The Gift of Gathering with Friends
Gathering with friends gives us the gift of grace and God’s presence. In my opinion, times of fellowship and gathering around the table are truly priceless. I love a good dinner party don’t you? However, I love great conversation even more than a gourmet meal. The simple gift of gathering holds a special place in my life. Mostly, because we haven’t always been the kind of family who sat for long drawn out conversations spilling over with laughter and deep thoughts. But, the older my children become, the longer we sit together after our meals. Probably because they’ve moved from adolescence to adulthood or something in between. I’m enjoying this season of life as an empty-nester. And, this year, I’m looking forward to our Christmas dinner with great anticipation.
Oftentimes, our expectations cloud our experience. Allowing our anticipation of an event to get out of control leads to unmet expectations and disappointment. Unfortunately, there are times we miss out on experiencing God as Emmanuel, God with us. And, in these times, we need the gift of grace to abound. Without a doubt, we never know the fullness of a gift until we’ve learned to live without it. We never fully understand what God’s up to in our lives until we look back and find His handprints all over our stories. Occasionally, though, we experience a glimpse of His goodness shining through what we thought was our darkest hour.
Recently, I wrote about winning the battle for your prodigal’s heart here on the blog. I also wrote about how we can’t always know what God’s up to in our lives. He is absolutely always working behind the scenes. Our job is to partner with God in prayer until we see our breakthrough. Our prayers release the outcome God has designed for our lives. For more information on the power of prayer, read my Powerful Prayers for Real Victory post. However, usually we are not privy to God’s plan. Solomon warns of this predicament in Ecclesiastes 11:5 when he says, “Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does.”
Even still, God gave us the gift of Emmanuel, God with us.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV
A child was born so that a man could die. Before the foundation of the earth, God planned Christ’s birth and death, and every single one of His days in between. In His infinite wisdom, God knew what we would need. Our greatest need would be a Savior, the Messiah.Born for fulfillment, Love came down to die for us. Click To Tweet
The gift of His Son leaves us full of wonder and overwhelmed by joy. Emmanuel, God with us.
Before Christ was born on that silent, holy night, God already put a plan in place for the Resurrection that would bring us peace, hope, love, grace, and mercy. The gift of His Son leaves us full of wonder and overwhelmed by joy. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. The very presence of God inside us is the comfort needed to see us through our most disappointing experiences. God not only calls us ‘friend,’ but gathers us together with friends. Ultimately, our friendships help when we do not understand God’s ways.
The gift of friendship, the kind of friends you break bread with, results in community. Not always in the natural, when distance separates us from those we love, but definitely in the supernatural we gather in spirit.
Through the gift of friendship, we break the bread and drink the wine of communion in our fellowship with one another.
Thankfully, friends walk through the most difficult of times together sharing their experiences and talking through their heartaches. On the Road to Emmaus, we see this occur just after Christ’s death and resurrection. Still unsure if it could possibly be true, we find two friends doing life together. Unbeknownst to them, as they walk and talk about all the chaos in Jerusalem, Jesus meets them in their utter confusion. He steps right into the midst of their pain and walks alongside them as a stranger.
As they walked and talked about the Scriptures with Him, Jesus explained the prophecies He had fulfilled and reveals the truth of all that had been happening. Finally, when they sit down for a meal together, Jesus reveals Himself.
The Gift of Revelation
As soon as He broke the bread, they knew Him. Luke 24:31 says, at that moment, their eyes opened; wide-eyed, they recognized Him.
Amazingly, this happens in our everyday lives when we invest in the lives of others. In return, we get the gift of friendship. While we come alongside each other in the presence of the Lord, He does something remarkable. We receive the gift of grace and God’s presence as Emmanuel, God with us, when we gather with friends.
By far, the gift of friendship is one of the sweetest gifts this side of heaven. My grandmother once told my husband, “If you have one, maybe two true friends in your life, you should consider yourself blessed.” If you have more, consider yourself rich and maybe even spoiled. God loves to spoil us. After all, John 10:10 tells us Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. God brings us the gift of friendship at just the right moment and sweetly melds our hearts together in His presence. Two friends, one Savior, hearts set aflame.
“Amazing! Weren’t our hearts on fire within us while He was talking to us on the road? Didn’t you feel it all coming clear as He explained the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures?” So they got up immediately and rushed back to Jerusalem…where they found the eleven gathered together—the eleven plus a number of others. Luke 24:32-33 The Voice
Afterwards, Jesus appears to the group and explains to them the many prophecies and writings written about Him. Finally, they understand Jesus is the fulfillment of them all. At this point in Scripture, Jesus gives His disciples the many gifts they will need after He is gone. And, we receive these gifts when we come to a saving knowledge of Christ too.
Immediately, these gifts are ours for the keeping. The gifts of faith, hope, grace, mercy, Holy Spirit, love and peace.
Jesus supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures (this is the gift of faith). Then He said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of Me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day (this is the gift of hope). Now you must go into all the nations and preach salvation’s grace and forgiveness of sins (the gifts of grace and mercy) so that they will turn to Me…And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here…until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you (the gift of Holy Spirit in us) and wraps around you (the gifts of love and peace). Luke 24:44-49 TPT *parentheses and emphasis mine
The Simple Gift: A Gathering of Friends
He gathers them together and lifts his hands over them, blessing them in his love.
While He was still speaking out words of love and blessing, He floated off the ground into the sky, ascending into heaven before their very eyes! And all they could do was worship Him. Luke 24:50-52 TPT
Astounded with wonder, overwhelmed with joy, they made their way home. Then, they spent their days praising and worshiping together. Y’all that’s community at it’s finest.
Truly, Jesus is all we need. He gave us everything we need as we wait for His glorious return. Likewise, when we see Jesus coming in the clouds, we’ll be full of that same wonder and joy as those who witnessed His miraculous birth, resurrection, and ascension.
Then you will see (as Daniel predicted) “the Son of Man coming in the clouds,” clothed in power and majesty. And He will send out His heavenly messengers and gather together to Himself those He has chosen from the four corners of the world, from every direction and every land. Mark 13:26-27
The gathering of friends is a gift. I hope you’ve enjoyed how God showed up and revealed to me the more of the gift of gathering where we share the gifts of HOPE, JOY, GRACE, MERCY, FAITH, WONDER, PEACE, and LOVE through the ultimate gift of the HOLY SPIRIT in our lives.
Father, our prayer for this Christmas season is a simple prayer thanking you for the gift of gathering, grace, and Your Presence, God.
As we celebrate the birth of Your Son and the coming of a new year, may we never lose the wonder of the gifts You’ve given to us in Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us.
© Amy Elaine Martinez and AmyElaine.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Elaine Martinez and AmyElaine.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.