May 3

Encouragement for Today

 

“God’s Blessings Are Better Than Santa’s Presents”

Wendy Pope, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse:

 

Proverbs 8:35, “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.”  (NIV)

 

Devotion:

 

Months after Christmas my children are still preoccupied with Santa.  My daughter is already making her list for next Christmas and my son, well, he thinks Santa can bring him a gift at any time. 

 

During the holiday season, like many parents, my husband and I constantly reminded our children Santa only comes to good boys and girls.  We also used the line, “Santa is watching to see who is naughty or nice.”  Because we tell our children that God is always watching, my son became confused as to the roles God and “Santa” play in his life.  The confusion became evident to me by something strange my son said.

 

“Mom, I like when Santa and Jesus give me presents,” he said.  In a rational voice I tried to explain that Santa brings presents and that God gives blessings.  I talked about the blessings of food, a home, our playground, his bike, the clothes we had and even our friends and family.  I ended our conversation with, “I would rather have God’s blessings than Santa’s presents any day.”  I am not sure the difference between presents and blessings is clear in his little four-year-old mind, but it sure made me think.

 

I began to ask myself a few hard questions: How do I view God?  Do I treat God as a genie in a bottle, a magician?  Is my relationship with Him as strong when his answer is “no” as when his answer is “yes”?  Do I base the time I spend with God on the blessings he gives me?

 

Blessings and God’s favor are used interchangeably throughout His Word.  To receive favor or blessings, one must seek God.  Many references in Scripture suggest that our searching or seeking must be earnest and fervent.  The key to seeking God is spending time studying His Word and allowing God to communicate with us through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that God’s Word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.

 

I believe fully in the truth of God’s Word and have seen many Scriptures come to fruition in my life, but none greater than today’s key verse.  I became aware of this verse long after I began to recognize God’s favor on my life.  When I say favor I don’t mean material wealth or fortune, although God can certainly bless His children in that way.  I am talking about the peace that passes all understanding in times of trials, freedom that comes from a life surrendered to His purpose, grace and mercy that come with forgiveness, and love that conquers all.  When I discovered today’s key verse, I had already been enjoying the close fellowship of my friend, Jesus. To find out that my seeking led to His favor on my life was overwhelming.  As if knowing Him wasn’t enough, He wanted to bless me.  What a present!

 

Ask Him to give you a burning desire to know Him, not so you can receive His favor, but so you can experience His “presence.”  The favor is a “present,” not from a fictional Santa but from the One who formed you with His very hands.

 

My Prayer for Today:

 

Lord, you are the Great Provider.  You supply all of my needs and most of my wants.  Will you give me a burning desire to know you, not just so I can receive your favor, but so I can experience your presence?  Forgive me for the sin in my life that is keeping me from knowing you the way I could.  I praise you in advance for answering this prayer and look forward to spending my days surrounded by your love.

 

Application Steps:

 

Every day ask God to give you a longing to be in His presence.  We have not because we ask not.

 

Make a list of what you recognize as God’s favor in you life.

 

Post the list in a place where you will see it everyday.

 

Reflection Points:

 

How do I approach God?  Like a genie or like the Holy God that He is?

 

How do I react when God says “no”?

 

How do I react when God says “yes”?

 

Is there a difference in your answers to the previous questions?  If so, why?

 

Do I yearn for God’s presence?

 

Power Verses:

 

Jeremiah 29:13-14, “You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.  Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes, and gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you back home again to your own land.” (TLB)

 

Hebrews 4:12, “For whatever the Lord says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.” (TLB)

 

Hebrews 11:6, “You can never please God without faith, without depending on Him.  Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely look for Him.” (TLB)

 

Additional Resources:

 

The Journey of Woman’s Heart Tape Set, by Renee Swope

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/resources/journey.html

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/resources/radical.html

 

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/resources/key.html