Give 5

Matthew 25:35-36

Several years ago I received a call from an elderly woman who was struggling with her health, as was her husband. In addition to their health issues the couple was financially strapped, living in a small apartment with very few belongings. For Christmas she wanted only to be able to provide a nice holiday meal for her husband and family.

When the request was made known the church responded with an abundance of food and cookware. I was the one who was fortunate enough to deliver the donations. I was the one blessed to see the grateful expressions and the excitement the woman felt.

In this holiday season as we celebrate the story of Christ’s birth, we take a moment to look at one of the lessons Jesus taught. He told of his return and how he would reward those who followed his teaching. What needs are listed? What responses are given?

The generosity presented in this lesson from Jesus does not involve an abundance of money spent. Food, drink, fellowship, and compassion are the gifts we can give to those in need.

At Christmas we can get very caught up in the exchange of presents. We can be consumed with the amount and value of the many gifts. While it is important to spend time together as a family and to share times of love and togetherness, we must never forget that our giving should also extend beyond our own families.

As we go through this season of celebration, of sharing love and generosity, let us remember to share God’s love and compassion with those less fortunate than ourselves. As we consider what gifts we may want to buy for our loved ones, we should also set aside money and time to give gifts to the needy.

By sharing your abundance with those less fortunate you will be living out the true gift and spirit of Christmas, an attitude of selfless giving and compassion.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there someone in your community who needs your time and a small bit of sacrifice on your part?

Give 4

John 1:1-3

There are times when I must remind our children that doing chores and helping out around the house are simply part of the expectations of being in the family. Being helpful is not a one-time opportunity that is rewarded and then abandoned. Now and then one of the children will ask what they will get if they do this job or that. I tell them they get to live in our house another month.

While Christmas is a celebration of exchanging gifts, giving and receiving presents, and while the day is a reminder of the greatest gift of all, that of our Savior Jesus, we are also reminded of other gifts from God. Where did the “Word” begin? What did the “Word” take part in?

The Greek term for “Word” is Logos. It represents the consciousness and will of God. Logos is intended to be Jesus; therefore, the “Word” is Jesus.

In this holiday season as we hear the story over and over about Mary and Joseph and the little baby born in Bethlehem, we can overlook the fact that the baby we are talking about did not originate in that small town. The baby that came as a gift to humanity was God, eternal and beyond all time.

With the birth of the human, Jesus, God Himself came to earth to live among mortals. God Himself appeared in flesh in the form of Jesus. And while this is the greatest gift of all time, the gift of extreme love and mercy and forgiveness, we cannot overlook the fact that all of creation is a gift from God.

Through Jesus and the power of God all things have been made. God created heaven and earth. God created each one of us. And all of this creation is a gift from God, an expression of love and compassion, a love that has existed before we were born.

Christmas should not be a time when we give presents and then we are done with the task. The giving spirit, the willingness to share, the desire to give good things to others should be something that is in our hearts at all times. The “spirit” of Christmas, the spirit of giving, should be with us always.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you keep the Christmas spirit as part of what you do every day of the year?

Give 3

Isaiah 9:6-7

Last year we gave our daughter a Nintendo DS. It is a hand-held game device, something she can carry with her almost everywhere and play games. At first it may appear to be one of those devices which foster being isolated and alone. She can be entertained all by herself.

But one interesting part of the game device is that most of the games can be shared with others who also have a Nintendo DS. If someone else has a device and the same game the game can be shared. One of the games she was given is also a game that others can play when our daughter isn’t using the DS.

Because of that Peggy and our son have been involved in the game, and their involvement has fostered times of sharing and talking.

From this small game device that seems like an isolated object, sharing and fun has spread and spread and spread over time.

The prophet Isaiah had predicted the coming of the Messiah, presenting a message of hope and anticipation to the faithful. What gift was expected? What are the titles given to Jesus? What was expected of Jesus?

The baby prophesied in Isaiah was not a person who would appear briefly and then be lost over time. This Messiah who was anticipated would become a great and powerful influence. The baby born in Bethlehem would grow to be the Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace for all who believe. He was the Mighty God who would become a very part of who we are.

The gift of Jesus was an everlasting gift, not something temporary. The gift of a Savior would impact all of life and all who believed from that time on into eternity.

The gift we celebrate at Christmas is not a gift just for one day or one year or even one lifetime. The gift of Christ is a gift for all time. And the gift of God’s love is not a gift we selfishly cling to. It is a gift of love and peace that has no end, a gift to be shared with all.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to be part of the increase of Christ’s government and peace?

Give 2

Matthew 1:22-23

Some of the best gifts we have given our children in the past and still today are those gifts we call “family gifts.” These are presents that are not to a specific individual, but are meant to be shared by all of us. Gifts such as games and decorations are meant to involve all of us, requiring that we enjoy them together. The present that is given is more than just the item, it is also the gift of shared time together.

Continuing in Matthew we see an explanation of what the angel was telling Joseph about the baby who would be born. Why would this birth take place? What was the prophecy? What does “Immanuel” mean?

It is difficult for me to get through the Christmas season without tears in my eyes every time I read Matthew 1:23. God with us. The gift of Jesus is the gift of God being present with us, and not just 2,000 years ago and not just in Israel.

The gift of Jesus is the gift of God’s presence with each one of us every day no matter where we are or what we are doing. What an incredible and personal gift that is.

It seems so often that presents exchanged at the holidays are an attempt to satisfy the recipient, to make them happy if only for a brief time, and then send them on their way. But the gift that started the whole Christmas tradition, the whole Christmas celebration, was a gift that lasted forever. It was a gift of presence that cannot be taken away.

As we give presents this year we need to remember to also give our presence. Give of yourself, give of your time, give your attention. Don’t let the rush and chaos of the celebration steal the love that is meant to be shared.

Let every present you give be accompanied with the gift of your attention and honest feelings. Let the greatest gift you give be a gift of love and caring for those you know and those you don’t.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you add to your gift list? Can you add the gift of your time together with loved ones? Can you give a gift of love to strangers?

Give 1

Matthew 1:20-21

Another pastor once shared with me that the most awe-inspiring idea of Christmas is the manifestation of Jesus. The fact that God became flesh, became a human so that He might live among us and among other humans, is the most incredible part of Christmas.

We can get so caught up in the presents of Christmas that we forget about the “presence” we have with Christmas. Christmas is that celebration of the presence of God in our lives.

We are familiar with the beginning of the story of Christmas. Joseph, a carpenter, is engaged to be married to a young woman named Mary. But suddenly it is discovered that Mary is with child and Joseph is not the father. Disturbed and probably embarrassed, Joseph decides to end the relationship.

Who appears to Joseph? What assurance is given? What name is to be given?

The name “Jesus” that we use is the Greek version of “Joshua.” In Hebrew it is “Yeshua,” and the name has as its meaning “the Lord saves.”

This child was born of the Holy Spirit. This child was God in flesh, come to the world so that the world might be saved from hopelessness and sorrow, from the worries and fears of a life of sin.

Jesus was a gift from God and of God. It was a very personal and meaningful gift. It was precisely what we all needed and still need today.

Our giving of gifts is just a faint shadow of the generosity of God. We cannot duplicate a gift as wonderful as Jesus, but our presents that we exchange at Christmas should be a closer reflection of the gift of God. Our gifts should be just what the recipient wants and needs. Our gifts should be from our hearts and possibly be from ourselves and not just something costly we purchased.

As we look at Christmas in a new way, let the thought of giving meaningful gifts, heartfelt gifts, personal gifts be your guide.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Do you need to re-think what you will give to others this year?