Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Wednesday in the Word

Happy Wednesday, friends! I thought I'd share one of my favorite verses this week and give you a little bit of encouragement.

I was wrapping presents yesterday and had this thought come to me as I wrapped one of the boys' gifts. First, can I tell you how much I love our wrapping paper? 

This is the second year I've used it and I love it as much as the day I bought it last year after Thanksgiving. I love a good plaid print, but this Christmas tartan is my favorite. Anyway, do you have days when you read a certain verse in the Bible several times? I feel like I do this pretty often and I love that it makes me think that it's something the Lord wants me to read again and remember. This happened to me yesterday, because I've been catching up in my chronological Bible reading and I'm still in James.

James 1:17 is one of favorite verses and one I memorized years ago.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I had a couple of thoughts about this verse and thought I'd share them.

The first is that wrapping presents reminds me of the gift we have in Jesus. There is something about the name of Jesus that can bring either one or two reactions: one being peace and the other being hostility. Let me give you an example.

Years ago when my boys were little and in elementary school, I used to love going to their class to read books. I didn't work there yet, I was just there as a parent volunteer to read for thirty minutes. When I would do this, I'd let the boys pick the books they wanted me to bring and read. One of them—either Graham or Drew—picked out a book called God Gave Us Christmas. (It was this same season.) Everything was going fine as I sat and started reading this book, but when I turned the page and said the name of Jesus, the young teacher assistant that was in there with me while the teacher was on break shot out of her chair like a rocket and started yelling at me to stop reading. I stopped and asked her why she wanted me to stop and when I knew what she was going to say, I asked her to step into the hall. She told me I couldn't read the book because it was about God and I had to read religion-neutral books only. I informed her that wasn't true (or maybe Todd said that, because he was with me) because I was there as a parent and they can't tell what I could or could not read, but to keep the peace for the sake of the kiddos in that third grade class, I stopped reading the book.

That teacher assistant was just fine until I said the name of Jesus. Let me tell you something, my friends—there is coming a day when every knee will bow at the name of Jesus, whether in Heaven or on earth, according to what Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10-11. I kept the peace that day in my son's classroom, but there is coming a day when we are going to have to stand up for Jesus.

Anyway, back to the present wrapping yesterday, the gifts I wrapped reminded me of what a gift I have in Jesus. You can have the same gift, if He draws you to Him and you don't already know Him. No one can go to the Father (God) except through Jesus (John 6:44). He has to draw you to Him and once He does that, you have to step forth in obedience. It's the nudge you may feel sometimes if you do something dishonest, or if you're in church and heard a convicting sermon, it's that gut feeling in your stomach. I think it's similar to those feelings, but once He draws you and you confess that you're a sinner in need of repentence and when you believe that He is who His Word says He is and accept Him as your Savior, well then, welcome to the party that is going to be in Heaven someday! The Bible tells us that all of Heaven rejoices over one lost person who turns to God. (Luke 15:7)

Confess, repent (ask for His forgiveness), believe. It's so simple, but we make it much more difficult than it should be. If you want to know more, will you reach out to someone today? We are never promised another day on this earth.

The second thing wrapping presents reminded me of yesterday is what the verse James 1:17 says: God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. When times are hard, He is still good and He still helps us along. When we're sick, He is there to heal us or to provide a way for us to have healing through medicine and rest. When we're sad, He is there to comfort us. When we're in turmoil, He gives us His peace. When we're happy, He is there for us to share our excitement with Him in prayer (thanksgiving is what I call this portion of my prayer time). When times are great, guess what? The same God is still right there providing for us, caring for us, helping us, giving us wisdom, directing our steps. (Hebrews 13:8, 1 Peter 5:7, Hebrews 13:6, James 1:5, Proverbs 16:9.)

No matter the circumstance, God is good because He is God. He is infinitely good all the time and His goodness and love are not circumstantial. He is always giving us glimpses of His goodness, His good and perfect gifts, but we must be on the lookout for them. Do you know the story in the Bible about the men who were healed of leprosy? You can read about this in Luke 17:11-19, but here is the summary—ten men were healed of sickness and only one went back to thank Jesus. He asked the man, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?" Friends, I do NOT want to be like the nine who didn't thank Jesus for His gift of healing—I want to be like the one man who thanked Him. 

His good gifts are all around us, but we have to be aware and watching for them. This could also be similar to being a positive or a negative person, a glass half full or a glass half empty person. I have always been very optimistic and I believe that we should always try to be that way as much we're able. I believe in my heart that being this way helps me muddle my way through difficult and trying times. 

My questions for you and for myself are these: am I always looking for gifts from the Lord? When I find or open His gifts like that, do I keep them to myself or do I share them with others? 

I pray these words encourage you today. Thank you for reading my blog, love to all. 



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