, then can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out or trampled underfoot. You are to be a light to the world, a house built on a hill which cannot be hidden. Does anyone use a light in a lamp and put it under a bowl? We instead put it on a stand for it will give light to everyone in their homes. In the same way, let your own light shine before others so that they may see all your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. The Bible is full of timeless insights on how we are to behave and act toward others.
Think of the positive feelings you experienced the last time you did something very good for others. It could be the feeling of satisfaction after you run errands for your friends, family or even your neighbor.
Just a simple kind word, even your smile and a thoughtful gesture can leave you with a sense of fulfillment and give the other person the lift or encouragement they need. You get gratification by donating to any of the organizations that help others.
Just perhaps there will be simple joy that you get as you help out someone. Helping others out is not only good for them, it’s a very good thing to do. It makes us happier and even healthier. Giving helps us to connect with others. It will create stronger communities that help to build a happier society for everyone. Kindness towards everyone is used as glue which connects individual happiness with the wider community and the society’s wellbeing. Remember, it is not all about giving money—you can give your time, your ideas, and your energy. Even a phone call or message can help someone feel less lonely. So if you and others want to feel good, then we have to reach out and do good. Give it a try and see how helping others helps you too. Be a light in this dark world. Just remember, keep a safe distance from one another, let’s help people stay healthy, too.
(Minister D. LeVanseler, written February 2020, small updates March 2020)
Have you ever walked through the doors and felt that everyone’s eyes turned right towards you? You look around the room full of strangers, looking for a place to sit. With every step you take it feels like the judgement seems to grow and grow. Walking in late to a place never did do any one good. You slip into a seat hoping people believe in the best in you. Have you ever been there? I have—feeling all the eyes of judgement on me. Makes most people squirm. In our sinful minds it’s easy to jump to conclusions about other people and then sling words of judgement without a second thought.
The sin of judgement is often rooted in insecurity and pride. God is the judge of all things and all people. And He’s not the judge of outward appearances but judges the heart. He is not an angry, harsh judge but rather a judge who looks at the sin within the human heart and calls us to repentance and salvation in Jesus. We’re told not to judge “lest we be judged”. This does not mean that we should never make judgements. Obviously we make judgements every day between right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones. Jesus is cautioning us to not judge others in a hypocritical way. He is telling us to take the log out of our own eyes so that we can help take the splinter out of the other person’s eye.
So try to catch yourself before you speak. That way you don’t do or try to do any potential harm. Remember you can’t get your words back. Pause and see if you can understand where the person may be coming from. Try to replace your critical thought into a positive one. Show compassion and treat others the way you would want them to treat you.
In Jesus Name,
(Minister D. LeVanseler, February 2020)
Getting Along With Family Members
It’s hard enough when people are mean to you, but it’s especially hard when those people are your own family. Unfortunately you may never get family members to treat you fairly or even care. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to put up with being mistreated. But to you who want to take action and are listening, follow the advice of Jesus who said love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on your cheek, turn to them, the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you. And if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. The only fighting your family should be doing is the good fight of faith. Behaving badly is not only disrespectful, it is just plain stupid. Forgiving this person for whatever he or she has done to you will free up your mental space. It takes a huge load off your shoulders.
Good things happen when families are in harmony. We are here on the earth as one big family and harmony begins within. When families work, it’s because someone takes the time for getting along. You can be the person who brings peace to your family or tries to. If not, then don’t hate them and you don’t have to talk or hang out, just love them from a distance.
Lord, let your love take control of our thoughts, actions and words as we interact with each other. Heavenly Father, I bring our family before your throne. Please help us to value each other the same way you value us and give us the grace to treat each other right. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Minister D. G. LeVanseler