Friday, December 18, 2009

What A Gift

What do you expect or wish you will get this Christmas? The lists have been given and the hints have been dropped now all we have to do is wait patiently. I think I know what would really make me happy this Christmas and I hope I've made that perfectly clear!

Sometimes it's the gifts that we didn't expect which bring the most meaning and satisfaction. It's that gift that I never thought about that someone who knew me well knew I would love. I'll never forget the time I bought Bev a gift unannounced. It wasn't Christmas or her birthday. I just found myself wanting to get her something. She liked Fiesta ware and collected the antique dishes. I bought her an antique pitcher and gave it to her one evening.

You would have thought I hung the moon!

With tear filled eyes she told me that was one of the nicest and most romantic gifts I had ever given her. (Note to self: buy more Fiesta!!!) It's amazing what a little forethought and genuine love and appreciation can do to a soul. Especially our spouse.

The Christmas season has become a celebration and also a good excuse for gift giving. The down side is that too often it feels more like an obligation than a privilege. We check off names and hope they like the gift we've chosen. The "safe" gifts are the ones we know they'll like and not have to think too much about. That's not necessarily bad but in my case it can be an excuse to not think too long or creatively.

The beauty of God's gift this Christmas season is that it is the culmination of an eternal plan. He has been planning before the foundations of the world to give the most creative and needed gift the world would ever know. And more than that He chose us to be the recipients of that gift. "...before the foundation of the world...he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ..." Ephesians 1:4,5

It doesn't get any better than that. His gift is exactly what we need.

I want my marriage to be a perpetual reflection of the creative love of God in Christ. I want to put aside my desires for gifts and think more about what would be encouraging and affirming to my wife. Gifts that would last not just for a season but for eternity.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Go First

That can be a harmless invitation or a clear command.

Opening a door for someone to go into a home is putting that person first while telling someone to walk out onto a frozen pond first is more self serving!

So much of life is more about being first. We want to be the first to get a new product or to be recognized as the first choice for a position or honor. We wouldn't necessarily say it that way but when push comes to shove we want to be first. This is also true in our conversations, we want to go first. "Let me explain myself first and then you'll understand."

The scriptures are filled with warnings and instructions about striving to be first. Jesus himself said the first shall be last. The Apostle Paul instructs us that we should be more concerned about the interests of others rather than ourselves. Putting others first is not in our nature. It means we have to deny something, whether it's our opinion or our rights. That just feels wrong.

What's that got to do with your marriage? EVERYTHING!

The challenge is not who gets to go first but who is invited to go first. The gospel is not about being served but serving. The call is to see your husband or wife as a gift from God and the recipient of working out that call of Jesus in your own life. That 24/7 presence in your life is there not to manipulate but to be the object of the love of Christ. A Christ-centered humility must be a growing reality in our marriages. We become more and more desirous to put Jesus first rather than making sure my needs are met first.

Think about it - the beauty and power of the gospel is that God went first. "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins...We love because he first loved us."
I John 4:10,19 Isn't that the uniqueness of this Christmas season? God came first to us before we came to him.

If he did that for us how should that look in our lives and particularly in our marriages? It should free us to be the first to put someone else first. A heart being changed by Jesus is a life that is reflecting Jesus.


Monday, December 7, 2009

O Come Let Us Adore Him

This is a season to focus on Christ.

Beyond all the trappings and trimmings of Christmas the church calls people to come and adore Jesus. Everybody is busy. Everybody is distracted with important things. Yet not everybody is adoring Him.

There is no better calling in life than to come and adore him who is Christ the Lord. And there is no better way than to do that adoring together. Our neighbors should see us as people who love to praise God for the gift of His Son. A gift that has forever changed our love and lives.

This call to worship the newborn king together should be the same for our marriages. Our identity should not be in our circumstances or children but in this primary call, "O Come Let Us Adore Him." A Christian marriage is not simply the bringing together of a man and a woman in union but a brother and sister in Christ as well. The call that brings us together is the call that unites us for the rest of our earthly lives , to come bring glory to the Savior through our lives.

This advent season for those of us who are married should also be a catalyst to call us back to our first love. Jesus has brought you together for a reason. He has come not primarily to help you but to save you. Your heart belongs to him and that love is to be uniquely shared with your spouse to more clearly and effectively adore Him.

"Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning:
Jesus to thee be all glory giv'n;
Word of the Father, late in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord."

Now go and celebrate the season with a renewed desire to have your marriage be a picture of the church's highest calling;

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!" Psalm 34:3