Day 1 – Designed in the Image of the Ultimate Giver
Much of the content in this devotional is either heavily inspired by or directly pulled from the writings of Jim Baker, Dave Ramsey, Dallas Willard, and other scholars and teachers. With full credit and appreciation for their ministries, we have humbly repackaged these teachings into a devotional format that we hope will be a blessing to you during this Christmas season.
Whether you have been a Christ-follower for 50 days or 50 years, the Christmas story is so familiar to our culture that most can replay the events of Luke 2 from memory, recite verses to most Christmas carols (at least the first and last ones), and effortlessly make our way from Thanksgiving to New Years without really taking time to reflect back on the deeper miracle of those events. Stepping back before the angels and shepherds, before the baby in the manger, before Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem – at its core the Christmas story is about the Kingdom of God breaking through into our material world in the most profound way since the creation of the universe. It is the story of the most radical, generous, unwarranted gift ever given.
Through this event, we get a clear, unfiltered view not only of God’s heart and character, but who we are as his image bearers. We know from Genesis (1:27) that we are created in the image of God – that we bear a fundamental likeness to the most generous gift giver of all. At the same time, God also created us as immortal beings temporarily housed in a mortal, physical body. We were designed to spend eternity praising and serving God, but to do so initially within the constraints of this physical world. As a result of sin entering the world, we became overly aware of our physical needs, with fear and self-reliance replacing the proper eternal perspective about the source of our provision.
Furthermore, we have an enemy that exploits these needs and insecurities to take our attention away from the creator and provider and turn it inwards to highlight our “needs” and insecurities. It should be no wonder that, for many, the Christmas season is overshadowed by feelings of anxiety & worry – especially in the area of finances. One of the marvels of the Christmas story is that the gift of Christ was intended not only to redeem our sin, but also to give us a perfect example of how to bridge the mortal and immortal, and in doing so advance the Kingdom of God on earth.
While Jesus ministered on earth, he “had more to say about finances than any other topic – more than the second coming, faith, prayer, and hell combined. Fifteen percent of everything Jesus said in the Gospels dealt with money and possessions.” (How Heaven Invades, p.104) Why was that? Jesus knew that fears and worries about our physical security was one of the key ways the enemy would attempt to turn our focus away from our Father – the all-seeing, ever-gracious, gift-giving, provider of everything.
An unhealthy, unbiblical view on money is not only expressed through greed or its unbridled pursuit. The grip of money is equally strong on those who constantly worry about the lack of it. Whenever your focus turns to money as the solution to a problem you are replacing trust in God with trust in money. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells us “…do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what your will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…” Jim Baker describes worry as “temporary insanity, because it is imagining a future without God.” (How Heaven Invades, p.43)
Anxiety and worry are the opposite of praise and worship. “Worry only from believing the wrong things; it comes from an inadequate knowledge of God. Worry is like a cancer of the mind. Every time you worry, you are bowing your knee to a lesser god.” (How Heaven Invades, p.45). In Romans 8:32, we are reminded that “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things.” Alignment to Him as provider drowns out a spirit of fear. Our attitude in times of need should be one of expectation – “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do here!” (How Heaven Invades, p.54)
You will never have a need for money that is greater than your need for more of God. The story of Christmas is an amazing reminder that we were given a gift, in the form of Jesus Christ. This gift is the ultimate assurance that God remembers us, that he understands and is ready to meet our physical and spiritual needs, and that we bear the image of the original giver. Our responsibility is not to worry about how much we have, nor is it to become obsessed with the pursuit of wealth. We are to look to God as the Source of all, to work diligently, and to strive, to be content in every circumstance. (How Heaven Invades, p.115)
“But Godliness with contentment is great gain…” 1 Timothy 6:6-12