The dishes are piled in the sink, our bellies are still stuffed, and our thoughts drift to the sweet (and maybe a few sour) memories of the past few days. The holidays are officially underway and Melissa Spoelstra joins us today with a challenge: to go all out! But this doesn’t mean what you think. Keep reading for a timely reminder about the heart of Christmas. Plus, be sure to check out Melissa latest release, Total Christmas Makeover.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” ~ Luke 2:8-14
My friend Elizabeth was the kind of person who went all out for people. At baby showers she didn’t buy off the registry. She made special blankets by hand for each new mom. You could often hear her laugh across the room after church services as she talked about her kids or her Lord. She filled a room with her smile and a contagious energy.
Last Christmas Elizabeth unexpectedly passed away. One day she was her exuberant self, and the next she was gone. Her entrance into heaven has caused me to think a lot about going all out. We serve a God who goes all out for us. I love how He announced the birth of the Messiah. Our Father definitely made a big show with a host of angels on a hillside declaring the good news that He was sending a Savior.
One of the cool things to me is that the Lord went all out for shepherds. They were poor, dirty, and often outcasts of society. These are the ones God went all out for! The lowly shepherds got to hear the news of the Messiah’s birth in an incredible way long before religious leaders or those the world values as important.
As I reflect on God’s extravagant love, I wonder how we can follow His example and go all out for others? Elizabeth did it with homemade blankets and encouraging words. This meant taking extra time and energy to make others feel special. In order to go all out for people in our lives, we’ll need God’s Spirit to guide us in the who, how, and when. We can’t go all out for everyone. In order to love my husband extravagantly, I might need to scale back time with my friends. To go all out for a person in need, I may have to sacrifice in other areas.
My mentor, Deb, has loved me extravagantly for almost twenty years. She is generous with her time and wisdom, and she loves to spoil my family. Going all out doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money. It’s not the American motto of bigger, better, faster, and more. Instead, going all out means sharing God’s love with others in a way that is meaningful to them.
I feel loved by Deb because she knows me. She knows my favorite drinks. She can tell when I’m tired or discouraged. Loving people extravagantly starts with knowing them. When we really are familiar with someone, we can go all out in ways that are meaningful in their situations. God knew what we needed when He sent His Son. We were lost in sin and desperate for redemption. Our sin separated us from an intimate relationship with our Creator. Jesus came to earth to remove the penalty of sin through His blood. God went all out so that our relationship with Him could be restored.
I want to go all out for others, but I often have a tendency to overlook them. My personality tends to be more task-oriented while my husband is more people-oriented. Christmas can be one of those times when we all skim the surface of trying to do so many things at once. Instead, we need to focus on God and seek His help to discern where to spend our time and resources to love extravagantly.
When I think about my friend Elizabeth, I realize that life is fleeting. We don’t know how much time we will have to go all out for people. I reflect back and hope that she knew how loved and appreciated she was. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so we need to go the extra mile in loving people today!
As you think of those whom God has placed in your sphere of influence, who might He be calling you to go all out for? Is there someone in your life who needs to know they are
- valued, and
- extravagantly loved?
Once you have identified the who, then comes the how. What gift of time, creativity, words, or some material good might cause them to experience a touch from God through you?
Take a few moments now in God’s presence to seek His wisdom on how to “go all out” for one person this week!
Lord, thank You for your extravagant love. Thank You for sending Your Son to earth so that I can know You. Help me to go all out for others! Show me who I can encourage in a special way. Give me Your mind to know who needs a reminder of Your great love, and guide me in going all out in extravagant love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Excerpt taken from Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose. Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Spoelstra. Published by Abingdon Press.