He Came

Black Friday, 2012 is now History! Time to celebrate! It's all over...right? Well...not exactly. Black Friday is the official kick-off for the entire Christmas retail shopping season. In other words...it's on! The official Christmas shopping clock is ticking toward that unavoidable deadline - Christmas Day.

Will you make the December 25th deadline this year? Gifts must be purchased. And not just gifts,   perfect gifts. What do you get folks who already have everything? Will you establish or add to your debt by purchasing these perfect gifts (for folks who have everything) on a credit card? Or will you simply tackle this undue stress by expending your hard-earned funds to get perfect gifts (for folks who have everything)? Add to that, traveling or hosting during the Christmas holidays. Wow! No wonder folks become too stressed to rest during the Christmas holiday season!

Should we reduce December 25th to nothing more than a deadline for the sake of our chaotic traditions? Will the true reason for this wonderful season in which we SHOULD rejoice over the birth of our Savior be obliterated by the attractions and distractions of commercialism?

The truth is no one knows the actual date on which Jesus was born. But an even greater truth (we must not miss) is that He came. He came. During the Christmas season religions all over the world at least acknowledge that He came. What an incredible time for we followers of Christ to demonstrate the real meaning of Christmas...Jesus Christ came! He was born as one of us to save us from our sins. My...what a gift!

I love the family gatherings. I love the food. I even like to give and receive presents. But I would let it all go in the twinkling of an eye if I knew that even in the least, it was causing me to miss the true meaning of Christmas...He came.

Just a few more questions. What are you teaching your children about the true meaning of Christmas? What does your Christmas Christ-follower demonstration look like to others? Are you rejoicing over the true reason for the season in the peace of God that passes understanding? Or, are you becoming caught up and becoming too stressed to rest?

Join with me as we enter the "official" start of this Christmas season. Let's "counter" the worldly traditions of commercialism and stress. Let's demonstrate the true reason for the season. The truth that Jesus came as the greatest gift...ever. Instead of stress and tension, make the choice for peace and joy! "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." (Luke 1: 47)

Where Are The Godly Men?

There are many more men of God out there than we know. There are many more than we see with our eyes. You see, a man of God is not simply someone who preaches, or is the pastor of a church. A man of God is not simply an Evangelist or a Missionary. Simply stated (as I so often do), a man of God is a Godly man! Any man who is Godly is a man of God.

Why do I not see more men of God? Because most men of God don't realize who and what they are - men of God. The truth is, God intends for all male believers to be men of God. He can change cultures and societies through men who sell out to Jesus and live wholly for Him; men who uncompromisingly stand for the righteousness of God. However, if the enemy can thwart this, our cultures and societies continue to degrade and become more and more God-less.

Men, God intends for you to be prime examples of living for Jesus at home and on the job - even in the ministry. If you could get an advance glimpse of the difference you would make in lives, you would stand up this instant - for Jesus!

So how do you become manifested as a man of God? As a born-again male, you must know what God says about you! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jesus became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God, in Jesus. So...if you truly know Jesus today...you are the righteousness of God! This is not something you feel, it is an immutable truth you must know and believe. Jesus did this, not you. So nothing you can do can take that away from you. One more time...you are the righteousness of God!

Why would a man of God not feel like a man of God? Why would a man of God not believe he is a man of God? Simple...because of the sin he allows in his life. Sin separates us from intimacy with God. Allowed sin makes a wimp out of a God-ordained warrior. (We need less wimps and more warriors in our world.) Sin produces guilt, that produces the lie "I'm not worthy to be a man of God." But listen, your worthiness is not based on your actions, it is based on what Jesus did for you! No, you cannot be a man of God and practice sin at the same time. But God, rich in mercy (and because He's redeemed you) gives you the choice. Choose right now to be a man of God!

The ingredient that qualifies a man to be a man of God is integrity. I used the word "ingredient" because integrity must be part of the essence of the man of God. Its workings are from the inside out. Integrity cannot be duplicated by action; it must be an inward motivation, thus affecting outward conduct. What is integrity? Integrity is soundness of moral character. It is plain ole honesty. The man of God is not perfect and flawless, but he does walk in integrity. He adheres to moral character and honesty. A man of integrity understands that when no one else is watching, God sees. He loves His wife so deeply, that being unfaithful would simply break his own heart. He understands that no circumstance or no amount of peer pressure makes it OK to sink from God's eternal standard of righteousness. When he slips and falls, he immediately makes it right with God, gets back up, and moves on...living for God.

Man of God, are you struggling to be a man of God? Has sin caused you to be powerless? Stop sinning! Get back up! Pursue God! Move forward. You are still the righteousness of God...in Christ Jesus. You are needed, O man of God, to influence your family, friends, coworkers, and those who hunger for the manifestation of the God men. You can make a difference. The choice is yours!

