Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What am I happy to receive this Christmas?

Christmas is in 14 days!  Ah!

I'm a little freaked out by that.  My season of life right now brings so many responsibilities to these next two weeks.  I have a constantly running "To Do List" scrolling through my brain. 

~Christmas tree up and decorated.  Check.

~How many Christmas presents do I still need to buy?

~Hmmm... I wonder why the nativity scene on top of the piano has still not been arranged so all the animals can see baby Jesus?

~Speaking of baby Jesus, aren't I supposed to be reading Advent verses with my kids so they remember Christmas isn't all about presents?

~Oh!  And I forgot to tell Ava to stop yelling that Santa is NOT real in Sunday School...

~And usually I make Grandma's caramels every Christmas.  Who will be upset if that doesn't happen this year?  How 'bout we buy Reese's and call it good?

~The kid's Christmas program is THIS Friday?  At what time?

For me right now, so many of these things involve giving.  Which I love.  But it can be exhausting and overwhelming to handle the details.  Make sure all the kids have the same number of presents to unwrap. 

We are told so often around Christmas to remember that Jesus coming to earth as a baby is the greatest gift anyone has ever given.  And we give at Christmas to emulate Jesus' gift.  To be like our Savior. 

And this is good.  I want to be like Jesus.  I want His love to flow through me to the people around me.  And I am thankful that Christmas gives me the opportunity to do that in ways that normally I might not take the time to do. 

But I have been thinking, I think I miss some of the blessing of Christmas by being so busy giving that I forget to receive.  I mean, obviously someone is going to buy me a Christmas present, and I will open it and enjoy it and be grateful. 

But I really want to intentionally take some time to remind myself of what I've been given this Christmas.  I want to stop giving long enough to just sit in front of God with my hands open and be thankful for the grace He has poured out on me - even when I give Him nothing to deserve such kindness.

So I found a online Bible study site and searched for "receive", and learned that apparently that word never happens in the Bible (I don't believe that's true, but the website insists it can't find any).  So I tried plan b.  I searched, "God given" and got a list of 110 verses!  I'll share a few with you.

~The first one is in Genesis 1:29 where God gives Adam and Eve food from the plants and trees in the garden.

~The next are in Genesis 30 where God gives Rachel and then Leah (sisters and Jacob's wives - it's messy) sons.  There are quite a few more references in Genesis to God giving children.

~Then we skip to Deuteronomy where Moses reminds Israel before they go into the Promised Land  that God has given them this good land and His law - 16 times if I counted right. 

~In Joshua 22:4, God gives the people of Israel rest after conquering the land.  Again King Solomon says in 1 Kings 5:4,  "But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune."

~Nehemiah 12:43 says that God gave the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem great joy!

~Psalm 66:19 says, "But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer."

~In Psalm 118:27, we are reminded that, "The LORD is God, and He has given us light." 

~In Ecclesiastes, God gives life and labor and riches and wealth.

~In Isaiah 9:6, we are given HOPE!  "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

~And in the middle of the terrible judgments filling the last part of the Old Testament, Jeremiah 8:14.  "Why are we sitting still? Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities And let us perish there, Because the LORD our God has doomed us And given us poisoned water to drink, For we have sinned against the LORD."

~God gives Daniel wisdom to answer the king.

~In Joel 2:23, God gives rain.

~And then Jesus came and gave everything.  Healing.  Love.  Instruction.  A perfect example of how to walk with God.  And ultimately His life.

~And then God gives the Holy Spirit to live in those who trust Him.  Romans 5:5, "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

~This Spirit helps us know God and His gifts.  1 Corinthians 2:12 - Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God." 

~God gives us GRACE!  I Corinthians 1:4

~"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love, and discipline."  I Timothy 1:7

~I John 5:11, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."

This list merely scratches the surface of the things God has given His people.  I love the reminder that God is has been faithful from the creation of the world to be a loving, giving God.  I am eternally thankful!  And pray that I receive His gifts with a heart of gratitude and open hands. 

What are you happy to receive from God this Christmas?