Holiday, Spiritual Growth



I find it nearly impossible to think about the word LOVE without John 3:16 popping into my mind.  “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  And being that it’s the week before Christmas and “gifting” is the “to do” I am trying to cross off my list, it seems on a daily basis, it reminded me of a gift I received last year.

I love my church and I love serving there.  And for the whole year of 2017 I had the opportunity to serve in a way that truly blessed me.  Weekly it required me to give up family time, stay up late, and walk with group of leaders as they threw themselves into a spiritual growth crucible of sorts, it was an honor to be able to serve in this program.  And at the end of the program as I delivered a “Thank you” note to the program coordinators I was surprised to receive a gift in return.

I volunteered to serve, having expected nothing in return, but what I received was an extravagant gift.  A gift card in an amount that was so high that I didn’t even know what to spend it on!  Well, at least at the onset.  Eventually, I was able to fund some needs and some wants for the following several months, it seemed like the gift that kept on giving.

It was a Jesus kind of gift.

I find it interesting that if you look up the human definition of the word “give” you’ll find it references the action of transferring something to someone.  But if you look at how God defines the word “give” He references the action of transferring someone to something.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son…”

The world (the kosmos in Greek) is what God created – it’s the something.  His Son is what He gave – Jesus is the someone.

The wise men went looking for the someone – and show us how to respond in the best way we can as humans offering something…

Wise Men Seek the King

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east[a] and have come to worship Him.”[b]

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.[c]

Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”[d]

After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen in the east![e] It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him.[f] Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.  Matthew 2:1-12 HCSB

It says…

They were overjoyed, they humbled themselves in worship, they offered their treasures, and returned differently.

And this is what happens to each of us who recognize the gift of Jesus and receive Him into our lives; joy, surrender, worship, generosity, transformation.

Jesus is what we needed to be in a right relationship with God – to receive the gift of eternal life that God always intended for us.  But if you keep unwrapping Him, you’ll find He’s also the gift you want as He fulfills His mission in your life; “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10b HCSB.

He’s like that gift card I received; extravagantly meeting my needs and my wants.

Jesus is God’s extravagant gift of LOVE to you.

On Christmas morning please remember Jesus is with you, He is Emmanuel “God with Us” and He is the best gift under your tree.  Merry Christmas friend.

Further Reading and Reflection:

If you’d like to read through the entire Christmas Story read Luke 1:5-56   Matthew 1:18-25  Luke 2:1-40   Matthew 2:1-12

Reflect on all the someone’s who God used to deliver His gift to us; Mary, Joseph, the angles, the shepherds, the wise men, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Caesar Augustus, Simeon, Anna… how is God using you to deliver Jesus to world around you?

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed taking this Advent journey with you.  Here’s a Christmas gift and a BIG “Thank You” for the moments we’ve shared, I hope you enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Jesus… I’m so glad it’s Christmas… All the tinsel and lights… And the presents are nice, But the real gift is You

Happy Birthday, Jesus… I’m so glad it’s Christmas… All the carols and bells…Make the holiday swell, And it’s all about You

Happy Birthday, Jesus… Jesus I love you

Advent Week Four reminds us that God is LOVE.

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