Hands up if you have already opened all your Christmas presents. Hands up if you haven’t opened your Christmas presents yet. Hands up if you have only opened some of your Christmas presents. Hands up if you don’t know if you have opened all your Christmas presents yet. In our family we have a tradition that although Father Christmas may leave some small edible gifts in the night by our beds while we are sleeping, we try really hard to restrain ourselves and open our larger gifts after lunch. But why do we give presents at Christmas? Is it because Nicholas gave gifts to a poor family? Is it because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus family? What were the gifts they brought? I like building traditions and so I’d like to suggest that as you share gifts today, or play with the ones you have already opened, you remember the most important gifts of all.
1. God’s Gift of Life
The Apostle Peter speaks of “The gracious gift of life” (1 Peter 3:7). We are alive today because God created us. If you have held a new born baby in your arms then you know what I mean.
2. God’s Gift of Food and Drink
“That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)
There are two very ancient prayers prayed by people of faith for centuries: “Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, who brings bread up from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” These two prayers, prayed during the festival of Passover are at the heart of our desire to thank God before we eat. None more so than today when we will probably eat one of the loveliest meals of the year.
If you don’t normally say grace before your meals, why don’t you start today? Thank God for the gift of food and drink.
3. God’s Ultimate Gift of His Son Jesus
Jesus describes himself in this way.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
Jesus’ name means Saviour. And that is what he is and that is what he has done. One sentence in the Bible sums up God’s ultimate gift.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Jesus came at Christmas to that we might be forgiven. He came to make us good. He came that we might go to heaven, saved by his precious blood. So when you open your Christmas gifts today, remember the most important gift God has given you. Jesus.
Have you received God’s gift of Jesus? With Jesus, God has given you many other gifts also.
The Gift of a Relationship
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
The Gift of his Grace
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast… the gift of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:7)
The Gift of Eternal Life
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
The Gift of Righteousness
“how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
God has given us everything we need to serve him and become like him.
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (1 Corinthians 1:7)
All of these gifts – a right relationship with God, sins forgiven, eternal life, righteousness, His Holy Spirit – all of these are ours in Christ Jesus.
This is why the Apostle Paul could say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). Indescribable! This is what makes Christmas so special. This should make us want to give gifts and use our gifts to serve others, not just today but every day. As Peter insists:
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
This is what will show we are thankful for God’s gifts this Christmas. When we thank God for the gift of life. When we thank God for the gift of food and rink. And above all when we thank God for the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are not sure about all this take a copy of the booklet, “The Real Christmas”. If you would like to find out more, you are invited to a special supper on Thursday 5th February when we start our Christianity Explored course. But if you are sure and you want to receive God’s gift of Jesus today, there is no better day in the year. The day that we celebrate when Jesus was born the Son of God can be the day you celebrate when you were born again as a child of God. Pray this prayer with me now silently.
“Lord Jesus, I recognise you as God’s greatest gift. Thank you for coming to earth to enable me to know God as my heavenly Father. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place so that I could be forgiven. I repent of my sin and all that has displeased you. Thank you for rising again so that I can have eternal life. Come into my life to be my Saviour and Lord, so that I can be born again. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help me serve you and please you for the rest of my life. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.”
If you prayed the prayer for the first time, then tell someone today. May we all treasure the gifts God has given us in Christ Jesus. May God bless you and those you love this Christmas and for ever more.