The year was 1965 when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first came across our television screens. I remember watching this show for the first time being only ten years old. I always felt sad for Charlie Brown. He seemed to always be searching for a real friend and real answers. I remember wondering and having the same question that Charlie Brown asked, “Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” I saw all the decorations that we had put up in our own house, complete with a Christmas tree. I remember seeing the stores with all the toys, homes all around us with lights twinkling, other kids standing in line to talk with Santa Claus. I remember along with Charlie Brown, wondering what is Christmas really all about? Then Linus speaks up and says, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please.” I remember that moment like it was yesterday. My question was going to be answered. I listened not having any idea what was about to be said. Then Linus steps to center stage and gives this answer to Charlie Brown’s question: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'" Linus walks back towards Charlie Brown and says, “That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Christmas is really all about Jesus, about a Savior, about Christ the Lord. In the midst of all the lights, the tree, the gifts don’t lose the real reason for the season. We have Christmas because God gave us the gift of life that is found in Jesus Christ the Lord. Have a very merry Christmas!
Pastor Randy Royston
New Hope Community Church
This week marks 243 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The Revolutionary War or the War for Independence would continue until 1783. The 13 American colonies had fought and won against the most powerful nation in the world. Against all odds The United States of America was born.
When the signers of the Declaration of Independence placed their names upon that document everything they owed and loved was put on the line. If they were caught or the war was lost, they would be considered as traitors. For the first time in history a nation was founded that purposed to place the ruling power in the hands of the people and not a monarch or dictator.
The Constitution established the foundation for this new nation that has survived a Civil War, two World Wars, a Great Depression and many other challenges that have toppled others.
During the tensions leading up to the Declaration the colonial leaders called for a time of prayer and fasting. Fifty-six men signed this Declaration that contains these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, 12 fought in battles as members of state militias, five were captured and imprisoned during the Revolutionary War, 17 lost property as a result of British raids, and five lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the redcoats.
Freedom always has and always will require a cost, a price to be paid. I am thankful for all the men and women who have served, fought and the many who have died so that today we can still call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I truly believe that God has blessed America. We are the only nation in the world that has a national motto, “In God We Trust” inscribed on all of its currency. The fingerprints of Christian values can be seen all over the founding Fathers and in the pages of history of the United States. Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”. Let us realize that we truly are blessed and have our freedom because of God’s mercy and grace.
By Pastor Randy Royston
Charlotte New Hope Community Church
On Good Friday April 19, Christians commemorate the day on which the Son of God made man was humiliated, stripped, tortured, and, finally murdered on a cross. Why is it called “Good” Friday? What “good” could there be in calling to mind that horrific day?
I did not grow up in a home that attended church. Not even on Easter or Christmas. When I became a teenager, I noticed some of my friends at school had a smudge mark on their forehead. They told me that this was for Ash Wednesday. Which I had no clue what that meant. There was talk about Good Friday and how some work places would be closed and there would be no school. From what I understood this was some kind of remembrance of the day they crucified Jesus Christ.
This was really confusing to me. I thought Jesus was suppose to be this great guy but these Christians are calling the day Jesus was killed “Good” Friday. I had no idea why the day where Jesus was whipped, beaten and nailed to a cross where he died was called “Good”.
It would be years later before I had the total story. In this sense the word “Good” is really an old expression and would be better understood if we used the word “Holy”. Some churches will call this day “Holy Friday”. It is a day like no other day. It is truly a set apart, God ordained day.
On this “Good” day, this “Holy” day, this God ordained day, God who became flesh as Jesus Christ took the guilt, the shame, the penalty for our sins upon himself. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
This crucifixion day followed by resurrection Sunday is the focal point of the Christian message. Man is a sinner who needs a Savior. Jesus stepped in and took our sins upon himself. He suffered, died and rose again on the third day to show the world that he truly was God and had power over death and the grave. “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
If the weight, the shame, the guilt of sin is still a part of your life you can be set free. Call out to God and admit you have sinned and need His forgiveness. Accept by faith that Jesus died and rose again to be your Savior and Lord. Discover for yourself how “Good”, Good Friday can really be.
