God’s Gift: The Christmas Story

Jesus in a manger

Before time began there was God. He created the world and everything in it. In his love, God created man in his own image and placed him in a beautiful garden. Man disobeyed God’s instructions. This disobedience was sin and separated man from God. He told them that they should sacrifice perfect young animals for their sins. These sacrifices did not pay for their sin but only pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice that God would provide. Someday God would send his Son Jesus to this earth to be that ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all people.

Mary and the Angel

The angel speaks to Mary

Four thousand years later, in the town of Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph. One day an angel appeared to Mary and told her she would have a special baby. She should name Him Jesus. This baby would not have an earthly father. He would be God’s Son.

The Birth of Jesus

The star shining over Bethlehem

After the angel’s visit, Joseph and Mary made a long journey to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. When they reached Bethlehem, the city was crowded. They spent the night in the stable because there was no room in the inn. There Jesus was born. Mary wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.

The Shepherds

Angels bring glad tidings to the shepherds

That same night, on a hill outside the city, shepherds were watching their sheep. An angel appeared and the glory of God shone around the shepherds. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I have good news that will bring great joy to all people. This night a Savior has been born. He is Jesus Christ the Lord. You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Then many angels appeared glorifying and praising God, saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.” When the angels had gone away, the shepherds left their sheep and went quickly to Bethlehem. There they found the baby just as the angel had said they would.

The Wise Men

The wise men bring their gifts

After Jesus was born, wise men came from another country to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the baby who is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the east and want to worship Him.” When King Herod heard this, he was not happy. He called together the priests and teachers of the law. They told him the prophets had said a ruler would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem to search for this king. As the wise men left Jerusalem, the star led them to the house where they found baby Jesus. They fell down and worshiped, giving Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God warned the wise men in a dream that they should not return to wicked King Herod, so they went home a different way.

The Reason for God’s Gift

Jesus was God’s Son. He lived without sin and was perfect in all his ways. At thirty years of age, Jesus began to teach the people about God, his Father. He did many miracles such as giving sight to the blind, healing many people of their diseases, and even raising the dead. Above all, He taught the way to have eternal life in heaven. Then He gave his life as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world.

The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus came to this earth to die on a cross as the supreme sacrifice. By his death, the price for all sin has been paid. There is no more need to offer sacrifices for sin. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Savior.

Jesus on the cross

Although Jesus was killed by wicked men, death had no power over Him. After three days He arose victorious from the grave. During the days following his resurrection, Jesus was seen by many people. Then one day, after blessing his followers, He ascended to heaven.

When we choose to believe and surrender our life to Jesus, his blood cleanses us from all our sin. As we accept this gift of salvation, we are reunited with God. Jesus becomes our personal Savior, and we can enjoy the blessings of being his child! Someday Jesus is coming back. He will take all the true believers to heaven. There they will live forever with God.

Love-An Essential Need in the World Today

Love… a beautiful word in any language. What does it bring to mind: affection, care, warmth, kindness, understanding, security, and mother? But think for yourself, what does this beautiful word really mean? Do you want to be loved? Do you love?

God is love and his love abiding in your heart can help you love and be loved. The source of all love is God. 1 John 4:16 reads, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” No one will ever be truly successful in finding or experiencing love unless he seeks it in and through God.

Some of the opposites of love are hatred, mistrust, selfishness, and war. We need only look at many of the conditions prevailing in the world and in many families to understand that there is a desperate need for love.

How about you? Do you feel you are loved? Do you feel an ache in your heart, a loneliness that will not go away because you feel no affection, no warmth? Do you at times feel that no one really cares? Have you grown up with parents who did not really love each other or their children? These feelings are common in today’s world where the prevailing attitude seems to be me first. An aching heart is the result of an individual indulging in his own selfish interests.

Love is not a sensual attraction that seeks to gratify its own passion, often at the expense of the other person. This attraction, which some may call love, is selfishness because it seeks its own enjoyment. Love does not promote one’s own honor or pleasure.

The difficult things that life brings us are not an indication that God does not love us. God at times allows us to experience difficulty for our good. A parent with true love does not always give a child what he wants, but rather restrains him for the child’s benefit.

Love is self-sacrificing. True love seeks the good of others. Love is warm, sympathetic, kind. If we really love, we will care for the present and future well-being of those near to us. A loving husband and father will display his affection for his wife and children. He will gladly give and sacrifice of himself to provide an atmosphere of love and well-being. A wife and mother who truly loves will respect her husband and will instill in her children a sense of respect and love for their parents and for each other. She will gladly provide a haven of security and tranquility for all in the family. Christ exemplified love by his undeserved death on the cross.

If you feel the need of love—if there is an emptiness in your heart—you can find true love. You can find this by giving yourself to God. God loves you with a tender, caring compassion that knows no bounds. He cares for you and wants to share and help you through all the heartaches of life. If you feel alone and think that no one really cares, you can rest assured that the One who gave his Son for you does feel all your heartache and grief. In your loneliest hours and your most dismal days, He will be there to give you comfort, strength, and direction if you turn to Him.

