This series was well received last year. Some would call this a repeat but I prefer to think of it as environmentally friendly blog recycling with virtually no carbon footprint.
Merry Christmas! Dave
As a public service I am providing a shopping guide for things you can give to Jesus on His upcoming birthday. For the internet hall monitors who love to send anonymous and snarky comments I understand that the celebrated date of Christ’s birth is likely off a bit. But since this is when we celebrate we will go with the date assigned by the church fathers and Hallmark.
Let’s be honest…giving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords a unique gift is really tough. The last post examined the gifts brought to the young Christ child over 2,000 years by the wise men, I had hoped that examining what the Magi brought might jump start our gift giving ideas. By the way, there is a plaque that is available with the title “What if They Had Been 3 Wise Women?” Here is the conclusion….
Alert readers from the last article remember that the first gift was gold. That is always a lovely gift. But now it gets a little tougher.
Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. (Matthew 2:11, The Message)
The second gift brought out of the luggage by the Magi was frankincense. Frankincense is a very costly and fragrant incense. It is a gum distilled from a tree found in the Middle East. It is a white resin or gum, and is obtained by slitting the bark of the “Arbor Thurisfrom”, allowing the gum to flow out (there will be a test). The word actually means “whiteness”, referring to the white colored juice which flows out of the wound in the tree. This gum hardens for three months, and is gathered at the end of the summer, and sold in the form of “tears”, or clumps of hardened resin. Frankincense is highly fragrant when burned, and was, therefore, used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. It is interesting to note that this sweet smelling resin comes as the result of the tree’s woundedness and pain. It is cut open and bleeds to give us the sweet smelling scent. The spiritual parallel is interesting. When we can worship God in the midst of our sorrow, our brokenness, then it is a sweet smelling offering to our Lord.
King David wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalms 51:17 )
Much emphasis in worship today is on “celebration”. No time for agonizing and tears, only for shouts of joy and victory. While joyful praise is acceptable and pleasing to God, tears, like frankincense resin, oozing out of our hurts, broken hearts, and tears of repentance are especially pleasing – a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Lord. Anyone can dance and shout when blessings are flowing, and everything is going their way. But true worship happens when we must overcome feelings of self-pity, fear and doubt. So how can we offer a pleasing aroma to God?
How about giving Jesus the gift of trust for His birthday? You believe that Jesus is the Son of God…that He came to earth as a little baby over 2,000 years ago. That he lived a Holy life and died on a cross as perfect sacrifice for my sin and your sin. I would guess that most of the people who stumble onto this blog believe that. But what I am talking about is really believing and trusting God in every circumstance.
Think about giving the gift of really trusting in Jesus for every need this coming year. Completely trusting who God says He is and who God says you are when you put your faith in Christ. Completely believing that you are a new person and not the same old person reworked. Completely believing that this new identity in Christ gives you power to live and power to not sin.
Believing that you are an amazing one of a kind creation whom God has placed where you are and with gifts that can be uniquely used where you are in your journey.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are-no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. (Matthew 5:5 The Message)
Later in the gospel of Matthew we find this…If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. (Matthew 23:12, The Message)
I believe that comparison is one of Satan’s primary strategies to cause despair. You are wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe and you are valuable. Michelangelo made a nearly perfect sculpture of David. The statue’s muscular tension is precisely rendered down to the muscle contraction on his forehead as David is poised to go into battle. It is perhaps the most important sculpture in the world and it was carved from one large block of marble. Why is that unique? Two other artists rejected the block of marble because of imperfections. Michelangelo saw the beauty in that block of marble that others did not. Jesus sees the beauty in you that others might not. Can you believe in a Jesus that can take you, even if you feel like a rejected block of marble, and then lovingly chip away until you become a beautiful work of art? Can you give Jesus the gift of believing that He is really there with you…as your Good Shepherd…ready to bind up your wounds and lead you to still waters.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him. “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.” (John 10:11-18, The Message)
The Good Shepherd had the choice and chose to give us the marvelous gift of laying down His life and then taking it up again. Believing Him and really trusting Him would make a lovely gift to Jesus on His birthday.