December 6, 2022-Reflections on “The Christmas Gift!”

       In this season, gifts are most on our mind. What do we give and what do receive? How do we decorate and what do we eat? Have we forgotten the greatest Gift our God gave us?

            Every Christmas Eve, my Dad read Luke 2:10-14. to his three children. Jim, Gene, and me. Words mean pictures to me. 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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”

        Not until much later did I connect these two verses with Luke 2. This gift was God’s Plan so we could become His Children. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.

         Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. Psalm 98:8-9. Have you ever thought about Creation praising their Creator with Joy? And their praises of Joy give us the same Joy when we praise our Great God. A flower is a smile from God and the trees serve as resting places for birds that sing praise–and squirrels who need a hiding place. Creation has a purpose in teaching us to praise God.

         Have you ever seen a gift that is left unopened? Jesus left us the Holy Spirit, and with it, these gifts are ours when we Believe and Trust in Him. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23. As I read each character trait God gives us when we believe in Jesus and choose to follow Him, I see this verse: If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25.

         Each character trait is ours when we trust in Him. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song, I give thanks to Him. Psalm 28:7.

         My daughter, Anna Payne wrote these words: God gifts us with His Spirit. Unconditional Love, but not without tears. Joy, but not without sadness. Peace, but not without conflict. Patience, but not without trials. Kindheartedness, but not without strong emotions. Goodness, but not without temptations. Faithfulness, but not without doubt. Gentleness, but not without harsh words. Self-control, but not without failure.

         This reminds me of the difficult times when I draw strength from James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

         Noel–we often sing The First Noel at Christmas, but do we sing the 6th verse? Then let us all with one accord, Sing praises to our Heavenly Lord. That hath made heaven and earth of naught, And with His blood mankind hath bought.

         Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:4-5. This is hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13.

         Then comes Trust, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

         The Gift of Peace is from Jesus. Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27.

         All these gifts begin with Believing. First comes hearing and the willingness to hear. And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6.

        This ‘tree’ of words is a part of the cross that signifies how Jesus died, to save us from our sins, by sacrificing His life. Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” May you have a Blessed Christmas in Him.