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Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Day 5: Fellowship Gifts

Day 5: Fellowship Gifts
(Loving God With Our Heart)

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)
Begin by being still before God.  Read Revelations 4:11 and meditate on the words.

Rev 4:11 (KJV)
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.  

1)    Be still and know he is God. 

2)    Mediate on God’s worthiness.

3)    Think about his glory, honor, and power… 
a)    Imagine his glory.
b)    Give him honor.
c)    Feel his power.

4)    Meditate on his creations… 
a)    Picture the most beautiful places you have seen. 
b)    Think about the people you know.
c)    Think about his wonders on earth.

5)    Enjoy being created for God’s pleasure.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.

2)    Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1):
a)    Think about the people with whom you fellowship…
i)    Pray for their needs.
ii)    List their needs in Appendix 1.
iii)    Ask God to help you learn to have better fellowship with the people in your life.
b)    Think about your church…
i)    Pray for her needs.
ii)    List them in Appendix 1.
iii)    Ask God to help you learn to have better fellowship through your church.
c)    Think about your relationship with the Christ Child…
i)    Ask God to help you learn to have better fellowship.
ii)    Write the request in Appendix 1.
d)    Pray for the other needs in Appendix 1.

3)    Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2):
a)    Praise God for the fellowship with:
i)    Him
ii)    Your church
iii)    The people in your life.
b)    List specific fellowship blessings that come to mind in Appendix 2.

4)    Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3):
a)    God longs for fellowship with you this Christmas.  He created you for his pleasure.  Offer him yourself for Christmas.
b)    Turn to Appendix 3.  Will your list delight your recipients? 
c)    Pray and update the list.

5)    Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out. 

6)    Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

We love God with our hearts when we learn to fellowship with God, friends, family, and our church.  God created us for his pleasure.  The word pleasure means a source of enjoyment or delight.  God takes delight in us and wants to give us the delights of our hearts.  He is delighted when we delight each other.  Gifts of fellowship delight. 

Background Scripture
Read Psalms 149:4.  Say the words, “The Lord takes delight in me.”  Write them in your journal.  Memorize this scripture. 

Read Zephaniah 3:17.  Change the words “your” and “you” to “my” and “me.”  Write out the first phrase in your journal.

God is mighty enough to save us from anything, including the Christmas rush.  This Christmas, he is taking delight in us.  Harried as Christmas is, if you let him, he will quiet us.  What will he use to quiet us?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

We sing Carols at Christmas.  We rejoice over the birth of the Christ Child.  God is also rejoicing over us.  While we are singing, how is he rejoicing over us?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Ephesians 1:4-5.  God sent His son Jesus to earth for us.  What were we predestined to be?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Why did he do this for us?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

God took great pleasure in giving us our very first Christmas gift.  Is it any wonder that so many of the Christmas gifts we give each other are for the purpose of our pleasure? 

Read 1 John 3:1.  How great is our Father’s love?  What are we?  (Write your answers in your journal.)

Fellowship Gift: A Charm Bracelet

Nancy grew up in a practical home that gave practical Christmas Gifts.  There never seemed to be enough money.  At Christmas, she asked for many things.  She did not get most of them.  “Once, I wanted a Fish Basket purse that cost $10.  I begged my parents for one.  I offered to work and help pay for it.  My father refused and said I had no idea how much $10 really was.”  For them, $10 was a fortune.

“One Christmas, I asked for a silver charm bracelet.  I felt guilty for asking but I longed for this bracelet.  It was expensive and had no practical purpose.  After the Fish Basket incident, I did not expect to receive this charm bracelet.” 

When Nancy opened her Christmas gift, she was shocked and delighted to find a silver charm bracelet.  “I will remember this gift forever.”  Forty years later, she still remembers the delight of this gift.  “My parents had sacrificed to get this gift.  I felt loved every time I wore the bracelet.”

Fellowship Gift: The Puppy

Duncan was four.  “I remember lying in bed and hearing a puppy crying.  I got up in the middle of the night and found my new Christmas puppy.  I loved it and played with it until way into the night.  Suddenly, I became aware of how many other presents were under the tree.  I decided I wanted to know what was in the packages.” 

While his parents were peacefully sleeping, he proceeded to open every single package that was under the tree.  His parents woke the next morning to having to re-wrap everyone’s Christmas presents.  The Christmas he remembers most fondly includes the pleasure of the fellowship with his dog and the spanking he got from his father. 