By Pastor Randy Royston
Charlotte New Hope Community Church
This issue has captured the headlines for months and is now being blamed for the government shutdown. One group wants to have open borders with no restrictions. Another group wants to have a secure border and require those wanting to enter to follow the legal procedures required to gain entry. No matter which side you may agree with you will have those who will oppose you.
Taking sides on any issue is not always easy. Usually both sides will present information, goals, agendas that seem to make sense. It is not uncommon to have a change of opinion when presented with the facts if you don’t know which group is presenting the facts. I just recently saw a good example of this when several policies and goals concerning building the wall were presented to random people on the street. They were told that these policies represented the views of their opposing party. Those interviewed became visibly and vocally upset immediately. Then the person presenting the facts stopped them in their tracks when he said, “Opps, those facts were actually said by the party you are supporting.” He then showed them videos of leaders in their party making the very same statements they were upset about. Some people changed their mind but many were still upset even when given proven facts.
Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Agree or disagree this is what Jesus Christ said. You can accept it or reject it but it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus said, He is the only way to God. Each person has to decide if Jesus is really the Lord, a lunatic or a liar. If you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord then like it or not there is only one way to heaven. All other religions that don’t point people to Jesus Christ as THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE will find themselves on the wrong side of the wall for all eternity.
Pastor Randy Royston
New Hope Community Church
I really love Christmas, and this is a phrase that will be said many times in the next three weeks. Stores are filled with extra merchandise, decorated with all the tinsel, Santa Claus and reindeers. Houses with lights hanging from the eves, beautiful decorated trees in the windows. You may even see someone wearing a “Santa” hat at the checkout lane or the infamous ugly Christmas sweater. Presents being wrapped and exchanged, candy canes and of course my favorite “Charlie BrownChristmas Special”.
All of this is fun and exciting for the young at heart but let us not forget the reason for the season. This is the time when around the world we recognize the one who has forever changed our calendar and our world. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. The angel proclaimed, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Christ is the reason we can have a Merry Christmas. It is the day when God became flesh and dwelt among us. It is the day that our Savior, the only one who can save us from our sins came to this earth. When I say or hear someone say, Merry Christmas, I want to always remember that Christmas is really all about the gift of God to us. Let me encourage you to make room for Christ in yourChristmas. Read the story from Luke 2:1-20 and know that God loves you so much that He came to be your Savior. Decorate your trees, sing your favorite Christmas song, give out gifts but also when you say Merry Christmas thank the Lord for coming to be your Lord and Savior.
Pastor Randy Royston
Charlotte New Hope Community Church
I think that almost everyone, believer and non-believer would like the opportunity to ask God one question. What would be the one question that you would ask God if you knew He would give you a direct answer? For several years I have done a weekly article called “Questions For Pastor Randy”. I try to give honest, thoughtful answers based on the Bible to the questions submitted.
The questions that come to me usually revolve around about 25 to 30 different areas that seem to be on the minds of so many people. Questions such as: Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there really a literal hell and heaven? Don’t different religions just offer different paths to God? How can I know for sure that I am going to heaven? All of these are good questions that I believe God has given us the answers to in His Word the Bible. But what if you or I could ask God any question, what would it be?
When I was asked, “What question would you ask God” I decided that this would be my question. It has to do with my personal walk with the Lord. I would simply ask God, “Is there anything I am doing wrong?” Let me explain, I want to live my life in a way that is totally pleasing to God. I am talking about every area of my life. Are their things I am doing, or saying or teaching that I should not be doing, saying or teaching? Am I using whatever gifts or talents He has given me to the best of my ability? Am I leading my family in the way He wants? Am I being the person He wants me to be?
If I am doing wrong in any of these or in any other areas I want to know. I want to stop. I want to do and live out His will in my life. There are many, many questions I would also love to ask but in all reality, this is probably the most important one I could ask that would really make a difference. One day we will have al our questions answered but until then, maybe this is a good question to ask.
