Posts Tagged ‘Advant’

Someone asked me the other day if I was ready for Christmas, by which they meant – have I finished my shopping yet? Well the answer was no and still is. I a last minute shopper. And I also have my lovely wife’s birthday on the 27th and our anniversary on the 20th. So I have a lot to do to get ready for the season.

But even if you’re just getting presents for Christmas, we can easily miss the point that we are actually celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

Now I don’t know where the tradition began of giving gifts on birthdays, but we do know that the Magi came bearing gifts – gold frankincense and myrrh, to honor the birth of Jesus as a great king. And since Christmas is the time set aside to celebrate this, maybe we shouldn’t be thinking so much about getting gifts for others or receiving them ourselves, but rather on giving to him.

What gift can you give to Jesus? Have you thought about this yet? What do you think that he would like this year? Well I have some suggestions this morning to help you.

1. Your life

Give the most valuable thing you have. Perhaps you’re here today and have never done this. Jesus loves you and came to be in relationship with you. He is the Lord of the universe, but he desires to know you; to transform you; and to bless you. Will you give your life to him? He doesn’t force us to love him, we each have to do this for ourselves. Will you make that choice?

Or perhaps you are here today and you know him, but you have been holding out in an area of life – you aren’t giving him your full obedience, service and devotion. Will you choose to give yourself fully to him?

Jesus calls us to “lose our lives” for his sake – Mark 8:35. We are to give up our life to him. We are to love and follow him above our family, our possessions and even our own earthly lives – Luke 14:26; 33. Give your life to Jesus this Christmas and live for him in every area of your life.

Here is a gift idea that comes from Jesus himself –

2. Give to the needy

Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” – Luke 12:33. Instead of giving more luxuries to people who already have luxuries, give of your excess; of your luxuries to help those who can’t even meet their basic needs.

Instead of buying the newest and the best for ourselves and others; instead of obtaining comfort on top of comfort for ourselves and others – be generous with the resources God has given to you to help the truly needy.

As Jesus said, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” – Luke 12:15. Let’s act like we believe this is true.

Here’s another gift idea from Jesus that will surely please him.

3. Give mercy to someone

Let me paraphrase Luke 6:37-38 – “Don’t judge . . . don’t condemn . . . forgive . . . give . . .” mercy. All of these phrases are examples of what he had just said in the verse before this one, “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). We are merciful when we don’t judge and condemn, to say it negatively. We are merciful when we forgive and give mercy, to say it positively.

So let’s say someone has hurt you or offended you or failed you in some way and you are stuck in a cycle of condemning them and holding bitterness and resentment against them. Jesus is saying, choose instead to give the gift of mercy. Break the cycle. Treat them like your Father in heaven has treated you – mercifully.

If they haven’t dealt with what they did to you, choose to show love to them in some appropriate way, instead of hate. If they have dealt with the issue and have sought forgiveness, by all means give the mercy of forgiveness. Let them off the hook; don’t hold it against them anymore.

4. Minister to the lowly

You remember how once the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. And then Jesus took a young child and said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me . . .” – Mark 9:37.

His point here is that instead of seeking status; seeking to be the greatest, they are to lower themselves to serve those who have no social status. Paradoxically this is how you become great in the kingdom. The child here represents those with no status, at least this was the case in Jesus’ day. Jesus uses the word “receive” here. He means to minister to and help those who have no status. That is, take care of their needs, give them attention, give them hospitality.

And then we come to the point that I am focusing on. When we do this, we are ministering to Jesus. Whatever gift you give to the lowly one – time, help, hospitality, is actually a gift given to Jesus.

Along these same lines –

5. Help Christians who are suffering

This comes from Matthew 25 and the story of the sheep and the goats. Here Jesus talks about helping “the least of these my brethren,” a phrase that refers to fellow believers in tough times because of their faith. And his point is that when you give to and help these, you are actually giving to and helping Jesus.

vs. 36-40 – “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

When you bless and help Christians in dire need, who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, without clothes, sick, in prison – you are giving gifts to Jesus himself.

So when you help a missionary or a pastor in hostile lands or difficult assignments, you are helping Jesus. When you help Christians who are suffering persecution, you are helping Jesus himself.

6. Give a special act of devotion

This comes from the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with very expensive ointment. The disciples said that this was too much money and it should have been given to the poor. But Jesus said that “she has done a beautiful thing to me” -Matthew 26:10.

Now Jesus is not physically present with anymore so we are in a bit of a different situation. But we can still do something special for him; we can give him something extravagant as a gift. Perhaps you can write a poem to Jesus or a letter expressing your love. Or you could set aside a day where your sole focus in on getting to know him better and adoring him. Or you can do something expensive for Jesus. As in this story give something expensive to help and bless the ministry of a church or a ministry. When done with the right heart, to honor and bless Jesus, these are beautiful gifts to Jesus.

Are you ready for Christmas this year? Have you picked out what gift, or gifts you will give him? I encourage you to think and pray about this, and to make it the chief focus of your Christmas giving.

William Higgins

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