God's Gift to Us
Thursday, December 7, 2023 by Doreen Wennberg
What gifts are on your list to give this year? And what gifts are you hoping to receive?
Christmas time is such a special time. Preparations for the big day often begin right after Thanksgiving. Out come our boxes of twinkling lights, the trees, and wreaths to make it all bright.
We bake cookies, wrap gifts, and hang stockings for this very special day.
But for some people, that is all it is—a holiday filled with lights, animated Christmas decorations, and endless gift buying.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who loves Christmas and decorating as much as anyone, I also know celebrating the world’s way can leave us empty, unsatisfied—and many times depressed.
This time of year can cause unrealistic expectations and pressures, leaving us exhausted, cranky, and lacking joy.
Sometimes the expectations others have, cause the pressures we experience, and sometimes it’s our expectations.
We can miss the joy of the season when we get caught up in all of the expected have-to’s we think we must do to celebrate.
In the words of the one who stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss writes the famous line of the Grinch, ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more!’”
As people of faith, we know that Christmas means so much more. We know it is the time when we celebrate the long-awaited birth of the Messiah—God's gift to the world.
We may know it, but we may still need the reminder to make room in our busy December for this long-awaited gift—God’s Son.
Take Time to Reflect on Priorities
How do you make room with an endless to-do list? First, take a moment to re-evaluate and pray for God’s guidance and wisdom.
We’ve all heard the saying less is more! Whoever thought that one up is a genius because it’s so true! In our get-more-saturated cultures, it can be hard to adopt this thinking.
What can we do without? Where can we delegate? Do we really need to bake four dozen cookies? Could we just bake one dozen, buy the other two, and leave one off? Can we shave off the number of gifts we give to our children, friends, and relatives? How many dinner parties or Christmas events do we need to attend?
These are just a few of the many to-dos on our lists. Long lists exhaust us. Long lists keep us from quiet moments reflecting on God’s Eternal plan of Salvation.
Time Spent Reflecting on the Gift
In a recent post on the Countdown to Christmas, Teaching Kids about Advent, - a simple weekly candle lighting ceremony, scripture reading, and prayer—incorporates teachable moments and helps prepare our hearts to receive the gift of Jesus.
What we do in advance of Christmas daily not only refreshes us spiritually but counters all of the exhaustion, dissatisfaction, or depression that can come with the season.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16.
When our focus is on God and the gift he gave, so that we could live forever with him in Heaven – it becomes a totally different perspective than the world’s way of thinking.
First of all, why did God even need to send Jesus? What difference does it make that he came?
Genesis chapter 3 records the fall of man into sin, when the crafty serpent tempted Adam and Eve. Satan caused Eve to doubt God’s goodness, using the phrase, Did God really say? (Gen 3:1b).
In talking about the forbidden fruit and whether or not they would die if they ate it, Satan set her up for discontentment—wanting what wasn’t allowed. When God forbids something—it is always for our good and protection.
Eve forgot all they received and instead focused on what God had forbidden. And don’t we do that too? We can fall into trouble when we forget God’s many blessings and dwell on what’s forbidden.
The serpent’s reply was, You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:4-5).
It was true, their eyes were opened—that’s how they knew they were naked. It was also true that they obtained an intimate knowledge of good and evil, but this was all gained by rebelling against God’s authority.
Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God in eating the forbidden fruit was sin. Satan will always try to make sin look good. Wanting to be like God was not the sin. In fact, as people of faith, our sanctification process is growing more and more to be like God—in our character, speech, and conduct.
The sin was defying God’s authority. God sets up boundaries and restrictions for our good. Much like a parent sets up a rule for a child not to cross a busy street alone. Why? Because children can get hit by speeding cars when they disobey.
Sin brought shame and guilt into the garden, and Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves while hiding from God (Gen 3:7-8). Sin broke their close relationship with God.
Instead of admitting his sin, when questioned, Adam blamed Eve. The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it (Gen 3:12). Eve did the same and blamed the serpent for deceiving her (Gen 3:13).
Why does all of this matter, and how does it concern us now? Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden—a perfect paradise before the fall.
Adam and Eve’s sin set in motion—the world’s tendency to sin. Every human being is born with a sinful nature, except Jesus—who was born sinless and lived a sinless life.
God is holy and hates sin. His perfect nature will not allow sin to go unpunished. There were consequences for all three—the serpent, Eve, and Adam (Gen 3:14-19).
Part of their consequence was also having to leave the garden—again, it was for their protection. If Adam and Eve also ate from the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever but in a state of sin. So, God banished them from the garden (Gen 3:23-24).
What does this have to do with the gift?
Genesis 3:15 records God’s plan from the beginning to redeem mankind. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Satan tried many times to defeat Christ while here on Earth but only managed to strike his heel. Satan may have thought he defeated Christ on the cross, but He will crush your head—shows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose victoriously from the grave.
When our focus is on the gift God gave, when we’re reminded of just what Jesus came for, all that he would defeat and give on our behalf—the tinsel, the glimmering lights, and all the rest grows dim. None of those matters.
What matters is sharing the news that a Savior has been born!
What matters is that we who believe in the Son of God are forgiven and set free from sin’s bondage. What matters is the freedom Jesus died for so that we can live in Heaven for all eternity.
Jesus is the Light of the world, who came to redeem mankind from the dark sins of this world. The light of the Bethlehem star shined brightly in the dark sky—to announce the wonderful news of his coming. This gift wasn’t delivered in a royal dwelling with great fanfare. Jesus came in the quiet of the night in dirty surroundings to an unlikely poor couple whose faith was tested—beyond their understanding.
The baby in the manger would grow up to one day defeat Satan on the cross-securing Salvation for all who will place their faith in him.
- How does this truth make a difference in your life? And what will you do differently this year to reflect that truth?
- What gifts are on your list to give this year? Have you included gifting those who need to know the truths of God’s Word?
- What gifts are you hoping for?
- Do you know Jesus? He is the greatest gift you could ever receive!
Father, we thank you for sending the gift of your Son. We thank you for your plan of Salvation from the beginning. We pray that you would use us to share the good news that Jesus, the Lamb of God, has been born. May you draw all those who don’t know you to a saving faith in your Son. ~In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Linda Ivey From Parrish, FL At 12/12/2023 7:40:01 AMA beautiful reminder of what Christmas is all about!
Reply by: Doreen WennbergThank you Linda. Merry Christmas!
Eb Roberts From Cary,NC At 12/10/2023 6:55:46 PMThank you for this beautiful reminder of the true Reason for the Season Doreen!
Reply by: Doreen WennbergThank you for reading, Eb - Merry Christmas!
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