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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 01/13/16

The Gift of Reflection

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STORY: After the Gifts are Unwrapped

What happens after Christmas is over? After all the families have returned to their homes. After the shoppers have shopped the After-Christmas sales. After standing in line to return unwanted gifts or exchange it for something that fits better. All the good cheer of the season slowly runs out and people’s true colors start to show through the facade.

What was it like after Christmas for Mary and Joseph? They embraced the very Jesus predicted by an angel of the Lord. Their hope was now reality. He looked like a normal baby but He was the very image of God in the flesh! After Christmas, they had plenty of time to enjoy their Christmas gift, and to reflect on what God was doing in their lives.

I hope, this month after Christmas, you will reflect on the gifts that weren’t under the Christmas tree. God has gifted each of us. Our gifts may not be as obvious as Mary’s gift. When we focus on the fact that all good gifts come from above we’re also challenged to use those gifts as God intended. 

Let’s take time as we start 2016 to reflect on what God is doing in our lives. What does He desire? Are we a conduit of His will, being used as He intended, to allow Him to flow through us? Or are we in the way of His will, interrupting His intentions by doing our own thing?

What if Mary had decided she did not want to carry the child of God? What if Joseph decided to make a public scene to disgrace her, so she might be stoned? What would have happened to the Christ child God designed to be His gift to the world? We owe a debt of gratitude to Mary and Joseph for doing the right thing. The best way to repay that debt is in kind. Like Mary and Joseph, let’s surrender to God’s desires for our lives.

This is the last article in my series on gifts. As we wrap it up, I want us to think of a different kind of presents that excites me the most. It is spelled p-r-e-s-e-n-c-e. The best gift of all is one each of us can receive. When we come to Christ, just as we are, and accept Him as our Savior, His presence lives in us forever. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord came upon the Israelites when He deemed best. But His presence was temporary. Now that Christ has come and gone back to Heaven after the cross, He sent the Holy Spirit so when we accept His free gift of salvation, we have His Spirit in us permanently.

While you’re reflecting on the past year and determining your course of action for this New Year, remember God’s gift to you and also His gifts inside of you. As you’re paying off your Christmas credit card bills, don’t forget about the gift that Jesus bought for each of us. He didn’t pay for it with a credit card, but willingly sacrificed His perfect life. He paid our sin debt for us. Think about what special something you can offer Jesus as you dive into this New Year—something sacrificial like time or talents or treasures.

And most of all, don’t forget to savor His P-R-E-S-E-N-C-E.

STUDY: One Thing

Often it helps to have a singular focus in order to effectively move forward. 

Looking Forward
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)

• How will forgetting the past help you look forward and press on?

• What is your motivation for pressing on?

Soaking up Jesus
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 NLT)

• What was Martha busy doing? Notice this passage said Martha was distracted by all the details.

• Do you tend to be more of a Martha or a Mary?

• What is the one thing that Mary discovered?

 

STEPS: 5 Ways to Ignore the Distractions

1. Forget the past. What do you need to let go of so you can press forward without hindrance?

2. Look forward. What are you looking forward to in 2016?

3. Press on. What is one thing you can do to keep at it when you’d rather give up?

4. Let go of the drama. What are you worried and upset about right now? How can you let go of it?

5. Sit at the feet of Jesus. Take time to listen to His teachings and block out all the fuss around you, with a singular focus to concentrate on Him alone.

 

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