If you do not know how to reach God, just pour out your heart to Him and He will hear. If you feel you can hardly trust anyone, not even God, tell Him so. Then ask Him to show you the way.

If you feel you are a sinner without hope of ever finding forgiveness and love, come to God with all your heart, repenting of and leaving your past sins. He will be your loving Father if you come to Him with all your heart and are willing to obey in all that He asks of you.

When God forgives and accepts you, you will feel his love and gain a relationship with Him that nothing can take away. This relationship will only be broken if we turn away from Him.

As you come to know the love of God and lose your love of self, you will find security. The security of knowing you are loved opens your heart to really care about others. You will no longer be so concerned about how people treat you. You will find that you are concerned about the needs of your fellowmen and that you have a keen desire to be of service to the God who loves you. When your affections are turned away from self, God will bless you and open your mind to many truths. The teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 will help you understand this.

When we give ourselves to God, we become a part of his family. ”Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1) One way to identify others that are a part of this family is by their love for each other. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). This is genuine love… love that cares, shares, and corrects.

If you want to know more about love, read the Gospel of John. Read Isaiah 53, where the prophet tells of the sacrifice Jesus would make for us. Read the promises in Psalm 91. Read Psalm 23. Let God lead you as you continue reading.

There can be an end to your loneliness and unhappiness. Let God take control of your life. Experience God’s love, one of the greatest blessings available to man. May God bless you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13

In the following verses, charity means love.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Life Worth Living

A Restless World

This world is a restless place. We see people dashing about trying to find meaning in activity. Many dedicate themselves to gather riches. Others want all the pleasure of the sensual life. Still others want more leisure and arrange to work less and play more. Yet their spirits are not satisfied. Gadgets, pleasures, and possessions eventually lose their attractiveness. Every new diversion fills in for a time but quickly loses its appeal. Something seems to be missing.

We all have our share of disappointments. Physical defects limit our activities. Family members need constant care. We feel trapped in a job or vocation because we lack expertise to take up other work. We spend money and go into debt hoping the next purchase will make life more tolerable. Our marriage has not proved to be what we had hoped. In vain we look for fulfillment and purpose.

Is that all there is to life? Should there not be something meaningful to give us satisfaction, something more permanent? Surely, there is a solution

What Is Life?

Life is a precious span of time allotted by the Creator. The Bible says it is like a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15); as short-lived as grass and its flower (1 Peter 1:24); as fleeting as a vapor (James 4:14).

While we are young we see life extending for years. As we get older, time seems to speed up. We can’t accomplish what we had hoped for earlier. We are disappointed by a variety of hindrances that cramp our lifestyle.

What Is The Problem?

What contributes to the discontent of our spirits?

Life is an opportunity but also a responsibility. We are unhappy whenever we violate the good we know we should do. Sin against our fellow man brings about uneasiness and guilt. Sin against ourselves has its destructive effects on our peace of mind. We feel responsible for our deeds.

Most people have a sort of intuition that life figures into a larger picture than the few short years on earth. For many this means they need to recognize a higher spiritual power, a higher purpose at work in the universe. They may not always know who or what that is.

Often people are dissatisfied with life because they fail to see it from God’s perspective. They are ignorant of God’s will and purpose for man, sometimes willingly so. Many fail to envision the eternal bliss of the faithful and would rather ignore the final reaping of the wicked and godless (Romans 6:23).

The Abundant Life Is Available

Jesus says in John 16:24, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” The joy that Jesus gives is not easily removed from a Christian’s heart.

At times we are heavy hearted because of temptations. The joy that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence within runs deeper than those weights. It may not be the bubbling, light feeling all the time but simply a calm trust in the Lord that allows us to stand unwavering in trial and unconquered by the storm.

Some may tell you that the Christian way is too restrictive to be enjoyed. They might think that in order to be happy you must be able to do as you please. Just try the Lord! You will find it is a pleasure to serve the One who died for you. It will become clear to you that the person who serves himself is really the one in bondage and the servant of Christ is the free man.

True fulfillment is not found in following trends and fashions or patterning our lives to impress others. That kind of living becomes a compelling force and leads to bondage. When we are humble we are free. Free to be ourselves. Free to rest our minds from thoughts of what others are thinking of us.

Jesus Offers Life Worth Living

In Matthew 11:28 we read, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here the Son of God, Jesus Christ, offers rest to all who have burdens to bear, whose life-load seems more than they can carry, whose life is unfulfilled, whose life lacks purpose.

Come to the Lord and give Him your load of sin, your load of dissatisfaction, your unfulfilled emptiness, and your frustration. Admit your inability to handle life’s problems. Turn from what you know to be wrong in your life. Give your life over to Jesus. Trust Him to take you by the hand and lead you.

Once you realize you need help in your life, you can come to Jesus and receive that help. As long as you feel independent and self-sufficient, He can do nothing for you. When you yield yourself to His care, there is hope for you.

Jesus Christ can fill the deepest longing of your soul. Yield your life and will to Him. As you ask Him to fill you with His abundance, life in all its fullness will be yours.

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