The Christmas Gift

“Thanks be to God for His Indescribable Gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

At this special time of year our thoughts turn to giving.  For many social service organizations such as the Salvation Army, local rescue missions and many others that render aid to the poor and those in need, this time of year is important because they receive much of their annual income during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.  Retail stores receive the lion’s share of their income for the entire year during this time.  We purchase items to give as gifts to those we love – friends, relatives, children and even strangers we don’t know out of love and concern for our fellow-man.  The giver gives gifts he or she thinks the givee will want or need.  Many decry the commercialization of the holiday season.  Nevertheless, givers want to give.  There is a spirit of joy during this time as we give gifts to one another.  Because we are made in the image of our Creator, it may be that it is during this season of giving that we are most like our Creator who literally “wrote the book,” on giving, (the Bible).  However, our Creator and God gave the greatest gift of all to mankind – the precious gift of himself by sending his only Son, Jesus Christ, gift wrapping him not in pretty, colorful paper and bows, but instead, in swaddling clothes, in the form of a man, just like ourselves.  Instead of putting him under a Christmas tree however, He placed Him in a manger.

As I write this, I realize I am trying to “describe” for you what the Bible calls, “indescribable.”  I will do my best with the scripture verses to follow:

Romans 5:15 & Following – “But the gift is not like the trespass, For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, (Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin, (Adam’s); The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive, (those who believe in Christ), God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

Notice from the verses above how often “the gift” is mentioned.  By sending the greatest gift of all to the world, ( His Son, Jesus Christ), God gave to us the most valuable and precious of all – gifts of grace, forgiveness and righteousness, salvation and life – both abundant life in the here and now and eternal life forever.  These, the most expensive gifts, came at great cost to the creator of the universe, sending His very own son to give up his life for us.  The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, in chapter three, verse 8, that he was given grace to preach to the Gentiles (you and me), the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”  And that, “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”    Paul also wrote in the same letter, the same chapter and just a few verses later (vs. 20), “now to him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us….”  These matters are deep – deeper than the ocean – deeper than our thoughts can comprehend .  These gifts of God are unsearchable – greater and deeper than our wildest imaginations can comprehend!  We have an awesome, amazing, wonderful God!

In the first chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes to the believers there that he “keeps asking” that God would give them (and us), “the spirit of wisdom and revelation,” so that we may “know him better.”  He also prayed that the, “eyes of our hearts” would be enlightened” so that we would “know the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”  I know people who have received great wealth because of an inheritance.  Imagine the inheritance the Creator of the universe has in reserve for his children, those who believe in and have faith in Him and love Him.  God’s word says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him..,” (I Corinthians 2:9).

A gift must be received with humility and gratitude.  The receiver must understand it is being offered from a heart of love.  Again and again in the letter to the Ephesians and in many other places in God’s word to us, (the Bible), the word “love” is written.  Many think of the word as a thing of weakness.  It is not!  It is a word of beauty and strength.  It is the most important value to God, (I Cor. 13:13).  It is the source of His Gift – His Son Jesus Christ.  Have you gladly and with gratitude received from our Great God, this most valuable and precious gift of all?  And by accepting the gift of His Son, He also gives the deep and unsearchable gifts of power, faith, spiritual riches, strength, hope, access to God, abundant life and life forever with Him in paradise.  If the answer is no – why not accept His precious gift right now?  Pick up the telephone of your heart right now and call the Lord.  He will answer the call.  With Him there is no voicemail.  Ask Jesus, God’s Son, to come into your heart and live there – to forgive you and change you to become like Him.  Then you will be “born again,” (John 3:3) and will have received the greatest Christmas gift of all – no matter what time of year it is!



“The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”  “Bring me a new bowl, ” he said, “and put salt in it.”  So they brought it to him.  Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says; “I have healed this water.  Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.'”  And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.”  II Kings 2:19-22

At first glance, like many such accounts in the Bible, this story seems to be very strange to our human understanding.  But there is a message here to us from God, as there is in all the scriptures.  Think of your life as a town, as land and as a river, as water flowing toward its destination.

