But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:7-8 ESV
One Christmas our youth group joined together to raise funds to purchase devotionals from Joni and Friends ministry as gifts for nursing home residents. One highlight was the hour we spent wrapping the books. Did you ever stop to wonder who came up with the idea of gift wrapping? Isn’t the gift itself what people really want?
I think it all comes down to presentation and that is something even God chose to do when he sent Jesus to the manger of Bethlehem. In a strange sort of way Jesus was God- gift wrapped! When we wrap gifts we do it to keep it a surprise. In that same way no one could see who Jesus was in his swaddling cloths in the manger. It took angels telling the shepherds to get an audience for His birth!
Another reason for wrapping is to say. “I prepared this just for you!” In that same way Jesus was sent, not only for the whole world, but also for each one of us individually. He gives Himself to each of us one by one. Some of us open presents on Christmas Eve and others Christmas morning but for all of us the gifts are wrapped and sitting under the tree because it makes us wait till the right time to open them. At just the exact right time Jesus came, the gift was presented and we by faith have been unwrapping the love God in Jesus Christ ever since.
I offer to you the Christmas song Mary I Have News that I wrote back in 2017. This gift first came to Mary who God chose the carry His gift in her womb and then share Him with the world (including us). Mary’s is an amazing story that we can still share in as God has also chosen us to carry Jesus within our hearts. Have a blessed week everybody!
They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Matthew 14:17 ESV
At Christmas-time probably more of us than would like to admit practice the art of re-gifting. We feel mildly guilty because the practice is usually associated with someone who is either a cheap-skate or an ingrate. However, in the Bible Jesus often practiced re-gifting. When we look at the story of Jesus multiplying the bread we see that He took the five loaves from the disciples, who in turn got them from a small boy and then gave them to five thousand hungry people.
In our lives we are all “gifted” with time, talent and treasure. None of these things belong to us; they only pass through our hands. God is watching to see how we will re-gift what we have received. Will we feed the hungry; and bring comfort, shelter and friendship to those in need around us? What will we re-gift to someone today? And when we do remember the great re-gifting when Jesus took the life that the Father had given Him and gave it to us on the cross.
Prayer: Father, help me not to cling so tightly to the things you have given me. Give me the heart of Jesus Christ who loved me and gave himself for me!
This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12 ESV
Every year as we approach Thanksgiving my wife begins preparing to make her Christmas candy. Of course preparing doesn’t begin with cooking it means buying almonds, chocolate, butter and pounds and pounds of sugar. It has become a family tradition for forty five years and it makes me wonder if anyone can or will carry it on after she is gone. Of course she has written down her recipes and even given them to several others in the family. But no one yet has made even a single batch of fudge or turned out a sheet of almond butter crunch.
Nancy’s Christmas candy gets shipped to six states and is shared with a crowd as diverse as the lawn man, the guy who picks up our garbage as well as the pastor of our church. It has become her annual reminder that God loved them so much that He sent Jesus and if they will receive nothing more of her message they can still delight in the sweetness of her gifts. When Jesus said for us to love one another as He loved us; He didn’t mean for us to all do it the same way. Nancy’s way has eclipsed the careers of politicians, movie stars and famous athletes. Few will remember the winners of super bowls, elections or academy awards; but the taste of Nancy’s Christmas candy remains as an eternal reminder of God’s love in a special way.
Maybe our prayer this morning could be, “God what is the recipe for the way you want me to share your love today?” Loving in God’s way always means to do it like Jesus did; but it also means to cook with the unique ingredients that He has put in the pantry of our heart to use.