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3 Gifts to Give to God

Written By Cindy Wang, Australia, originally in Simplified Chinese

Last Christmas Eve morning, I caught sight of three yellow paper airplanes perched atop our family’s Christmas tree. Taking a closer look, I recognized the scribbly handwriting of my three daughters on the airplanes; they each had written a list of the top five Christmas presents they wanted and had addressed their notes to my husband and I. (I suspect the notes were written the night before, in hopes that the requests would be fulfilled by Christmas day.)

Giving and receiving gifts is a common practice during Christmas. As I thought about the many gifts I had received in the past, the best one being the loving sacrifice God made for me 2000 years ago, it got me thinking: shouldn’t I give Him a gift in return?

And these are some I thought of.

 

1. The Gift of Praise

I once made an early morning prayer to God. I asked Him how I should praise Him, and God led me to Psalm 100. Reading verse 3 which says, “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture”, I was filled with joy and praise for God. My Heavenly Father is the amazing, almighty Creator of the universe, and I am His masterpiece, a precious daughter, a cherished sheep. He will never leave me nor forsake me, for it says in a verse farther down that “the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

This psalm became a favorite, and I would return to it whenever I felt down and out. Whenever I faced a difficulty or trial, I would always praise God loudly through the words of this psalm, and as I did so, I gained strength and security in my identity in Him.

Last December was a pretty hard time for me. My husband and I faced a failed business venture—a café we had invested in faced the threat of closing down due to various issues we had with the landlord. I remember the particular drive home after we came to a decision—my mind a complete blank. I was already tired from work, and this left me puzzled and lost.

However, at that moment, I was suddenly reminded of Job and what he said: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). I didn’t want to be left discouraged by these changes, so I meditated on Psalm 100 and kept repeating to myself that I belonged to God and I will leave everything to His care.

Though I may never fully understand why this happened, I know that it is not my burden to carry. All I have to do is to simply entrust it to my good and faithful God and receive the peace that only He can bring!

 

2. The Gift of Reverence

I remember one particular day when my two older girls were secretly hiding in their room, working away on something. A few hours later, they emerged from their hiding spot and proudly presented their newly made “masterpiece” to me. What I saw upset me to the point of tears—in their hands lay a very expensive branded blouse (a gift from their aunt), which, after all their attempts at cutting and sewing, now looked nothing like the original. The girls had no clue of its actual worth and thus showed no mercy. It was simply an object of their curious experiment. If they had known, they would have cherished it and treated it better.

This incident led me to wonder: Do we possess the same attitude when it comes to God? How do we treat Him or relate to Him? We have the immense privilege of living in His grace and the ability to approach Him freely at all times (just like a child does with her father), but have we truly given serious thought to the cost it came at? Our Heavenly Father paid the highest price for our salvation by sending His only beloved Son down to take our place on the cross, in order that our relationship with Him might be restored, and that we can become children of God.

When we come to know the true worth of an object, we treat it accordingly. Similarly, only when you and I truly understand what it cost God to save us, will we revere Him through the words that we say, the thoughts of our hearts, and the deeds of our hands.

 

 3. The Gift of Commitment

Sometimes, I feel like I’m caught up in an endless ball game—one where I always miss the mark because I’m being bogged down by the demands of my family and work. This led me to wonder if I am placing my earthly concerns above the concerns of God in my life. I realized I needed a change in my life: to step out of my own comfort zone just as Peter did when he walked on water.

For some time now, I have been considering an internship opportunity at church. I’ve been quite hesitant about this, because although it’s only twice a week, the requirements are pretty overwhelming. When my pastor mentioned this recently however, I felt a tug at my heart, and I knew that the Holy Spirit was gently reminding me about this. If you are ever unsure about how to order your life, look to God and He will show you how. All you have to do is to obey. So I made the bold decision to be more involved in the ministry of my church. Of course, working in church is not the only way to serve. It’s just the way I’ve decided to obey God at this stage in my life, and I’m pretty excited about the choice I have made!

Giving oneself to the work of God should always bring us the greatest joy in life. When we choose to walk in accordance to His will and in alignment to His plans for us, the satisfaction that comes is incomparable to anything that this world offers. As we journey with the Lord by our side, we will experience firsthand the amazing adventures that He will bring us on. Who ever said that the life of a Christian was boring? Living a life in Christ is living a life of abundance!

