Each year passes by so quickly when we get multiple years behind us. It seems like no time at all that we were standing in our churches on Easter morning and singing, “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…” And now, within just a few days, we’ll be celebrating the Birth of Jesus on Christmas morning. Try to explain to a child just how quickly Christmas Day will come, and they will think it a foolish thought, for to a child waiting the time to open presents, it seems like Christmas will NEVER arrive.
I have many wonderful memories of Mom and Dad shopping for Christmas when I was young, and none of these memories involve walking through a mall with my coat under my arm, or even shopping at home online. The memories I cherish of shopping for Christmas was when Dad would drive our family to the downtown section of our neighboring city in early December.
There was nothing like walking from store to store while snow was falling gently on the streets and sidewalks all around. There were many shoppers passing one another on the sidewalks, and rarely did you hear anyone grumble of the crowded stores, or of the snow falling outside.
Christmas music sounded through outdoor speakers throughout all of downtown, and it was easy to hear cheerful greetings as many total strangers would wish one another “Merry Christmas” to those passing by.
Many families would stop in front of the different stores just to view the colorful Christmas window displays that offered an array of items for buying. But to go inside the department stores and see everything up close was even better. As a child back then, my favorite sections of one particular department store were, of course, the candy counters and large toy section – with Lionel trains running.
For the adults, however, were many choices offered in gift-giving. Each shopper was looking for that special gift that could be said it was “one-of-a-kind.” That special gift must be something appreciated by the recipient each day of the coming year. Or, the special gift shoppers look for might be one that reflects the recipient’s personality.
There is also another side to gift-giving, and that is what the recipient might want or like for Christmas. Sometimes buying for others can be a real chore, such as it was when my siblings and I would experience when buying any gift for our Dad. Dad lived to be 98-years-old, and still worked at a local grocery store at the time of his passing. He never had any special likes or hobbies, other than eating bologna and cheese sandwiches daily. Oh, and also sleeping!
Mom lived to be 95, and one day – a few years before she and Dad went to be with the Lord (they passed eight months apart) – she ventured to rummage through Dad’s unopened gifts while he was still at work. Mom discovered Dad had 35 shirts still in the plastic wrappers, as well as 17 sweaters that had never been opened. Mom was swift to point this out when Dad returned home from work, so she added rather emphatically, “Wear these new things!”
Many times one might ask another relative, “What is it you want for Christmas?” The other person might hear, “I don’t need anything, so don’t worry about me.” Gift-giving is what we do, and we want to give the very best. In all of life’s hustle and bustle during the Christmas season, do we ever consider seeking God to inquire what He would like from each one of us? After all, it IS Jesus’ birthday we are celebrating.
WHAT can you give the One who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and One who knows the number of stars in the sky, as well as their names (Psalm 147:4)? Just from these two verses alone, it would appear God has everything He would ever need. Think again!
1: He wants YOU, and He wants everyone living on this planet. The “love text” of the Bible reveals this when we read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He wants to redeem everyone from a life of sin, and what an incredible Christmas it would be if some wayward soul would completely surrender to Him at this time. It’s TIME to come home!
2: He wants your FAITHFULNESS. We discovered when we came to Christ, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We also learned, “O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer” (Psalm 31:23). Then in Hebrews 10:23 are words of steadfastness, for we are admonished, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” It is not enough to expect God to be faithful. He wants OUR faithfulness too.
3: We are to give Him GLORY, WORSHIP, and PRAISE. We’re reminded in Psalm 29:2 to “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” And when I read 1 Peter 2:9, I’m always reminded of the late Reverend Houston R. Morehead, former General Overseer of our denomination, when he would quote: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Incidentally, giving praise to God is NOT just a “Sunday thing.” This is something the Lord needs every day.
4: We are to TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). Notice this Scripture of instruction says “in every house,” which also included everyone’s own house. It is in our own home where we are first to LIVE and SHARE Jesus – even before sharing Christ with others in our city.
We know that first Christmas Day was long ago, but Jesus is no longer an infant in the lowly manger, just as He is not in a borrowed tomb. As the Easter song (“HE LIVES”) referred to earlier describes Jesus as still living today, this King of Kings also deserves the best of everything we can give Him.
To learn more of what you can give Him, just open your Bible – as well as your heart in prayer. You’ll discover there are many other things He does not have from you; those things you alone can give. Granted, millions of other Christians around this world will give Him devotion, worship, and praise, BUT yours is special to Him; not only at Christmastime, but throughout the entire year.
Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you what I need for Christmas – as well as the 364 days of each year that follows. There is an old song found in “the old Red Back book” Church Hymnal that tells what I need every day. Johnson Oatman, Jr. & Adger M. Pace tell of the same in their song found near the back (page 374) of this hymnal.
“ONLY GIVE ME JESUS” is my heart’s cry, as it was for these songwriters. You might have never heard this song, so I encourage you to search the title on YouTube and listen to The Ministers Trio (comprised of Bennie S. Triplett, Don Aultman, and Roosevelt Miller) as they worship through the singing of this song.
The songwriters began this song by saying, “Trav’ling down life’s pilgrim way, This my pray’r from day to day, Lord let come to me what may, ONLY GIVE ME BLESSED JESUS.” The chorus of this 5-verse song then adds, “Give me JESUS night and day, Give me JESUS all the way, I will bear both toil and care; Only give me blessed JESUS.”
Just like my Dad had in his bedroom some years ago, I also have an abundance of shirts and sweaters in my bedroom. I have many KJV Bibles found in my library. I have neckties galore, and I have many after shaves and colognes sitting on the dresser, chest of drawers, and in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I was never good at any sports – EVER, so I have no sweatshirts cheering on any special team.
On and on I could go in telling what Christmas gifts I have received over the years, but suffice it to say I have need of just One: JESUS. I received Him into my heart on October 17, 1957, and this old-time salvation never gets old. I need HIM daily.