Christmas Offering

This Monday, we’re praying and fasting for God to move, for men to walk boldly into relationships, for women to be tender to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and for God to bring marriage to those who desire it.

Merry Christmas, FastPrayers!

I’m finding it extremely difficult to believe that Christmas is barely a day away from now. December seemed to fly by, and I’m a little nervous about what the new year will bring. Maybe for you, like me, 2012 was pretty horrible. My job situation went from bad to worse, and my financial situation followed suit. I was unemployed for half of the year, and I just started a new job in a new field that I’m pretty apprehensive about. (Not to mention my seemingly normal, non-existent dating life.)

Basically, it would be pretty easy for me to come to the Christmas Day with a bad, toddler-style “gimme” attitude. As I was trying to process it all, I was reminded of the story of the Magi coming to Jesus. They came to him and offered him costly gifts, and I heard a small voice ask:

What costly gift are you bringing me?

My immediate negative and cynical answer was: “Ha! I’ve literally got nothing. You’ve given me a fairly terrible year, Lord. I’ve got a few lumps of coal I’d like to get rid of.” Somewhere in all of that, I remembered a married friend of mine’s post about her Christmas gift strategy for her toddler. Here’s what she said:

We don’t want PG to grow up thinking Christmas, or life in general, is about getting stuff, but it sure is fun to give gifts to people, and your children, especially. PG will get three gifts based off the three gifts the wise men brought baby Jesus. A gold gift–something she wants. A frankincense gift–frankincense was used in the temple, so this is something to further spiritual growth. Finally, there is the myrrh gift. Myrrh was used for medicinal purposes, so this is something for the body (e.g. clothes, shoes, etc).

As I remembered her post, I started reflecting on the gifts (both the good and painful) God has given in the last year and how I might lay them on altar for Him this Christmas.

Gold Something I wanted
God has blessed me this year with a wealth of friendships and meaningful ministry. I didn’t particularly ask for more friends, but He’s filled my life with some pretty awesome people.

Frankincense Something He taught me…
God has shown me that His Word is my only hope. I’ve always struggled with consistent quiet times, but God has given me a vision for memorizing and meditating on His Word that has been a firm foundation for my heart.

MyrrhSomething that was painful… 
God has led me through an incredibly difficult year in terms of my job situation, finances, and what seems to be a dead year in terms of dating or “getting closer” (whatever that means) to getting married. There have been some really dark times this year where I was really angry, unbelievably afraid, and basically, freaking out.

It doesn’t do us any good to be glib about our problems or cynical about our joys. Instead, I want us to live genuinely before God, offering Him our hearts, our joys, and our sorrows for Him to use as He sees fit.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.–Ephesians 3:14-19

Feel free to share your gold, frankincense, and myrrh in the comments.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. We’re on holiday next week, but we’ll be starting the new year on January 6!

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23 Responses to Christmas Offering

  1. Katy says:

    wanted- a fiance! as of last thursday, I am engaged. It was special to me since just a year ago I was crying on Christmas day because I wanted a husband and had prayed and waited. It provides me encouragement that the Lord can come and act quickly in your life, even after years of waiting!

    taught me- patience, joy in the waiting, grace and giving up some of my stubberness — IE, basically I am learning that I can’t have plans or be in control of everything!

    painful- this year was full of LOSS. It was obviously, in some ways, the best year of my life as I met and became engaged to my fiance, but my family also went through the pain of my sister facing an unwanted pregnancy and placing a baby for adoption and I had a close friend die on Christmas day 2 days ago. Also, I am really struggling career wise and its taken its toll on my self esteem. I constantly have to remind myself that my identity is in Christ! I look forward in hope to see how God uses even these painful situations to further His glory.

    Continuing to pray for godly spouses in 2013!

  2. Theresa says:

    Something I wanted……confirmation that I am on the right track- career wise. Provided a job that paid off all my debt and now I have a savings for the first time. He also gave me my first green light in 15 years to pursue and old desire- career wise. Also, provided me with breakthrough in a friendship that I have been praying about for years. // Something He taught me – I am not forgotten. // Something that was painful -honestly, this has been a pretty good year. Yeah, I would like to get married someday, but right now I am really enjoying the doors that are opening. I would like to meet someone who “gets” what I am doing- but i am just at the beginning of this new unconventional ministry. We shall see….

  3. Riss says:

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! It made me think of another way to purposefully celebrate Christmas.

    As for myself:
    Gold–something I wanted. I had a deep desire this year to develop a deeper relationship with God. I wanted to get to know Him better and to actually feel as if I truly had a relationship with Him. God, in a number of situations let me know that He is real and is with me, for me and loves me. This year I can honestly say I have a relationship with The Lord.

    Frankincense–something He taught me. Ironically, on November 18, 2012…the Lord used the EXACT scripture..Ephesians 3:4-19. When the pastor started to read the scripture during service… I felt EVERY word coming to life in my spirit. I was able to grasp and comprehend the full meaning…and with heartbeat had been changed by God himself. I was in pain emotionally before service but the pain was uprooted instantly after the scripture reading. I have NEVER experienced anything like that in my life.

    Myrrh–something that was painful. Following the event in November, my 40th birthday was on December 1. I was already dealing with turning 40…(and what it means to me), looking over my life choices, where I am lacking financially and lacking in the area of children and husband and if having a husband and children will ever become a reality for me…only to be told by my sister…on my birthday…that she is, “too busy and do not have the time” to try to mend our fragile relationship. I will never forget that. But I know God restores broken relationships and heals wounded hearts. He showed my how he can heal hurting hearts in His Word. Re-reading the scripture you posted brought tears to my eyes!!!

    Thank You!!!

  4. Min says:

    thank you for this. so thought-provoking, so timely.
    thanks for sharing your heart. God bless! & blessed Christmas!

