The Gifts of Christmas
Christmas is a wonderful and joyous time of the year. Most people I have ever known have looked forward to and enjoyed Christmas. There are the Christmas carols, the good food, the family and church fellowship and a multitude of other things that make Christmas what we expect it to be. Of course, there are sometimes interruptions to our celebration like the death of loved ones, personal problems, health
problems, and the like.
The purpose of this article is to discuss some of essential but often overlooked particulars of Christmas. They are things that, if overlooked, rob Christmas of its real significance.
Consider with me some of the very wonderful and glorious aspects of Christmas. If any of them are overlooked, Christmas loses its true meaning and purpose. Christmas is, to begin with, a gift. It is a gift given
by God and can only be given by Him.
Christmas is a gift of a Person. We usually think of Christmas as giving and receiving something tangible. We thus go to the stores and search for the just the right gift for a loved one. If we really love someone, we spend the time and expense necessary. We have all benefitted from such love and care. I remember some of the gifts I received as a child. One gift was metal team of horses pulling a wagon! I loved it and played with it for a long time. (Actually, I wish I still had it!)
The gift God gave is the Person of His Son. Note the following:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). This is one of the most common and familiar verses in the Bible. Many have memorized it and have accepted the gift of the Son of God for their own salvation. This verse excludes all other means of salvation. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Any invention of man to seek to earn his own salvation is doomed to failure. It must be noted though, that it takes the ministry of the Holy Spirit to open one’s eyes to see and comprehend this truth.
“And this is the record, that God hah given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I Jn. 5:11-12.). So, the record is clear, if we would have eternal life, we must receive the free gift of salvation offered by the Father in the Person of His Son. It is so wonderful that the matter of our eternal salvation is made so clear. The authority is the Bible, the gift is the Son of God, the way is by faith!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24).
So, to begin with, God giving His Son to die for our sins is the greatest Gift ever given. It is the greatest gift one can receive or it is the greatest loss one can ever endure if the Gift is refused.
Christmas is the gift of a Presence – God’s presence. When people trust the Lord Jesus as their own personal Savior, God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live within them. Christians do not live their
lives alone. Note the following verses:
Paul said to the Galatians, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). No believer is without the presence of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. It is His presence that makes the Christian’s life different from those who do not know Jesus as Savior. The Holy Spirit lives in and changes the heart of believers and consequently changes his or her life. Religion alone does not change peoples’ hearts and thus does not change their lives. It is thus that Paul could say, “…walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 516). Those who have not the Spirit know nothing of walking in the Spirit.
“What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and that ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19-20). The glory of the Christian life is not in the believer himself but in the presence of God within. As God reveals Himself to the believer through a study of His Word and the believer’s yielding to God, the believer enjoys more and more the wonderful presence of God in his life.
Christmas is the gift of joy. The world, people without the presence of Christ in their lives, may experience fun and a sense of good times, but it is not the same as the genuine joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is unique to Himself. It can be found nowhere else. It cannot be stored up to use whenever we feel a need for it. Without the presence of God, there is no such joy. Interestingly, we can recite the verses about such joy, but it cannot really be understood and appreciated apart from His presence in our lives. Too, such joy comes only from an uncluttered relationship with Him. If other things get in the way, such as the attractions and temptations of the world, the reality of His joy will be greatly diminished. Note the following verses about the joy of the Lord:
“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (Jn. 15:11). Notice two things especially. The joy the believer experiences is the joy of the Lord Himself. No one, even the sincere believer, can conjure up such joy. Again, true Christian joy comes only from the Lord Himself as the believer walks in fellowship with Him.
Further, the joy of the Lord is a full joy. There is no admixture of anything that can diminish from the joy He gives. Yes, we may have hardships and grief in the world we live in, but His joy is independent of such things. This may be hard to comprehend sometimes, but as we focus upon Him and His Word, His joy is still there!
