There’s something magical about Christmas morning! As a girl, the bottom of our tree was pretty bare Christmas Eve. We’d set out cookies and milk for Santa, along with a clean towel so he could wipe his hands of all the soot in the fireplace, and then we’d head to bed. Like most kids, I could barely sleep for the anticipation of waking up to all the presents under the tree! Even now my kids who are 28, 23, 19 and 15 don’t want me to set out a single gift from us until late Christmas Eve, after they’ve gone to their rooms for the night. They, too, love waking up to a tree transformed by gifts.
The gifts we’re digging for aren’t going to transform our tree, though; they’ll transform us. And God’s word will keep transforming us as we study it, unwrap it and make its truths our own through belief. Unlike Christmas morning, which ends as the finite number of presents dwindle to the very last one, God’s word NEVER stops giving or producing His work in us. It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving!
God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ – the very reason for Christmas – is both a single divine transaction by which we are forgiven of our sins, made righteous by the righteousness of Jesus and eternally sealed with God’s Holy Spirit. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, never to be erased. It is a final transaction, like adoption: we become children of God and heirs with Jesus Christ of all heavenly blessing! But salvation is also an ongoing gift to the saving of our souls, by which the Father continually saves our minds, wills, emotions and conscience, making us more like Jesus as we submit by His influence and power to His word, His will and His ways.
Jesus isn’t just for Christmas, He’s for every moment of every day of our lives, and we can unwrap the gift of His word any day, any time, endlessly.
Let’s start digging under our tree for more gifts in Luke 1:5-25. Each specific scripture we “pull out” from this passage has a truth for us and a question we can ask ourselves to receive it and make it our own. There are nine gifts in this passage, so we’ll take them in groups of three. Spread it out a bit. Make it last!
Gift One – “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years” (verses 6-7).
TRUTH: Even when we’re doing everything right – everything the Lord asks of us, He still may not be answering us in our timing or in our way.
Do you ever feel like this? Or do you know someone going through something like this – they’re doing everything right and nothing is happening? Are you struggling to understand how it can be? Isn’t obedience linked to blessing: if we obey we get the blessing?
Yes, scripture is full of “if you…then I…” promises from the Lord. The thing is, we don’t get to define the blessing! We may think blessing equals a certain thing, so we obey, but when we don’t get the blessing we’ve assigned to that obedience, we are disappointed and don’t understand.
God’s blessing is always bringing forth Christ and His kingdom purposes in and/or through us – it’s the good He’s continually working in us! It may not look the way we think it should, but it will always be just as He in His sovereignty deems it.
QUESTION: If God doesn’t give me what I’m asking, will I trust, love, believe and serve Him anyway?
Gift Two – “So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord” (verses 8-9).
TRUTH: We are to be about what we’re supposed to be about; many times, that’s when we receive what we’re asking.
Ever been praying for something – asking and waiting, wondering if it’s ever going to happen? Maybe you’re there right now. Maybe you want to have a baby and it’s not happening. Maybe you want God to save your husband or a wayward, struggling child and it’s not happening. Maybe you want God to save your marriage, and it’s not happening. Maybe you need a job or want a new job and it’s not happening.
There are so many things we are asking of God and waiting for Him to answer; what are we doing in the meantime? Are we about God’s business, doing what He’s already told us to do? As I saw on social media recently, are we waiting to hear His voice when He’s already spoken through a verse? In these waiting times, the what to do is what God’s already told us to do. That’s what Zacharias is doing.
Right now, I desperately want answers from God on what to do next in several areas of my life, and it’s not happening. I really want to decide based on my flesh and my own understanding, but God’s not letting me. I’m in a time of waiting on Him, and He’s gently nudging me daily to do what His word already instructs me to do while I wait for further specific direction from Him.
QUESTION: What am I doing while I wait on God?
Gift Three – “And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias…’” (verses 12-13a).
TRUTH: Fear is a natural response when we encounter or hear from God, but there is nothing to fear of the word of the Lord.
Throughout scripture, when God’s people encounter the Lord or the angel of the Lord, there is fear! When He speaks His will in all its human impossibility, God’s people just can’t see how it can be, and there’s fear. We can take comfort in knowing fear is normal, but it’s not necessary! It’s what we do with the fear that determines whether our response is full of faith or sin: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
When the Lord tells me to take a step of faith in my writing or speaking and my immediate reaction is fear, I have a choice to make: will I capture those fearful thoughts and make them obedient Christ and the truth of His revealed word, or will I entertain the fear and choose disobedience because I can’t see how what He’s asking is possible? My eyes either will be set on me, my flaws and my circumstances or the greatness of my God.
I love the saying, “When fear knocked, faith answered and there was noone there.” There is nothing to fear of the word of the Lord! If He instructs us, if He calls us, if He asks us to do the impossible, He will empower and equip us. How will we answer Him?
QUESTION: When the Lord speaks to me, will I answer in fear or faith?
That’s a wrap for today (no pun intended…LOL!). Come back tomorrow to unwrap some more presents! Or if you want them to show up in your inbox, just subscribe here and tomorrow’s gifts will be delivered to your “front door.” Just enter your email up at the top right of this page where it says “Sign Up!” For this series, you may receive an email every day, but after this series closes with Christmas, you’ll only receive one email a week (and only when there’s something new to share).
Do you know someone who needs some encouragement in the Lord this Christmas season? Will you share this message with them or on your social media? Let’s spread some real holiday cheer, the kind that can last the whole year long!