December 17: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Jesus Came at Just the Right Time

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 17

Rejoice!  Jesus came at just the right time

Scripture Reading:  Galatians 4:4-5

When I arrived at the University of Oklahoma in the summer of 1992 to begin my college education, I was excited to take every class on my schedule . . . except one.  Attending college meant the end of the 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM school day and the advent of the three day a week lecture rotation.  As an aspiring procrastinator, committed intramural athlete, and John Madden football playing (on the Sega Genesis mind you) enthusiast, I was looking forward to all that free time!  All of my classes had that three day-a-week rhythm except one . . . Spanish 1.  The required five day-a-week mandate of this class cramped my style.   No me gusto.

Now, truth be told, I did not have to take Spanish 1 at OU.  My degree program only required me to take one 3 hour (read 3 day a week) foreign language course in the “2000” level.  The reason I did not simply sign up to take that Spanish reading course first semester my freshman year was simple . . . I did not speak Spanish.  I needed to learn the basics before I could read poetry and short stories.  My five day-a-week year long Spanish marathon was a prerequisite necessary for me to understand the material I would read in the one required reading course my sophomore year.

I was thinking about this experience today as I reflected further on the Law that God gave to His people in the Old Testament through His servant Moses.  Moses went up on the mountainside and God gave him 10 commandments that would form a contract (we know it now as the Old Covenant) for how people in that era would relate to God.  This Law was given to the Jewish people and governed humanity’s relationship with God for roughly 1500 years until God would establish a New Covenant with His Church through the saving work of Jesus Christ.  When Christ came, God tells us through the book of Hebrews that salvation had always been through the person and work of Christ for all people.  In a sense, the required course for salvation for people has always been about what Jesus has done and become effective as people take Christ into our hearts by faith.

If Jesus Christ had always been humanity’s required course, then why did God establish a 1,500 year period governed by the Law?  The answer from Galatians 3:24 is clear, the Law was the prerequisite to people understanding Christ.  Galatians 3:24 says, “So then, the Law was our pedagogue to Christ, in order that we might be justified by faith.”  The idea of a pedagogue is one of a teacher who would come alongside a parent and help train a child, maturing them for adulthood.  God gave the Law for 1,500 years to teach His people something in preparation for Christ.  What does the world learn through the Law that prepares it for Christ?

In the Law we learn that God is holy and we are not.  The Law shows us that the standards of God are lofty and perfect.  Humanity’s problem is that we cannot perfectly live out God’s perfect standard.  In a sense, the 10 Commandments are a document that condemns all of humanity.  The Law says do not lie, yet even Abraham Lincoln told a lie at some point in his life.  The Law says honor your father and mother, yet all parents (and children) know how impossible this is every moment of every day.  Jesus goes so far as to apply the 10 commandments to our thought lives, effectively making virtually all of us murderers and adulterers!  The Law shows us what Romans 3:23 famously states, “All have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s perfect standards.”

The Law also informs us that the result of sin is death.  Think of all the bloody animal sacrifices the Old Testament demands as temporary coverings for the guilt of sin.  Every lamb sacrificed on Passover, every sacrifice offered in the Temple was a reminder of what Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.”

The period of the Law also shows us the power and character of God.  For 1500 years God poured out miracles and messages on the earth through supernatural means and the pen of the prophets.  These prophecies, signs, and wonders helped people understand just how powerful the God of the Bible really is.

All these works of the Law helped prepare people for the truth of Christ.  Jesus came into the world to seek and save the lost . . . the people who understood that they were not self-righteous enough to perfectly adhere to the Law and save themselves.  The Law prepared people for their NEED for a Savior.  Further, the Law prepared people for the understanding that death was the result of sin, so when Jesus died on the cross to take the payment for humanity’s sins, we would know why that needed to happen.  Finally, the supernatural demonstrations of God in the Old Testament help us to recognize the presence of God in the miracles of Jesus in the New Testament.  The Law was given as a prerequisite to teach humanity so that they would understand Christ!

This Christmas, as you worship with your family, probably reading a lot from the first chapter or two of the first four books of the New Testament, allow yourself to skim back over the 39 books of the Old Testament.  This prerequisite will help you understand the meaning of Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law.”  The fullness of time came when the world had gone through the necessary prerequisite training under the Law to receive the new-born King.  

