★ Thought for the Day – A Season for Everything ★

89 - Daily Dependence - Ecclesiastes 3 - 1-8 - A Time For EverythingEcclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV) says,

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible he had this commentary on verse 1…

“In His wisdom and sovereignty, God sets an appropriate time for everything.  At the right time, Christ was born (Galatians 4:4); at the right time, He lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6).  Don’t run ahead of God’s timing!  His blessings are always worth the wait.” 

We just concluded a 25 day consecutive series of post looking into the “Reason for the Season” and why we should be thankful at Christmastime.  If you missed it, you can catch up by ★ Clicking Here ★.  We spent that time delving into the significance of that Season and why it was so important for Jesus to come.  On Day 01 we started off with this quote from John Maxwell,

“Reflection turns experience into insight.” 

Today, as 2015 draws to an end, let’s not get ahead of God’s timing…Before we enter into a new year with fresh opportunities and a clean slate, I thought it appropriate to take moment in this season before January 1, to share with you what I have reflected upon that God spoke to me in the season of “Advent.”  My prayer is that like me, you would gain a new insight!  This will also be an opportunity for those that missed the series to get a sampling of what we posted about through the series.  Below are hyperlinks to each day’s post and one aspect that God really spoke to me about…

★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★

“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.”  Robert Morris Senior Pastor at Gateway Church

★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

“First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.  Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.  It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”  John Piper

★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★

“Celebrate Christmas with a spirit of adoration and joy.  Celebrate by stringing up twinkling lights on your front door.  Celebrate by humming the tunes of Nat King Cole and “Silent Night.”  Celebrate by giving to those in need.”  My Daughter, age 14

★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★

“For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.  Luke 1:37-38

★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★

Regardless of whether we are just starting out in life or reaching the end, their example shows that you are never too young or too old to experience God’s promises!”  My wife’s insight

★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.”  David Smith, Elder at Gateway Church

★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” of John 3:30 (NLT) 

★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★

“The beauty of the hope ushered in through Christ and made alive in us through His Spirit, is that it gives us the ability to have abiding hope, that transcends earthly circumstances and uncertainty.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)

★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★

“God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children.  The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

“Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth.  But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.”  John Piper

★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)

★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  Kay Warren

★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODIES.”  Kevin Brennan

★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God   giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.”   Chris Tomlin

★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Steve Maraboli

★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

“Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.”  Tony Evans

★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”  Zig Ziglar

★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 21 – Reason for the Season – Neighborly Competition ★

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12b (NKJV)

★ Day 22 – Reason for the Season – Part of the Stable Few? ★

“Worship will get you through the toughest times in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”  Unknown

★ Day 23 – Reason for the Season – Can Christians Condone Claus? ★

“Santa Claus may be fun at Christmas, but he pales in comparison to the One who reigns forevermore. Jesus can give you what you really need.”  Max Lucado

★ Day 24 – Reason for the Season – Best Christmas Gift Ever! ★

“Status was never important to Jesus but selflessness was…Christ surrendered everything He loved in order that He might serve those He loved.”

“What did Christmas mean to Christ?  It meant giving up heaven, giving up the beauty of His home and selflessly coming to Earth.”  David Jeremiah

★ Day 25 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Isn’t the Destination ★

“Christmas doesn’t end December 25th…Its beautiful reality really should linger a little longer.”  Lysa TerKeurst

Let start off the New Year by closing out 2015 with a new insight!


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★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

I have good news and bad news.  The good news…Today is only Day 16 of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series!  The bad news is…There is only 9 Days left to shop ’til Christmas!  16 - Daily Dependence - 9 Days Until ChristmasDid you feel your blood pressure rise with that update?  It’s no wonder as marketers put these types of images with tag lines like “Guaranteed delivery before Christmas Day if you complete your orders by ____.”  The constant bombardment of commercials, advertisements and email flyers cultivates a Spirit of Consumerism and Materialism that I pray will be broken today.  We first introduced this with the ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★ post that was chiefly written by my oldest daughter when she was 14!  Today’s “Reason for the Season” is inspired by her as well, however not for what she wrote, but for how she lives.  But before I jump into that, let’s have some comic relief, and since we haven’t had any for a couple of days, here are two…16 - Daily Dependence - Christmas List and Gift ReceiptI so love these comics because they illustrate two aspects of the same spirit that we need to be very careful about feeding.  One is that you get everything on your list and the other is that needing assurance that the gift can be returned/exchanged if it is not liked.  Now I will put this caveat out there…There is nothing sinful about making a Christmas list or receiving/getting gift receipts, that IS NOT what I am saying at all.  As my wife and I have been raising our now 15-year old and 12-year old daughters, we have tried to impart to them that Christmas is about Jesus and doing for others more than it is about receiving gifts.  Before you think that they never received Christmas gifts, that is the furthest thing from the truth…we just do not spend a thousand dollars on Christmas presents for two reasons…

