Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”
God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. This devotional is from a book entitled “Before the School Bell Rings”, authored by Marjory Goldfinch Ward, formerly an assistant professor at Columbia College and an adjunct professor of gifted education at the University of South Carolina, with over twenty years’ experience in public education. This devotional speaks about the gift God gave to us; however, we must accept the gift in order for it to have any meaning and purpose in our life. I trust this devotional will speak to your heart and it’s my prayer, if you haven’t accepted God’s Gift, that you will before the day has ended. Enjoy!
Students often bring presents for the teacher. Some of my favorites have been personal, like the needlepoint picture of two goldfinches perched on a thistle made for me by a former seventh-grade student. She delivered the gift years after I taught her, still remembering that I liked goldfinches. Other gifts are practical, such as tools for a carpenter or kitchen utensils for a cook. Some gifts are paradoxical. Once we were given a piece of heavy brass and I said, “It’s beautiful! What is it?” I have enjoyed using the doorstop ever since, but I had no idea what it was. We dream of extravagant gifts and sometimes even receive them. The perfect gift says something about the personality of the giver and also matches the wishes and needs of the receiver. That kind of gift leads to cries of pleasure: “It’s just like Nan to give me that! It’s exactly what I needed!” God’s gift of Jesus expressed his own nature and is exactly what we needed. When I look at my students, what would I like to give them? What exactly do they need? Suppose we could provide a safe magic potion that would go steadily to work and begin to change students from the inside out, correcting difficult behaviors, clearing up learning problems, healing emotional wounds, strengthening self-concepts, building positive attitudes, giving patience and self-discipline, satisfying the need to belong and the need for meaning. How difficult would it be to market such a remedy? Jesus offers such a gift. When he told a woman in Samaria about his offer of water to completely and finally quench thirst, she begged him for it (John 4). She found what she had thirsted for – an acceptance and a life-changing force from the only one who could provide what she needed.
In Jack Finney’s novel “Time and Again” the protagonist, Si Morley, speaks of his generation as “constantly seeking, with a hollow at the core that is never filled.” This longing comes from the innate knowledge that God is, contradicted by a refusal to glorify God or give thanks to him (Romans 1:21). In the children’s book Old Turtle, Douglas Wood imagines the newly created creatures of the world beginning to argue about God until Old Turtle says, “God is all that we dream of, and all that we seek, all that we come from and all that we can find. God IS.” Later in the book, the people who came into the world also argued about God until “the people could not remember who they were, or where God was … and after a long, lonesome and scary time … the people listened, and began to hear … and Old Turtle smiled. … And so did God.” We are in a long, lonesome, and scary time when God is forgotten among many, yet “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). This gift of Jesus, once received, works slowly, beginning that “good work in us” that is God’s plan in operation. We cannot push our world, or our students, into God’s kingdom. But we can trust God to show them his great gift.
I need this gift for myself. I thank you that you have given Jesus as the power to work in us what is pleasing in your sight. I pray for my students: those who are troubled in mind and in spirit, those who flounder in confusion and rebellion, seeking that which will change them into what they think they want to become. May my life show them Jesus. Work in them deeply and quietly that work of your Spirit who alone can draw them to yourself.
Have you accepted God’s great gift, the gift of eternal life that only Jesus can give you?