Twelve Days of Christmas: Merry Christmas from Seeing Deep!

Jesus is the gift

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

On this Christmas Day after an extremely busy week, I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Last night culminated the end of a very hectic week, one that crowded out the finishing of the Twelve Days of Christmas countdown.  Nonetheless, as I reflected on this amazing gift of Christ, thinking upon twelve of the things I have been most grateful for that He has given to us has blessed me this Christmas season, and I pray it has you, too.

So, there are a few more gifts to unwrap in this Twelve Days of Christmas wrap up . . . I left off with Day 7 . . .

Day 8 – the Holy Spirit

 

John 4:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Often neglected in our places of worship is the Holy Spirit, indwelling all who have called on the Name of God and been saved.

There can be a lot of confusion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and whether some have ceased and some continue, but in the fray of our confusion we miss the simplicity of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What a gift to have God come and fill us to overflowing!  He is our friend, our confidant, our Helper in time of need.  Holy and convicting us of sin and righteousness in our lives, He offers us a place of refuge within ourselves.

Lord, thank You for the deposit of Your Holy Spirit in our lives.  Thank You for never leaving us and for continuing to speak to us through Your Word and Your precious Holy Spirit.

Day 9 – Provision

Philippians 4:12, 19

” I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

It hurts to be in a place of need.  So often we try to cover over that hurt or fill that longing with something that will “provide” temporary fulfillment, but El Roi, the God Who sees all, knows what we need before we even ask Him.

There is a sweet contentment that is learned when we recognize that the provision we are seeking might not be what we need, after all.  Fear is replaced with a simple trust in our God Who provides sovereignly what we need when we need it.

The times of hurt, of not being able to go to the doctor or fix a car or maybe even buy groceries – might make us feel like we are fogotten, but not so with God.  These times are instead gifts that cause us to look to our LORD to meet our every need through Jesus Christ.

At Christmas, we anticipate receiving and giving gifts.  Sometimes we can be disappointed, when we had hoped for something different.  Then God opens our eyes and instead of complaining over what we have not been given, we find a joy in Christ when we love and thank Him when we don’t get what we want.

Lord, You are sovereign – all knowing!  Thank You for every gift You have given us, that we often take for granted.  Thank You, too, for the gifts that You have not given to us, showing us our need of You.

Day 10 – Justice

Isaiah 30:18

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Job 16:19-20

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.  My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.”

Being falsely accused and having to defend myself in court will remain one of the most horrific moments of my life, but even in those moments, when it seemed justice was no where to be found, I had an advocate in Heaven.  He saw me and every tear He counted.

Whether we win or not down here, we ultimately win if we are in Christ.  He is our ever-present help in time of need and for all eternity we will not receive the justice we deserved – the condemnation of our guilty souls.

Sweet liberty is ours in Jesus.  What a gift His justice is for those Who recognize the gift of salvation and receive it.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy, triumphing over our transgressions and making us Your own.  You are good and just all the time.

Day 11 – God’s promises – unopened gifts

 

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

“For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”

When in times of trouble, these gifts from God – His precious promises – are all we need.  Promises from God are always kept, always remembered, always given to those who wait on Him.

Like unopened gifts waiting to be opened by His children, God’s promises stand firm and are ready to deliver at the right time.

Lord, thank You for the anchor in my soul that every one of Your precious promises has been.  Thank you that You did not leave us without hope; a hope that does not disappoint like the world’s empty substitutes.

Day 12 – Himself

John 4:10

“Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””

The greatest, most lavish gift ever given was God himself, in the flesh.  We could not behold His face for He is holy and we are not, so He came in our form so we could understand.

We could not have fellowship with him for our sin separated us.  So He laid down His life and took up our iniquities Himself.

We could not spend all of eternity with Him, so He paid our sin debt and covered over all of our sins so we could dwell with Him forever.

