Christmas is done for another year. The presents have been wrapped and opened, the food’s been prepared and eaten, and the work of un-decorating and packing the Christmas ornaments is underway. Perhaps you’ve shopped the after-Christmas sales, returned a few items or shared your fun party photos on social media.
Maybe you played the white elephant game at a party or received one of those boxes with smaller wrapped boxes inside. You untie the glittering bow and begin to peal back the foil angel-printed paper; open the flap of the box to find another beautifully wrapped box inside, and another…
Or maybe one of the fun party games you played this year was that silly Saran wrap game where you pass a big ball around with gifts hidden in the wrap. You have a short amount of time to unwrap and whatever gifts fall out as you unwrap are yours to keep.
This makes me think of God’s gift for us inside the manger. Perfect Love wrapped up in swaddling clothes. As we undo this ‘wrapping’ we find layers of gifts. Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to us possesses many other gifts for us to “unwrap” as we encounter all He is and came to give.(click to tweet)
As we peel back the first layer, we find the gift of salvation. Unrelenting forgiveness and grace. Reconciled to the God who loved us so much He came to us as a baby in a dirty manger so He could grow up and sacrifice Himself on a brutal cross to pay for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). Eternal life. Our own death now beaten. Guilt and shame of sin removed. As if that wasn’t enough, we continue to peel the layers and find there’s more.
Once we have salvation, we find the next gift, His Holy Spirit. Not His birth, but His death made this gift possible (John 16:7). But this gift must be “born” in us as we receive His first gift of salvation (John 3:3). Immanuel – God with us, in us. New life. If you have been born again through His Spirit there are more gifts to unwrap. Imagine the next one…
His Holy Spirit unpacks wisdom and understanding of His Word (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Bible is a gift in itself, especially when we have the Holy Spirit to help us understand His words. As we understand His words, they increase our faith and the gifts keep coming.
We continue to unwrap and discover peace and joy. You know that “peace on earth” we sing about? We now have peace with God because of His mercy and forgiveness (Romans 5:1-2).(click to tweet) Death defeated. Fear conquered. Hope renewed. What joy! Suddenly we find we have more patience and self control – things we could not develop on our own – and therefore we extend our peace to others.
Next we discover specific spiritual gifts given to each individual believer (Romans 12:4-8). These gifts give us new purpose as we realize how they fulfill us when we use them to serve others. And as we serve others, it’s as though the gifts keep giving. When we share His gifts, the gifts never stop unwrapping. They become infinite. And they become good will toward men.
Maybe your gifts were scarce this year, or maybe you’ve been blessed with such abundance it seemed there was no end to the gifts under your tree. But imagine His abundance (John 10:10). Imagine truly no end to the gifts being unwrapped.
Christmas gift exchanging may be over for this year, but we can open His gifts every single day as we read His Word and pray.(click to tweet) They fill our greatest longings and meet our deepest needs. How? Because it’s the Love we’re all looking for – that ball of Love wrapped up in swaddling clothes in the manger.
Imagine if more people received His gifts? Not just received them like some of our Christmas gifts, but use them. Imagine if more people accessed the fruits of His Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? They can if we share them. Now that would be peace on earth!
There are far greater gifts just waiting to be unwrapped than found under our Christmas trees or in a cellophane ball. Christmas really can last all year.
Will you continue to unwrap and share His gifts this year with a world that so desperately needs them?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
One of God’s greatest gifts to us is prayer – the privilege of coming confidently into His presence (Hebrews 4:16). To help us do this, you may obtain a copy of the book Pursing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World here. May God bless your prayer life in 2020, and may this book bring on a revival of prayer for our families and our nations!
My free gift to you, “Ten Prayer Tips for Busy Days,” may be downloaded here.