Week of: December 16, 2013 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
When our children were young I attempted to do my best to help them understand that Christmas was about more than just Santa Claus, reindeer and presents. We read some Christmas books and took them to church. Although it was not always a regular tradition I would occasionally bake a birthday cake for Jesus and we would hang our “Happy Birthday Jesus” banner in our home. Sadly, I must confess that when there was a cake, it was simply because I got ahead of the game.
This year is my 53rd year celebrating Christmas on this earth and I have been reflecting on why Jesus seems to get the leftovers of His birthday. By the time we do all the “stuff” related to this birthday celebration; there is very little time to actually sit down with Him to celebrate His day. For believers who celebrate this day, there is something very important that we should not overlook within all the hustle and bustle of December 25th and beyond. There is a reason for this season and it is not to wear us out! It's more than preparing a nice day for our families. It's more than presents and good cheer. So, for just a few minutes won't you oblige me the opportunity to explore a specific angle to the Christmas story?
Imagine with me for a moment that it is your birthday. A celebration has been planned for you. The invitations have gone out to the guests that you would love to have at your party. The table is set. The food is made and the decorations are up. The people start arriving with gifts in their hands but instead of handing the gifts to you, they begin to trade them between one another and you end up with nothing because as they see it; what could you possibly need? In a sense isn't this what we do when our commercialized Christmas celebrations take precedent over the true meaning of the day.
According to Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, in his article titled Give Jesus Your Best This Christmas, he writes “We give gifts to everyone but Jesus. But let’s be honest, what do you give the God who has everything?” Ever thought of it that way?
So what could we possibly give Jesus beyond just attending a church service on Christmas to acknowledge His birth? Yes, we could maybe visit a nativity scene during the season to reflect on His day. And, of course we could read the birth story out loud to our family from the Bible. Or, maybe like me you could find time to bake Him a birthday cake and blow out a candle or two. These things are "good things" but they reflect doing something within the celebration, rather than doing something directly for the guest of honor.
How about we consider that maybe we may have missed the mark along the way concerning the true celebration of Christmas. Maybe there really is more to this season outside of cards, gifts, parties, presents and holiday church attendance. Could it be that Jesus might simply desire for us to be present with Him on His day so that we can give to others that of which we have received. Could it be He might desire that we use His name in our party conversations as we pass those delicious cookies? Maybe instead of our usual scripted prayers we could actually use our voice and allow our heart of gratitude to overflow as we lock hands to pray. How about we consider a moment of silence as we recall the death of the baby boy Mary pondered in her heart?
Let me share the rest of the article by Pastor Warren which offers some other gift ideas I agree Jesus may enjoy. Excerpt from Give Jesus Your Best This Christmas “Actually, Jesus doesn’t have everything. There are four things he doesn’t have unless you give them to him this Christmas:
Give him your trust. Faith is a voluntary matter. Jesus doesn’t have your trust unless you give it to him. He will never force it. Make Jesus first place in your life. If anything or anyone other than Jesus holds first place in your life, it’s an idol. This Christmas, choose to make Jesus first in your finances, interests, relationships, and schedule – and even in your troubles.
Give Jesus your heart. Your heart is what you love, what you value, and what you care about most. Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34 NIV). One important way you give Jesus your heart this Christmas is by giving your resources to his work. Jesus doesn’t need your money, but he wants what it represents – your heart.
Bring other people to Jesus. God wants a family more than anything else this Christmas. He wants children who choose to love and trust him. It is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Invite someone to Jesus this Christmas. Tell someone about what Jesus has done in your life.
The Bible tells us that the Wise Men didn’t give Jesus their leftovers when they visited him on the first Christmas but instead gave three very significant and valuable gifts: “They bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11 NCV). As you give Jesus your trust, make him first in your life, give what you value to his work, and bring other people to him, you’re giving him gifts far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought. So tell Jesus “happy birthday” this Christmas. Give him your best.” – Warren
Friends, as we draw near to the reason for this season let us remember that God stepped into this world not only to make a way for sinners to be saved; He came to relate and guide those He created. God desires relationship and this will require that we slow down to engage Him. He wants to be a part of your everyday life, He wants to be a part of your Christmas. When Jesus went home to be with the Father, He left us God’s Word and His Holy Spirit so that we could know everything we need to know to make our way to the victory celebration. This year, please don’t make the excuse that you cannot understand the Bible or you're just too busy for Bible study. If you invite Christ into your heart and you ask Him to help you, He is faithful to oblige your request for wisdom and time. Giving Jesus your treasure of reverence and honor this Christmas, something I know He would be happy to accept.
Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection are the greatest gifts God has presented to His children. Let’s make Him the single most important person at our Christmas celebration. Let’s make Him the guest of honor at His party. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!
From my home to yours ~ Merry CHRISTmas.
In Christ by grace,