Living Sacrifices

As a young child I used to think the word "oxymoron" was a special type of moron. I thought it meant a special class of morons (if you will).  You know...goobers, dorks, twerps...or something. But you'll be comforted to know I grew up! As part of my maturing process I learned the word "oxymoron" had absolutely nothing to do with the word "moron". I learned that an oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Examples: Jumbo shrimp, Dark light, Serious joke, Bitter sweet, Deafening silence, etc. I think you get the picture.

The Bible also uses a very particular oxymoron that applies to those who follow after Jesus, Those who live their lives soley for Him. Paul says in Romans Chapter 12 we are to present ourselves to God as "living sacrifices". There's the oxymoron..."living sacrifices".

Typically, a sacrifice is slain in order to fulfill its purpose. It has to die, not live. In addition, a sacrifice is offered in behalf of others. In the Old Testament animals were offered in behalf of the people. The animals were not guilty, but God required the death and shedding of the blood of the sacrifice to cover over the sins of the people. Again, the sacrifices were dead!

Over 2000 years ago God sent Jesus to whom John the Baptist referred to as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world". Born of God and not man, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His blood was pure and did not just cover over our sins, but completely washed our sins away. He died in our place. And like the animals of old, Jesus was not guilty. He was innocent. He rose again 3 days later. Because he lives, Paul says those who follow Him are now "living sacrifices".

Paul said, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom. 12:1) Why living sacrifices? Why even sacrifices at all? There is no need for us to offer sacrifices for our sins because Jesus has already dealt with them by the sacrifice of Himself. Contrary to the point of view that we present ourselves to Him to be cleaned up, we are already clean. I didn't say we were perfect or flawless, I said we are already clean, because of the blood of Jesus.

We are living sacrifices. Not dead sacrifices. Living sacrifices exist to be presented to God - alive! There is no other purpose for a living sacrifice. This is our spiritual service of worship. A living sacrifice is designed to bring worship, glory and honor to God...24 X 7. The only alternative is to be conformed to the world...to blend in with the world...to look like the world. There's a serious problem with that though. It is totally unacceptable to God.

A dead sacrifice has fulfilled its purpose. But a living sacrifice has an incredible future. Why? Because it has a destiny filled with God-ordained purpose.

If you are a follower of Jesus, present yourself to God...all the time. Have regular times of presenting yourself to Him as a living sacrifice. Make extra time to do so. Become radical about it. It is what you are created in Christ to do. It is your spiritual service of worship!

I am available for speaking/ministry engagements. Contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.

The Way I See It

The election is over. Barack Obama was re-elected to serve another 4 years as President of the United States. Did your candidate win? Did your candidate lose? Will your hopes and dreams for the next 4 years be based upon who was elected as President? Are you elated this morning over the election results? Or, are you depressed and disappointed?

The way I see it is, many people put so much stock in the election, it distracts them from the good part; that part that shall never be taken away from them. And when the results don't turn out the way one hopes and plans, depression and discouragement set in. Certainly we followers of Christ should be involved in our elections and even politics. And it is our duty to pray for those who are running and those who are elected - no matter what they stand for, or what party they represent.

But election of those who believe just like we do (or at least partially like we do) is totally in God's hands. Listen to the words of Isaiah, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9: 6 - 7) HIS government (the Kingdom of God) is the one that rests upon His shoulders. His government will continue to increase infinitely! And who will accomplish this? The fire and enthusiasm of God Himself! How encouraging is that!! God is in control!

The way I see it is, President Obama being re-elected is more for God's church in America than for America itself. I see more opportunity for the church under President Obama than under Mitt Romney.

Before you slash my tires let me explain. Consider the early church. It was born under the Roman government. At the time it was the most powerful government on earth. For the first 300 years there was unimaginable resistance to the spread of the gospel and the church. Millions were persecuted and executed for their belief in Jesus. It was one of the toughest times in the History of the church; and it was only the beginning. The church flourished however, and God moved through His people adding to the church daily! Opportunities to influence the world with the gospel were infinite. Darkness seemed to rule. But those who were carriers of the Light, overwhelmed the darkness simply by the lives they lived for Jesus. They were committed to ONE thing...spreading Jesus. National government wasn't a factor because they were prepared to die spreading the gospel. Are we there yet?

The way I see it, the next 4 years contain more opportunities for God's people than the previous 4. You can look at all the negative and be discouraged. Or...you can see it the way I see it. God hasn't changed. He still rules. He reigns through those who live on this earth.

I'm not sure about you (I certainly care though), but I believe I'm here for "such a time as this". I am convinced more people need Jesus than ever. But if I am to reach even one of them, I must live for Him. The voice of our God resounds through yesterday's election results saying, "Rise up! Live for me! Hunger and thirst for me...and I will move mightily in and through you!"

Actually, I am very excited about the next 4 years. What will they bring? Let me answer this question right here on the day after the election.....SOULS. Let's do it!

For speaking/ministry engagement information contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.