Posts Tagged ‘Gifts’

The Greatest Gift’s I Have Received…

Posted: December 20, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Thoughts
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I love Christmas! I love the way the house smells as family gathers around for a feast. I love the music that plays and the smiles it brings. I love the memories Christmas brings to memory and the opportunities to make new ones. I love gifts…I mean who doesn’t. But, gifts can also fail to make Christmas.

I remember when I was 8 years old, I wanted a a toy really bad and never got it. I probably cried. I don’t remember if I did, or maybe I hope I didn’t cry and I suppress the fact that I did cry. Well, I guess we will never know. Either way, that toy would probably be put to shame today. (Who remembers wanting a Ultimate Warrior action figure you stuck your finger in the back to make fight?)

The best gifts I have ever received are the ones that you cannot buy and you cannot take away. In no particular order I am grateful for gifts I didn’t earn and never bought. Things like:

  • Jesus and the reality that there is nothing I can do to earn His love any more, and there is nothing that I could do to make Him love me any less. He freely loves and sacrificed Himself for me despite my rights and wrongs.
  • My wife who has seen the best and worst in me and is committed to loving me. She is my love, friend, counselor, and biggest support. I love you Linds! Cherishing and appreciating you in a way that says “Thank you!” is something I hope I accomplish in more and more meaningful ways. I have the rest of our lives to display my love for you- and I look forward to it! Growing old together is going to be fun.
  • My family who has made and shaped who I am. I love the oldest to the youngest and am grateful for the ways you have influenced my life. I am thankful for the hard work ethic my mother and father displayed for me. My brothers and sister who are always there to enter into my joy and comfort me in my sorrow. I am glad to have all the nephews that I have- they all have contributed to my happiness in more ways that I can say. I love my niece, she is the only niece and therefore my favorite by default. I am proud to be a Cabrera because of you.
  • My son who is always up for a nerf gun fight, hiking, or some sort of imaginary battle against orcs and goblins. He is an 8 yr old ball of energy and he always has some joke to make me laugh. I am glad that I get to live like a kid again because of you, buddy! I am glad that I am your dad, your friend, and your point man when we have to breach the living room as if it were a Navy SEAL mission.
  • My Friends are way too many to mention. But I couldn’t be more grateful for the great group of people God has given us. My church, gym, and neighborhoods have given me a lot of friends to be thankful for. Thank you all for filling my house and allowing me to fill yours with memories, laughter, and food!

It is so easy to get caught up in what you want, need (or think you need), and/or get someone else. It is easy to think that what you need is one more thing. It is difficult to be content.  Truth is, it’s going to get old sooner or later. What doesn’t get old is the things you could never buy for someone at a store. Memories last longer than toys, clothes, and gadgets. Make this season a season where your gift is an extension of the gifts you already have more than it is a season of things you want.

What are some of the gifts you could never buy that you are grateful for?

Have you ever seen a video of someone working out and wish you could lift as much as they did? Have you ever watched a clip of someone playing an instrument and wishing that you had the ability to play that smoothly? I have. To be honest, I do that a lot. I watch videos of Navy Seals, boxers, Dave Matthews, vocalist on various shows and they all make me wish I was more like them. Sometimes I am encouraged to be disciplined in areas that I am strong in. Most of the time I end up seeing all the ways that I come up short, especially when it comes to being a Christian.

I have seen people who read their Bible with intensity. They spend hours and hours reading, meditating, memorizing, preaching, teaching, cross-referencing, praying, and so on. I know people who have done amazing things for God. Men who love their wives and children in ways I don’t. I have been on the receiving end of generosity, hospitality, and servanthood. These are all gifts. Gifts for which I am to be thankful and moved by.

The problem is that I do compare myself, as do others whom I have counseled, when other Christians seem to accomplish more for God than I. They sacrifice more nights, they give away more money, and they travel to nations that don’t know Jesus.

I have to remind myself, and others, that Jesus has not commissioned me to be a omni-compotent ambassador for His Name. He has sent me on a mission to make, mature, and mobilize disciples of all nations. He has gifted me, set me in a context, and provided for me a specific way of carrying out that commission. It will look different for every other person in my small group, my Bible study, and church. We are all sent to different work places, neighborhoods, and have burdens for different nations.

Some have the capability to give lavishly, while others give generously within their budget. Some go long-term, while others go for short-term; some can only give and pray. Some have the houses to host a lot of people. Others see the positive effects of building deep with a few.

If you, like me, struggle with the constant comparison…you might want to consider this- God has made you to be uniquely equipped to reach your co-workers, city, and build the church. You have different capacities. You have different burdens. You have ideas that work for you that wouldn’t work for anyone else. In the words of J.D Greear, “Do what you do well to the glory of God. Do what you do well strategically for the mission of God.”

Our salvation does not hinge on our works. Jesus has earned our standing before God based on His obedience to fulfill the perfect requirements of God.  The motivation to see others come to faith should not be motivated by a desire to perform works that make us acceptable to God. Instead, they should be motivated by the work of Jesus, who accepts us as we are, and empowered by the Spirit who sent us. Jesus saves us. Jesus sends us. Jesus sanctifies. Jesus solely gets the glory. Let’s rest in His finished work alone.