My Favorite Christmas Present

Until my son was born, I never realized how much more fun Christmas is when you get to see the surprise on your child’s face. It was always exciting as a child imagining what new toys were under the Christmas tree; however, that excitement doesn’t compare to the joy of seeing Christmas through your child’s eyes.

Each year I have a list of things I would like for Christmas, but I am not really that excited about my gifts. I am thankful for those who cared enough to get me something. Never-the-less, I am always eager for Christmas morning and to see William’s excitement and joy.

This year, I was surprised at one gift I received.  It was by far my favorite gift and memory of Christmas 2011. My wife and son gave me a Hallmark Storybook.  It is entitled, “The Very First Christmas.” What makes it so special is that you can record your voice reading the story. As you turn each page, music plays followed by the recording of the person reading the book. My book was recorded by my seven-year-old, and I LOVE IT!  I have the book sitting on my desk at work so I can listen to it whenever I want.  I am not too sure how long the batteries will last, but as long as they do I will have a recording of my son reading to me about the very first Christmas.

Usually, my favorite part of Christmas is watching others enjoy the gifts that I have given; however, this year my wife and son gave me a priceless gift for which I am truly thankful.

What was your favorite Christmas present or memory?

All I Want for Christmas is Jesus

My Christmas list this year is quite simple—I want to Obey Like Joseph, Trust Like Mary, Seek Like the Shepherds, and Worship Like the Wise Men. When I looked through the Sears Christmas catalog as a little boy, I always knew I would get a few of the toys I put on my list. I also knew that I would get stuff that would never go on my list, you know—socks, jeans, shirts, and things that your parents put on the list. However, when it comes to making out a Christmas list from the Word of God, one thing is guaranteed; you will always get what you ask for. When we are living within God’s will and ask for anything in Jesus’ name, God will give us that gift. I’m not talking about cars, homes, or other worldly possessions. I am talking about the same godly attributes that Jesus demonstrated for us during His life here on earth.

So, what is it that you want this year? What is it that your heart desires? Is it salvation? Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Just call out to Jesus and He will save you. Are you in need of forgiveness? 1 John 1:9 tells us “if we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins.” Are you looking for peace? John 6:33 promises us that peace is found in Jesus. Are you looking for joy? Jesus taught His disciples that His joy would be our joy and that it would be made complete. It is only in Jesus that you will ever find true peace and joy. Maybe you are looking for rest. Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…for your souls.”

Whatever you may be searching for, it can only be found in Jesus. Is it happiness, satisfaction, love, a spouse, a child, a loved on to come to Christ? No matter what it is, just ask Jesus. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

So tell me, what is it you want from God? Will you ask Him today? Regardless of what you need, God is more than capable of providing. He sent Jesus to provide a way to Himself. Now, He is waiting to pour out His immeasurable blessings on those who will humble themselves and come to Him. Won’t you come today? Bottom line, all I really want for Christmas is for you to know Jesus!

All I Want for Christmas is to Worship Like the Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2.1-2, 9b-11 ESV).

I have no idea exactly where the wise men came from, but I do know they came with the solitary purpose of worshipping the King.  They set out on their long journey that they might look upon Him face-to-face and worship Him.  They could have stayed in their own country within their own homes and worshipped; after all, it isn’t the place where we worship that is important, but the condition of the heart.  Their hearts would not allow them to stay home and worship.  No, they understood that true worship calls for great sacrifice. So, they put caution to the wind and set off to Bethlehem, the city of David, to worship the King of kings in person.

Their worship was the result of a lifetime of searching. Because they had searched the Scriptures, they recognized His star when it appeared.  They understood that He would be a child and would be born in Israel.  They knew He would be the King of kings.  Their lifetime of study wouldn’t allow such a historic event to happen without their attendance; therefore, they traveled the long, long journey to worship King Jesus.

This year for Christmas, I want to worship like the wise men.

First, I want to emulate their anticipation for worship. In order to worship, they had to recognize the fulfillment of God’s Word by knowing Scripture. They recognized God’s sign when they saw the star, and they recognized God’s glory when they saw His light.  This created in them a desire for worship which drove them to make the sacrificial journey. I don’t want to be so busy with the “Christmas Season” that I miss the true reason for the season—JESUS! I want the fulfillment of Scripture, the Bright Morning Star, the Light of the World—JESUS—to penetrate my heart and create in me a desire for sacrificial worship.

Secondly, I want to emulate their act of worship.  They took the time to come into His presence, they looked into His face, they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, they gave of their possessions—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their worship was a complete fulfillment of their hearts desire to honor and glorify the King.  Upon seeing Jesus face-to-face they couldn’t help but fall down in worship.  The treasures they gave to Jesus meant nothing in their possession, but leaving them as an offering to the King became their greatest achievement. I want to offer up my feeble life and possessions for Him to use however and whenever He desires.

I want desperately to worship before the face of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.  I want to see His glorious face, fall down before Him, and honor Him with words of praise, honor, and glory.  I want my worship, like that of the wise men, to be the zenith of my existence.  This year for Christmas I want to worship like the wise men!

