Twelve Days of Christmas Day Four: Love

Gift of Love

He loves me not, He loves me, He loves me not, He loves ME!  The exhilarating thrill of knowing we are loved is one of the greatest feelings we can experience.  Likewise, one of the most painful feelings in the world is when love is removed.

Christmas time is unique in that the greatest gift of love, expressed in the form of a baby was given to all mankind – no one was to be left out – as a radical expression of unconditional love.

Lost ones and lost loves are vivid reminders of our need for love at Christmastime.  We were made by God to relate and to love one another, and when that love is removed, our hearts ache.

We don’t by nature like change, nor when the constancy of one’s affection is removed, but in Christ, no matter what goes on around us, His love is always steadfast.

This gift of Love was wrapped in swaddling clothes, chose humble, harsh surroundings to get to YOU and me!

Lord, we can sometimes feel unloved, unwanted and forgotten.  Thank You that You never forget and never remove Your love from us.  Help us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Mundane Monday: The Purpose of the Law

Photo credits: pinterest

Photo credits: pinterest

1 Timothy 1:5-8

5 “But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately.”

Psalm 119:30

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”

Here it is a Monday again.  The day-in, day-out drudgery of the work week awaits us as we open our eyes to a new week.  Well, that is one perspective.  Another viewpoint is one of gratitude.  Today is Labor Day and today I thank God for the gift of work and for a mission He has called each of us to.  We are blessed to have work and blessed to be able to work.  Work is one of the occupations God gave us to do in His sovereign wisdom that sometimes our flesh resists, much like the laws He has in place, which is the topic today for all of us rule breakers at heart.

Laws.  Deemed as spoilers by some, a means to judge others or of self-righteousness to some, and to still others a moment of grace – of seeing our need for salvation once we see within ourselves the inability to perfectly adhere to God’s law.

Everywhere there are signs of mankind’s desire for no limits.  What is it about rules that sparks a seed of rebellion in our hearts and deceives a people?  To some, breaking rules seems like freedom.  We are doing what we want to do.  Or are we?  The irony of submitting to our fleshly desires is that in doing what we want to do, we become a taskmaster for our own destruction.

The limits set in place by an all-wise, all-knowing God are intended for our benefit.  In our deception we strive for what we perceive is a thing of beauty – no accountability, no hindrance of following someone else’s idea, and yet that pursuit is what becomes our prison, after all.

It is so beautiful that the aim of God’s laws and instruction is love.  God is not a spoiler of fun.  Sin destroys us and He wants us to be in relationship with Him – not separated from Him.  He hates to see us suffer from poor choices made at the altar of the gods of self and pleasure.

We are all subject to God’s laws, universal and spiritual, whether or not we want to be.  No one escapes the law of gravity, and while some might escape the consequences of disobeying civil or spiritual laws for a season, seared consciences are the penalty borne and ultimately all deeds will be judged by the Perfect law maker and giver, Jesus Christ.

A rule breaker can be deemed as “cool” by the world and a rule keeper seen as “prudish”, but it is how one keeps the law that matters.  Just as rebellion is not acceptable in the sight of God, neither is legalism.  Rationalizing which rules are important and which ones are not also does not change the premise of walking in the liberty of following God’s laws regarding ethics, big or small laws.

Our flesh does not like to be held accountable or to have to conform to someone else’s plan, and yet His plan is best.  We want our way, and yet God beautifully has designed a structure of leadership and accountability that ultimately provides care for those who will submit to His leadership.

People can use laws for their own ends, manipulating the original intent in an attempt to justify their actions.  But inside a voice cries out for truth and righteousness if we listen.  Breaking rules does not bring the peace of God nor satisfy the heart cry of our soul.  God’s loving and perfect laws are safe boundaries He designed that are kept and fulfilled only by the grace of God.

Lord, thank you for revealing our need for your salvation.  Help us to love the boundaries You have so wisely set in our lives.  May we resist the flesh and live lives for Your glory.

Christmas Countdown Day 9: The Miracle of Christmas

Photo Credits ministry127.com

Photo Credits
ministry127.com

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 miracles 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.  In fact, there are so many miracles in 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.  But the most amazing thing is that 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’.

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”.  I felt it yesterday at a nursing home, but realized in that moment that we can have that feeling all year through.  The miracle of Jesus is not confined to a day and needs to be heard and lived out daily.  When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy.  We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  Merry Christmas, all.  Jesus loves you so very much more than you could ever imagine!

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!