Oh God, forgive us when we get so busy we miss this gift of You every day in our lives.  You are our treasure, available at all times to us, not just at Christmas or on Sundays.  Help us to not neglect You, our greatest gift.

Worshipful Wednesday: Praising Our Vindicating God

Vindication

Psalm 135:1-5, 13-14

1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Offer praise, you servants of the LORD, 2 who serve in the LORD’s temple, in the courts of the temple of our God. 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good! Sing praises to his name, for it is pleasant! 4 Indeed, the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel to be his special possession. 5 Yes, I know the LORD is great, and our Lord is superior to all gods. 13 O LORD, your name endures, your reputation, O LORD, lasts. 14 For the LORD vindicates his people, and has compassion on his servants.”

In this passage, David is speaking to God’s people here – His servants who serve in His temple.  If ever anyone needed encouragement, it is those who serve in God’s temple.

My heart breaks when I see injured people traumatized by a misunderstanding, conflict or by someone else’s actions.  All the more when this happens within the walls of the church.  Sometimes we, the church, get so wrapped up in doing what’s right that we are in the wrong.

I’ve been there.  In the most devastating time of my life, when I sought refuge in my church – I found I was silenced, instead.  The enemy is a master at concealing things that need to be brought to light so people can heal and move on.

In the name of being above approach and not gossiping, the silence is deafening and sins can be glossed over.  But the lack of addressing the elephant in the room will only cause it to become larger, still, morphed into something even more devastating.

The sheep are harassed and helpless, and oftentimes those who minister to the sheep bear burdens that are heavy.  But the beautiful secret weapon shared in this Psalm is for everyone.

The Psalmist reminds us to focus on what matters – praising God.  Unless God’s people refuse to tolerate religiosity and utilize our most powerful tool in the face of strife and troubles: praising God in the midst, we will be nothing more than a club; a group of people gathering together.

Those who know God and are informed about His awesome deeds are reminded in this passage to sing praises to God.  Catalysts for our praise are reflecting on His character, His miraculous deeds and His faithfulness. Praising Him is our greatest calling and strength.  We must refute anything that would distract us from this great purpose in our lives – glorifying God in the church and in our personal lives.

You see, there is something intrinsically powerful about worshiping God. We cannot truly praise the LORD without Him revealing motives that need to be exposed.  We cannot come sing to the One without conviction rising if we are attempting to hide something from the One Who sees all.  It is in praising Him that we are delivered and walk in forgiveness and freedom. It is in praising Him that we are vindicated form the enemy’s accusations, set free to no longer focus on the temporary things of this world.

No matter what goes on around us or where we serve God – in the temple or in a secular post, we will all face burdens that only God can lift.  Perhaps the sweetest truth in the lives of His children is that He notices us – and not just sees our inner turmoil, but He has compassion on His servants and vindicates them, all for His glory.

Curiously, the act of worship and praise is not solely for God, for it is while we all praise God together that He works in our hearts, exposing darkness and drawing us nearer to Himself.

Lord, thank You for the gift of praising You.  We need to worship You. Purify our hearts and Your bride, Lord.  All for your glory.

A SEASON OF THANKFULNESS: DAY 18 – OUR HUMBLE KING

Humility

crossmap.com

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

There is perhaps nothing more ironic than a King becoming a servant, saving the very ones who were His servants in the first place.

In Christ we find the perfect example of humility.  He alone could boast of all the good works He accomplished or of how great He is, yet He chose a crude birth and a lifestyle among commoners.

Materialism and comfort might have appealed to his flesh in that he was 100% man and 100% God, but He did not want those things.  They were distractions from the calling His Father had for Him.  Instead, He was single-minded in His humble approach, prizing the cost of a soul as superior by far to being praised by man.

Sober-minded and dependent upon God, Christ modeled the wisdom of humility.  He captivated the hearts of His enemies not by ruling over them, but by loving and serving them.

There will come a day when Christ returns in righteous judgment, but He first exhibited godly leadership that sacrificed and made Himself subject to the very ones He sought to save.

