To count someone as a close friend or better yet a best friend means you know them pretty well.
I have a couple of very dear, close friends.
Through sharing life together we have learned how one another thinks. That means we understand what stirs our hearts and what, conversely, leaves us cold.
Gifting takes on special meaning in such relationships.
Shopping is not my thing and this time of year just reinforces my disinterest in the activity.
Finding bargains falls under a different class, at least for me.
That is worthwhile shopping for me.
Once in a while I come across something that has a special some one's name all over it. Quite often it is at a tag sale, consignment shop or the likes. A perfect gift at a good price-that is when I am delighted to be shopping.
Even more delightful is the anticipation of being able to surprise someone I love with something that I know they will enjoy.
It's a good feeling.
That is my kind of giving.
Not under obligation, no expectations, just a gift given because it is the perfect thing to do.
That is the kind of giving that makes Papa smile.
My God set the example of gift giving by giving His Son, Jesus.
Truly the greatest Gift ever given!
Yet, many do not receive the Gift, but ignore it as if it had no value.
They do not realize all that is wrapped up in this priceless Gift.
As the church gathered this morning, we celebrated the LORD'S Supper and one of our elders, Mike, shared a short meditation with us.
Since this celebration is a time to reflect on Jesus' great sacrifice, it was appropriate for his thoughts to be about sacrifice.
In the Old Testament the LORD God had instituted sacrifices as a means of atoning for sin. Something that had to be done over and over, as, unfortunately, sin is not a one time thing in any one's life.
Mike reminded us that Hebrews 9:22 tells us,
"...without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness."That is how it works, whether we like it or not. God is God and He sets the rules.
And He adheres to them Himself.
Because He loves us so much He wanted to give us the perfect gift; the Gift of salvation.
He wanted to open the way for us to have an ongoing intimate relationship with Him by making atonement for our sins, once for all.
He wanted to be our Best Friend.
Jesus is my best friend and as such I seek to give Him the gift that most delights His heart.
The sacrifice of worship.
A sacrifice because we must give our time and attention wholeheartedly to make it true worship.
As I was reading in Exodus this morning, my attention was caught up by Moses' encounter in with God at Mount Horeb.
It involved a burning bush that was not being consumed by the flames.
That is because it was a Holy fire.
God instructed Moses to take his sandals off, as the ground was holy ground.
Holy because God was present.
It got me thinking.
God is omni-present, which means He is everywhere at all times.
So what was this encounter that Moses had? What made it different?
This was the Manifest Presence of God.
Manifest means to reveal, to make evident.
God is present everywhere, but at times He reveals His Presence.
In Psalm Twenty-Two we learn that God inhabits the praises of His people.
Papa often allows us to sense His Presence in a more tangible way when we give ourselves to worship.
Our gift results in us receiving a gift!
What a joy to read in Zephaniah 3:17
"The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing."
Our God's gift just keep giving!
He does not stop at salvation, which would be more than enough, but continues to bless us with His Loving Presence.
Papa help me never to overlook the Gift of You!