Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Christmas? Is it the food? Is it the family gatherings? Is it the tree and the lights and the decorations. Is it Jesus? For kids it probably has something to do with presents. We all love to get our kids gifts on Christmas. Kids just love ripping wrapping paper off a box anticipating what’s inside. There’s nothing quite like tearing into some wrapping paper; in fact, whoever came up with gift bags ought to apologize to the world. A gift bag is the politically correct way to give a gift. It meets the objective but makes it too easy for both the giver and the receiver of the gift. A real Christmas gift has to be unwrapped, can I get a witness?!
You know, the first Christmas gift was also wrapped, just not in special ornate paper. There was no bow on top. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. The Son of God was born in a stable, wrapped in inexpensive blankets, and laid in a feeding trough for livestock. Not the way I would have come, but then again I can’t save the world and neither can you. What a picture of the very purpose of His incarnation. He left the glory of Heaven to step into our messy world to suffer and die for us. No fanfare, just a stable, some hay, some shepherds, and a peasant family. He truly was and is the Suffering Servant.
When I stop and think about this I can’t help but ask the question: what are we all wrapped up in this Christmas? Some are wrapped up in work, for others it’s money. Some are wrapped up in pleasure or lust, while others are cloaked in hobbies or sports. For some people they’re all wrapped up in selfishness demanding that those around them meet their narcissistic expectations. Notoriety, wealth, possessions, addictions, you name it, the list of wrapping paper for mankind is endless. Like the fig leaves for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we try so hard to cover our sin with the stuff of this world. We love to dress ourselves up on the outside, but the truth is that most people are actually empty on the inside instead of filled with the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
This Christmas, don’t just wrap and unwrap physical gifts. Unwrap yourself. Rip off and throw away all the materialism, selfishness, lust, and pride that’s keeping you from worshipping the true gift of Christmas: Jesus. Stop putting all your time, money, effort, and attention into the stuff of this world. Stop working hours so long that you have no time left for your spouse and kids. Stop living only for yourself. Start living for Jesus. Love God. Love your family. Serve others. Give generously. Share Christ with your neighbors. That’s what Christmas is really all about.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, I am wrapped up in so much stuff. Forgive me Lord for chasing so many things that are not of You. Help me Lord to rest in Your love and to serve You with my whole heart. In Jesus name, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.