Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Perfect Gift”
“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
As a kid, I went to a church that gave away practical gifts and prizes. So at church picnics, we’d play your garden variety relay race games, but instead of being awarded a ribbon or a trophy, winners would get a three pack of paper towels, or an eight pack of Lever 2000, and during those years when the budget was particularly strong, a family sized bottle of laundry detergent. As teenager, I thought those were the strangest prizes and figured that’s just what immigrants do. Now that I’ve become the person who has to pony up the money to make sure that our house is stocked up with supplies like paper towels, soap, and laundry detergent, I see the brilliance of practical gifts and prizes. When it comes to presents, I’m very much into practical. So I’m very fine with socks, underwear, and Amazon gift cards. Now on the flip side, I understand that there are people who love to give and receive fun gifts. The thinking behind fun gifts is, I want to give something that this person wouldn’t or couldn’t buy on his own. FYI, when practical gift people receive fun gifts, they often think, “Can I return them?”
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day today as we celebrate the birth of our Lord. If you haven’t done so already, my guess is that today you will either give a gift to someone or receive one. Did you give fun gifts or practical ones? Hopefully, a lot of the former and enough of the later. When I think about the gift that our Heavenly Father gave humanity some 2,000 years ago by sending His one and only Son into the world, I realize that the Son was the ultimate combination of a fun and practical gift. Perhaps “fun” is the wrong word, but the idea that I’m trying to get across is that the righteousness of Christ is something we could never get on our own. You throw in the idea that God came in the form of an infant, and you realize that this gift is more lavish and extravagant than a string of pearls or a luxury car. Practically speaking, how else could the sin of humanity be forgiven? Only by the life of a perfect God-man. So, in that sense, Christ’s life was more necessary and more “practical” than anything we could ever need.
Today, I hope you spend some time with loved ones. I hope you have a lot of fun. Dads—don’t get frustrated if you feel like you’re building toys all day. Moms—don’t stress out if Christmas dinner doesn’t go as planned. Readers, don’t get angry that I stereotyped your gender roles☺. But most of all spend a few minutes and thank the Lord for the wonderful gift of the Incarnate Son, a gift that we couldn’t get on our own but desperately needed.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for your Son. Thank You that today we celebrate the gift of his life, without which we would all be dead in our sins.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 4:14-16:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Questions to Consider
- In general, why is the Incarnation such an important doctrine to the Christian faith (not found in this passage)?
- From this passage, why was the Incarnation such an act of kindness?
- How should the Incarnation impact us?
- The Incarnation is critically important because for many reasons. First, the idea of substitutionary atonement. As a human, Christ’s sacrifice atones for the sins of humanity. Second, the idea of imputed righteousness. Christ’s obedience as a human can be transferred to us as righteousness (sorry for the super brief explanations).
- In vs. 15, we see that because Christ came in the flesh, he understood first hand our weaknesses, yet was able to overcome temptation.
- Therefore, we can draw near to a God who is not distant but wants to be with us so much that he would take on the limitations of having a human body. God loves us and wants to be with us, so let’s draw near to him!
How are you doing with the Lord? Do you desire to draw near to him in an intimate relationship? One of the reasons he came to the earth in the flesh some 2,000 years ago was to let mankind know that God is near. Is He near to you now?