1.  To stop them expecting and becoming entitled to receive large, costly items…And…

2. For practical reasons, we don’t want to have to work the next 6 months paying off the credit cards to pay for Christmas. 

What I hope to do today is introduce this idea of a “Gift from the Heart.”  A what?  You may ask…You mean I do not receive a gift from you that is on my list but rather that you put thought and effort into coming up with and buying on your own?  I must admit that when my wife and I were first dating, this was a foreign concept and one that needed to adjust to but one that I love!  We still have some items on a list by we have tried hard over the years to put a little effort into the gift exchange.  It was interesting though, as we have had the “Christmas List” discussions with different family members, when we came to our oldest we asked her what she wanted for Christmas and her response was a “gift from the heart,” or money for her to go on a Mission Trip to help others less fortunate.  WOW!  I had two reactions…one of conviction on how selfless that response was and the other unbelievable pride in the maturity and true “Spirit of Christmas” she possesses at the age of 15!  Now I tell you this not to brag but to encourage and show that it is possible to move from a “gimmie attitude” to one of “giving.”  That is the Heart of God and what Jesus came to earth to teach us!  I love what Chris Tomlin said,

“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.” 

The Beauty of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence!!  In ★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★16 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 1-23 - Beauty of Christmas post, I shared about a beloved episode of our family from Little House on the Prairie called “Christmas in Plum Creek” and I wanted to share yet another heartwarming moment of that episode.  In the climactic scene, baby Carrie reminds the family that “there’s one last Christmas gift to open.”  After finding a penny, Carrie went to Olsen’s Mercantile and bought a gift for Baby Jesus…16 - Daily Dependence - Little House in the Prairie Star on the Christmas TreeA shiny star ornament for the top of the family’s Christmas tree.  After all, Christmas is really Jesus’ birthday isn’t it?  Such a beautiful example of sacrifice and I pray that we could all have a heart of giving like a child…To give all we have for Jesus!  And it does not mean give away all your money, it could mean giving up your time or some other resource to help others.  My wife told me of this acoustic from Susie Jennings’ book “31 Days of Mountaintop Miracles” yesterday about how to have True JOY…It is possible to have if we focus on these priorities…

16 - Daily Dependence - True JoyAnd to tie this into our “Reason for the Season,” we can have True Joy in spite of the marketing-induced chaos if we only adjust our focus…Not just for the Christmas S16 - Daily Dependence - Christmas Party for Jesuseason but all year round!  Susie Jennings runs a ministry called Operation Care International which puts on an “ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR JESUS” for the homeless.

If you live in Dallas/Fort Worth, it will be at the Dallas Convention Center this Saturday, December 19 @ 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, if you would like information to attend, volunteer and/or give, click here.

Robert Morris had this interesting point that can help with the refocusing effort,

“We tend to relate God’s blessings to stuff.  But a person who has more stuff than someone else is not necessarily more blessed.  Stuff is just stuff.  And the way you think about stuff will determine whether you have a heart of gratitude or a heart of greed.” 

I want to always have a heart of gratitude and it starts by simple saying thank God for all that you have richly blessed me with…Start big and go small…

  • Thank you for sending Jesus to save me,
  • Thank you for my spouse,
  • Thank you for my children,
  • Thank you for my job,
  • Thank you for my home,
  • Thank you for the clothes on my back,
  • Thank you for my dog!

You get the point…There is so much to be grateful for!  I will close with a picture of my dog and James 1:17 (NIV) which says, 

16 - Daily Dependnece - James 1-17 - Every Good Gift
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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