Ultimate Christmas Swap

What if I told you that my husband demands elaborate dinners every night? He only wants the freshest and finest ingredients, which means a daily trip to the grocery store. He doesn’t like to eat leftovers, so there isn’t ever a night off. He wants fine wine, candles, and background music. You could have a few different responses to this high standard. One might be, “He sounds like a tyrant who is very difficult to live with! You must be exhausted from all that work every day!” Another might say, “Well, he works very hard while you spend your days writing, working out, and playing tennis. He has every right to demand that of you!”

Well, I didn’t tell you the whole story. The truth is that my husband does demand those things but he does them all himself.  He loves to cook and creates incredible dishes for our family. He even enjoys going to the grocery store to pick out the best ingredients! He doesn’t ask me to do anything except to sit down at the table and enjoy the food that he prepared. In fact, he loves to entertain and is happy to cook for as many people as I will invite (at least before COVID restrictions)! When our daughter was younger, and our guests were raving about the food, she would often exclaim proudly, “We eat like this, every night!”

Some see God as One who demands a standard of perfection that none of us can ever attain. He actually does demand perfection, but that is only half the story.

“As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:11 (NASB)

God demands perfection and He delivered that perfection in the gift of His Son. Jesus takes our sin and we get to take His righteousness…the ultimate Christmas swap! When you think about how Jesus came to earth and fulfilled every rule Himself so that we can feast at His table forever, then there is a sense of relief, gratitude, and praise. He gives us eternal life and writes His law, that He fulfilled, on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 10:16).

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans 8:3-4 (NASB)

All we have to do is accept God’s loving invitation and take our seat at His table. He doesn’t ask us to bring anything.  “Just bring yourself!” As we tell our dinner guests at the Clark house. Entrust your entire life to Jesus, and He is faithful to finish the work He started in you.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

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I Don’t Know What to Pray

It seems that at times when I need prayer the most, I don’t even know what to say. I’m not sure if everyone feels this way or if it is just part of my personality makeup.

If you know me well at all, we have probably had at least one conversation about Myers Briggs personality types. The MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Inventory) fascinates me on so many levels, so much so that I became an MBTI consultant. One of the most useful aspects of knowing your loved one’s type is knowing how that type reacts under severe stress. In one of my certification classes it was described this way: Your dominant personality function is driving your car, but when you are “in the grip” and nothing seems to be working, the complete opposite personality function takes over. It is as if the baby riding in a carseat in the back of your car leaps out, pushes you out of the way, and takes the wheel. Since you don’t normally use this function of your personality, you don’t use it very well. I’m sure you have witnessed a quiet, kind individual suddenly lash out in anger and then say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me!”

In my case, my personality preference of “extraverted feeler,” means that when I am really, REALLY upset, I morph into an “introverted thinker.” I’m not very good at it since I don’t flex that introverted thinking muscle very often. So instead of effectively and efficiently problem solving like a skilled introverted thinker, I clam up, ruminate, don’t want to talk to anyone, and feel unable to receive any outside comfort. Thankfully, God in His mercy has a remedy for me even when I’m at my worst.

“…He bore the sins of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah 53:12c (ESV)

Jesus, on the cross, bore our sin and still intercedes for us. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I am gifted with the Holy Spirit who prays for me when I don’t know what to pray.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.”

Romans 8:26 (ESV)

When I am at my worst, I have the confidence that while I am frozen in stress, God is still working. He cares and is actively praying for me when I don’t know what to pray. Not only that but the Spirit knows exactly what to pray. The Holy Spirit is God and prays according to His will. He knows exactly how I feel and what I need even when I don’t.

“And He who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Romans 8:27 (ESV)

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