Suggested song for today:  It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 16: Joy to the World! Rejoice! God is not Confined by our Sensibilities

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 16

Rejoice! God is not confined by our sensibilities 

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1:20-25

Common sense is a form of the common grace God has given to humanity.  When we see a burner on the stove that is glowing red, we don’t touch it – assuming it is hot.  When we see a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, we don’t start a round of golf – knowing that the metal clubs in our hands would be all too attractive for a stray bolt of lightning.  Patterns in nature and our experience in practice help us form expectations from which we interact with the world around us.  It is a blessing that we have instincts that guide and protect.

This phenomena is not new to us in the 21st century, it has been around since the beginning of time.  2,000 years ago, Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) also had common sense, informed by the patterns he had experienced in the world.  That is why when Joseph hears that Mary is pregnant he assumes she has slept with another man.  Being a noble man whose relationship with Mary was pure, Joseph knew he could not be the father, but common sense told him that some other dude must be responsible.  This made all the sense in the world to Joseph.

Only thing is … Joseph was wrong.  Mary had not been sleeping around.  The child was from a supernatural origin – a virgin conception.

The way God lets Joseph know about this is through an angelic visitation.  In Matthew 1:20-25, an angel meets with Joseph and reveals that Joseph’s instincts (in this instance) are wrong, because God had intervened.  The child was not a cause for shame, but was the Savior of the world!  Thankfully Joseph listened to God’s proclamation, even when it went against his first instincts.

As we reflect on this principle today, I know that we will not be visited by angels with similar announcements in our lives.  That said, all us will encounter things that don’t jive with our instincts.  We think that salvation has to be about us being “good enough.”  We assume that certain behaviors the Bible calls sin can never be overcome in our lives.  We imagine that there is no way for certain people to really experience life change.  We just assume that is the case, because in our lives, we have seen patterns confirming the rationale of these opinions.  If you are thinking along these lines today, may you be visited by the revelation of Scripture today to remind you what God can really do.

“For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith.  It is a gift of God.  Not as a result of works that no one should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  It is not about being good enough, salvation is about God’s goodness and grace saving us in spite of us … simply as we respond in faith.

“… the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)  “walk by the Spirit and you will in no way carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).  Because of what Jesus has done for us, we HAVE BEEN liberated from sin’s necessary rule in our lives, and by faith, we can depend on the Spirit’s power to guide us away from even the strongest of temptations.

Paul was a persecutor of the church.  But Jesus changed Him.  This lets us know that He can change us as well!

Thankfully God gives us common sense … but sometimes things don’t fit the pattern.  In these cases God gives us special revelation in the Scriptures (just like the special revelation God gave to Joseph through the angel) to recalibrate our thinking and let us know of a greater reality.  

Like Joseph, have the courage to take God at His Word this holiday season.  Rejoice!  God expands our understanding of what is possible.

Suggested song for today:  Angels We Have Heard on High

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 15: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Even When it Doesn’t Make Sense

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 15

Rejoice!  Even when it doesn’t make sense

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1:18-19

For good reason, Mary (the mother of Jesus) gets a lot of attention in the Christmas story.  After all, the Gospel of Luke gives us a number of details (throughout Luke 1-2) about Mary’s experiences while Jesus was in the womb and at His birth.  Further, it seems as though Joseph died by the time Jesus’ public ministry took off, while Mary lived on.  Therefore, there are more biblical records of Mary’s experience than Joseph’s.

All that said, it is important for us to think through Joseph’s experience in the story of Jesus’ birth – as it is a remarkable story of faith and faithfulness.

Matthew 1:18-25 tells the story of Joseph’s experience during the time Jesus was inside Mary’s womb.  Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but not yet married.  This meant that they had made the commitment to spend the rest of their lives together, but they had not yet begun to live together and sleep together.  This month, we have already looked at Mary’s experience from Luke 1 as God announced (through an Angel) that Mary would be pregnant (even though she was a virgin) and have a Son who would be the Messiah.  This was HUGE news, and certainly would have been hard to believe for anyone who was not talking to Angels!  And at first, Joseph was NOT talking to Angels.  God first brought the news to Mary before He brought the news to Joseph.  So, with Mary pregnant, and Joseph looking only to natural explanations for this situation, Joseph decides to divorce Mary quietly – probably so that she could then marry whoever was the father of the child.

But it was not God’s will that Joseph would leave Mary.  So, an Angel intervened and visited Joseph to tell him that Mary’s child was indeed supernatural, and that Mary was telling the truth that the Baby was the Messiah.

