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Have you taken the time this year to make sure that everyone knows what size you are...the colors you like...and the styles you prefer to make sure that everything you receive this Christmas in the form of a gift is just perfect...no returning needed. So this year...just to make sure...the Christmas list was short and sweet and almost impossible to mess up. Your list looked something like this:

  • A gift card to your favorite clothing store
  • A gift card to your favorite music store
  • A gift card to your favorite computer and software store
  • A gift card to your favorite sporting goods store
  • A ten pound box of money

You’ve taken measures to make sure everyone can catch your “drift”. But what happens? You begin to watch the gift giving unfold and all of your hopes and dreams for Christmas have turned into a really bad nightmare.

  • Your parents gave you a complete bowling outfit...you don’t bowl!
  • Your mom gave you another pair of zebra striped flannel pajamas...that’s your seventh pair in seven years ...the same size as the first year...too small!
  • Your kids gave you a year’s enrollment to Exceptional Parent University.
  • Your grandma bought you a set of instruction videos...plus a cello...but you’re tone deaf.
  • Your kids bought you a trial run at Delmar Gardens...you're only 41 years old.

Ever happened like that, I mean, not as bad as that but the same result you didn’t get anything you really wanted for Christmas. Unrealized expectations can be a real downer sometimes...as the old trusty car begins to warm up in anticipation of beginning the ole familiar yearly rite of “return the gift”...which starts in the “forever” waiting line...at every location.

Thankfully, there is a gift that really matters...that we will never want to return. It’s given to us by God and promises to provide everything we need for the coming year.

“Your heavenly Father...will give you all you need... from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:25-33

It might be a little difficult to admit that you can survive without a pair of zebra striped flannel pajamas, but somehow... everything is gonna to be alright. When we set our mind on the things that really matter...our gift expectations begin to change...and our disappointments decrease as we focus on our task of living for Him and being aware that He knows our real needs...spiritual, relational, emotional, and even material...even those we aren’t really aware of.

When Christ was born into this world, according to the Fathers plan, He brought to us the greatest gift of all....a Savior, Christ the Lord. When Christ gave His life on the cross, paying for our sins, was buried, and then raised from the dead the greatest gift of all provided redemption and offered salvation. Have you received the greatest gift...you won’t want to return it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)

It is a gift we don’t deserve...but a gift we really need...the gift of eternal life. That’s why the Bible describes Christmas as “Good News”.

What a gift! A gift that we can really be thankful for...and a gift that actually “keeps on giving”... day after day. I mean, after we receive this gift, a good change occurs and we become more concerned about what we will give rather than what we will get.


In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 (ESV)

We not only don’t want to return this gift we want to share it with others. That’s what Christmas is all about: God reconciling with his human creation so that we can know Him and love Him and share Him with others.

Go ahead and text someone right now...give them an invitation...slap it on Facebook...I know you use it...I’ve already seen those “cute” pictures of your dog jumping off the roof of your house into a kiddie pool...Invite them to Sunday Christmas worship...starts at 10:30...tell them it will help make Christmas Day really special...Invite them to Christmas Eve Service. Hey, just a thought; Invite them to Christ...it’s a gift where no returning will be needed.


And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)

 

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
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You gotta’ love the Christmas music that’s played during the Christmas season. Who doesn’t love a dose of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”, “Joy to the World”, and Silent Night. Especially that last one, “Silent Night”.

Silent nights are needed. Seems like that’s when I can shut the rest of the world out for a few minutes and clear my mind by reading the Scriptures and then asking the Lord to once more fill me with a “peace that passes understanding”. And He does.

I mean sometimes the day, or even the week, sometimes the month, and occasionally the whole years seems to be pretty rough, even a horrible period of time. So I need a respite, a time of, a season of healing and refreshment.

This last year was a “doozie”...not just personally, but for the nation as a whole. You remember the whole election “thing” don’t you? Over twenty people ran for the office of the President of the United States...we were excited to have so many choices and then it came down to two..."nough” said. What about the rioting that happened in so many of our states and cities this past year...plus the floods...plus the fires...plus the sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court...plus the volatility of the market...I mean I could put a hundred blanks on the paper and I’m sure you could find plenty of troubling items to fill them with...and that doesn’t even touch the personal troubles that occur that we never in a million years would have imagined happening to us. You’ve probably cried out the same thing I have on occasion, “How long, Lord?” That’s why the “silent night” is so needed.

And the neat thing is that the “silent night” experience can happen at any time...day or night... and bring peace and yes, even joy, as well as hope back into our world.


7Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Psalm 37:7 (ESV)

Think about it. Let’s clear our mind...be still and listen to the Lord and learn. For the Scriptures reveal to us if ever there was a horrible time in the life of a nation and a people we need look no further than Israel in 6 B.C. Pretty tough time period, very troubling. I mean you have a king who has been appointed by the Roman empire to tax the people beyond their ability to pay...an occupation that was being implemented by one of the most brutal empires in history...on the whole, no middle class, only rich and poor...starvation was a real possibility...and religious leaders who had grown cold and empty...not to mention that the Lord had not spoken to Israel for 400 years.

Already my mind is clearing somewhat. I mean, even our “troubled” year seems bearable when compared to the time into which Jesus Christ was born. It was into that epoch that God intervened and sent into the world the grace, peace and hope that was needed.


... but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,Romans 5:20 (ESV)

In, and among all the “stuff” that was happening in the lives of the nations and the lives of the individuals came the holy night of peace and promise. “How long, O Lord?” turned into “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The promise of redemption, of justice restored and life renewed. There it is...”the peace that passes understanding”.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14 (ESV)

Be still and know that He is God...clearing our mind with His Word, and knowing the truth which sets us free...to trust and enjoy the peace He gives. I guess that's why we actually have nothing to fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10 (ESV)

Peace and joy...Christmas gifts...for all people who believe and trust in Him, the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’m praying for you, as you celebrate Christmas this year. One, that you will find time to “be still” and two, that you find the joy, peace, and hope that He intends for us to have regardless of what may arise in our daily lives.

Let the music spring forth...and let it be with meaning...

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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