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:24). It is the Lord’s will that our joy should be full, complete. To live the Christian life without the joy of the Lord is to miss the essence of the Christian life! Yet, so many believers seem to lack the genuine and endurance of the joy of the Lord! Could it be that we may need to come to the cross to confess our carelessness and indifference to Christ Himself? Do our sins get in the way of our fellowship with Him?
Christmas is the gift of peace. Certainly one of the most coveted gifts of any time is the gift of peace. Without peace, life is chaotic and uncertain. It is difficult to face the future without a sense of peace. For many, it causes worry and anxiety. Peace regarding health, finances, the spiritual welfare of children, the care of loved ones, and world conditions are of great concern to many.
While believers are likewise concerned about such things, they have a sense of peace in the Person of Jesus Christ they can get nowhere else. Note the following promises of God regarding His gift of peace.
Regarding the account of the birth of Christ we read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). The birth of Jesus Christ is the origin of any possibility of peace on earth.
The nation of Israel, God’s chose people, rejected peace when they rejected the place God was to have in their lives. “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea” (Isa. 48:1718). Is not the same true for us today? As we know and obey the truth of God, He sheds upon us His abundant peace. Even for believers, because our obedience to His way and will is often lacking, our peace that we could know is often lacking! A good reminder is what God said to His people, “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” (Isa. 48:22).
A very reassuring truth for the believer today is, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isa. 26:3). Note that there is an emphasis on keeping our minds on the Lord Jesus. There are so many things that compete for our mind today, but most need to be rejected. One thing is needful for the one who would continually know the peace of God; his mind must be stayed on God. To pursue anything else at the expense of knowing and loving God is a total loss. Everything else will eventually pass away. Only our walk and relationship with God will endure.
The gift of purity. One of the greatest gifts we receive as believers is the gift of purity. To be pure means to be free from the defilement and encumbering of sin. All of the human race is born in sin, except of course, the Lord Jesus. Thus, the Bible teaches, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Further, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:10-11).
The thought, then, is that no man is righteous or pure on his own nor can he in any way make himself righteous. Without God, man stands defiled and impure before a Holy God.
The really good news is that there is a way to be pure! God, the offended One, is the way to purity. In His grace, He takes our sin upon Himself and in return, gives us His righteousness when we willingly receive Him as our personal Savior. It was Jesus who died on the cross to bear away our sins. Note especially the following verses:
“For He [God the Father] hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).He became our Substitute in death that we might receive Him as our eternal salvation! By faith, the believer is forever identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is the presence of the Lord Jesus in the believer’s life that enables the believer to live a life of purity. Thus, our position in Him is one of purity even though our walk does not always reflect the purity of Christ within.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:8-9). So, the believer’s life is one of relative purity but his position in Christ is one of absolute purity.
The gifts of Christmas given by the birth of Jesus Christ are endless and totally glorious! May the birth of the Lord Jesus be ever more appreciated by each of us as believers!
November has been a month of extremes in the weather department. First, we had unusually warm weather for this time of year. Then, in the third week, we have had January temperatures! We thank the Lord for a warm house and plenty of food to eat. Indeed, the Lord is good all the
I have always enjoyed November. To me, it is a beautiful change of season and it is a time to look forward to special family gatherings. This year again, we were blessed to join the family at Harley and Dorothy’s house near Barron for Thanksgiving Day. However, we missed my sister, Sharon, who returned from a trip south the day after Thanksgiving.
I am so thankful for both of my sisters who have been a tremendous help to us in our time of special need. Their presence and ministry have been very much appreciated.
If you would like to add anyone to the mailing list for The Sonshine, please give me their names and addresses. There is no charge. My heart’s desire is to share the good news of salvation in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and to proclaim His truth for the times we are living in. There is such an enormous amount of misinformation about how to be saved and how to know the reality and presence of God in our lives. We are living in a very deceptive time and many people are clinging to false teaching being proclaimed by people who know nothing of the truth of the Bible. Many are willing to follow anyone who proclaims what they themselves think or believe. Please pray for the proclamation of the truth of God’s Word and for God to open peoples’ hearts. Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, hearts will not be changed and many people will assume that what they are believing and doing are pleasing to God!