Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Gift of God

The Gift of God

What is most important to you this Christmas? Special time with your family? Extra days away from work? The gifts you give? The gifts you receive? Doing for others? The parties you attend? The decorations, the food, the songs? Knowing that every good and perfect gift comes from Father God (see James 1:17), it is good to rejoice in the blessings He provides. Solomon acknowledged this truth as he struggled to make sense of life in this fallen and broken world. 
  • Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.

However, we must never forget what matters most. We must respect and obey God – to glorify Him is the primary purpose of our lives. One day we will all stand before Him and be judged according to how we have lived (because our lives reveal the truth about our relationship with Him). Solomon clearly understood the supreme importance of a reverent and reconciled relationship with God.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Which brings us right back to my original question, ‘What is most important to you this Christmas?’ Well, according to God’s Word, the eternal and absolutely truthful answer to this question is:

What is most important to you this Christmas is
what you have done with The Ultimate Gift of God!!

God has given us many gifts; but most importantly, He has provided a way for us to be in a reconciled relationship with Him for all eternity. Why does that matter? Because without reconciliation, we face judgement. Judgement for what? Judgement for sin (missing the mark and falling short of His righteous requirements and restrictions). God’s provision for reconciliation is His ultimate gift. And the Bible teaches that there is only one way that we can only be reconciled to Him – through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Christmas is the time of year that followers of Jesus celebrate Him coming to earth to die for our sins. He died to take the punishment for our sins so that, when we place our trust in who He is and what He has done for us, we can stand fully righteous before God. And, amazingly, the very faith it takes to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior is itself a gift from God!
  • Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Jesus, the human incarnation of God, spent the last three and a half years of His time on earth showing people who He was and telling them why He came. In one instance, He traveled out of His way specifically to meet with a woman from Samaria. In the course of their conversation, Jesus told the woman that His being there with her was a gift of God. But she saw Him only as a man.
  • John 4:10-11 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
Yet patiently and lovingly, Jesus continued the conversation. And when the woman mentioned Messiah (a very specific title in the Bible referring to the coming Savior King), Jesus revealed Himself to her!
  • John 4:25-26 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
This Samaritan woman came to saving faith in Jesus because He made Himself known to her. And now, perhaps for the first time, or maybe for the 5th, 10th, or 100th time, Jesus is making Himself known to you. Jesus wants you to be declared innocent when you stand before God to be judged. He wants you to spend eternity in heaven with God instead of eternity in hell separated from God.

The miracle of Christmas is that God came to earth as a man. This man, Jesus, lived a perfect life so that He could die as a sacrifice to make payment for the sin of all those who profess Him as Lord. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, do so now. Pray to Him. Admit that you are a sinner. Proclaim your faith in Him – that He is God, that He died for your sins, that He is the Lord of your life!! Accept the ultimate gift of God!

If you already follow Jesus, pray for those who don’t, that they will hear and heed the good news about Jesus.


Father, in Your perfect love, grace and mercy, draw the lost to salvation in Jesus. Thank You for the ultimate gift to this lost and dying world, Jesus. I pray these things in His precious and mighty name. Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Why Am I Surprised

Why Am I Surprised

For the past year or so I have been praying with increasing diligence (and sometimes desperation) about the worry and fear I deal with daily. For quite some time, for me and where I am in my walk with Christ, I consider my response to the difficulties and uncertainties in life that drive these feelings to be sinful. Why is that, because what I have discovered is:

I absolutely trust Jesus for my eternal salvation…

… but I am not trusting Him in my day to day life now.

The result of this realization is, that instead of trying to figure out what is wrong with the people and circumstances that trouble me, I am beginning to understand that I must determine what is wrong with me! I am asking, ‘What is the disconnect between my head knowledge about Jesus and my relationship with Him, and the negative feelings I often allow to dominate my consciousness?’

And then this week it hit me, I have been begging Him all year long to help me deal with the persistent sin in my life. Looking back over some of the confessional devotions I have written on this blog in 2018 (for example, see ‘Drastic Measures’ posted on January 27, 2018 and ‘Digging Deep; posted on October 7, 2018), I am wondering, why am I surprised at the difficulties I am facing? He is answering my prayers to get victory over the sins in my life by putting and/or allowing me to be in situations where I have to face them!

Even though God does work in the circumstances of our lives to bless us in very special ways, in His wisdom and love, rather than just eliminating our problems, He helps us to work through them. Although we may want a quick fix to our problems, He is interested in transforming our very nature. He wants us to be more like Jesus! He wants us to depend on Him. He wants us to trust Him! No matter the difficulties of today and struggles of tomorrow, when we keep an eternal perspective, we will see and experience the truths of God’s Word.
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Today, I still feel like I am drowning in my own personal ocean of worry and fear. But I know that I must trust Him in all things. I have seen a bright light on the horizon, a ray of hope that pierces the darkness and that can only be found in Christ Jesus! Here are some of the truths I am focusing on as He does His work in me.
  • Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
  • Mathew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.


Father, forgive me for not trusting You today, help me cling to you no matter what comes tomorrow, and fill me with the joy and peace that come’s with embracing your eternal promises. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.