Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ornament Exchange Party

Last night was our ladies ornament exchange party. I love ornament exchanges. It's just a great time to sit and talk and relax and of course eat with all your friends.

This lady here; Norma, was Mrs. Claus last night. She brought a gift to every lady at the party. We all went home with the neatest Christmas socks. THANK YOU, Norma! She is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful ladies I have ever met!

The lady who was going to be giving our devotional last night was sick so I got a call early that morning asking if I'd do the devotional. They wanted me to give a devotional on something about ornaments since it was an ornament exchange. Ummm...yeah, I was stumped at first. How in the world can you get something religious out of ornaments? I had nothing...but prayer, and that was enough. I told my husband that I had done my part and prayed for God to guide me and give me words to say and studied and read some scriptures...the rest was His job. I'm just a mouthpiece.

I think my husband was getting a bit nervous when he seen me taking a nap a few hours before the party and all I had on the desk was a sheet of paper with Two scriptures on it. When I woke up, so many thoughts were coming to me that I could barely write fast enough. It's a little lengthy, but I'll share here what I shared with the ladies last night.

Galatians 5:22 The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.

Matthew 7:19 "Every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

Christmas is full of pretty trees, pretty packages, bows, etc. Christmas is a time when we can help but notice all the decorations and lights that are put up. We spend lots of time and money to decorate for the Christmas holiday. I couldn't help but wonder today, HOW IS MY LIFE DECORATED?

Is my life decorated the way God instructed it to be. Is it decorated with the ornaments of the fruits of the spirit?

LOVE: Do I have that true Godly love that the world is searching for? "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one to another?"

JOY: The world offers a fleeting joy. The joy one finds in the things of this world is allusive and like chasing a mirage. People spend years chasing after things that they think will bring joy to their lives only to find out that when that object is obtained, they are still left with that feeling of longing for more. Can others see the joy of God that I've found in my life?

PEACE: With all the chaos surrounding the world today, individuals are naturally drawn to someone who radiates a Godly peace. He is that peace that passes all understanding. Simply put, that means having a peace that does not make sense to you mentally. In times when you should be pulling your hair out and biting your nails, you have an overwhelming sense of peace in your spirit. Is my life decorated with that kind of peace?

LONGSUFFERING: I used to think this word meant to suffer-long. I was pretty sure my life had been decorated with this ornament. Then I read the meaning of the word. It means the 'willingness to stick with things'. Simply put I think it means that God will give me the ability to endure the trials and tribulations and tough times as I wait for my victory. Hmmm...so, am I gonna believe what I see in front of me, or what I know God is capable of doing? AM I going to believe the doctor's report, or am I going to trust in a God that has the power to heal? Definitely an ornament I need to work on.

GENTLENESS: We've been told since we were children to 'Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you', but gentleness goes further than just being nice. I'd always considered myself to be a nice person, until I was put to the test several years ago. When I stood at a crossroads and was asked to show mercy and kindness and forgiveness to a man who had trespassed against me many times, my first instinct was to hold on to the pain and the bitterness that he had caused. I was secretly happy to see him in the position that he was in, it made my heart smile to know that he was experiencing true pain in his life. I was set to turn and walk away without giving forgiveness until my husband took my hand and said, "Honey, you don't deserve the gentleness and kindness of a Holy God and His forgiveness...but you have freely received it...therefore you should give it! That's the day I truly experienced a spirit of gentleness...a feeling that went beyond just being nice. God help me to always remember to give gentleness because You have dealt with me with much gentleness!

GOODNESS: In all it's uses 'good' is a word that means a desirable quality, or something commendable and reliable, kind and noble, admirable, and very much welcomed. Goodness is excellence of character. Now, that's an ornament that we should all seek after.

FAITH: Faith is probably the hardest ornament for most of us to obtain. Mainly because there's only one way to grow faith, and that's by being tested. Faith is believing in something you don't see...long after you thought it would appear. I remember the time in my life that my faith pushed to the limit...the ultimate test for me. When my husband and I walked into my doctor's office after a sonogram had confirmed two weeks earlier that our first baby had no heartbeat and that I was carrying our child dead inside of me. If I ever had faith, it was on that day. I had faith that God was going to give me a miracle, faith that He was going to let this second sonogram prove that the one thing I wanted most in life was going to be a living miracle. When things turned out differently and I was admitted into the hospital that afternoon, I had gone from the highest point of faith to the lowest point of doubt. My ornament of faith had been shattered and I decided to place it in a box in the attic of my heart for a long time. But, I'll never forget that day I decided to unpack my faith and exercise it again and believe once more in a God who is faithful to His promises. I had to wait for 17 years to hold a child of my own, but that only made my oranment of faith all the more precious! I pray that this ornament is one that I leave out long after the Christmas tree is put away. I can always use a little faith in my life!

MEEKNESS: Humble in spirit and manner.
As women we have to bear up under many cares and burdens in a single day. We have husbands to please and take care of, children to nurture and train and teach, a home to maintain...just to name a few. My duty is not just to perform all these things and task but to do so in a way that brings glory to God. WOW...some of us are thinking that this is an ornament that just don't match our decor and colors. Just toss that one out or maybe put it in a box to use another time, another year. But that's not where it belongs. No, it belongs in my life, decorating my life...making me more like Him. I have to remember that if I am lacking the ornament of a meek and quite spirit then I will find myself in a constant irritation, being easily provoked daily. Lord, remind me to pick up the ornament of meekness daily and hang it upon the branch of my life.

TEMPERANCE: Having control over our tempers and emotions.
I know...you're probably thinking exactly what I thought. I DO NOT NEED THAT ORNAMENT! It just don't match, it's the wrong color, it's too big and weighs the branches down too much...let's just leave that one off...it's just too much to deal with! But then I read this scripture in James 1:19-20 "Wherefore my beloved brethern, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

Lord control my heart, my mind, my will, my emotions, and yes, Lord...even my tongue!
Lord, let me hang the ornament of temperance upon my tree and polish it daily.

Just as we cherish certain ornaments that we hang on the branches of our Christmas trees year after year and they become heirlooms tied to special memories, my prayer is that each of us would stop and take the time to decorate our lives with these ornaments of the spirit so that our lives would shine so much brighter than any Christmas tree ever put up. After all, our purpose in this life is to let HIS ways shine forth from us so that we can lead others to Him.

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