My pastor shared an interesting twist on the idea of exchanging gifts this last Sabbath. Based on Matthew 2:11 the Magi, short for magicians, presented Jesus their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The entire saga of their discovering the star and presenting their gifts to Jesus was God’s plan to provide care for Jesus as the young family traveled to Egypt and raised their child. The idea of exchanging gifts at Christmas time arose from this story of the Magi bringing gifts to Jesus. But the exchanging of gifts that we do today is somewhat different from what happened that day in Bethlehem. Instead of giving gifts to Jesus we gift each other. While giving gifts to others is a wonderful Christian tradition it is a slight misapplication of what actually happened. It would seem that if we were to use this event to establish some tradition we would be careful to stick a little closer to the story line. If the Magi brought gifts to Jesus maybe we should too!
As you open presents this year and enjoy the festivity and time with family and friends, be sure to reflect on the Christ of Christmas. Consider how well you are honoring Him with your life and relationships. Consider what gift you may have to offer Him this year.
Merry Christmas to You and Your Family!
It really takes a lot of distraction to avoid making positive changes in your life. God will trouble the water. He will take away your peace and generally make you feel uneasy. However, you can talk yourself out of making the positive changes He is urging. You can distract yourself with this and that. If you are not careful you will miss your opportunity to change and experience the joy of making positive leaps in your life. You will be stuck in the rut you so wish you were not in. You will be full of regrets.
Do you lack confidence in yourself? Have you been reluctant to step outside of your comfort zone and deal with some of the issues facing you? If you are going to build your self-confidence you are going to have to make some tough decisions. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis running it over and over in your brain. Trust that God is leading you and take a leap of faith.
How to know God is leading you?
Well for one you need to have a good idea of God’s standards and expectations. He has written his laws in our hearts so we have some strong clues about what is right and what is wrong. However, to really understand God’s will you must become a student of His Word the Holy Bible. A large percentage of time the decisions we have to make have already been covered in the Bible. So if one of your options is contrary to what God has revealed in His Word then you can be sure He is not leading you.
The second way to know if God is leading you is to observe what doors have closed and what doors have opened. God will reveal himself in providence. Those occurrences that you can’t attribute to any other source than Him. I was teaching in group this evening and He led me to a text that was perfect for the discussion. It was not a scripture on the top of my mind. He set it right in front of me. God will make his way plain before you. If you are not so busy trying to have things your way you will be able to see and hear him. If you close your mouth, open your eyes and your ears you will begin seeing God provide for you. He will give you plenty of evidence to make a good decision.
A third way to know when God is leading is evaluating the peace you have with the options before you. God will trouble your spirit when you are headed in the wrong direction. You can either try to ignore these promptings of God’s Spirit or learn to quickly submit. Down deep in my gut I can sense when I’m headed in the wrong direction. God troubles my spirit when I’m tempted to do wrong. It won’t go away. It is like God continues to knock on the door in the wee hours of the morning refusing to allow me to drown out his voice. I don’t like to feel that uneasy feeling so I’ve always sought to move toward God rather than away from Him.
Another way of knowing when God is leading is to note the obstacles that suddenly present themselves when you are deciding to move toward God. The devil shows up to discourage you. This is a clear sign you are headed in the right direction. Just when you plan to leave that job your car breaks down. You might be tempted to get discouraged and stay at the job to pay for the car. But if God told you to make a move then you are being disobedient. Don’t allow the difficulties Satan throws your way thwart you from stepping out in faith and moving toward God. Let those challenges be affirmations that God is with you.
A final way of knowing if God is leading is to evaluate your level of peace after you made the decision. If you made the decision and you are still troubled then you probably made the wrong decision. Even if the decision creates a storm it can bring you peace when you know it was indeed the way God was leading. In fact if you have decided to move toward God you will know that you had no other choice than to make that decision.
Women’s Recovery Conference
Don’t forget the upcoming conference on the first Tuesday at 6:10 PM. If you are ready to address some unresolved emotional issues in your life I encourage you to sign up. Sign up and you will receive all information about time, location and fees.
Sign Up Here
In our secular make up your own rules society many who were brought up in church find themselves straying away in favor of a life unbound by church attendance. Church time is replaced with recreation and relaxation. Time is spent going fishing or going to the race track. Who needs church anymore? Well I find it amazing how people suddenly find their spiritual roots when trouble comes their way. When all is well who needs the Lord? But when hard times hit everybody needs Jesus. Well the wonderful thing about Jesus is that he isn’t so mad at us when we come running back at him that he turns his back on us. He simply asks “what took you so long”.
Here’s the question I want you to ponder. Is church going to hurt you? Sure there are a bunch of crazies out there. But by in large Christians and other religious traditions reinforce the importance of keeping love in your heart. Love for God and love for man. I think more marriages could use a little more love. What about you?
Get back into Church! It will be good for you. And your marriage.