Did you ever receive an expensive-looking gift and then find out after the initial excitement that it was an imitation, a fake?
LOVE! PEACE! HOPE! JOY! Everyone wants these wonderful gifts we hear about at Christmas time, but too many settle for the world’s cheap imitation. The genuine article comes only from God, the giver of all good gifts!
Let’s start with LOVE.
The cheap imitation—what the world says:
· Love yourself first
· Love = sex
· Love = approving whatever anyone else says or does
Genuine love—what God says:
♥ True love comes from God, who loved us first. (1 John 4:19)
♥ True love puts others first, seeks what is best for the one we love.
(1 Corinthians 13)
♥ God’s love is unconditional, forgiving, forever! (Exodus 34:6-7)
♥ Love is why Jesus left his heavenly throne
to take on a lowly human body,
to endure poverty and rejection,
to become the sacrifice for our sin
and to blaze the path to a wonderful relationship with God
and life with him forever.
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. (NCV)
This is God’s Christmas gift to you and me! Have you received it?
Carolers appear at our gate every evening during this time of year. A few offer beautiful music, either vocal or instrumental. Others beat on a can and shout something indecipherable, always followed by “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” That’s our cue to come out with a treat.
Of all the standard Christmas carols, the two we hear are “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” And one wonders, as the garbled words emerge from enthusiastic throats, do they understand what they’re singing? Especially when it’s in English, which most of these children wouldn’t understand. (I must say that it’s usually sung a second time in their own language.)
Then I have to ask myself, do I really understand the same song when I sing it? Do I think about it or does my mouth go on autopilot while I’m thinking about what’s for lunch?
Take this line from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:
God and sinners reconciled. Unpacked, these four words contain the whole story:
–A former perfect relationship between God and humankind
–People becoming sinful and separated from God
–God’s provision of the means to restore that relationship.
It was done by God setting aside His divine privilege for the sake of the estranged human race and becoming one of us! Coming down and reaching out to pay the death penalty we deserve and restore us to the place He intended for us when He made us.
What love! This is why we celebrate. Would you turn down such a gift?
You know that game where a small gift is wrapped in layer after layer of boxes and wrapping paper. It’s passed around a circle and the size keeps shrinking as everyone unwraps some of it. And then finally the last person person finally tears off the last layer. This is his/her Christmas present.
In Jesus, it’s quite the opposite. A very large gift (the Infinite God) was presented in a very small package (a tiny baby). And as time went, He not only grew in size, but his glory (i.e. Godhood) was revealed more and more. Finally, as His body was torn (and with it, the veil in the Temple that separated man from God), our Christmas present from God was complete: a perfect Savior in whom we have forgiveness, new life, direct access to God, hope of heaven and God’s presence throughout, and much, much more. The gift you can’t live without!
Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
This morning we went for a walk around the block with our two-year-old grandson. On the way, he picked a handful of dandelions.
It reminded me of a photo we have of my sister and me doing the same thing and presenting them to our mom who oohed and aahed over them. She actually did appreciate the cheerful flowers which we normally consider weeds. But more than that, she appreciated the “love gift” of her two little girls.
What I do for the Lord is so small and inadequate. (Remember the widow who gave two tiny coins.) But when it’s done to please Him, he delights in it. Like maybe washing the dishes for the family, taking time to read to a child or play a game with them, offering to run an errand for someone, or…
More than anything, I long to hear the Lord’s words someday: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”