Sunday, December 28, 2014

He Doesn’t Return Gifts

Have you ever received a gift you considered invaluable; one so special that it will forever be a part of your life? I was fortunate enough to receive one of those from my granddaughter Kaylin, on Christmas Day. I have included a picture so you can see for yourself; when you see it and read the inscription I think you will agree.

What makes a gift like this so precious? First it’s original. That means it’s an item that cannot be purchased in any store. But most of all its priceless because it is given by someone you know loves you.  I wish all gifts could fit into that category. However, we know that’s just not the case. For this reason people will stand in long lines during the next few days for the purpose of returning a gift they were given during Christmas.  Their reasons will vary: it doesn’t fit, it’s the wrong color, it’s a duplicate of what they already have, or it’s of no use.  In the scope of humanity this can be disappointing at times but it’s really not a big deal.  On the other hand, when we consider the spiritual it’s another matter altogether.  What if God returned that which He unwrapped ? Quite frankly, all of the things we give Him might be considered menial. Yet, He unwraps us in our sinful state smiles and says, “This is a keeper;” a message Christ was trying to convey when He stated, “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  It’s important my granddaughter knows I will never have any desire to return her gift. It’s something I will cherish as long as I live.  More importantly, God wants us to know how much He cherishes us--He doesn’t return gifts!  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

He Came Wrapped

A few days ago Phyllis asked me to get some wrapping paper out of an upstairs storage area. As I was headed for the stairs she said, “Get the paper for kids.”  Once I entered the room and looked in a box there lay several rolls of partially used paper. I dug around until I found the kid friendly one and brought it back downstairs—mission accomplished. We men could care less, but all women know that presents must be wrapped appropriately because presentation is part of the beauty of the gift. That’s why they choose the right print, color and bow or else gifts are not suitable for giving. This makes me think of the wrapping that was chosen for Jesus when He entered earth. When we look into the stable and our eyes get their first glimpse into the life of the Savior, we find that God the Father, and Mary His mother were very meticulous in how the gift was wrapped. Luke  says the little Jewish girl “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger. There He is in a barn lying in a makeshift crib wrapped in pieces of cloth.  He wasn’t born in a palace although He was the God of the universe.  He wasn’t even born in a nice hotel or in a hospital.  He was born in a barn.  Do you know what a manger is?  A manger is a feed box for cattle where they put wheat and oats and stuff.  It’s not exactly a real clean place to leave an infant, a newly born baby.  Yet that’s where God was born. Jesus could have wrapped himself in a mind-boggling show of power, lighting up the sky with celestial glory. Instead He came in humility, in the likeness of men. Paul describes His birth in this fashion “Christ gave up His place as God and made Himself nothing.  He was born to be a man and became like a servant. He came wrapped in humanity so we could know him, so he could know us, so everyone could know the beauty of the gift.  So as you unwrap your presents this Christmas be sure you spend time getting to know the one who came to earth and is the focus of the season; He was wrapped just for you!  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping U in Emmanuel

My daughter called this past week to tell me about a discussion she had with her twelve year old daughter. She has been working on several Christmas projects for people.  She had a board laying to the side with letters painted on it and Addison asked her, “Mom who is Emma-noel?”  My daughter not understanding asked, “What?” Addison asked again “who is Emma-noel?” Still confused, Stacy answered, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”  Addison then responded, “You have their name written on the board.”  Stacy laughed and said, “That is Emmanuel, the name for Jesus.  Although confused, I have to say in my granddaughter’s defense that the spelling of the word as it appeared on the sign did look more like “noel” instead of “nuel.” When you think about it there are multitudes that go through Christmas, shopping, celebrating, and singing who know very little about the one whose birth led to the creation of the season. However, if one really wants to experience the full thrust of what it’s all about they will need to know Christ and be a part of His life. Normally we hear people say that we need to allow Jesus to be a part of our lives. While this is true the opposite of that statement holds truth also. We need to let ourselves be a part of His life.  This means we continue to engage Him at the manger the cross, the tomb, the throne, but most of all in our daily living; by doing so we keep the “U” in Emmanuel.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Are You a Worrier?

Jesus in Matthew chapter 6, talks a lot about “taking thought” or “worrying” about your life. He ends his teaching with these words: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” What is He saying here? He is not warning us against taking life seriously, having a thought-out life or looking ahead.  All of us should do that. He is really saying don’t allow the stress of tomorrow to rob you of your joy today. None of us were born with worry. It is an acquired trait we learn to do. This means whether you worry or not depends not upon your situation but upon you.  Whenever you are robbed of your peace and joy by worry it is always an inside job. In reality, all of us have the potential to worry. People of all classes do it: the ignorant, the educated, old folks, young folks, the irreligious and the religious. But I have found that there are two occasions in which we should never worry. First we should not worry about those things that we cannot help. We face a lot of situations we simply cannot avoid or control. Second, we should not worry about those things we can help. However you might be like the person that said, “I am going to stop worrying just as soon as I find the ideal situation.” This remedy will not work for three reasons: First, there is no ideal situation. Second, if there was an ideal situation the chances are that we would not get into it. Third, if there was an ideal situation and you and I were so fortunate to get into it, the first thing we would do is mess it up. So how do we deal with worry? You could try what one man suggested. Get a worry time such as Thursday at 5:00 p.m. and put all your worrying off until then. Get a worry room because you don’t want to do it all over the house. Get a worry chair; you certainly want to be comfortable. Finally, get a worry list so when anything comes up you can write it down and say I’ll worry about this on Thursday. The truth of the matter is if you did utilize this silly exercise you would find out that most of the list if not all would already be taken care of by the time your worry day arrived. Studies have proven that 75 to 90 percent of the problems we worry about are not legitimate concerns or never take place. That’s most likely why the humorist, Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of problems in my life, most which never happened.” What was the prescription Jesus suggested we use to replace worry? “Seek the kingdom; focus on the King; realize that He knows all, sees all, and provides all. When we do this our lives will be so full of faith, there will be no room for worry.