“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9
I believe all of us can remember back in time when we only wanted one particular gift for Christmas. We all know the gifts we never asked for but received anyway. I remember my grandmother Nancy gave me a wool sweater one Christmas. Wool is a great heat retaining product but on a ten year old, it itches worse than a case of chickenpox. I made sure that I wore a long sleeved shirt when wearing that just to keep from itching all the time I wore it. Although I didn’t ask for a wool sweater it did keep me warm while playing outside in the dead of winter.
Yet, I do remember asking for a very special gift when I was eleven years old. I probably wanted what every boy my age wanted in 1961, a Daisy Pump Action BB gun. I know what you are thinking (no I really don’t but go along with it anyways), “You’ll shoot your eye out!” No, I still have both eyes as poor a vision as they give me. But in December of 1961, all I wanted, all I could think about, was getting my hands on the coveted Daisy BB gun. So, as Christmas of “61” approached so did my anticipation and desire for this pre-adolescent weapon of choice. I have no idea how many hints I put out there as our family ate meals together. But all I remember as we opened our gifts on Christmas morning is, none of the gifts seemed to fit the size of the BB gun I wanted so much. One gift, that’s all I wanted, was that too much to ask?
As the morning wore on and the end of our gift unwrapping came to an end, I am sure my parents saw the disappointed look on my face. As adults we have learned, for the most part, the art of façade. We have learned how to hide our disappointment. But as a child there is very little pretense. Usually what is going on inside the child’s mind is translated to outward manners and actions. So it was in my case, but all that was going to change, as my father said to me, “Patrick, I think you missed a gift behind the curtain.” The bay window of our farmhouse had curtains that were pulled back. On the right side of the window, with the Christmas tree blocking the view of the curtain was one more gift, the one that I was waiting for. Now, if you think that this story sounds a like the beloved “Christmas Story,” that continually plays for twenty-four hours straight each Christmas, you are right. But just to make things clear, back in 1961 that BB gun scenario was probably being played out in a million different homes across our nation that Christmas morning. And just so we are clear, I received my BB gun long before the movie came out.
Although 59 years have past since that Christmas morning, I can still remember how I felt upon opening that gift. Outside of my grandmother’s sweater gift, and maybe a couple of other things, no other gift stands out. I do remember the look on my parent’s face, they were happy for me, and were excited because they saw my excitement. I also realized that they were listening to me. They knew that I really wanted a BB gun and not just any BB gun but a Daisy Pump Action BB gun.
Since that Christmas morning I have received a number of gifts and all of them extremely precious to me. But I don’t believe I have ever been more excited than receiving that BB gun. And that brings me to my point this week. Of all the gifts you will receive this Christmas, none will compare to the Gift your Father God gave you in Jesus Christ.
ALL OTHER GIFTS PALE IN COMPARISON
I understand I am stating the obvious, but it is true none the less. Of all the gifts we will receive in our life-time, none will compare to the gift of salvation found only in Jesus Christ. By God’s unmerited love, He has lavished on us His Son. It is not just a gift we want (assuming we hear the Gospel message and understand it is exactly what we want) it is the gift we need. So it is, the grace of God was poured out on us and through faith we accepted the gift of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross as an atonement for our sins.
IT IS LIKE 1961 CHRISTMAS MORNING ALL OVER AGAIN BUT WAY BETTER
It is difficult to put into words how much better off I am by accepting the gift of salvation provided by Jesus Christ. It is also difficult to explain how I still feel after knowing Jesus as my Savior over the past 45 years. Joy comes to mind. Gratitude is another word that approaches my thoughts. I live in daily surprise of how the Creator of the universe would condescend Himself in the form of a man and offer Himself up on my behalf.
WHAT GIFT DO YOU GIVE A GOD WHO HAS GIVEN YOU EVERYTHING?
Everyone by now should know I don’t like to shop, especially during Christmas time. The best thing that has ever happened to me during this national shutdown is, I have an excuse not to go into stores. But as I think of the salvation God has given us in the form of His Son, what gift could I possibly give Him in return? Certainly, God is not looking for a repayment, nor is He asking me to work off in installments the salvation He has provided. Yet, there must be something God wants in return for the gift of salvation and eternal life, found only is His Son.
HE WANTS YOU AND ME TO WALK IN WHAT HE HAS ALREADY PREPARED FOR US
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” When we received the gift of salvation, it was at that moment, we became His workmanship—something made new in Christ Jesus for the purpose of manifesting “good works” which He, “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” I am not sure of what constitutes “good works” for you. Perhaps it is as simple as bringing your worship to Him, living in unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps it is a matter of coming out of your comfort zone in order to live life as He has planned it. Knowing that, I cannot speak for you. I do know there are things that I need to do. I need to continue to show my gratitude for the Gift He has given me by looking for new ways to please Him and making sure to finish the things that I have already started for Him. These are my Gift to Jesus this Christmas—What are some of the gifts you plan to give Him this Christmas? I’m pretty sure He wants to hear from you.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you joy in Jesus!