Christmas Presents

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Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the Word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown. Mark 4:20


Oh, it’s so easy to love Christmas, isn’t it? We wait all year and then the magic begins to weave its way into our minds and hearts. We shop for just the right gift for all the people on our list, and we rejoice when we find that perfect item. And we gleefully anticipate what others will choose for us. Maybe we still even make a list so we won’t get stuck with something we don’t care for or won’t use. And the food at Christmas is like no other time of the year. We make special dishes and baked goods and candies, nibbling as we go. The music carries us to a vision of happy families and joyous reunions. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season captivate our senses and leave us almost speechless.


Do they really? Or have we become so accustomed to Christmas being a “big deal” that we just accept what the world says and go along with it? Sometimes all the world can offer us is a false idea of what will make us happy. We say we love to give and get gifts, but are we ready to accept the best Gift of all into our hearts and our lives? The gift of Christ’s love, grace and redemption is not like a fancy sweater that will eventually wear out or go out of style. It’s not a food gift that we eat and then it’s gone. And it’s not a monetary gift that we spend on some frivolous item. Christ’s gift to us is alive and it lives within us for the rest of this life and throughout eternity. He gives us living water so that we will never thirst again (John 7:38). Through Him we receive bread unlike any we can bake, the bread of His own body given freely so that we might live forgiven (John 6:35). He asks us to be “good soil” that His Word might take root in us and grow and produce more love and grace and forgiveness (Mark 4:20). Let’s rejoice this Christmas over the most wonderful gift of all-time: Christ Himself.


Praise You, Lord! You are our Christmas gift. Amen


Christmas Tree with PeopleGOOD NEWS! THIS BLOG IS NOW AVAILABLE  IN BOOK FORM AT AMAZON.COM UNDER THE TITLE Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Acts 2:44


There is a story about a grumpy old man whose wife died. After the funeral, he sat on his porch all day long alone. Many neighbors went to visit, bringing food and saying all the “right” things. The man just sat there and never even acknowledged the people who came. Everyone said he was impossible to get to know. Then one day, a little boy who lived next door went over and sat down on the porch floor next to the man. The boy was there for hours. Everyone could see that they were talking but no one wanted to go see what they spoke about. When the little boy came home, his mother asked him, “What did you say to him?” The little boy said, “Not much. I just helped him cry.”


My friend and mentor Bob Albers speaks of “the ministry of presence,” the important task of just being there for someone who needs us. Being available for those in need is a year-round ministry, and the Christmas season is a heightened time to practice this. The hustle and bustle of shopping, entertaining, traveling, and trying to stay on top of “normal” activities can be overwhelming for some. Finding time for our own “down time” is hard enough without having to think about what everyone else needs. But it is in the example of the little boy in today’s story that we find the key: simply being there for others. We don’t necessarily have to do anything. We just have to demonstrate that we are with the person who needs our companionship and caring. And we don’t even need to be with the person physically, if that’s not possible. Any member of the armed forces serving away from home at Christmastime will tell you how much it means to receive “care packages,” cards, letters, and emails. Communicating is even more lively with all the electronic methods of communication we are blessed with today. We can hear and see our loved ones in real time, if not in person.


Christmas is about the gift God gave us, the “present” of Jesus Christ His only Son. It’s also about Christ’s “ministry of presence” among us.


Gracious Lord, thank You for coming to live on earth and show us the way to salvation. Amen