“The town is well situated….”  Everything else in our lives seems to be alright on the outside.  Appearances can be deceiving.  We may dress well, tithe, go to church, have Bible studies, give to the poor, invite folks over, have a good job, and even smile at the little children;  (I smiled at a little kid one time as he was walking down the sidewalk to go into a gas station and said, “hi there!”  He got the most serious look on his face I’ve ever seen and said as he was staring down at his feet, “I know what to do, don’t talk to strangers!”).  Long ago I knew a couple that seemed, “to have it made.”  They both had good jobs, enough money to go on vacations and have the things they wanted.  They would always say good-bye at the beginning of the day on their front porch and greet each other at the end of the day with a kiss.  One day the guy informed me his wife left him that she had found someone “better” at work.  You would never have know anything at all was wrong in their lives.  They were “well-situated.”  Sometimes you and I may have a pretty good life for the most part, but deep down something may be wrong, tilted, out of sync ever so slightly.  There is a spiritual problem.  There is “bitter or bad water.”  Water represents the spirit – the life of the spirit.  Man can go quite awhile without food, but not without water.

All living things must have water.  In Genesis chapter two, there was a river in the Garden of Eden which watered the garden.  It was clear, fresh, unpolluted, good, pure.  It was from God.  The last book of the Bible, Revelation also mentions a river.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”  Revelation 22:1-2

“They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”  Psalm 26:8-9

These verses speak to us of the abundant life that God gives to those who believe in Him, as Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and that abundantly.”

In Exodus chapter seven, God turned the Nile river into blood.  The Egyptians worshipped the Nile.  To them it was the source of life itself in a land void of water.  They used it for drinking, bathing, watering crops to grow food, to cool down and so forth.  When God struck the Nile, he struck to the core of their spirituality which was idolatrous.  The Nile turned to blood.  Like a cut artery, it signified the deadness, filth, poison and stench of their spiritual life, a life without God.  They sincerely thought they were worshipping God alright.  Contrast this picture with the spiritual life of God as mentioned earlier.  His wisdom which is described in James as pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere.  These qualities then, ought to characterize the spiritual lives of you and me.  God’s life giving spiritual water is first of all clear as crystal.

Notice also that the river of God mentioned in Revelation is also deep.  There is a depth, a clarity, a purity about a true believer in Christ.  No matter how we decorate the façade on the outside, God is concerned and always has been about the inside.

The river flows.  God’s spirit life is abundant, it is rich, it is clear as crystal, it is active.  It is moving, cascading at times like a mountain stream.  It is not stagnant like the waters of a cistern or a mud puddle.  His life is always working in ours, changing us, molding us, making us to be like His son Jeus Christ.  When God finds some stagnant water collecting all kinds of impurities in our lives, He moves those things out of our lives.  Sometimes we try to hold on to that old stale, muddy water.  I wonder why when God wants to replace it with the fresh, clear, clean, pure wisdom from above.  Scripture says this “water of life” flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb Himself.

The Bible also says that the “River of God” flows down the middle of the great street of the city of God.  Can you imagine such a street?  Imagine if you can the magnitude of this great city, that a river of such beauty and majesty would flow down its center.  There is meaning even in this.  God’s life-giving spirit is at the center of all life.  We would shrivel-up and die like an old yellow leaf which has fallen from the branch without it.

This life-giving water is the Lord’s to give.  Do you want it?  Like a little child asking his parents for a drink, why don’t you ask God to give you the water of His life-giving spirit through Christ.  He is more than willing.

The men of the city told the prophet Elisha that the water was bad and because of it, the land was unproductive.  What about your land?  Your life?  Is it unproductive?  Are you bearing fruit for the Lord in your life?  Or is there some “bad water” inside, hindering the production of fruit in your life?  In the book of James, chapter 3, beginning with verse thirteen, we are warned of a wisdom, of “bad water” that is unspiritual, of the devil.  Notice that James is talking to believers here.  It is quite possible for believers to get out of the life of the spirit of God, to get side-tracked, deceived.  It is possible for them to get out of the deep flow of God’s tender, loving spirit-life.

