Gifts can come in lots of different packages---boxes, bags, cans, and sacks. They can be presented in lots of varied ways, too. I’m always amazed at the creativity of some people to make gift-giving a real event. I recently saw a movie where a girl arrived at her apartment to find a HUGE box sitting in the middle of the living room floor! It said "OPEN ME". So she did. In side that box was another box, then another and another and another til she finally got down to one small box and when she opened it, there was a ring box. Of course, her eyes lit up and she was SO excited! As she opened the little velvet box, she was stunned. It was empty. You could almost hear her heart fall to the floor. Just then, her boyfriend stepped from around the corner, and with a smile, he said "You have to say ‘YES’ to get what was inside". Then he proceeded to get down on one knee, asking her to marry him, as he held up the ring!. For this die-hard romantic, that was just tooooo sweet!!!!
2000 years ago God sent us a gift, the most awesome gift we will ever receive! It came in a very unusual package. It came in the form of a baby. Now all babies are gifts. There may be unplanned pregnancies, but there are no unplanned births! God has a plan for each and every baby that comes. But this baby would change the world!
All of Heaven must have been on tiptoe that night as Mary and Joseph made their way into Bethlehem. It had been a long journey….almost 90 miles from their home. Mary was "great with child". I cannot imagine what a difficult trip that had to be for her, riding that long distance, 9 months pregnant and riding on a donkey! Then to arrive in town and find there was no place to stay. Oh how Joseph’s heart must have ached because he could not provide a luxurious place for his bride. As they went from place to place, and heard the same words "No Room", I can just hear him saying "Mary, I’m so sorry, I don’t know where else to go." Yet, I just have a sense that Mary was not upset. I believe she had a quiet knowing, born of the Spirit, that everything was going to be all right. This was God’s Son she was carrying. HE was in control, not them.
Recently I heard a conference speaker talk about the Innkeeper. She made a very interesting statement. Although he had no rooms in his inn, he DID have a bed he COULD have given them. He could have given them HIS bed! But he missed it! He missed giving a room and a bed to the very mother of Jesus! He was too busy tending to his job, to the crowds that were pressing in to stop and give up his bed for a woman in need. Oh that we would not be guilty like the innkeeper of missing an opportunity to be a blessing to someone in need that God has sent across our path!
To give the Innkeeper some credit, he did offer them the stable and they gratefully took it. Not what they had expected would be their location for the birth of this very special baby, I’m sure! Mary knew they were not alone. And some time during that night, God brought into the world the Gift He had prepared for all mankind, packaged in the form of a helpless baby. Pure innocence, pure love, pure hope all wrapped up in soft baby skin! The birth of any baby is such a miracle..such a wondrous event! And the feelings a mother has at that moment are indescribable as she holds that miracle for the very first time. As she cradled him close, I imagine her eyes filled with tears of wonder and joy and in her heart she was singing with the angels "Glory to God in the Highest!" In the words of the old hymn "Heaven came down and glory filled my soul"………
God’s plan was unfolding with the birth of Jesus. A plan he began in the garden of Eden. When sin entered the world, a great gulf was fixed between God and man. God knew that He had to make a way for sin to be atoned for. So He sent JESUS ! For years the Jews had watched and waited for their Messiah, the One who would save them from their sin. Now he had arrived. Not like anyone had expected. He did not come with regal robes and an army. He came in the form of humanity so that we would know that we have a Savior who truly understands what it is like to be a human. He was totally man and yet totally God! Yes, He was a most unusual gift in a most unusual package! And God has extended that "gift" to each of us.
I pray this CHRISTmas that you will embrace this "gift" for all that it is and for all that it can be in your life!
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