Spiritual Christmas Gift List

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gift giving is a Christmas tradition ever since the Wise Men went bearing gifts to the baby Jesus.  While we’ll all continue to give these earthly presents, there’s an even more important blessing to give those in our world.

We also need to make a Spiritual Christmas Gift List. Who are the people that you need to show the love of Jesus to during this season? To help us get an idea of the kinds of people to put on our list, let’s look at the biblical account of Jesus’ birth. The Bible records God’s Christmas list.

These accounts show the various people who witnessed Jesus’ birth. We’ll see how God used ordinary and extraordinary people to share in the good news.

Mary and Joseph
Joseph was a carpenter and an upright man. When he learned of Mary’s pregnancy, maybe he thought of putting her away instead of dealing with public humiliation, but he listened to the angel and took Mary as his wife. He was a devout Jew who showed integrity and obedience to God’s direction.
Mary was a young teenager, an ordinary Jewish girl probably looking forward to marriage, when the angel Gabriel came to her. Mary was fearful and troubled in the presence of the angel and could not imagine that she would have a child, the Messiah. However, she responded to God with belief and obedience and kept a humble and quiet spirit.
Joseph and Mary were obedient followers of God and provided Jesus an earthly home. They were his earthly family. Who are the family members on your Christmas list? How can you show the love of Jesus to them?

Shepherds were busy in their fields tending their flock when a host of angels appeared to them. Eager to see the miracle the angels described, they left their fields and headed for Bethlehem. They searched everywhere in the village until they found Mary and Joseph. These laborers were obedient to their call. They represent the everyday workers, the people in our lives who work to make our lives easier. They may also reflect the people we work alongside every day.
Who are the everyday workers or co-workers you can “show” Jesus to?

Following the Jewish tradition, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple when he was 40 days old. A man of great holiness, Simeon, had been seeking the Messiah. God had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Savior. Simeon blessed the child and spoke of those who would someday speak out against Jesus and reject them. Then he forewarned Mary that a “sword would pierce her soul” one day. Simeon’s prophecy represents those who are seeking the truth.
Do you know someone who is seeking the truth but has not accepted the gift of Jesus? Has your soul been pierced with hurt for someone else’s salvation?

The prophetess Anna was a faithful elderly widow who never left the temple. She worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. At the temple the day Simeon blessed Jesus, Anna was full of thanksgiving and became the first witness to tell others about the child. She might be among the “invisible people” or the “forgotten ones” as she quietly worked in the temple.
Who are the people around you who would be considered “forgotten?” Do you need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to widow or orphans or the poor this year?

The Magi were men of power and influence in Jesus’ day and were instrumental in selecting Parthian Kings. They knew the Messiah was expected and connected the appearance of an unknown star with his birth. They followed the star to Bethlehem where they bowed down and worshiped the baby Jesus and gave him treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh.
Who are the key people of influence in your life? Are there leaders who need to feel the love of Jesus in a special way this year?

These witnesses remind us that God chose all kinds of people to be a part of the birth story. He chose family members, laborers, seekers, a widow of the forgotten class, and men of power to share the good news. Today he wants all of us to be a part of continuing to spread the gospel.

Let us pray that God will show us the individuals in our world who still need the gift of Jesus. Let’s add them to our spiritual Christmas List.

Every good and perfect gift is from above.               James 1:17

For Everything There Is a Season

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Bible tells us For everything there is a season and time for every purpose that we can imagine. How can we be prepared to face each season? How can we live faithfully in each season? How can we be strong in each season? Can we really reflect God’s Spirit in every season of our lives? Psalm 1: 1 & 2 tells us how we can be strong in each season.

But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Are we like the trees described in the Psalm? The Message says it this way - you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf,  always in blossom. I don’t know about you, but I would love to blossom in every season!

 Do we bear fruit in each season of our lives? This Psalm tells us that when we delight in God’s Word, thrill to hear it, and meditate on it, chew on it, we will be like trees planted along the riverbank. We will live fruitful lives.

First the Psalm tells us we will bear fruit in each season. That means we will have attitudes and behavior fitting a follower of Christ. We would show the fruit of God’s Spirit in all the seasons of our live. We would enjoy patience in time of suffering, faith during trials, joy in times of sorrow, love when others show hatred, peace in the midst of chaos, self-control when life is out of control, gentleness when someone is harsh, and kindness in times of strife.

Next the passage says, our leaves will never wither. The tree will consistently bear fruit because the leaves will be strong. When we consistently rely on what Scripture tells us to do, we will consistently be strong and bear fruit. Can you imagine a life that consistently reflects the fruit of his Spirit? love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all seasons of our lives.

And finally, the Psalm says we will prosper in all we do. We will abundantly bear fruit. Just as the life of the tree is dependent on a supply of water located right at the river’s edge, our spiritual life is dependent on the abundant supply of the Living Water. The more water a tree gets, the more abundant the fruit. The more we drink in God’s Living Water, the more abundant our lives will be. Can you imagine a life with an abundance of the fruit of God’s Spirit?

This passage tells us that by dwelling on God’s word and living faithfully according to it, we will bear fruit, bear it consistently, and bear it abundantly in all seasons.

Let’s focus for a few moments on a woman who was like a tree planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season: Mary, the mother of Jesus.

We know that Mary was brought up in a devout Jewish home, where she must have “found delight in the law of the Lord, meditated on it day and night.” Let’s see how living according to God’s word sustained Mary in all the seasons of her life. As you read below, look for the emotions Mary must have experienced in the seasons of her life and if these are the emotions you have experienced during your own seasons.

Mary was a young girl, who had recently become engaged to Joseph, a carpenter, when the angel Gabriel visited her.  Suddenly her life changed forever. God had a new plan and purpose for her life. He gave her a new season.

As she entered this new season, Scripture tells us she was fearful and troubled. She could never have expected to hear the most incredible news — that she would have a child, and her son would be the Messiah. Although she could not fathom how she would conceive the Savior, she responded to God with belief and obedience. She blossomed in this new season.

Even though the angel told Mary that she was highly favored by God and would be highly honored, Mary would first know disgrace as an unwed mother. Yet, in this season, she remained faithful. 
What comfort she experienced when she hurried to her relative Elizabeth, the only woman on earth who could share the feelings of being visited by an angel and becoming unexpectedly pregnant.
What joy she must have felt when the Christ-child was born!
What excitement when the shepherds and later the wise men came to worship Him
What uneasiness when Simeon prophesied that she would experience pain over her Son's rejection and resulting crucifixion.
What season of worry and anxiety she felt when Jesus ran away to the Temple at the age of 12.
What amazement she felt when she heard his understanding of the scriptures.
What mother’s pride she felt when he turned the water into wine at HER request at the wedding.
What pleasure she felt as she heard him preach and watched him minister to others.
What heart-wrenching grief as Mary watched her Son dying on the cross!
And what rejoicing she felt when He rose from the grave.

In our own seasons we experience highs and lows as Mary did. We too have great joys and intense sorrows. Mary was faithful to God in each season. She enjoyed fruit in each season, her leaves never withered, and she prospered in all she did.  Every season of her life served an eternal purpose. When we submit our lives to the Lord, when we meditate on his Word, when we live faithfully for him, every season of life can serve His eternal purposes as we bear fruit in each season, consistently bear fruit, and abundantly bear fruit.

Did Mary know what the seasons of life would bring her when she was visited by the angel? No, Mary did not know all that God had planned for her, but she had meditated on his Word and trusted him and he was faithful in all her seasons. He’ll be faithful in ours.

Leading Forward - by Templates para novo blogger