Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Wise Men -- unexpected leaders

To kick off our 19th annual Treasures of Hope Christmas Store, we're profiling individuals who played a role in the story of Jesus' birth in #12DaystoTreasures.

The Wise Men, also known as the Magi, appear in the Christmas narrative as mysterious figures who visit Jesus in Bethlehem. Classic literature says there were three men, and some say they represented Asia, Europe, and Africa, but the Bible doesn't give those details. What we do know is that they guided by a strange star or astronomical phenomenon, perhaps were members of a secret sect founded by Daniel in Babylon, and they were used by God for His eternal purpose.



How God used the Wise Men is the question. The men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh -- three gifts symbolizing Jesus' kingly stature (gold), His priestly role (frankincense) and His sacrificial death (myrrh). Isaiah prophesies about kings bringing gifts to the Messiah, but the New Testament record penned by Matthew may only be a glimpse of a prophecy yet to be fulfilled.

Some scholars say that the expensive gifts helped to finance Mary and Joseph's escape to Egypt during Herod's campaign to kill Jesus. Another speculation is that frankincense was given to Jesus as a gift because of its medicinal properties.

The ultimate point is that these men played a part in the Christmas story. When Herod, told them to tell him when they found Jesus so that he could worship Jesus, they refused. Seeing beyond Herod's pretense, they chose to partner with God and protect Jesus.

During our years of ministry at Dallas Leadership Foundation, we've been amazed who God has brought along our path to help us serve people in Dallas. The Lord has brought dear-hearted people who have supported our efforts to transform neighborhoods and provide support through outreaches like the Treasures of Hope Christmas Store.  They've brought their talents, leadership skills, and love.

What we've learned is that God can raise up partners whom He guides to support His purposes. Look around you. What wise men have God brought alongside you to help?

If you want to donate toys and other items to Treasures of Hope so that we can make Christmas special for hundreds of Dallas families, please visit dlftx.org.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Isaiah, a farsighted leader

To kick off our 19th annual Treasures of Hope Christmas Store, we're profiling individuals who played a role in the story of Jesus' birth in #12DaystoTreasures.

Every time the Lord speaks is incredible, but when He reveals information that only will be fully known by generations not yet born, His infinite nature rocks our finite understanding. Awe surrounds us because when He shares His secrets, we truly see why the Bible says that God declares the end from the beginning.

God the Father commissioned the prophet Isaiah to participate with Him in declaring Who the Messiah would be. Feel the weight of Isaiah's prophetic assignment. He allowed himself to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the eternal plan of God. Isaiah was assigned to be a prophetic leader gifted with sight while sobered by the truths he was assigned to share without hesitation. Isaiah's prophetic words cleaved the world in two. They did, and they still do. People either believe the Father of Heaven sent His Son Jesus or they don't.

Imagine the humility of Isaiah when he wrote about the Messiah, the Son of God, the First-Born of Many Brethren who would come first as a Baby, live as a God-Man, minister as a Prophet, die as a Lamb, and rise again as King of Kings forever:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6-7)
 Our spiritual responsibility isn't Isaiah's, but God still gifts men and women today to share His heart and vision with the world. At Dallas Leadership Foundation, we yearn to hear the voice of God and follow in His steps in every encounter we have with the world He loves.

Through Treasures of Hope Christmas Store, we hope families enjoy the chance to celebrate Christmas with their families by sharing gifts, but our hope is that they experience the wooing of the Holy Spirit so that they may know the specific call of leadership He has in store for them.

If you want to donate toys and other items to Treasures of Hope so that we can make Christmas special for hundreds of Dallas families, please visit dlftx.org.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Joseph, the kingly facilitator-leader

To kick off our 19th annual Treasures of Hope Christmas Store, we're profiling individuals who played a role in the story of Jesus' birth in #12DaystoTreasures.

 Serving as a facilitator can be difficult. Circumstances can cast the facilitator in the shadows. Joseph, Mary's fiance, and later husband, served in this role. The Bible speaks of Joseph sparingly, but what it says of this man was pivotal.

Joseph supported Mary in a work that began before the foundation of the world. He may not have initially understood the depths of what was happening when he learned that his fiancee was pregnant, but his character was revealed at each step. He demonstrated loyalty and compassion when he planned to break his betrothal with Mary quietly. Once the will of Heaven was revealed to him, however, he willingly facilitated the will of God. Each of these traits provides an amazing picture of an unforgettable leader who led from behind the scenes:
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25).

Joseph facilitated Mary's safety and thus protected the Baby Jesus. What if Joseph had refused to serve because Gabriel hadn't appeared to him first and explained the plan of God? What if Joseph had pushed his weight around as a man? What if he had had Mary punished to the fullest extent of the Jewish law because it was his right?


Joseph did none of these things. Instead he stepped into his role as a facilitator. Success requires guides throughout our lives who bring people and circumstances seamlessly together. God blessed Joseph by allowing him to see that he had a role that mattered in the Nativity, of the Christmas story.

Note that the angel addresses Joseph's kingly ancestry-- the line of David. Perhaps reminding Joseph of his spiritual inheritance empowered Joseph to support Mary selflessly and to serve God eagerly. In fact, that same selflessness and obedience to God were kingly traits that Jesus would display in His earthly ministry, eternally reflecting His endless love as King of Kings.

Every day, Dallas Leadership Foundation and our dedicated volunteers facilitate a myriad of ministry opportunities God grants us. During this time of the year, we serve Dallas families by facilitating an affordable shopping experience and a a time of fellowship, food and fun through the Treasures of Hope Christmas Store.

And it's a honor.

If you want to donate toys and other items to Treasures of Hope so that we can make Christmas special for hundreds of Dallas families, please visit dlftx.org.