For most of us, especially the children, the central activity of Christmas is giving and receiving gifts. We spend hours considering what to give, making and/or buying gifts, wrapping gifts, a few short seconds opening gifts, and then a few more hours returning the shirt that doesn’t fit, the socks that don’t match, or setting up the new electronics or trying to figure out how to put together toys without using a manual.
The precedent for exchanging gifts at Christmas was set early on. The Magi arrived from the east bearing gifts. They brought to the Christ child gold, frankincense and myrrh. They gave gifts that were thoughtful, appropriate and costly. But the real precedent setter was God himself who gave the first Christmas gift, the most valuable Christmas gift, the most costly Christmas gift and the greatest Christmas gift when he gave us his son.
As Jesus became a man he bridged the gap between God and man. This is key in our salvation because we need someone to bridge that gap. In our sin we have been separated from God. When Jesus came he crossed that gap. If he had not been fully human he would not have completely crossed the gap. If he would not have been fully God his birth would have been meaningless for us. But we “hail the incarnate deity” who has made it possible for us to enter into relationship with God Almighty.
Jesus came for us: He came to deliver us from sin. His mercy is not just in understanding and empathizing, but in deliverance. We don’t have go on without hope. We don’t have to go on without joy and peace. We don’t have to go on in loneliness. He comes to our side. He walks alongside us. He forgives us and removes our guilt. He is the “Savior, Christ the Lord.” We need a savior.
The shepherds were the first to hear the good news announced by the angelic host. They were the poor outcasts of society. They were in need of Jesus. He came for them.
But he came for us all. 23 times in Luke’s first two chapters the Greek words for “all” or “entire” or “every” are used. Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews or the shepherds, he is the savior of the world.
Therefore, since Christ shared with us, we must also share with others. It is a denial of Christmas to keep it all for ourselves. There is no greater feeling than giving a gift that is just what someone needed. There is no greater gift than the gift of salvation. Share Jesus with someone this Christmas. He is just what we all need. Let’s follow the example of the shepherds who came to see Jesus, then went to tell others.
1. It’s Christmas Eve and dinner is done, the presents are wrapped and the girls have just gone to bed. I’ve got Christmas tunes playing on the iPad and taking care of some last minute things. This is one of my favorite times at Christmas. We just finished a wonderful dinner as a family, with good conversation and food. I love the house at this time. It’s relatively quiet, the Christmas lights are still glowing and the excitement of Christmas morning is around the corner. I’m ready.
2. Finally went to see the new 007 movie this week. I’d say its pretty good, a little slow early on but it finishes with lots of action, chases and killing. That’s what James Bond is about! I’ll give it a four out of five.
3. I’m feeling pretty good about my knee surgeries after eight and four weeks respectively. Think the progress is good and I’m going mostly pain free right now on both knees. The bills though are a mess. I paid for most of it up front but now the insurance stuff is coming in, surgery and doctor statements and all of them have unknown codes and secret handshake stuff that is going to take a while to decipher.
4. One of the most satisfying phases of parenting is happening for Julie and I right now. That’s the part where you get to see your kids make giant strides in self reliance, good choices, self discipline and self motivation. My girls are both doing so well in college, not only making high grades, but making great decisions in choosing friends, choosing directions dn doing what it takes to get to the right place. I’m a proud parent.
5. Finally, Merry Christmas!
1.The cold weather of winter finally arrived today. We went from the low 80’s on Sunday to the mid 40’s on Monday. And the wind is blowing. It actually feels a bit like Christmas here in Spring, TX.
2. Update on last week’s blog: There is no iPhone 5 on my desk today. I’m not up for renewal yet, but the blessing is that a kiosk in the mall replaces screens. So I have a new glass on my phone for a fraction of the price of a new phone. 🙂 And for just a moment I remembered what it was like to have no smudges on my phone.
3. Switched my energy plan today for the house. One of the things I have discovered in the last few years is that it pays to switch your energy plan. I try to pick a 6 month plan, so I only have to look at it twice a year. I also pick a plan with electronic billing, that lowers the cost significantly. With a new A/C and staying up to date on a good rate plan we have lowered our electricity bill by 50%. Check out www.powertochoose.com to see what rates you could get. This is not a paid endorsement.
4. There are 15 shopping days til Christmas. Are you ready? Amazingly, I am almost done with Christmas shopping. Julie and I have done much of ours early and online. Julie has become an online shopping maniac. It seems like everyday we get something else in the mail. You should know that in the past I have not been this efficient. In fact I have done a lot of shopping on December 24th. So the fact that I am almost done is an anomaly and it should not be thought that it will become a trend for the future.
5. Been praying a lot this past week about our church. I’m really looking forward to 2013 and the things God is going to do at Spring Creek. I think there are many things on the horizon that point to a great year. One thing that really encourages me is that several people I have talked to agree that we need to spend more time praying. I think the spiritual hunger and desire to see God at work is a precursor to His activity. Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of church that we forget to be spiritually hungry. A time of refreshing is coming. Pray for revival.