Can you imagine being a fly on the wall of Joseph’s room as he prays out loud, processing the news of Mary’s pregnancy and the Angel’s visit.  What must Joseph have been thinking in that moment?  Ultimately, Joseph chooses to trust the Lord (and not his emotion, reason, or logic) and stay with Mary.  As a result, generations of people all over the world have named their kids “Joe” and put statues of him out each Christmas season.  What a great choice Joseph made!

Take a moment and ponder the things about God that don’t make sense to you.  Things you might wish to “dismiss quietly” instead of receiving them as true.  Let this song remind you that though God’s ways are sometime “strange” to us, there is salvation and blessing in God’s plans in this world.

Suggested song for today:  Strange Way to Save the World

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 14: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Grace Runs in the Family

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 14

Rejoice!  Grace runs in the family!

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1:1-17

I am the son of Dick and Beverly Robinson . . . the grandson of Don and Boonetta Davis and Glen and Alice Robinson . . . and so on, and so on.  These facts are personally very meaningful.  They describe my earthly heritage and contain the names of people who have shaped my life in profound ways.  

Every person reading this ALSO is a part of a family tree.  Though my experience as a descendant of the “Robinson” and “Davis” families is very positive, your experience may have been rocky.  For good or for bad, we are still connected to and marked by our lineage.  Personally, it bears great meaning to each of us.

However, there are some people whose family trees are not just PERSONALLY interesting, but have implications that impact the world.  Think about members of the British Royal Family.  Their blood lines bring with them responsibility and authority that impacts the society around them.

In Matthew 1:1-17, we see the family tree of Jesus Christ.  This family tree lets us know a few things:

  1. It shows us that Jesus (the Son of God) became fully human at His earthly birth.  He did not just become “human-like,” He PERSONALLY took on flesh and dwelt among us.  Therefore, we do not have a Savior who cannot relate to us, but we have One who knows what it means to live in this world.  His lineage is a reminder of that.
  2. It shows us that Jesus genealogy sets Him up for a WORLD-WIDE impact.  He is a descendant of Abraham, reminding us that He is ethnically a Jew, thus continuing the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people long ago.  Also, we see that Jesus’ great, great, great, great, great Grandpa was David – a reminder that Jesus would be the promised descendant of David to sit on the throne of God and reign forever.  His family tree supports and qualifies Him for not just personal influence.
  3. It shows us that God’s grace in Jesus is for all who believe in Him.  Inside of this genealogy are foreigners (Ruth and Rehab), the publicly disgraced (wife of Uriah), and those who have committed very consequential sins (David – among others).  Yet all these show up in the royal lineage of Jesus.  They are there NOT because they are great people, but because our God is gracious. … and He wants us to know His grace runs in the family.

At Christmastime, we sometimes skip the beginning verses of Matthew 1:1-17 and begin our Scripture reading when the Angels show up in 1:18ff.  When we do that, we miss the blessing of generations . . . reminding us of the PERSONAL and WORLD shaping reality of Jesus life. Scan over the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 and see how many names you recognize.

Suggested song for today:  Matthew’s Begats

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 13: Joy to the World! Rejoice! The Sun Rises for our Souls!

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 13

Rejoice! The sun rises for our souls!

Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:67-80

What is your favorite Christmas song?  Christmas is truly a musical holiday.  I love the “soundtrack” that plays in the background of December every year.  Whether you are in church, driving in the car, or even shopping at the local mall, songs of our Savior fill the air from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Sometimes, we think that our love for music at Christmas time is a part of the commercialization of the holiday, but a closer look at the biblical account of Christmas reveals that the first Advent was also a musical.  From Mary’s “Magnificat” to Harold and his angels singing, music/poetry was a key way heaven and earth welcomed the newborn king.

As you look at the albums first recorded around the birth of Christ, however, you will notice that both famous AND more obscure songs were recorded around the time of the manger.  Right after Mary’s hit song, Zechariah records what some may see as the “B side” to her 45.  You may have skipped this track in the past, but today, I want you to “press play” and read its beautiful lyrics found in Luke 1:67-79.

Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist.  John’s conception definitely took Zechariah by surprise, however, as both he and his wife Elizabeth were well advanced in age.  Like Abraham and Sarah before them, God had special things in store for this elderly couple by filling their barren womb with joy and purpose.  The song you just read was sung by Zechariah at John’s circumcision ceremony on the 8th day of his life.

