The greatest gift from God to all peoples cannot be contained in packaging. Neither can it be tied with a bow. It cannot be measured by inches or valued by currency. The Unwrapped Present of Christmas bears the name of Immanuel which translates “God with us”. Surely, there is no other present so sacrificially given as God Himself becoming flesh among us. Surely, God in His unlimited understanding gifted us according to our deepest need. Surely, God’s Presence is framed by His unfathomable love.
Personally, I am not at ease opening gifts in front of others. Several years ago I was taught a valuable lesson through the young woman my son chose for his wife. A friend of mine honored her with a Wedding Shower. The very first gift she opened was a lovely robe. After rubbing her hand over it with a grateful smile she took the robe out of the box, stood up in front of a crowd of people she did not know and slipped her arms into her gift. The response to her gracious action was audible. As I reflect on this precious moment, I realize that my daughter to be sensed the value of the present given in love. She received it with full honor to the giver.
With great reverence and gratitude for God’s immeasurable love, let us Unwrap Immanuel and give Him full honor in our lives. Let us purpose not to squander Christmas this year. Stand up wth great courage and slip into the gift of His Presence in our lives. Deep in your heart you will know His delight—His Peace. Bring God Into the Moment this Christmas for the sake of faith in your own next generation.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness… Isaiah 61:10
God’s Presence is the true present of Christmas. Unwrap Jesus this Christmas.
To view my Christmas List for our children check out my website for my blog post from one year ago.
The term Shelter in Place did not echo from the mountains of Central Pennsylvania when I was raised in the valley. It was not sounded in the years of schooling for my children. Sadly, however, Shelter in Place is a “must know” concept in the era of my grandchildren. It is noteworthy to me that I stated that my next blog would be called Shelter in Place two days before the terror invasion in Paris. How timely. My oft repeated words are fitting: The Lord knows!
The police directive to Shelter in Place is a warning that violence is at hand. Our increasingly volatile world demands such caution to be exercised. Shelter in Place signifies the imminent possibility of danger and the need for finding refuge from those who would willfully snuff out human life. While it is true that this public safety alert is new to our present realm, it is not a new message for God. He has been bidding His created to Shelter in Place since the beginning of time on earth. God is our Shelter. The psalmist knew God as his shelter: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2)
God is our Divine Protector. Everyday, all day, all night dangers and risks loom around us. They can be as apparent as gun violence and as secretive as a lurking disease. Our need for God’s protection and presence comes to us in our homes, our travel, our schools, our public places and even in the need to shield our personal identity.
As a young mother, I vividly recall the nights when my physician husband was called out at all hours of the night. Every time, I had to make a choice either to be fitful with concern for his safety or to trust God with my husband. I knew he was fatigued and stressed about what he might find when he reached the hospital. I knew he was traveling into a characteristically unsafe area. And I didn’t want to even think about life without him. Thank God I knew something greater than all my fears and nighttime thoughts. I had committed a Bible verse to memory: On my bed, I remember you; I think of you in the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:6-7). I Sheltered in Place in the Lord.
Reflect during the next seven days on the times when you need God’s covering and refuge. Listen for God as He bids you to Shelter in Place in Him. Days and nights of travail are sure to be on the horizon for each one of us. Trust in the One who has your eternal back. I earnestly pray that you will never hear the shout Shelter in Place on this earth. Even more, I pray that you will Shelter in Place in Him daily. Let us sing together in the shadow of (his) wings—remembering always that the Lord knows!
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.
OPP (opportunity for action): Teach your children how to live in the presence of God. Allay their fears and concerns by incrementally exposing them to the precepts of the Bible. Start with Hebrews 13:6 The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Help them commit it to memory—T L i m h, I w n b a-f (The Scripture Code…unlocking spiritual wealth by DeeDee Cass). Make God known as a shelter and refuge in your home. Compile your own list of scriptures that build your faith and give you confidence before the Lord. Let your family observe you as you Shelter in Place.
Recommended reading and memorization: Psalm 91
One of the most difficult car trips I ever took was the one that distanced me from my newborn first grandchild. Each one of the 600 mile markers to home that day seemed blurred to me. With both of our children’s families settled in the same part of the country, this trip is one that I have repeated four more times (so far!). Out of this separation. however, has come an awesome connection with each of our beloved. It always amazes me how the parents instilled familiarlity in our very young grandchildren. They made GrandPaulie and GranDee household words. No memory is sweeter than arriving at their homes to outstretched arms of recognition and love. I believe that you also have established the identity of your far away loved ones in the heart of your own children. In doing so, you have brought love, security and affirmation into your child’s present.
Love, security and affirmation. Are they not the very things that God wants to impart to His children? We have a Heavenly Father who longs to be greeted with open arms of recognition and love. It seems so difficult to establish familiarity with One who is unseen…whose picture we cannot take…with whom we cannot video chat or text. Or can we?
The Bible says in 1 Samuel 2:21 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. For Samuel that meant living apart from his mother, Hannah, and being raised in the temple by Eli the priest of the the Lord (A Robe for Samuel). Modern mothers have a tremendous advantage over Hannah. We live in the day of God’s grace. He is Emmanuel–God with us. We can raise our children in the presence of the Lord in our own homes. We do not have to leave them behind in Shiloh and practice absentee motherhood. If God is in our heart He is in our homes. If God is in our heart He is in our cars. If God is in our heart, He is in the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and at the beach. Meanwhile, wherever you are with your child, take the lead from Hannah. When your child tickles your heart, bring God into the moment. Say to your daughter or son, “I am so glad God made me your mother.” Or “What a gift from God you are to me.” Or “You are an answer to prayer.” Every time you connect your child with God you raise their level of awareness of God’s supernatural presence in their life.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, Who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. Psalm 89:15
OPP: Find a way to bring God into the present of your life today. It could be as simple as looking at the special design of a sand dollar and saying to your child, “God made you in a special design too.” I would love to hear about God’s presence in your present!
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