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.

Thoughtful Thursday: Enigmatic Justice

Job 40:8

“Would you indeed annul my justice?  Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the LORD.”

Job 1:22

“Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong.”

“It’s not fair!” is the cry of many today who believe they deserve more than their current lot or did not deserve a particular circumstance.  Innate within each of us is a sense of justice and equality, right and wrong.  When we try to explain what is seemingly unjust to our hurting souls, seared consciences can form in the chasm of bitterness.

We expect that we would receive the upper hand in life, especially if we have chosen to walk uprightly.  That seems just in our eyes.  Likewise, we all tend to side with God when someone has purposefully sinned and reaped the results of those choices.  There is also a sense of injustice that rises up in all of us when we believe we have witnessed something biased or unfair.

This longing is eternal – it is aching for true justice and righteousness.  God placed that longing within each of us and the imperfection around us is a catalyst to long for him.  If this world were perfect, it would be Heaven.  The promises of God are our hope when justice is not our reality.

But what happens when A plus B does not equal C?  Is it truly unjust when we sow righteousness and reap harm?  What is justice?  Our definition of justice is pure when we remove concern for self.  A righteous God would be just to destroy us all, for we transgressed against His law and were enemies of His.  That is justice.  But once we have received blessings in this life, we begin to feel entitled and forget what we really deserve.

Job was an amazing man of God.  Sure, he had flaws like we all do, but he did not blame God for the traumatic events that unfolded in one day.  Stripped of his children and suffering physically, he did not understand, but in the end He knew that God was Holy and when He caught a glimpse of how awesome God was, he was overcome.

I confess that when I have endured severe suffering I have wondered if God has forgotten me.  Until I looked into His perfect word and saw the character of God, then I understood.  God loves us so deeply and difficulties in this world do not take away from that unconditional love one bit.  While we do not value or esteem pain, we do not see our need of it, either.  God uses the injustices of this world for good, to reveal and remove sin.

The most insidious injustice today – people slaughtered for believing in God – is the hardest for me to understand.  I want God to come and rescue each one, to defend and show Himself strong.  I want the enemy vanquished.  That seems just. But God is long suffering that none would perish eternally.  Though it seems God is silent, in the end, all evil will be judged.

The free will which God has given man does not mean God is an absentee deity.  He longs to be gracious to us and be our Healer.  We want to be with God, removed from all suffering, but He wants to use us to bring His grace and salvation to those around us.

When this world’s injustice threatens to steal our joy, we can turn to God’s promises and run to Him.  We, the vile, can enter into the presence of our Holy God – not justice at all.  When things do not make sense to us, God is able to give us a glimpse of His glory and suddenly what concerned us is lost in the greatness of our God.  Suddenly wanting to be favored before, we are changed to servants to be used how He sees fit.

Lord, thank You so much for covering our sins and not giving us what we really deserve.  Help us to grant mercy to others, as well, and seek Your glory in the midst of injustice and in times of undeserved favor.

Promoting Justice in an Unjust World

Isaiah 56:1

This is what the LORD says, “Promote justice! Do what is right! For I am ready to deliver you; I am ready to vindicate you openly.

Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 33:5

The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

We live in an unjust world, filled with people proclaiming their right to sin, no matter who it impacts.  What is justice? Defined by the latest trend or political whim, justice is relativistic to a godless society.  Oh, if we ever needed Him, it is now.

God is just – how can he permit such wicked oppression on this earth?  Man sure likes to blame God for the mess we have created.  We want our way – free will – but then we do not want to blame ourselves for the fruit of the choices made with our choices.  He is asking us to choose to defend justice – to love mercy, to be His agents on this earth.  What does this look like in America?  God help us to be obedient.

How do we help people, suffering on the other side of the world from the tyrannical evil of those who force their own brand of justice on their victims?  Do we only care when it is on our soil?  If we are called to promote justice and told that He requires us to act justly, we cannot sit idly by while injustice is filling our world, but what are we to do?

Whatever position we are in, we must use for God’s glory and to help others.  Praying for the persecuted is something we all can do, but how can we defend them?  I admit that I have felt that I am not in a position that can impact the evil playing out on the world stage.  But can I?  If prayers of those in Christ are effectual, we must step up our prayers for those in positions of power to act in accordance with God’s will.  On a local level, what injustices are transpiring?  Abortions? Children in need of care?  Are there organizations we can contribute to, who are able to act where we cannot?

Sometimes we might not want to ask God to open our eyes, because our hands will get dirty.  We will be inconvenienced.  It is not an easy thing to get involved.  But we cannot keep our eyes closed any longer.  We need to believe that God will grant us the grace and strength to do His will, especially when it seems too difficult for us.  When I chose to adopt my son, Samuel, it was very challenging – a hardship in many ways.  The challenges of developmental delay and being cheated while trying to help one child were seemingly insurmountable.  But I will never ever regret that choice.

God has treated us better than we deserve.  We have been given mercy when truly His justice would have required our judgement.  May this grace that has been given to us serve as an impetus for us to extend similar grace to others who desperately need it.

God, please help us to see the needs all around us and to act.  Show us where we can serve You and promote Your love and forgiveness to others.