Thursday

The "Must-Have" Gift of Every Christmas Season

I want to share this devotional with you that my dear friend, Janet, presented at our Christmas luncheon this week. Janet and her family are preparing to leave in a year or so for Kenya as missionaries.

I know it is longer than a typical post, but I didn't want to break it up. May it bless you as it did me...

The "Must-Have" Gift

I don’t know about you, but one of the first things that I think of when the Christmas season comes upon us is….GIFTS!

Trying to find the perfect gifts for the ones we love can sometimes be fun, or frustrating, or possibly exhausting, or can maybe just throw some of us into a downright tizzy! For many people, gifts, whether giving them or receiving them, are what define Christmas.

Now there are some people….the super-organized ones, who shop for Christmas gifts all throughout the year and are totally prepared before the season even begins. Do I have any ladies who might fall into this category?

Then there are others who are in a panic as they head out on Christmas Eve to find those special gifts. Anyone like that?

Another set of people are the crazies…the ones who buy a paper on Thanksgiving morning and systematically search through every sale advertisement to find the best gifts and the best deals around. Then, they head out at some insane hour of the morning to battle the Black Friday crowds to stand in line for hours at the one store that has THE MUST-HAVE GIFT OF THE SEASON. Can anyone relate to that?
 
I recently came across an article that I found kind of fun and interesting. It is entitled “A Timeline of the Top-Selling Christmas Gifts…Ever: A year by year look back over the last 8 decades at the Must-Have-Gifts that sent parents a-trampling’”.
 
Here are some of them: 1929:  yo-yo, 1936: Monopoly, 1943: Slinky, 1952: Mr. Potato Head, 1959: Barbie, 1980: Rubik’s Cube, 1983: Cabbage Patch Kids,  2005: X-box 360, 2009: Nook E-Reader, 2010: Apple iPad.

But the one that may stick out to many of us, because it made headlines, is the MUST-HAVE GIFT of 1996: Tickle Me Elmo.

Let me read a portion of an article that I found about the havoc that was wreaked because of sweet, little, Tickle Me Elmo.

I feel badly because every time I read this, I just want to crack up. It’s kind of funny! But at the same time, it’s sad and absurd that an Elmo doll would bring out such insanity in people.
 
Every year, there seems to be some crazy story about another Black Friday mishap involving that MUST-HAVE-GIFT of the season, and sadly, this really evidences the greed and the misplaced priorities of our society.

Well, today I am here to say that the MUST-HAVE-GIFT of this blessed and sacred Christmas season is not tickle me Elmo, it is not an X-Box 360, Nook E-Reader, or even an iPad2.
 
The MUST-HAVE-GIFT of this year, this holiday season, and even this very day, is the gift of a Savior, who is Jesus Christ the Lord, born of a virgin, born in a manger over 2000 years ago to be our hope, our joy, our peace and our life. All of these other gifts pale in comparison to the real gift of Christmas.

So let’s take a closer look at the MUST-HAVE-GIFT of the season.

Most, if not all, have heard the Christmas story. Sometimes the word ‘story’ connotes made-up or make-believe. But this story is truth. Not only is it true, but it is a story that was foretold many thousands of years before it happened.

It is a story that has been preserved down through the ages in God’s Holy Word and it has profound and unmistakable implications for each one of our lives. Let me read a portion of the Christmas Story.
“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. The time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
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!” 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.”
But the story doesn’t end there, you see. It’s not just a story of a sweet baby born in a manger one starry night. It’s not just the story of a virgin birth, or of the shepherds, kings and angels.

It is a story of the promised Savior, Jesus Christ who was born to die. It is a story of the Perfect Son of God who gave his life in order that sinful man may live with God eternally. It is the story of God Himself, becoming flesh and humbling Himself, to the point of death on a cross.
THIS is the MUST-HAVE-GIFT that we MUST embrace.