By laying down His own life, He made a way for the prideful, lost ones truly in a humble position to know their majestic King.

Lord, thank You for demonstrating what it means to not live for self, but to live for the glory of God, instead.  Thank you for choosing a humble life that we might know You!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 16 – Our Promise Keeper

ThePromiseKeeper_620x348

Ligonier.org

Deuteronomy 7:9

“So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Proverbs 20:6

“Many people profess their loyalty, but a faithful person–who can find?

Romans 4:21

“He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do.”

2 Timothy 2:13

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.”

“Everyone will let you down at some point”.  In a fragile world, this anecdote which is intended to comfort, does the opposite.  We all long for security, for people to be devoted to us, for someone who will be completely faithful to us.

Man is ultimately selfish and desires to satisfy his own needs.  It is the opposite of our flesh to deny ourselves and to serve others faithfully instead.

Where is our hope, then, if no one can ultimately be perfectly faithful to us?  This longing can only be fulfilled by One.  Not just any one, but the very one Who is the only One who has ever kept all of His promises.  His track record is perfect and He delights to fulfill His Word.

We tend to want flesh to be faithful to us to feel secure, but flesh is created, fallible and does not know the end.  God foretold the promises that He was going to keep before they were even on the horizon.

When the chips are down and it feels like God has forgotten, we only need to look to His Word and see His faithfulness throughout all of time.  We need to then hold onto His promises and talk to our Heavenly Father about our need for Him to meet us in our place of need.

God is incapable of lying; His promises are yes and amen.  He receives the glory when He meets our needs according to His wonderful promises in His Word.

Even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful still.  Not because we deserve it, but because he will not deny those who are His.  What a faithful God – covenant maker and keeper forever.  Amen.

Lord, when we were unworthy and could never repay You, You still chose to pursue us anyway, making promises to us and keeping them.  Thank You, our Faithful friend and God, lover of our soul!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Our Wise Counselor

Photo Credits: www/pixabay.com

Photo Credits:
www/pixabay.com

Ecclesiastes 7:10-12

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” for it is not wise to ask that.  11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day. 12 For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

James 1:5

“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”

When I am tempted to give in to emotion or make a rash decision, it is to God that I run.  What a precious gift that we can come to Him and seek His wisdom in all things.

Recently I was reminded of this privilege when I was trying to understand the best course of action in a situation.  “Why are you trying to figure it out on your own?” ran through my head.  I guess that is my natural disposition – to try and come up with my own solution, but the foundation of that decision should be to seek wisdom from God above all else.

Wisdom, likened to an inheritance, can only be given by God.  Man can hand out down insight and knowledge, but any wisdom he has was given to him and comes from above.

Wisdom from God looks markedly different from the wisdom of this world.  It is not self-glorifying, it does not boast. It serves and glorifies God as the giver of it all.  The wisdom God gives is pure and peaceful, opposite what our flesh would offer as a solution.

Contained within all 66 books of the Bible are page after page of wisdom and folly fleshed out.  Few have truly found wisdom and to those who have found it, it is a never-ceasing pursuit.  Wisdom is not a once and done possession.  It is part of the beauty of being in relationship with the most amazing genius in all the world, our God.  He gives it freely, to those who ask . . . again and again.

Solomon pleased God by asking for wisdom above all else, yet He did not utilize that wisdom in one area of his life, in particular.  Did he know better?  I think so.  His heart was turned away by his unwise decisions regarding women, and I daresay that the brief satisfaction from choosing folly instead of the wisdom he had at his disposal could not compare to the joy he could have had from walking in wisdom.

This priceless gift of wisdom is continually given to those who would humble themselves and see their need of godly wisdom.  Available to all.  That’s the all-wise God we serve – generous and perfect in all He does; available to give us counsel when we need it.

Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking us.  You provide wisdom when we need it and are faithful to give us grace to seek You for it in the first place.  We praise Your Name, Sovereign King!

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.