 

These are the gifts I want to offer God. I want to savor each moment and bask in the joy of God’s presence, no matter what situations life may bring. I believe that as I offer these three gifts to God, it would leave a big smile on His face.

What gifts would you like to give to God?

ODJ: praise in the pain

January 14, 2016 

READ: Lamentations 5:1-22 

But Lord , You remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation (v.19).

Kim Nguyen was preparing for her doctoral exams in Old Testament when she learned that she would need surgery on her eyes. She should have recovered in 2 weeks, but 6 months later she still couldn’t see. She feared that her dream of teaching the Bible was slipping away. How could she write her dissertation if she couldn’t see? How would she find work to pay back her student loans?

At the bottom of her darkest day, Kim found hope in the book of Lamentations. The nation of Israel had been ravaged and pillaged by the Babylonians (Lamentations 5:11). The temple and palaces had been burned, leaving Jerusalem “empty and desolate, a place haunted by jackals” (Lamentations 5:18; 2 Chronicles 36:17-20). There was nothing left but tears and a plaintive cry of praise. Lamentations ends with a defiant shout from the rubble. “But Lord, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation. . . . Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (5:19-21).

Kim realized that not everything of value was lost. She may have lost sight, but she hadn’t lost her Lord. She claimed Lamentations’ closing praise as her own and prayed, “Lord, I don’t understand why you haven’t healed my eyes. I beg you to give me as much as you will. But either way, I want you to know, you’re still the best thing I’ve ever got.”

Kim spoke those touching words in a chapel meeting. God finally did answer her prayer, and she is now a colleague at the Christian university where I teach. But even before she knew she would be healed, she chose to praise Him in the pain. May we seek God and His faithful ways when pain comes our way!

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Genesis 24:1-27

MORE
Read Psalm 34:1-22 to learn how to praise God in the midst of pain. 
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Do you need to cry out to God for something? How might your lament be an act of faith? 

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ODB: The Joy of Your Presence

October 22, 2015 

READ: Psalm 145:1-18 

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:4

 

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” says the Westminster Catechism. Much of Scripture calls for joyful gratitude and adoration of the living God. When we honor God, we celebrate Him as the Source from which all goodness flows.

When we praise God from our heart we find ourselves in that joyful state for which we were created. Just as a beautiful sunset or a peaceful pastoral scene points to the majesty of the Creator, so worship draws us into a close spiritual union with Him. The psalmist says, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise . . . . The Lord is near to all who call on him” (Ps. 145:3,18).

God does not need our praise, but we need to praise God. By basking in His presence we drink in the joy of His infinite love and rejoice in the One who came to redeem and restore us. “In your presence there is fullness of joy,” the psalmist says. “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11 esv).

— Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, You are the great and mighty God, the Creator of the universe. I will praise Your name always. There is no God besides You.


Worship is a heart overflowing with praise to God.  

ODB: A Lesson In Praise

November 27, 2014 

READ: Psalm 150:1-6 

Praise the Lord! —Psalm 150:1 

Psalm 150 is not only a beautiful expression of praise, it’s also a lesson in praising the Lord. It tells us where to praise, why we’re to praise, how we’re to praise, and who should offer praise.

Where do we praise? In God’s “sanctuary” and “mighty firmament” (v.1). Wherever we are in the world is a proper place to praise the One who created all things.

Why do we praise? First, because of what God does. He performs “mighty acts.” Second, because of who God is. The psalmist praised Him for “His excellent greatness” (v.2). The all-powerful Creator is the Sustainer of the universe.

How should we praise? Loudly. Softly. Soothingly. Enthusiastically. Rhythmically. Boldly. Unexpectedly. Fearlessly. In other words, we can praise God in many ways and on many occasions (vv.3-5).

Who should praise? “Everything that has breath” (v.6). Young and old. Rich and poor. Weak and strong. Every living creature. God’s will is for everyone to whom He gave the breath of life to use that breath to acknowledge His power and greatness.

Praise is our enthusiastic expression of gratitude to God for reigning in glory forever.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen! —Watts

Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.