Prayer: “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:1-15

Read: 1 John 4:7-16

Thoughts: Does it seem to you like the gift-giving frenzy grows each year? It would appear that those who benefit financially from Christmas ratchet up the volume on advertising and marketing so that we will spend more and more every year. If your tree isn’t packed to excess with gifts, you won’t have a happy Christmas. That message seems to pervade the season. Is gift-giving bad? Absolutely not! Where we fail is in remembering why we give gifts in the first place. Now I’m quite certain that you already know why we give gifts; it’s to remember that we were given the ultimate gift in the Christ Child. With each purchase that’s what you’re thinking about, right?

Our text for today focuses the reason and the sacrifice of the Father’s action in sending us Jesus. The reason He came was because of our sin and the fact that our sin demands a payment. The big theological word used in the original text is propitiation. This is a word that has fallen out of use today. In fact, most translations of the Bible don’t even use that word because it implies that an angry God demands justice. Culturally, we don’t care for that image very much. But it is certainly a proper concept to be used when talking about the forgiveness of sins. God is angry over sin. But He is generously withholding his wrath so that His grace might be extended to as many as possible. While this may not be a popular concept, it is a Biblical concept. Our sins demand propitiation. A just payment must be made in order to satisfy the holiness of God. So that this goal might be achieved God sent us Jesus as a Gift. Only His holy sacrifice is enough to pay the debt of our sin. This is the most incredible gift ever given. We did nothing to deserve it or earn it. It is a gift in the  truest sense of the word.

While this may take a little intentional thought, take a moment while the paper is being ripped off of your gifts to remember that God sent the perfect Gift. We share treasures with one another to remember that we have already received the one thing we couldn’t get for ourselves – propitiation for our sin. In the gift of the Christ Child and His saving work we are restored to the sight of God for all eternity.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, Loving Father. Praises and worship go to You from my heart and lips. Please find honor and adoration for You in all that I do. Help me to be constantly reminded of Your amazing Love and teach me how to display that love to the world around me. You are a mighty God and even in Your greatness You always remember love first. May I model that same thing in my own life. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.