Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Gift

How was your Christmas? I thoroughly enjoyed time and gift giving with family, getting to sing out loud in the supermarket as the carols were playing, and reading a great book by Beth Moore called 90 Days with the One and Only – Jesus. It was perfect timing as we celebrate our Saviours birth.
I had been reflecting on the fact that the way we celebrate Christmas is just a shadow of its true meaning when I heard one person refer to the season as ‘Giftmas’, and sadly this is true for most people. Sometimes Christ does not even feature in our conversations, our motivations or even our thoughts.
But there are some aspects of how most of us celebrate Christmas that help draw our thoughts back to The One and Only meaning of Christmas.
How do you prepare for Christmas? I love giving gifts and enjoy each aspect of the process – planning the gift, purchasing the gift, preparing the gift, placing the gift, presenting the gift and seeing the person’s response. And in our process I see glimpses of God’s process as he purposed to give us the greatest gift ever.
I have a Christmas App on my iPhone which helps me keep track of who I would like to buy for, what present I will buy (including pictures, store and price) and whether it is bought, wrapped and given. I like wrapping but am happy to employ the services of a charity to wrap my gifts more beautifully and with a lovely bow and tag. I love to have the gifts placed under the tree and at just the right time I excitedly deliver them to the intended recipients. Although my gift giving is not dependent on their response, I do love seeing them open the present I have carefully chosen for them.  
Before creation of the world you were chosen to receive a gift (Eph 1:4). God knew that mankind would sin and would not be able to enjoy eternity with Him unless He intervened and so at just the right time, God sent His Son Jesus to be born, to live, and to die so that we might live eternally with Him. (Rom 5:6)
It was at a great price that this gift was given for you. God Himself came to earth in human form. And the greatest ransom in all of history was paid when God the Father had to look away from God the Son as He died on the cross. But that price paid the way for freedom. Jesus rose from the dead, defeated the enemy and death, and now this precious gift is available to all who will accept it.
God’s gift didn’t come to us in a way we would have imagined. People were expecting a king, a warrior, a deliverer. But God chose to bring his gift carried by a teenager, wrapped in rags, lying in a manger, surrounded by shepherds and animals. For those who looked closely, they also saw Him heralded by angels and overshadowed by a star.
Jesus was placed for all to see, but only some truly followed. His message was for all to hear, but only some truly listened. His sacrifice was enough for all to be saved, but only some will truly accept. God’s gift to you has been planned, purchased, prepared, placed, and presented. The only thing that might be left unfinished is your personal response to what He has done for you. How will you respond this Christmas? How will you respond this year?
The gift is there waiting. It has been lovingly and painstakingly prepared just for you.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

From Plasterer to Prime Minister (Re-post)

It was Christmas Eve 2007, and I had just finished showing Santa to his milk and apple Hannah left out for him, oh, not to mention the carrots, oats and water for the reindeer. But before I hit the sack myself (haha, like that pun?), I have a little something to share...

Our move to Bundy 5 years ago came up a lot in conversations at the time - chatting to parents of preschoolers, people waiting in line and customer service operators on the phone. Whenever the topic of 'next year' came up, I always had to say we are moving, and they always seem to ask why. Now I'm not sure if it is because 'pastor' is an uncommon job description, or whether I mumble...but this day...for the second time...the conversation went something like this...

insurance lady: so why are you moving to Bundaberg?
me: my husband is going to be a pastor at a church there.
lady: oh wow, he must be a specialist in what he does
me: umm, i guess so, he just finished studying...
lady: {uncomfortable pause} oh, dear, I'm so silly, you'll never guess what i thought you said...
me: {here it comes again} no, its alright, what was it?
lady: i thought you said he was a plasterer, that he was going to plaster a church.
both: {laughing}
lady: well i guess he is a specialist in more ways than one!
One other humorous conversation, on the other end of the scale went something like this...

Hannah (5): we are moving to Bundaberg
lady: is your daddy going to do something special there?
Hannah: yes but i cant remember what
lady: is he going to be a minister?
Hannah: oh yes...the prime minister!
Somewhere between plasterer and prime minister, Bryce is going to serve the people of Bundaberg, but this story reminded me of another man who made a similar journey (ok its not similar, its a far stretch but stay with me :) ).

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Born a peasant in a barn,
living as a carpenter,
speaking like a prophet,
dying like a criminal,
rising from the dead as King of All.
A man but also God.

Oh I really hope he has your attention tomorrow. Please don't just get wrapped up {ooh theres that pun again :) } in family and food and fun. Think about the baby who was king, the carpenter who formed the earth, the man who died to take the penalty for your sin and the risen Lord who has conquered death so we can spend eternity with Him.

Please remember that we open presents tomorrow to celebrate the gift that God gave to us. We share with our family and those who have no family tomorrow because God freely included us in His family at no cost to us. We go to church tomorrow not just because its the done thing, but because it was the most important thing ever done in all of history.

"Today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

Read Luke Chapter 2 today!

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