Christmas is a time of magic and newness for our little ones, but it can be a season of reflection, loss, and even loneliness for the rest of us.
While we are encouraged to remember the miracle of Jesus, our flesh can leave us feeling like we couldn’t afford enough presents or maybe even BE enough for our family.
So, I want to ask you a personal question.
Do you see yourself as a fixer-upper?
Sometimes when looking at the baby born in a manger, we think He came to find fixer-uppers, you and me.
You have to understand God is not a fixer-upper; He is a creator!
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
That’s a kairos creation meaning “totally different.” It means fresh, new, unused, and novel.
kainós – new in quality (innovation), fresh in development or opportunity – because “not found exactly like this before.”
He did not fix you by replacing a couple of things here and there. No, He made you totally new.
The way you see things is new!
The way you love is new!
The way you think is new!
The way you walk is new!
The way you talk is new!
The old ways are buried and dead!
When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, we enter His kingdom, allowing His kingdom to grow in us as a seed does toward harvest. Then God starts to change us into His image through His Spirit, which now lives inside us.
When God looks at you, He sees His Son’s image now, pure and righteous.
Christmas is just six days away, and I think it’s important we talk about Mary.
As we age, every generation has something to say about the generation that comes after. I’m sure you can think of the many positive or negative assumptions about Millenials or Gen Z… but have you considered that God trusted the world’s salvation to a teenager! Mary was only around sixteen years old. This thought explodes in my mind!
Mary’s name comes from the root, Miriam. And can you guess what Miriam means? Miriam means bitter water.
I cannot help but think of why someone would name their kid after a word that means bitter water! Most of us grow into our names as our parents shape us. Maybe Miriam was strong-willed? And maybe, just perhaps, what the world saw as a weakness, God saw as her strength.
These are a lot of assumptions, but we do know for a fact that from the day she began the story of the birth of Jesus till the day she died, she never changed her testimony. And that is a strong-willed woman! And thank God!
Take a moment to reflect on Mary’s life. First, being a young girl living in ancient times, confessing to the world, “I did not know a man. I was a virgin.” There would have to be strength, backbone, and boldness inside her to proclaim such a thing in her time.
Understand, like Mary, God has given you a testimony of what Jesus Christ’s life has done for your life. Begin to proclaim this testimony with a stubbornness, not obstinate, not hostile, but with a stubborn boldness.
Maybe you have the faith and boldness of a strong-willed sixteen-year-old girl!
This week be faithful to share the testimony that Jesus is alive and well!
A lost principle in today’s world is the ability to wait.
We don’t like to wait. Anxiety and desire to have what we want or need immediately have pulled us away from the reward and benefits of patience.
Many verses in the bible encourage us to wait patiently and faithfully for God.
Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (ESV)
Through the waiting period, we gain patients, strength, trust, character, and God’s will for our life.
Why wait? Because God’s best for you is on the other side.
In times of waiting, David’s responses were always remarkable to me. In moments where he could have been discouraged, he always turned the situation around by proclaiming God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Waiting requires us to get rid of our understanding and wholeheartedly rely on God.
It teaches us to grip onto God’s promises and not let go until they are fulfilled in our lives.
We must take up the same response and action as David.
1. Remember who God is.
2. Praise Him accordingly.
We just finished talking about the love of the Father because it is critical in our lives. His love is always available to us, but we must experience and grip it for ourselves.
This continuation and remembrance of God’s love got David through waiting and challenging periods of life.
God’s love is patient, and it is what helps us to respond patiently with Him and even to other people.
Sometimes God will tell us “no.” That “no” isn’t a bad thing, although we may not understand why. In that time, we have to choose to wait patiently and faithfully to see the reward.
His “nos” lead to His divine “yes.” And those “nos” only bring us to what’s better and best for us.
Whether it’s no or yes, it’s for your best!
Psalm 33:20-22 says, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help, and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (ESV)
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)
Have you ever been told “I love you” after doing something for somebody?
I realized that it was not necessarily me that they loved but what I could do for them.
That love they had for me at that moment was transactional.
I’m not saying that person didn’t have a genuine love for me. But, at that moment, the motive behind their “I love you” was based on my actions for them.
God’s love is the opposite. It is never transactional and always unconditional.
God’s love has zero strings attached.
Unconditional love is difficult to receive and hard to show to others, especially when they give you reasons not to love them.
It’s easy to lose sight that God loves us before we can ever do anything for Him.
We naturally base our love for others on who the person is, whether we know them or not, or their positions.
It’s easier to love a family member than a stranger or co-worker.
But God loves us all the same; it’s not based on who we are.
His love is supernatural.
Luke 6:32,35-36 tells us, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
God has called us to a deep love that is beyond the natural.
To love like Christ, we must be kind, patient, merciful, and giving, even when it is not deserved. Remember, there are no strings attached when you love like Christ.
Today, first recognized the unconditional love God has for you.
Secondly, begin to show it to everyone you encounter.
Thanksgiving is now only three days away; can you believe it?
I want to start by asking you a question. What is the root of your thankfulness – is it your family, financial security, a good job, or the small good things that happen in a day?
I love the journey from Thanksgiving to Christmas; it’s a great time to evaluate what’s on my heart – and why. Although that journey seems to be going quickly this year, it’s already snowing here in Oklahoma!
About 54 years ago, I gave my life to Christ and surrendered to the call of God on my life. As I take the time to reflect on those years, I can’t help but be thankful to God.
He’s the reason I am where I am!
So, the thankfulness that fills my heart this season, especially, comes from that day. All good things come from God, which began at that moment for me.
God is the center of my thankfulness.
When you make God the center of your thankfulness, no matter your current circumstances, you can’t help but give thanks!
Paul faced persecution, loss, and imprisonment but somehow let thankfulness and praise rise out of his heart.
Has this year been challenging? Are you not looking forward to the holidays this year? Or are you feeling blessed and excited?
No matter how you are feeling, I want to challenge you.
From now until Thanksgiving, write down why you are thankful.
You might have to dig deep and remember the anchor moments when God came through.
If it comes easily, I still want you to dig deep and remember why your success is possible.
This challenge is to help you look past the fog that might be blocking your vision from seeing the goodness of God.
I find that hard times are the moments to reflect on the goodness of God and give thanks. And happy times are an opportunity to anchor yourself when it’s easy to listen to the flesh.
I want to help you start that list with three things that are the root of my thankfulness.
1. Belonging – You and I belong to the Father and His family. You are never alone. When the circumstance might yell that you are, the Father is right there with you. 2. Belief – All things are possible to those who believe. The day I surrendered my life was a forever anchor moment for me. 3. Becoming – Every day, you and I are becoming more and more like Christ.
I pray that as you take the time to reflect, you’ll begin to see God’s goodness still following you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Colossians 1:11-12 “Always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light.”