Ok, I was so dang excited to write this post that I started it last night. I mean it's Christmas, so how appropriate to write about getting gifts! But what's more exciting, is that these are actually gifts that you won't have to return, never go out of style, you'll never run out of, and they are totally going to fit after you've eaten all the Christmas cookies!
After Jesus rescued me from the darkness, I wasn't quite certain how I was going to walk this unfamiliar christian walk. I had no idea what this new relationship with him would feel like, what his expectations of me were, what my friends and family would say and to be blatantly honest, if I was even brave enough to follow through with it. But just like he met me in the darkness, he met me in my new found uncertainty. Here's what I found he gave me, after I gave him my heart:
1. Hallelujah - as we read in Luke 15 a few days ago and as I referenced last night in One Starfish At A Time, Jesus told three stories about something or someone being lost. But what also happened after the sheep, coin and son were found, was a massive rejoicing. A party! An epic celebration!
"In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!" Luke 15:7
"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
"For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate." Luke 15:24
And so it is with you. If you haven't given your life to Christ, the day you do, the eruption of joy will be immense and the Hallelujah chorus that all the angels in heaven participate in is a rejoicing unlike you can imagine. And God himself, runs to you, arms open and ready to celebrate your return to Him. Read about that celebration from one of my favorite bible teachers here.
2. Home - since you are reading this blog, I am inviting you personally to be part of my church, your new home to be fed, rested and welcomed. Crossbridge Community Church is a place you can attend online, no matter where you live. It exists to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus. I will go/attend with you and introduce you to all I know so you don't have to go alone and you have immediate friends. I highly encourage you to find a good bible based church home as you begin your new walk.
3. Hope - God's grace makes hope possible. “Grace” is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God to all. You are made new the second you give your life to Christ to lead, the old person is gone and God only sees you now through Jesus. Jesus filters out the sin and God sees you as clean, perfect, redeemed and forgiven. And since Jesus will never leave or forsake you, you have a hope for rest and to be worry free.
4. Heart - for me, there was a heavy weight of shame, guilt, and remorse for the choices I made. My heart was shattered from what I did to myself, others, my daughters and how I would forever have to live with"I was that person" for the rest of my life. But Jesus gives us a new heart, to replace the broken, shattered one. All that have an interest in their new relationship with God, have a new heart and a new spirit, in order to walk in newness of life. God gives you a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, and removes your heart of stone toward him. Your new heart will yearn to comply with his holy will. Renewing grace works as a great change in the soul, and God will put his Spirit within you, as a Teacher, Guide, and Sanctifier.
5. Holy Spirit - oh, my favorite gift!! The apostle Paul clearly taught that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we declare Jesus as our Savior. The Holy Spirit is your seal of salvation and many scriptures make it abundantly clear that our salvation is secured the moment we receive Jesus as our Savior. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.
The Holy Spirit was given to live inside those who believe in Jesus, in order to produce God's character in the life of a believer. In a way that we cannot do on our own, the Holy Spirit will build into our lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He is your personal helper and can be trusted and relied on.
The 1 gift you can give yourself is:
6. Habits - read, go and pray.
make bible reading a part of every day. Spend 5-15 minutes daily to read and learn and listen. The bible is God's way of speaking to you and for you to get to know him as a father, counselor, guide, friend and protector. Reach out to me and I will help you put a plan together to start.
make attending church a consistent activity.
Above all else, talk to God. We call this prayer. It is no different than if I were sitting and talking with you right now. Be conversational, share your heart, share your fears, your doubts, your frustrations. He can handle it all and he wants to. Let time with him be your favorite part of every day.
Christmas itself is really about a big gift that God gave the world about 2,000 years ago - Jesus! One of the most famous Bible verses, John 3:16, says: 'God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life.' If you haven't already, accept God's gift. If you have accepted it, reaffirm your decision and would it not be well this Christmas to give the Lord a special gift in return? All he wants is your heart.
My gift from you would be to hear your story. I'd be honored.