Receive the Gift

GiftIt was ready. Long before I toyed with agnosticism at age 10. Long before I ever chose my adult value system and methodical reasoning as substitutes for seeking, exploring and following singularly triune Truth.

Long before I was lovingly anticipated or lovingly welcomed into the world, and long before I had ever disappointed, hurt or angered anyone, the gift was already ready.

And long before I had a name, my name was already on it.

It was my salvation, prepared long before I entered the world. My salvation came with redemption, justification and sanctification.

Salvation meant I would be freed from ties to sin; I would not be sin’s servant. Redemption meant sin would not own me because of my debts, my transgressions, because those were now paid off and forgiven. The wages of sin – death – would be replaced by an inheritance, as a new child of God. And my value, set by God treasuring me, could not be reduced.

Justification meant that long before God’s enduring law had defined what I lacked, God was ready to share his holiness with me. Sanctification meant that sharing God’s holiness would immediately and ultimately redefine me.

All these riches, gifted to me in Jesus’ name, were prepared long before I ever existed. Long before I knew my need, and long before I was ready to receive them.

All these riches are labeled by multisyllabic words. They only begin to define God in the human mind. When all is said and done, we must know for ourselves that God is love. And that He loves passionately and compassionately – long before we ever choose to love Him.

If you have yet to receive them, receive them today. By faith, turn from sin and all its shortages to receive your God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

If you received these gifts long ago, invest them today. Recall that they were never meant to nestle back in tissue paper, and that the lid will not set back in place. Because these gifts were never meant for storage out of sight, out of mind.

Our actions and words will reflect God’s ways, while presenting a reminder that God’s ways are not our own – or they will be unproductive, bearing little fruit. We can choose day by day to invest and be further enriched by our gifts, or let distraction and discouragement stash them aside.

You are part of your Father’s business. You – and those you either pass or do business with – are your Father’s business. When you were commissioned to the work of sharing Jesus and His gospel with the world, you became His empowered hands and feet in the world. With each day, your face continues to take on resemblance to Him, and so you represent Him where you go.

Receive God’s immeasurable gifts. Invest them to His glory.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Let us rejoice in God who delights in us.

The candles wait to be lit.

An Advent wreath sits on display in our living room all year long. I bought the candles 25 years ago this Christmas, and they’re still in use.

More often than not, it’s the middle of this season when I remember that it’s time. Time to make time, together, to read a few verses, sometimes sing a song. To light a candle and see it shine.

Venite, venite. That’s Latin for “O come ye.” No, I never studied Latin, but I sang choir in middle school, and our teacher – my mom – taught us things like that. We’d sing “venite adoremus”  and then interpret it, singing “O come let us adore Him.” The translation would be veni, veni for the song our family sometimes sings for Advent: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Translated from Hebrew, Emmanuel is “God with us.”

Veni, veni Emmanuel.

If you’ve invited God into your life … do you trust Him to actually show up?

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Once He does, will He be welcome to move in? Each time a family friend or relative has come to stay at our house, there’s been only so much room that we found for their things, as we edged around our own clutter. Our interests furnish and yet disorder our lives, and our concerns add to the disarray.

Even if you deem the items and affairs of your life as attractively organized – when Jesus comes knocking, ready to redeem your life, you might still have to consider whether you’ve really made any room for him to even get inn.

His taste might not match your signature style. He might want to redecorate.

What if there were parts of your life that He was ready to tear down, to renovate and build something stronger, and more beautiful? What if – instead of remaining a creature of habit — you were to be rebuilt to His code and to his taste?

Yeah, that’s a lot. But then again, at some point you’d have to ask … whose house is it?

Venite, venite. O come, let us adore Him.

God will show up. And He will edify you. He builds on a grand scale in the life of each believer, replacing a spirit of fear with a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind. The one whom God loves is set free from condemnation by a true Judge, and defended by the Almighty. Is cared for faithfully and prospered by the presence of the God who delights in His people. Is guided by God’s omnipresent wisdom.

As we come to know God, we come to know Him as the God who is with us. Exult in knowing Him.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.   Psalm 34:2

And exalt time spent with Him.

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.  1 Chronicles 16:10  (See also Jeremiah 9:24, 1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalm 105:3; 1 Corinthians 1:31; and 2 Corinthians 10:17.)

Rejoice at His advent in your circumstances, and the epiphany of His place in your life and the lives of those you love.

Light the candles.

Advent 2014a