By now, many of us have decked the halls, trimmed the tree, and wrapped a few presents. In the process of decorating your tree, you may have dropped an ornament. If you did, you discovered that there was nothing on the inside. No secret prize. No candy. No surprise inside. Just empty. Christmas ornaments look good on the outside, but are hollow on the inside. They are nice to look at but serve no real purpose.
So many Christians live ornamental lives. We are full of glitter, shine and sparkle on the outside. We look nice, dress well, smell good, and have bright smiles. However, we are fragile and hollow.
Don't be like the ornaments on Christmas trees. Have the ornaments of Proverbs 1:8-9. “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck” (NKJV).
Have a heart willing to embrace godly teaching. Be an imitator of God and you will cultivate the inner person. God made us on purpose for His purpose. He created us to fill us with His Spirit. We can be wise in the things of God. We can have the knowledge to succeed. We have the power of God working in us to do great things for God. We have the ideas and creativity that will help transform our schools, work places, communities, and this city for Jesus. We just need to access what God has given us. Don’t just hang around the church like an ornament on a tree. Be purposeful and intentional and God will make you an ornament of grace who is filled with His power!
Living Single, the hit television series from the 1990s, had a theme song with some messages that are instructive for singles today. The song lyrics are: “We are Living Single Ooo in a 90's kind of world I'm glad I’ve got my girls. Keep your head up (what?) Keep your head up (that's right!) Whenever this life gets tough you’ve got to fight. With my home girls standing to my left and my right; true blue, we’re tight like glue!”
The song suggests that friendships are critical to living single. Although a person is single, they are not alone. Proverbs 17:17 teaches us, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Friendships help us survive so we can thrive. It is important to have those in your life who can help you through your struggles. But friends are not just there for adversity; they help us celebrate our victories. Christian friends help us keep the proper perspective. They help us see the world and ourselves through the eyes of God. Friends can provide us with that shot in the arm or kick in the pants that we need to survive in this world.
Secondly, it is important for singles to be encouraged. “Keep your head up!” Your marital status does not determine your worth or minimize your value. When a relationship that you feel will be “the one” fails, keep your head up. When you disappoint yourself and have asked God to forgive you, keep your head up and forgive yourself. Surround yourself with encouragers and be an encouragement to others. It is also important to recognize that sometimes you will have to do what David did in 1 Samuel 30:6 and encourage yourself in the Lord your God.
Finally, the Living Single theme song reminds us to fight. In our culture of comfort, it is all too easy to give up and give in. We do not like struggle and fight. But we are in a war against the devil and we cannot win unless we fight. There will be times when you will have to fight the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. There may be times when you need to flee from a situation because you are not strong enough to fight. You may be tempted to take short-cuts and compromise who you are as a child of God, but fight. And when you get tired of fighting, make sure that your have those in your corner who are “true blue” and “tight like glue” to fight with you.
In Matthew 26, the Lord put His disciples on notice that upon His arrest they would be scattered like sheep with no shepherd. At the same time He offers them a word of assurance that He will rise again and that they would be able to find Him in Galilee. Upon receiving the news that they would abandon Jesus, Peter says, “No Lord, not me…” Jesus let’s Peter know that he would deny Jesus three times.
As Jesus and the disciples are journeying, they come to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ heart is heavy. He is grieved and distressed (v. 37). What Jesus does next is instructive for us in handling our emotions. Jesus acknowledges and communicates His feelings to His friends and He prays to God (v. 38-39). Jesus knew that He would be facing a tremendous trial, so He prayed before the trial. Jesus prayed the same prayer three times. After the third prayer, Jesus’ spirit is renewed. He is now ready to carry the cross, endure the pain, and save the world!
In praying the same prayer three times, Jesus teaches us to PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens! Each time you pray, your spirit becomes more willing to do the will of God. Your resolve is strengthened and your courage is renewed.
I submit to you that the victory of Calvary was won that night in the garden of Gethsemane. The strength by which Jesus dealt with being betrayed by a disciple, denied by a friend, suffered injustice from the hand of the Sanhedrin, falsely accused by his own people, humiliated before a crowd, and tried unfairly by Pilate, was the outcome of the struggle, agony and victory of Gethsemane. Knowing that the test was coming, Jesus prayed.
Many temptations come upon us unannounced and catch us unaware, and all that we can really do is cry to God for help then and there. But some of the temptations of life we can see approaching from the distance. In those instances the victory should be won before the temptation really reaches us.
When the company announces that they are going to start laying off people in 3 months, start praying for the test that is coming. When your “ex” texts you to let you know he or she is going to be in town this weekend, you know the test is coming. Long before prom night, you know the test is coming. You already knew you are going to have to deal with drama this holiday season, so start praying now. When you see a crisis coming, that’s the time to start praying because the victory often comes before the crisis shows up.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.