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.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Five: Joy

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Proverbs 10:28

“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”

James 1:2-4

2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

John 15:11

“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Joy can happen instantaneously and vanish just as quickly, but for those who are in Christ, there can be a lasting joy deeply embedded in our souls.

This gift of joy sometimes comes in surprising packages.  What we might think of as having no use in our lives ends up being a big blessing because of the greatness of God to utilize everything for our good and His glory.

What we often would not choose and have no delight in can instead be the very thing we need.  What a sovereign God, Who knows exactly what we need to have real joy in this life.

Sometimes life’s burdens can be so very hard to carry and the sin around us grieves our Spirit, trying to stifle out our joy.  It is in those moments that we reflect on what the trials surrounding us are achieving and choose to accept this gift of joy that Christ came to give us.

When the temporal burdens of this life threaten to steal our joy, the joy of the LORD is our strength and is the gift that keeps giving if we run to Him.  Our delight in Him is further ignited when we consider the joy we have in our glorious future with Christ.  Greater still is sharing that joy with others who desperately need to know that there is more than this world has to offer.

Lord, thank you that the gifts you give us for this life are eternal.  We have joy in You because of Who You are – the Great I AM – Lover of our soul and our joy.

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.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three: The Law

Gift of Gods law

 

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

This Christmas, when we think about getting what we want, I am thankful that God in His wisdom does not always give us what we want.  Further, in His mercy, He did not give us what we really deserve – His judgment.

We are all rule breakers in one way or another, often rationalizing our weaknesses away, but God’s righteous standard is held.  He does not leave us in a state of deception, but opens our eyes through His perfect law found in His Word, revealing our sin and need for a Savior.

What a gift – absolute truth – steady, unchanging and Holy in a chaotic relevant world.  In a culture that demands its own way and makes laws to condone its sin, there still stands a righteous standard.

Many feel that this standard set by God steals our freedom and joy, but no greater freedom has anyone than the one who can see his sin that shackles him and can walk away from it.

Even though we could never fulfill God’s commandments perfectly, God in His sovereignty and mercy fulfilled it for us.  His law brought condemnation so we could see our need of Him.

As we visualize ourselves opening these gifts that You have given us, Lord, help us to see Your law at work in our lives and to submit ourselves to Your will in every area of our lives.

 

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Day two: Salvation

 

gift of salvation

Ephesians 2:8

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Hebrews 7:25

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Acts 4:12

“Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

As we look forward to Christmas (11 more days!!!) this blog will contemplate twelve of the greatest gifts that God has bestowed on us. Here we are on day two of twelve . . . have you opened this gift yet?

On the second day of Christmas, He gave us salvation.  This precious gift of life was meant to be lived in relationship with God, but our sins blinded us of our need and took away the purpose of this life: knowing God.

From the moment we first understood our surroundings, our proclivity was to follow the flesh.  The pull of sin tempted us to crave our own way, yet God had compassion on us.

We tried to fill that void with a solution of our own design; running to any mechanism that could help us cope with the mess our sins made, but only One could solve our problem of sin: Jesus.

Others tried to fix our problem, too, but it only left us empty, bankrupt, separated from God; and ultimately were only a temporary solution.  Until Love opened our eyes to see our need and His provision.

The counterfeit suddenly was seen for what it was and our eyes saw and understood this great salvation.  A salvation that is eternal, no longer leaving us unfulfilled.  What a great Savior, One Who is able to save completely all who call on His Name.

Lord, thank You for saving us and not leaving us in our sin.  Thank You for opening our eyes and drawing us near to You and saving us once for always.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One: Life

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Job 33:4

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Psalm 139:14

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. At first blush, this song seems rather carnal and materialistic, but the original intention was a vivid example of our lives hidden in Christ.

Although we can complain that Christmas items are out at stores right after Thanksgiving, the early church began the Christmas celebration a  month out and then the timing for the commemoration of the Twelve days of Christmas was celebrated from December 25th through January 6th, leading up to the Epiphany.

These Twelve Days of Christmas are purported by some to be an esoteric code for Christians to remember their beliefs, to others a traditional song reminding us of the Wise men who came and brought gifts all those years ago, and to still others, a secular song with no inherent meaning at all.

But for the early church to set aside a month to celebrate the birth of God is a reminder to us that we can also benefit from this tradition.  Not a month just to be busy, but time to reflect on the significance of what Christ did for us.

Arriving at a perfectly historically accurate understanding of the purpose of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” might be impossible, but perhaps a new tradition is in order.  As a catalyst for sincere praise in this season of giving, over the next twelve days this blog will reflect on twelve amazing gifts that God has given us as we lead up to Christmas.  Day one . . .

On the 1st day of Christmas, our Creator gave to us “Life“.  The complexity of the creation of mankind blows my mind.  From the tiniest cell packed with DNA, to the hairs on our head, eye color, stature, personality – to every detail God lovingly placed in each of His children – our God is awesome, a genius; thoughtful and loving.

This gift of life is often painful, challenging, joyful; a wild mix of emotions.  But to feel is to live.  Each day a gift, whether it was a day filled with trouble that sent us running to our Father, or a day filled with bliss that caused us to be filled with gratitude, every day has a purpose in the scope of eternity.  The “good”, the “bad”, however each moment is assessed by man – ALL of it is used by God miraculously woven into our lives for His glory and our good.

As we come to kneel before our King this Christmas and consider afresh this gift of life, what is the greatest gift we bring now to our Creator, but to offer our lives back to Him in worship?

Lord, thank You for life.  Sometimes it hurts so terribly bad and we wonder how You could ever take such a mess and make it beautiful, but somehow You do.  Lord, thank You for every day of this life and help us to offer each day back to You in sincere gratitude and worship.