The Holy Spirit and Christmas

The Holy Spirit is our gift

1Cor 12 It is December, and that means Christmas is coming! God gave us the best Christmas gift ever when He sent His Son Jesus. But, God also plans ahead and He had your name on a special gift; the Spirit to reside with you FOREVER AND EVER!

Jesus said: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” [Jn 14:16] He is our permanent teacher, not just on Christmas morning but FOREVER! and EVER! In addition, Jesus prayed that; ” But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.”  [Jn 14:26] And then in 1Cor 12, we read that the Spirit gives; better than Santa! He also distributes; not to just good boys and girls but to every saved believer as He wills. He works all these things for His glory and that we might edify others and especially the church. There may be a diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit who does all of this and more, and we are to receive each one gratefully. 

Since eternity the Spirit has been actively distributing gifts, and you are blessed to have received His gift, whether it be knowledge or wisdom or the gift of x, y, z as he gave to Daniel. 

Do you know your gift? Do others recognize that you have been anointed with the Holy Spirit? Are you grateful for the gifts He has given to you?

One Man’s Gift

Joseph's tomb was a gift to Jesus

Mark 15, Matthew 27 As the holidays approach, we begin to think and consider a gift for those we love. What would our gift be?

Joseph of Arimathea needed Pilate’s permission to remove the crucified Jesus from the cross. Then he and Nicodemus prepared his body for burial and transported it to Joseph’s tomb, which was new and had never been used, thus fulfilling the prophecy: “His grave was assigned with wicked men; Yet He was with a rich man in His death.” [Is 53:9]

Joseph was a secret believer, as was Nicodemus. Yet, they took courage and sought to bury Jesus properly. What a precious gift for our Savior. He was disparaged by those he came to serve, but he was honored by a wealthy man and his tomb in death. Those who wore the robes of religious piety were not willing to be defiled; they would not stoop to enter the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, yet were ready to break the sixth commandment: “you shall not murder.” [Ex 20:13; John 18:28]

One man’s gift and his name will live on in eternity as one of the righteous, but one man’s evil words will live on as testimony as a dishonor until he sees Jesus in the clouds. [John 11:50; Matt 26:64]

Which man and which gift do you think gave God pleasure? What will my gift be?    

Leaving a Legacy

leaving a legacy

1Chron 26-29; Ps 127 As David closed his reign and set Solomon to begin, he had one more thing to do: prepare the gifts out of “his” treasury to finance the building of the temple. David said: “Now, to show my commitment to the temple of my God, I donate my personal treasure of gold and silver to the temple of my God, in addition to all that I have already supplied for this holy temple.” [1Chron 29:3] What a legacy and example to Solomon and the nation of Israel! The lesson is this; our passing should leave a lesson to those who will be the recipients of our earthly goods. Our example should follow this principle: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Mat 6:21]  Also, from 2Cor 9:6-8, “Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.”

Nowhere in scripture does God command what David chose to do; he chose to do this because he was a man after God’s own heart. David was passionate about God and his work. His heart was sold out to God. He willingly chose to donate all of his earthly holdings to the work of the Lord. The question is this:

What will leave as picture of our heart’s passion?

“A Heart For God’s Work”

Giving to the work of the ministry

Numbers 7 As the Israelites were generous in their giving of materials and wealth to build the Tabernacle, they are abundant in their giving for the dedication. The Lord told Moses that each gift was to be received and then used to do the work of the tent of meeting. How practical is our God! God loves a cheerful giver and then loves to share those gifts for the work of the ministry. There is a lesson here for us, giving of our best begins in the heart. What is my best that I can give my Lord and His church?

Their offerings were acceptable because they came from a heart that was dedicated first to God. The riches of Egypt have been transformed into the riches for the Tabernacle and His work. If only they had remained that way, but as we turn to Malachi, we see a lack of reverence and a lack of a pure heart. God says to them, “I will no longer accept an offering from you.” What happened? Were the people not generous? Did their heart change? It seems that was the very reason in contrast to the offerings for the Tabernacle. In the time of Malachi, they only saw them as wearisome. [Malachi 1:7-9]This is a lesson for us.

Do we see our offerings as “wearisome?” Or do we see them as a privilege? We are called to be holy and live a holy life in reverence and sharing out of our abundance.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

God gifts men/women to do the work of the ministry

Exodus 36 to 38 That phrase was coined in the early ’20s to sell Victor Radios, but, in reality, chapter 36 shows us the gift that keeps on giving. God is the one who gifts each person. He gifted the artisans to build the Tabernacle, but He also gifted the people with a willing heart to give to the work. No matter where God has placed you, you have been equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Thinking through all that the supervisor Bezalel had on his plate, he must have learned quite a bit in Egypt. We wonder what his “job” was there. In Exodus 5, we read “The Israelite foremen.” Was Bezalel one of those who learned how to direct a crew that would be under him to build? Where did he learn the working in gold? Did he learn it back in Egypt and now wondered how God was going to use him? That’s how I think. God and I have a conversation: I tell God, “don’t waste this,” use me in your work with the skills you have given to me. What do you say to God?