For several weeks this area has experienced single digit and even below zero temperatures. Many in the area had to deal with frozen pipes. Here are the two most common ways I have used to thaw a frozen pipe.
Open the faucet so that steam/water has someplace to go. The quickest method is
using a torch to heat up the frozen pipe. Find the closest spot toward the
faucet where the pipe is frozen. Use extreme caution not to catch anything
on fire around the pipe. Moving the torch back and forth a little at a time
will often melt enough ice and allow the water to start running again.
Only use a torch on metal pipes.
A similar method that takes a little longer but is
safer is to use a heat gun or high powered air dryer. Use the same method
and soon you will have running water.
Many people are experiencing a similar situation spiritually. Jesus talked in John 7:37-39 about those who believe in Him that
“out of his heart will flow
rivers of living water”.
Is your belief, your trust in the Lord flowing like
living waters or does it seem that you are spiritually frozen? If spiritually
you seem frozen, how do you get thawed out?
I encourage you to apply
heat. Jesus went on to say that
“He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive”.
The fire of the Holy Spirit was what
came down on the day of Pentecost. John the Baptist spoke about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Paul asked in Acts 19,
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
If you are feeling frozen
and cold in your relationship
with the Lord, apply some heat.
Ask for the Holy Spirit to come
and fill you, to baptize
you until the living water
begins to flow freely in your life.
Peter in speaking about
this infilling of the Holy Spirit said,
“For the promise is to you and to your
children and to all who are afar off”. Acts 2:39.
When the Holy Spirit is allowed to fill you,
you will experience a fresh spiritual flowing of the living
water that Jesus was talking about.
This issue of standing or kneeling in protest while our national anthem is being played has become a point of contention for many. The NFL has been the major focus of this issue for over a year.
It has been reported and is now under investigation that one NFL team purposely allowed their quarterback to get sacked numerous times because he stood during the national anthem while the line men all knelt in protest. This behavior has now been seen at colleges and even high school games.
Respect for God and country is not only proper, but it is encouraged in God’s Word. “Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Romans 13:7
There is a rightful time and place to protest but I must say that during the national anthem is not that time. Many veterans have fought so that we can enjoy the freedoms of this great country. November 11th is a day when we honor our veterans. The pledge of allegiance, the national anthem is the time when we honor all this country stands for. Protest when the time to honor has passed, but don’t take away the time to honor what needs to be honored.
I was asked this question.
“Pastor, what one thing would you consider the most important thing to do for me to grow in my relationship with God?”
I thought about my own walk with God. I considered others who I respected
that seemed to have a strong, vital relationship with God. Then I also thought
of those who I knew who seemed to struggle with being consistent in their
relationship with God.
The answer I gave them to what was the most important thing, was to have
a daily time with God. I can’t think of anything that will help a person grow
more in their relationship with God than to daily spend time with Him.
Jesus talked about this in John 15 where He talks about abiding or remaining in Him.
At least 7 times in just 4 verses Jesus mentions the importance of remaining, abiding in Him. Without that constant connection with Christ we will wither. To daily spend time with Christ will enable you as a believer to be fruitful.
How do you go about having a daily time with God?
-Find a quiet place to just be alone with God. A place where you will not be interrupted.
-Acknowledge who God is and just begin to worship Him. -Thank Him for all He has done for you.
-Appreciate Him and just let Him know how
much you love Him.
-Daily read from His Word.
-Come expecting God to speak to you through
His Word and by His Spirit.
The Bible is more than just another book. It is the inspired Word of God. God will take His Word and use it to make known His will, His plan and His purpose for your life.
The bible tells us to pray without ceasing.
Daily make prayer a normal part of
your life. Prayer is simply you and God
talking with each other. Don’t just talk
to God or at God but give the Lord an
opportunity to talk to you. The Holy
Spirit comes to guide you
and comfort you.
Developing a daily time of being with God through His Word, through worship and prayer
will do wonders in helping a person grow in their relationship and walk with God.