In order to truly possess a gift, you must accept it. You must claim it as your own.
I remember back to when I worked in the Oncology clinic and at times, certain sweet patients would offer me a gift of money to express their appreciation. Well, because of the ethical dilemma in situations like this, I chose not to accept the gifts.
A gift was given. It was free for the taking. But I did not accept it. Therefore I did not possess it.
Some of you may be thinking, I’ve heard the Christmas story. I know this story. I believe that Jesus was born in a manger in order to be the Savior of the world. Well, that is a start.

You see, it is not enough to just believe that the story is true; it is not just a mental ascent of the facts. The Bible says that even the demons, those that utterly oppose God, believe Jesus.

So you may be wondering… how do I accept this must-have-gift of a Savior? The Bible clearly tells us.
We must first understand and admit that we are all sinners.

You see, our righteous God demands perfection, but we aren’t perfect; we fall short. The Bible tells us that the penalty for our sin is death, which is eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. People have tried over the years to earn God’s favor or salvation by doing good works, but the Bible says this is futile.

Salvation is a free gift of God. But if we are all sinners, how can we reach God’s glorious standard of perfection? We can’t! But Christ did!

You see, Jesus Christ, the true Christmas gift, is the sinless Son of God. His own Father sent Him to earth to take our place on the cross. We deserved to die, but he died instead.

His blood that was shed on the cross covers our sin so that when God looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Christ. God accepts Christ's payment for our sins and we become His child. If we repent of our sins and put our trust in Christ alone as the only hope of eternal life, we will be saved!

And if we truly accept and possess the gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Bible says that our life will be radically different than it was before.

We are brought from death to life. The old life has gone and the new one has come. We are transformed and we pursue an intimate relationship with Jesus.

The Bible teaches that we will obey God’s commands and that our lives will be characterized by love for each other. It is truly a miracle!

Will you accept this must-have-gift that has been freely offered to you?

Now, I want to tell you a little secret about what we are going to get our daughter, Kate, this year.  But you all have to promise not to tell!
This year, between my mom and mother-in-law and me, we are getting Kate an American Girl Doll. And I have to say I am so excited! I got their catalog a couple months back and have had so much fun looking through it and planning out which doll we should get, and which outfits.
These are just the cutest little dolls and all the accessories are just so sweet!
Well, I got to thinking about how much joy it brought to my heart to make these plans and to search through the catalog and pick out these special gifts for Kate and I couldn’t help but think about and wonder if I have the same joy and excitement, and even willingness to share the most important gift of the season, Jesus Christ, with those who don’t know Him.

My 6 year-old son has been a rebuke and encouragement to me in this area.
A couple of months ago I saw him with two little New Testament Bibles in his hand headed out the door to the neighbors. He said he wanted to give them a Bible so that they could know about Jesus and he was literally on his way over.
We can learn from his example.
Are we that eager or willing to share Christ with others?  I stopped him that day, but promised him that we would give our neighbor a new Bible and bag of Jan's Christmas toffee this holiday season.
If you do know Christ as your Savior, if you have already accepted this must-have-gift, then it is your responsibility to share Him with others.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 speaks of this. It says, “Anyone that belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.

And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.

And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.

We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Well, if you’re here today and you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I beg you to do it.

The friend or family member that invited you wants you to do it. It will be the best decision you’ve ever made. It is a matter of life and death and there is no better time to do it than today.

 If you do know Christ, then show your love for him by sharing the must-have-gift of the season with others. It is the least we can do for our Savior who gave his life for us.

Thank you, Janet for allowing me to share this message with others.


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2 comments:

Sally said...

Yes, Jesus truly is our "must-have gift." Thanks for the reminder. It truly is sad the greed that overtakes so many during this time of year. Our desire is to teach our two small sons the value of giving, as it is easier and more natural to want to think about ourselves first.

Becky @ purposefulhomemaking.com said...

Thank you for sharing, Sally!

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