Daily Devotional for Tuesday December 10, 2013
No Gifts at Christmas
(Isaiah 41:17; James 2:5)
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, my sister's family are very strict Christians. Me, my husband, and children are also Believers. When we have family get togethers, my family does not like to go because they feel they are being looked down on. My daughter gets questioned about a T-Shirt she wears or a type of music she listens to. My husband gets comments on the TV programs he watches, etc. I agree with my sister for the most part, but at the same time, is it good to make others feel like they are not good for doing these things to the point that they don't want to hear about religion?
ANSWER: Everyone is at a different place in their spiritual maturity. I have no doubt your sister means well, but in a family or personal setting, it is much better to talk to the person about an issue than condemn them. People naturally withdraw when condemned, but could be open to change when there is an actual discussion about an issue and a good argument for what God says is made.
I am saddened every morning as I open the business page to read about another company laying off thousands of people. While it is only a number in a story to most, the fact is each number is a very real life, with a very real family, that will probably be facing very real financial issues because of losing their job. While there is never a good time to lose your job, it is especially difficult at this time of year.
We are expected to buy gifts for our family and close friends. We are expected to decorate our homes. We are expected to attend various parties and events. All of these require EXTRA MONEY, over and above our normal monthly living expenses. This time of year that is supposed to be personified in the word JOY, quickly becomes a nightmare for many who simply don't have the money to do all they feel they are expected to do.
First, let me reiterate the point I made last week. Christmas is NOT about gifts. Christmas is NOT about decorating your house. Christmas is NOT about parties. Christmas is the day each year that we set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is HIS birthday. THAT is what Christmas is all about, celebrating the birth of our Lord.
Of course, it is impossible to deny the gross commercialism that marks this time of the year. But we have choices. We CHOOSE to get caught up in how the world celebrates Christmas. I have yet to read a news account of someone that was forced at gunpoint to go to the local shopping mall and spend thousands of dollars on presents. I realize that if you have children, being able to provide them presents on Christmas morning is important.
However, what is MORE important is making them aware of what Christmas is really about. The greatest gift that you can give your children this Christmas is NOT some toy that they will forget about in a month. The greatest gift that you can give your children this Christmas is the knowledge of what this blessed day is really about...the birth of Jesus!
Some practical ways that you can do this is by attending some of the fabulous Christmas pageants many churches now put on. In many cities, some of the larger churches put on incredible, professionally produced Christmas programs that do a marvelous job of telling the story of Christ's birth. Taking your children to see these great productions will be fun and help them understand the true meaning of Christmas. Another great thing to do with your children is to teach them that Christmas is NOT about getting presents, but about giving to others. Getting them involved in helping to prepare a bag of groceries that you give to a ministry feeding the homeless is a very easy way to help them learn the blessing of giving.
Within your own home, sitting down with the entire family and reading the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2, spending time as a family in prayer thanking God for the wonderful gift that He gave this world that first Christmas, going as a family to church and celebrating His birth together all help your children learn that Christmas is the time we set aside each year to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. YOUR CHILDREN WILL CARRY THESE MEMORIES, AND THE REAL REASON OF CHRISTMAS WITH THEM FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE!
I love you and care about you so much. My heart breaks as I read about those who have lost their jobs this past year, knowing the financial hardship that will be on them and their family. Each day at Liveprayer, we respond to thousands of people who are in this situation. It becomes magnified at this time of the year, because of the pressure the world has put on us to "participate" in how it celebrates Christmas.
My word for you today is that you don't have to fall into the trap of buying lots of gifts, or decorating your home, or going to all the parties. Those things are NOT what Christmas is about. The true peace of this season, the true joy of this season, comes from celebrating the birth of Jesus. HE is the reason for the season. The greatest gift that you can give someone this Christmas is to share with them the REAL meaning of Christmas. The greatest gift you can receive this Christmas was given over 2000 years ago when God gave you His son Jesus!!!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller