Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Past

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:1-4

Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the day, and Christmas days past. The season had held no joy for him for the past three years — not because of the war, but the tragic death of his wife Fanny in the summer of 1861. She was the love of his life, and they were splendidly happy, but on July 9, 1861, while sealing a letter with paraffin, Fanny dropped the match on her summer dress, which burst into flames. Henry heard her screams and ran to her, trying to help smother the fire and burning himself severely in the process. Fanny died the next day. In December 1862, Henry noted in his journal, "A Merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more from me." He spent December 1863 helping nurse his son's wounds; Lt. Charles Appleton Longfellow, who had run away to fight for the Union, was severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, and Henry had rushed south to bring him home. The following spring, Longfellow's lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through great adversity that the promise of hope makes itself felt most strongly. Longfellow began to write:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day, 
Their old familiar carols play. 
And wild and sweet the words repeat
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.’

I thought how as that day had come
 The belfries of all Christendom 
Had rolled along th' unbroken song
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.’

And in despair I bowed my head:
 "There is no peace on earth," I said, 
"For hate is strong and mocks the song”
 Of 'peace on earth, good will to men.' 

" Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
 The world revolved from night to day, 
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
 Of peace on earth, good will to men. 
The poem was put to music by Jean Baptiste Calkin in 1872, and became the familiar carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
 by James S. Robinson; Free Republic Browse
It appeared for a time that Longfellow, in his heartache, had lost hope. Christmas was not joyful nor peaceful for him and the promise of hope had diminished. The inspiration of this Christmas song assures us that through this time of great despair he did find serenity, tranquility, and solace.  
The Civil War brought wounds to the heart and minds of the American people and they needed hope to prevail in this long journey. In his plight for peace and joy, Longfellow, penned these words that touched the heart of a war torn nation giving them hope in God. 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men. Till, ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Past Behind You

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Regardless of how sheltered or indulgent our past has been, all of us have had regrets with feelings of guilt. You need to deal with your past before you can understand what true freedom is in the future. The sin that is a heartache to you today sank its roots into your life yesterday. You can’t expect to break your sinful habits until you have a new beginning in your life. Satan’s tactic is to use your past to ruin your future. His weapon is using guilt feelings to discourage you. You are caught in a vicious circle of one offense leading to another and will soon find yourself in the soil of discouragement.
Can you have a new beginning? In one sense, no, since the past cannot be relived. Purity cannot be recovered; ruined health from substance abuse will have to be accepted. Some broken homes may never be pieced back together but, you can have a new life with Christ. God offers forgiveness of all your past, present, and future sins and assures you that your past need not control your future. The cycle of sin can be broken. (Isaiah 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

God’s will for you is that you be freed from all forms of guilt therefore, our Lord offers you complete freedom from a guilty conscience. The first step you need to taken is to acknowledge what it is that is making you feel guilty and deal with it immediately, putting it behind you. Second, you must accept the fact that all sin has been paid for, on the cross, in full.  There is no sin that has been committed that has not already been forgiven by Christ’s great sacrifice on Calvary. Moreover, try to heal all personal relationships, if possible. Great guilt comes upon you when you have wronged others. If others will not forgive you for what you have done, remember, God’s grace is sufficient and greater than all your sin.

Thought for today:

If God is able to forget your past, you should too.  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12) God puts our sins in the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) Once your past has been forgiven, you are free from its hold. Now, you can make the choice to go forward in your life with Christ, or sink in a life of despair. Can you put Your Past Behind You?