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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Is A Time For Receiving

I love all things that come with Christmas.  The giving of gifts, the fa-la-la-la-la's, the decking of halls.  I love any reason to hug my loved ones a little closer and give to those in need during the holiday season.  I love connecting with old friends and receiving their Christmas postcards/family portraits.  It's all-round the most wonderful time of the year. 

And as I finish up the last of my Christmas shopping and the loose ends of my wrapping, I can't help but consider once again why I'm even doing all this in the first place.  It makes me come back to the famous scripture that wraps the Message of Love up like a beautiful present:
 
"For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  
John 3:16
God's most precious Gift given in the small package of a baby boy.

I wonder....If we were to ask God what Christmas means to Him, I bet He'd probably look at us and smile -- so happy that we would even ask.  He would probably pick us up and place us on His Lap like He was ready to tell us the most amazing story we have ever heard.  I bet He'd lean in close and whisper these precious words to us:

"Christmas is a time for receiving."

"RECEIVING!?"  we might exclaim.  Oh how contrary to what we would think or say!  How selfish!  "Christmas is not about getting!  It's about giving!"

"No, Christmas is first about receiving." He would reiterate. "Don't you see?  I gave.  I gave the most excellent gift a Father could give.  I gave so that you might live.  And, your response is to simply receive.  Christmas is truly about Me giving and you receiving all that comes with the Gift I gave.  All your giving beyond that is just a response from your receiving from Me."

So, this Christmas, let us be reminded.  Let us come back to the heart of God and His original reason for Christmas.  And let us be sure that we aren't just giving, but that we are also receiving -- from Him.

 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Encounter

Have you ever formed an opinion about someone without even meeting them?  I have.  Media is always trying to persuade me in one way or the other to like or dislike a celebrity or other public figure. And, we can fight every day with the fact that man judges by appearances and evaluates someone simply by what they look like.  

What is most unfortunate, though, is the fact that many of us form an opinion about God without actually meeting Him personally.  We conjure up in our minds who we think He is based on our experiences and maybe what others have told us about Him -- which could be very far from the Truth. We have Him "all figured out " without even encountering Him.  How unfair -- in any relationship. 

As I read through Scripture, I find one common theme in those whose lives were radically changed. They had an ENCOUNTER. They had an encounter with the Living God:  Job, Moses, Saul, the man whose ear was cut off by Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, the woman at the well, the woman who bled for years and years, the mother who saw her son raised from the dead before her very eyes, the blind man, the lepers, the disciples in the boat in the middle of the storm, the thief on the cross...

All of them have the same Story: I have encountered him personally and I will never be the same.  

Have you formed an opinion about God? If so, what is it based on?  I encourage you today to go and seek Him out. Find out who He is and refuse to settle on an opinion until you know you have encountered Jesus.  



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Drive-By Christmas

It can be easy to miss as you drive by the houses covered in hundreds of white, colored and blinking LED lights.  It can be easily overlooked when a huge inflatable Santa is lit up on the grass and waving at you in the cold night air.  It can be easily out-shined by Rudolph's nose and the other mechanical reindeer that are placed front and center on the lawn.

We can miss it.  We can miss the manger.  We can miss the Story -- the Story that is not fiction like the other Christmas stories we tell.  The Story that gives us Hope beyond our 25 days of Christmas.  The Story that can truly change our Scrooge-like outlook and give Light to the darkest and most hopeless heart.   

There's a house that my family and I like to go to and see each year.  It is so lavishly decorated that it draws hundreds of people every year to come see it.  The public is allowed to walk through their huge yard displayed with every kind of structure and Christmas display you can think of.  But, if you just drive by, you miss it.  You miss the Story.  Only those that stop and walk through get to see that in the middle of it all a Manger Scene is shining bright. 

This year, I don't want to have a drive-by Christmas.  I don't want to miss the Story.  I want to slow down long enough to take in the Wonder and focus in on what's most important about this Season.  I want to stop the car, get out and see what the fuss is all about.  I want to find the manger and be reminded again.  This Christmas, I don't want to miss it.