Great Exchanges

Have you ever been a party to a secret Santa gift exchange? That is where you bring a gift and secretly give it to another while at the same time receiving a gift from someone unknown to you. It is a fun time as long as you have a right heart in the matter. That is, you are a part of this festivity for the purpose of giving, not getting. If you are hoping for a great gift, you may be disappointed, but that isn’t the point of the exercise now is it? I remember one time giving a nice $20 gift card to Starbucks. What did I get? I received a 1-week trial certificate to a local health club (it was a standard advertised notice of a free trial for anyone who walked into the club and what was this person trying to say to me anyway?).

God has a gift exchange for us as well. In the book of Isaiah 61:3, the scripture says this, “…provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” The Lord wants to bestow all of His wonders upon us and all we have to do is give what we have to Him; like the example above, it is not a balanced exchange.

He gives us beauty in exchange for our ashes, joy in place of our mourning and a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness on our souls. He wants to exchange our sin for His righteousness, our weakness for His strength, our hurt and brokenness for His healing, our rejection for the Creator’s love and acceptance, our guilt and shame for His glory, our punishment of death for His resurrection and life. Jesus gave His life in exchange for ours. If we are willing, all we need do is surrender our lowly life of sin and Jesus gives in exchange the right to become a son of the living God and joint heir with Him.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris Hayden

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God Requires Change Sometimes

What a change we are experiencing in weather from last week!  We’ve gone from icy cold conditions to feeling like spring in just a matter of days and then back to the tundra.  Sometimes change can happen fast.  For example, it only took 18 days of demonstrations to bring down the government in the nation of Egypt.  So, why does it take us so long to change? Change can be hard for some, but necessary at times.

In my observation, people are much slower to change and accept change than trees, grass, flowers and even governments.  What would it be like if you could change your health in 18 days?  How about your marriage?  Or, improving your finances?   God required change of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, James, John, Peter and Paul. God’s presence always brings change. Isaiah 43:19 says it like this, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Is God speaking to you about changes you need to make?

If an entire national government can be changed in less than a month, why does it take us so long to change?  Like give up smoking, drinking too much, pornography, other addictions or change in the Church?  How come the weather can change, but we are willing to live with the same bad attitude we had a week ago or fail to develop new ways of reaching out to our community? If we are spending any time in prayer at all, there are probably occasions when the Holy Spirit speaks to you regarding something that He requires revision in your life.

It seems like we could learn something from the environment around us.  What needs to change in your life?  What habits do you still need to kick?  What good habits do you need to practice?  What can we do to become a more effective and vibrant community of believers? You may not be able to get to the final outcome in a week or 18 days, but I bet you can make some strides if you try.  Consider a few you could do today, and if you do, think about where you might be this time next year. And remember what God told Joshua when they were about to change their place of residence (Joshua 1:6), “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.”

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris

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