For as long as I can remember, my grandfather always said a devotion before we opened gifts on Christmas. I remember it as always being a reminder of why we were celebrating. My grandfather past away just a couple of weeks after Christmas last year. God has had it on my heart to take over this tradition, so I have prepared a devotion using a few sources. I will be sharing it with my family this afternoon.
"Searching for the 'Perfect Gift'" (sources: Jim Walterhouse and Randall D Hughes 1998)
There are some folks that are hard to shop for:
~you have no idea what they need or want
~You don't know what size or color
~They are just plain picky
But, God knows exactly what we need. He gives us good and perfect gifts. Let's be reminded of some of God's gifts to us.
1) The gift of the Savior
Luke 2:11 says "The Savior, yes the Messiah, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David."
If there ever was a gift where "everybody needs one", "one size fits all" or "you can't live without it", this is it.
The bible tells us the gift of the Savior is a promised gift. It tells us this in the very first book of the bible but it doesn't happen until the new testament...thousands of years later.
The bible also tells us the gift of the Savior is a perfectly timed gift. Galations 4:4 says "but when the right time came, God sent his son, born of a woman..."
2) The second gift is the gift of salvation
Having the gift of salvation means we have a personal relationship with the living God.
John 3:16 says "for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that all who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life"
Eph 2:8-10 says "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
And Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life THROUGH Christ Jesus, our Lord"
3) The third gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 14 of the book of John tells us that the Holy spirit is an indwelling person (it lives within us), an empowering person, and an educating person. It says (versuses 16-19, 26) "and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) who will never leave you. He is the Holdy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans-I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you will also live (empowerment). But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative - that is the Holy Spirit - he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you (education)."
4) The forth gift is the gift of grace
Grace is defined in Scripture as something that teaches us how to live. Grace teaches one how to live pleasing in his sight. Two ways we can do this is by giving and serving. To live is to give...God gave to us and so should we give to others. 2 Cor 8:19 says "you know the generous grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that by his poverty, he could make you rich." It goes on to say in Titus 2:11 "For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people." It is interesting to note that God's grace has been extended to all men, yet all men are not saved! This is not God's fault though. For he came "to seek and to save that which was last" (Luke 19:10). This was the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth. God purchased our salvation with his own blood, Acts 20:28. The price paid at Calvary is the ONLY price able to purchase our salvation. There are not enough good deeds available for any one of us to do to ever deserve God's grace. Christ did the work to make salvation available to us.
Okay, so what do you do with a gift?
I suppose every parent has had the experience of searching for some special gift for their child and then after all that effort, seeing the child spend more time playing with the box the gift came in than the gift itself. The feeling you have at that time approximates the feeling God must have about some of His children with their attitude towards His gifts to you. So what can we do with our gifts for God?
1) Thank God for the gift. 2 Cor 9:15 says "thank God for this gift - too wonderful for words!"
2) Use the gift. 1 Tim 4:14 says "Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks."
3) Share the gift. 2 Tim 1: 6-9 says "This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but the power, love and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either...With the strength God gave you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deseved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus."
4) Add to the gifts. 2 Peter 1:2-10 says "May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In conclusion, the writer (Jim) shares his story. It was the week before Christmas. Parking spaces were hard to come by. There were long lines, crowded stores, rude people, and grossly inflated prices. In one long checkout line, one man was heard to say "They should kill the guy who started Christmas". One wise and goldy woman in the line said, They did - they hung Him on a cross." Therein lies the REAL Christmas story.
Merry Christmas everyone!!