When the prophet added salt to the poor water, it was healed, made better again, made productive.  This is what God intended all along, for the land to bear fruit, just as he has intended for each of our lives.  Some of us allow old habits, bad attitudes, spiritual problems of all kinds to hinder our relationship with God.  There is a progression of events in II Kings.  First of all the men of the city noticed they had a problem, they had “bad water” (a spiritual problem), otherwise they had a fairly good thing going.  Next, they listened to the prophet and did what the man of God told them to do.  He didn’t ask them for something they could not give.  The solution was simple trust, faith and obedience to God.  They didn’t argue with him or demand a more complex answer of him.  They didn’t blame Elisha for the bad water problem, nor did they ignore him.  They knew he had power with God, that God used him to accomplish His work on earth.  They were blessed as a result.

Elisha took action by both doing something and saying something.  He threw the salt into the water.  But he knew that the salt had no spiritual or powerful quality in itself, but that only God could miraculously heal the water which led to what he did next – he said something.  He prophesied; he prayed to God; he spoke in the name and the power of the Lord over the water problem.  Elisha used salt symbolically.  Jesus called his followers “the salt of the earth.”  Salt symbolized hospitality, durability and purity.  To eat bread and salt together was to make a pact of friendship and trust.    Followers of the Lord then ought to be the best of the earth because of Christ in us.  We ought to preserve the earth by our presence here.  If we have bad water in our lives, wisdom from below not from above, we must pray and ask God to change our hearts.  God healed the bitter waters.  It is His problem ultimately and He wants to heal us if only we will acknowledge our problem and ask him to do so.  He wants our lives to be productive and bear spiritual fruit.

Will you drink from the river of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God?

“The spirit and the Bride say, come!”  And let him who hears say, come!  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17


Some thoughts regarding the raising of children, with special emphasis on the fathers role in the home specifically.

As I reflected on fathers and their children and especially my own relationship as a father with my own three sons, it occurred to me that the best example of a Father/Son relationship to be found in the Bible is the one between Jesus himself and the Heavenly Father.  Jesus said that “he always did and said what the Father told him.”  Personally I have been trying for years to get my sons to have this same attitude with mixed results.  My own father used to say, “son, don’t just do what I do, do what I tell you.”  He seemed to understand as I myself have learned, that it is always easier to preach to our kids as to how they should live, who they should hang-out with, where they should go, what they should do, and so on and so forth.  It is not always an easy task to practice what it is we preach.  My own father knew one primary verse of scripture which he preached to us kids on many occasions, “honor thy father and mother.”  He didn’t just preach this short sermon on Sundays however, but whenever he thought we were breaking the commandment.

Seriously though, not always do our kids have the same purpose or goals in life, nor are they of the same opinion on certain matters are we.  Often in homes, there is dissension or division between parents and children.  Some may call this the “generation gap,” or some other term.  When they don’t think or act like we do, we think they have “gone astray” or “gone bad.”  Someone once said, “a juvenile delinquent is a child trying to act like his parents.”  What kind of an example are we setting for our kids?  How can we help our kids to grow to have good values, morals and principles?  God has something to say to us parents, especially us fathers, with regard to these kinds of questions.  Let me share some of them with you from the pages of the Holy Bible.

Psalm 78 says;

Vs. 1 – “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.”  This is an earnest plea from God to us as parents.  It is from the depths of the great heart of God himself.  He is saying, “this is one of the most important things you will every hear – my teaching.

Vs. 2 – “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old -”  Jesus quoted this scripture in Matthew, chapter thirteen in reference to His teaching and to the fultillment of this prophecy in relation to his own ministry.  We should listen to His teaching, to his words to us!  When God says He will “open His mouth,” that means He will speak.  We’d best listen!  We’d best pay attention!  When my own children didn’t pay attention when I spoke to them or told them what to do, the worst thing that would happen to them is that they’d get into trouble.  The best thing that would happen is that they’d miss out on what I would consider to be a “blessing.”  I had something important to tell them and they were missing the point.  People often say, “I wish God would just speak to me on such and such a subject,” when in fact He is through the pages of His written Word!

