I have never participated in Advent until 2015. I decided I would experience Advent with Ann Voskamp’s devotional book called The Greatest Gift. It really was an experience like never before at Christmas. I never felt closer to God and Jesus during this season than in 2015. Her title refers to Jesus being the greatest gift. He is the only true gift of Christmas. One night after Christmas was over I woke up from being sick and felt drawn to go in the living room to take medicine and to open my Bible. I opened the Bible to Ephesians 5: 15-20. It talks about time and spending it wisely and also about praising God with songs and hymns. Giving thanks is included as well. It says we should be filled with the Holy Spirit. Joyce Meyer sums it up in her life point as this: To stay filled with the Holy Spirit we have to speak to ourselves and others with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We need to keep our thoughts and words full of God’s Word by continuously offering praise and giving thanks to Him.
As I was reading this in the still of the night, a bell on my Christmas tree rang. I knew it was a sign from God. Then a couple nights later I had a dream about a man who I was trying to get directions from cause I was lost. I told him I wasn’t spiritually lost just physically. I asked him his name and he told me Clarence. I said you must be an angel! I remembered the angel in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. Then I woke up. I decided God wanted me to watch the movie so I did. In the movie I noticed a saying on the wall, it said, ” You only take with you what you have given away.” I saw in the movie that people let money rule their happiness. The lack of money tries to steal our joy. George said to Clarence that money comes in pretty handy down here! But when Clarence shows George what the town would have been like with out him, he changes inside. He sees where money isn’t the answer to joy or happiness. It’s our presence in the lives of others that really matters. This is what makes a difference. Not the money you give but time, words of encouragement, thanking God and praising Him together. This is what counts in God’s eyes.
After watching the movie I decided to research how it came about. This movie was based off a story of 72 pages written in 1943 by Philip Van Doren Stern. Guess what the name of his book was? The Greatest Gift! Frank Capra took the short story and made it a little different and then called it what we know as “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Here is a link to the history of it, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/12/its-a-wonderful-life-was-based-on-a-christmas-card-short-story-by-philip-van-doren-stern/
This was very interesting to me. I sat and wondered what message God had in all this for me and yesterday it came to me the title of this post, The Greatest Gift Is A Wonderful Life! Have you ever heard people say God gave us life as a gift and our gift to Him is a life well lived? Our greatest gift is a life filled with Jesus which produces a wonderful life! And it tells us in Ephesians 5:15-20 how to have that wonderful life! If we can get our focus off of money, which we can’t take with us by the way, then we can truly live a wonderful life. If we put into practice praising, thanking and learning God’s Word and encouraging others to do the same the Holy Spirit will reside in us and make all blessings flow. I watched Steven Furtick today and he said something very important. He said as children of God we already have the promises and blessings of God. Some may say that they don’t experience any and Steven says why that is. He said it’s because your heart is stopped up. There are foreign objects in your heart preventing you from receiving God’s blessings. He named things like complaining, grumbling, addictions. When we dig out these things that are from Satan to hinder us then the water can flow. In John 4:13-14 it says, Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.14 But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” This verse comes from the story of the woman at the well. He told her the water from the well is temporary relief but the water He can give is eternal relief! Faith in Jesus brings blessings and promises but they can’t be received if we are blocking them with other stuff. Yesterday Steven Furtick talked about practice. He used a football player catching the ball as an example. In the video it looks effortless and lucky. But Steven shows footage of the player in practice and also before the game doing this catch over and over and over again which proves it wasn’t “lucky” but the result of hard work! So, we have to practice these things in Ephesians over and over to see results.
In the link above it talks about the real people who inspired the story. The character of George Bailey was actually based partly on the founder of Bank of America, A.P. Giannini. If you read the article you see that he wasn’t money oriented but people oriented. Because of this, God blessed him. He had it right. He was the inspiration to the movie and he should be an inspiration to us all that it really can be a wonderful life!