December 2017

From The Pastor's Heart

With the passage of time and increased maturity, our excitement regarding Christmas may change. But our reason for celebrating grows deeper and more meaningful as our focus shifts from gifts to Christ.

By Charles F. Stanley

Do you remember the excitement you felt about Christmas when you were a kid? Before the big day, you probably checked out all the tags on the gifts to find out which ones were yours and shook each one trying to guess what was inside. When Christmas morning finally arrived, you couldn’t wait to tear the wrapping paper off so you could play with your new toys.

With the passage of time and increased maturity, our excitement regarding Christmas may change. But our reason for celebrating grows deeper and more meaningful as our focus shifts from gifts to Christ. Now the tree reminds us of the tree Jesus died on to pay for our sins. The lights testify that He is the Light of the World, and the gifts are a mere shadow of the greatest gift ever given—Jesus Christ. What can we say about this priceless present?

The giver of this amazing gift was God the Father. Jesus’ life didn’t begin when He was born, or even when He was conceived. He has existed from eternity past in heaven as a member of the Trinity. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). And the reason the Father gave His Son was because He loved us and wanted us to have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).

The lights testify that He is the Light of the World, and the gifts are a mere shadow of the greatest gift ever given—Jesus Christ.

This gift from heaven came humbly wrapped. Instead of coming down in a grand display of glory, Jesus was quietly conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin who had no social or economic standing (Luke 1:35). Even the setting of His birth was lowly (Luke 2:6-7). The only shelter Mary and Joseph could find was a stable. On that night in the straw with animal smells all around, the Son of God was born. While retaining His full deity, He took on the limitations of humanity and entered the world as a tiny, helpless baby.

Jesus was the perfect sacrificial gift. Although He looked like any other Jewish baby, there was one big difference—He was the sinless Son of God who had come to earth to rescue sinful humanity from certain condemnation and eternal punishment. What was needed was a ransom—someone who could pay the penalty for our sin so we could be forgiven. But no human being was qualified because we are all sinful and can only die for our own sins. However, since Jesus was the only sinless human being, He alone could die for the sins of all mankind. That’s why He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He came to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

The Son of God is the most precious gift ever given. We generally consider something valuable based on its cost or origin. For example, both an expensive car and an heirloom from Grandma could be precious in our eyes. Jesus is precious because He left His Father and the glories and perfection of heaven to live among sinful people on earth. Jesus was Immanuel—God with us—as He walked this earth, showing us the character and work of the Father. Furthermore, the redemption He purchased for us is priceless. We were not redeemed with silver or gold “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:19). Nothing is more valuable than salvation, and the only One who can save us is Jesus Christ.

God’s gift to us is eternal. So many of the presents we open on Christmas Day quickly become old and useless. Toys break and are soon outgrown, clothing wears out or becomes outdated, and the newest electronic gadget is destined to become obsolete. But Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers us will never change or pass away. Although He died on a cross, He overcame death with His resurrection and lives forevermore (Rev. 1:17-18). And when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we too will live forever with Him in heaven.

This Christmas gift is both personal and universal. Jesus Christ came to offer Himself as the sacrifice for sins to all who would believe in Him and call on His name for salvation (Rom. 10:11-13). Although this offer is given to everyone, each person must choose whether to accept or reject God’s gift of His Son. Although this gift must be personally received, it’s also one gift we can share with others and keep for ourselves. Each time we explain to someone who Jesus is and how He came to save us from our sins, we are offering them the gift of Christ.

You will probably receive many gifts during your lifetime, but the one who arrived on that first Christmas night in a stable is the only one that really matters. Although you can’t see or touch Him, He is always with you if you know Him as Savior. He’ll love you unconditionally, cleanse you from all sin, and one day bring you home to Himself in heaven. No wonder Paul exclaimed, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. Here at In Touch Ministries, we’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. As Christians, this is one of the most meaningful holidays we celebrate because it’s all about Jesus. Although we each have many wonderful Christmas traditions, let’s always keep Jesus at the center of our celebrations and never forget to share this indescribable gift with others.


What happens to my notes

4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

35 The angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

11 For the Scripture says, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

13 for WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

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