Fellowship Gift: The Ski Trip

Josh and Jeremy are brothers.  Their favorite Christmas gift was a snow skiing trip to Colorado with their extended family.  Nine members of the same family decided to give each other the gift of fellowship and to spend a week together in a Condo.  “We had a wonderful time,” Josh reported.  “We spent our days on the slopes and our evenings playing games, sitting around a fire, and drinking hot chocolate.” 

Fellowship Gift: A Gold Chain

My husband Bob says one of his favorite presents is the gold chain that he wears every day.  “I have no idea how many years ago you gave it to me.”  He seldom takes it off.  “Wearing it reminds me of our love.  It also reminds me to pray for you.”  My husband is a smart man.  It is Christmas and I am in the process of selecting his gifts.  His affirmation has put me in a mood to be more generous. 

Fellowship Gifts: A Warning

There are certainly temptations when giving and receiving gifts of the heart.  Some people enjoy gifts of fellowship so much that they miss the pleasure of all the other purposes in giving.  Some may be so practical that they fail to enjoy a gift that is purely for fellowship or pleasure. 

If you are one that loves gifts of the heart, you may be tempted to give no other kind of gift.  Gift giving is not for us.  We are to look at the needs and the desires of the people receiving our gifts on behalf of the Christ Child.  The Christ Child wants them delighted.  People may have specific practical needs during the Christmas season.  If someone is extremely practical, your fellowship gift to may seem frivolous. 

God wants us to be part of his family, as adopted sons and daughters.  He wants his family to love care for each other.  We are God’s precious children and his fingerprints are everywhere.  Every gift we receive has God’s fingerprints on it.  He constantly sends us reminders of his love.  Like Nancy’s parents, he delights us with special gifts.  Like Duncan’s family, he can love us and discipline us all at the same time.  Like Josh and Jeremy’s family, he spends time with us.  Like the relationship that Bob’s gold chain represents, he longs for a relationship with us. 

If you ask any child what they want for Christmas, they will tell you toys.  Most adults remember their childhood as their most pleasant Christmases.  They received their toys with pleasure.  They played together and their parents even played with them. 

Most people love gifts of fellowship.  These gifts include anything that brings us together or has the specific purpose of pleasure.  One may find pleasure in more practical gifts but pleasure is worthy in itself.  When assessing whether a Christmas gift has a Godly purpose, bringing pleasure can be enough. 

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Making It Personal
a)    God takes pleasure in us. 
i)    Do you take pleasure in Him?  How can you improve?  (Write your answers in your journal.)
ii)    Do you take pleasure in your family?  How can you improve?  (Write your answers in your journal.)
iii)    Do you take pleasure in your church?  How can you improve?  (Write your answers in your journal.)
b)    Delight
i)    Do the lights and the trees make you grin? 
ii)    Do you get excited about the gifts you are given? 
iii)    Do your gifts delight the people around you? 
iv)    Are you delighted with this Christmas season?  If not, what would it take to delight you?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
v)    What fellowship gift would delight you?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
vi)    Be still and take a moment.  Let yourself feel the delight of His presence. 

2)    Praying Continuously  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a)    Think like a child.  Children understand that living life for sheer delight is acceptable.  As you go through your day, look for ways to be delighted. 
b)    As you perform each task, ask yourself:
i)    Do I take pleasure in this task?  If the answer is yes, praise God for the task. 
ii)    If the answer is no, ask God to help you take delight in the task.
c)    At least once during the day, take a moment and give the gift of your time for the sake of fellowship. 
d)    At least once during the day, do something for yourself that has no other purpose than your pleasure.  Blow bubbles.  Buy yourself a small gift.  Read the comic strips.  Take a bubble bath.  Step outside and enjoy the wind blowing on your face. 
e)    At each mealtime and at bedtime, take a moment to find delight in God’s presence (or is it presents?). 

3)    Ending The Day
a)    Thank God for fellowship at Christmas. 
b)    Thank God for taking delight in us. 
c)    Tell Him how much you love Him. 
d)    If you do not take delight in Christmas, confess and ask God to give you the heart of a child. 
e)    If your gifts do not delight God and people, ask God to teach you how to demonstrate his delight in us through the gifts you give to others. 
f)    If you do not know how to relax and enjoy the fellowship of giving and receiving gifts, ask God to help you.

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