Vs. 3 – “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.”  This speaks of personal testimony.  Do you have one?  This verse speaks of personal, intimate, knowledge of God.  Dad, do you know Him?  Do you have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father?  If your answer is no, or if you’re not quite sure, why not start up a relationship with God the Father today?  Jesus said in John Chapter five, verse 23 and following, “…that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.  I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has CROSSED OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE.”  God has built a bridge from the death of your old life to newness of life in His Son Jesus Christ.  All you have to do is believe this and get on that bridge and walk over to the other side, God’s side!  What an offer!  Why wait?  You won’t find an offer like that anywhere else – at a car dealer or a superstore or anywhere.  Don’t turn it down!  Just pray right where you are and ask Christ to forgive you and to come into your life and be your Lord.  God is more than willing to answer your prayer.

Vs. 4 – “We will not hide them from their children…”  As fathers, we will not hide these things of God, we won’t keep this great information for ourselves.  We will share it with our kids and their kids.  “We will TELL the next generation…”  This business of teaching our children the things of God, and of our personal experience with God, is not up to the Sunday School department of your church, the Pastor, or anyone else, (although they may assist), it is up to you Dads, to you parents!  As parents, we must check-up occasionally on the spiritual condition of our kids, to ask them as a priest I used to know when I was a kid used to ask, “how’s you love life?”  Then, after he had your complete, undivided attention after putting that question to you, would add, “with God!”  Verse 4 also tells us not just to tell our kids, but what we should tell them; “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.”  Tell them dads of how God saved you, or how he rescued you from a bad situation.  Tell them of what a great God you believe in.  Tell them of how God has the power to help your kids when they get in a difficult bind, if they will call on Him in the day of trouble.  Tell them what you know of God and don’t be afraid to tell them of what you don’t know.  Your kids will respect you for telling them that contrary to their belief otherwise, that as a dad you simply don’t know it all.

Vs. 5 – “He decreed statutes…which he commanded our forefathers to TEACH their children…”

Deuteronomy 4:9 – “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  TEACH them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  IMPRESS them on your children.  (Stamp them, indelibly etch them, imprint them like you would a young foal, so that they will know God).  “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…;”  (Do this talking and teaching about God at any time, all the above or when you are fishing or hunting or driving in your chariot.  You will know when it feels right to teach them).  “TIE them as symbols on your hands and BIND them on your foreheads.  WRITE them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

All this “impressing, tying, binding and writing,” means simply this; DON’T FORGET THEM!  THESE THINGS OF GOD!  THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE!!!

So why do all this teaching and telling?

Vs. 6 – “So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”  As fathers, as parents, we are to pass-on our faith.!

Vs. 7 – “Then they would put their TRUST in God and would NOT FORGET His deeds but would KEEP His commands.”

God wants to bless your children.  He wants you to have a happy family.  He wants this for you just as you want good things for your children.  It’s not too late!  Start now so they won’t be like the parents God spoke of in Verses eight through thirty-two of Psalm 78.  Of those forefathers, God said they were; “not loyal, not faithful, cowardly and unbelieving, did not keep his covenant, refused to live His way, they forgot, they continued to sin, (instead of stopping), they rebelled, they put God to the test, they spoke against God, they did not believe in or trust Him, they kept on sinning (in spite of all His care for them).”

Do you want this for your kids?  Of course not!  If not, then follow this advice from Proverbs 22:6, “TRAIN up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  Webster defines “training” as “to cause to grow as desired, (i.e., a vine on a trellis).  To form my instruction and discipline.”

How do you want your children to grow?  Do you want them to be godly?  Do you want them to be just like you?  Get a testimony for God for yourself by crossing that bridge, then TELL, TEACH AND TRAIN them in the things of God and may He bless you in the effort to do so!