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Christmas Presence

“If you could ask God for anything this Christmas, what might it be?” That’s the question I posed to a good buddy over lunch. It caught him by surprise. He gave me a wide-eyed stare and asked, “Anything?”
It wouldn’t have surprised me if he would have most wanted a heavenly intervention of financial infusion. I happen to know that he’s hit the half century mark and has zero saved for retirement. But his deepest desires had nothing to do with material things. What he most wanted was something much more valuable. In fact, it wasn’t a thing at all.
Frankly, I was both encouraged and inspired by his answer. He said, “I most want intimacy with the Holy Spirit. I want ‘enthusiasm’ as in ‘En Theos or ‘In God.’ I want to experience the full meaning of that, so that I am more able to listen to the prompts and nudges of the Spirit.”
He reminded me of one of the most substantial books of recent years, “Delighting in the Trinity” by Michael Reeves. As it turns out, that little book was one of his favorites as well. We both love this book not just because it’s brief, but because it’s both profound and practical. Here are a few tidbits:
  • “…the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.”
  • “How different to know that the Spirit is as real a person as Jesus Christ, and that he comes to live in me.”
  • “The new life the Spirit gives is a life of warmth, for it is his own life of delighting in the Father and the Son, and he rears us up precisely by warming our hearts to them.”
  • “The Father is the source of all the love we see in Christ, and so we are not to think of him as aloof and uncaring…the greatest unkindness you can do to him is to refuse to believe that he loves you.”
  • “That is, if God were not personal, he could not be merciful (things do not show mercy); but if God were just one person, then love of the other would not be central to his being. There would have been nobody in eternity for him to love. Thus the only God inherently inclined to show mercy is the Father who has eternally loved his Son by the Spirit. Only with this God do such winning qualities as love and mercy rank highly.”
  • “What is the Christian life about? Mere behavior? Or is it about something deeper – enjoying God? And so what should our churches be about, or our marriages, our relationships, our mission?  All are molded in the deepest way by what we think of God.”
Are you joyfully and gratefully celebrating his presence with you this Christmas? No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether we have a retirement account of much or of little, what matters most is the condition of our heart. Do we feel loved by God?
Jesus was born to die for us all, but that’s not the end of the story. Shortly before his crucifixion he told his disciples: “…it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” (John 16:7 NLT)
We are more blessed than we know. Because of the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son and the gift of the Spirit we have everything we need this Christmas. We have his presence – Emmanuel, God with us!

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Soul Care Covenant Groups
The Center for Church Leadership