Every Good Gift

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

James 1:17 KJV

It is Monday and it is three more days to Christmas. Last minute preparations are being made for this wonderful day of celebrations for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It may be the only time that some individuals receive gifts during this time. It is a time of remembrance of those who we love, and those who have helped us along our path. It is a time of family and friends to share with each other and to know the meaning of belonging. I can remember as a teen being somewhat alone on Christmas Day with no mother or brother, but at-least I had a stepfather who cared and accepted me for who I was with no strings attached. To me this was the perfect gift “acceptance and love.” When you have nothing to give in material possessions, you find the meaning of what the perfect gift is. It is the heart of love that keeps on sharing no matter what happens in our everyday life. Sharing a simple meal in love goes a long way in realizing that as humans we are meeting our basic need.

The word gift in this scripture is the Greek word for dosis, which means the act of giving or the thing given. As a child, it was always exciting to see what was under the Christmas Tree on Christmas Day. So much anticipation and hope came upon us as children that, if we were good throughout the year, we would receive our hearts desire. Of course, this did not always happen, but a gift was still under the tree if we would receive it.

We may be uncomfortable receiving a gift if it came with strings attached when growing up. Parents tend to put conditions on children to perform in each task to meet certain expectation. You may have heard the saying, “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Sometimes a person cannot meet that expectation because it is unrealistic and only feeds upon a selfish desire of the person who is giving the conditions. It takes away from the act of receiving with humility and appreciation of the gift being given.

Did you know that receiving creates a connection with the person who is giving?  Sometimes we shy away from it to put a distance between the person giving the gift. If we can let go of the fear of past judgements and begin to see the generous heart of the giver whatever the intentions of promoting a self-image of being good, we can welcome the gift with a true heart of compassion. Compassion is a gift we all need today in the world we live in. How we view the world is in our actions we project towards others.

Receiving a gift may also bring the pressure to reciprocate. A person may want to protect themselves from being in another person’s debt. The actual part of giving had no debt attached, but rather the understanding that humanity has many faults. Therefore, the attitude of an individual should be one of love and forgiveness, which releases a person to receive the gift with open arms.

God’s gift coming down from the Father of Lights had no conditions, for He did not ask us to do anything to pay for our sins. Christ paid the debt in full at the cross. Are we ready for the perfect gift that came down from the Father of Lights?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 KJV

God’s Son is the gift that was given to the world. It was given out of a heart of love and compassion. Can we receive His Love and Compassion? I pray that the answer is “yes.” We must receive the gift as a child in hope that He will bring healing to our soul and body that we may begin the walk in living daily in His Love. The greatest gift the world has is in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Light over Darkness

Light over darkness is a symbol given for the Festival of Lights during Hanukkah. The beginning of the Festival of Lights was this last Thursday December 10th with the lighting of the menorah. The Hanukkah lights are lit at sundown and is generally placed in a window so it can be seen from outside the house. Sometimes the menorah is placed in a special location within the home. It is the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Greek Syrian army. The real miracle was the olive oil in the temple that lasted for eight days when there was only one day left of the supply of oil. Olive oil was used in the temple to light the menorah. [see Leviticus 24:2]. Olive oil was also used to anoint priests giving them the authority on behalf of God and the Holy Spirit [see Exodus 30:22-33].

The invading Greeks over the Jews would of been devastating because of the different social cultural beliefs such as monotheistic worship of a God verses polytheistic worship of many Gods. The root of all Jewish belief is to worship the one and only true God. Let’s consider the following quote in the Bible.

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5

The menorah is meant to spread light to others with the center light being represented by God in the standard menorah, which has only 7 branches instead of nine that is used for Hanukkah. There is a separation between light and darkness. When one is in darkness they can not see where they are going. There is no specific direction and a person ends up stumbling along the path because there is not enough light to light their path. In Proverbs 4:18, it states that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” No one should hide the light that our Lord has given.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

Luke 11:33

Light is needed to see where one is going. That is the importance of any candlestick, to light the path in which we walk. If you read further in Luke chapter 11 in verse 34-35, it states, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore, when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” Many Rabbi’s today, are saying that we despairingly need the light to shine over darkness during this year “Festival of Lights.” We are living in a time that is changing the way we live. Some call it a time of shaking things up. Whatever your belief, heed the warning of your eye if it is in the light or darkness. The true light today is in the face of Jesus Christ.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

As the Holiday Season is upon us, let us prepare our hearts for the Savior that was born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world, and the way towards peace with God and humanity. Let Christ’s light shine within our hearts today and always, for “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” [see 1 John 5:11].

The Mustard Seed

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; Which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:31-32

Have you heard the story of the mustard seed? The mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet when it is planted it grows into a big tree. Does the size of a seed matter when it comes to Faith? No, the size of the seed does not matter. However, the right condition does matter. When a seed is exposed to the proper conditions such as light, water, and temperature it grows. What about Faith? How does Faith grow? First, we must establish what Faith is. Faith is conviction, assurance, and reliance upon Christ. In Hebrews 12:2, it states that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. We must believe in who Jesus is and that He is risen from the dead, for if He is not risen, then our Faith is in vain [see 1 Corinthians 15:14].

How do we get Faith? The Bible tells us that Faith comes by hearing the word of God.   We can build our Faith by reading the word, or by hearing someone’s testimony of a miracle that has happen. The miracle of sight, the miracle of hearing, or the miracle of healing from some disease shows God’s faithfulness when we believe. Have you witness a miracle? It is always exciting to hear about a miracle, and or experience one for yourself.  Miracles are always possible with God.

In all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we can read about wonderful healing and miracles. It all centers around the person of Jesus. God uses people who are full of faith to make miracles happen. Like Stephen in Acts 6:8, who was full of faith and power, and he did great wonders and miracles among the people. Jesus said on more than one occasion in the Bible that it was unbelief that kept the healing from manifesting itself. Just look at Matthew chapter 17:14-20, where a man brought his son who was mentally ill to the disciples and they could not heal him. Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to him, and he healed him. The disciples wondered why they could not heal the boy. This is what Jesus said.

Because of your unbelief; for I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Matthew 17:20 KJV

Faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen [see Hebrews 11:1]. Divided loyalty and indecision voids faith from working. This is usually the result of fear of failure. Sometimes we do not have patience and or willingness for the healing to take place. I once read about a woman who had a large goiter and she believed that God healed her. Everyone who knew her thought she was out of her mind because they could see that she was not healed, yet the healing took place one year later. The substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen. . .she saw it, but those around her did not have faith to see her healed. No one knows why it took a year, but we do know that all things are possible with God [ see Matthew 19:26].

We can also glean some insight from James, the brother of Jesus. James said that faith without works is dead [see James 2:14-20]. James gave Abraham and his son Isaac as an example. Abraham was instructed by God to offer up his son on the alter as a sacrifice. When Abraham acted on what God told him, God provided a ram. Abraham was not divided in his loyalty to God even though he loved his son [see Genesis 22]. Each person is given a measure of faith and when we act upon it, we begin to grow and see the power of God. No matter what situation you are in, believe in the author and the finisher of our faith Jesus, and witness the wonder of miracles today. . .the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen. Place it in God’s hand and believe in his provision. May your faith grow as big as the mustard tree.