A Gift of Joy

he-came-to-give-us-joy

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:11

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Christmas is almost here and parents all over are wondering if what they have done, what they have given, is enough. While it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of preparations, in the stillness of the night we can still hear a baby’s cry if we listen.

The cry of our Savior pierced the night as He entered this world to give all that He had. A cry that spoke volumes to the reality of our dire need and His extravagant gift. God in the flesh, the only answer for our bankrupt souls, came to bring us the gift of salvation for all of eternity – a gift that never fades – and He came to give us JOY.

Our culture can distract us from this original message of Christmas, but deep within if we will pause and consider the point of all our purchases and planning, it is ultimately to remember our God’s sacrificial gift with great joy.

This contemplation is medicine for my soul today. I confess to a meltdown yesterday. The combination of the busyness of the season, demands of my schedule, shepherding my precious ones through their college finals and school sometimes is more than I can bear.

As a parent, you want to give everything to your children, but you realize that is not what they need. They need us – and sometimes what they need is not what we want to give – instruction that is not well received.

It is in these moments that I think on what my Savior gave. His people did not understand their need, nor realize the gravity of such a gift. Still God came and He gave. He did not look to see if we were appreciative of the gift, but it is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Come and worship our Savior with me. No matter what is stressing you out, grieving or burdening your soul, He is enough and we find our joy when we do what we were made to do – worship and know our Savior.

Oh God! Forgive me when I get caught up in all that is around me and forget to look to You in all things. You are enough and You are my joy, no matter what – at all times!

The Real Miracle of Christmas

christ-came-in-the-flesh-as-a-baby-and-christ-still-comes-today

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 1:1-5

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”

Hebrews 2:14

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.”

Movies abound today about the “magic” of Christmas.  Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal.  Not so much.  But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake – One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us.  He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life.  Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life – freely.

But sometimes the miracle of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christ’s birth is and what Christ accomplished in His birth.

Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing).  But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.

In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy.  He did it as a baby.  Talk about the enemy being whipped.  

This baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin.  A miracle indeed.  Holy.  Righteous.  Fully God and fully man.  How amazing.  Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air – just sayin’. And this same Christ is now revealed through us, His people.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas “spirit”, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that “Christmas feeling”. How is God leading us now to give during this season? How can we help others around us? Christ modeled what it meant to serve by giving His all. May we do the same.

The miracle of Jesus is not confined to one day. We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  The miracle of Jesus lives on in the hearts of those who choose to accept Him.

Christ came in the flesh as a baby and Christ still comes today – manifest in our flesh as we yield our lives to Him.

What a miracle this is – Christ in us. When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy, and it is a miracle indeed that He uses us at all.

Merry Christmas, all.  Be a part of the miracle in someone’s life this Christmas.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth.  I stand in awe of You.  Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are.  Love you!

Truthful Tuesday: Purpose in Provision

Be-careful-what-you-sow

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 9:6

“My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9 Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” 10  Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God,” 12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone.”

Everything we have is given so we may be generous to others, but our giving also is for us. Sowing what is not ours in the first place bears fruit for eternity, and causes us to grow to be more like Christ.

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

When others look into our lives and see God’s blessing and our obedience to share that blessing, it serves to point them to God and brings Him glory.

All too often, though, we can look at what we don’t have or focus on all of the abundant needs there are around us instead of seeing how much God has truly blessed us with. The fact is, there will always be needs, but those needs point us to the One Who gives us the greatest riches of all – Himself.

When we have Christ, we can sow more than just physical needs – but also seeds of the Gospel into the hearts of others, giving them true wealth. He gives us all we need for this life. He is the vine and living water Who quenches the thirst of all who come to Him.

Just like we should not withhold material blessings when we can give them, the gift of salvation is one we should share liberally, as well.

Lord, may You be glorified in all that You give us and may we be faithful to bless others with the gifts You have given, including our salvation.

 

 

Truthful Tuesday: Blessed to Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Sam 5:12

“David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

2 Sam 7:8, 18-22

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you leader of my people Israel.  18 King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point?  19 And you didn’t stop there, O LORD God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. Is this your usual way of dealing with men, O LORD God?   20 What more can David say to you? You have given your servant special recognition, O LORD God!   21 For the sake of your promise and according to your purpose you have done this great thing in order to reveal it to your servant.  22  Therefore you are great, O LORD God, for there is none like you! There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!”

Overcome by God’s goodness, David poured out his heart in a moment of beautiful abandon.  He recognized God’s blessings and realized that he was not worthy.  His response was so beautiful – worship in action.  He dedicated to God fully what was given to Him, ruled in humility and righteousness, showing favor and honoring even his former enemy’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.  Ultimately, he saw that God’s blessing was not for Him, but for God’s people, Israel.

He was wealthy and in the highest position of the land, but he chose to identify with and respect the lowly.  Sounds a lot like his Heavenly Father.  Demonstrating kindness and mercy, God honored David further, providing protection, favor and victory everywhere he went.

It’s a funny thing about blessing.  When we give away what we are given, we receive even more because we cannot out give God.  Do we perceive all that He has done for us?  Probably impossible to do so, but contemplate for a minute the gift of life and what He has given us.  Once we begin to see a glimpse of what He has bestowed upon us physically and spiritually, the key is not only in recognizing all of the blessings in our lives, but in not expecting them.

David had already learned the lesson that God was Holy and although He loves us, we should not take for granted His favor and become casual with His requirements.  The ark of God was not a trinket to be handled and God’s presence not something to be casual with, either.

What we have was not ours in the first place, but hanging onto those blessings is where idolatry can slip in if we let it. Each blessing, once acknowledged, becomes even more when it is surrendered back to God to be used how He sees fit.  Along with David, we have an opportunity to see that what we are given is not about us at all, but about those who God brings along our path.

David knew all too well what hardship was, which also produced a sincere gratitude for the tremendous blessings God brought about.  When we remember what we were when He called us, that makes us all the more grateful for each blessing He has bestowed; a beautiful offering given back to the One Who gave it to us in the first place.

Christmas Count”Up” Day 16: He Showed us How to Give

Hebrews 10:4-7

For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.  5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 6 Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 

Hebrews 10:11-14

11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand  of God, 13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.

Giving gifts comes naturally for some and is more difficult for others.  We ponder what it is that will bless the other person’s socks off, but also have to consider other variables, like cost and availability.  Christ demonstrated so much in His giving that we all can seek to aspire to.

He gave willingly.  Sacrificially.  Selflessly.  Humbly. His gift was costly – beyond measure.  He gave to those who were His enemies.  His gift was so profound, He only had to give it once and it supplied our need for all eternity.  He did so out of obedience.  There is no comparison between a gift like that and anything we could ever give, but there are aspects of His gift giving that we can aspire to.

I take delight in buying gifts for those I love and for those I do not know.  Bringing joy to someone else makes me happy; especially if I can discover something that their heart has been secretly yearning for.  Sometimes, though, Christmas can be a let-down in our material world.  Maybe we don’t get what we are wanting or others we give gifts to feel less than thrilled with what they have received.  What then?

We can pull out the argument that starving children would be thankful, or contemplate what Jesus gave us, but ultimately, it all comes back to gratitude in the recognition that we never deserved a gift in the first place.  It is not even our birthday – it is His.  And He chose to give Himself away on that day.

What does He want us to give in return?  Our hearts to Him.  He has pursued us with a relentless, unconditional love.  May we give of ourselves in such a manner, all for His glory.

Lord, thank You for showing us how to give.  Help us to have Your heart of giving this Christmas and every day of the year.