December 25, 2003

Encouragement for Today

 

Happy Birthday!

Mary Southerland

 

Key Verse:

 

Luke 2:8-12 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." (NKJV)

 

 

Devotion:

 

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Happy Birthday, dear Jesus!

 

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Today is the birthday of Jesus Christ! I have always wondered why we typically celebrate His birth by giving gifts to everyone but Him! What gifts does He want from us? What gifts are fit for the King? To answer that question let’s go back to that first Christmas and see what gifts He received that holy night.

 

** The gift of trust

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a teenage girl, probably fourteen or fifteen years old, engaged to Joseph when an angel appeared to her with the startling message that she would have a baby, a son named Jesus. Since she was still a virgin she did not understand the message but she knew the One who had sent it – and that was enough. Trust is a gift fit for the King. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

 

** The gift of obedience

 

Joseph’s engagement to Mary was legally binding. Imagine his shock and confusion when he learned that Mary was pregnant. Knowing that he could not possibly be the baby’s father, Joseph’s first reaction was to quietly divorce Mary. An angel from God appeared and told Joseph to "keep her but do not sleep with her!" Now Joseph’s response could have been many things. But he chose obedience. John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.

 

A small child riding in the car wanted to stand in the front seat by his father. The dad explained the importance of a seat belt and told the little boy to sit down. He refused, crossing his little arms in defiance. The father physically sat his son down and buckled him into the seat, bragging on the little boy for his obedience. With a glare his son said, "I may be sitting down on the outside but I’m still standing up on the inside." Obedience is an active choice to do what God wants us to do. Obedience is not just an outward motion – it is also an inward attitude – and a gift fit for the King.

 

** The gift of praise

 

When the shepherds heard the angels’ news, they went to see Jesus for themselves. After they saw the baby they left praising God! Anytime we are in the presence of God, praise will result. Praise is also a continual choice that we make again and again until it becomes a habit. Psalm 50:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Don’t let anyone or any circumstance keep you from praising God! Praise keeps us kneeling before the manger and is a gift fit for the King.

 

** The gift of sacrifice

 

The Wise Men came; bringing gifts that required sacrifice because they knew that true worship always involves sacrifice. Gold, a precious metal, Incense, a rare and expensive product used in worship and Myrrh, an expensive perfume were the gifts they brought to Jesus. Sacrifice goes beyond what is required or expected. The best gift - the most expensive and extravagant gift should go to the one whose birthday we celebrate. Gifts of trust, obedience, praise and sacrifice please God and are gifts fit for the King.

 

In other words, the best gift that we can give God at Christmas is US! May the words of this children’s song be the prayer of our hearts this Christmas Day!

 

"I’m gonna wrap up myself for Christmas

 

And tie me with a big red bow.

 

That’s what I’m giving to Jesus.

 

It’s a present He’ll like I know."

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

My Prayer for Today:

 

Lord, today I celebrate your birth. Thank You for the gift of life and love I find in knowing You. My Christmas gift to You is everything I am, everything I have, everything I hope to be. I love You, Lord. Amen.

 

 

Application steps:

 

Have a birthday party for Jesus today. Bake a cake, sing "Happy Birthday" and worship Him by surrendering to His plan and provision for your life. Leave one Christmas decoration out this year to remind you of His birth and what His presence means every day!

 

 

Reflection points:

 

What is the meaning of Christmas in your life?

 

How can you lead your family to celebrate the birth of Jesus?

 

What has been the most meaningful part of this Christmas holiday? Why?

 

 

Power verses:

 

Philippians 4:18 Your gift is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God. God accepts that sacrifice, and it pleases him. (NIV)

 

Ephesians 2:14 Christ himself is our peace. (NCV)

 

Colossians 3: 16b-17 Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (NIV)

 

Ephesians 1:4 Long ago, even before he made the world God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us. (NCV)

 

 

Additional Resources:

 

Seven Life Principles for Every Woman by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/sevenlife.html

 

At Home With God by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/athome.html

 

Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/outofdark.html