All I Want for Christmas is to Search Like the Shepherds

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:8-15 ESV)

During this time in history, shepherds spent months away from their families tending sheep.  Most people looked down on shepherds and considered them way down in social status.  Since God’s Son was coming to be the Good Shepherd, God saw shepherds differently.  God sent an angel to them to announce the birth of the Savior of the world—Christ the Lord.  This child would grow up to be the sacrificial Lamb of God.  The shepherds were told where to go to find the Messiah and to expect “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  To make sure they understood the importance of what was happening in their midst, God allowed them to witness a group of angels praising God for this event that would bring peace to men. After this, the shepherds left their sheep and went in search of the Savior.

This year for Christmas, I want to search like the shepherds.  Each day I want to be looking for the Savior to return.  He could come back at any time, and I want to be ready.  I want my life to look like that of the life Jesus lived while here on earth.  Others know when you are searching for the Savior because it shows in your life.

You search for the Savior when you serve others as if you were serving Him.  Visit those who are in the hospital and away from family.  Take snacks or gift-cards to the local Ronald McDonald House, purchase children’s games and donate them to the children’s hospital— regardless of what it is, do something for those who are going to be away from home this Christmas.

Search for the Savior at your local John 3:16 Mission, an assisted living center, the Baptist Home for Children, Big Brothers and Sisters of Tulsa, or any place—a visit, card, or gift would be a pleasant surprise.  Just showing that you care will be the best present you could ever give.

We search for the Savior by spending time in the Bible to see just how God has revealed Himself to us.  We take what we learn from Scripture and demonstrate those godly attributes to the rest of the world.  Let people know that the reason for your kindness is because of God’s great love for them.

This year, all I want for Christmas is to search like the shepherds.  The Savior of the world wasn’t exactly what they expected, never-the-less, they searched and searched until they found Him.  In searching for the Shepherd, I might find people to serve who don’t look much like Jesus; however, He taught us when we help those in need we are really helping Him!

All I Want for Christmas Is to Trust Like Mary

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)

 The second request on my Christmas list is to trust like Mary.  Can you imagine going about your day when all of a sudden someone claiming to be an angel appears, says that you are highly favored by God, you will conceive a son, He is from God, He will sit on the throne of David, will reign over Israel forever, and there will be no end to His kingdom.  I would be looking around for a television camera or a group of my friends rolling on the ground laughing.

 You can tell by Mary’s response she wasn’t so sure of this stranger, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” If this was going to happen, she needed a little clarification.  “Gabriel, I understand what you are saying; however, I have never known a man so how can this be possible?”  She was a virtuous, God-fearing, righteous woman.  She just didn’t understand how this could happen to her.

 Gabriel patiently helps her to understand with God nothing is impossible.  Then, we see Mary’s trusting heart, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She simply trusted the word of the Lord and submitted to God’s plan.

 Mary could have taken time to explain how inconvenient this was going to be on her. She was engaged to be married, so when Joseph found out he could accuse her of being unfaithful and have her stoned to death. Intimate relations outside of marriage were strictly forbidden, so even if Joseph didn’t have her killed she would be ostracized from her community. She could wind up being a single mom trying to raise a child on her own in the poverty-stricken city of Nazareth.

 Mary immediately trusted the angel once he explained God’s plan. So, this year for Christmas I want to trust like Mary.  I want to trust that God’s plan for my life is what will bring Him the most glory and the most good for me.  I have no idea what 2012 might hold; however, I want to trust God to meet my every need.  He promised to be with me regardless of life’s circumstances.  By trusting His love, I can find contentment regardless of what comes my way.  For Christmas this year I want to trust like Mary.

All I Want for Christmas Is to Obey Like Joseph

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)

 Okay guys, let’s go back to when we were dating our wives.  You’ve grown up together, been in church together, worked in the fields together, and now you are both of the age to get married.  You have watched this young woman her whole life, and she is one of the godliest women you have ever met.  The best description of her is found in Proverbs 31:10-31—a virtuous woman. You have talked to her father and made all the arrangements to be married on a specific day.  You both are excited and looking forward to spending the rest of your life together.

 One day before the wedding she comes to you and say, “I had a vision from God yesterday. He sent an angel to tell me that I am with child and He will be the awaited Messiah.”  How would you react?  As for me, the first words out of my mouth would be, “Check please!” or “I’m outta here!”  Most of us would dump her faster than she could say “Do you believe me?” However, that is not how Joseph reacted.

 The Bible tells us that Joseph was looking at divorcing her quietly so that she would not be stoned for adultery.  Then, while he was sleeping, he had a vision from God.  An angel told Joseph the baby is of God, his name is to be Jesus, he will save his people, fulfill Scripture, and will be Immanuel—God with us.  Without a question Joseph took Mary as his wife and raised Jesus like his own son. Joseph was obedient to what God had called him to do.

This year for Christmas, I want to Obey Like Joseph. As I read through Scripture and see how God would have me to live, I want to be obedient.  I don’t want question what He knows is the very best for my life.  If how I respond to God’s Word shows what I actually believe about God, then I want to be completely obedient to Him.  I can spend hours explaining why a certain Scripture is not really for the 21st century, which means I am free to do as I please. However, discounting Scripture is a sure sign of disobedience.  If I love God I obey Him, so if I don’t obey Him, do I really love Him?  The first thing I want for Christmas this year is to obey like Joseph.