A good friend recently shared with me a family tradition that I now share with you. To me it was a combination Christmas/New Years tradition.
When their family gets together for the holidays, they take time out to share what their goals are for the coming year. Then they write them down and next Christmas/New Years they discuss how they did. Maybe they did it perfectly, maybe they struggled, or maybe it became clear that God desired something different than they did.
Not only is this a great time to get to know each other in a deeper way but it is also giving the opportunity for each family member to pray and encourage every other family member.
Now, how cool is that?Not
Gift Giving Made Easy
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” – Romans 5:18
A: A gift shows you care and have cared enough to observe them in order to pick out something they want. Translation: A gift is not just an item. It is a demonstration that you know them and how they give and receive love. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
B: People show and receive love differently. “Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored, and I have loved you…” -- Isaiah 43:4
If your recipient feels most loved by:
BONUS! Getting Gifts Made Easy!
While a gift shows how much they care, your response shows how much you care. Accepting their gift is accepting their love. With this in mind it is easy to be enthusiastic! (Of course, there is also a place after receiving 18 pairs of argyle socks to let Aunt Martha know you are more of an ankle socks person :0).
1. Crown Christ Lord of your heart during this Christmastime. Jesus have first place in my life -- now and forever.
2. Hang onto the awe. God stepped down into human place and time, took our weaknesses and lived among us.
3. Sing Christmas carols as though only God is watching.
4. Meditate on the Biblical themes of those carols. Example: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly speaks of Jesus stepping down from heaven into our world just like Philippians 2:5-11!
5. Apply the attitudes of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the other praiseworthy characters of the Christmas story to your life.
6. Serve with joy rather than obligation. For it is God works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure! (Phil 2:13)
7. Give gifts that are more for the other person than for you. Gift giving is not a check list but an opportunity to express love – just like God did for us on the first Christmas.
8. Offer all of yourself not just all of your busyness to Jesus.
9. Engage in a musical retelling of the Christmas story (puppets optional :0) until your soul exclaims with Mary’s: My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He Who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name. (Luke 1:46-49)
10. Memorize a new passage of scripture and pray it back to God – what better words to glorify God with than His own!
11. Pray wholeheartedly and purposefully lay aside the decoration, dinner preparations and everything else waiting to be done and focus on Jesus.
12. Purpose not to substitute stuff (choir practice, cookie baking and so on) for daily time with Jesus. Let us not forget, His birth made possible His death, endured so we could have this eternal relationship with God. (Col 1:13-14)
An Exercise in Faith
Have you ever had days, weeks, or years where you feel like your faith is being put through an obstacle course? Honestly, I normally don’t realize my faith has been stretching until after it has pulled a muscle. Yesterday was an exception. I began thinking half way through about what God could possibly be up to because, well…
I went straight to the airport after finishing up two days of back-to-back interviews. After my Dad fixed a small technical hiccup, I was able return the rental car with almost two hours left to make it through security. It took 90 minutes.
That is when I realized I left my phone under the huge key fobs in the rental car and there was no time to go back for it. Great. Then the plane iced up and our second engine couldn’t start. But that was okay because my second flight was delayed and had a gate change x 6 (no joke) and was delayed again…and again. At 0300 my flight finally took off.
And it was sometime during those 7 hours while exhaustion was overtaking me that I realized: God is at work here. This is quite simply one of the worst days of my life. But it was all under His control, He was working it out and I needed to trust that. That is when I realized, even though everything was going terribly:
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.