Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
One of my absolutely favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the eagerness with which I have seen my children embrace gift giving. Their faces are full of joy as they wrap up items such as family portraits drawn by hand. Personally I like their renderings because I'm always drawn size 0 in stick form. They are equally delighted to race to the red bucket and place a dollar inside to the merry melody of bells ringing or to fill a shoe box with items they've never once asked to keep for themselves.
These little reminders keep my heart focused on the real gift of the season. He was wrapped not in a package festively tied with ribbon but in swaddling clothes. His parents couldn't afford luxury travel for the holiday; they took a donkey. No one filled his stocking but later wise men would find Him and give Him their treasure. Jesus will forever be the greatest Christmas present.
Today I am reading the 8th chapter of Hebrews. This passage describes in the detail how man's relationship with God was permanently altered when Jesus died for our sins. The author quotes a passage from Jeremiah 31 that outlines four gifts given not when Jesus came as a baby but when He died as a man.
- A Heart and a Mind to Know God (Verse 10) - "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts." God's love is etched onto the heart of every person who chooses Jesus. The Holy Spirit's whispers are heard in our ears, directing our steps toward God.
- Relationship (Verse 10) - "I will be their God, and they will be my people." Too often we are satisfied with mere acquaintance with the Savior when God offers close relationship. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God when mankind was first created. We were made for intimacy.
- Access (Verse 11) - "No longer will a man teach his neighbor...they will know me." We have each been given an all-access backstage pass to the ultimate rock star. We don't even have to bribe His manager or win a radio contest to get it. We just have to accept God's plan of salvation and surrender to our need for it. Better than acceptance in Harvard or an audience with the Pope, we can meet with God one on one and learn from Him for ourselves.
- Forgiveness (Verse 12) - "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Over the course of my life I have spent a great many hours searching for something I have lost. I at times take it for granted that I could search for the remainder of my days and could not find any trace of my sin. God remembers it no more. It is not in the lost and found. It has not been misplaced. It is vanquished.
Jesus, You are the most precious Christmas gift of all. May the gift I unwrap this season be time spent with You celebrating the forgiveness You died to give me. Today I choose to make my heart ready. Come Lord Jesus.