Advent: Open Your Gift

For decades of Christmases I had an unopened gift under the tree. Santa didn’t put it there. It was placed there for me by the greatest gift giver of all. But I was scared of it, didn’t understand the packaging, and thought I needed to be in my Christmas best instead of my bedhead to open it. I couldn’t shake that it was really for someone else. So there it sat…

My Salvation.

Turns out, that was all untrue. My Father was waiting patiently for me to open it. Wondering what my face would look like when I believed it really was for me and what I would do when I found priceless freedom inside. Watching to see, would I leave it in the box? Or take it out for a ride?

But I lacked faith.

I wasn’t sure if I needed or wanted the gift God was offering. Or if there was anything in the box at all outside of Sunday mornings. So I let it sit there. I ignored it and pretended it wasn’t calling out to me. I made excuses and thought I could make my own gift with my own hands. But the glue wasn’t holding.

He let me bend just enough so I would see the gift under the tree once again and would run to it and open it because there was nothing else that would do.

I tried and tried til God let weights of this life bring my heart’s eyes down. He let me bend just enough so I would see the gift under the tree once again and would run to it and open it because there was nothing else that would do. There was nothing else that I wanted or needed.

So by prayer, reading my bible, and asking God for His Holy Spirit and His help, I had enough faith to take the gift of my Salvation– and open it.

Inside the box was a new set of heavenly clothes purchased at a high price but worth every bit in God’s eyes. I put on my new self found in Christ and looked in the mirror and I saw something unexpected — it was the me that I was supposed to be from the start. It was me plus the love and forgiveness of my God.

I learned that God is a generous and patient gift giver and His grace is truly what extends the freedom of our Salvation in Christ. No effort of prying or pulling can open God’s free gift– only faith can do that. Not just faith that Jesus conquered death on the cross for the sin of those who believe, but faith that He did it for ME (for YOU!). Faith that He came so I wouldn’t roam this earth wondering if God loved me but walk it boldly proclaiming and living out His love.

I have Faith that He came so I wouldn’t roam this earth wondering if God loved me but walk it boldly proclaiming and living out His love.

When I started running with the gift of forgiveness and mercy and love from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, my feet wanted to fly. And I have faith with Jesus they will have enough strength and endurance to run my best race.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV).

Advent: Hope Day Two

Welcome to day 2 of our week of Hope! On day one we rejoiced  in the hope that our salvation is 100% done by Jesus and that it does NOT depend on our efforts, but on the gift of the cross. Today our hope continues on in how we rest in His hope in everyday life…

2. We have hope because He is with us while we wait in the brokenness.

This life is full of joy, but it’s also full of loss and worry, doubt and insecurity. This place is unstable and unpredictable. It leaves us grasping for control, left out of breath and weary if we go it alone.

But, as we wait under the trustworthy hand of our Father, we find our hope again in His good will and purpose for our lives and for our struggles. We know that He is the God who can make something out of seemingly nothing. So we give Him our nothingness and He produces our faith into something good.

We give Him our nothingness and He produces our faith into something good. -Andrea Chatelain 

Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:18-19 NIV).

He goes on to write that we wait in this place with God patiently because hope is found in that waiting. It is not found in the seeing. That He can work it out for our good.

I remember this with infertility and miscarriage. At first feeling so hopeless because I couldn’t see the end of the struggle. I was focused on what I could foresee, not what God was doing in the waiting. Looking back, I can see what He was building in that time. Helping me build a spirit of trust and faith and hope in Him instead of this life. And now, I wouldn’t give those months of waiting and walking with Jesus for anything.

3. We have hope because we are His children and He loves us.

This one took me a long time to accept. Sometimes unconditional love is a hard thing to understand in a world that is built on conditions. Like somehow He loves me but His love isn’t really enough for all the stains and sin that I’ve wracked up over the years. But I have hope because God’s love for His children (you and me) is nothing like the way we try to love each other in our earthly ways.

I have hope because God’s love for His children (you and me) is nothing like the way we try to love each other in our earthly ways. – Andrea Chatelain

There is never a hint of sarcasm or moodiness. He is never just done or can’t take it anymore.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those who God has chosen? (Romans 8:32-33 NIV).

That just blows my mind. How can we give up the hope of our salvation so quickly because we can’t imagine that God’s love could be enough to cover up our sin? It’s more than enough. And we can put our hope firmly on that.

I want to end with this.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: emphasis mine).

We are more than conquerors of this life as we do this life with Jesus. As we let Him lead us through times of grief, sorrow, growth, change, or anything else under the sun…we can walk in Hope because we are walking with Hope’s only true source. Jesus.

Keep walking.

Advent: Hope that won’t let go

I’ve hoped in a lot of things in my life. Hoped for a loving husband, a good job, healthy kids, and a purposed life. But in moments of loneliness, stress, illness, or failure I have only one hope that matters…I hope that God won’t let go. I hope in Him and His power that somehow He can hold it all together when I surely cannot.

This first week of Advent is all about hope. Here at afruitfulwoman.com I have 2 days of hope coming at ya. Welcome to day ONE!

Where we land on the time stamp of the universe means that we have the privilege of getting to know Christ through the New Testament scriptures and placing our hope in truth. We hope in the fact that scripture tells us our sin is cleansed on the cross, that our present struggles are battled with the help of the Holy Spirit, and that our Father’s love never runs out.  

Week 1, Day 1: We have hope because in Christ our Salvation is secure.

Open your bible to Romans chapter 8 and see what God has to say to you about hope.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering….in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4 NIV emphasis mine).

I’m going to stop right there.

That’s what our hope is all about. We. Hope. In. JESUS!

We trust that he was victorious on the cross and that He has not forgotten about us, He knows our every moment and is with us and will come again to bring us home. We have hope because Jesus cannot let go of us. We are too precious. Even when we are trying our hardest to let go of him, His grip of love is stronger than anything in this world.

“We do NOT hope in ourselves or our efforts or how many awesome things we do on this planet. We hope in the one who sets us free from sin and death — Jesus.” 

So we do NOT hope in ourselves or our efforts or how many awesome things we do on this planet. We hope in the one who sets us free from sin and death because we could not do it ourselves. And we hope in the fact that righteousness has been FULLY met in us when we trust our lives to Jesus because HE is fully righteous and good.

Anybody got goosebumps? We hope in His power and mercy. Not in our efforts. We are free from trying to be perfect. He’s got this when we don’t. And at least for me, that is good news.

Rest in that today, that your future is secure in Christ no matter what. You can’t shake off your salvation. It is already done. We are free! Now we get the honor of doing life with God. And we can sure put our hope in a life lived with Christ.

More on the Hope you can take to the bank coming on Advent: Hope Day Two….