Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweepstakes, Breadsticks, and The Gift

I've never won a drawing, though I've entered my name and address many times. I've hoped they'd call to announce that I won their Jeep! But the only call I got was to sell me their product.

In all fairness, I know that my likelihood of winning anything in a drawing is one in hundreds, even thousands. Of course, it's unlikely I'll get their gift!

My own gift giving was mildly derailed this Christmas. I was going to make several batches of sesame sticks and give them to acquaintances. But making those little breadsticks took more time than I remembered. So, I decided I would only give them to a few people.

In contrast, Jesus' offer of eternal life is not restricted to a few lucky persons whose names the Father pulled out of a sweepstakes bin. I’m glad. In fact, I'm thrilled that Jesus offers me ... and anyone else who will receive ... His best gift.

Jesus' best gift, a relationship with Himself, is exquisitely beyond great cars or homemade breadsticks. While it is costly -- far more than a Jeep or an all expense paid trip to Acapulco -- there are no ulterior motives or limits on the offer.

God offers me personal forgiveness and Christ's transforming presence. With Him, I also get joy and peace. Lavish, and from limitless resources, the Gift comes from Father, Son and Holy Spirit to whomever wants to receive.

My heart jumps at the thought.
"Me. Me. Pick me."

I only have to admit that I need what He offers. That I can do -- easily.

Thank you, Lord for giving me your costly Gift. I want to enjoy and examine Your generous presence every day.

No Jeep or breadstick can touch that!

For Your Consideration:

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 NLT
Do you ever think you have to reach some standard to daily benefit from God’s Gift?
Jesus’ gift is costly but free to you. Will you make time to enjoy His presence in the busyness of this season?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pray a Difference

Second Corinthians 1:3-11 focuses on experiencing the God of all comfort and letting His comfort overflow onto others.

But it was this short sentence in the second paragraph that invited me to sit awhile. “You help by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:11a, NIV).

My prayers, and yours, really do make a difference! When we (or others) are being stretched beyond our normal limits, we have an opportunity to pray a difference.

Paul says, “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9, NIV). Often we don’t like to rely on God ... or anyone else. We want to be tough. But being in hot water has a way of creating a desperate longing for God. After all, God resurrects life, even when it seems to be over.

Amazingly, hidden under suffering, we find gifts that reveal God’s heart. We find goodness and unfailing mercy. Faithfulness becomes precious. God’s promises secure a lifeline to sanity, and His presence soothes us more than a hot cup of tea on a cold day.

Thankfully, God not only has power and purpose in raising the dead, but God intervenes in situations that seem inconsequential in comparison, like getting the cookies baked in the time slot we planned. We need to ask. We need to pray a difference.

Perhaps our prayer will bring comfort to a grieving friend, or bring breakthrough to a desperate coworker. Perhaps prayer will bring us peace in the escalated demands of the season.

Though we may not clearly see the results of our prayers, Paul says we do make a difference through them!

May these words steep in our hearts like tea leaves in hot water. “Then many will give thanks … for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11, NIV).

Let us pray a difference this season.

For Your Consideration:

How can you pray for a leader or other person who may be experiencing pressure that causes them to despair?

As you look more closely, what gifts has suffering revealed?

Do you give God thanks for other pray-ers?