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The Forever Gifts of Christmas: Intentional and Incidental

Whether or not I recognize Jesus, I always come out ahead at Christmas. Goodwill, gift-giving, and well-wishing are the chorus of Christmas. At least once a year neighbors give the gift of kindness to one another, incidental to knowing Jesus. But the gifts from Jesus are not incidental. His gifts are intentional.

On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt very deliberately explained the fourfold gift he wished to give to this world. This too was no gift by default.

Roosevelt deliberately wanted to give:
•    Freedom of speech and expression
•    Freedom for all to worship God individually
•    Freedom of all from want
•    Freedom of all from fear.

Yet all Roosevelt was able to give was America's entry into WWII on Dec 8th 1941. He had wished to bless this world; he failed. He was impotent.

God is not impotent and does not fail. At that first Christmas, Jesus entered a classical world that also held four values:
•    Justice
•    Prudence
•    Temperance and
•    Fortitude.

However in a world torn apart through selfishness, those ideals too were insufficient. Those values too were impotent. The ancients had no more chance of changing this world, of adding everlasting good to it, than Roosevelt. So God acts.

Expectantly though, when God acts, success is assured. For the God of salvation is not impotent. Into a world of great values, but even greater selfishness, Jesus adds three ideals
•    Faith
•    Hope
•    Charity (Love)

These three gifts Jesus gives are truly life-changing. They are truly eternal. And they truly take my sights off me.
How does Jesus bring these three gifts to us? By showing us God. For at that first Christmas God entered this world in Jesus. God wants to be with us ... how good is that?

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel - which means "God is with us” (Matt. 1:23).

When God is with me I no longer need to lead my life:
•    With guilt
•    Without forgiveness
•    Ignorant of Him
•    Without righteousness
•    Lonely
•    Without hope and
•    Without correct conduct.

With God, man is no longer impotent to change. For God being with me now means I can choose. That first Christmas really is about choice.

In Jesus, God gives me the chance to choose to live with Him - now! This is my choice and mine alone. I choose to live with Jesus each day, or I choose not to. Jesus comes to give me faith in Him and hope forever, and for me to receive His Love. This love I can pass on. Do I want faith, hope, and love as part of my life? Or am I simply willing to settle for a godless life? How sad that sounds ... a life without permanent faith, hope, and love.

Historian Horst Priessnitz claims "...if Australia [or the world] is frequently described as the Garden of Eden it is a garden from which God, not Adam and Eve, has been banished."

I suspect there may be some truth to this historian's assessment. I also suspect the God who sent His only Son, the God of the first Christmas, and the God of forgiveness would be most distressed at such a reality. Australia and the world need not be devoid of the gifts Christ brings.

The appeal goes like this: Please add faith, hope, and love to the gifts you receive this Christmas.

For absolutely free, there is available:
•    Faith in Jesus as God's only Son,
•    Hope of being in Heaven with Him forever, and
•    Love of God that forgives me and that I can share with others.

There are gifts from Jesus we receive incidentally -- simply by default. But there are better gifts we can receive intentionally. Gifts that will do what the ancients and Roosevelt couldn't do. These gifts will not only bring forgiveness, but will change this world.