After waiting a lifetime for the joy of fatherhood, it is striking that Zechariah spends most of the time at his son’s circumcision singing about Jesus, not John.  Zechariah “got it” . . . he understood that the real joy in his AND John’s life would be their connection to Jesus.  Zechariah waited a lifetime to be a father, but God’s people had waited a few millennia for Messiah’s birth.  Therefore, the song centers around Jesus and His work.

At the end of the song, is one of the most poetic and beautiful statements about the work of Jesus in all of Scripture.  “Because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I am so thankful that in Christ we have a hope that one day all death will be replaced with life eternal, and all darkness will be illuminated with His light.  This is the reason Zechariah sings . . . and the reason we sing and have joy as well.

Suggested song for today:  What Child is This

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

Joy to the World (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio, & Video

On Sunday, December 12, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 1:46-56.  This message was part 3 of the “Joy to the World” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download, or share.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 1:46-56
  3. What in your life right now seems really BIG?
  4. Now compare those BIG things to God.  How does remembering how truly BIG God is encourage you today?
  5. In your life right now, what do you tend to “magnify” more:  your problems, yourself, or other people?
  6. In her song, Mary listed a number of things about God that she focused on.  Stop for a moment and make a list of 5 things you know about God.  Pray over these items magnifying the Lord.
  7. Think back over the last week.  Think particularly about things where you might have been tempted to magnify a problem, other people, or yourself?  What are some things you saw the LORD doing in that moment that you could thank Him for?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Joy To The World #3 12.12.21


To listen online, use the media player below:


To watch stream, use YouTube online:



This sermon is a part of the 2021 Christmas series – “Joy to the World.”  There is a devotional book accompanying this series.  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

In the Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 12: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Magnify the Lord

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 12

Rejoice!  Magnify the Lord!

Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:46-58

When I was a child, I remember my parents occasionally hosting a “Bridge” group some Saturday nights.  When they would host this group, my sister and I would retreat to my parents’ bedroom where we would watch “Solid Gold” and “Hee Haw” on the 12 inch black and white television.  As we would watch this TV, I never thought of it as small or poor quality, because it was all we had.  However, when you compare that 1970’s era TV to the HD flat screen in my living room right now, it is easy to point out how much “better” today’s technology is.

A lot of descriptors we have in our language only gain their meaning by comparison.  To my ninth grader, I am tall, but not to the roster of the OKC Thunder.  To my parents I am young, but not compared to the kids in Wildwood’s children’s ministry.  Old/young, tall/short . . . these terms gain their meaning when they have a point of reference.

Let me ask you a question . . . a MACRO-LEVEL question:  When it comes to your life, what is your point of reference?  Honestly, I think that our point of reference for our lives can be centered in one of only 3 places:

  • Our self
  • Others
  • God

These are the options.

If your point of reference is yourself, then you determine your own reality.  What is “needed” is what you want.  What is “good” is what is “good for you at that moment.”

If your point of reference is “others” you allow another human or group of humans to define your world.  If they say something is important, it is important.  If they say something is right, it is right.

If your point of reference is God, then He is your vision.  He determines right from wrong, truth from error, good from bad.

Here is what I have noticed, both in my life and in the lives of those I know.  When our primary reference point in life is a person (us or someone else), “God” tends to be small in our lives.  When God is our reference point, people tend to be small.  To say it another way, when people are big, God is small, but when God is big, people are small.  By this I don’t mean that people are not valuable, but I mean that when God is our reference point, we tend to not fear the reactions of men, but when people are our reference point, we tend to not fear the presence of God.

In Luke 1:46-56, Mary reveals her response to the news that she would be the mother of Jesus.  Her response (called the Magnificat due to the Latin word for the first word of the “song” recorded here) shows that her reference point was God.  In this song, she magnifies the Lord, thereby properly understanding that she is small . . . and so are the problems around her.  Not small as in insignificant, but small compared to the greatness of our God.  

And even though Jesus was still in utero at that point, measuring just a few inches in length, He stood tall over all because of who He was and what He would do for His people.

This Christmas we will spend a fair amount of time comparing ourselves to others.  Are the gifts we are giving our kids too much or not enough?  Are our holiday plans good or bad?    Is this year’s celebration better than last?  In the midst of these comparisons, spend a few moments magnifying the Lord using Mary’s example from her song.  As we make the Lord our reference point, as He “becomes” big, we will find our problems small by comparison.   And this is just another reason for joy in Jesus!

