What is it you really want this Christmas? A special something? To be able to stay within a budget in a season full of tempting delights to give or keep? A fun experience? To do and give your best and not feel guilty, left out or disappointed? 

Ah, what underlying wants and needs drive us onward, moving us forward, inch by inch or dashing all the way! Yet, did you know we have waiting for us two extraordinary gifts bestowed on us the very day when Christ was born? 

The first gift, Emmanuel, which means God with us, otherwise known as Jesus, gives us the hope of forgiveness, undeserving relationship, and eternal life. Was there, is there, a man or woman alive who could have dreamed up such a magnificent gift? While we were lost and looking elsewhere to satisfy ourselves, God revealed His love for us through the provision of reconciliation, a gift many of us didn’t even know we needed but without which we are doomed to Hell and to a life of trying to get our own needs met despite our shortcomings. 

The second gift? From Luke 2: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

Peace. He blessed those on whom His favor rests with peace. But did they, do we, appreciate peace? We would do well to take a moment to recognize our immense need for peace. 

Why? Because this extraordinary gift of peace given at His birth, was given yet again at His death! How important peace must be! When Jesus was preparing to die, as He settled His affairs, He gave a clear description of the gift He was giving to the disciples. In John 14: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

He gave them peace because He knew they never saw His crucifixion coming. Peace, because He knew trouble awaited them once the scattering began. Peace, because it is a byproduct of a relationship with Him in a world that disappointments us over and over. Peace, because we need strength to fight battles with the knowledge we no longer fight alone but with Him inside of us. 

What lies ahead for you and me in 2020? The future is there, peaking out from behind the Christmas tree. In no time we will be face to face with more troubles and the truth that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and a love this world is not capable of giving us. God knows we need His peace. The same Holy Spirit is still giving peace to those who follow Jesus. 

Do you want this peace today? Just as God’s gift of reconciliation was not a one time gift, His gift of peace is also ongoing. These gifts are a simple prayer of heartfelt confession away from being yours. “God, I need You. I have sinned against You. I believe Jesus died for my sins and I need Your gift of forgiveness and relationship. I want and need Your peace. I accept Your extraordinary gifts.” 

How much He loves you just as you are, before you even knew of Him! May you and I accept His good and perfect gifts for us this Christmas and trust Him fully for the future ahead! 

Merry Christmas and a peace-filled New Year to you! If you want to talk with me about these gifts, just let me know. I will be happy to talk with you at anytime. 

by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections and Communications
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