While walking the aisles of a home improvement store, I was miffed by the sight of a wreath emblazoned with two words: Happy Holidays. This frustrates me because it’s an impotent message that castrates Christmas of it’s substantial significance.
Christmas is not in need of some slick marketing campaign; it’s message might be centuries old, but it’s hardly antiquated.
The secularization of Christmas reminds me of the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!
The message of Christmas is filled with love and full of hope. God loved us so much that He gave us the gift of His son and as Phillips Brooks said in O Little Town of Bethlehem: The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
The hope of Christmas is not some neatly wrapped gift that is placed under a tree. It is the gift of Jesus—the baby of Bethlehem.
As the day of Christ’s birth draws closer, I encourage you to give some thought to these words of Peter: Prepare your minds for action, keep a clear head, and set your hope completely on the grace to be given you when Jesus, the Messiah, is revealed (I Peter 1:13).
While I was fishing a day or two ago, I startled a duck that was sleeping on a boat dock. I smiled at its awkward waddle as it hurried down the ramp and into the lake. I smiled again when I saw how fluid and graceful its movements became as soon as it entered the water.
God created waterfowl to be more at home on the water than on the land. Like that duck, we’re also the creation of God. Paul described God’s creative gifting in an interesting fashion. Depending on which translation you read, the believer is described in Ephesians 2:10 as God’s workmanship (NKJV), masterpiece (NLT), or handiwork (NIV).
In The Voice, it says, “we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.”
God created you to be you and to be a masterpiece of His creative endeavors. He has gifted you with the talents and abilities you need to accomplish His purpose.
When you live within the framework of His will, you are as graceful as a swan on a pristine pond of water; however, you’re as awkward and clumsy as a waddling duck when you reject the plans He has for you.
As Max Lucado said, “You are the only you God made… God made you and broke the mold.” So, thank God for the uniquely magnificent manner in which He designed you and then dedicate yourself to sharing your gifts with the body of Christ.
Many people, and especially the kids, are counting down the days to Christmas and know that it is just a couple of weeks away. A much smaller number of people are eagerly counting the days to another event that will happen eight weeks after Christmas.
In about 72 days, the umps will shout “Play Ball,” and baseball’s Spring Training will begin. Each of these talented players caught the eye of a scout because he was an All Star during his high school or college years. When he steps across the white chalk line to play America’s Game, he joins the best of the best and the cream of the crop on a finely manicured field of dreams.
Aren’t you thankful that God didn’t scout you and make you prove your worth before He chose you? He selected you just like He did the Hebrews:
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” ~Deuteronomy 7:7-9
Even though there’s nothing special about you, Moses says that God has chosen you and made you the special object of His love. If the two verses above were a book, the four chapter titles would be:
- The Lord Loves You
- God Keeps His promises
- You Can Be Redeemed From Whatever Enslaves You
- God Is Faithful and His Love Is Steadfast
He doesn’t love you because you are good, smart, pretty, wise or because you have great faith. God loves you because He is love; and, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (I John 4:10).”
The Navy’s unmanned X-47B is designed and produced by Northrop Grumman. In the photo to the left, it’s being refueled by an Omega K-707 tanker. The X-47B is an unmanned combat air vehicle designed for aircraft carrier-based operations. While it has great potential and can be very effective, it must rely on the presence of an aircraft carrier, and at times, a tanker for refueling.
When I saw this picture of the X-47B, I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus. He said that when the gifts of God are properly used they equip the saints for the work of ministry and build up the body of Christ.
There’s a complimentary relationship that exists between the X-47B and the Omega K-707 tanker. The K-707 provides the fuel that is necessary for the X-47B to perform its designed function, and the X-47B can provide protection for the K-707.
The same is true for the body of Christ: There is a complimentary relationship. As Paul says in I Corinthians 12, the hand needs the eye to see and the eye needs the hand to grasp and to hold what it sees.
How are you using your gifts and talents for the benefit of the church?
When David wrote Psalm 62, he was in a desperate situation. Men, who were full of evil, were scheming against David, and even threatening to kill him.
David did what he usually did when he found himself in dire straits, he looked to God for help. Psalm 62:7-8, gives you a glimpse into the mind of this troubled king, and reveals his concept of God:
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
Notice the first word in each of the last three lines:
- Trust: You are to trust God in the good times as well as the bad.
- Pour: Instead of trying to fight your battles by yourself, confide in God and pour your heart out to Him in prayer.
- God: To really comprehend this verse, you need to make four sentences out of it, and contemplate each one of them:
- God (Creator of Heaven and Earth)
- God is (Not was; He is a present tense God)
- God is a refuge (Fortress and place of safety)
- God is a refuge for us. The Creator of all is always present as a fortress to meet your personal needs)
Celebrate the goodness of God today and praise Him because He is your salvation and your glory; the rock of your strength, and He is your refuge.