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What can I give Him? Boy that’s a big question this time of year. Actually, it’s more like what can I give everyone on my list?!? The Christmas season is definitely one of my favorites. The colder air, possibility of snow, cozy fireplace, hot coffee, silly family time with babies that have gotten too big, too quick and of course the gift giving. Christmas morning around our house is truly magical. For just a few hours all is calm; and everyone is full of anticipation for the surprises that lie under the tree. I’m excited just thinking about it!! Yet with the wonder of the season there is still the reality of brokenness, unmet expectations, disappointments and sin. Those same relationships and situations that bring so much joy into our lives often bring anxiety, stress, and sometimes conflict.

So, what can I give Him? Well, the most natural question when seeking to find the perfect gift is “what would He want”? He has my heart but where does the real battle lie in my relationships? What area of my life does He desire my submission in order to transform? For me the greatest contributor to conflict in relationships are my words or lack thereof.

Many thoughts crowd my mind when I think about what God would want from me this Christmas. Again, He has my heart as He likely has yours, but I know there is more to give, and I keep coming back to my words. Honestly though, words are hard to GIVE (up) because words are powerful! Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. My words give me a sense of power and I’m often unwilling to release my hold of that powerful tool especially when feeling unloved or wounded. But words also have the power of life and that is where I want to be – a life-giving wife, a life-giving mom, a life-giving daughter, friend, sister-in-law, teacher, woman.

Allow me to share a paraphrase from a sermon by a pastor at Watermark Church in Texas as he seeks to shed light on the subject. He explained the key to better relationships in this way . . . as oil is the necessary ingredient to keeping a car’s engine free of friction so there is an ingredient that is vital to friction-free relationships leading to unity. That ingredient is HUMILITY. When I consider the power of words, to bring life or death, it’s imperative to consider where my words of death come from. James 4:1 states “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you.” My words have a direct link to my pride.

Generally, our defense in responding to others is controlled by our pride; consequently, humility is the only answer to this word problem we all face. Humility is expressed best in Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look our not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” If the answer to this word problem is humility - than the gift giving struggle just got easier. What can I give Him? My pride. But I like my pride – well I don’t like its fruit, but I like its power to seemingly give me justification. But what would a loving God do with such a gift as my pride? I believe He has the power and desire to change my pride into the kind of humility that will produce an out-pouring of life-giving words. I would argue there’s no greater gift I could give my family this Christmas. What can I give Him? What will you give Him?

Posted by Tracy Smith with
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As a parent with small children, I frequently find myself having to remind them to obey. 3 words that are uttered regularly in our house are “listen and obey”. We have a bedtime routine like many of you. After we have our family Bible story and prayer time, my son Noah is the first one to go to the bathroom, wash his hands, and brush his teeth. What usually happens after we’re done praying is my wife or I will remind him it’s time to go potty and brush his teeth. I’m sure none of you experience this, but sometimes no movement results. He’s still curled up in a blanket on the couch, snuggling with his momma or has already gotten distracted by a toy or something else. At that moment I typically use the age old parenting trick of letting him know he has until the count of 5 to get in the bathroom. I don’t have to even give him a consequence…I start counting and he starts running. J I wish it were always that easy because other times, as a parent when I tell my kiddos to do something, I’m met with resistance. Sometimes I’m ignored, sometimes they whine, sometimes they decide to do something else. They know exactly what they ought to do and yet they don’t respond the way I want. In a lot of ways I think God experiences the same frustration with his children…us!

As much as God would like to see us exhibit first time obedience…that moment where we learn what God wants from us and then immediately do it…so often God the Father is met with us ignoring Him, whining about what He wants us to do, or us just deciding to do something else. In all of our vast maturity we think we’ve got something better to do, more important, more worth our time, more critical in this busy moment. It’s as silly as when our children think that watching that one more tv show, playing a video game or whatever it is happens to be more important to do right now than whatever you as the parent said to do. Not only that, our lack of obedience makes us sinners. We saw that when we were studying James in Sunday School. James 4:17 says: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

I’m guessing many of us have a sin problem we’re not even aware of. We’re so concerned with not doing the wrong things we totally forget about the sin that comes from not being obedient to do the right things. Most of us can’t effectively discern God’s will for our lives or receive an answer to a prayer because of sin that exists in our lives from all the things God wants us to do that we’ve continually made excuses or ignored. Some of us have so ignored God’s instructions and commands, we’ve ceased to listen and obey to the extent that we don’t even feel guilty for it.

One of the best examples of this in the American church is our lack of sharing the gospel. You can’t be around a church very long and not know that God’s chosen to use us to reach people for Christ. You can’t be around a church very long to know God’s Word gives us purpose in this life and a major part of that is our efforts to make Christ known throughout the globe. At the same time, how many times have you shared the gospel this year? Some of you haven’t done it once, much less made it one of the priorities of your life. You’re just like the kid that knows exactly what they need to do…clean their room, take out the trash, get ready for bed and chooses to ignore that command. How frustrating it has to be for God to see His children live in disobedience. I know I get frustrated when my children don’t obey me.

Some of us know what we ought to do, but not how to do it. I can always appreciate when I give my children something to do and they try their best…they may not do it exactly the right now, the way I would do it, but they get the job done. I say that because for some of us, we know exactly what God wants us to do, but we have every excuse about not doing it because we don’t know how. That being said, maybe we should start by repenting of what we haven’t been doing that the Lord commanded,

then start trying something. Maybe it won’t be exactly right and you need to seek additional assistance but at least you’re trying. Do something, don’t wait to be the very best at whatever it is, to be the most effective…just do your best to fulfill the Lords commands. Follow the simple words many parents have uttered...listen and obey. We’re just a few short weeks away from 2019, we have such a great opportunity for a fresh start. What are you waiting for? Let’s be like my son when I start to count down for him to go to the bathroom...he’s running towards obedience…you can to!

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with

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