Suggested song for today:  Almost There

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 11: Joy to the World! Rejoice! He Came to Serve

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 11

Rejoice!  He came to serve!

Scripture Reading:  Mark 1:1-45

How do you tell the Christmas story at your house?  Many tell it in the songs that we sing.  Others tell it through Nativity scenes set up around our home.  Still others remember Christmas through reading books or watching particular movies.  There are many ways we tell the Christmas account.

In the Bible, there are four biographies written about Jesus.  These four (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) provide the most detail for us of Jesus’ earthly life.  What is interesting is how these four biographies tell the Christmas story:

  • In Matthew, we get the story (mostly) from Joseph’s perspective + the wise men.
  • In Luke, we get the story (mostly) from Mary’s perspective + Elisabeth + the shepherds.
  • In John, we get the story from God’s perspective (“in the beginning was the Word …”)

But what about Mark?  If you haven’t yet, go back and read Mark 1:1-45 and look for what Mark tells us about Jesus’ birth.  What do you see?

Nothing.  We see nothing … except that Jesus was obviously born, because He is alive throughout the chapter.  Mark begins His Gospel with a statement – “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” – then He proceeds to leap right in to the account of 30 year old Jesus being baptized and starting His public ministry.  We do not have any data about the manger or the magi, but we do learn:

  • That God the Father authenticated Jesus as God the Son at His baptism (1:9-11)
  • That Jesus was tempted by Satan (1:12-13)
  • That Jesus message was simple, “The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe” (1:14-15)
  • That Jesus called His disciples and gave them new roles (1:16-20)
  • That Jesus healed many with miraculous power (1:21-45)

We should not deduce from Mark’s omission that the Christmas account did not really happen, or that it was somehow unimportant … remember all Scripture works together and all Scripture is inspired by God.  Mark simply allows others to tell that part of Jesus life, while He focuses on other things.  Like a child with a story too good to keep to themselves, Mark rushes ahead to the part of Jesus’ life He is most prompted to share.

By seeing where Mark begins, though, we are reminded that Mark’s perspective at the beginning of the Gospel is not Mary or Joseph’s or even God’s … it is OURS!  Think of the relevance where Mark begins:

  • Jesus was tempted … and WE are tempted.  Jesus navigated temptation without falling and can help us do the same!
  • Jesus preached a message of belief and repentance … and that is the response we need to have today as well!
  • Jesus calls disciples and gives them new roles … and He is calling us to follow Him and serve Him as well!
  • Jesus demonstrated miraculous power over life’s most difficult infirmities … and if we trust in Him, His power will ultimately give us life after death!

In His own words, Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”  Jesus was serving from the beginning of His ministry, and He is still serving us today as well.  When you tell the Christmas story this year, don’t forget where it all heads.  From our perspective, Jesus serves us and saves us … Rejoice!  Christmas is just a beginning!

Suggested song for today:  Come Adore the Humble King

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 10: Joy to the World! Rejoice! We Can Receive His Gift

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 10

Rejoice!  We can receive His gift

Scripture Reading:  John 1:9-13

Christmas time is a season of gift giving.  Most of you reading this will be buying at least ONE Christmas gift for someone this year.  Maybe it is a toy for your child, a sweater for your dad, a gift certificate for your nephew, or a piece of jewelry for your spouse.  Gifts are a part of the Christmas experience for many of us … but have you ever stopped to wonder why?

The reason why we give gifts around Jesus’ birthday is because His birth WAS A GIFT – and an extremely generous gift at that.  Jesus birth in Bethlehem gave us a picture of who God really is.  Jesus birth gave the opportunity for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins later on.  Jesus birth gave us the knowledge that God really knows what we are going through since He has literally walked where we walk.  These are some BIG GIFTS!  And they are just some of the presents given to us through that very first Christmas morn.  Remembering this Gift, so many of us give gifts to others this time of year.

But with any gift given, it must be received to be enjoyed.  I can buy my dad a sweater … I can wrap it in a beautiful package … I can address it to my dad … I can tell him it is from me … but if he never opens the package, then the sweater will never keep him warm on a cold winter night or have him looking stylish out at dinner with friends in the weeks ahead.  Those intended purposes for the gift remain covered up if it is not opened.

