Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December. That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas. The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions. It goes like this, “So what did you get me?” Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue. Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two well
–adults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the
casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord. I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .
“So what did you get me?”
I paused and listened to the voice –– but it wasn’t that of my husband. It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus! As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?”
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was –– had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday? If I hadn’t, why not? And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly.
What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.” I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me
. All of me in fact.
No need to spend time trying to figure out
the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!” To
surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me.
Funny –– several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?
Emmanuel. God with us. That is usually the name of God I ponder most over the Christmas season. But this morning I woke with another one of my Savior’s name on my heart. Jehovah – Rapha, the God who heals.
I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself, that I have missed church for three of the last four weeks due to this lingering bronchitis and sinusitis. And now for Christmas Eve, when we usually attend one service at our church and one with my sister and her family at their church, I am not going to any. And to top it all off, this may be the last Christmas we celebrate in the north.
Then the truth hit me. Emmanuel is still here with me, even as I cough, sneeze and sniffle. And this God with me is also the One who is healing my body, and truly providing the breath in my lungs when they are hard to come by. I can worship and celebrate Him in my home, yet still join in the chorus of those around the world celebrating Jesus’ birth.
Even better than that great truth is that Emmanuel is not only healing my body, but more importantly He has healed my soul and heart. In fact, that’s the whole reason He came as a baby – so He could model how to live in communion with our Father, and show us what obedience means – giving up His very own sinless life on a cross to pay the penalty my sin deserved. And He did that for you too!
Does it sound like I am crazy to say my God is with me and heals me even though He died? Not at all, because death did not have victory over Jesus. Instead, He rose from the dead and now His Spirit is alive and at work.
So here I sit with my hot tea, tissue box, blanket and Christmas music directing my heart and thanks Heavenward. How about you? What name of God are you pondering? If you want to know more about this inner healing Jehovah Rapha brings, or the companionship of Emmanuel just ask, I’d love to tell you more.
Happy Birthday Jesus and Merry Christmas dear readers.
This month I have been following the “Write His Word” for my devotions each day. This allows for a small passage (4-5 verses) of the Christmas story to be copied by my own hand. In doing so, I have had some fresh perspectives on the Story. In another post I’ll share some thoughts on Mary’s Magnificat, but for today the Shepherds have my attention.
At our Christmas Eve service our pastor reminded us that the Shepherds were the ‘low life” of the society. They were in the field all day tending to dirty, smelly and dumb sheep They weren’t the kind of people who were first on anyone’s guest list.
But still, even knowing that, I want to be like the Shepherds. Here’s why:
- They were first responders, but not to an emergency or crisis. In fact, before they even responded, they were one of the first to hear from the Angel the announcement of the good news of Jesus’ birth. Once the angel assured them they need not be frightened these people, who were considered simple and low class, hurried to see what the angel told them. It’s interesting that they didn’t wait for verification, or even to hear that those considered more socially acceptable followed. They heard the good news, didn’t doubt (at least from what we have to read) and they responded. I love this. I want to be so quick to respond to God’s messages to me. I also find joy because I’ve seen this same response in my friends who have cognitive impairments are by some are considered “no-ones” in society.
- When they arrived at the scene and saw it was all true they “told everyone what happened and what the angel said to them about this child. ” (Luke 2:17) EVERYONE – not just other shepherds who likely would listen to a peer, but it sounds to me like they spread the good news to everyone they encountered. Lord, may I follow their example!
- We’re told that Mary treasured and pondered all she had heard. How delightful it must have been for Mary to receive confirmation that these Shepherds were reinforcing what she herself heard from Gabriel.
- After a personal encounter with Jesus they went back to work – they returned to the flocks. But they did not go back the same way they came; I am not talking about routes, but rather their heart attitude and response. Luke 2:20 tells us that they returned glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard. Worship of the baby, the Savior, the King changes us. While worship is a round the clock activity of a believer, the times we set apart for worship lead us back to our daily activities with a renewed sense of God’s glory and presence.
I am not really in the market to start working the fields and tend sheep, but I will be happy to emulate these shepherds. It’s still true – a personal encounter with Jesus changes live today!