Hope you had a glorious Christmas! We are home now from the cities and had a wonderful time with about 35 relatives for two days. So thankful as we all had good roads, a wonderful time together, lots of sharing, games, shopping, and just being together. I came home feeling so full of blessings from above!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Christmas is a time of giving for God gave His very best gift by sending His Son. But every day is a time for giving if our hearts overflow with gratitude and thankfulness. Today I came across a couple verses in Proverbs that speak of giving. I know the Lord doesn’t need our gifts for He owns everything, but He wants our hearts to be open to give to others as unto Him.
I read the from Proverbs 11:24-25 (Message), “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” As I read these two verses I thought of a friend of mine whom I recently visited and whose life is blessed as she knows the joy of giving. It isn’t that she has a lot to give, for she doesn’t, but she wants to give what she has. All year long she thinks of what she can give at Christmas to those who give her care and those around her who need care. Since she has very limited sight and is confined to her wheelchair, she has to be very creative. We both pray that she will be able to give each person on her list something special. This year it was jewelry for the women and warm socks for the men on her list. She couldn’t rest until all the gifts were wrapped and addressed so she could give them out. She found so much joy in giving, especially to those who would not otherwise receive any gift for Christmas. When I arrived to see her, she and a friend had a table set up in her room with pretzels and eggnog that she was going to serve to the aids and friends. She gives without expecting anything in return.
How opposite the world’s way is of holding on to things, and saying mine, mine, mine! People want more and more possessions and run out of room to even store them. Really, who need a house for two people that is bigger than a hotel? But God’s way is for us to give not only of our possessions, but our time and our energy too. The paradox is that when we are generous we become satisfied and richer, but when we are stingy we become poorer and we just keep wanting more without being satisfied.
Let us be giving and generous and not withhold what God prompts us to give.
Challenge for today: Gladly give to someone in need the next time the Holy Spirit prompts you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
May His peace and joy fill your hearts on this Christmas Day!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen”
In an article in Mere Orthodoxy, Leah Libresco Sargeant points to the need for traditions in culture: “Traditions are tutorials in practical wisdom. At their best, they are desired paths, wearing a clear trail to follow through the landscape, shaped by the experiences of many prior walkers.” She quotes philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein on the danger of losing clear trails, walking rather on slippery ice: “We have got onto slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground.”
We certainly seem to be slipping a great deal today. With so many opinionated voices pontificating on the future, the impression is given of a group of children, sliding on the ice, indifferent to any possible collisions… simply enjoying their freedom without regard to any consequences. Growing up in northern Michigan, I have fond memories of playing on ice with my buddies, unaware of ensuing chaos. The illusion of safely playing on ice was soon met with the reality of painful accidents. I remember the bumps and bruises received from playing so carefree on the ice.
This image of slippery ice reminds me of Jesus asking his generation if they were really listening to him. Remember: John the Baptist portrayed Jesus as “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him'” (Matt. 3:3). Jesus asked, “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Matt. 11:16-19 – Message). Are we listening to Jesus or are we more concerned about the opinions of our culture?
Slipping on ice is like having our finger in the air, paying more attention to opinion polls than to the potential consequences of slipping on the ice. Without traction there is little hope of finding direction for the future. We will continue to be like children, enjoying our freedom, with no sense of direction? How can one make sense of this carefree chaos, when this seems to be the dominant narrative?
As followers of Jesus, we belong to the “Way” (Acts 9:2). We walk on the ancient paths of pilgrims who have gone before us. Jeremiah warns us of a crossroads: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls ” (Jer. 6:16). It behooves us to get “back to the rough ground.” It may not seem like freedom, but it helps us prepare for the collisions ahead.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are “surrounded by… a great cloud of witnesses.” We embrace “the great tradition” – walking in the path of those who have gone before. We belong to the communion of saints. To maintain our focus on the great tradition and the well-traveled paths, we need community. “The nature of tradition,” notes Sargeant, “is that it is too large to be contained in only one person’s life.” We need to cultivate the work of living an alternative to the dominant culture. This can be found in the body of Christ.