Archives For Gift of God

Fairy Tales and Christmas

December 18, 2014 — 2 Comments
Photo Credit: Iryna Yeroshko

Photo Credit: Iryna Yeroshko

We live in a world filled with wonderful stories, fairy tales and fables. From mythology to mysticism and fantasy to fiction, the choice is abundant. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a story. We get enraptured with the characters and the adventure of it all. Then, we remember, it is just a story and nothing more.

My fear, is that many people treat Christmas exactly the same way. For a few short weeks of the year, we get excited about this amazing story of a baby born in a manger – the angels, the shepherds, the inn – all of it is almost intoxicating. The idea that the King of the Universe would be born alongside a donkey in a smelly stable, you can’t help but be captivated by it all.

During this season we put our guard down and delve into this story. Christmas comes and goes, and quickly many forget that this was not just some folk tale but rather the triumphant entrance of God into humanity to begin the process of salvation for all.

The story of Christmas doesn’t end with a mother swaddling her precious little one in a stable that cold night in Bethlehem. The story of Christmas continues for over 30 years and ends on a dark lonely hill where that same baby is hung on a cross.

The ultimate gift.

As He cried out “It is Finished” and was raised three days later – the greatest gift in the History of the world was revealed – salvation for all.

I love the the festivities of Christmas. The lights, the smells, the parties; I love it all. But, let’s not forget that it is not just a simple story about a baby in a manger. You cannot lump this tale in with the likes of “The Night before Christmas” and read it on December 24th in order check your box of “Christmas Tradition”. One of those is nothing more than a child’s tale while the other is the living, breathing answer to life’s greatest question.

This Christmas, let us all make a commitment to remember not just the birth of that little baby, but the full adventure He took from the lessons He taught to the willing sacrifice He gave. The true gift of Christmas was just that – Jesus gave you and I salvation – don’t miss that key point of the story.

Question: How do you stay focused on the Truth of Christmas?

 

 

Picture Via John Finn, http://bit.ly/1s70r93

Picture Via John Finn, http://bit.ly/1s70r93

So many times in life we venture into the daily grind of the unknown with little to no assistance. And, quite frankly, we leave the best assistance behind.

This is especially true as Christians. No matter how many times we hear about God’s desire to help us, strengthen us or equip us, we always like to prove our ability to do it on our own. Just hearing that phrase “on my own” makes me think of sappy broadway ballads, and so that I do not break into some Les Miserables song (trust me, no one wants to hear me sing) let’s just cut to the chase and set the record straight – you were never intended to walk this path alone.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He promised this everlasting assistance:

16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14: 16-17 ESV)

Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our Comforter or Paraclete. He promises that this Helper will be with us forever. Forever. Let that sink in a moment. Forever is a long time. Forever means that He is available during all stages of our life – standing beside us and sustaining us throughout life’s various ups and downs.

What is interesting to me is the power that the Holy Spirit provides. Just look at Peter. Moments after Jesus was arrested, he begins denying ever knowing or being associated with him. He lacks courage and his integrity crumbles like a withered rose.

Fast forward to the Day of Pentecost, and following the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter speaks with such boldness and conviction that thousands are brought into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter’s courage and boldness continues to grow and there are countless stories that speak of it.

If the Holy Spirit did not come upon Peter, I believe that we would have seen a repeat of denials from him. It was only due to the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit that Peter was able to boldly proclaim, without fear or hesitation, the saving power of Jesus.

What does this mean for you and me? Simply put, if you are walking around defeated, rejected or scared, you are leaving something on the table. You are leaving the key to victory behind. Do you feel that the Holy Spirit was not intended for you? It was a gift promised to all!

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39 ESV)

Peter makes it pretty clear. Today, you have a choice on whether to receive this free gift or not. I encourage you, don’t leave the greatest tool behind.

Question: Can you share a time when the Holy Spirit gave you boldness or victory in a situation?

God desires to bless you. It is as simple as that. He desires to bless you and make you a blessing to others. No need to overcomplicate it – the word declares we need to grab ahold of that promise!

One of the scriptures that I have taught on in the past starts in Psalm 67 verse 5:

5 Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. 6 Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us, And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Pay particularly close attention to verse seven. Why is it that the ends of the earth shall fear Him? What is causing that fear?  What leads to it? The answer: His blessing on us. That means, His blessing must be so great that others will take notice and fear Him because of it.

I fully realize the topic of prosperity can ruffle some feathers amongst Christians – but the truth is God desires to bless you not just financially but in all areas – relationally, spiritually, health, favor amongst others and yes even money. The list goes on and on.

So how do we receive this blessing? It begins first with praise. Once we stop and praise Him, the exchange is open. You must praise Him in all areas. (Take a look at my most recent post – it all begins with worship!)

You must also declare the truth over your life! If you walk around saying “nothing good ever happens to me” than I promise you, nothing good will ever happen to you. But, if you walk around declaring God’s desire to bless you stating “I am favored and blessed by Him, the Lord of all” the blessing has no choice but to infiltrate your life!

Perhaps you don’t quite feel as though God is “blessing” you in the season that you are in right now. There are always seasons in our lives that can feel like that. Let me challenge you today to try something different. If you have never taken the Word of God and spoke it over your life and made it personal, now is the time. Take the verse above, write it out, make it personal and read it every morning. For example, I would write and read this for my self:

I, Paul, will praise the Lord! Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, my own God, shall bless me, Paul! God shall bless me, Paul, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him!

If you take this simple step for even a week, I know (because the Word promises it) your world will start to change. Things that seemed helpless will suddenly show hope. Areas of lack will suddenly be areas of surplus. You have to trust and praise Him!

Question: Do you have a testimony you can share when you put this principle into action?

A Gift That Changes All

September 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

Field

Sometimes it is hard to define the gift that God has given us.  The gift of His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness.  Truly the list goes on and on.  Have you ever tried to define it?  To put words to it?  I appreciate Jesus’ unique way of getting His point across.  He always packaged a life impacting lesson into a short story that even the youngest of children could understand.  This is one of my favorite short parables:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Matthew 13:44 NIV

Two simple sentences, but one impactful point.  Jesus is drawing a great analogy to what the Kingdom of Heaven is like…which by the way is something we get to experience NOW, not later.  We, as believers, experience the benefits of Kingdom living today.  It is not something we have to wait for…but let’s save that conversation for a future post.

Pull out one thing from this verse: what this man found was so great, so grand that he released everything else he had.  Once he experienced this great treasure, everything else paled in comparison.  Nothing else was worth having.  Nothing else was worth experiencing.

The gift we have been given in Jesus should have the same impact on us.  The verse says that in his joy he sold everything – he abandoned all else for this gift, the Kingdom of God.

Is Jesus advocating for us to sell our homes, all of our possessions, and abandon our responsibilities?  I don’t believe so.  But, I do think He is telling us two things:

1. The gift He has provided should bring us overwhelming joy – that nothing of this world should overshadow that gift.

2. We need to set aside and get rid of anything that might be holding us back from experiencing this joy.

This might be something material, or something you are dealing with internally like pride.  We must make whatever sacrifice is needed to protect this amazing gift.  Don’t let anything stand between you and it!

Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love, asked two very pointed questions (which I will leave as my closing thoughts) that I think are very applicable after reading Matthew 13:44 and the reaction (you might even think extreme reaction) that this man goes to when he finds this gift:

1. Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live?

2. Do you see evidence of God’s Kingdom in your life?