Christmas in September!
We’ve just exchanged, at least in theory, a bunch of terrible gifts. We all know what it is like to open up a present that you weren’t expecting, or don’t like at all, and you have to act like you love it. A few years ago my aunt was hoping to play a trick on my uncle. She wrapped up a hideous little stuffed cat figurine that was standing on its hind legs and wearing some renaissance outfit. It was the ugliest thing you’d ever see. She wrapped it up and put my great-grandmother’s name on it, so when he opened it up he would have to pretend that he liked it so not to offend the old grandmother. Unfortunately, my great-grandmother was sick that day and wasn’t able to spend Christmas with us. A good joke spoiled.
When I think of bad Christmas presents, I think of Ralphy and that pink bunny costume that he had to try on. Remember Ralphy’s reaction? He was like “Are you kidding me? I’m not a six year old girl.” Randy, his brother, was rolling on the floor crying he was laughing so hard. Sometimes we feel exactly the same way with the things God gives us. We want a Ferrari and we get a Pinto. We want a corporate job in a high rise and we get a job as a window washer. We want an Ipad and we get a piece of cardboard with Scooby-Doo on it (true story).
But James says in 1:16-18, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
“Do not be deceived.” It may seem like it’s not a good gift but it is. Everything we get, big and small, is channeled through God. Philippians 4:9 says, “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches and glory.” For example: I have a job. I work very hard for my dad at David Koppin Home Improvement. At the end of the week I receive a pay check. Where does the paycheck come from? It may have David Koppin Home Improvement on the check but it comes from God. God just funnels what I need through DKHI. If I lost my job, God would funnel what I need through another source. So everything is from God. So what if I stumble across some pornography. Is that a good and perfect gift from God? No the pornography isn’t, but what you become after overcoming your addiction is a good gift. (Same thing with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.) Your parents get a divorce—that’s bad; you have a friend who is going through the same thing and you introduce her to Jesus to help her with her grief—that’s good. I have heard numerous stories of people who have had accidents, or even failed suicide attempts that resulted in the loss of their use of legs. When asked if they could take a magic pill and go back to what they were before the accident, they have all said, “No,” and that they were actually happier now. (Mark Zupan; Kristen Jane Anderson for example.)
There are so many examples of what we think are bad things today that will turn out to be good things tomorrow. Do you know how many stories there are of people who were supposed to be in the
on September 11, 2001 but weren’t because they had car trouble, lost their keys, took a different way and got stuck in traffic, or some other terrible thing that ended up saving their lives? Hundreds and hundreds. They were probably worried about getting fired, maybe even cussing out God for making them late. But God was sitting in Heaven thinking, “Yeah, but you’ll see. This is for your own good.” I worked with a guy who’s wife was dying of breast cancer. She eventually asked him to stop coming to her doctor’s appointments because it was hindering her from sharing the love of Jesus with the other women in the room. She turned something very bad into something very good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He works bad things into good things for those who love Him. World Trade Center
I love verses 17 and 18 of James 1. “There is no variation, or shadow of turning” with God. The way He is, is the way He has always been, and will always be. If He has been good to His people in the past, He will be good to His people now and forever. We can trust in Him. Verse 18 explains why He will be good to us. He created us out of His own free will and loves us. He wants us to be His first fruits, or the best of the best offering, from all of His creation.
Essentially it all comes down to trust. Are you going to trust what you can see and perceive right now? Or are you going to trust the creator of the world, the creator of your circumstances, and the One who has been around from the beginning and has planned out the ending? Remember my pea and the watermelon illustration. Set the pea and the watermelon side by side. What can the pea tell you about the watermelon? Only what it can see. It can’t tell you about the bottom, top, the two sides, or even the inside of the watermelon. It is very limited in its perspective. We are also very limited in our perspective.
Our first step in trusting God is believing in His son Jesus Christ. Without that relationship nothing else matters.