My father-in-law, was one who could “see” how something was made. If something broke, he would always say, if someone built it, then someone can fix it. He could study a broken piece and could see beneath the outer to the inner and then repair it or rebuild it into a new piece. He passed that on to DA, and he is always saying to me: if someone designed it, then someone can fix it. Both my father-in-law and my husband were/are amazing.

My own Dad didn’t live long enough for me to really understand his gifts, or for me to appreciate them, but he had an inner gift of tenderness that he passed on to me. He could see where a heart was hurting, and he could reach out to fix that broken heart. Unfortunately, his gift was short-lived, and the one person he needed to reach most, he was not able to. I can’t wait to get to heaven and talk to Bezalel and Oholiab and rekindle that relationship with “Grandpa Floyd.”

The people gave willingly and had to be restrained finally. Do I give voluntarily, or do I hold back and wait? God has blessed us. Are we giving willingly and without thinking about the amount or the gift but only that it is being used for God’s kingdom work?

Perhaps you don’t see yourself as a Bezalel or a Oholiab, but only see yourself as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.[Ps 84:10] God can use your talents wherever He has chosen.  All He asks is for a willing heart.

“Is God First?”

Is God first?

Haggai 1 & 2 Today, a refrain is heard: I have bills to pay, and whatever is leftover, I may give to the church. But, God is clear; your thinking is backward!  “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse; Test me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing for you until there is no room for it all.” [Mal 3 author’s paraphrase] The point being: when we put God first, He blesses, and as the Israelites were experiencing, the reverse is also true. Is it any wonder then that Haggai came to the people and rebuked them for wrong priorities?  Was it right for them to live luxuriously while the house of the Lord lay in ruins? Then he asked them to consider their priorities.

Haggai’s message was convicting! The people turned and put God first, and then God did just as Malachi said. Their crops rebounded, and their pocketbooks were replenished. God is clear: if I am first, I will be with you, and I will bless you.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matt 6]

Is church and giving to the work of the Lord on the bottom of your list?

Where is God in your priority list?    

Earthly Stones vs. Living Stones

1Kings 6 Peter uses the word picture of living stones for people building the “living church.” The Temple used manual labor. We, as “living stones,” are building the living church using the ‘manual’ labor of scripture reading, witnessing, and prayer. 

Hiram willingly assisted Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting friendship. What lasting friendships have we cultivated?

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. Here in this passage, we read that David had accumulated the necessary materials to build the Temple. Are we giving voluntarily to build the living church?

 The Temple used stones from under the earth. Believers are “living stones” on the earth to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

God led, but men did the work, all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God directs our work and records it in our Book of Life—if our name is there! It is only there if we have accepted Jesus as Savior. One day, the books will reveal what is in those books.

Are you ready to hear what the Book has under your name?

 Time is fleeting. Will your works be wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stones?

Are you a fool like Nabal?

1Samuel 25 to 28 Today’s COVID-19 is yesterday’s Nabal’s. Today many who go to the market but find the shelves bare and the person in front of you has the last package of toilet paper. Tempers rise, and the next thing you witness is a free-for-all in words and actions.  This is Nabal to a ‘t.’

Sometimes God sets out to protect his own even when they don’t think they need it. While David is caring for Nabal’s sheep, the fool Nabal cares only for his roll of ‘tp.’ He is a fool and selfish.  Nabal refuses to bless David for caring for his sheep.  When David’s men return with a ‘no’ answer, he makes a rash vow to rid the planet of Nabal just because he wouldn’t share. That is when God steps in sends in His cavalry in the most unexpected form: Abigail, who is “wise and beautiful.” She had planned for such a time as this and quickly prepared dinner for David and his men. While David is grumbling about Nabal, God is preparing a feast to humble him. It was Abigail’s plea that opened his eyes. 

 Back home, Nabal is feasting on his foolish response. But, God did not forget, and Abigail wisely said nothing until Nabal was sober. In the morning, Abigail tells Nabal that she provided dinner for David and his crew. Like Eli, Nabal had a stroke; dying ten days later. He had plenty to share, but it was his wife that got the glory.

There are lessons for us: share while you have plenty, be careful of your words; you may have to eat them. God uses the most unexpected person or persons to humble us when we fail to consult him.

Meeting Needs of Others

Deut 23 love your neighbor2aDeut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”

Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle,  but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.

Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?

Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.