On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. — Matthew 2:11 NIV
I’ve spent this morning wrapping presents. The sofa was blanketed in items awaiting my attention, and the dining table stood awash in paper and ribbon. It was a scene of happy chaos: cookies in the oven, a scented candle burning on the hearth, and Christmas music playing in the background.
As I prepared gifts for loved ones, I recalled some of my family’s earliest Christmases. Simple gifts seemed to please my daughter most, such as a box of brightly colored feathers, a stack of felt, or popsicle sticks.
Why did those inexpensive presents bring my child such joy when just a foot away lay an expensive popular doll? Perhaps because those simple gifts required her to think, act, and create — to make her world a better place. Something I desire to do as I follow Jesus.
After almost all the wrapping had been completed, one small empty box remained. I wrapped it and placed it alongside the others under the tree. This gift is special, though, because it’s for Jesus. It may seem empty, but as I covered it in festive paper, I contemplated how it’s really not. This container is filled with all the plans I have for the coming year that I hope will bring Jesus glory — actions I can take, people I can help, and ways I can make His world a better place.
This symbolic gift won’t ever need to be opened. Jesus knows my heart, my intentions, and my love for Him. It’s for me to remember… and to keep giving.
Faith Step: What can you offer Jesus this year? Create your own gift for Jesus… and remember.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
Our family shares holidays, spending Christmas Eve at my home and Christmas Day at my daughter and son-in-law’s. On Christmas Eve, after our meal, we open gifts and then end the evening with a candlelight church service. I always look forward to our celebration of Jesus’s birth.
But tonight, I sit on the couch and reflect. At some point, each of us has encountered trials, whether through infidelity, abuse, jealousy, pride, lying, anger, or unforgiveness. We’ve stumbled our way to living, not just reading, the words of 1 Corinthians 13. We’re human. It’s been a long road, one that we’ve walked each step with Jesus at our side.
Contemplating on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I don’t see trials and egos at play. In complete submission to God, Mary endured shame by bearing the honor and sacred burden of Jesus. Joseph accepted dishonor by wedding Mary, though it put an end to his respectability. Jesus’s earthly parents were special — selfless and obedient. They understood what love truly entails, both the hard and the easy.
This quiet night is full of hope and love. I thank God for the sacred gift of His Son. And as I await tomorrow, when I’ll bask in the blessings of my faith, all my thanks go to the tiny baby Jesus asleep, abed in the straw.
Faith Step: Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13. Insert Jesus’s name and then yours. Give thanks.
…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. — Luke 2:7 NIV
Christmas morning came too quickly. I rose early, planning to spend a few minutes alone with the Lord. I poured a cup of coffee and struggled to reflect on Him, but my thoughts raced here and there. Praying calmed me, and my eyes settled on our nativity. Jesus’s first bed was a feeding trough, surrounded by livestock. I wondered, Was He born in a stable or a cave? Did it matter? Not at all. What mattered was that He came to those who were His own, but they did not receive Him (John 1:11).
But as I stared at the manger, tears welled in my eyes. The humbleness of the space, the lack of even the simplest of comforts — and the complete vulnerability of that tiny Baby resting in the straw. I ached to pick Him up. Reaching for the porcelain figurine, I grasped it in one hand. It was as if my eyes were opened to His holiness.
I returned the figurine to its spot and finished my coffee. In the bustle of this season, only one gift matters — Jesus. His love and forgiveness are ready, waiting in the form of an Infant asleep in a stable. On this special day, I hold Baby Jesus close in my heart.
Faith Step: Steal a few moments this morning to meditate on Baby Jesus. Cradle His tiny image in your heart throughout the day and give thanks.
Excerpted with permission from Mornings with Jesus 2022, copyright Guideposts.
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Our worship is an offering of prayer to the Lord. Let’s spend time offering Him our hearts of worship, our meditation, our praise, and our songs that glorify Him! Come share your thoughts with us.