  5. Jenn says:

    Thank you for this post. I related to your story because I’m in a similar situation myself. I’ve been working for the same Christian non-profit organization for nearly seven years and I’ve been miserable and unhappy there for the last two. My boss treats me unfairly and I’ve been making barely enough to get by, leading me to make the decision to resign sometime in the near future. Financially, things have been really tough for me as well. I’ve often felt frustrated because I’m surrounded by friends who make a lot more money and seem to be more successful in life than I am. Not only that, but I’ve never dated and I’ve never had a relationship in my entire life. I’ve often found myself feeling very lonely, bitter, and believing that things will never change for me.
    In the last few months, God had been making me realize one thing: that nothing I desire could ever compare with the complete satisfaction that I will find in Him. He is the only one who can fulfill every need I have and all the deepest desires of my soul. I think a lot of times, many single women believe that a marriage will make things better and they won’t feel lonely anymore. This is not true. Marriage isn’t without it’s problems and there is no such thing as the perfect man.
    I think the idea of the gifts is interesting and I have another way to look at it. My pastor preached on this and it was great to see it’s application.

    Gold: It’s a gift meant for a king. It’s precious and costly and requires sacrifice. The most precious thing I can give the King of Kings is myself.

    Frankincense: A gift for a priest. Jesus would eventually become our high priest. Frankincense was something was used in the temple when an offering was given. When we serve him and offer him ourselves, we are that offering and sweet aroma to Jesus.

    Myrrh: A gift for a funeral. This was a spice used to embalm a body. It was a foreshadowing of the great sacrifice Jesus would make.

    Overall, Jesus is the only thing that remains constant and unchanging. He provides other blessings where we may not see them and walks with us when we don’t know where we are going. The knowledge of this won’t lessen my desire to be married. In fact, it gets stronger every day. There will still be times when I feel very lonely and wish I could spend those moments with someone special, but I know Jesus is still there. I just need to wait on him and trust that his timing is perfect.

  6. Daniela says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post Anna. These are my results as I reflected on my gold, francincense and myrrh of the past year:

    Something I wanted: I’m as busy for the Lord as I have ever been, and I have found true fulfillment in this service for Him, even as a single woman, without a partner in ministry. Instead, He has given me friends to work with, who are striving into the same direction, and He has also given me physical and emotional health in abundance.

    Something he taught me: That I can indeed live a fulfilled life in His service – even without a special someone by my side.

    Something that was painful: That in spite of my business for the Lord, my longing for a companion isn’t getting any weaker, and that I still find myself sometimes overwhelmed with this craving for companionship and intimacy, and this uncertainty I’ve been dealing a friendship with a wonderful Christian man.

    So as I’ve been fasting over lunch today, I had again a special prayer, laying my situation before the Lord. It was a beautiful spring-like day and I was walking in the sunshine while pouring out my heart to Him. Of course it would be great if He could still intervene before the end of this year, but what if He doesn’t? When I was taking a shower later on, I felt confident that I can still trust Him – even if things will not work out in the near future as I have been hoping for. He is still the constant in my life, whatever may happen or whatever may not happen, and I’m so thankful that He is the one that upholds and guides us no matter what!

    • fast. pray. says:

      “He is still the constant in my life, whatever may happen or whatever may not happen, and I’m so thankful that He is the one that upholds and guides us no matter what!” THIS! 🙂 — Anna

  7. Alice says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect over the last year in this way.
    Gold: I moved to a new city about 2 1/2 years ago. About 6 months ago I finally am in a living situation that meets not only my need for shelter but also for companionship and friendship. I’ve been praying for this since my arrival.
    Frankincense: my church has been spending a lot of time in Colossians over the past year. Two main lessons stand out to me. First of all Jesus is setting all things right. He is in the process of bringing peace to all the brokenness in my life and the lives of those around me. Secondly, Jesus is living in me and because of that, I may not feel like I can do what he asks of me, but he can – which means I can. I’m experiencing that more and more. I’m so thankful for the families in my church who have welcomed me into their lives and have challenged me to face up to the discontent and bitterness in my spirit and really believe that life and glory are in Jesus and not in a husband.
    Myrrh: The first six months of this past year are among some of the most difficult of my life as I walked through the grieving process following the death of my younger brother. God felt miles away and at other times he was so very close.

  8. Lynn says:

    This is truly food for thought. I had never heard the three gifts described that way before. I’ll have to spend some time noodling over what my three gifts are, but I know that thinking about things in this way will be good for me.

  9. Micah says:

    This was a good post and I never thought of the three gifts this way.
    My gold-A job that’s not in my field but pays the bills and helps me get out of debt.
    My frankincense-ministry to friends is about dying to self for one thing. Another thing, contentment-Heb 13:5.
    My myrrh-Being content… lol. I also through pain have learned the main thing satan attacks me on whenever a big church event comes up and whenever I don’t spend time with God.

    I just stumbled on this blog through a post on How do I get connected more with you all? I sent an email. Is it just going ahead and praying and fasting (and posting when felt led)?


  10. Susan says:

    Anna (which is my daughter’s name too!) – I too love the 3 gifts idea, if only I knew of them when my two were little!

    I have been blessed this past year with health, a job that allows me to pay the mortgage on my house, two adult children who love me, a loving, caring family – blood related, a church family (also blood related – the blood of Christ!) and many, many friends.

    I though am still laying at our Lord’s feet my desire to be married to a Godly man.

    Of it all, including fast.pray, I am a big fan!

    Merry Christmas – Praise and Sing. . .

    about the birth of our King!

  11. Danielle says:

    Phenominal post! Very thought provoking..I LOVE the 3 gifts idea and reflection. Thank you for sharing your heart, Anna 🙂

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