The Gift

8 12 2014

I have a December baby. He was born between Thanksgiving and Christmas, between gratitude and joy. We anxiously awaited his arrival, knowing that every year we would celebrate and remember the way his presence brightens and transforms our family.

All children are a gift. They teach us about trust, dependence, unconditional love, laughter, fearlessness, and grace. In their faces, we see a reflection of ourselves. In their actions, we are challenged to be better. In their faith, we are invited deeper into the Father’s presence.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;” – Isaiah 9:6a

Isaiah announces the greatest gift of all. Wrapped in the small bundle of a newborn, the Messiah enters the world as a gift given to us in love. His presence defies logic, stuns reason, and stretches the imagination. Never could we have dreamed that the Savior would need diaper changes, skin his knee, or cry to be held. Never could we have imagined that God in His might would humble Himself by entering our experience so completely. But that is the gift that we have in Jesus. He came to live in our world so that we might live with Him in heaven.

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate God’s greatest gift. Christmas is a gift-giving, gift-anticipating, gift-receiving season. Children bring sparkle and excitement to this time of year. They receive with open hands and open hearts. Their enthusiasm and delight teach me how to receive the heavenly gifts God pours into my life. Today, I am going to let every package, bow, roll of wrapping paper, and gift bag remind me of the gift God gave me in Jesus.


5 12 2014

What brings you joy? Don’t answer too quickly. Let the question settle in. Explore the landscape of your heart. Look back over the last few days. Close your eyes and let it wash over you. What brings you joy?

Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is good, but it is circumstantial. If things go our way, if everything works out, if something positive happens, we are happy. If our circumstances go awry, our level of happiness diminishes. Joy runs deeper. Joy isn’t grounded in circumstances, but in our connection to God. His presence in our lives is what fuels the joy that allows us to experience contentment, confidence, and peace in the midst of whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

As Isaiah announces the coming of the Messiah, he tells us that one of the primary signposts of His arrival will be an explosion of joy. Joy will fill the hearts of those who belong to Him, who follow Him, who open their hearts to His presence and power.

“You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.” – Isaiah 9:3 (The Message)

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace joy. Joy has to be chosen because living in His presence is always a choice. It is easy to be comfortable with happiness. Joy requires digging deeper, listening more closely, seeing with eyes alert to His presence, and developing a quiet trust in His goodness. Every time I see the word joy during this holiday season, I am going to remember that the true source of joy is found in the Savior who came to give Himself as a gift to the world.


3 12 2014

It is one of my favorite things to do during the month of December. I find a quiet spot, wrap myself in a soft quilt, turn out the lamps, and enjoy the glimmer of the lights on the Christmas tree. Sitting in their gentle glow, I find myself letting go of the stress of the day and absorbing the peace of the moment.

Light has a way of changing us. It illuminates, encourages, stimulates, heals, calms, and brightens. Physically, our bodies require light. People literally become ill when they are unable to absorb enough light. Spiritually, our souls hunger for light. Our spirits become withered and twisted when they reside too long in the darkness.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” – Isaiah 9:2

The prophet Isaiah points us to the Light that will forever change our hearts. The darkness of sin, shame, and guilt engulf us, overwhelming our courage and choking our hope. Jesus chose to walk into our darkness, bringing His light to shine in our souls. He clothed Himself in skin in order to show us the way back to the radiant glory of God. We were created to thrive in the light of His presence. He looked into our deep darkness, humbling Himself in order to bring us the light of heaven.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be deliberate about celebrating light. Every time I see Christmas lights I am going to remember the light of Jesus. I am going to take time to enjoy their beauty, celebrate their warmth, and remember the sacrifice Jesus made to bring His light into the world. Today I am going to stop, wrap myself in His love, and allow His light to pierce the darkness that grabs at my soul.


1 12 2014

It begins with a single tenor voice offering these words of hope. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” These are the opening words of one of the most well-known and frequently performed musical works in Western culture – George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Written in twenty-four days in the summer of 1741, Handel’s Messiah begins by sweeping through the Old Testament book of Isaiah as it shines a spotlight on the coming of a Savior who will redeem the world. It then moves through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, climaxing in the intensely moving Hallelujah Chorus, as the Christ’s triumph over sin and death are proclaimed to the world.

While originally written in three parts and intended to be a lesson on Christ and His redemption to be performed during Easter, Messiah has found a special place in the music of the Christmas season. The libretto, or text, of the oratorio was written by Charles Jennens, a devout Christian. Using the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, Jennens sought to use the words to introduce an increasingly secular world to Jesus. He brought his completed libretto to Handel, who was reduced to tears as he finished the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel told his assistant, “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”

That, of course, is the message of the Messiah. Not just Handel’s oratorio, but the message of God through His Messiah. He came so that we could see the very face of God, and enter into a heaven opened by His blood. He came with a purpose to offer comfort to all people. He came to reveal the love of God in a way never seen before. He came to push back the darkness, lighting the way into the Father’s presence for all who choose to name Him as Lord.

My Jesus Resolution today is to listen anew to the message of the Messiah. Our world desperately needs the message of hope and comfort offered by Jesus. I need it. I want to pay attention to the way the prophets urge me to watch with anticipation for His coming. I want to watch with wide-eyed wonder as the heavens open and God wraps Himself in human skin. I want to be broken and made new as the hallelujahs spill through heaven and earth at His triumph over my sin. I want to see the very face of God, and in Jesus, I can.