The wise men went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11.
Where did it all go so wrong? Studying the Scriptures shows us the wise men's example of how to act on Jesus' birthday, aka Christmas. We should bring gifts to our Lord and Savior, the King of kings.
What happened to us? The three wise men knew what to do, but we don't take note of their clear example. They realized that their Savior was born to take away their sins. They realized that forgiveness would come when they approached their new Savior, as God told them. They realized that eternal life demanded immediate attention. They realized all those things, but WHY don't we realize the same?
Jesus doesn't necessarily desire our material items, so breathe easy. Uhm... I should qualify that statement, however... He will demand our material items if they're our gods. More about that in a minute.
Jesus' birth, life, and work as Savior does give him full authority to call each of us front and center to his attention. He does demand a sacrifice from us as individuals. He wants us each to present him with our lives - as a gift. He wants us to hand over the reigns of our own heart to him. He wants me and you to take up our cross and die to our old selfs.
Positively, though, He wants you to experience a rebirth by his Spirit.
You see, it doesn't cost you material items, that is, unless material items are your god. You cannot have any other gods before him. It's disallowed.
Jesus left his amazing existence in heaven so that you could live eternally. Baby Jesus grew up to be our Sacrificial Lamb of God - the Savior of the World. He lived perfectly, suffered crucifixion, died, and buried. He rose from the dead three days later and then ascended on high. He now sends his Spirit into those who come to him on bended knee, committing their lives to him in full.
The real Christmas spirit is truly in those people who have followed the wise men's model. They stop their worldly activities, seek the Savior, and offer a special gift to him. Their gift to him is their individual lives. Jesus doesn't want sacrifice. He's not desiring your self-righteousness.
Jesus wants a heart of obedience. He wants obedience that proves your faith. Our Savior wants humility, selflessness, honesty, and passion in those who obey him. Jesus Christ wants true disciples who serve him, and who ultimately glorify God the Father.
Are you up for the calling? Can you drop what you're doing? Will you seek the Savior? Will you listen to his commands, fulfilling them out of love for your Savior? Isn't it due time that your life fully honor God, bringing glory to his name?
We always want to know what we get in return after giving a gift, don't we? God recognizes this sinful desire, and therefore tells us the benefits of discipleship and salvation.
First of all, after committing to God and after Jesus sends his Spirit into your life, you meet God in a true personal relationship. God introduces himself to you through the presence and power of his Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes inside your being to reside forever. At the moment of introduction, you're able to pick up his Bible, read it, and understand it. God talks to you in and through the Bible.
He then makes a new creature out of you. You're suddenly a forgiven soul - declared holy in God's eyes. You have been freed from the power of sin, though not fully separated from the world and its temptations. Repentance is yet another beautiful gift he gives that keeps you humbled before the throne, and receiving the constant flow of refreshing forgiveness.
God also cleanses your mind of selfishness and filth. He opens your eyes to the needs of others. He empowers you to live a life that pleases him and a life that benefits other people (in that order). Your life benefitting others eventually leads other people to follow him, which is the ultimate plan of redemption.
So, your life will improve dramatically once you receive Christ's Spirit - that's for sure. But, that's not all.
After you perish and pass through your final judgment, you'll experience God's unfathomably beautiful heavenly home. You will receive eternal life that is spent directly with Jesus, his angels, and all of his saints. You escape a horrifying Judgement Day for unbelievers, and you escape eternal death in hell. Now those things are incredible benefits.
Your eternal future is what's at stake here. Becoming a follower of Jesus and the Bible is the gift you should present to the Lord. What better time to do that than at Christmas? Think about the risk/reward factor. Weigh the tremendous cost of not following Christ over the free gift of eternal life gained when you approach the King with your humble, submissive, obedient life.
Do you want to keep playing with Santa Claus? Fine, as long as those things aren't your gods. But, ask yourself this, "What is my message on this Christmas Day?" Materialism? Hedonism?
Or, do you want to present your life to God and gain the world, reigning with Jesus Christ forever and ever? Do you want to share the message of the gospel with those whom you love? By doing so, you'll be heeding the example set by the wise men.
Choose this Christmas Day whom you will serve.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "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. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself." With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation!" Then those who received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:37-41.
Dear Heavenly Father
Please help me experience our Savior
Open the eyes of my sinful heart
Let me personally meet the Son of God
Heal my broken spirit, warm my cold heart, and
fill my empty soul with your everlasting love.
Lord God, let this Christmas Day bring salvation to me and my loved ones.
Pour out Jesus' Spirit upon us, forgiving our sins,
changing our attitudes, and freeing us from evil.
O Jesus, gentle Shepherd... Bring me into your fold.
Save me from the treachery of the world,
from the dangers that threaten me.
Protect me, O Lord, by passing through the valley with me,
saving me from the lions and wolves of this fallen world.
Father, I'm so tired of ignorance and my own foolishness,
reveal your word to me, and empower me to obey all your commands.
Your word is beautiful, and pleasing to my heart,
it soothes the damage from my own rebellious ways.
Your word, your Spirit, together Lord, can make me whole.
I pray this Christmas prayer in honor of your Son
and in Him may I discover truth and eternal life, Amen.
Thank you for spending time here today. Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas.
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