What a Wonderful Time
What is the best Christmas memory you have?
My memories of Christmas time are mostly positive. I remember looking at the Sears catalog hours on end. In those days, they actually sold puppies. I wanted a puppy more than anything and I would dream about getting one and then caring for him. The puppy I always wanted was a blonde cocker spaniel. I never did get that puppy even though I always did get at least one thing I would find in that catalog.
The excitement would always grow as Christmas got closer. Our tradition was that we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. It seemed to me that once December 24th arrived, the day was endless. We would eventually have dinner, but the dishes had to be done. We would hurry through that chore and then the time to open gifts would eventually arrive.
We were not a wealthy family, but we always got several toys and games for Christmas. After unwrapping our presents, we would spend until the wee hours of the morning playing and enjoying what we had received.
Yes, as I was growing up Christmas had become a time of giving and receiving. It was with great interest that I read the article this past week in the Bismarck Tribune.
It seems a Canadian man named Brian was stranded in a broken-down car in Bismarck. He was traveling with all of his worldly goods from Vancouver, British Columbia to Toronto, Ontario to care for his ailing mother. But his car would simply go no further. To make the matter worse, he had little money. All of this was happening on his birthday.
Then something quite remarkable happened to him. He brought his car to a local dealership to see if they could fix it. The cost for repair was some $2000—which was twice what he had paid for the car. He described this as “the heart of darkness.”
To his surprise, the dealership gave him a different care—one that was 8-years newer than the one in which he arrived. The explanation given by the salesman and dealer was that they just wanted to “do the right thing.”
So, Brian drove his “new” car to Toronto to be with his mother.
To be handed keys to a car, in exchange for a worthless beater, for no reason other than genuine human kindness is something Brian said he will always remember. Especially, he said, since he was a complete stranger, not a customer who would ever return for future business.
“It was a tremendous act of kindness and generosity that I have not experienced in my life. It says so much about the community and the friendship between our countries,” Brian said. “It’s a great story to share in the Christmas season.”
This event will undoubtedly stay with Brian the rest of his life. Every time Christmas comes around he will share this story of true giving.
But there is another story of true giving that should also give us great cause to remember Christmas. It is not about getting toys as a child or even a car as an adult. It is actually the story of the greatest gift ever given.
God’s Love Story
A number of years ago, Pastor Terry wrote about the greatest gift ever given. Since I cannot improve on what he wrote, let me simply present it here for you to read.
For just a moment, we would like you to consider the greatest love story of all time—the love God demonstrated by sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the World. We invite you…to accept by faith this gift of love for yourself. Listen to the Scriptures as they tell us this Story.
The best-known verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It says: “For God so loved the World that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is God’s Love Story! God saw that the world was in trouble. We have all fallen into the pit of destruction called sin. All of us are sinners. Every human being dies physically. There are no exceptions. We are all perishing spiritually as well. Each of us is on the course of eternal destruction because of our sinfulness. But God’s gracious love—His incredible love—caused Him to send His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Christmas is the story of HOW He came—born as a baby—God became a human being. Easter is the story of WHY he came—to be crucified—to die on the cross for your sin and ours. THAT IS GOD’S LOVE STORY! God gave His Son for us. Jesus became a man, lived a perfectly sinless life, and then gave His life as a payment for our sin. John 3:16 tells us that everyone who believes that God’s love story is true will not perish. This means that by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, plus nothing else, we can receive the gift of eternal life. We are not trusting in our good deeds or good life. We are not trusting in our church attendance or in church rituals such as baptism. We are trusting in Jesus Christ and Him alone.
This is God’s wonderful expression of love for us. Christmas is the time to remember that the final sacrifice of Jesus on the cross had a beginning.
Our Christmas times will be so much greater if we remember that the season is not about us giving and receiving gifts. It is about God giving us the greatest gift possible and us receiving that gift. Jesus was born so very long ago so that we our fellowship with God could be re-established. John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Consider these words carefully. We must do two things. We must hear His word and we must believe in Him who sent Jesus (that is we must believe God). Once we have done that we have everlasting life. That is a done deal. We don’t need to question ourselves about our eternal destiny. There is nothing we can do at that point to lose our eternal life. We are safely in God’s hand and nothing can… (or no one is…) able to snatch us from the Father’s hand (John 10:29).
This is certainly a wonderful time of year; not because of the gifting of family and friends, but because this marks the time that God stepped into human history and provided mankind with a way back to Him. My hope, my prayer, is that you set your focus on the Son this Christmas. He alone is the greatest gift ever given.
Are you ready to share the true meaning of Christmas with your friends and family?