9 Qualities To Stuff In Your Stocking

This is a very busy time of year for most people. There are times that I feel as though my hustle can’t keep up with my bustle. But through it all, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the real importance of the season. The true “reason for the season” has always and will always be Jesus. His relentless and wonderful love for us caused Him to leave the splendor of Heaven to come and be born in a dirty feeding trough. He exchanged streets of gold for streets of dirt.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Unfortunately, we are all so susceptible to the oppression of busyness and the disease of self, and we can quickly forget (or ignore) what really truly matters most. It’s times like this where we might only focus on what we do, and we forget who we are supposed to be. But the truth is, it’s less about what you do, and more about who you are.

Who we are will dictate what we do.

So, let’s take this time and check our hearts. Let’s be sure that who we are is who God calls us to be.

Here are 9 things that we should be this (and every) season.

Loving- Romans 12:9 tells us that we ought to “let love be genuine.” Love is something that we can’t fake. We can’t hide behind a fake smile and just try to be polite. No. Our love for people needs to be real. But, as 1 John tells us, we can only truly know and show love if we first truly know and love God. God loves, and God is love. So, it is imperative that we love people, no matter who they are or what gifts they have or have not given us.

Present- There are too many distractions floating around and vying for our attention. Be present with the people you are currently with. Our family and friends deserve to have our attention. If we are physically present, but not emotional or mentally present, we are doing a poor job of loving.

Joyful- Joy is not an emotion. We can be happy and yet joyful. We can be sad and yet joyful. Joy is not dependent on your current situation, rather it is an attitude of the heart. We can be joyful in the midst of great happiness and in the midst of great pain. Joy is from God and we can share it with others. Romans 15:13

Patient- Chances are that during this season you will be forced to occupy the same room as a person or group of people that are somewhat difficult to deal with. It is important that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and produce patience in us. Graciously show patience to others because God has already shown great patience to you.

Forgiving- We all have been hurt by people. A flippant remark. An offensive joke. Old wounds. Yep, they happen. But we can’t hold grudges. When we hold onto past hurts and pain it destroys us from the inside out. Reconciliation should always be our main goal. God has forgiven us so greatly, we need to forgive others as well.

Selfless- Life is too short to only think of yourself. Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Ask yourself, how can I make someone’s day today? How can I show Jesus’ love to them right now? How can I put others before myself?

Thankful- We all, no matter what our current situation is, have something to be thankful for. First, let us give thanks to our God for the salvation that is available to us! Second, let us be thankful for the people in our lives that are there for us, who bless and encourage us. Don’t forget to thank them in person!

Welcoming- As we huddle around our friends and families we can’t forget that there are people who may not enjoy the same sort of relationships we do. We ought to be ready and willing to include them and show them the Love of God. As believers, we should be beacons of hospitality, warmth, and care. Family isn’t always built with blood.

Ready- We need to always be ready, both in this season and out of this season to share the extraordinarily Good News of Jesus and His love! This particular season gives us many opportunities to share that good-news message. Let’s not miss out, we need to be ready!

Many of the things listed flow from or build off of one another.

I hope that this list helps you to be reminded of who we are called to be. And I pray that we would not get caught up with the “stuff” of the season. Instead, I pray that we would allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and make us look more like the Savior that came all those years ago.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“The Christmas story doesn’t first start in Matthew 1, but in Genesis 1.”

Here we are in November and for about a month now my wife, Ashley, and I have been listening to Christmas music and watching cheesy Christmas movies. It has taken all my willpower not to put up Christmas decorations yet. And for the record; yes, I am allowed to sing about my savior’s birth all year round!

As I have been planning for the December sermon series I was reflecting on just how connected to the Old Testament Jesus was and is. We celebrate the Messiah’s birth once a year, but for an Old Testament believer, it was something they looked forward to daily!

The Christmas story doesn’t first start in Matthew 1, but in Genesis 1.

The relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament is a bond that is unbreakable. The Old Testament speaks of Jesus, not only on occasion but in every book it points to the coming Messiah. Let’s take a quick look at a few times that the Old Testament points to Jesus.

First, a few rules to interpreting the Old Testament…It is important to view the text in light of its original contexts to its original audience. The Bible was written to real people in a real place at a specific time. It is also important for the reader to not perform eisegesis and impress onto the text a view that was not originally intended to be there. Only after good exegeses is done can proper interpretation and application take place.

With those qualifications in mind let’s move forward.

            -The first significant point to consider is how Jesus is the New Adam or Second Man. While this is New Testament language the concept finds itself in the very first book of the Pentateuch. In Genesis chapter 3, while God is in the middle of handing out punishments to man, woman and the serpent, he makes an extraordinary promise in verse 15. God promises that one day the woman’s seed (we know this to be Jesus born of the virgin) although his heel will be bruised ultimately He, will crush the head of the serpent, the enemy. We know this to be found in Jesus death, resurrection, and second coming!

            -The next point to explore is how Jesus fulfills God’s promise to Abraham. God promises to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 that He will use Abraham and his many descendants to ultimately bless the whole world. Again this is fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. His grace and mercy provided a blessing of eternal life for all who believe. While there are other specifics to the Mosaic Covenant this is clearly one that is fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

            -Another key point in the OT that points, eludes to, and is fulfilled through Jesus, is God’s promise to David. The Davidic Covenant is set up because in 2 Samuel 7 David desires to build a house for God. Because of David’s heart attitude God promises to make his name great. Additionally, He promises that one of David’s offspring will be raised up and they will always be reigning on the throne. When we read Matthew chapter 1 we see that Jesus is clearly in the line of David who will set up His kingdom and thus reign forever. As well, Luke 1:33 states specifically that Jesus is the one who will reign over Jacob’s descendants (Israel) and that His reign will never end.  Praise God!

            -The last key that we will look at today is how Israel and the prophets continually look forward to the day that the Messiah will come. With our knowledge of the New Testament we can clearly see how Jesus fulfills each prophecy about the Messiah. He will be born of a virgin, He will be born in Bethlehem, He will enter into Jerusalem on a colt, He will be a prophet like Moses, He will be of the tribe of Judah, He will suffer, He will be betrayed, and the list goes on and on.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites right before, during, and after the exile we can see their desperate need for a physical savior. However, we can also see their desperate need for a spiritual savior as well since the exile was a result of their suffering spiritual state. The prophets understood this as they looked for the coming Messiah.

Closing Thoughts

It is important that we, 21st-century believers, understand that Jesus coming to earth was all part of God’s plan from the very beginning. That is why God the Son can be seen so brightly in the Old Testament. This is something that we must never forget because it emphasizes God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace.

Joy to the world the Lord has come…just as God always planned.