Far More Jesus

Songs of the Christmas season say we should feel wonderful, jolly, merry and bright. But instead we often feel stressed, stretched, buried, and exhausted. It is easy to get caught up in the rush and forget that we cannot give from an empty reservoir of time, energy, and warmth.

Stop for a second and remember why we celebrate Christmas. It is not about gifts, parties, concerts, decorations, lights, trees, or cards and letters. It is not even about family traditions and gatherings. Christmas is about Jesus, the celebration of His birth and the hope, peace, and joy that He brought to earth. Consider His words on this:

“…I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of his sheep.” (John 10:10, PHILLILPS)

Jesus brought us far more life. Not far busier life or far more exhausted life. He brought us far richer life and far deeper life. He gave up His life so we could have far more life.

Here are some of the gifts Jesus has given us:

  • Forgiveness. “But it was because of our rebellious deeds that he was pierced and because of our sins that he was crushed. He endured the punishment that made us completely whole, and in his wounding we found our healing.” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT)
  • Love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)
  • Joy. “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Acts 2:28, NIV)
  • Peace. “Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1, NCV)
  • Patience. “…We are together in Jesus, and we share these things: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance…” (Revelation 1:9, ERV)
  • Kindness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
  • Goodness. “…We ask our God to help you live the good way he wanted when he chose you. The goodness you have makes you want to do good.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11, ERV)
  • Faithfulness. “The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, VOICE)
  • Gentleness. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5, NIV)
  • Self-Control. “We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.” (Titus 2:12, MSG)
  • Hope. “I pray that God will open your minds to see his truth. Then you will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. You will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.” (Ephesians 1:18, ERV)

The gifts Jesus offers us are not wrapped and waiting under the tree. Through the Holy Spirit, these gifts are alive and active inside the hearts of God’s daughters. These gifts will not break or get lost or stolen. They are guaranteed to be yours forever! And they will never wear out; in fact, the more consistently you use them, the stronger they grow. Forgive quickly and respond with kindness when others offend you this week. Prayerfully choose gifts that express love rather than obligation. Let the music fill you with joy and hope as you reflect on the meaning of Christ the Messiah coming to earth. Rest in peace as you enjoy the beauty and calmness of the season’s lights.

Focusing on God’s gifts — and sharing them with those around us — enables us to feel wonderful, jolly, merry, and bright, even during the busy season of Christmas. Unwrap them today and begin savoring those that are most meaningful. Let these gifts fulfill you and add far more life to your day…and every day ahead!

Sisters,
What song lyric or phrase describes you during the Christmas season?
What aspect of Christmas is most important to you? Does this add to or detract from your celebration of Jesus?
Which of the gifts listed is most meaningful to you today? What will help you remember to savor it during this busy month?
Enjoy far more life as you celebrate Jesus’ work inside your heart this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso

Far More Passion

When we started this blog journey, I promised we would discover our passion. I expected to discuss spiritual gifts and the satisfaction we find serving God and blessing others using the traits He wired into us. But that is not where the path has led.

As each week’s post comes together, a new perspective on passion is taking shape in my heart and mind. Using our gifts may be a way to express our passion, but recognizing the source of our passion is the key to sustaining far more life. If we want far more life moments, our passion needs to be fed. But what is the source? Fortunately it is revealed in Scripture:

But God was very, very kind. He loved us very, very much. We were dead because of the wrong things we had done. He has made us alive with Christ. You have been saved by his love and kindness. (Ephesians 2:4-5, WE)

…I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, GW)

God’s love is our source of passion! It is the foundation on which far more life is built. As our understanding grows our passion is sparked. We discover far more life is only found in God. And it is not something we keep inside, it shines for all to see. Far more life is not really about us; it is about Him.

If you discovered the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you be passionate about sharing it with everyone suffering from that dreadful disease? If a doctor introduced you to that cure, wouldn’t you tell everyone about him or her as well? Of course you would! Sin is like spiritual cancer, and you have discovered the cure: perfect love! More importantly, you have a relationship with God who is Perfect Love!

Curing cancer — of the physical or spiritual variety — does not just prevent you from dying. It also offers you life. And once you have been rescued from death, you want to experience and share far more life with everyone who crosses your path! You are passionate about the cure and the One who cures. Living out this verse becomes your desire:

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

To our sinful nature, this verse can sound like a heavy burden to carry, one more expectation placed on us. But when we read it with a heart that is full of God’s love, it resonates with us and motivates us to respond. Living for Jesus in all we say and do is far more life! It expresses exactly what we want to do as a new creation in Him. It satisfies us and fulfills us because it is what we were designed to do. It is not a burden or an expectation. It is our response to receiving His love.

We can tackle any task with passion when we remember Who we are doing it for and why He deserves our best. When we understand and remember His love for us, we are motivated to love Him back. We are wise to adopt the instruction given to slaves just a few verses later:

Whatever you do, do it from the heart…you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, CSV)

When I grow weary in the middle of task, this verse encourages me to keep going. I ask myself, “If I was doing this for Jesus, would I be satisfied to stop now?” Usually the answer is no. I want to give Jesus my best. So I can cheerfully keep going — whether I am serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, or showing mercy — when I picture Jesus on the receiving end. I may not be passionate about the particular task, but I can be passionate about loving Jesus and being a vessel of His love to the people around me.

Let’s be honest: there are some things that we naturally enjoy more than others. It is okay to prefer babysitting a friend’s children over holding her hand through a medical procedure. It is okay to prefer giving money to hire a job done more than leading a work crew doing the task. It is okay to prefer writing one person an encouraging note over leading a large group Bible study. There is a variety of needs around us, so God has given us a variety of gifts and skills to meet them. Thankfully if we look around we can usually see a place to serve God and others that we will enjoy. But the fact remains: whether we are doing something we enjoy or something we don’t, we can always do it to the best of our ability with a passion for God. We can always choose far more life.

Sisters,
What reminds you of the vastness of God’s love for you?
Does that make you passionate for God today?
If your passion is weak right now, will you invest in better understanding God’s love for you?
Adopt the mindset that you are working for Jesus this week. What changes do you notice in your feelings, thoughts, and actions?
Enjoy far more life growing your passion this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso