The Three Unopened Gifts

After Christmas there were still three gifts left under our tree that hadn’t been disturbed. After our family left, all of the other gifts had been opened and the bright shiny wrappings had been thrown away, or put in storage, but these three gifts didn’t have any nametags on them, and they were left untouched. Oddly, nobody even asked about these gifts. They didn’t question who they were intended for. I suppose they thought they were gifts that my husband, Jonathan and I had bought for each other, and would open later, privately. But Jonathan and I didn’t need them; we already had them. We knew who they were for and what they represented, so they sat there under the tree, as a reminder.

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You see, I put these gifts under the tree because I wanted them there as a reminder of what Christmas is truly about. It isn’t about presents, at least in a material sense, but it is about gifts, gifts that can only be given from a pure heart. If you were to open these boxes, you wouldn’t find anything inside… they’re empty. But they each represent a deeper meaning. They represent what Christ came to the earth to share with us, something that cannot be bought with money or credit.

The red box represents Love, it was the love of God to redeem man, that sent us a Savior (red = the blood of Jesus) in the form of Jesus Christ. This love is unlike anything or any love that man can offer. “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:12-16 NLT “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 NLT

The silver box represents Peace. This does not mean we won’t have problems as we live out our lives, but we can know that God is for us and will be there for us to help us. Jesus told us that he gave us the gift of peace the world cannot give. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 NLT

The last gift, with the wild bow, is the gift of JOY! No matter what we face in this life, no matter what we are going through, we can have joy! This doesn’t mean we have to En-joy whatever it is, but we can still ‘Have’ Joy! That joy comes from the Holy Spirit within us. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22-23 NLT The Joy of the Lord is our Strength to get us through every day of our life.

These three gifts are available to everyone! That is why there aren’t any nametags. I offer these gifts to you today. They are free for the taking. All you have to do to receive them is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It’s that simple. Just tell him that you are willing to put your life in His hands and trust him to make your life new.

You can pray this prayer: Father, I know I have sinned, but I want to put that life behind me. Please forgive me for my sins. I accept Christ as my Savior and I believe he died for my sins. Help me to do your will for my life. Help me to experience your love, peace, and joy. Thank you. Amen. 

Keeping My Eyes on Jesus

I was perusing a social network I belong to and I was curious what one of my friends was up to, so I decided to look them up by name. In a hurried, distracted way, I started typing, and realized I had typed ‘Jesus!’ Then a thought struck me… You may ask me, “Was it me?” or “Was it this person or that person?” and my answer would be, “It should be!” You see, the thought that struck me, was that we should see Jesus first when we think of, or see anyone! The blood of Jesus should wash away any preconceived notions or labels we have about a person, any person. We should view all people through the atonement of Christ’s death and resurrection. That is how God views all of us. He sent Jesus to wipe the slate clean. God offered everyone a fresh start through the blood of Jesus and we should do the same. It is not our responsibility to point out other people’s sin or shortcomings, the Holy Spirit does that. It is our responsibility to love them and accept them. We are to view them through the eyes of God. We are to see them with the new vision that we were given, when we accepted Christ as our Savior. We are to offer the perfect love that is extended to us.

God doesn’t look at us and see ‘sin’ ‘race’ ‘unlovable’ ‘addict’ ‘leper’ ‘sick’ ‘poor’ ‘heretic’ ‘nefarious’ or ‘reprobate.’ Instead He sees those he is calling back to Him, those he created.  He sees ‘purity’ ‘one race’ ‘loved’ ‘free’ ‘unblemished’ ‘whole’ ‘rich’ ‘faithful’ ‘humble’ and ‘pardoned.’

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We are to look beyond their sin and see them in their original purpose that God intended for them, no less than he intended for us. When we hold ourselves up to be better than anyone, we are missing the mark of His perfect Love. Perfect Love looks beyond the perceived faults of others. 

When I recall the story of the crucifixion, I remember how the physical veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom and how it symbolized the breaking down of the barrier between God and man. Our ability to approach God became wide open! The partition between God and man was removed. Man didn’t remove it, God did. It was removed by Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Another type of veil is removed through redemption… the veil of sin is removed from our eyes. The veil of sin skews our vision and by allowing it to be removed, we start to see with the vision of God. Our vision begins to become his vision and little by little, we get glimpses of the world as God intended us to see it, his original purpose. As we grow in maturity, our vision becomes clearer and more expansive, until those we see, are seen through the blood of Jesus. Their frailties, their perceived faults are not seen, their sins are not seen; instead, the chosen are seen, God’s people are seen, his creation is seen, those whom God loves are seen.

Who was I thinking of when I typed that name? Was I keeping my eyes on Jesus while I typed? I honestly believe it was just a distracted mistake, but it did cause me to pause long enough to think and write. Who do I think of when I speak with total strangers? Who do I think of when I call my friends or family members? Who do I envision? Do I see them or do I see Jesus? I need to remind myself to keep my eyes on the Jesus in them or the Jesus that died for them.

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:9-11

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:35-36

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:13-14

Life-giving Dew

Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like DEW. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. Deut 32:2 (NLT) – (my emphasis on dew)

Jewish scholars relate that dew is essential in the resurrection of life. Just as a seed must die before it can bring forth life, it needs the dew to water it when it is grown in the semi-arid regions of the Mediterranean. The region where the stories of the Bible were written are dry for about half of the year. In most parts of the world, plants do most of their growing in the middle part of the day when the sun is abundant.  But in the Eastern portion of the Mediterranean, morning dew is essential. Plants grow mostly in the early morning when the dew is available. There is scientific evidence that in these regions, native plants shut down during the heat of the day to keep water loss at a minimum.  Plant life depends on the morning dew to thrive.

But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead! Isaiah 26:19

Dew is pure. It is able to permeate a plant. Dew, like pure water, transfers through the harder surfaces of the plant to give nourishment. If you remember Osmosis in school, because of the purity of dew, it is a hypotonic* substance. If water has too many impurities, it will not permeate the plant. If plants are given a hypertonic* solution (such as impure water or arid conditions) they will shrink because whatever moisture is in the plant will release out, causing the plants to shrink and eventually die. But since the pure dew is hypotonic*, it refreshes and renews. What a picture! Dew and Living water, (the Holy Spirit) nourishes and refreshes! Dew leads to all truth, the words of God. The truth is that there is life in us and the Holy Spirit nourishes that life and renews it.

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:2,6,10-11 (my emphases on Spirit, life & death)

Dew is known as tal in Hebrew. Just as God covers us, the word ‘tal’ in the Hebrew is translated specifically as “a covering for vegetation.” We are the vegetation, which means to be alive and growing. God’s protection covers us like the dew covers plants.

I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Hosea 14:5

Prayer: Father, let me be refreshed with your dew, your speech, which covers me. May I become saturated with your Word. Help me to blossom, so that others may see your beauty through me.

If you are trying to remember the terms hypotonic & hypertonic, here is an explanation: *hypotonic has a lower concentration of solutes, which is able to push through a higher solution, such as water passing through the cells of a plant; hypertonic has a greater degree of solute, for example a plant in an arid environment has more moisture inside of it than the environment around it and it will release its moisture into the air, causing it to shrivel. (In other words, plants which are less succulent require more water.) To see more explanation on hypotonic solutions, here is a link: Hypotonic Solutions