Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas is All About the Gifts !!

Christmas is all about the Gifts !! 
Okay, have I shocked you ?  Just when you got the message 'its NOT about the gifts' ?   
Hear me out and I think you will agree... Christmas IS about the gifts!  
The problem is not our focus on 'gifts' at Christmas time, it is focusing on the WRONG kind of gifts. 
Christmas gift giving is sometimes reduced to giving and receiving out of duty or  expectation, although much gift giving at this season of celebration is focused on giving to those who are needy, and giving to those we love in expectation of their appreciative and happy response!  

It is a special delight to watch someone open a gift you have chosen with thoughtful care and see their expression of surprise and happiness!   
Speaking as a grandmother,  I look forward all year to giving my grand girls those gifts that will cause them the greatest joy!  
It would be a great sorrow to me if my grand girls would either reject my gifts or not even bother to open them !   I cannot even imagine !   
And yet .. the very best gifts, the ones that Christmas IS all about, ARE often rejected or left unopened.  
That must leave the Gift Giver heart broken !   
I wrote a little acrostic, using the word Christmas to list the gifts that have been gift wrapped in Jesus and inscribed with our name.  
C -   Charity  - the greatest gift of Christmas is LOVE .. Not just the feelings of love, but an expression of love in action. The very 'giving' of God's only Son to come show us the way.  The Greek word for 'charity'  carries a meaning of 'love feast' and that is God's invitation -- to come to His love feast -  the invitation delivered in person by His Son! (John 3:16)
H -  Healing -  Jesus brought 'healing in His wings' --  our healing, spiritual, emotional, and physical.  (Acts 4:30)
R -  Righteousness -   Jesus gave to us His righteousness - to clothe us so we can come acceptable to God,  entering into His presence,  clean and holy !  (Rom. 5:17)
I -  Image  -  even as Jesus came in the image of God - so He gave us the gift of  His Spirit to change us, little by little to also be formed in the image of God -- to look like and walk even as Jesus did !  (II Cor. 3:18)
S - Salvation  -  Oh.. we long to be free - and Christmas brought us that freedom - Accepting this gift of Christmas saves us from our sin , from darkness, from the enemy and  eternal condemnation! (Acts 4:12)
T - Truth  -  what a gift this is !  To have, to hear, to know the TRUTH .. Jesus is the Truth and in Him is all Truth.  We have but to listen to His Words and accept them.
(John 8:32)
M - Mercy  -  what a beautiful gift this is.  When we are guilty or bowed down with care or sin,  instead of rebuking words we are gifted with mercy.  The gift of comfort, understanding, forgiveness and encouragement to walk worthy of Him.  (Heb. 4:16)
A -  Armour - The 'armour of God'  -  what a practical gift this is!  Providing the  protection, the enabling we need so we can live a victorious life in the midst of darkness and chaos and threat of the enemy!   (Eph. 6:11)
S - Supply - a gift that just keeps on giving.   God has gifted us with a supply for all our needs - everyday for the rest of our life!   The supply that never runs out, because it comes from God's personal heavenly riches !  (Phil. 4:19)

A beautiful aspect of Jesus' gifts to us are that they are meant to be shared, as scripture says.... "Freely you have received, freely give !"  (Matt. 10:8)

I wish you all a wonderfully blessed Christmas , and a New Year 'without lack' - 
May you enjoy every God-given gift and rejoice in sharing them with others !!   

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What Do You See?

What do you see ?   A dismal day, grey, overcast sky and a dead tree ?
Look again.

This morning I was sitting at the breakfast table gazing absent-mindedly out of the window at the above view.
The leaf-less tree suddenly focused my attention.
I noted how its branches at all pointing upward.
Pointing upward toward heaven ...  in worship to its Creator?

I thought of two of favourite verses about 'trees' ..
"Let the field be joyful and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord." 
Psa. 96:12 
"For you shall go out with joy. And be led out with peace. The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  
Isa. 55:12 

But the photo above is not the picture that readily comes to mind when I read those verses.
Those beautiful verses paint a mind picture of  a perfect day, blue skies, sun drenched vibrant colour and nature bursting with the green of fresh growth, leaves dancing in a softly blowing breeze.

But ... maybe that picture is not as deeply inspiring or challenging as the above photo.

When our  'life' is dismal, dark, lifeless in all the things important to us , when we are stripped of  the leaves of earthly joys or security,  are the arms of our heart still uplifted in worship?   Do we still cling to the promises of God, knowing that He is good?

I  thought of how the branches of the tree had grown rigid in position.  Because they have never taken any position other than to lift their branches upward, no other position is possible, no matter what the season or the storm or the wind against them.
Are we so rooted in our faith, that our heart has become 'rigid'  in our worship and trust in God, unable to turn our face away from His?
Look at the contrast between the leaf-less tree and the ever-green cedar trees beside it.
Do you see the the cedar trees revealing uplifted branches?   That is not what draws your attention, is it.
All you see is the 'adornment' of their beauty.
Are we not the same ?  When life is good and everything is going our way ... what do people tend to see but the 'adornment' of our life?

 When is it that those watching us  have the best opportunity to see our 'branches'  uplifted in worship to our God ?    Is it not in the 'dry' seasons of our life ?   When people would expect us to be bowed down with worry and the weight of our burdens ?

When our adornments are stripped away what is left ?   An uplifted heart to God, refusing to let go of what is most important to us ?
May it be our faith/trust in a life-giving God who can most be trusted in the 'winter' seasons of our life because we know in whom we have believed .. and know that life and light will once again bring the glorious 'spring' ...    in our earthly life but especially in the eternal life to come !