The Giver (not the gift)


At the dawn of another year,
Lord, help us to be bold and not fear,
seeking not the approval of men,
but laboring for your harvest, counting suffering gain.

To and through our first-born, your word came:
To trade the old for the new,
and we pray, that you are always in our view,
and that, we experience your faithfulness & mercy, each morn as dew
and be counted, not among the many, but the few.

To and through our second-born, you promised:
Leveling the mountains before you will I go,
breaking the gates of brass and cutting asunder iron, so that you will know
that you summon us by our name, to give us hidden treasures
May you, Oh Lord, may you always be our sole pleasure.

To and through my beloved, you assured:
That we are your delight, and the humble, you crown with salvation
as we work in your vineyard, declaring to all nations,
that to believe in Jesus calls for a (heavenly) celebration;
so may this be, not merely our aspiration, but truly our vocation.

To me and through me you declared:
That your favor around us will always be like a shield;
as we co-labor for your harvest in this temporary field
with your Word in our hearts; the sword of the Spirit we can wield
and totally to you, Oh Lord, our lives we yield.

When from your way, we are lured to drift
force us with your love to remember, repent and return our lives to you, as our gift
so that we may correctly and aptly, your name lift
For Lord God, it is all about you, the Giver (not the gift).

From the Author’s/Poet’s Desk:
As we arrived at the beginning of a new year, thinking about the year gone past and looking forward to the year ahead, this poem is an expressions of our hearts, that in the coming year, my family (Sangeetha, Reuben, Ittai and me), focus solely on the Lord God, The Giver of all good things and not on ourselves or our gifts (children, talents, etc). During the watchnight service on December 31st, at the Austin Christian Fellowship of India (ACFI), my wife and I picked promise cards for each one in the family. The poem is written by compiling the verses from our promise cards, as a personal reminder to us, but we pray that you personalize this for yourself by replaced the pronouns and words like “our” with “me” or “my” and any personal pronoun with your name or “I”.

The promise  cards picked for 2015.
For Reuben (our first-born): 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
For Ittai (our second-born): I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isaiah 45:2,3)
For Sangeetha (my beloved): For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvatiom. (Psalm 149:4)
For Mano: Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12) 

A line-by-line exegesis of the poem [in square brackets] is given below:

At the dawn of another year,
[January 01, 2015]
Lord, help us to be bold and not fear,
[Acts 4:29]
seeking not the approval of men,
[Colossians 3:23 {which is the Church’s theme verse for 2015}]
but laboring for your harvest, counting suffering gain.
[Matthew 9:37; Acts 5:41]

To and through our first-born, your word came:
[Promise verse for Reuben – Ephesians 4:22-24]
To trade the old for the new,
[Ephesians 4:22-24]
and we pray, that you are always in our view,
[Psalm 27:4]
and that, we experience your faithfulness & mercy, each morn as dew
[Lamentations 3:22-23]
and be counted, not among the many, but the few.
[Matthew 22:14]

To and through our second-born, you promised:
[Promise verse for Ittai – Isaiah 45:2,3]
Leveling the mountains before you will I go,
[Isaiah 45:2]
breaking the gates of brass and cutting asunder iron, so that you will know
[Isaiah 45:2]
that you summon us by our name, to give us hidden treasures
[Isaiah 45:3]
May you, Oh Lord, may you always be our sole pleasure.
[Psalm 73:25]

To and through my beloved, you assured:
[Promise verse for Sangeetha – Psalm 149:4]
That we are your delight, and the humble, you crown with salvation
[Psalm 149:4]
as we work in your vineyard, declaring to all nations,
[Matthew 21:28-29; 1 Chronicles 16:24]
that to believe in Jesus calls for a (heavenly) celebration;
[Luke 15:7]
so may this be, not merely our aspiration, but truly our vocation.
[John 6:38 – Jesus’ one-line autobiography should be ours as well]

To me and through me you declared:
[Promise verse for me (Mano Paul) – Psalm 5:12]
That your favor around us will always be like a shield;
[Psalm 5:12]
as we colabor for your harvest in this temporary field
[1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Matthew 9:37; 1 John 2:17]
with your Word in our hearts; the sword of the Spirit we can wield
[Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 6:17]
and totally to you, Oh Lord, our lives we yield.
[1 Kings 8:61]

When from your way, we are lured to drift
[Mark 4:19; James 1:14-15]
force us with your love to remember, repent and return our lives to you, as our gift
[Revelation 2:5]
so that we may correctly and aptly, your name lift
[John 3:14-15; John 12:32]
For Lord God, it is all about you, the Giver (not the gift).
[John 3:16; James 1:17]

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