Jesus came into the world to give gifts to the world.  Wrapped up in His advent were some many blessings God intended people to have.  However, many people miss out.  The warmth of salvation is prepared with heavenly style for all, yet many refuse to open this gift.  In our verses for today in John 1:9-13, we see this reality spelled out.  Jesus created the world.  He created us.  Then in Bethlehem He came to us to offer us His gifts of life and light.  But many people did not receive Him.  They rejected the gift.  They left it in its wrapping.  However, not all rejected Him.  To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God!  I love that phrase … to ALL who receive Him.  

What that tells us is that the gifts of salvation and life that Jesus offers are ready for us … and can be effective for us … if we will just open them.  But how do we open them?  The passage tells us.  We believe in Him.

Do you want forgiveness of your sins?  Do you long to have a personal relationship with God?  Do you want a better direction and trajectory for your life today?  Do you want to have an assurance of eternity?  THEN believe in Jesus.  Believe He is the Son of God.  Believe that His death on the cross paid the penalty for your sins.  By faith, take Jesus out of the box and rejoice!  He is our biggest gift.

Suggested song for today:  Silent Night

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 9: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Jesus Gives Good Gifts

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 9

Rejoice!  Jesus gives good gifts!

Scripture Reading:  John 1:16-17

One day, Kimberly and I went Christmas shopping.  Faced with a long list of “to dos” that needed to get done, I took a day of vacation and we headed out in the All Wheel Drive sleigh trying to fill it with presents to deliver on Christmas morning.

As we worked our way around the malls looking to make purchases, we were guided by a list of names of people we were buying for.  On this list were friends and family, and because they are so dear to us,  the opportunity to bless them with a gift is always a real privilege.  The problem, however, was what kind of a gift do you bless them with?  Moments like this are a great object lesson for understanding the need for a budget.  If I were to let my love for the people on my list dictate what I bought them, I would never be able to pay off the balance of the bills!  I simply have more love in my heart for the people on that Christmas list than I have money in my bank account  — or even than I WILL have in my bank account if I did not spend a cent between now and when Jesus returns.  Therefore, I could not determine what to give them based on how much I love them, because I do not have a matching resource to offer to the scope of my love.

A second way I could determine what to give them would be to play the principle of reciprocity.  By this, I mean that I would try to give a gift back to someone of equal value to what they have given me.  This principle, however, is also flawed.  I can never pay back my parents (for instance) for all they have done for me.  No sweater (I don’t care which logo is on it) can ever equal sitting through little league games in 40 degree weather or caring for me when I was sick or providing love, food, and shelter for me throughout my growing up days.  I simply will never be able to pay back what has been given to me — I have just received so much.

I was thinking about all as we shopped, and it reminded me of a deep spiritual truth that impacts my understanding of God’s love for me and my response to that love towards Him.

First of all, though our budget always constrains our ability to give, it never constrains God.  God is the only One anywhere who has no budget.  Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have their limits, but God does not.  He has everything at His disposal, so He never tires at ways to demonstrate His love for us.  The obvious “big gift” that God gives us each day (including Christmas) is the gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.  As Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  The God who has everything gave His very life so that we might live and know that He loves us.  Even beyond that big gift, however, God continues to give to us without a budget.  The beauty of nature, the spiritual encouragement of the Body of Christ, tasty food to nourish our bodies, etc. are all evidences of God’s gifts to us.  He never tires or grows weary in giving to His children.  He has all the resources to match the scope of His love for us.  As John 1:16-17 remind us, Jesus has given us “grace upon grace” … literally gift after gift.

As I was shopping, however, a second thing stood out to me.  I cannot practice the principle of reciprocity with God.  There is no “sacrifice” that I can make in this life that is of equal value to the gifts God has given to me.  No “I’ll go serve you on the mission field” claim could ever be the same as all that God has given to me.  We cannot pay back to God what He has given us — for we simply have been given too much.

Given these truths, what are we to do?  Well, when it comes to understanding how much God loves us, we should stand in awe of the gifts He continues to send our way.  What great demonstrations of His budget-less love!  Stop right now and thank Him for His indescribable gifts.  Second, stop trying to pay God back for His gifts to us, for you can never give enough.  This does not mean that we do not serve Him or worship Him or love Him or give back to Him.  We absolutely do that.  Just as I still bought presents for family and friends that day as reminders of my love for them, we still give to the Lord out of our love for Him . . . we just don’t do it to settle a score.  This frees us up and purifies our motives in responding to His gifts!

As you remember the gifts you purchased this December, may they remind you of the gifts we have received from Him that we can never repay.  Jesus brings the joy of gift after gift … grace upon grace!

Suggested song for today:  Angels from the Realms of Glory

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links: