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December 6

To Give or to Receive

 Near the close of his words of exhortation to the Ephesus elders recorded by Luke in Acts 20, the apostle Paul reminded them of something Jesus once said:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35

I love to give gifts. I love the reaction of unexpected gifts, so I enjoy giving even if it is not a special occasion such as a birthday, wedding, or Christmas. I buy gifts all during the year when I see something that reminds me of someone. Sometimes I save the gifts for a special occasion and sometimes I give it to the person right then.

I enjoy receiving gifts and I am grateful for them, but I don’t get really excited. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been really excited in my entire life. You might describe me as a flatliner and that would be fairly accurate. It is not that I don’t appreciate them, I do. I just don’t squeal with delight as others do.

Things changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began the battle. I learned that it is better to receive sometimes than to give. I received so much love from so many people and in so many ways that I was overwhelmed. I learned to receive cards and prayers on a daily basis. I learned to receive acts of kindness when I looked like I might not make it through the day. I learned to receive baked goodies and food made with love when I did not want to eat at all. I learned to receive the help of my family and friends when I needed it most. I learned to RECEIVE.

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[Photo by Michelle on Unsplash]

Isn’t that what God asked us to do when He sent His Son at Christmas? God asked us to receive His most important gift of all time. Have you received God’s gift of His only begotten Son?

Dear God, as we go through the season of Advent buying gifts and preparing for the birth of Christ, help us to remember to receive Your Gift, Lord, and cherish it always. Amen.

Dianna Smith

Additional readings: Mark 2:17, John 13:8, Romans 5:17, 1Peter 4:10

December 7

[We’re continuing our way through John Piper’s devotional, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. Read his offering before you read ours.]

Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

Acts 3:22-26

What this passage teaches us is that God brought Jesus onto the scene of history to bless people. “In your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” …

If you will move toward him in faith, you will receive the blessing. This is what Christmas is all about – the greatest blessing.

– John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, page 29, 30*

Do you know the blessing of Jesus in His cradle? on the cross? Explain.

Do you know His blessing in joy? sorrow? Think of specific examples.

If you are intimate with His blessings in your life, consider how you can share them with others, so they might know His blessing too.

If His blessing seems elusive to you, consider why that might be. Ask Him to open your eyes to His specific blessings for you.

Lord, You came to bless all people and nations, including me. Thank You for the blessings I clearly see and receive, and those I’m still struggling with.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by NeONBRAND on Unsplash]

*© 2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.