by Tim Howard
I recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia where we visited the poor, ministered to the sick and tried to encourage those who were depressed, discouraged and disenfranchised. Our 12-day excursion was based upon Luke 4 where Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
It was my first visit to a developing nation. I must say it was an eye opening and heart altering experience. The receptivity of the people, however, the warmth they exuded and the joy they demonstrated upon receiving some of God’s gifts made me feel like it was Christmas in Spring. As I left the country with fond memories and a renewed desire to help hurting people I purchased a couple of small gifts for my family. My wife said she liked the two scarf’s and my grandson expressed great emotional euphoria when he received his new T-shirt with a picture of an elephant on it. I figured if you visit Africa you ought to have a picture of a giraffe or an elephant or something. Once again it felt like Christmas in Spring.
Presents are a part of Christmas, birthdays, special events and other significant occasions. The word ‘Present’ can refer to both the act of giving a person something such as: the top executive will present an award to the top employee, or an actual item such as a Christmas gift.
In Romans 12:1 the Apostle Paul uses this word ‘present’ and combines the meaning of both. He urges us to ‘present’ ourselves to the Lord as though we are offering something to Him and that something is our own life, which coincidently is the actual gift or present.
You too can experience the true meaning of Christmas throughout the year by bringing to God four ‘presents’. I personally do them each morning after I rise and start my day.
1. ‘Present’ yourself to the Lord through praise and thanksgiving. Psalms 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. “ It’s amazing how different your day can be when you start with a thankful heart rather than a critical and complaining spirit. Seeing God’s goodness in the beginning of the day sets your course for the following hours.
2. ‘Present’ your heart to the Lord. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” It’s not just your actions that count but your attitude as well. Your deeds will never be greater than the motivation or attitude that precipitated them.
3. ‘Present’ your day to the Lord. Invite Him to help, guide and assist you in all your planned activities. While you’re at it, why not ask Him to change your schedule if it needs some adjusting.
4. ‘Present’ to the Lord your sphere of influence. We all are connected to other people and have a level of influence. Pray for your family, relatives, friends and co-workers. Seek to be a blessing.
When these four presents are brought to God each day, you position yourself for a celebration. Are you ready to celebrate? Could you use a little joy? Then start presenting yourselves to Jesus. Begin Today! Who said you can only experience Christmas in December?