Saturday, December 25, 2010

Five Gifts for Christmas

Merry Christmas! This past Sunday my pastor shared a message on the "5 Gifts that you can give every Christmas." Since Christmas is here, I wanted to take a few moments to share these five gifts with everyone. These will make great gifts that are sure to bless the receiver!

The first gift is to "Say nice things when you [we] don't have to." It's an odd gift, yes, but it's very useful around the holidays, especially when we find ourselves around a lot of people we may or may not get along with. Christmas gatherings can be trying times. Emotions are high, stress levels are out the window, and people are put in some pretty tight situations. The best thing to remember is to speak to one another with encouraging words that build up not break down (or spark past arguments and disagreements).
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."

The second gift is the gift of simply "Being Ourselves." Family gatherings can really put the pressure on to be someone other than ourselves. We haven't seen some of these people since last Christmas and they're going to want to know what we've been up to. We've already heard that 'Suzy Jane' is the VP of Marketing with her big Fortune 500 Company, how can we compete with that? We suddenly feel that our volunteer work at the church and our ordinary 9 to 5 job isn't 'good enough' so we try to build ourselves up with a little stretch of the truth here and there. Psalm 139:13-14 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Instead of covering up who God has created us to be, we need to be openly giving Him praise and sharing our gifts with others. God has made us exactly the way He wanted to. We are His creation and are "fearfully and wonderfully made." The best gift we can give others is to be ourselves.

Our third gift is to "Be a Specimen of Joy." There's a lot of things going on in the World that can bring us down. Yes, there is suffering, disease, and poverty, but there is also hope, mercy, grace, and love. No matter how bad things may seem to be, God is still on the throne and in control of every thing, big or small, that is happening around us. This is comforting news that should give us great excitement and joy; a joy that we simply cannot contain. Let's remember to share the joy and the reason for that joy with those around us!

The fourth gift is the gift of "Dealing with offensive behavior directly." When there's a lot of people together there's bound to be a few toes (and egos) stepped on. What's the first thing we usually do when someone says or does something offensive to us? We tell the person standing the closest to us. Before long we've talked about the offense with everyone but the offender. Matthew 18:15 tells us "If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him with his fault. If he listens and confesses it, you have won back a brother." How true those words are! If we keep the situation to ourselves and seek out the offender privately then we can save a lot of time and trouble. The problem can be smoothed out and the entire day or evening won't be ruined. Time is such a precious treasure; don't spend it sulking.

The fifth and final gift is to remember to "Make people, not stuff the priority this Christmas." Jesus is the reason for the season; He came to seek and save the lost and to give us life abundantly (Luke 19:10; John 10:10). He made us a priority. He stepped out of a glory filled Heavenly realm into a dark and dusty Earth. People, not stuff, were His priority. We need to do the same. Christmas may be the only opportunity we get to tell friends and family about Christ; make it count!

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