“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’” —Matthew 1:20-21
This time of year is the season of great confusion because, from the world’s perspective, we focus on the baby, Santa Claus, Rudolph, and may other things that cause us to lose focus on what Christmas is really about. And even if we do focus on Christ, we use His birth as an excuse for giving and receiving gifts instead of realizing that He Himself was the gift. We are not focusing on who He is and what He came to bring us.
Scripture says that Jesus was coming to save the people from their sins. To understand this, we need to first understand what sin is and why we need to have it taken away from us. Oftentimes people don’t appreciate what’s been given to them unless they first realize their need for that gift.
So let’s look at sin. Sin consists of a threefold cycle of poverty, iniquity, and unfaithfulness. Iniquity refers to a habitual mindset of disobeying God, which creates an improper attitude towards the ways of God. It means you are unwilling to give all of your life to God, wanting to do things your own way.
Poverty does not have to do with money at all, it’s a state of being distant from God. I know many millionaires who are poor because they are distant from God, not allowing His grace in their lives. This inability to receive instruction from the Almighty God because you think you know it all will affect you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
God is calling all of us not just to be saved, but to fully receive His gift and be completely faithful to Him. The devil is not as afraid of people being saved by God as he is afraid of people opening the gift that God gives through His Son. You see, we can be born again and yet not live a life that reflects the glory of God. But when we understand who Emmanuel is (another name for Jesus, meaning “God with us”), what He has already done for us, and what He can continue to do in our lives, then we have opened and fully received the whole gift.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.” —Revelation 3:19-20
When I was ten years old all I wanted for Christmas was a Rock’em Sock’em Robot—oh I wanted it so badly! On Christmas day, I finally received my precious gift. After we opened our gifts, my family and I visited a friend’s house. This friend of mine didn’t have much, in fact, that Christmas he received one gift, a necklace with a skateboard on it. Immediately I became jealous of his one gift that I didn’t have (even though I had gotten many gifts earlier that morning) and I snatched it off his neck. After I broke the necklace I gave it back to him. My mother gave me a much-deserved spanking and took my new Rock’em Sock’em Robot back to the store, exchanging it for a new skateboard necklace for my friend and I was left with the broken one.
While I am not proud of that memory, I learned my lesson that day. if you’re not satisfied with what you’re given, you’ll always be wanting more. It wasn’t until later in my life that I truly discovered the preciousness of the true Gift that I have in Jesus Christ. The reason we experience jealousy and envy is because we aren’t opening the gift that we have in front of us—we aren’t truly satisfied with the gift that Christ offers. When we open and fully receive that gift, we will experience true satisfaction and we’ll have eyes to see the world differently. We’ll see the world as Christ sees it.
—Pastor Ted Winsley, chaplain of the Philadelphia Eagles
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