The Gift of Christmas

I love Christmastime the most of all the times in the year! I love the lights and the sounds of Christmas music and of Joy and of Elf playing on the TV. {“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”}

I love the smell of chewy, chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips baking in the oven ~ and the heady scent of pine. “Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches.”

I absolutely love the feel of a warm, solid, little body snuggled up beside me on the couch while I read The Three Trees to her ~ and we both cry when the third tree is fashioned into a mean, ugly cross and is drug through an angry mob on the shoulder of my bloodied and beaten Savior…

I love to see the WONDER of the Season through the eyes of my kids ~ “Oh! Did you see their BB8 Santa blowup?” and “Look at their huge Nativity scene; it is so beautiful.” and “Oh my gosh! Those lights are keeping time with the music!” as we drive through the nearby neighborhoods looking at lights.

I love the traditions that surround this time of year ~ each family having their own beloved customs.

I LOVE Christmas morning! The bliss and the awe and the excitement! “Wow! This is just what I wanted.” and “Is it time to watch A Christmas Story yet?” while the smell of our traditional Christmas breakfast of sausage, hash-brown casserole and blueberry-stuffed French toast fills the house. I love cherishing and pondering these moments and it is in these times when I identify with Mary, the mother of Jesus, most. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2: 19) These ARE my treasures and a glimpse, for you, into a tiny sliver of this life that I hold so dear. My life (ALL of the intricate pieces of it) is a gift from God and I will cherish and protect these (and all of the) moments in it.

When I consider gifts, I consider this: Christmas is FOR US. It is a gift from God with my name and yours written on the “tag”.

Our Pastor Jeff preached this weekend somewhat in opposition of the age-old adage: “It is better to give than to receive.” I don’t think that Jesus intended for that to become the mantra for humanity ~ at least, not during the Christmas Season. (This is not to contradict the fact that God calls us to live Given Lives in His Name. This is different. This is His Gift to us, FOR us.)

God’s Word says in Isaiah 9:6, “For UNTO US a Child is born; UNTO US a Son is given.” All we have to really “do” in this Holy Season is receive the gift of the Son, who was born to die to pay my sin debt ~ He died to pay, IN FULL, yours too.

*Completely paid-off, debt cancelled, FREE!*

No matter WHAT you or I have done and no matter WHO you or I have been…NOTHING can separate us from this Gift ~ the Gift of Jesus Himself ~ given for us.

The way that we receive it fully is to simply believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is LORD. If you have never done that ~ I challenge you ~ DO! It is the most valuable, most loving, most thoughtful, most sacrificial Gift that you could ever possibly receive ~ and that Gift is called Salvation. The ONLY thing you have to do to receive it is open your heart and believe. No guilt, no shame, no condemnation, no fire and brimstone, no extra, added works (because added works – added “good behavior” – only serve to cheapen the Work that Jesus ALREADY completed on the Cross.) Only receive His free Gift and have a

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

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