Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Friend to Friend
Christmas morning is serious business at the Southerland home. The sequence of events does not vary. First come the stockings. Everyone has a bulging stocking spilling over with small gifts.
And I am not talking about just any old stocking stuffers. I listen and question and watch our children and grandchildren all year long to see what makes their eyes sparkle and their faces light up.
I keep an ever-evolving Christmas list. No one knows where I keep it. And no one ever will if I can help it. I begin buying stocking stuffers and gifts each summer, and I stash them in secret hiding places around the house. I told you … serious business!
After the stockings are opened, we take a break to clean up and eat breakfast. Dan then reads the Christmas story and talks about the miracle of Jesus’ birth.
It is then time to open gifts. We try to follow the rule of taking turns so everyone can enjoy the process. It works pretty well with the adults, but not so much with the kids. The adults usually end up waiting to open gifts until the kids have opened all of theirs. Watching the children really is my favorite part of the day.
One Christmas, God used our oldest grandson to teach me an important lesson. He was six years old at the time and desperately wanted a red remote control Corvette for Christmas. All year long I had heard about this amazing car, so when I found it during a Christmas in July sale, I quickly bought it and stashed it in one of my secret spots.
When Christmas morning rolled around that year, the kids tore into their gifts with the usual exclamations of delight. But everything stopped when Jaydan opened that car. He jumped to his feet, eyes wide with excitement, pumped both fists in the air and yelled, “I knowed it! I just knowed it!” Jaydan then threw himself into my arms and then Dan’s arms, thanking us for the car before he raced back to play with it.
Our daughter-in-law then explained that he had been praying for that car for months and had even picked a spot in his room where he would keep it … when he got it.
That’s praying with thanksgiving.
It reminds me of the time when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. While His friend was still in the tomb, Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank You that You have heard me” (John 11:41).
Don’t miss this important truth! Thanksgiving came before the miracle. Jesus prayed and then thanked God for what He was about to do. Jesus knew. He did not wait to see the miracle before giving thanks to God. His gratitude came before the miracle as an act of faith.
I wonder what Jesus was thinking and feeling. I mean raising someone from the dead is no small feat. Jesus was God … and yet He was man, too. Did a doubt or two slither through his heart and mind? If so, He chose to set them aside and trust His Father as an act of faith and assurance that the miracle was on its way. We need to do the same.
God is willing and waiting to pour out His favor and blessings on a life of faith. Hebrews tells us that faith always honors God and God always honors faith.
Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him.”
Sometimes my faith is small and weak. That’s when I cling to the words of Jesus found in Matthew 17:20:
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I want to be like Jaydan. I want to grow to the place where I pray … and make room in my heart and life for the answer to that prayer before it comes.
I want to live in a constant state of celebration that the miracle is on its way!
Father, I come to You today with a faith that seems so small. I want to believe You, Lord. I want to walk by faith, knowing that You will keep every promise You have ever made. Help my unbelief, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 86:15 (NIV) “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
Record this verse in your journal. Then make a list of the words in this verse that describe God. What do these words tell you about God’s willingness to bless your life?
What is the first step of faith you need to take today? Are you willing to take it right now?
More from the Girlfriends
NEW BOOK from Mary Southerland! Mary has updated the E-Book, Fit for Life, and released it in a soft cover book. Fit for Life addresses the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual areas of your life and teaches you principles that will empower you to bring each area under God’s control.